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Microsoft Windows Technology

The Empire In Decline? 488

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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  • Still going (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @07:11PM (#41985973)

    I wouldn't count them out just yet. Ironically, they are just know starting to produce technically good products. If only they would embrace interoperability they would be golden.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @07:13PM (#41985997) Homepage

    with their habit of creating walled gardens deliberately incompatible with competitors' platforms finally catching up to them.

    Everybody from Apple to Comcast has a "walled garden" now. Even Canonical has an "app store". The New York times is thriving behind its paywall.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @07:18PM (#41986043)

    I'm a bit of a hardware power user. I hang an awful lot of hardware off my computer for a variety of purposes. As soon as there's a Linux distribution which supports my 3 slightly different nVidia video cards driving 6 monitors in a way that lets me merge them all into a single desktop that doesn't involve tearing my hear out with configuration files, I'd happily switch over and figure out the learning curve on everything else on my own.

    On Windows, it's as simple as plug the cards in, make sure cables are connected, and open the control panel. I have yet to get multiple monitors working on any variant of Linux going back to 2008.

    If anyone has suggestions, tutorials, or something along those lines I'd love to give it a shot - I hear nothing but good things, but my blocking criteria for a migration is "can use all the hardware installed in my computer right now".

  • Citation Needed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord Grey ( 463613 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @07:22PM (#41986103)

    ... sales of the Surface tablet are disappointing ...

    I'm not fan of Microsoft. It's a huge bureaucracy that stifles the innovation of a lot of very bright people who work there. I would not be surprised at all to learn that their late-to-the-party tablet isn't selling well.

    However, I've not seen any concrete evidence that Surface tablet sales are "disappointing." There were some vaguely-worded comments by Ballmer in a French magazine or something, and something about a few people returning the table after discovering that they couldn't run their existing apps, but that's about it. From what I've read, Surface seems to be selling. Does anyone have any concrete numbers?

  • I can say this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @07:27PM (#41986165)

    Disclaimer: I am a nobody. A simple techie. I left Microsft last year because I felt they were in turmoil internally. Managment where I worked was heinous and ineffective.

    MS has long seemed like it's playing catch up with the IT world. They don't seem to grok what people want. People WANT to move to the "cloud" -- as amorphous as that term is. When I met with customers I was expected to use Bing to look things up in the MS universe and say that I was "binging" this or that. I was asked to also bring up Office 365 at every opportunity.

    What keeps MS alive is the corporate sector. What with Google and Apple eating MS's lunch at every turn in the consumer space, it doesn't matter why Sinofsky left. MS is an also ran in the Internet/device/OS world. They are becoming like RIM... irrelevant. Nobody cares anymore.

    People want devices and software that are "now" and hip, that are scalable and easy to use. Win 8 is a point and click nightmare. I "lived" with the RP for a few months and was constantly going back to Linux to get real work done. No thanks, MS. I'm done with you. I've embraced better solutions for me and mine.

  • Re:Citation Needed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dark12222000 ( 1076451 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @07:38PM (#41986257) []

    Well, that only took a quick google.
  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @07:39PM (#41986267)
    I have read that this guy was fired for leaving the stupidest sounding conference I have ever heard of. Two solid days of watching each others' powerpoints. That is pure MBA masturbation. From the sound of it he basically got up, said, "All you need to know is on my blog" and then left the conference. Then he was labeled abrasive and not a team player. Well it sounds like he didn't follow their petty rules (the guy who successfully runs windows development). I suspect that he also sent some shock waves with other free thinkers saying, "Hey I am wasting my time here too."

    By saying that all they needed to know was on his blog it seems he was basically saying, Microsoft join the 21st century and get out of the 19th century.

    I have seen teams that would appear to be dysfunctional people yelling and stomping out. But these teams produced wonders. I have seen other teams that were quiet and respectful of each other and were nothing but deadweight. I am willing to bet that there is an inverse ratio to the time showing people powerpoints and the genuine productivity of that team. The worst is when someone puts up a powerpoint and then starts reading it to you. Icing on the powerpoint cake is when you have a central item with other items surrounding it with arrows pointing to the central item. A perfect example would be a powerpoint slide saying "Team Player" in the center with items around it that are things that make a good team player.

