Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s New CEO in his 87th week made his first gaffe. He did it in a room he shouldn’t have to a an audience he shouldn’t have and he got burned for it.

Now to set the scene Nadella was at the Grace Hooper Celebration, an event about women in technology. He was part of a keynote session and Q and A hosted by Dr. Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd college. Dr. Klawe is also a member of Microsoft’s Board of Directors. Much of the interview was easy going and Nadella handled himself with his usual casual manner. The problem came when he was asked about how women should go about asking for a raise. Nadella’s response was classic Nadella (complex and deep) it was also a bit tone deaf given the audience. Here is the audio (with a tip of the hat to Neowin):

At the end of Nadella’s talk the headlines about Microsoft’s CEO condoning inequality of pay and one article highlighting him as systemic of a system that hinders women’s advancement in the tech industry. At a time when many are discussing the difficulties women face in technology and the need/want to increase girls and young women to choose the STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Math) field; Nadella’s comment would be stripped of any nuance.

To his credit, or at least Redmond PR, he clarified his statement. First on Twitter:

Later he made a definitive statement on the matter in which he agreed wholeheartedly that his statements were,

Toward the end of the interview, Maria asked me what advice I would offer women who are not comfortable asking for pay raises. I answered that question completely wrong.

Without a doubt I wholeheartedly support programs at Microsoft and in the industry that bring more women into technology and close the pay gap. I believe men and women should get equal pay for equal work. And when it comes to career advice on getting a raise when you think it’s deserved, Maria’s advice was the right advice. If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask.

I am pretty sure Mr. Nadella meant no harm in his response and hopefully this was a teaching moment for himself and others. I think that the subject of women in technology is complicated. Not complicated in the larger scope, but on the smaller one. There is a lot of mess going on much of it done by a pack of internet trolls that feel the need to berate women, especially women commenters, who talk about gender issues in field of gaming, computing, and the like. They have created a toxic atmosphere that has many women abandoning social media or retracting their web presence to avoid these fools.

Nadella was again tone deaf in his remarks. What he said sounded to attendees like be good little workers, don’t push and one day you’ll be rewarded by HR. Now he didn’t mean and in his head it probably was clear, but it wasn’t to his audience. Now it also didn’t help that his words were chopped and screwed but that doesn’t matter. The effect was the same. There were a lot of angry people who decided to be heard afterwards.

If I am being honest what he said was a gaffe which he apologized for. It won’t calm those who were incensed and it will just confirm ideals about technology and patriarchy. I just know its hard doing the right thing and harder saying the right  thing and too easy too get it all wrong.

So Hewlett-Packard is getting out of the PC business.

Well really they are splitting the company into HP, the PC and Printer company, and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, the enterprise and solutions company. In many ways the split is as much an abandonment as anything else. HP is following a number of PC vendors who have either refocused on enterprises (Toshiba), stopped selling in certain markets (Samsung), or left the market altogether (SONY).

For HP it makes sense to split off the flailing PC business. It seems to have been in a spiral ever sense former CEO bought Palm in a quest to jumpstart HP’s mobile ambitions. Ever sense his firing it seems like HP has slowly been plagued by the FUD that has spread with the growth of mobile. What I mean by FUD is the moment stories were being written about the iPad as the harbinger of the end of the PC, PC makers scrambled to get to the tablet promised land.

The emergence of mobile as something that competed with laptops and desktops had hardware makers throwing a lot of different things to the wall to see if they’d stick. Couple this with a PC market that is essentially slowed down to predictable patterns and saturation and you have a field where people got nervous. Now I am not going to get into a blame game, namely because there is no one to blame. The PC market is a commodity market; they all offer the same engine (Windows) and are only bought when needed. And while PC makers have added non-Windows devices to their lineup (Android tablets/devices and Chromebooks) They have move the needle little for most. However there is a silver lining; from all accounts PC sales have improved compared to tablets.

