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Microsoft Windows Technology

The Empire In Decline? 488

Posted by Soulskill
from the blame-the-colonials dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Pundits continue to weigh in on Steve Sinofsky's sudden exit from Microsoft (as executive head of Windows Division, he oversaw the development and release of Windows 7 and 8). SemiAccurate's Charlie Demerjian sees Microsoft headed for a steep decline, with their habit of creating walled gardens deliberately incompatible with competitors' platforms finally catching up to them. Few PC users are upgrading to Windows 8 with its unwanted Touch UI, sales of the Surface tablet are disappointing, and few are buying Windows Phones. On the Sinofsky front, Microsoft watcher Mary Jo Foley is willing to take the Redmond insiders' word that the departure was more about Sinofsky's communication style and deficiencies as a team player than on unfavorable market prospects for Windows 8 and Surface. Meanwhile, anonymous blogger Mini-Microsoft had suspiciously little to say."
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The Empire In Decline?

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  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @07:18PM (#41986053)

    Apple still does well with walled gardens all over the fucking place. Not that I approve of that, but lets not rip MS apart when the competition is fucking worse.

  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @07:26PM (#41986153) Homepage
    Microsoft was trying to lock in people long before Apple and it's caused more problems for everyone. Hell even MS wants to get people off IE6 as an example.

    IOS is Apple's only walled garden and quite frankly, it makes more sense and as a result their app store is a far better experience than the Google store. If you don't like it then jail break it. No one will stop you. But Macs aren't in a walled garden. You're free to do what you want with them including putting another OS on it and, unlike iOS their Mac app store accepts GPL code. It's nothing more than a prettier package manager and if you really think that's a bad thing then what option is there? Even Linux has an "app store".
  • by NinjaTekNeeks (817385) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @07:30PM (#41986183)
    Come on now, what kind of crappy article is this. MSFT releases a ton of new stuff and has successful products and products that fail, for example:

    Zune
    Bing
    Surface
    Windows Phones
    Windows 98, ME, Vista, 8
    Tons of Server products that suck

    But for each that sucks there are a ton that are great :
    Windows 95, NT, XP, 7, Server 2003, 2008, 2012
    Exchange Server, SQL Server, Sharepoint, ISA Server
    XBox, Xbox 360

    It's important to test new business models and related fields they may be able to compete in (search, mobile, etc.) but they won't win them all, they can't, else they will be balls deep in Anti-Trust suits again. Declaring the decline of the "empire" is horse shit.
  • Re:Still going (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @07:51PM (#41986379) Homepage Journal

    Hey!

    Microsoft will sell to "Enterprise".

    GM will ALWAYS fleet cars.

    They just won't make a sedan you'd buy, yourself. Mazda and VW will trounce the value/dollar every day of the week.

  • by billrp (1530055) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @07:57PM (#41986429)
    There's really no alternative to Windows for most desktop and laptop usage, and there are "apps" to hide or disable the silly touch UI in Win so that the reasonable Win 7 UI can be used. Trying to use Linux on a laptop or desktop in a real work environment is a deadend, and Macs are a niche - so what's left?
  • Re:Still going (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Burning1 (204959) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @08:12PM (#41986595) Homepage

    This isn't really true at all. A GM car is fine in a fleet car - it has a dealer network, a steering wheel, instrumentation, pedals, and a shift lever... Just like every other car.

    If Microsoft loses the consumer market, it will lose the corporate market as well. Microsoft owns the corporate desktop market, because users are familiar with it's products. Although it might be cheaper from a licensing and maintenance perspective to put everyone on Ubuntu, the cost of re-training all your employees to use LibreOffice and Unity greatly exceeds the cost of licensing the products.

    If however, users become more familiar with another platform, it would start to make much more sense to simply employ that platform in your corporate space. Consider ChromeOS; it's cheap, easy, and readily available. If users become comfortable with that platform, there's absolutely no reason why most of the corporate desktop work couldn't be done on that platform. Microsoft would be in trouble.

  • by cupantae (1304123) <maroneill.gmail@com> on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @08:18PM (#41986655)

    A walled garden is a system where the user is somehow prevented from using anything outside of the intended system. Let's see now, on Ubuntu (or any other modern Linux distribution) you can:
    - Add/remove repositories for the package manager
    - Install local packages using only the installation tools
    - Unpack archives manually or otherwise manually add software to the system
    - Compile your own software

    It's not the presence of a package manager that makes something a walled garden; it's the absence of other methods of installing software.

