(This is a Rant; an emotion fueled tirade screamed into the echo chamber of the Internet. My apologies)
Sometimes you read something so damn stupid that it really makes you question why you even bother trying anymore. I admit I am a Microsoft fanboy and that I like learning about Microsoft technologies and the latest tech. I have always tried to be a realistic fanboy and understand that the OS and platform I like are not the default platforms for many.
But sometimes I read shit like this and I wonder why I even care.
So today Microsoft named a CEO (YAY!)
And with a new CEO comes the obvious question of where the company goes now. So this means a few dozen articles listing the top 10, 8, or 5 things the new head must do/face/overcome to resurrect Microsoft. Then there are the articles trying to decipher the “real” meaning behind the new CEO’s first memo and interview. And so there are blog post out now highlighting the words used or not used to decrypt where Microsoft is headed.
And that brings us to, To Grow, Microsoft Must Deemphasize Windows by Paul Thurrott. Now I follow Thurrott and consider him one the best Windows watchers around. I like that he isn’t a fanboy (we have enough already thank you). But there are times when I disagree and this is one of those times.
Now let me preface by saying I agree with Thurrott’s overall point in principal. I agree that Microsoft should release a number of its services unto other platforms. Office, Bing,
Sky OneDrive, and Xbox Music and Video are but some of the services that Microsoft makes that should exist on iOS and Android. What I disagree with is the idea of deemphasizing Windows in order to do this.
I am sorry but this is stupid; only thing stupider is Microsoft forking Android. Its a mistake to for all intents and purposes ”kill” Windows because a new board member has a hard on for Office on the iPad. I understand that in this new world of technology, a PC platform like Windows isn’t the focus for developers or even a lot of consumers, but its still a sizeable platform.
Realistically Microsoft will bring Office to the iPad and Android devices and while it will help Office, it could very well kill Windows and Windows Phone. I am not advocating ignoring the iPad (that’s stupid), but I don’t think that should come at the cost of improving a platform Microsoft owns.
There are some who want Microsoft to go back to being a pure software vendor and go where the customers are. They want Microsoft to focus on the enterprise because that is where the money cometh from. The problem with that is the technology industry is a mut. Very few of the companies the Redmond giant goes against sticks to their lane. Apple is business and Google has a desktop/laptop OS. All the serious contenders to Microsoft in enterprise have consumer platforms and options.
It fucking unrealistic to hide behind the Enterprise wall and hope this shit blows over.
Publicly deemphasizing Windows, will kill Windows as a platform more than it is now. Who will buy into it if the sense you get is that Microsoft itself didn’t give two flying fucks. Its like the whole idea of Microsoft going Android or forking Android to make a platform.
The only thing you get is a App catalogue and apps that don’t fit the skin you put on top of Android. Anyone familiar with what OEMs using Android go through knows the reality of this. People will bitch about app selection (because Google will not be opening the gates to Goggle Play or Google apps) and the version of Android forked (“Why the hell isn’t this Android Twizzler?”). Microsoft has a development platform and a mobile OS, what the fuck do they get forking Android?
Microsoft has a lot of challenges, but I sorry but the solutions suggested so far have just plain stupid.
The Consumer Electronic Show, commonly known as CES, is now over. The thousands of reporters, bloggers, dealers, and buyers are slowly peeling out of las Vegas. The yearly event marks the new cycle of boom and bust that is the consumer electronic market with many items destined to be seen toward the middle of the year or not at all.
CES is one of those events that everyone says you should do once just to experience, like the San Diego Comic-Con. Except there is more bitching about it than anything. It is considered a big deal in consumer technology and that’s why they go. The reality is the show is more for connections, deal making, and selling than it is for the front page of the Verge or Engadget. Much of the show won’t and can’t be covered; there is literally too much to see. Beyond the big names there are thousands of smaller companies and start-ups trying to sell their products to potential buyers. Retailers of all stripes come to see potential goods. And of course in between there are deals being made.
This year’s CES was a bit of repeat of last years. For the past three or four years there has been a shift away from computers and gadgets to items like televisions and cars. This year was no exception. Its not to say that there was nothing new on the PC and phone front (more later) but it clear TVs and Cars are getting more attention.
If I were to summarize CES it would be 4K, Sensors, and Car tech. The big news around televisions was 4K. 4K is just the next step beyond HD (high definition) and replaces 3-D as the new flavor of the month. However while 3-D felt and landed onto the market like a gimmick, 4K looks to be a true upgrade. 4K was so ubiquitous this year it even ended up on a few laptops and computer monitors. The second big thing was sensors (and honestly the “Internet of Things” which are made up of sensors). This year everything had a sensor and almost everyone a sensor platform. SONY introduced
Lastly the biggest thing in cars were how much of them would contain computers. Chip maker NVIDIA announced their K1 chip which in addition to running on tablets and phones would run in cars. Potentially bigger news was the announcement by Google and select car makers of the Open Automotive Alliance which would bring the Android OS into cars as the on board information system.
On the PC and phone front Android and Chrome make further inroads with PC makers and chip vendors. Both AMD and Intel announced initiatives to bring Android apps to Windows. HP and Lenovo both introduced devices running Android aimed at businesses and consumers in unusual packages (All in Ones). As usual there were new Android phones and tablets announced. Asus is bringing it PadPhone line of phone/tablet hybrids with ATT along with a new line of ZenPhones with a new customized skin for Android. SONY will bring their Xperia Z line of phones to the US with the Z1 S and the Z1 Compact. SONY also announced their long awaited game streaming service called PlayStation Now which covers everything in the SONY roster except their laptops and PCs. Samsung announced Pro versions of their Note and Tab devices which now run a new skin called Magazine UX and looks a lot like Microsoft’s Metro interface. A number of Windows devices were announced including 4K workstations by Toshiba, an interesting Ultrabook by LG, and an 8.3 inch Lenovo tablet under its ThinkPad line. Valve finally introduced their SteamBox platform along with 13 partners in a short presentation.
