Windows 8 is not all about Tablets, it’s about the future

What we know about Windows 8, mostly driven by the Developer Preview but also by various comments from Microsoft, is quite polarizing.  The most controversial aspects are around the move to the new Metro app model and user experience.  Many Desktop/Laptop users, primarily the kind of power users who would try out the Developer Preview, feel that Microsoft is forcing them into a world that was designed specifically to fight the Tablet war with Apple’s iPad.  They are wrong, and I’m going to explain why.  Before I begin I’m going to state that I don’t think I’m revealing anything Microsoft hasn’t already let out of the bag or is obvious from market data.  I’m doing color commentary and tieing together disparate comments made over the course of more than a decade to paint the full picture.

Nearly all the major technical decisions in Windows 8 were made before the iPad was introduced.  The new app model (WinRT et al): before.  The new user interface (MoSH): before.  Focus on power and other fundamentals: before.  Support for SoC, including ARM: before.  I’m going to go through each of these and give some history and rationale, but before I do let’s have a little candid discussion about the state of the Windows PC business.

Windows Vista reached General Availability in January 2007, the last release of Windows to assume that most consumers and businesses would rapidly replace their existing PCs with newer more powerful ones.  That turned out to be one of the many bad decisions made around Vista, which ran particularly poorly on the installed base of systems.  PC buying patterns were changing, with customers keeping PCs for many years since there were few compelling apps requiring more powerful PCs.  Later in 2007 Netbooks (and later Nettops) were introduced, initially running Linux, with the idea that most PC usage was for web browsing and thus low-cost devices with minimal memory and disk were sufficient for many scenarios.  Microsoft responded by offering OEMs a lower priced edition of Windows XP, which became the most popular operating system on Netbooks.  Windows 7 Starter Edition later took over this niche.  Besides Netbooks, the price of traditional desktop and notebook PCs was also declining under intense competition.  In response OEMs reversed the trend of increasingly packaging higher-end Windows editions and started to package lower end editions (e.g., today PCs intended for small business use tend to come with Windows Home Premium rather than the more appropriate Windows Professional).  The net impact of these changes was that the Average Selling Price of Windows would decline more than could be made up by growth in unit volumes.  In other words, the Windows PC business more or less peaked.  Also in January of 2007 Apple announced the iPhone, launching the Consumer Smartphone business.  In July of 2008 Apple launched the AppStore, turning the iPhone into a personal computing device and giving consumers yet another reason to put off replacing their old PC.  By then Microsoft was busy developiong Windows 7 with an eye towards shoring up the PC market in light of Windows Vista’s failure.  Windows 7 was an excellent release, but did little to expand the Windows business opportunity.  If one were to let the course of events continue, then the best one could hope for was a stagnant business tied to the slowing PC replacement cycle.

Microsoft Research had done a lot of work on Natural UI, including Touch, and brought the Microsoft Surface to market in 2007.  Well before 2007 OEMs had been pressuring Microsoft for more Touch support, not because they wanted to introduce Tablets but because they saw touch-enabled screens on Desktop PCs as being an attractive way to kick-up PC volumes (both as a reason for additional PCs in the home and as a way to speed up the replacement cycle).  HP did a lot of custom work to bring the TouchSmart to market with Vista in January 2007.  Other OEMs have waited for Microsoft to fully embrace Touch, and I know of at least one that was extremely frustrated (back in 2007!) that Microsoft didn’t make this a priority.  Windows 7 improved the underlying support for Touch so that OEMs could more easily roll their own user experience and apps could incorporate multi-touch, but it did little to modernize the Windows user experience for touch-enabled devices.  Windows 7 also has support for other natural UI capabilities, like speech recognition (introduced in Vista), but again the basic user experience hadn’t changed to make that capability more useful.

As Windows 7 development was wrapping up the Windows team began serious discussions about Windows 8.  Steven Sinofsky talks about it as a “re-imagining”.  One of those discussions was around modernizing the user interface.  For a few years the corporate technical strategy had called out Natural UI as a key direction for the company, OEMs were clamoring for it, there was excitement around Microsoft’s niche Surface product, and the iPhone had proven that multi-touch was an attractive paradigm for use in a high volume general purpose product.  And so many months before the iPad was announced, the Windows team was discussing a Modern Shell (MoSh) to replace the user interface whose origins dated back to Windows 95.  One of the requirements for MoSh was that it had to take Natural UI, and particularly Touch, into account.  I have no idea how much the Windows team was talking internally about Tablets at that point.  Personally I believe they were still dismissive of them, as many external analysts were (even after the iPad launch).  But the key point I’m making is that MoSh wasn’t being driven by Tablets, it was being driven by the need to modernize the Windows user experience for Desktops and Notebooks!  And yes those would have keyboards and mice, and increasingly they’d also have touch screens, and microphones, and other Natural UI capabilities (e.g., there is evidence that some PCs will have built in Kinect hardware).  Today we know MoSh as Windows 8’s Metro user experience.   History shows that Microsoft isn’t out to sacrifice the desktop and notebook user experience to pursue the tablet market, they are trying to bring Windows user experience for desktops and notebooks into the 21st century.

Let’s step into another part of the “Windows 8 is just for tablets” controversy, the Windows Runtime (WinRT).  Microsoft recognized it had a problem with the Windows application model at least as far back as the late 90s and started to look for ways to fix it.  Although there were some modest fixes made (e.g., Windows XP introduced side-by-side support to reduce the DLL Hell problem) there was general recognition that you couldn’t fix the app model without completely breaking it.  For Longhorn it was decided to introduce .NET as the new application model for Windows.  Unfortunately .NET 1.0 hadn’t been designed with this in mind, and the attempt to prematurely make it the app model for Windows failed.  This was a primary reason for the “Longhorn Reset”, which removed both .NET and anything that had depended on it (e.g., WinFS) from what became Vista.  Vista did not introduce a new app model, and then Windows 7 was so focused on fixing the existing Windows product that it left introducing a new app model for the future.  However, throughout Windows 7 development the Windows team continued to discuss a new app model.  Late in the cycle, when the re-imagining process began, the decision on a new app model was again on the table.  However much had changed since Longhorn.  On one hand .NET was more mature, but on the other the single largest community of developers in the industry was programming in HTML and Javascript.  Not only that, but managed code (be it .NET or Sun/Oracle Java), hadn’t completely taken over the world and native C++ usage was still high.  And so Microsoft settled on a new app model that was itself fully native to the platform (rather than a layer on top of Win32, as .NET in Longhorn would have been), supported all three programming styles (.NET, HTML5/Javascript, and native mode C++), used modern packaging and install/uninstall techniques, etc.  Again, this change dates back to the 90s and recognition of all the issues with Windows’ app model.  When you look at the intent of the new app model it is to address problems like security and system stability in Windows overall, not a need to introduce something different for Tablets.  And most of the key decisions were made before the iPad was introduced and before Microsoft itself developed a renewed interest in tablets.