  • Re:Still going (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snadrus (930168) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @08:23PM (#41986723) Homepage Journal
    As a former admin, I can say I've never heard of such training. For advanced 3d drafting software we sent people away for a week, but for office software people just figured it out. I also sat through the IBM shift to OpenOffice and Firefox, both occurred without training to 100,000+ people.
    Nobody is trained to use consumer websites, but they still get considerable use. The web is like touch interfaces: Developers are wary of off-screen features (right-click, long, tap, etc). As these better rules roll out, the next major UI platform is going to be the web (on any architecture), because all people need is their software.
  • Re:Still going (Score:4, Insightful)

    by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @08:27PM (#41986777)

    The article is a huge sham, and makes all kinds of claims that it simply can't back up.

    For example, the claim that Windows phones aren't selling. They've only been on the market for a couple of days, and 3 phones are on the market, and only one vendor has them. There is absolutely NO way to know whether or not Windows phones are going to be popular or not.

    Based on initial reaction, however, and long lines outside ATT stores, it looks like they're off to a good start.

    Likewise, the Surface tablets are only available online and in a few dozen stores so far. So there's no possible way to judge how well they will do overall once they're available everywhere. Plus, the more powerful Surface Pro's aren't even on the market yet, and many of the third party devices (like Sony's new models) have yet to ship.

    Finally, we can see tell-tale signs of bias in the writing. "Unwanted touch interface"? Really? Who doesn't want a touch interface in a tablet? or Phone? And lots of people seem very keen on having a touch interface in their desktops.

    There is an interesting class of internet troll that loves to find any outlet they can to claim that Touch in windows is unwanted, and this seems to be the case here.

  • Re:Still going (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @08:41PM (#41986909)

    I wouldn't count them out due to one word: Inertia.

    Microsoft has a monopoly on two things: Desktop OS and Desktop Productivity. Every other market (Server OS, Database, Consoles, etc) has healthy competition.

    Microsoft's problem is that the concept of the "Desktop" is in question. We are still going to use monitors & keyboards for a long time, but we're also going to be using tablets and phones/pdas. We want all of our data and work and entertainment to transfer seamlessly from one device to another. On top of that, we're going to want our session state to transfer, so we can resume things right where we left off. We want total hardware agnosticism.

    Accomplishing this will require a UI revolution on the order of what windowing did to the command line, and nobody has invented it yet. The answer may not even come from one of the established players (although MS, Apple, and Google have the biggest head start). Whoever gets it right will win big.

    Inertia only helps if your market is stable. Microsoft is, and probably always be, the King of the Desktop, in the same way that IBM was King of the Mainframe. Their problem is that their empire might be built on quicksand.

  • by cupantae (1304123) <maroneill.gmail@com> on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @08:46PM (#41986959)

    Only on slashdot can you get a comment that Apple is not doing well in the mobile market. You are absolutely out of your mind.

    Apple sells expensive products. It has become the most valuable company in the world by paying attention to detail and selling at a high price. Now, I don't mean to call you a stupid person, but your comment is extremely stupid. There is absolutely no way that Apple could conduct its business in the way it does and capture a majority of the mobile market. Most people can't afford such luxuries, and it would be a poor idea for Apple to cater to those who can't. They are doing more than well enough, and the fact that several other companies produce lots of handsets using the same operating system is neither here nor there.

    Likewise, they make a lot of money from Macs, and the fact that most people use Windows does not spoil this. The goal of a business is to maximise profits, not to maximise market share. The reason we hear about market share as if it were the true goal is that it's always good to have more. That doesn't mean that a company should go head over heels to gain more of it. They might lose a lot of money in the process.

    This is coming from someone who has little time for Apple. Please think before you speak.

  • Re:I can say this (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @08:57PM (#41987053)

    People WANT to move to the "cloud"

    No they don't! A subset of self-proclaimed "geeks" who spend their time guffawing away on social media, "cloud providers" and Orwellian security services want it.

    We've had fuse drivers for a long time, I use the openssh command line tools. We've had rsync for a long time, I use removable drives (before USB it was IDE caddies). We've had network capable versioning for years, my personal stuff was in RCS before I switched to local git repositories.

    I don't want "the cloud" and I sure as hell don't want desktop / application level social media integration. Like many computer users, I want a reliable OS that stays the fuck out of my way while I work.

  • Re:Still going (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tuppe666 (904118) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @09:11PM (#41987155)

    The article is a huge sham, and makes all kinds of claims that it simply can't back up. For example, the claim that Windows phones aren't selling.