Beyond gadgets Yahoo showed of its plan to recreate itself in Vegas. Yahoo chief Melissa Meyer trotted out Katie Couric, former Times columnist David Pogue, and even SNL’s latest to show off new services by the Internet pioneer. Yahoo introduced new “web magazines” for food and technology, a new news app for iOS and new ad models based on Tumblr.
There was more but this was a fast walk through the the things I found interesting. Thanks for reading.
Right now the Consumer Electronics Show has unofficially been kicked off by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich who spoke yesterday at the event’s pre-show keynote. While Krzanich’s presentation was this mix of future projects around mobility, sensors, controls, and platforms, it was Intel’s DualOS initiative that stood out.
DualOS is Intel’s initiative allowing Windows and Android to sit on the same system and allow almost instant switching between the operating systems. A similar program is going on with Intel’s competitor AMD who has signed a deal to work with software vendor BlueStacks which allows users to run Android applications on their PCs. Both initiatives stem from the fact that the Personal Computing space has slowed down in terms of sales; losing out to the growth of tablets. Windows 8 hasn’t been the solution many hoped it would be. So now PC makers and vendors are looking for any solution to the declining sales.
I can see Intel, AMD, and PC makers looking at Windows 8 which has had slow adoption with both users and developers and thinking adding Android could work filling out the app gap and giving them a mobile platform they could sell easily. Android is after all the biggest mobile system out. It has the application numbers and developers. Its also free and allows OEMs to differentiate their products.
The one fly in this ointment is going to be Microsoft. I think this year we might see DualOS and the BlueStacks deal bringing issues to a head in the PC industry. The growth of mobile, specifically tablets, has forced a lot of the traditional PC makers to rethink strategies. Its not loss on any of them that the emergence of tablets has left them playing catchup. So they are moving logically to Android which is the mass market OS in mobile. I also think Microsoft’s entering the market with the Surface line and buying Nokia’s hardware group has also been a factor in these dramatic shifts.
Intel and AMD are in more precarious positions because the mobile space revolves around ARM. Apple makes its own chips and the rest of the mobile landscape is under Qualcomm and NVIDIA. Intel adapted Android a while back, practically dumping its side OS. AMD recently announced support for the mobile OS. The chip makers’ backing of Android will be seen as a blow to Microsoft and a clear vote of no confidence in Windows’ ability to get mobile.
I don’t see how running Android on top of Windows will solve the problems facing OEMs, Intel, and AMD. I talked earlier of the perceived benefit of DualOS and its ilk but lets discuss the downsides. Android is a solid mobile OS on phones and tablets, up to 7 inches. Android does have issues in terms of scaling to larger screens; not the OS but the majority of apps which were written for phones. Until recently Android tablets sold poorly which was why some OEMs were looking to Windows 8. Lastly the PC industry has been plagued by saturation and commoditization that has led to low margins. Android and Google’s other OS don’t solve this. The biggest reason Android would work would be because it has the apps.
Microsoft and Google so far have been mum on the subject. Microsoft is at CES doing things in the background (CES is after all a trade show) and Google is there to promote its new push into Automotive software. I cannot imagine Microsoft is having a good time with its partners deemphasizing Windows products for Android and now dual booting it in lieu of helping them push its own mobile platform. To be honest I wouldn’t be surprised if the news coming out of CES doesn’t push Microsoft further down the devices path. The company has the technical know how in house to make chips (and not just for ARM but also x/86) and hardware. So for me the question is increasingly is what will be the trigger to make Microsoft become a serious hardware vendor.
I also really wonder why this was simpler to do and less confusing than encouraging development on the Windows Run Time (winRT) or using Windows on ARM (Windows RT). Creating DualOS has to be causing some conflict within the WinTel alliance. So I guess in the end my summation of events is DualOS looks to be the straw that will break the camel’s back. All we have to do now is wait.
Windows is in trouble because people simply don’t care about it anymore. It’s not outright hostility; It’s ambivalence. It’s ambivalence driven by the nature of “good enough” mobile and web apps. It’s ambivalence driven by the allure of
anytime/anywhere computing on tiny devices that are more cool to use and even cooler to be seen using.
A few hours ago Microsoft watcher Paul Thurrott wrote a piece for Windows IT Pro that I think really summarizes one of the big issues facing Microsoft and in particular Windows as an operating system. Ambivalence.
There has always been a sense that Windows was and is “Just there” like paint. The spread of PCs makes Windows white noise in comparison to Macs with their aluminum casing and glowing Apple logo. It has a scarcity that is missing when one has 95% of the market.
In all the complaining and arguing over Windows 8, one thing that has become clear to me is that in order for the platform to be viable Windows needs to be revalued. It needs to become mobile and to be on these new form factors to maintain a foot in the race. But saying that doesn’t mean Microsoft will succeed or that it will cease any form of relevancy in technology circles. What can happen is what I believe happened to Linux which is to say it won its battles and its reward was a piece of land surrounded by Windows and Mac with them in a digital reservation cut off.
That digital reservation has room for Microsoft. Its a place where Microsoft maintains a foothold on desktops and in enterprise but its role will go no further. Off site workers will remote in using Macs and iPads or Android devices. It will sit in the cloud being accessed by Citrix. It will be an environment in a box pulled out to get work done.
I think that vision is why Steve Ballmer pushed Microsoft into the direction of Devices and Services and why Windows 8 was pushed. The place where Microsoft could go is a place where it would be profitable but stagnant; widely used but barely visible; of importance to a niche and not the masses.