Right now an interesting thing appears to be happening to the PC market: it’s consolidating. While the PC market has shrunk it is also stabilizing. However the market going forward will be different. The PC market unlike tablets or smartphones is both mature and saturated. While there is some growth there is also low margins. With Windows PCs the expectation is consumers can buy them cheap. There is also the fact that many keep their computers until they break or they need replacing. These factors look to be forcing some OEMs to make changes. A number of PC makers can no longer live by the meager margins of the hardware business, or if they can they want the stability that focusing on enterprise provides. It is interesting or example to see Samsung pull back from not just Windows but also Chromebooks in Europe (and anecdotally it seems from stocking them at their mini stores in BestBuy).

So what does all this mean for companies like Microsoft and Google? For Google it probably means little. Android is bigger than Chrome and OEMs like Lenovo and Acer seem not to have issues in selling Chromebooks. I do expect for the Mountain View based company to push Chrome OS as a viable option over Android. I say this because they are adding Android apps onto Chromebooks making the occasional Android based laptop or desktop moot.

With Microsoft I see both a push to gain back hardware maker support and also a continued push into branded hardware. For Microsoft I think hardware will never be the revenue stream software is, but it could be solid revenue nonetheless. In a market where OEMs are scarce and split between itself and Google Microsoft could see hardware as a form of insurance. Hardware can also be used to highlight the companies technological innovations. I think the experience with the Surface (both good and bad) will make them continue to keep their toe in the hardware waters.

For users, especially those that identify as being PC users, the future will mean a smaller set of choices and potentially choices that will be regional. The VAIO brand continues but as a Japan specific one; it’s a potential trend. Beyond that I think we will see a mix of old and new faces going forward.

With the release of Windows 10, Microsoft has announced (whether they want to admit it or not) the end of Windows 8 and in many ways a period of uncertainty for users who like and use it. While the heads of Windows were assuring they were not retreating from touch or hybrid devices many are in a mode of wait and see.

Others are openly saying Windows 10 is a major step backwards in terms of mobility.

Right now, I feel like we are too early into Windows 10 to say it’s a retreat. Realistically it is an acknowledgement that Windows 8 didn’t move every Windows user toward the mobile promised land. I hate saying it but Microsoft had to address the wants and desires of its customers that wanted a desktop in the traditional Start menu mold. Not having the menu was an issue hampering progress; in fact the debate between mobility, touch, and mouse and keyboard was a serious distraction.

So now we find ourselves on the march to Windows 10 and it begins by addressing the desktop. We also now are facing a reverse situation in which people who have embraced 2-in1s, hybrids, and Windows tablets wondering what is in it for them. People like technology reporter Mary Branscombe have been vocal on Twitter about the pull back and the seeming reduction in functionality of Windows 10 for Windows 8 users. It is an issue that is not only coming from enthusiasts but also developers who adopted the new Modern environment.

Right now we know little about Microsoft’s plans for touch in Windows 10. We know they will be overhauling the Charms bar (replacing it with an unknown new UI). We know that the designers at Redmond will be introducing Continuum which will switch a users’ device between being a laptop and being a tablet. Lastly, we know the gestures instituted in Windows 8 are being changed. Beyond the Charms bar, swiping from the left will bring up a new task switcher which will show all open apps and desktops.

I don’t know what to make of what we are seeing in Windows 10 from the perspective of a tablet fan. Windows 10 will make the changes from 8 palatable for some diehard keyboarders but not all. It could also alienate users who have come to embrace the benefits of Windows tablets and hybrids. People who have found benefit in having mobile devices that can be workhorses. The whole thing makes me concerned, only in so far, as I think the idea of the tablet being another form factor and not totally divorced from the PC is solid. It is just the execution that needs fine tuning.

Windows_Product_Family_9-30-Event-741x416

With the reveal of Windows 10 Microsoft has begun the process of changing up its mobile offerings. We know that the desktop will be getting a makeover in the next release but phones and tablets will be changing too. It is the nature of that change that will be a mystery.

