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ZDNet Proclaims "Windows: It's Over" 863

plastick writes "You can think Windows 8 will evolve into something better, but the numbers show that Windows is coming to a dead end. ZDNet is known to take the side of Microsoft in the past. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols explains: 'The very day the debate came to an end, this headline appeared: IDC: Global PC shipments plunge in worst drop in a generation. Sure, a lot of that was due to the growth of tablets and smartphones and the rise of the cloud, but Windows 8 gets to take a lot of the blame too. After all, the debate wasn't whether or not Windows 8 was any good. It's not. The debate was over whether it could be saved.'"
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ZDNet Proclaims "Windows: It's Over"

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  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:05AM (#43459861)

    I haven't counted Usenet posts lately, so can anyone check with Netcraft?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:08AM (#43459875)

    Are people going to switch to Mac OS? Linux? Or stay on Windows 7 until a "spiritual successor" to Windows comes?

    The article largely hinges on "Windows 8 comes out != PC hardware sales drop". Its just trolling for readers.

    • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:20AM (#43459927) Journal

      True, but MS cannot sustain an 'every other version is a flub' business model. People may stick with 7 like they stuck with XP, but MS will need to fix the UI and quickly.

      Hopefully they'll soon realize that the desktop and mobile platforms need different UI models, and start supporting the separate primary interface models...

      • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:25AM (#43459963) Journal
        Perhaps they are: Windows 8.1 will include boot to desktop []. Good news if true, all they need to do then is bring back the Start button & menu.
        • That would only equal to clicking the "Desktop" button from the Start Screen once after each boot.
          • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @09:02AM (#43460347) Journal

            IIRC, you still need to install a classic start menu applet (3rd party), and if you want quicklaunch, you still need to install an app for that...

            They exist, and you have options, but the options don't seem as good as the builtins for XP, and most users aren't going to bother going out and downloading them.

            • by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @09:29AM (#43460651)
              Hell, anyone running XP now will most probably be doing so five years from now, regardless of whatever MS might say about its EOL. One way or another, it makes no difference to me: I've been running Linux (yes, on the desktop) since 1995.
            • by ImprovOmega ( 744717 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @10:35AM (#43461491)

              if you want quicklaunch, you still need to install an app for that...

              Quicklaunch for Windows 8 is the same as for Windows 7. Right click on the taskbar --> Toolbars --> New Toolbar... Browse to "C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch" Uncheck Show Title, Uncheck Show Text. Boom, classic Quicklaunch from the same effective location that it used to be at in XP. For the lazy, there's a vbscript out there to automate all of that for you, but even lazy people don't usually run strange looking vbscripts that do arcane things to your Windows box (hopefully).

              Also, you can do a gimp start menu in Win8 by do the same basic steps but for the folder "C:\Users\%username%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs", leave on "Show Title" and shrink it so that only the arrow and title shows. Then clicking the arrow is sort of like clicking on a start menu but with reduced functionality. But hey, it's not third party and it doesn't require admin permissions, so for higher security environments maybe it's the ideal work-around.

              These two changes made it so that I could "live with" Win8, but I'm still annoyed that it required jumping through hoops just to get back to semi-functional. And the metro interface remains an abomination.

        • by Shadow99_1 ( 86250 ) <theshadow99@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:46AM (#43460163)

          Stardock loves to remind me regularly that for a couple of dollars I can have the start menu again in Windows 8... Though I'm not running windows 8 anywhere, so I have little need for their software. If a 3rd party can do it, I'm sure MS could as well... The question becomes do they want to do that. Personally I don't think they do, screenshots of Blue show that so far they haven't bothered.

        • by cheekyboy ( 598084 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:54AM (#43460241) Homepage Journal

          Wow they will add a /start_desktop to the default shell on boot. WOW

          Hell, maybe they have two exes, explorer.exe and metro.exe , and you just have to set it to the right shell. Easy to add a gui for that, dont even have to compile C++ code, in less than 4kb of wscript code, you could probably do it.

          OT: why isnt *ALL* the windows gui aspects coded in a scripts, so its easy to update/change/fix/customize.

        • by slashmydots ( 2189826 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:57AM (#43460295)
          It's actually Windows 6.3 by the way. XP was 5.0, Vista was 6.0, Windows 7 was 6.1, Windows 8 was 6.2.
        • have you tried it? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Thud457 ( 234763 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @09:25AM (#43460593) Homepage Journal
          (first of all, inb4 all the jugheads calling me a M$ shill)...

          After using W8 for a few months (due to hardware support for a slide scanner) I don't see much basis for all the hate. Yeah, the UI is retarded and flashy and gets in the way of getting things done , but I've learned to adapt.

          What I don't get is why people aren't all raging about how broken window focus management has been since Windows 7. It used to be you could <alt>+<tab> and cycle through windows in a predictable manner, so you weren't required to remove your hands from the freakin' keyboard when you're working at 90 miles an hour. Or is this just a dual-monitor fsckup?
          • by Chas ( 5144 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @09:59AM (#43461083) Homepage Journal

            That's just it.

            I don't WANT to have to "learn to adapt".
            Especially not for some imbecilic tweaks in the UI that remove functionality and stop me from working efficiently.
            For me, time is money. And all the time I have to waste trying to dick around in the new UI, instead of getting work done, is money Microsoft is stealing from me.

          • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @10:04AM (#43461159) Homepage

            After using W8 for a few months (due to hardware support for a slide scanner) I don't see much basis for all the hate.

            Followed by...

            Yeah, the UI is retarded and flashy and gets in the way of getting things done , but I've learned to adapt.

            What more reason do you need.
            People don't hate Win 8 because it's UI is so crappy. they hate it because the previous version wasn't crappy and MS ruined it.
            All Microsoft needed to do with the UI is *nothing*.

            • by alexgieg ( 948359 ) <> on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @10:32AM (#43461455) Homepage

              All Microsoft needed to do with the UI is *nothing*.

              Justice be told, there's one good thing about the Metro UI in that behind all the flashiness it's a move towards the geekiest of GUI paradigms: a tiling window manager []. Hard core command-line programmers usually love those, but in this case they're all hating it, and deservedly so. I think the actual problem with Metro then isn't that it's a TWM, but just that it's a bad TWM. In a few iterations it might become good but so far it's Microsoft's equivalent to Windows 1.0 (which also was a TWM) in terms of refinement and ease of use, i.e., altogether lacking in both.

          • by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @10:50AM (#43461687)

            It used to be you could + and cycle through windows in a predictable manner, so you weren't required to remove your hands from the freakin' keyboard when you're working at 90 miles an hour.

            I finally found out wtf they did with alt-tab. Turns out, they keep the first 6 apps in the usual MRU order we're used to (and that's sensible and can be remembered). Then they inject the desktop into the 7th slot (because ignorant people clutter their desktop with all kinds of crap), and then every application after the desktop is in alphabetical order. By window title, I believe.

            The most wildly useless arrangement they could think of that still has some sort of order to it. As if I remember my programs by window title, especially when there's absolutely no consistency in titling. Some programs prefix their name with the open file. Some suffix it. Some don't list the open file. So where the program falls in the list may (or may not) depend on what document you have open at the time. One of their stupider ideas, which successfully sabotaged an interface that worked, for the people that knew about it. And there's no registry key to turn off the braindead sort order, either. You can disable it entirely, and go back to program icons only. (And you can set registry settings to change the spacing of the application image thumbnails. 'cause that's what needed to be customizable...)

        • by FuzzNugget ( 2840687 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @10:05AM (#43461169)

          Don't forget: also get rid of those retarded "charms" mouseovers and all the gaudy Metro infestations into the desktop interface (WinKey+TAB, network connection management, etc.)

          Honestly, their best move at this point would be to fork 8 and call it Windows Tablet, then build SP2 for 7 and call it 9.

      • by O('_')O_Bush ( 1162487 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:51AM (#43460205)
        Neither fan the continue diversifying while neglecting their bread and butter. They wanted to be more like Apple, so they made a shitty flop of a phone. They wanted to be more like Google, so they made a shitty flop of a search engine. And all that time, when they should have been making W7 better, they came out with a shitty flop of an OS.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @09:02AM (#43460353)

          You can at least admire their consistency.

        • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @09:06AM (#43460389) Journal

          Having used a Windows Phone 7, iPhone and Android... I wouldn't call the phone shitty, even if it did flop. From the looks of it, for the mobile platform, Windows 8 is an improvement, rather than a step back, unlike the desktop.

          The problem with Windows Phone isn't the OS or the hardware, it's the pathetic PR department of MS, and the preconceptions of users (some of which are very well founded, so it's actually rational for them not to even bother trying).

          • by Captain Hook ( 923766 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @09:37AM (#43460773)

            The problem with Windows Phone isn't the OS or the hardware

            Personally, the problem I have with Windows Phone isn't the OS or the hardware bit.. it's the MS bit.

            As consumers, we had to put up with MS business practices for decades because there was no viable alternative, and everytime a reason alternative got going, a file format or API would mysteriously change breaking interoperability. This wasn't done for the customers benefit, it was done to keep MS in the dominate position.

            I have no desire to see them... or anyone else... ever given such a dominate position within a market segment ever again, MS has proven themselves untrustworthy and hence neither I, nor anyone whose opinions I can influence on mobile technology (*1) will touch a phone/tablet from MS.

            Note 1: Basically my parents and girlfriend, I'm the first to admit my influence does reach far, but if other geeks feel the same way my personal influence doesn't have to.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @09:03AM (#43460357)

        Oh, they realize that alright. But the thing is, Microsoft has never been about finding the technically best solution. They are trying to find the best "business" solution.

        They have utterly failed at taking over the mobile market. They have tried to buy off hardware companies (e.g., Nokia) to implement their crap, and that hasn't worked.

        Windows 8 and it's shitty UI is obviously an attempt to leverage their Windows/PC monopoly to get mobile market share. The idea is that if PC users all become accustomed to the Windows 8 UI and apps, due to having it forced upon them, then they will prefer to use the same UI on mobile devices. This is true, but the problem is that they're foisting a technically inferior product on their core market to try to buy into the mobile market.

        Why are they doing this? The PC market is huge, and much higher margin, and it is not going to go away any time soon. MS would probably be happy without mobile market if they could be assured of their PC market for the future. The problem is that things go both ways: if people are accustomed to using non-Microsoft UIs and apps, they would be more likely to move off the PC market. Companies are likely to make Android and iOS integration solutions for their home and business suites, so Microsoft's legendary lock-in strategies could crumble.