What about ARM support?  People will recall that Microsoft’s interest in ARM support dates back to Longhorn and a project called LongARM.  ARM processors, particularly the DEC (later Intel) StrongARM had become the primary processor for Microsofts Pocket PC and Windows Mobile efforts (using the underlying Windows CE operating system).  ARM clearly offered a path to lower cost higher battery life personal computers, and Intel’s failure to adequately respond likely made Microsoft feel it had to add ARM support.  And of course Microsoft also had a long term strategic interest in using the mainstream Windows kernel on phones, where ARM had become the predominant processor.  And so ARM support was reintroduced as part of the re-imagining of Windows.  Now was this purely a Tablet play?  No, recall that Netbook manufacturers were introducing ARM-based Netbooks making this a general purpose PC play.  But with the complete collapse of the Netbook market ARM support now appears to be purely a Tablet/Smartphone play (at least for now).

And so the interesting thing is that all three initiatives within Windows 8 that make people think it is focused primarily on Tablets predate the introduction of the iPad, and were focused on revitalizing the traditional Desktop and Notebook PC market!  Now as the Windows 8 project progressed the iPad did come on the market and prove that Tablets had a place, and a very substantial one at that, in the personal computing market.  That meant they were both a threat to the Windows business and an opportunity.  Fast growth of Tablet sales means that Microsoft has an opportunity to get Windows back on a decent growth path by jumping on that bandwagon.  So I do think that as the Windows 8 project has progressed plans have been tweaked to focus them a bit more on making sure they nail the Tablet scenarios.   But overall the goals of the new user interface, the app model, and even ARM support are to modernize Windows for the entire spectrum of PCs, hopefully driving a faster replacement cycle (particularly for consumers), as well as capturing fast growth in newer form factors such as Tablets.

Now there are scenarios for which Microsoft chose not to make changes in Windows 8.  For example, the new app model does not yet offer background processing suitable for long running computations.  They’ve left that to the Win32 world (on x86 processors) for now.  But no doubt WinRT will add support for long-running background processing tasks in a future release.  That, for example is the kind of tradeoff Microsoft made as it focused the release a bit more heavily on Tablets and other consumption-oriented PCs.  But overall don’t think of the new app model as Tablet specific, it is Release 1.0 of Windows long term app model that will eventually be applicable to all scenarios Windows addresses.

How about the real controversy, the complete switch to MoSh rather than allowing desktop and notebook users to opt for a traditional cascading start menu experience?  Well, we still don’t know (although it is looking unlikely) if Microsoft is actually going to allow this in some high-end Enterprise edition.  I think that what has happened is that as Microsoft gained experience with MoSh it decided to go all in and move the entire community to the modern experience.  This is not unlike what happened with the Ribbon in Microsoft Office 2007.  And while that too caused an amazing amount of controversy, and frustration with the re-learning long-time Office users had to go through, it has proven a very beneficial move.  The Office business is quite strong, somewhat of a surprise given the weakness in the underlying PC business it depends on.  Yes this may slow adoption of Windows 8 in the desktop and notebook markets, particularly for enterprise use.  But as I and many others have noted enterprise adoption of Windows 8 for desktops and notebooks was always likely to be tepid as a result of enterprises just now completing their deployments of Windows 7.  A forced move to MoSh likely doesn’t alter that dynamic much.  And it will cause consternation to those who like the classic Windows user experience and just wish Microsoft would tweak it a little.  But then there are still people who aren’t fans of GUI and operate in command line mode as much as possible.  You can’t please everyone, and in the end the faster Microsoft moves people to the modern experience the better your long term prospects.

So Windows 8 isn’t about Tablets, it’s about modernizing Windows and reinvigorating the Windows business overall.  Most of the work in Windows 8 benefits the entire user base, independent of the new user experience, app model, or ARM support.  And all three of those are meant to make and keep Windows relevant across the entire personal computing space in the years and decades to come.  The way I think people should interpret Windows 8 is that the Windows business was at the precipice, about to start a prolonged decline.  Microsoft decided it was time to go big or go home.  They are going big.  They could still fail of course, particularly if the grumbling about MoSh turns into broad rejection by customers.  But at least it will be a fast fail compared to Windows likely fate if they hadn’t made the attempt.  And I don’t think they are going to fail.

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97 Responses to Windows 8 is not all about Tablets, it’s about the future

  1. Joe says:

    Insightful as always.
    One of the reasons for the ‘grumbling’ and confusion, I think, is the lack of good examples of demonstration that WinRT apps *can* work for keyboard + mouse. We’re yet to see the new email client in any detail or possible new metro versions of OneNote. This is going to be key to making a successful transition.
    Also, for the background tasks (like movie file conversion etc), isn’t the guidance really to move this to the cloud?

    • halberenson says:

      I think this is all part of the strategy for how they want to roll out Windows 8. They are addressing the biggest need, a response to the iPad, first. They don’t won’t to “osborne” Windows 7 sales on notebooks and desktops by getting people so excited about Windows 8 on those form factors that they decide to wait.

      I agree that most compute intensive/background compute tasks should move to the cloud over time. But when I’m sitting there with a 32-core processor in my desktop workstation I really am going to wonder how I can make use of all that horsepower and why I need to pay for cloud compute cycles while my desktop machine sits idle. Does Windows keep Win32 around forever for these scenarios, or does it support them via WinRT? And even in the cloud, what is the programming model? Win32 or Winrt?

  2. Fallon Massey says:

    I’m not buying it for one minute!

    Ok, it’s true that it really is about modernizing Windows, but if you actually believe that tablets in general and the IPad in particular aren’t the SINGULAR forcing function, then you need to pass over whatever it is you’re smoking, because it’s obviously some good stuff!

    The simple fact is that while Microsoft WAS going to modernize Windows at some point isn’t germaine to the simple fact that they got caught, yet again, with their pants down, and are playing super catch up.

    This reeks of the internet, browsers, java, iphone, etc., all trends that Microsoft never saw coming, but responded to successfully with good to excellent products.

    BTW, tell me how Metro, which evolved from Zune, and shined in Windows Phone, was magically the recipe for Windows 8 and the entire company.