    So assuming this guy wasn't throwing feces at people I suspect that MBA types who had everything to lose spent the rest of this conference making sure that this guy was gone. My suggestion to him is to sell his MS stock sooner than later.

    On a whole other page it could be that Windows 8 is a giant turd and this is one of the first heads to role. Either way I just don't see a bright future for MS. Unless they have a world beater about to come out of their R&D people nothing they have catches my fancy. In every category of product I prefer something else. MySQL to SQL, Linux to MS Server, Bean to Word, MacOSX to Windows, Sublime or XCode to Visual Studio, PHP to ASPX, C++ or Python or java to .net anything, iPhone or Android to MS phones. iPad or a Macbook Air to Surface. Anything to Zune. VLC to MS Media. OpenGL to DirectX. I do like the XBox and my MS Mouse.

    If MS simply stopped selling products I would not be greatly inconvenienced. This is a massive sea change from say 1998. If they had vanished in 1998 I would have cried myself to sleep.
  • Re:Still going (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @07:42PM (#41986291) Journal

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

    Enterprises still use the stuff, and will use it for quite a good amount of time. This gives Microsoft something that few others have: time to correct its screwups.

    The debacle of Vista would have killed most other tech companies, but thanks to inertia and near-total monopoly, Microsoft had room to breathe while it fixed its messes. I think the same story will hold true here. This is similar to Intel having a chance to clean up all that NetBurst/RAMBUS bullcrap when the Pentium 4 first came out, as an example.

    Now how long and how much breathing room? Hard to say, especially now that the competition has stepped up its game by quite a bit more than they had in 2006, and with mobile consumer devices forming a huge wildcard.

  • It's pretty obvious (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @07:44PM (#41986309) Homepage Journal

    Ballmer needed to blame someone and started throwing him under the bus. Being a smart guy, he left before the bus arrived.

    The board should have fired Ballmer and given Steve a huge bonus to return and run the place.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @07:51PM (#41986375)

    He was asked to leave due to politics. Metro was the brain-child of the bitch succeeding him. He wanted to ditch it after the feedback came in and the suits told him "No" in no uncertain terms. He tried to spell it out for them what a disaster it would be and was asked to leave because they have already pulled the trigger on the project, and put too many dollars into it.

    At a company like M$ once a decision is made to go with something you back it until it's well and truly failed.

    I think uptake of windows 8 is going to be so fucking horrid that they're going to issue a patch to remove metro, add the windows store as a regular program, and quietly fire their new Melinda. Unfortuantely for the new bitch her lover(Ballmer presumably) isn't as rich as the last Melindas and could lose nearly everything if he pisses the board off too much.

  • by neonmonk ( 467567 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @08:11PM (#41986589)

    Windows 8 shill is back. Keep preaching about how it really is the cats meow JCF. I'm sure someone who is technically literate will listen to you someday.

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

    by SomePgmr ( 2021234 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @08:21PM (#41986689) Homepage

    I don't know about everyone else, but the users where I'm at are way more comfortable with using something different than they've ever been. Sales staff push for services like salesforce. All kinds of users gripe that they'd prefer to work on a mac, both on the desktop and with laptops.

    The remaining mental lock-in nowadays, where I come from, is really just Exchange+Outlook. Of course you can get Outlook to work with other combinations of services, and you can use different clients with Exchange, but what the users are used to is the utility afforded by using the two together.

    Obviously this is just what I see at work... your situations likely differ.

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

    by j00r0m4nc3r ( 959816 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @08:59PM (#41987071)
    Investors don't care about inertia. They care about growth. Microsoft really has nowhere left to grow, at least nowhere that hasn't already been solidly claimed by another company. Their stock has been flat for 10 years. That's a long fucking time. Who wants to invest in a company without much real visible future growth potential? So the investors will pull out, and MS will coast on "inertia" for a while, but then what? What's their long-term plan for growth? I don't see them competing effectively in any market, at least with Ballmer at the wheel.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @09:07PM (#41987129)

    Windows 8 is better than Windows 7 in everything except the UI, lack of Media Center, and secure boot. The file operations have been greatly improved. (I've been waiting for years on linux for someone to come up with a copy/move/delete dialog that queues requests and doesn't pause the entire operation when it has a single name or permission conflict. Nothing still does that right?) I don't plan on using Storage Space, but can see how RAID on a folder-by-folder basis could be useful. I assume there's a lot of under the hood improvements as well.