        Android, Apple, on PCs in homes, schools, and businesses is what they're worried about.

        • by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @11:10AM (#43462043)

          Oh, they realize that alright. But the thing is, Microsoft has never been about finding the technically best solution. They are trying to find the best "business" solution.

          And that's what's killing them. Every businessman's nightmare is that his (her) product becomes a commodity. No longer a one-of-a-kind product that can be priced arbitrarily, but one that has to compete against an open market, where the lowest price is often the determining factor.

          OS's have been trending towards commodification for years. With each release of each OS, the reasons for upgrading have become less and less compelling as the core featureset has become more and more complete. This is why "killer apps" are so important to OS's. Because the OS dream app is one that requires features unavailable except by upgrading the OS. Here, too, there are problems, since fewer and fewer killer apps make demands that the present-day OS's cannot fulfill. In fact, with the webification of apps, they're actually pretty much required to be that way. The days when a webapp could demand ActiveX controls and IE6 are fading into history.

          So Microsoft is between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, unless they can come up with some startling new "must-have" ability to re-prime the pump, people are going to be resistant to paying for upgrades. On the other, their latest attempt to "must-have" is something that almost nobody thinks that they "must have". Quite the contrary. And, in fact, they've further damaged themselves in that for the first time ever, it's less traumatic for users to move to a competing OS than it is to stay comfortingly locked in to the MS Way.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Knowing Microsoft, they'll probably release SP2 for Win7, which puts the "Modern" UI on top of it too, and then make SP2 a prerequisite for every security update that comes out after it.

        They don't easily admit defeat, and are not a believer in quitting while they're behind.

        • by Miamicanes ( 730264 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @09:40AM (#43460825)

          > Knowing Microsoft, they'll probably release SP2 for Win7, which puts the "Modern" UI on top of it too,
          > and then make SP2 a prerequisite for every security update that comes out after it.

          And if they did, business school textbooks would have a new case study for corporate suicide, and a breathtaking example of how a company that managed to go from a dominant market share of the high-end mobile market to irrelevance within a matter of months was able to repeat it to throw away their desktop dominance as well (everyone had a major love-hate relationship with Windows Mobile, but if you wanted a pocket laptop with a useful browser that could be used for making voice calls in a pinch, WinMo was pretty much the best there WAS circa ~2007).

          It would be the day I officially blew away Windows and promised God, Xenu, Thor, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster that I would never, EVER voluntarily run Windows as my real operating system again. And did my best to get everyone else whom I influence to do the same.

          Put another way, for Microsoft to do something like that would constitute a full-frontal act of corporate warfare against its customers... and retribution from the consumers who matter would be swift, damning, and deadly. Look at the amount of hate Microsoft has taken from... well... everyone... over the past 6 months. Now imagine how much MORE hate they'd take if they loudly and proudly sank the lifeboat (Windows 7) that's keeping them alive right now. They'd have people burning computers on the sidewalk in front of their offices, hanging Ballmer in effigy, and Barnes & Noble would be filled with books about dumping Windows almost overnight.

          A full frontal assault upon their customers would be the beginning of a rapid end for Microsoft. With their "influencer class" of users angrily gone, and thirdparty developers leaving in protest as well, Windows would degenerate into an inferior, second-rate OSX for consumers who buy a computer and use only the apps that were bundled with it.

        • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @01:46PM (#43464009) Homepage

          Knowing Microsoft, they'll probably release SP2 for Win7, which puts the "Modern" UI on top of it too

          The best part is it took them years to get people to use the built-in themes so apps would look right on every version of Windows, according to the user prefs.

          Then they totally ignore it and render everything manually so it looks wrong everywhere. I just had a look at upgrading to Visual Studio 2012 (literally a few hours ago) and the IDE is now just a big grey square. Dark grey icons on a light grey background, even the title bar stays gray when the window is active. The file icons are grey huge 8-bit size pixels. It's ugly as sin.

          Screenshot: []

          (Note that the popup dialog has different colors and styles than the main window - isn't that against their own guidelines?)

          Colors give hints, they let you identify those little toolbar icons, they make you more productive. Yellow icon, open file. Blue icon, save. All the icons with red balls are related to each other ... something to do with breakpoints!

          Now all that visual information has been thrown away (from "visual" studio, no less) and it just looks like death. What are they planning to do? Run it on EGA systems with only 8 colors?

          If this is the future Windows mindset then it's dead, yes. If only Linux wasn't so fragmented and removed from store shelves...

      • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @09:11AM (#43460431) Homepage

        Hopefully they'll soon realize that the desktop and mobile platforms need different UI models

        Meh... Call me argumentative if you like, but I'm not going to give up on the unified interface just yet. Rather weird, since I've previously argued strongly in favor of separate UIs.

        I'll start by saying that every UI model we have today sucks. Some sucks less, and some sucks more, but everything has some degree of sucking to it. That said, I've been impressed by how the iOS interface scales between the iPhone and iPad form factors. My iPad was my first (modern) Apple device, and while its interface was a little awkward at times, it works decently well for its size, and scales gracefully down to the phone's smaller display. Some buttons disappear off the top of the screen, and some extra information just isn't displayed to save space, but it works well enough. Now if only I could remember which page that app I want is on...

        I now think that ultimately, a unified interface is where we'll have to go, not necessarily because of today's corporate cost-cutting, but to reduce the learning curve as our most common devices become integrated. When I'm 85, I don't want to have to learn seven different UIs to make a pot of coffee, check my email, and get a weather forecast.