    Let’s be honest, this wasn’t a planned exercise, this was forced by Apple beating Microsoft and Intel with SOLID breakthrough engineering! Intel didn’t seem to believe there was a market for devices that could run for 10-12 hours without charging. That was an engineering feat!

    Microsoft didn’t believe that touch(multi) was something for cheaper consumer devices, just expensive Surface type sales.

    That’s why we’re getting the new closed Microsoft, and the new innovative Metro(and it is innovative, congrats MS). But it took a good old fashioned butt whooping to get here, not a plan!

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  4. Alique Williams says:

    Tablets are an ergonomic nightmare, even for basic web browsing.

    • halberenson says:

      You can keep repeating that mantra, but apparently 27 Million people disagreed with you last quarter alone.

      • Topcat says:

        Clearly not “27 million people disagree” with that. 27 million sales doesn’t mean 27 million liked what they bought or even use the device on a regular basis without issue. It’s an impressive number but tell me the usage stats of regular users for web browsing the comparison between tablets and traditional form factor and then you’ll have you’re answer.

        • halberenson says:

          Tablet shipments grew from 17 million in Q3 to 27 million in Q4, and the iPad is fast approaching its 2nd anniversary. People aren’t buying these things on a whim, they are getting feedback from existing users that they love them. iPads at least. I think the story with Android tablets, including the Kindle Fire, is unclear (and personally I don’t find them compelling). Surveys keep showing customer satisfaction with iPads as high, with http://www.cnbc.com/id/39290945/iPad_Tops_in_Consumer_Satisfaction_Report claiming it the highest scoring consumer product they have ever tracked. Tablets are here to stay and they will continue to grow into a huge market segment, but they won’t take over the world. There are too many scenarios in which Tablets are suboptimal or even unusable. That’s why Microsoft’s approach of treating Tablets as one form factor in a seamless and smooth continuum could really win. The move from iPhone to iPad is seamless, but from iPad to Macbook Air is a big step function. The move from Android phone to Android tablet is like wandering a maze of twisty little passages, and the move from Android tablet to a notebook/desktop is like stepping out of a spaceship without a spacesuit. No one could do worse than how the Android world is evolving, and Microsoft can actually do better than Apple. At least conceptually. They still have to prove that people want what they are doing.

          Note that I’m not rejecting criticism of Tablets overall, just claims that they are horrible for everything or comparisons to pet rocks. Those just aren’t valid claims.

      • Just because everyone buys a product doesn’t mean it is a good product. Remember when people used to buy pet rocks? Exactly.

      • Joao Correia says:

        No, 27 million people like the portability.

        Ask any of those 27 million how many full text pages they wrote on the tablet.

        • halberenson says:

          The comment I responded to was about web browsing, I totally agree that a naked tablet is horrible for content creation (and have written about the Creation vs. Consumption difference multiple times). At least with the Windows 8 Tablet when I plug-in a keyboard and mouse it becomes a good creation device, not so with an iPad or Android-thingy.

      • Alique Williams says:

        And I believe I said before I too bought a tablet (Touchpad) along most of my close friends (most bought iPads, some touchpads) and every single one of us either sold it later on or don’t use it all anymore. No one truly have has an idea how a tablet is until they own one and they are an ergonomic nightmare. I bet those “27 million people” you referenced were first time customers.

        Tablets are just to big to carry around like a smartphone and are to clumsy to work with, say on bed, watching tv like one would with a laptop. You have to constantly hold it up right; you cannot rest you hands down on a keyboard for comfort.

        The truth is, the iPad is the only real tablet which sells in great numbers. Apple probably couldy have released any gadget and it would have sold.

      • Anonymous Coward says:

        IMO there are good Android tablets for content creation too – check out the Asus Transformer Prime.

    • Grzegorz Maj says:

      Because web isn’t ready for touch. My wife prefers desktop than iPad. Only ours 2 year old kid really uses it now.

  5. Rarr says:

    Apple Innovates.
    Microsoft Dominates.

    MS has been playing catch up for years on all front’s. They don’t start new markets. They brute force their way in and take over after others have proven it can make money. Windows Phone anyone?

    • halberenson says:

      Total nonsense. Microsoft was one of the Smartphone pioneers. They were in the market years before Apple, and at peak they tied with RIM for leading marketshare. Because they were in the market early they were disincented from changing paths, which is exactly how Apple did an end-run and skunked them. They were ahead of Apple on Tablets by years, but when Tablet PCs and UMPCs didn’t gain traction they backed off. That let Apple enter the market and blow right by them. Microsoft was ahead in doing home entertainment systems with Windows Media Center, but they were too early, backed off on marketing WMC, and then left the world confused on if the strategy was WMC or XBox. They’ve made it clear that the answer is XBox, so they were years ahead of Apple TV and continue to be. We’ll see if Apple’s expected third attempt does any better than their so-far feeble attempts. Oh, and Microsoft added Windows Media Player to the PocketPC a year before Apple introduced the iPod and 7 years before the more comparable iPod Touch. And it came out with the Smartphones with Windows Media Player 6 years before Apple introduced the iPhone. The facts show that Microsoft is often the innovator and Apple the follower. But most of the time when Apple does something they wait until they can get it right whereas Microsoft all too often enters markets prematurely and then gets bogged down in its legacy.

      Microsoft is a company that has made many mistakes and continues to be highly flawed, but not for the reasons you cite.

      • Martin Griffiths says:

        Microsoft has had as many successes as it’s had failures. In it’s early days, Windows Mobile was indeed very popular, but MS has all too often lost ground on existing products because they seem to lack the engineering “foresight” that companies like Apple enjoy. But this sadly includes the “tit for tat” attitudes to new innovation with the big players emplying patent trolls to try and hold back on these new ideas too, it makes me sick!

        Personally I think if MS can make inroads with MoSH and low power devices, it really is so much more than than just flaming tablets! It is indeed about modernising and standardising the windows kernel across all (currently known and unknown) technology.

        So just for starters how about…a WMC consumer device (that actually works properly) incorporates genuine MS advances like the Kinnect and DOESNT require a connection to a windows PC, supplying Cable/Satellite and connected services along with all the wonders of homestreaming, in a compact, low power device, maybe even including a TFT screen…..? Hmm Isnt that the newly imagined….soon to be released AppleTV v3???? Without Windows 8 MS wont be able to compete.

        So yes it’s about modernising the platform!

      • >> “Because they were in the market early they were disincented from changing paths, which is exactly how Apple did an end-run and skunked them. ”

        I have to agree with most of what you had said , minus the usability of the touch interface ( but that’s not going away, I’m just tired of the unmerited euphoria).