With the announcement, Microsoft released an image of the type of devices that will make up the Windows 10 launch. If you take the image released as a clue you can sort of grasp what the Softies are going for. We already know that Windows 10 will be blending the divide between the desktop and the touch friendly Modern environment (as represented by Continuum). But the picture provides a look at screens many think won’t carry the desktop.

Windows10_Tablets_Phones

Looking at the images the first thing you notice is that phones and tablets look like Windows Phone. Albeit the UI shown looks to come with the ability to change the background colors and not just the tiles. It also appears you can group apps similar to Windows 8. And if you look closely at the min tablet it looks like the virtual buttons introduced for Windows Phone 8.1 will be a factor. Now I will go on a limb and say in landscape the new ARM tablets will resemble the Windows 8 Start Screen with what looks like modifications. (I say that even though more experienced Redmond watchers hint something else) This portrait view could be different from the one shown for Windows 10’s desktop which you can see if you look at the Lenovo Yoga type device.

There are a number of questions I have about this part of Windows 10. It has been rumored for a while that Microsoft would combine Windows RT (OS for ARM based devices) and Windows Phone; and this looks like what these are. My first question will this OS run on both ARM and Intel devices? Right now there are mini tablets running Windows that have the desktop and I wonder if they will be moved to an OS sans a desktop. Two will there be ARM devices beyond phones. At the launch of Windows 8 Microsoft introduced Windows RT (a version of Windows ported to ARM); it has met mixed success due to it not running legacy software. Will this version of Windows be used outside of phones? It may not run legacy software natively, but it provides safer computing and longer battery life. Third will Continuum be a part of mobile? What replaces the desktop for multitasking? I ask this because now on Windows RT users can have a laptop like experience. Will they, can they on a device without a desktop environment; and what happens when they plug in a keyboard?

Windows10_PC_Xbox

My last question has to do with the future of Metro. Metro was the codename and unofficial name for the design language and interface used by Microsoft in tablets and phones. At this time it is around four or five years old and in need of a refresh. I know that the time between Windows 8 and 10 is probably too short but I hope Microsoft is thinking about updating its UI. For me the key is refining the Live Tile metaphor. Providing users and developers with something new. Also in making the interface a bit more customizable.

Windows 10

For the last few months one of the big discussions in Microsoft circles has been about the next release for windows codenamed Threshold. The next release has been greatly discussed because if the mixed reaction to Windows 8. With 8 the focus was on touch and mobile and this alienated (hand air quotes) traditional keyboard and mouse users. So with the next release a lot of people’s hopes have been pinned on this being the Windows release.

So on Tuesday of last week Operating Systems chief Terry Myerson along with Windows UX head Joe Belfiore talked about the next release of Windows…Windows 10.

Tech-Preview_Start-menu

No one was expecting the name. Most assumed it would be Windows 9 or Windows One or even simply Windows, but it is Windows 10. It’s funny because during the small press event Myerson had to say he wasn’t joking. The first showing for Windows 10 was for the Enterprise.

Now it has been days since the announcement and the release of the first Technical Preview. Given that stretch of time I wanted to give my impressions of the release more so than a simple repeat of the event. I should also not there have been numerous posts written about what you can expect downloading the beta software which are miles more helpful than what I could tell you. Having said that I do want to put in my two cents.

Tech-Preview_Task-view

During the hour long presentation I got the clear impression that the team in charge of Windows knew what the headlines would say; that Windows 10 was a backtrack from Windows 8. It was something Belfiore addressed directly when discussing the future of touch. In so many ways this is a retreat from the aggressive stance took by Windows 8. Windows 10 is an acknowledgement that people wanted something familiar, so the Start menu has been returned. It is not the same Menu it’s a little flatter in terms of design and also includes changes started in Windows 8 such as Live Tiles and controls. Windows 10 also adds search (Windows 8.1) and new for 10 Task View (virtual desktop similar to Linux and OSX). There have been visual tweaks for Windows adding shadow effects new icons, and Windowed apps. The cumulative effect of the features in the Technical Preview is something to appeal to users of Windows 7 or older. In fact a lot of time was spent on making the case that Windows 10 was suited for users of Windows 7.