        I expect that eventually, we'll settle on a single overarching design, preferably unencumbered by patents or copyright (here's looking at you, GNU), that is simply the standard interface on our devices in many different but similar forms. I'm reminded of the many variants and common theme of Star Trek's LCARS interface. After learning how the interface works, completing additional tasks are just a matter of telling the computer what to do, rather than figuring out how to communicate with the machine.

        • by ilsaloving ( 1534307 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @01:19PM (#43463693)

          Unified interfaces are moronic. The UI needs to suit the task at hand. Unified interfaces have never EVER been a good idea.

          Apple understood this. OSX is not even remotely suited to a tablet/phone form factor, so they didn't even try. This is why they completely decimated the mobile market, and all the competitors retooled their designs to be similar. (Of course, now they're trying to iOS-ify OSX, but that's a different argument)

          And this is why Apple has skyrocketed to an unfathomable level of success, while Microsoft is repeatedly shooting itself in the foot so often that they've worked their way up to their knees.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      There will likely be a market for Windows for quite some time.
      Many businesses want a desktop/traditional laptop OS. Windows fills that need.
      It is unlikely they'd switch to Linux, not while the distro wars are still going on. There needs to be stability for business to invest the time to switch. Apple keeps making decisions that businesses don't like

      What's dead is the days when a new release of Windows drove PC sales.
      • by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:50AM (#43460193) Homepage

        "Many businesses want a desktop/traditional laptop OS. Windows fills that need."

        If Windows 8 filled that need, we wouldn't be posting in this thread, now would we?

        "It is unlikely they'd switch to Linux, not while the distro wars are still going on."

        There are no "distro wars" going on.

        " There needs to be stability for business to invest the time to switch."

        I take it you have never been a system administrator in a Windows environment before. You certainly haven't a clue about Linux.

      • by jaymz666 ( 34050 )

        Most users want a traditional OS, one that has multiple windows you can see at the same time, that may even overlap..

        Shock horror. This one window/two window or four window model Microsoft seems fixated on might work fine on the small screen that is a tablet, on large and or multiscreen PC, people want to be able to do more.

      • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @09:18AM (#43460515) Journal

        I hope the "distro wars" never end, that's when Linux will be dead.

    • by smash ( 1351 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:29AM (#43459999) Homepage Journal
      I switched to OS X on my desktop. For what I do, pretty much all the apps I need are available. Most of them cheap off the app store or actually free or included in the OS.

      If i was bound to an existing bit of hardware, I'd migrate to Linux, but I'm not... like the Mac hardware and happen to like the OS, too. ALL operating systems have their problems/trade-offs, OS X is the least annoying for me.

      • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @09:08AM (#43460407)

        Windows may be dead or dying for a HOME operating system. For business, it will keep on going.

        Businesses have critical dependencies on specific software and business methods that tie into it. Such businesses, which comprise a HUGE market, are not going to switch from Windows to MacOS or anything else in the foreseeable future. To do so, they would require a full-on replacement for Windows that includes a full Windows API so every program can run just like it does on Windows, with the same access to hardware, system resources and other programs. And they are not going to go there without a GUARANTEE that whatever proposed replacement will run every program with no trouble.

        Never mind that Microsoft never gave them perfect forward migration or any guarantee of it. But they were Microsoft, the same company, so there was some degree of trust that they were going to make the new system reasonably compatible with the old API and they did ever since Windows NT. Conservative companies even so waited at least a year after release before they started phasing in new systems. Sometimes well over two years.

        And they're not going to go for a small company's product or a free (e.g. Linux) replacement for Windows because there's nobody to sue if they fuck up your systems and stop critical business processes.

        Maybe in a decade, Microsoft will be mostly gone from the business world. Probably not.

        • by endus ( 698588 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @09:59AM (#43461077)

          Absolutely right.

          Windows also incorporates centralized management features that either don't exist or are not as easy to use in other operating systems. It's all standardized, easy to implement, and relatively seamless. These traits allow relatively low-skilled people to support Windows.

          I was having some authentication issues and didn't have the permissions to remove and readd my computer to the domain (pretty sure the machine password was out of sync). The tech that came to my computer didn't know how to run a command in DOS, but she did know how to remove my computer from the domain, rename it, and re-add it. Is this a good thing for the computing environment? Definitely not. But it's definitely good for companies' bottom line because they don't have to pay people who really know what they're doing and are highly educated.

          Unfortunately the ability for low-skilled people to keep the lights on extends to servers too. No doubt Windows can develop some REALLY complex problems, but by and large getting services up and running isn't that big of a deal.

          Software support is definitely critical too. Legacy applications are the bane of my security-focused existence. They cause all sorts of problems, but they keep the work going.

          There are just no realistic alternatives at this point. You can point to one OS or another as having some of the desirable traits needed in an enterprise OS, but the point is that none of them have ALL of those desirable traits. Application support goes way way beyond a word processor, spreadsheet, and power point...there are thousands of specialized applications that are critical for businesses to run. Companies like hospitals have made HUGE investments in software to manage EMRs and issues with the user interface of one version of windows are not going to cause them to abandon that investment overnight.