        And think the above is exactly what is going to happen to Apple. Windows 8 is the long play. Microsoft is working towards platform unification when everyone else is trumpeting platform marginalization.

        Sure, Steve Jobs was always talking about the desktop as the hub, your mobile device simply keeping you connected. And you’ve seen the patents for tapping phones and ‘dumping’ files from one device/platform one to another .. but the average consumer doesn’t care about that or know about it. Apple would love if every iPhone/iPad customer also bought also a mac desk/latop .. but have they?

        Everything for this fledgling, exploding key has to be done explicitly. Usability is a function of concerted and specific effort. It’s easier and takes less time to hard-code something for a particular purpose- this has always been Apple’s closed strategy. Microsoft has always been about the opposite, but building such an ecosystem simply takes longer.

        I think platform burnout is coming .. And I think Microsoft is poised to take off right when everyone wil be scrambling to react to the market and deliver. Their sales may have peaked, but their penetration is still massive. At the end of the day, when a piece of software can be written once to target multiple platforms, and when those platforms enable the same productivity as desktops .. I put my money on Win 8.

  6. thx1138 says:

    Good article,but have to disagree with C++ comment. Sorry, but C++ usage us not high. I am in the consulting business and pre .net we did about 40% C++ work. Now I don’t know if we have anyone capable of doing C++ on staff.

    • Bojan says:

      Well games are a rather big and important market, and C++ has entrenched there for whole bunch of reasons. Probably game developers don’t do lots of consulting then.

    • John Blackburn says:

      Trouble is, you’re looking at it from the point of view of your company only. For many industries, including telecommunications for example, managed memory and .Net is way way too slow. In my industry, machine vision, I could not contemplate a pure managed memory implementation; using a C++ DLL in conjunction with a C# .Net UI barely scrapes in with just about adequate performance but it is not startling.

      • halberenson says:

        I lived through the assembly language to 3GL evolution, both (application and then system programming) of them actually, and recall the debates about 3GLs would never be fast enough for system programming. Yet today we use 3GLs for all system programming, right down to the timing-critical code in device drivers. And certainly the evolution included a period in which performance critical functions were written in assembler while the overall code base was C, BLISS, Pascal, or PL/M. So I don’t rule out that managed code could one day address all app needs. But I also don’t know that the industry, including Microsoft, is incented to try to get there. Changes to the native app model and execution environment, along with enhancements to native compilers and runtimes, can achieve a large measure of the benefits you would get out of going to managed code. Many of the safety characteristics of managed environments (both Java and .NET) that drove its adoption have been superceded by App Stores (wherein even a native mode app is pre-verified as safe), Reputation systems, and sandboxing/virtualization. And the portability characteristics of managed environments have proven to be more marketing hype than useful capability. So I think native mode apps are here to stay, particularly for apps that need to get closer to the metal.

    • rp61 says:

      C++ is alive and well. The laws of supply and demand are probably more responsible for you not having a C++ developer on your staff. Furthermore – some companies simply cannot afford the price of a good C++ developer – and the “you get what you pay for” applies.

    • mehgerbil says:

      I think the language is still a mainstay of game development – a multi-billion dollar a year business.

    • CharlieBear says:

      I think the core of Windows 8 is written in C++. C++ and C# aren’t that far apart except for JIT compilation (CLR) in C#.

      • The core of Windows is mostly written in pure C. Back when Windows NT was being built, C++ was still pretty new, compiler support wasn’t mature and the memory impact & performance of features like virtual method calls (which requires an indirection lookup) were deemed too high a price to pay for solid object-orientation support. So, C was standardized as the language for creating most of Windows.

        C++ has since been used to implement some of the more recent higher-level features of Windows (as has .NET in very recent versions of Windows), but the majority of the Windows source-tree is still C code.

    • JDean says:

      I get several calls a week, from recruiters looking to find me a job in C++ development.

      C++ is clearly not dead.

      The market for us C++ folks though has changed over the years. I’m doing more server side work, and in client apps that need every ounce of performance that can be squeezed out of a box.

      We use a mix of technologies at my current assignment, and the .Net technologies require the lion’s share of support costs for performance and reliability issues.

      .Net technologies are getting better, and becoming the appropriate choice for many applications. But this shouldn’t be construed as a sign that other technologies are on the way out.

      I remember being advised on a number of occasions in the 1980s, to drop C, because Pascal was becoming the dominate language of choice… Others said to learn COBOL, Fortran and RPG instead. This isn’t the first time that C/C++ has been prematurely declared dead.

  7. stevev says:

    Microsoft is giving up the work station market to gain the ‘tablet’ market. It is much bigger, they chose the bigger fish. The problem is that they are burying the people that pushed them to the top. Coke tried it. We’ll see if Microsoft is any better at it.

  8. Topcat says:

    Even if they allow traditional windows programs to run in a higher end version I really have a problem with this.

    One of the big issues I have with the metro style shell is that it seems to force people to choose which environment they want there application to run in when writing it. Which if you use multiple applications all concurrently which alot of business users do for instance internet browser visual studio office various chat applications then dont you spend your entire time switching from desktop to metro when before you could just look at the different areas of the desktop or different monitors. These comments only come out from the preview versions I’ve used and what i’ve read about/done in application development in the preview, hopefully this will change before release and based on feedback but I think the statement go big or go home is a good one….If they mess this up it’ll be the latter for me.

    TC

  9. Very interesting article. I wasn’t aware that so much of what’s going into Windows 8 predates the iPad, although I’m sure an earlier commenter is right in suggesting that the rise and rise of the tablet has emboldened Microsoft to introduce a new paradigm that they might otherwise have shied away from again.

  10. Some .NET Guy says:

    There is a simple truth here about Metro that most people are overlooking. The “Universal Canvas” was a component of .NET when it was first announce at Fusion 2000 in June of ’99. I have followed .NET since it before the public knew about it and anyone who has should be able to tell you this is the .NET end game…

    Well sorta.

    Windows 9 will split even more (virtualizing native applications and creating SIPs for managed applications) and Windows 10 will be a .NET operating system. Buhbye native code for once and all.

  11. Some .NET Guy says:

    how quickly people forget…
    http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/universal_canva.php

    Microsoft always intended on XAML as a UI dialect. They always intended on Metro. To claim otherwise is to be totally ignorant of the history of .NET.

    In my opinion Microsoft tried (and failed) to install Silverlight as a viable option to Flash. What happened was HTML5 took over. So they adapted and moved that into the model. HTML5 is also – loosely – an XML dialect. I suspect they held off on delivering this technology because they are Microsoft… which means they are slow… which means they wait until the market shakes out a technology as ‘the winner’ before committing with fervor.