    I'm pretty confident that Windows phones aren't selling. in fact its still being outsold by Symbian and Bada...and RIM. Moving exclusivity to windows Phone destroyed Nokia.

  • Metro (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @09:21PM (#41987251)
    Metro is a piece of shit. It's a tablet interface, and Microsoft is attempting to shove it up the asses of desktop users. Every time I point that out I get modded down as a troll or flamebaiting. Here we go again...
  • Re:Still going (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @10:04PM (#41987579) Journal

    Its not just inertia, its the fact that other than the "Star Trek rule" stinkers (WinME/Vista/8) most folks? they are quite happy with Windows. And why shouldn't they be? After SP 2 WinXP was good, in fact its still being used over a decade after release because many are happy with it, and Win 7 is a damned good, rock solid OS with several features that make your work easier, breadcrumbs, jumplists, and superfetch just to name a few, so why shouldn't people just stick with what they like? XP is still good until 2014, Win 7 is good until 2020, why try to fix what ain't broke?

    But as somebody that sells PCs and has since Win 3.1 I am really getting tired of the pundits and their "Post PC" horseshit, they have NO clue as to what is REALLY happening on the ground and nobody is replacing their PCs for a fricking cellphone!

    I'll be happy to tell you what IS happening and what IS reality is...my dad. My dad is the perfect example of what is called a "typical user" today, he surfs, chats, uses FB, burns DVD, runs his Quickbooks, watches videos, he is as typical as you can possible get of an average Windows PC user. So when the price dropped on the Phenom IIs I thought to myself "Well it has been a few years since I built that cheap AM2 Phenom quad for my dad, maybe its time to build him a new system" so I set his PC to log his usage for a couple of weeks, then I came back and looked at the data. What did I find? 45%, that is what I found. Now we are talking a Phenom I with the TLB bug and a max speed of 2.2Ghz and the MOST he stressed that quad is 45% and that turned out to be a hung browser tab.

    So the PC and MSFT are NOT going away, but when AMD and Intel hit the thermal wall and decided to switch from the MHz war to the core war the chips they produced, hell even for the low end like the Athlon triples or the first gen Core based Pentiums on the laptops, are just sooooo damned powerful the users just aren't stressing them so they just ain't needing replaced nearly as often.

    I predict we have less than 3 years before we see mobile, which TFA thinks is to blame (Protip: Its not) have the same damned thing happen to it that happened to X86. i mean look at what is going on, they've switched to the core wars over MHz wars, and just like with X86 you are seeing a race to the bottom with even the low end starting to sport 1.2Ghz dual cores. i predict this time next year you'll see Android 5 dual core 7 inch tablets for $50, 10 inch quads for around $150, and just like with X86 everybody that wants one will have multiple units and will find there isn't any point in upgrading. The only except will be Apple, but as I've said before what saves Apple from hard times is they are NOT a tech company that makes fashionable devices but a FASHION company that just happens to make tech devices. That is why the only items you see people line up and camp out for are Air Jordans and Apple products, using last year's iPhone is as unhip as wearing last year's Jordans.

    So MSFT and Windows won't be going anywhere, they just have to accept that people aren't gonna toss machines every 3 years like they did during the MHz wars. Hell as a gamer i used to have to replace my machine every year and a half like clockwork, now I'm gaming on an AMD Hexacore that was released nearly 3 years ago and see ZERO reason to upgrade more than the GPU. Hell even my low end system for the past five years have been a minimum of a triple core with 4gb of RAM and 500gb HDDs, what is the average user gonna do to slam that chip? Not a damned thing, which is why they'll hang onto it for years, if it ain't broke....

  • Re:Still going (Score:5, Insightful)

    by redneckmother (1664119) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @10:17PM (#41987671) Journal

    ... Although it might be cheaper from a licensing and maintenance perspective to put everyone on Ubuntu, the cost of re-training all your employees to use LibreOffice and Unity greatly exceeds the cost of licensing the products.

    It is surprising to me (jaded as I am) that businesses and governments fail to recognize that the conversion effort and retraining needed to shift between the recent (read: last decade or more) "upgrades" of MS products is no different than that required to move to open platforms.

    I moved from MS to Linux (and associated open applications) many years ago. I have saved hundreds (nay, thousands) of dollars in license fees by doing so. Open data formats have saved my bacon on more than one occasion. I've been able to rescue and reformat data for my friends and employers with open source applications on many occasions.