          • I was having some authentication issues and didn't have the permissions to remove and readd my computer to the domain (pretty sure the machine password was out of sync). The tech that came to my computer didn't know how to run a command in DOS, but she did know how to remove my computer from the domain, rename it, and re-add it. Is this a good thing for the computing environment? Definitely not. But it's definitely good for companies' bottom line because they don't have to pay people who really know what they're doing and are highly educated.

            This is not good, it's extremely short sighted...

            Yes, you can hire low paid and low competence techs, but the end result will be flakey and insecure... You could hire incompetent techs to run linux too and the result would be almost as bad.

            Windows is inherently unreliable, and will require more of the low paid techs to constantly fix stupid problems.

            Trivial problems often get dealt with in inefficient ways by incompetent techs who don't understand what's really going on, they end up just rebooting and hoping the problem goes away rather than trying to work out what actually happened and fix it.

            Incompetent techs may be cheaper than competent ones, but you will usually need a lot more of them.

            How much does a major security breach cost? Your risk of having one goes up significantly if you hire cheap incompetent staff.

    • by dingen ( 958134 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:31AM (#43460021)

      Windows is like Facebook: users are fed up with it, but since there is no viable alternative, they stick around.

      The second something does come up that looks like it could be "the next big thing" it will be, because users are ready to switch anyway.

      • It's more complex than that. Facebook at the core is about us sharing our personal stuff: we're both consumers and producers there. From a consumer point of view, it'll be clear early on if it's worth to jump ship; if something looks like it might be the next big thing, we can be confident that producers will move over as well because that's us (and our friends). And from a producer point of view, jumping ship comes at a relatively low price, plus being on two social networks at once is certainly doable.
        • by jaymz666 ( 34050 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @09:03AM (#43460363)

          Really, are most users really just consumers? Do most users never need word to write a document, create a powerpoint or even just clip an image to share with family?

          Most of the time, we may be consumers. How often do we produce data, images, documents etc.? I know for work I am documenting quite often, for classes I am creating content quite often. My wife spends a lot of time just creating icons for her various social networks.

          I don't think it's that clear cut.

        • by dingen ( 958134 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @09:04AM (#43460375)

          Don't forget the web though. Native software is becoming less relevant each passing year as more and more functionality is moved over to web applications and "the cloud". Google amongst others is pushing this as hard as they can and Chromebooks are a good example of how far this development already is. Lots of people have a computer just to use the web. That's also one of the reasons why tablets are such a success. It has much less to do with being a big version of your phone and much more with the fact tablets are a viable laptop-replacement because they offer a more convenient way for using the web.

          Maybe Steve Jobs was right. From his appearance at D8 in 2010: "PCs are going to be like trucks," Jobs said. "They are still going to be around." However, he said, only "one out of x people will need them."

          In this future "PCs are like trucks"-world, Windows might never be replaced. But the majority of the people wont be using it all the time either.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TWiTfan ( 2887093 )

      Are people going to switch to Mac OS? Linux? Or stay on Windows 7 until a "spiritual successor" to Windows comes?

      Haven't you heard? We're all going to be using tablets from now on!

      I just can't seem to figure out how to get Photoshop and Premiere to work on this thing.

      • by dingen ( 958134 )

        Do you seriously think the number of people using Photoshop and/or Premiere is at all relevant to the entire PC-market?

    • The best selling laptop on amazon right now is the Chromebook. It's #1. There's a chance, a small chance, but a chance that Linux on the desktop may actually come to fruition as a viable alternative. If it happens, it will be wrapped in the cloak of Google, and it will be called Chrome.

  • And... no big loss (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:14AM (#43459899) Journal

    I like some Microsoft products, but honestly, if they ditch Windows, and move their products to .NET... then ensure the .NET platform runs on Apple, Linux and a few other platforms (not terribly hard, since the tech is mostly there anyway), I think they might see some improvement.

    TBH... I like what Windows was for a short time, in the 2000-XP era, when most of the security holes had been patched, and 7 is OK... but they are majorly ruining the UI. They are trying to be clever, edgy and push the envelope... but doing so in a manner that copies Apple, and tries to go one step further. So they not only lose the 'clever' appearance, for a copycat appearance, but they are copying some of the worst changes for the desktop environment, that Apple is making.

    Then again... except for businesses, and a relatively small number of hobbyists, the desktop will be mostly eliminated in the next 5-10 years. So... Windows dieing on the desktop may not be such a big thing for MS. The people who will keep it, are probably the least likely to use Windows (except businesses). The desktop is for creating, most users are simply are fine with consuming, and they'll move to portable platforms which make that easier. Even the portable platforms are starting to be good with producing - particularly multimedia which doesn't require much typing. MS has the possibility to catch-up on the portable side, but it's isn't likely, even though they have a great mobile product, that market is fairly strongly set with other good/great products, and it will be a hard battle, one MS's prodigally inept PR department can only lose.

    • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:30AM (#43460011) Homepage Journal

      While I agree with you here, you probably have overlooked the good ol' Microsoft arrogance. When MS have failed they it has been because of their own arrogance. While Windows 95 was mostly a win, people tend to forget that part of it was a failure: they were just SURE that MSN was going to win over this thing called the Internet. They tend to lose when they try to innovate because they're so damn sure they know what people want... then it turns out to be wrong.