    The have finally committed. XAML or HTML5 you choose. But the general technology and the paradigm have existed inside of that company for almost 15 years.

  12. So Microsoft’s idea of “modernizing” the App model and UI was to develop one that could run one, or at most two applications simultaneously as PCs get even faster processors and more RAM? The entire WinRT, if it is the furture of the Windows App model, is one giant leap backwards for productivity on a desktop PC in favor of low power usage for tablets and other portable devicess. If that’s the case I can see my desktops going to Linux or OSX in that future where I can still open 10 windows and have 30 Apps running if I so choose.

    I see no reason why they didn’t allow a WinRT App to run in a window on the desktop if I so choose to do that. That is choice by the user as to whether they want MoSh or original desktop. Choice is what users want, not to be forced into something else; especially when that something else gives them less (only two apps max, background apps that are suspended, UI that is sized for touch even though I am using a keyboard an mouse cause much more scrolling or paging to interact with my data… If MoSh is so great on a PC, then more users will use it and you can phase out the desktop experience over time, if you force it, you won’t know until users begin to use something else.

  13. Rob says:

    As a 100% C++ programmer, I can attest to the fact that the last comment made by thx1138 is a tainted one. The contract that I am working on is finishing up, and I am looking for new opportunities. I have not, in the last 10 years, seen the job opportunities for C++ developers look better! It is being used for embedded work, native Android work, as well as desktop PC applications. There are still some arenas of software development where there is a STRONG need for the speed and power of a native C++ application.

  14. Joao Correia says:

    It’s really not so much about the future as it is to try and monetize from different sources. Don’t forget microsoft will get a cut from the apps sold on the store.

    Now, i am completely against this move. I’m a system administrator at a university, i work on a system with 4 monitors, i have around 18/20 programs running, and trying to do half of what i do on the PDC is a nightmare. Actually, its impossible.

    The sheer distracting factor of full screen updates when you’re just trying to get to a program is incredible. Its like an invitation to procrastinate.

    Just to try and get some light on this, consider a remote desktop session. Over a saturated link. When you do this to a windows 7 system, and you go for Computer Management console, you need a keypress, right click, left click. You also only need less than a quarter of the screen refresh, wich translates in a small amount of data going through the link.

    When you -try- to do the same task under the new start screen paradigm, you get -at least- 3 full screen refreshes, plus more typing, plus more clicking. Also, your link is doing overtime on all the stuff that is refreshing at once.

    Metro and the philosophy behind it is a poor excuse to get more money from consumers. My bet? It will go under faster and worse than vista. The false assumption alone that was touted at BUILD that touch screens are everywhere is so out of context with the real pc ecosystem that its assinine to even acknowledge people would say this. Its like they live in a bubble.

    Besides, the all “its windows” so everyone knows it has been completely thrown out the window. Low tech users that are currently on windows xp or 7 will be completely blindsided by everything. How much do you think they’ll take before asking someone to install the old computer back? Heck, i’m a professional, i’ve been working with computers since the 80s, and i took quite a while to locate the shutdown button. Like thats an advanced feature that needs to be hidden away under 3 screens. (And no, not everyone has the tower readily available on the desk. Real computer towers are hidden away).

  15. Anon says:

    What a fantasia of resurrected dinosaur bones, in which Microsoft, the La Brea Tar Pits, from which the bones have been removed is considered in isolation from MS’s most important business component: third party developers.

    WPF and SilverLight developers have been left out to rot. The future of .NET is unclear.

    Win 8 is a schizophrenic experience where one shifts between the latest version of the classic desktop, and the Metro interface: as of now there are no modes of high-speed communication between Metro apps and apps running simultaneously on the Win 8 desktop: except they can both write to a file, and each app can get a notification the file has changed, and then go read the file, and parse it.

    Metro was developed by some group at MS that went to some form of Disneyland where everything was miniature, and hierarchy was verboten. Yes, Metro is appropriate for small form-factor touch-driven devices which is a huge market, but MS is so late to the game, their success vs. Apple is very uncertain.

    In the meantime millions of full-size desktop computers will still sell, and be used with large monitors, and keyboards, yes, some with touch.

    From a business perspective the idea that you can’t have a long-running compute intensive process. perhaps web-access intensive, running lean-and-mean on a Win 8 desktop and dynamically communicating at high-speed with a Metro front-end is … brain dead.

    What you have written here is the euphemized version of Microsoft History. The truth is they have been running for two-years now in panic with Apple eating their pie.

  16. Neil says:

    The article is pretty reasonable.

    Just a shame Microsoft have made such a complete arse of communicating htis over to end user and developers who collectively are wondering WTF Win8 is really about, and why a Windows Tab is not just Windows Phone 7 XL.

    • Good point in saying why not just make a Windows Tablet a WP7 XL? I think part of that answer lies in safeguarding some grounds for Windows OS, their main business. Personnaly I feel it would be awesome to have an iPad kind of thing that seamlessly changes to a desktop or a laptop for content creation.

      • Neil says:

        “Personnaly I feel it would be awesome to have an iPad kind of thing that seamlessly changes to a desktop or a laptop”

        Trouble is it won’t, as WOA appears to hobble Desktop Win8 into something that looks like WP7XL, but isn’t.

        • halberenson says:

          Are you talking about WOA or the Start Screen? If you need the desktop then you definitely don’t want an ARM-based tablet. Personally I’m planning on purchasing a nice new Intel-based one when the time comes.

  17. Bah, another article that is link bait for CodeProject. I don’t know why I’m bothering to reply, other than I think Windows 8 will fail in the marketplace hard and I was such a fan of Windows 7, I hate to see this happen over such trivial little things that are easily fixed!!

    Yes, Windows 8 IS the future insofar as the guts of Windows 8 is amazing. I mean you are absolutely correct in the first several paragraphs. All the work on better touch, better runtime, ARM support, and better GUTS is the unspoken hero of Windows 8, but which will hardly be noticed because of Microsoft’s misguided (so far) UX decisions.

    Really, the only complaint is the end user experience on desktop form factors. Tablets are amazing for quickly getting crap done and being highly portable, but the PC isn’t going anywhere. The “PC is dead” people are as misguided as the “talbet is just a fad” people. Both form factors will rule and at some point we will have convergence where a single device will fit both profiles, but both profiles *will exist*. There is simply no way to get as much work done on a flat glass screen as on a KB+Mouse.