    Windows 8 boots faster and don't you dare say that boot times don't matter (even though you'd be true). Even with linux's higher up-times, many distros (or at least their blogs) have major pissing contests with their boot times and market it as a major feature.

    Windows 8 can be run off a USB drive. One of linux's great claims over Windows is gone. I fully expect to see some colleges only buying hardware and requiring students to carry around their own Windows 8 USB sticks and get their own email address. Not having to deal with student accounts will massively reduce a college's IT costs. HR will still need accounts about the students, but the students themselves won't need accounts on college servers.

  • by knorthern knight ( 513660 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @09:20PM (#41987243)

    > I see a lot of criticism of Windows 8, but I don't see a lot of folks
    > that have actually tried to use it with a touch screen device.

    If you think students are going to write 10,000-word-essays, or corporate types will do large spreadsheets or reports, or programmers will code 10,000-line-programs with a touchscreen device, you are totally out of it. And no, I'm not going to pay twice as much for a Surface as for a real PC, and then go out and buy a bluetooth keyboard plus mouse.

    In the mid-1980's, the MS-DOS PC walked all over VT100 terminals as far as getting serious work done was concerned. That's why it was adopted so fast. Touchscreens are so-so for 140-character tweets, or short Fecesbook updates. They suck for real work in the corporate world. Windows 8 is going nowhere, fast. MS better release a "back to the future" Windows 9, or simply start charging for Windows 7 service packs.

  • by neonmonk ( 467567 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @09:25PM (#41987277)

    I agree with everything you've said here.

    My problem is, what's the foundation of any desktop operating system? The UI.

    Windows 8, on a desktop, stinks. Metro is horrible on a desktop. The fullscreen "start menu" is horrible and useless as a standard launcher. Things like the network menu give me hives. The difficulty in getting out of the metro interface? Why can't I turn that shit off? Why is the default music player a metro app? Did no one suggest to them that maybe it'd be a good idea to have "metro mode" instead of kludging the two together? Separate file associations for when I'm in desktop mode & metro mode. Now that would work well.

    I know, if you're not using the keyboard to find&launch apps you're an idiot, but my dad doesn't use the keyboard, and likely never will as he's prone to forgetting what the app he wants is called, it's just not relevant to him. I would recommend someone learn the OSX interface than learn the Windows 8 interface (although I wouldn't want to support either).

    All the technical brilliance of Windows 8 doesn't matter, I didn't wonder where those features were in Windows 7 and I'm not going out of my way to expose them in Windows 8. It's the UI that matters.

  • MIcrosoft on /. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dr Max ( 1696200 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @09:55PM (#41987503)
    Really what is the point in reading about Microsoft on slashdot. You only ever get the most negative side of the story and all there accomplishments never make it to the site. How many people know that Microsoft just demonstrated real time voice to voice translation using the original speakers own voice and the translated speech is in the correct order for the new language? (that is news for nerds as far as i'm concerned) But instead we have had six stories about how Microsoft is evil and forcing everyone to use a new version of windows that's completely broken and no one any where will ever be able to use it. Reddit is kicking your ass in journalism /.
  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @10:13PM (#41987653)

    >I don't really understand why there is so much hatred of the Windows 8 interface.

    Because on anything other than a tablet, it's shit. It's a schizophrenic interface that tries to deprecate the desktop interface in favor of this new touch bullshit.

    The thing is though, keyboards and mice are better input devices than touch. Touch is only useful when you have no other way to input, have an enviroment that is hostile to other input devices, or external input devices are inconvenient, even if it's just a stylus.

    Microsoft is chasing this mythical beast called the "universal interface" which doesn't friggin' exist. They've been doing this shit since trying to force a desktop metaphor onto tablets and PDAs, eventually finding out that people don't like poking at tiny icons with a stylus which can be lost down a catchbasin. But instead, we have error in the opposite direction - forcing an interface suited to tablets and phones onto the desktop, where it SUCKS.