      I am guessing that Microsoft will beat the Windows horse until it is bits in pieces.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      To me, Windows XP really refined the Windows experience. I think the way they are forking their UI to Metro or whatever it is, may be taking the usability angle a little too far. I see far too many similarities between the Nintendo Wii OS and Windows 8 to possibly be coincidence, and the Wii has one of the most poorly thought-through UIs of all time. To be honest, I don't think the ribbon system works in Office very well, either - rather than de-cluttering menus it leads to hieroglyphic overload.
    • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @09:28AM (#43460635)

      They are trying to be clever, edgy and push the envelope... but doing so in a manner that copies Apple, and tries to go one step further. So they not only lose the 'clever' appearance, for a copycat appearance, but they are copying some of the worst changes for the desktop environment, that Apple is making.

      You make it sound like copying something is inherently bad. It's not. Things that work SHOULD be copied (legal stupidity aside.) I don't care if windows is doing something first as long as it's useful and works well. Originality is not an issue with me when it comes to software. Why would it?

  • by Maow ( 620678 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:16AM (#43459909) Journal

    I stopped with Windows around Ubuntu 8.04, was fully weaned on 8.10.

    Cannot imagine going back, ever, unless they took FreeBSD and wrapped their stuff around that. Then, maybe.

    But MS does deserve a smaller market share than before; I'm happy about that.

    They aren't going away completely for a long time.

    And going forward, Ubuntu is over. Still on 10.04 and kubuntu 12.04 and CentOS 6.3. Won't use Unity, will avoid Gnome 3 for as long as it takes to become compelling.

    Love the choices available.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:45AM (#43460149)

      To me 10.04 of Ubuntu was a perfect desktop. It had everything I needed, I had it set up so sweet and when people running windows saw it they were absolutely blown away. I don't know but I believe that eventually the UI, once it fits your needs, is done. Why change what works? Linux could certainly use more work but mostly under the hood. This madness with Unity I never have understood, it seems like Canonical decided to merge the desktop and tablet together and I can't deal with the mess. Maybe when they finish it but probably not even then. You know, at some point things are good enough but these companies still need to sell you something so now they are trying to creat a demand where there is no need.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:18AM (#43459921) Journal

    It isn't clear that MS has anything coherent in the 'stop ipads and cellphones and stuff from eating our casual customers' column; but all they'd have to do to move Win8 from 'Windows Vista's Revenge' to 'worthy, if not groundbreaking, series of incremental improvements to various aspects of Windows 7' would be to flip the switch and have non-touch devices default to 'desktop' and touch devices default to 'the UI formerly known as Metro'.

    Pretty much everything is still present in Win8; but they seem content to just stick their fingers in their ears and ignore the problem, even as OEMs have started shipping ghastly craplets designed to vaguely resemble a start menu. I just don't get it.

  • by Stirling Newberry ( 848268 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:21AM (#43459937) Homepage Journal
    the new design principles of cow path work flow, one way trap doors, modal dialogs, and above all the great mouse click god are destroying the metaphor. We are building for fools and soon only fools will be able to use it. A/B testing is the worst idea in UI design since the rubber eraser joystick that was on lap tops from people too cheap to buy a track pad.
  • Oh look! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:21AM (#43459939)

    ZDNet is proclaiming the death of the PC / Windows...

    Just more clickbait fodder.

  • Microsoft's future (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:23AM (#43459945)

    As a Microsoft partner and management consultant I don't understand:

    • why the Microsoft board hasn't fired Ballmer yet.
    • why Microsoft continues to have a reward and incentive program for staff that is based on ranking staff against each other rather than on rewarding shared achievements.
    • how the Windows 8 flop was allowed to happen at all, after the windows phone 7 flop. When the competition has superior products, trying to sell an inferior product at a premium while offering no compelling reason to change is simply a recipe for disaster.

    Realistically Microsoft only has one chance at long term success, and that includes firing Ballmer, restaffing the board, and radically changing its staff evaluation processes away from Darwinian struggle to "what's best for Microsoft as a whole".

    What I expect it will do instead is gradually fade into irrelevance:

    • MS staff will continue to sabotage each other and fail to integrate products into a compelling suite of offerings,
    • product planning will be more of the story of Microsoft's 'copy what the competition is doing now' combined with lengthy time-to-market.
    • MS's internal bureaucracy and inwards looking culture will result in lengthy delays in execution and further failure to identify changing consumer trends (rise of the web, mobile, etc).

    So Microsoft's predicament is worse than a single product failure - at a CEO level Microsoft is simply not doing enough to change.

  • Forget Sinofsky. He was one guy and W8 has been coming down the tracks for what, four years now?

    The blame here lies with Microsoft board of Directors. Windows 8 wasn't some backroom project, hardware spinoff, or specialised division. It was the company's flagship product, its core product, whose success literally makes or brakes the company.

    And the board has fubbed it; Bigtime. The whole project was a disaster since its inception, and despite the recession it's very clear that the entire iDink paradigm Windows 8 attempted to hoist on users is so bad, so awful, that ordinary users are literally giving on on buying PCs full stop. A competent board would have been on top of this, foreseen the problems, and had them resolved before launch. We are now 8 months into launch and Windows 8 is a beached whale leading the whole PC industry pod onshore in its wake.

    The first thing that needed to turn this around -- before any resigns, Service Packs, interface revamps, or marketing campaigns -- the very first things is that a swathe of the board needs to go. There's a cohort of bankers and industrialist there who probably have no idea how to run their own industries, let alone a computer software company. If my experience with Ireland is any indication, I imagine these directors are serial board hoppers anyway, so they won't be missed.