    I think it was bold for MS to attempt to unify the platforms with Windows 8, but they pulled their usual drastic change BS that’s become a staple of the last four or five years and promoted an unproven UX (Metro) to the front of Windows 8, while sidelining the wildly popular “Windows” UX just because Apple had some recent success with something similar.

    Do you want some real world success results of Metro? Look at Windows Phone 7 and it’s forebearer, Zune. Both are/were critically acclaimed. Neither are/were selling. In fact, Microsoft’s market has *shrunk* since dumping the widely panned Windows Mobile platform, WP7’s predecessor. I’m not going to go and say it’s a result of the reboot and Metro, but more a combination of factors, but killing legacy support did not help at all.

    Really, I think this all revolves around choice. If there was simply a *supported* way to switch back to the classic Start Menu and/or disable Metro altogether, I don’t think anybody would care if Metro was there or even the default view. And, in fact, Metro might actually be somewhat successful on talbets. I’d personally prefer something closer to classic Windows, but with more touch-friendly icons and windows snapping/sizing features, but I can see the logic in supporting a tiled/full-screen modality for small on-the-go displays.

    But Metro on my three 23″ widescreen monitors? You are crazy if you think that is not annoying.

    The *only* problem is that Microsoft is forgetting the roots of success: backward compatibility. It makes tech pundits angry when you continue to support the “old” with the new. But it makes users happy.

    • Martin G says:

      I’m glad you bothered! A lot of what you say makes sense, but as the betas move towards release candidates I would be utterly stunned if MS don’t provide the ability to turn off Metro in the desktop builds, especially when you consider it HAS to run on non-touch PC’s to sell initially! But for consumers there is plenty of opportunity for Metro to shine, even on the desktop. Cross-over is inevitable but for mainstream power apps, the standard desktop will continue as it did before. The focus of WinRT will be on low power/small screen devices initially.

      It’s a bit of chicken and egg situation but MS have to take the lead before they lose any more ground to Apple. Apple are rumoured to be merging iOS and OSX, along with talk about ARM based devices that go beyond the iPad/iPhone. So I do think MS are on the right track here.

      • Nilton says:

        Adam,I feel this whole article is troll bait so I guess I will uontince to fan the flames.1) Mac sales are up in the home pc/laptop market but Windows is still the dominate player. However that market is a drop in the bucket to business pc sales and ms is still very strong. So ms does have an issue with the business not moving to vista. XP is on a very large base of business pcs. So business has multiple upgrade paths they can take. But like most businesses they are going to look at their current infastructure ( Active directory / Custom Windows software / Employees are familiar with using windows ) and use that as a reason to migrate to Windows 7.2) I am not sure where you are going with this. I fear you may be a blind MS hater and see everything is a win/loose outcome and that is simply not how it works. MS is strong and or a leader in almost everything you mentioned. I would love you to explain how Desktops are yester-year .3) I agree, but what does this have to do with Windows 7?I use both Windows and Linux. I will confess I am not a Mac fan but I do have an iPhone. The thing that gets me is this blind MS FUD about how windows is about to fall off a cliff. I have heard this for the last 10 years and it has not happend. I listened to it when 95 replaced dos, when 98 replaced 95, ( screw ME ), when XP replaced ME and when vista replaced XP. After hearing This is the year of Linux on the desktop for forever now I still can’t find one Linux PC for sale at any store around here, all MS and a few Macs. So I don’t see this mass migration away from Windows that is causing MS to say We need to turn around .

  18. Gatuus says:

    android????

  19. CharlieBear says:

    Developers need to rethink application UI or get left behind.
    All this Windows 8 hoopla reminds me of the switch from DOS to Window 3.1 around 1991. Most users and developers hated “Windows Explorer”. It took us about a year before we made the jump from command line to browsing around the file system using Windows Explorer. Now the WORLD will be making another jump (proven by smart phones & iPads) to a new kind of desktop. Microsoft knows there won’t be big migration from W7 to W8 in the business arena (just like W3.0 was weak). It’s actually a smart move on MS part. W8 is a transitional product, look for a beefed up W9/W10 for real world business applications of the future. We are working on an accounting application using “touch and type” (done right, minimal touch is easier than a mouse). Developers need to rethink application UI or get left behind. Cheers to all.

    • halberenson says:

      Couldn’t have said it better myself!

    • cteague3 says:

      Even more so, Kinnect interaction across all the device form factors, please. I would prefer to include touch screen capable and have the device I’m interacting with be able to watch my movements. Even desktops should respond to my hand movements. If I need to “type” it can watch my hands type, too. But frankly, true UX concept change should include eye movement tracking and hand movement and lip reading and voice recognition, with touch simply a fall back. There is no need for mouse and keyboard moving forward.

      • halberenson says:

        Maybe, and certainly MSR and others are exploring all those possibilities. Most have been demonstrated in the lab, and they will over time make it into high-volume products.

        I do think you oversate the case on keyboard and mouse though. The tactile feedback on a real keyboard is still a major benefit for text entry, and the pointing precision of the mouse (and trackball) is still unrivaled. My own dislike of typing large amounts of text on an iPad is mostly related to the lack of a high precision way to point and correct mistakes. Every time I have to correct them I go through a long and painful process of trying to get the cursor into the right spot. Mostly I end up deleting and retyping more than I need to. I don’t see any of the virtual technologies as solving this problem as well as the mouse, although it is certainly possible to do better than Apple has (so far).

    • cquirke says:

      Windows 3.1 had a horrible Program Manager front end and didn’t have Windows Explorer; it had File Manager, with single-shot “ook, see file; ug, open with rock” file association.

      In contrast, Windows Explorer explores the namespace, not the file system as such, and added right-click context menus with multiple file association tasks.

      Metro seems to dumb everything down, increasing the cost of the UI. Instead of small familiar icons (with helpful tooltips if unfamiliar) one now has to read wads of text; everything takes up more space on screen, which means a lot more scrolling. It’s so cumbersome that one app needs the whole screen, so they no longer try to switch between multiple running apps or display these simultaneously.

      The result is deeper than the loss of Vista/7’s Aero taskbar app previews; it nukes us all the way back to Win3.yuk Program Manager. Having to “search” for stuff one could click on is slow and risks finding malware look-alikes, and there may be malware implications in allowing external sites to squirt content directly into the new “desktop”.

      If MS wants to kill the PC market (in which they are dominant), then destroying all the advantages of the PC over sub-PC hand-helds is a good way to go.

  20. JDean says:

    It’s interesting that you assume, that an increase in Microsoft Office Sales, represents proof that users desire the new UI and that it is better.