  • Re:Still going (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Burning1 (204959) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @10:22PM (#41987717) Homepage

    Cost of training is in lost productivity, not necessarily on actual training courses. I'm an admin with 10 years of experience. My productivity would suffer significantly if you gave me a Mac or asked me to manage an unfamiliar distro. A week of lost productivity would easily cost my company thousands of dollars worth of my time.

    Spread that out over a company of hundreds, or thousands and the numbers really add up.

  • by bmo (77928) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @10:49PM (#41987925)

    OK, so I'll take that back, as you're reasonable.

    It's been happening a lot lately though (the new-account shill thing).

    With regards to your argument that 8 is for tablets. Microsoft *had* to go to a touch interface for tablets . I agree, totally, that touch is needed on tablets, PDAs, music players, and phones. It's even better than vocal control. What Microsoft has done is continue on this path to their mythical "universal interface" that totally ignores the fact that people use different sized devices for different purposes. What they did instead was take the touch interface for tablets and shoehorn it into a desktop operating system. This goes against every study over the past 40+ years showing that people don't like holding their hands in front of them with light pens or their fingers touching a screen. SAGE is dead. Light pens are dead. Touch on the desktop never took off, and that wasn't because of a lack of touch software or touch enabled monitors (NEC had a great one in the mid 80s). Touch winds up doing data collection on factory floors, industrial equipment, and POS terminals, tablets, PDAs, and phones, for the reasons I listed in my previos message.

    Anyone who has seriously interacted with Metro on the desktop hates it and it's not like you can avoid Metro. And you can't claim that I don't know what I'm talking about, because I've used it ever since the same day the Developer Preview came out. People have been talking about this for over a year.

    Yet Microsoft refuses to listen to the desktop and laptop users, because they have an agenda to push, and they think that pushing touch on desktop and laptops will get people to do everything on tablets. The first sign that they don't give a shit about the desktop and laptop users was when they ripped out, the start menu registry entry and the code tied to it just to make sure.

    Touch on a desktop or laptop? Not a chance. I'm not rubbing my greasy fingers all over a 27 inch monitor. I'm not doing CAD on a tablet. No.

    The hate for 8 (hey that rhymes) is not unfounded. It's from people who have screwed around with this Frankenstein Monster since 2 Septembers ago. And despite all the naysaying of the Windows shills that "Microsoft's gonna fix that" even past the RTM, the root criticisms of 8 were never addressed. Instead, the reaction was more like the reaction from the Gnome 3 devs - "Fuck you, we know what we're doing."

    8 is a failure on the desktop. It is inconvenient to the point of unusable.

    --
    BMO

  • Re:Still going (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tuppe666 (904118) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @11:07PM (#41988075)

    But, it could put a huge dent in both's market share.

    I'm intrigued how. Microsoft Phone failed when it had positive reviews; Nokia still had reasonable market share, and a plan to convert existing users from Symbian it didn't work. Samsung and HTC and LG [now android exclusive and profitable again] were manufactures that didn't work. It had an opportunity to convert that tiny market share by growing its own group of fanatics; It threw them under the bus with an OS update. Arguing its an improved OS on improved hardware is not enough, iOS and Android both have improved hardware and OS's, and will not stumble. In all likelihood Microsoft will be less successful, and is less resilient to mistakes..

    The bottom line though is right now people desire iOS and Android phones...but aren't interested in Windows Phone whatever the version or hardware. The new strategy looks a lot like the old strategy, with the exception of Windows 8 ecosystem [sic], and the treat to OEM's of first party hardware [whatever you think of that]. I personally cannot think of one single compelling reason why my next phone should be windows, and multiple reasons why not, and your arguments reflect that.

  • Re:Still going (Score:4, Insightful)

    by guruevi (827432) <<evi> <at> <smokingcube.be>> on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @11:19PM (#41988149) Homepage

    Really? I would never hire any admin that can't handle at least a handful of OS'es. If there is a new OS, as an admin, I am supposed to learn about it and get some hands-on experience. It's built-in to my job to learn new things.

  • Re:Still going (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GigaplexNZ (1233886) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @11:26PM (#41988189)
    Everyone talks about growth as the be all and end all. Microsoft is already pretty big. As long as they remain profitable, they don't really need to grow to stay in business.
  • Re:Still going (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Eponymous Coward (6097) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @11:34PM (#41988241)

    So, Metro apps are designed to be used by both Desktops with keyboards and mice, and touch devices (some of which are also desktops).

    Metro works nicely on handheld touchscreen devices. On the desktop? Meh. I have a couple of 2560x1440 panels. Windows knows that I have a mouse and keyboard and the monitors are not touch screens. It should be smart enough to come up with a better UI for this configuration. It's ridiculous that when I open the weather app, it goes full screen. Does Microsoft really believe four million pixels are needed to tell me if it's going to rain tomorrow?