    Microsoft is a software company. It needs software people on the board. Engineers, programmers, computer scientists, etc; with management experience, but who actually know what software actually is, and how it is developed, sold, and used. If MS puts qualified people in charge they can begin to turn the boat around; but they stick with the current shower of corporate BSers at the helm, this whale will stay dying on the beach for a very long time.

    • by Cenan ( 1892902 )

      Engineers don't always make for good managers, as many software professionals will be able to drone on and on about at length.
      You don't need engineers with management experience on the board. What you do need is executives who know how to shut the fuck up and listen when their betters are talking. Taking input from a professional and putting it to good use is what is needed, you don't need 20+ years of coding monkey experience under your belt to achieve this.
      It is false in the extreme to assume that because

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      Microsoft's problems is IMHO is they are trying to segment the market to much. Yes there is some price discrimination to be done. Home vs Pro kinda makes sense. There are way to many versions of Win7 and they double the mess with Win8 vs Win8RT.

      Windows is single biggest sell points are 1) backward compatibility and 2) You don't have to think about it.

      2) They are messing up 2 with badly with so many versions. A consumer is forced to have to learn quite about about the product to decide which they need.

  • I don't buy it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FictionPimp ( 712802 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:25AM (#43459975) Homepage

    I'm not a windows guy. My laptop is a macbook pro and my day to day workstation is debian. However, I recently built a windows gaming computer and I like windows 8. Is it different? Yes. Does it have a learning curve? Yes. In the end it's stable, solid, easy to use, and looks nice.

    The reason PC sales are down is because computing power has reached a point where we don't need a new computer every 2-3 years. My mac mini is 6 years old. I only need to replace it because apple won't support it any longer. Otherwise it's speed and power is fine. I expect my new desktop windows 8 PC will last me at least 6 or 7 years.

    Gone is the day of the power computer. Desktop computing has reached the point where there is no leap in upgrading. It's incremental, people only do incremental upgrades when their old equipment dies.

    • People are switching to tablets and smartphones for their everyday web-browsing - sure. It's also true, that your average day computer has more than enough power to do everyday computing - tasks. But your average user will never buy a copy of Windows and upgrade his PC. If someone wants a new version of Windows, users go to their local computer store and buy a new computer with the new Windows version preinstalled.

      When Windows Vista came out, a lot of people were actually very interested in a new versio
  • by tippe ( 1136385 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:26AM (#43459977)

    Like Biff, Microsoft used to be so easy to hate (being the bully and all), but now, at the end of the story, they've become so reduced from their former self and are nothing more than a pathetic, blithering idiot, you almost feel sorry for them. Almost.

    Anyway, I wonder if all of this negative news is enough to get Balmer tossed out.... Isn't that what is supposed to happen to CEOs when things go this wrong this fast?

  • by Big Hairy Ian ( 1155547 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:27AM (#43459991)
    I suppose its nothing to do with the fact that the PC I bought 5 years ago is pretty much still as good as those I can get off the shelf today. Other factors include the global economy being in the toilet. Of course Tablets have had an impact but the office is still mostly PC based with some Mac thrown in for good measure. Blaming M$ for the decline in PC sales is like blaming Obama for starting the War in Iraq!
  • by astrashe ( 7452 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:32AM (#43460035) Journal

    MS's main problem is that they still think like monopolists. That's the core of the Win 8 problem -- people at MS telling us what we'll take, and that we'll like it. That they know better.

    I'm a Gnome 2 refugee typing this on a Macbook Air, not a MS apologist. But Windows 7 is a very fine desktop OS. All they have to do is to stop trying to kill it off. Put it back on the PCs in the stores. Admit that Ballmer screwed the pooch, and let him go. He's a leader from the monopoly era, and not well suited to this moment.

    Active Directory is a huge asset for MS. There's a whole ecosystem of tools that people use to do work in companies that will be very hard for anyone else to displace. Excel is amazing, and it's central to the conduct of business all over the world. People in offices all over the world live in Outlook. These aren't small advantages.

    in the old days, they had their boots on our necks, and we all hated them. I remember that very clearly. But now, as tech professionals, we need them to get it together, for the health of the tech industry as a whole. Too much is sitting on top of them for their implosion to be a good thing.

  • Screw You Microsoft! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CuteSteveJobs ( 1343851 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:38AM (#43460087)
    Lots of Windows developers warned you Windows 8 was going to be a big mistake. You ignored us and stumbled on like an angry dunk. I used Windows 8 in the shops. It sucked and was clear customers wouldn't warm to it. With the writing on the wall developers took the plunge to Tablet development. People still wanted their PCs, but instead of re-inventing the desktop and instead you laid another Zune and forgot to flush. You have squandered the biggest computing monopoly ever, but this time people are leaving so I don't think there is a come back. Bye Bye Balmer.

    Windows 8 App Developer Says Process Stinks []
    More Game Developers Unhappy With Windows 8 []
    Why Microsoft has made developers horrified about coding for Windows 8 # warning signs as far back as 2011! []
    Don’t Blame Us for Windows 8s Slow Sales, PC Makers Say []
  • Third party hacks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jones_supa ( 887896 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:42AM (#43460121)

    There's a lot of comments floating around which say "when you install this this 3rd party start menu and make it boot straight to desktop, it's fine".