    What else are folks going to buy for their office environments to support their existing libraries of documents and emails?

    At one time, we knew that people didn’t want cars that came in different colors, because the Model T was only sold in black…. Sales of black cars proved this to be true…

    • halberenson says:

      If people aren’t buying new PCs then they don’t need more or new copies of Office. But your point is still valid. Users may accept the new interface but not like it.

    • Lovely says:

      I disagree that Windows 8 won’t be for isbuness. The user experience/user interface model of mouse/keyboard isn’t necessarily the best one in all situations. Having a true made-for-touch OS means that new types of applications can be written for industries that can take advantage of it.They’ve also showed that you can still install more traditional desktop applications (i.e. Excel, Word), so it doesn’t appear that applications will require the Metro look/feel.Consumers will adopt it in much the same way they adopted Win 7 – either through cheap upgrades or purchasing new computers with it pre-installed. And if the Windows tablets hit the right price point, it’ll have a great adoption.From a isbuness perspective, I’m really excited for Build to see what type of new applications can be dreamt up – Windows 8 like anything else will rely on the 3rd party dev community to determine its success.D’Arcy

    • Marco says:

      On the mobile phone front I’m tnnkhiig really hard about the HTC HD2 and I keep tnnkhiig that I should try an android based phone before spending that much money (The Acer Liquid A1 might hit the spot) and I’d probably get an OS upgrade.I can’t help wondering if WinMo team has that outsourcing mentality of “feature done” where each item on a long shopping list is done indvidually rather than a holistic overview of the whole phone. In part the bit of the Windows CE model that is broken is that as a consumer I can’t replace my OS on these devices. I don’t get a disk of drivers that means I can go and buy WinMo 7 and have it work with my old hardware, I end up relying on an unholy mix of xdadevelopers, carriers and OEMs (to be fair on the last two phones I’ve had there has eventually been an upgrade 5->6 and 6->6.1). Given quite how few hardware platforms there are for phones out there this shouldn’t be impossible. This might fix the relationship at the moment it’s one of MS -> OEM -> Carrier -> Me and I’m not sure that I’m being heard.I’m surprising myself on quite how passionate I am about this. I suspect in part its down to Apples pricing and all round control freakery, Android leaving me worried that I’ll spend all my life constantly upgrading to the latest version.If WinMo 7 is as good as say PocketTwit then I’ll be back in a flash but otherwise WinMo is not staying on my phone. For WinMo7 generation get a team of devs producing a consumer installable version that will convert an Android phone to WinMo7 (or even better an iPhone just to watch Mr Jobs explode) price it at $25 without the office stuff, $50 with and see what happens.

  21. Ira Minor says:

    I don’t care what operating system I am running or what hardware platform it is on, my UI is the Chrome browser. I am forcing myself to use it exclusively. I think in the near future I will be able to do 99% of what I want to do with Chrome. If Google would support ChromeOS on more diverse and powerful hardware I think that is what I will end up with. I will have an Android phone and tablet when I am mobile and a ChromeBox desktop running the Chrome browser. I will also have a Windows desktop, which will primarily be off-line and used for software development, photo and video editing etc. All of my systems will have the Chrome browser and be synchronized.

    • CharlieBear says:

      Just something to think about: there is a major battle brewing for future control of the “desktop”. Google wants the Browser to be the OS. Microsoft wants the desktop to be the OS with the Browser built-in(Metro apps), Apple is leaning toward the Browser like Google (iPad apps on the desktop). It’s even possible that 5 years from now there won’t be any “Browsers”. (I know that’s hard to believe, ok maybe 8-10 years).
      Chrome is nice (HTML5 and JavaScript with some WebKit tools)? But I’d be a little cautious about the future of JavaScript, even Google is trying to get away from it. Look for a few “surprises” from Google and Apple this summer. Right now JS is “the” language for browsers because it’s the ONLY choice. It’s good to be “flexible” when things are in a shake out mode. Pretty exciting times. Cheers to all.

      • Ira Minor says:

        As I said earlier I am a Google guy with Android phone and tablet and am looking forward to ChromeOS on the desktop for security and maintenance reasons and I will be running the Chrome browser on all of them. If Windows 8 is good enough, including its browser, I could be convinced to get a Windows phone, tablet, laptop and desktop all running the same software. It must be highly secure and very low maintenance. I don’t want to deal with lots of updates and running virus checkers, defragers etc. I still hope most of my applications are browser based. By the way, I have used every Microsoft OS since DOS 1.0 and I still have five different models of IBM PC’s, all made in the early 80’s. PC Classic, XT, AT, Convertible and Portable. They all work perfectly and I sometimes develop code using Borland Turbo C.

  22. W says:

    My biggest fear about Win 8: Microsoft will fail to gain traction in the tablet market (too late to the game, has restricted functionality, no integration with desktop PCs, no reason to use a Win8 tablet since it has no advantages over more mature ones, so all the hot apps never show up there — same reasons that Winphone7 has declined to less than 2% market share) AND almost no one migrates to Win8 desktop PCs. That will leave Windows dying a slow death as a server OS, as desktop users start moving over to Apple, as they are already starting to do according to the latest numbers (or to Linux if anyone comes up with a decent, well-supported distro).

    The one advantage that MS could have with Windows tablets is being totally ignored and squandered: seamless compatibility with (not dependence on, but compatibility with) the millions of desktop PCs out there. Instead, Metro-on-the-same-hardware is a joke – completely firewalled off from the desktop side, with no interoperability even allowed by the MS software guideline restraints. (Want to run a local database and access it from your app? No can do. Want to browse your files? No can do. That’s just the start of what you _can’t_ do with Win8 Metro.) And communication between an actual Win8 tablet and a Win8 desktop PC means going through the MS-controlled cloud, with the expense and security issues that entails. Other than PC compatibility, what compelling reason is there to ever buy into the Win8 tablet? I can’t think of any.

    Re. backward compatibility: This, along with open architecture and easy access to third-party software, is a major reason that Microsoft has succeeded where Apple has previously failed on the desktop. While there were always a few “gotcha’s”, by and large, you could still run your old software on a new MS OS. Migration could be done gradually when you bought a new system, without having to go cold turkey. Issues with software migration have been a major reason that Vista/Win7 adoption has been slow. Win8 migration issues will be huge in comparison.