I think something that also should be noted while everyone else is talking about a return to a Windows of old is how they mentioned Windows 8. In the presentation neither man shunned Windows 8 or pretended that the audience that adopted it didn’t exist. In fact the goal of Windows 10 seems to be a better merging of desktop (Windows 7) and touch/mobile (Windows 8). And this idea is represented by Continuum. Continuum is a future feature of Windows 10 in which the operating system transitions itself between desktop and tablet scenarios.

The big takeaway I had was the thing Windows 8 brought to the PC, such as touch and mobility, were not going away with the reintroduction of the Start Menu. That going forward the plan for three screens and a cloud was still the goal. Now having said that there are still questions but I want to discuss those in my next post.

If you want to download the Windows Technical Preview go HERE. Understand this is a beta; don’t use it if you don’t want to experience bugs or issues. Also this is a BETA and Microsoft wants feedback so signing on means you agree to them gauging your usage to make a better system.

images: Microsoft

Yesterday Microsoft confirmed recent rumors it was buying Minecraft for 2.5 billion dollars. The deal announced on Monday will see the Redmond, WA company buying the wildly popular game along with its developer Mojang. Minecraft creator Notch will not be a part of the deal; he notes in a post he hasn’t had much to do with the game for some time and wants to focus on making games.

microsoft-minecraft1

The deal is the first major purchase for Satya Nadella and it has some scratching their heads as to why Minecraft (especially for a few billion) and why now. At a luncheon held in Seattle, Nadella said he viewed the purchase in terms of buying a platform. It is a platform he also said, that is making inroads as an educational tool (Minecraft has an addition aimed at schools). Some have speculated the purchase was a way for Microsoft to use up money it has overseas and avoid the taxes it would pay to repatriate it. One article by Simon Bisson speculates the purchase was about reaching the next generation software developers.

Whatever the reason Microsoft has gained a strong intellectual property in Minecraft which has made as much as $317 million in sales alone as of 2013. It has also brought a property that has become more than a game with both merchandising and its own conference. The Mojang purchase from my vantage point serves to strengthen Microsoft in gaming (and is a coup for Xbox chief Phil Spencer) and also continues the trend of cross platform services. The potential worries are around potential fears by Minecraft players; already some are saying Microsoft will mess up their beloved 8bit land. To that a number of statements from Microsoft, Nadella, and Spencer have been assurances that Microsoft will not make serious changes to Minecraft.

It will be interesting to see how Minecraft be integrated into the Microsoft ecosystem.

Given the nature of this news I want to link to articles which can explain this a lot better than me:

Simon Bisson Buying the next generation of Gamers

Mary Jo Foley Microsoft rumored to be poised to buy Minecraft for $2 Billion

Phil Spencer (Xbox, Microsoft) Minecraft to join Microsoft

Taylor Soper Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Minecraft

Markus “Notch” Persson I’m Leaving Mojang

image: TechCrunch and RGS Computing

I am a Nerd.

I have the glasses

The arcane pop knowledge

The references from scifi shows

I’m that guy (well hopefully not THAT guy, he’s weird) and I have lived long enough to where being a nerd is now considered cool. Comics conventions have become the places where entertainment companies go to show off and get feedback. Things like superheroes have become mainstream. Hell a Fantasy show got nominated for an Emmy. We the nerd community have come into our own……and I think I am ready to make nerd no more.

Maybe I’m just old, maybe I wasn’t the nerd I thought I was, but sometimes I get tired of being a nerd. Being a nerd now means being part of the nerd category. So now I have to watch X amount of shows, read X titles, and what not to keep my nerd credentials. I have to make room for fanfic writers, ‘shippers, otakus, Whovians, and the like. And while I’m cool most times, sometimes I want to pull rank and shut them all down.

It’s gotten to the point where in order for me to enjoy something I have to cut my fellow nerds out.

But I’m an old nerd and I am probably just being crabby.

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