    What they are saying is that if you undo all the big ideas that were added in Windows 8 it's fine. That's not good, you know.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:42AM (#43460127) Homepage
    when you pry it from my cold dead hand!
  • by scottbomb ( 1290580 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:49AM (#43460187) Journal

    All it would take is a service pack. Let users decide if they want Metro or not. Let users decide if they want the start menu taking over their entire screen. I can't see how this would be complicated. The biggest hurdle is getting a marketing department to admit they made a mistake. The only time I can remember that ever happening was with New Coke. Coca-Cola sucked it up, gave the consumers what they wanted, and saved their brand. The ball is in Microsoft's court.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:54AM (#43460245) Journal
    Look, guys, I have been anti-Microsoft to the point of being accused of being a fanboi.

    But, again this report under estimates the staying power of PC in the corporate world. Very systematically they MS neutralized Unix and usurped all the corporate intranet. Exchange server has become the de-facto authentication server even for companies that use Google Apps to reduce their MS-Office/Outlook/SharePoint costs. It is well entrenched in the corporations. Home users and younger generation have stopped buying PCs/Laptops and are increasingly using pads, tablets and smartphones. Having to interoperate with all these devices have cut the traditional advantage MS had with its monoculture.

    MS is on its way of becoming the son of IBM. Lots of well funded research projects, and stranglehold on some sectors, mostly staying in business world and staying away from personal and entertainment world. It will sell X-Box someday to concentrate on its "core mission".

    Apple is NOT the new Microsoft. Apple is probably the new Sony. Google is probably the new Microsoft. Let us see if it can avoid following the same path as IBM and Microsoft.

  • Cursed brand (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pmontra ( 738736 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:56AM (#43460275) Homepage

    People look at those new phones and tablets, see the Windows logo and think about the antivirus running on their PC at home and at work. Some of them even remember editing the register. They feel a shiver down their spine and move to the next shelf. That's the number 1 problem, IMHO.

    Number 2, the UI issue the article is about.

  • Waffles (Score:5, Informative)

    by AdmV0rl0n ( 98366 ) on Tuesday April 16, 2013 @08:56AM (#43460283) Homepage Journal

    Most posters so far don't seem to know or understand what happened in Winh8.

    Its_not a UI change. Its a UI and core system change, and a turning most of what was Windows to 'Legacy'.

    The problem is much deeper than the UI. The problem is MS has explained very poorly what the new core OS and APIs are, and what tools and development was needed to make it fly. Most ordinary windows devs were left simply not knowing what APIs were going to be new or legacy.

    I've fitted and made Windows 8 work for me (care of classic shell, and a few tweaks), and under the bonnet frankly there are good engineering works to be had. But the new UI is on par with the poorest touch interfaces I have seen. Its compounded by brilliance like the keyboard shortcuts that MS pushed in relation for it. Nobody in the Windows team seemed to realise that requiring bucketloads of keyboard shortcuts in a UI that is supposed to be touch based is an absolute fail.

    You can add in more brilliance - like screwing with Explorer and putting in the appalling ribbon menu bar. Only, they did not fix the ribbon. So its got groupings of small icons mixed in with some that are good enough for touch - and these are too small to work in a touch interface. Sheer fucking genius. And either make the control panel in the dekstop side, or in the new UI. In 8 for some reason the control settings and options get split on both sides and its a plain mess. How it passed UI testing and end user testing is beyond comprehension.

    It was fascinating during the development cycle to read some of the justification for the changes. They took feedback collected from end user machines. But not mine. And probably not yours. I know of nobody sane who does not turn that off. So, they collated data from the wrong userbase - and then decided that 'no one is using the start button, lets get rid of it' (I know I simplified the background, but hey..)

    The only place where Windows 8 with the new UI works is on ARM, and its been a mistake to put and drive this into the X86 and X64 world. Windows 8 with an option for he new UI should have been the default there, with desktop as the default OS and with legacy and current customer support for the long term being the objective.

    And a couple more things from the new UI angle. The applications are tedious, poor, and low quality. And thats before you get into the full screen nature of them UI, and the horrendous square everything. Every single part of it is sharp edged, square, old. There is nothing fresh about it. It reminds me orf the simplifed UI from win2k. This may have reduced system load and it may have been required, but it does not look nice. It does not feel nice. It does not feel modern, or fresh. It just feels bad. And in doing this they had to throw away features from 7 that were previously touted and positive steps forward.

    The bottom line is as a release OS - it is a trainwreck. And not just in look and feel, but way beyond. Its a train wreck at the API and engineering level too. Now 99% of the audience is on the wrong track. Moving them over requires that they are going to have to change the gauge on all their wheels.

    This is an incredible uphill problem. Move everyone from what they know and like, to what they don't. and .. don't.

    The real problem is that the Windows end client is actually the grounding for the MS server and application layers. If the end client fails, these will fail also. And this means that_right now_ the board at MS should be rolling heads.

    • to add to that - its when devs were told the shiny new WinRT API and MetroUI were the future, they were happy. Then when they asked if apps written for these new APIs woudl run on the desktop, or on old versions of Windows and got the answer "no" back, they became very wary.

      So now Windows is in a awkward place, do you embrace the new APIs and hope that Metro becomes the de-facto standard, with your fingers crossed that Microsoft doesn't pull another silverlight on you... or do you keep on building your old

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