    >new account
    >buzzword bingo



  • by tuppe666 ( 904118 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @10:17PM (#41987673)

    Apple had a decline in Gross Margin from 40.3% to 40.0%, in the context of a 33% increase in profits compared to the year-ago quarter, is selling more iPhones than it ever has and has $121 Billion in cash reserves: Apple is currently very successful. (Based on its 2012 Q4 earnings release)

    If you want to claim that in the future they will decline you can, but to credibly claim any current decline requires more evidence than a tiny variation in gross margin.

    Apple does not sell Easter eggs or Christmas trees it sells electronics. Apples market share has dropped from 23% to 14.9% [IDC figures others are worse]. I'm not really sure why being cash rich is good. I'm glad that you brought up the Q4 earnings which contained the bombshell that Apple only managed to sell 14million ipads [a drop of 70%] guess we are going to see a further drop in Market share from its current 50.4%. Oh and Gross Margin has dropped from 47% to 40% :) Its expected to drop to 36%

    The bottom line is Apple is sacrificing market share for the sake of profits, and that will end badly.

  • Re:Metro (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bmo ( 77928 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @10:20PM (#41987699)

    Some of us know you're right.

    It's the Microsoft shills that have invaded over the past couple of years that this "downmodding of MSFT dissenters" has happened.

    Also note the vast number of newly minted accounts when an article critical of Windows 8 comes out. You never hear from these again, they are used and abandoned for new accounts created when a new Microsoft article comes out.

    Slashdot should rangeban Microsoft.


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

    by AlphaWolf_HK ( 692722 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @11:29PM (#41988203)

    I know the thought process behind forcing the apps to be full screen, but the problem is that this model simply doesn't work for the desktop. Currently, the main reason for having a desktop as opposed to a mobile device (at least, to ma and pa yehaaw) is that a desktop is where you get real work done, e.g. drafting, creating a powerpoint presentation, etc. Touch devices (even with large screens) don't really work too well for that. The keyboard and mouse will be around for a long time to come for this reason. Likewise, the full screen app model simply will not fly on the desktop, that I am certain of.

    A perfect example I can think of, is just now when I was entering in configuration commands into some cisco routers, I had three telnet windows open, an excel window which contained subnet layouts and IP addresses, one visio window which contained a physical network topology, another visio window which contained a logical network topology, and a web browser with a command reference page open.

    How on earth would I do such a thing using metro? I'm sure you could, but it would be dreadfully slow and downright frustrating compared to being able to have multiple windows open at once. Imagine having to alt-tab through all of those windows each time I need to refer to something else. It would be a nightmare, whereas with overlapping windows I can simply glance at my references rather than figure out how many times I have to press tab in order to get what I am looking for.

    While I'm aware of the ability to run two apps alongside one another (I think they might call that "modern UI snap" now? lol) it is really wanting in the face of having multiple windows open. Telnet and excel both depend heavily upon being able to have page width, and not height, which is what metro snap aims for.

  • by xigxag ( 167441 ) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @01:03AM (#41988659)

    I understand what this was all about. Microsoft's plan was to quickly force the RT environment on people so they would automatically be members of the new ecosystem and feel naturally inclined to buy the phones and tablets, especially once they realized you could do more with RT than with iOS. But as things stand now, every time someone is forced to use the RT interface against their will, they are reminded of how their options have been restricted. No matter how good RT is, if it serves as a reminder of a bad feeling, it will be tainted by that. Instead of bringing people into the fold, RTs involuntary start screen drives people away.

    Even so, I think Microsoft can still rescue Windows 8 if it just does a few things.

    1) Issue an apology and bring back the start button as an optional item, and allow people to boot directly to the desktop. (Yes I know... just like Start8 / Classic Shell) It seems to me that a huge percentage of gripes have been about those two things, starting long before RTM. Why fight against what your customers want?

    2) Buy up a couple of good RT games and release them as free gifts to upgraders. $45 in free software! The OS pays for itself!!

    3) Reposition Windows 8 as an improved desktop environment PLUS free games PLUS a Windows Phone 8 compatible OS skin which people can use or not use.

    Yes, the restoration of the start button and starting desktop means RT use will grow more slowly, only at the pace that people want to try it out. But in the long run, it will make for a better user experience, one that people will want to return to.

    The marketing of Windows 8 has been horribly arrogant. By pissing off geeks, MS has alienated its proselytizers and enthusiasts. By pissing off businesses, it has affected its own bottom line. Every day that this debacle continues is one less opportunity that MS has to set things right.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.