    As a developer, Metro sucks. Windows really are invaluable when programming. I want my IDE open, API docs open, the application running, a console tailing a log, and maybe even a chat window or email client running. I have more than enough pixels and I'm running an operating system called "Windows". Why can't I actually have windows?

  • by RazorSharp (1418697) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @11:54PM (#41988335)

    The link you provide doesn't back up the assertion that Apple will turn OS X into a walled garden. Demanding that apps provided on their app store meet rigid standards that increase security and stability is in no way evidence that OS X will one day have the restrictions that iOS has.

    You're trolling, your claim is FUD, and you know it.

    I can lay out a counter argument with one word: Economics.

  • by tuppe666 (904118) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @12:58AM (#41988635)

    Ferrari isn't concerned that Ford sells more cars than them.

    Except Apple is terrified, that it is losing relevance, because unlike a Ferrari, its hardware is arguably worse than the competition [Its brand is being damaged]. Unlike Ferrari Apple rely on a ecosystem of App developers/Content Providers that will lose interest in its platform if its market share continues to drop. Unlike Ferrari without a controlling interest in the Phone market. Its 3rd party ecosystem will die [signs of this are everywhere], damaging the brand.

    Lets face it Apple is not Ferrari, they are not even ford, they simply commanded the market because they were perceived as first mover in a new market and cashed in on all the early adopter money, where companies can always charge a premium...ask Sony.

    Like I said Apples Losing relevance...Microsoft never had any.

  • Re:Still going (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Burning1 (204959) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @01:00AM (#41988643) Homepage

    You missed the point dude. It's not about whether or not someone is able to learn a new OS, It's about the cost of doing so. No matter how flexible you are, you are going to be slower work in an environment you're not used to. Lost productivity probably costs a lot more than you think.

  • Re:Still going (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @04:06AM (#41989373)

    You are not an admin. You are a regurgitator. I'm not trying to be a dick, I just want you to realize where you actually fit in the food chain.

    An admin has no trouble shifting to new environments on the fly. He/she doesn't think twice about doing so, its just part of the job. No OS is so different that it matters, even the jump from UNIX to Windows is trivial if you are qualified to call yourself an admin.

    Just because you have root on some boxes doesn't make you an admin.

    Yes, there is a cost to the switch, but if that cost is significant for a given 'admin' then it shows that you are unable to quickly adapt to a new environment and find the resources you need to complete the job. Windows admin really isn't THAT different now days, the answer to any problem is almost certainly a Google away in any case you're likely to hit. I can safely say that because someone at your level isn't going to be doing anything that hasn't been done a million times before.

    In my career, I've dealt with more than one person like you. Not that there is anything wrong with you, but you think you are more capable than you are in one respect while realizing you aren't in others. My typical treatment towards someone like this is to nudge them towards finding a 'higher paying' job else where and get them out of my umbrella. They'll generally fail, but then they also generally get the point and learn the difference, and their next job works out a whole lot better for them. This may not be 'nice', but being nice typically doesnt' get the point across or you would have realized it already.

  • Re:Still going (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfish (1653411) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @05:08AM (#41989621)

    If Microsoft loses the consumer market, it will lose the corporate market as well. Microsoft owns the corporate desktop market, because users are familiar with it's products.

    That logic might apply for the Desktop OS, but like most MS bashers you seem to have not taken into account the monopoly MS has with AD/DNS/DHCP/GPO/Exchange/SQL/IIS and the corporate back office ecosystem that everyone knows and understands. There simply isn't anything that comes close to this*, and if you're not moving away from that, then you may as well make life easier for yourself and keep an MS desktop too. I don't see MS going anywhere. Worst case is Win8 flops, and MS maintain support for Win7 until they release a replacement, then life carries on. *Feel free to post a suggested replacement. But don't bother with a hodge podge home brew mix of unsupported free apps. Any viable replaceble has to have the same or better features, with the same or better UI, and the same or better support.

  • by Evil Pete (73279) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @07:29AM (#41990141) Homepage

    I was very pleasantly surprised to find that I really like Windows 8. A friend even said, unbelievably, that he found Win8 more useful than Linux. Not sure about that part, but it is very beautiful and easy to use. I am using it on my aging desktop. Looks amazing. Of course I miss the free stuff but ah well. So, taking that into account the only reason I would think they got rid of him would be for issues unrelated to the actual product.

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