    Re. Office: Thinking that Office is selling because of, rather than in spite of, its UI and ribbon totally misses the point. MS Office is still the legacy defacto business standard software, and its integration with Sharepoint is helping that. Not its UI. As more and more people start to run it on Apple boxes, or avoid it all together on their tablets, that situation can also change. In fact, it’s buggy, clunky and has become increasingly awkward to use – which does not bode well for its long-term success. As for the UI: how many other application vendors have adopted the MS version of a ribbon for their UI? Again, I can’t think of any. A resounding vote of “No!” from the commercial software world.

    I, and almost everyone I work with, use multiple screens on our PCs, both at work and at home. My own desktop has multiple graphics cards — and I don’t use it to play games. No tablet will replace it any time soon. I’ve also used Windows tablets for years, and know how Microsoft has bungled their support for them (which was as much a cause as an effect of their lack of adoption). I was hoping for a Win8 tablet that would be truly useful, knowing that it would never replace my PC but hoping it could be easily used with it. Based on the previews, that seems increasingly unlikely.

    This article makes it seem that Microsoft’s decisions have been a rational progression over many years. What this ignores are the internal politics that always go on. I suspect that the ascendance and decline of .NET and the decisions to concentrate on a Metro-style tablet OS and WinRT at the expense of the desktop PC user base have as much or more to do with who is making/influencing the decisions than with any underlying factual basis for them. The recent departures and re-shuffling within Microsoft seem to bear that out.

  23. JWilliams says:

    Tablets have been a long time coming, and they are fabulous devices for “consumer” tasks (playing music/videos and browsing photos and books, expending our lives on social networking, and bearable (just) for web browsing. There are even a few games that work well with touch, although most need buttons and joysticks (or at least controls that don’t require you to completely obscure your view with your fingers) to be playable). But tablets, like web-apps are absolutely hopeless for doing what most computers are used for – content creation tasks (writing emails and documents, editing images and videos, doing your accounts, indeed doing almost any actual work).

    As it appears now, Win8 is aiming squarely at the huge emerging tablet market – but this is a new market: these will for the most part be consumer devices for people who don’t yet have computers, or complementary devices to our “real” computers (My computer and smartphone contain virtually identical technologies, but I use them for almost mutually exclusive tasks). The whole world seems to be web-app/tablet-app crazy right now, and the simple truth is that webs and tablets are only good at consuming content, and are inadequate for content-creation tasks.

    However, Win8 isn’t released yet. Microsoft isn’t stupid. There is a good chance that they will spend a bit of effort on the desktop experience. They’ve already thrown us a few paltry tidbits (such as the fabulous file management functions that we should have had 20 years ago) but all we can do now is hope that MS will add compelling support for non-tablet devices. I predict that Desktop PCs are here to stay despite the shiny appeal of clouds and webs and touch. Why? Quite simply, the mouse-based interface has been honed for many years and actually works well. Mice allow you to pinpoint any single pixel of the screen, don’t obscure the thing you are working on, and can be used for hours on end without being tiring. Keyboards allow you to access thousands of operations with a single motion, and provide physical feedback that touch (currently) doesn’t. Today’s capacitative touchscreens are cheap and gorgeous and sexy and wonderful to use, but they are not (yet) competitive with mouse & keyboard for being productive and ergonomic.

  24. Jason says:

    On the issue of pricepoint you briefly touch on, how many people actually upgrade to a new version of Windows without buying a new PC? I don’t have the numbers but from experience I’d say not many. It is usually more cost effective to ditch your old computer and get a new one, with a new version of Windows than upgrade. And many people and businesses now will hold off buying a new computer unless they have good reason to.
    Then there is the question of versions. Which version should you get? What are you missing out on? What is the price difference? What if I change my mind? All of this involves quite a bit of research to find out, even for the technically minded. Most people will just take what comes with the computer and be stuck with it, and then get frustrated when it won’t do what they want. Add to that the question of 32-bit or 64-bit versions, now that memory is getting larger, people have to learn about the 4GB limit for a 32-bit OS.
    Of course these tactics, (and I don’t believe they aren’t tactics), keeps PC makers happy, but what is ironic is that big bad Apple who would have a vested interest in driving their own hardware sales, has typically sold their OS upgrades for around $100, with the last two releases over the last 4 years being under $30. With Lion that includes legal installation on multiple computers you own. Lion is typically a simple install too. An ordinary human can usually manage it. There is also only one version, no “premium” versions, and no need to worry about 32 or 64 bit. OK there are some macs from 2005 that can’t run these latest versions, but I have a 2006 Mac that has survived 4 OS upgrades (including to Lion Server). It’s a matter of choice of marketing strategy. If the upgrades were several hundred dollars a piece, I wouldn’t have done them. I would have held out with the old software as long as possible until I desperately needed a new machine. That would be, (and is with an MS upgrade), a pretty rubbish UX. UX is not just what you’re touching and seeing on the screen.
    If a legal upgrade to Windows 8 is in the order of several hundred dollars, or even $200, and the process is somehat convoluted, with many decisions about versions and features and price differences or even processor architecture, it starts to become a big gamble, a waste of time, and frankly a PITA for most ordinary people. Even corporations don’t want that sort of hassle! Forcing people into buying new hardware because the thought and options of upgrading are just too complex and painful, is not a ‘strategy’ that I think is working well for MS. Also don’t tell me it is a technical issue. MS has built technology around this ‘strategy’. That sort of strategy may work in a monopoly environment, but as with most monopolies, they are dragged kicking and screaming from strategies of protecting market share to the sphere of competition. That is where the real change will come at MS. It is not so much a technical problem, as a strategic one. Simplicity for the end user does not receive the sort of priority it deserves. Revenue protection (pricepoint), upselling (premium versions), and technology taking priority (processor architecture considerations for user) all come before the User eXperience (as is bandied about).

    • halberenson says:

      Recall that years ago the upgrade business was a big one for Microsoft, with Windows 95 having people lining up for hours before launch to get their copy. The upgrade business has declined for a numer of reasons, some under Microsoft’s control and others not. Targetting higher-end hardware sometimes made upgrades unattractive to consumers, a mistake on Microsoft’s part. The OEM model also gets significantly in the way. When Windows XP shipped I owned a notebook that met its requirements, but Dell refused to update the drivers and other platform-specific software (e.g., power management) to support it. So while Windows XP would run on it, not all the features worked and the battery would run down in an hour. (I responded by installing Linux, which didn’t have these issues, on the machine and then going around Microsoft using Open Office on Linux to do presentations, explaining why this was necessary. Trust me, I got senior executive’s attention.) Once you go through something like this you think twice before attempting an upgrade again, and so Windows XP severely damaged the upgrade market and then Windows Vista finished it off. Even the Vista to Windows 7 upgrade, which should be extremely smooth, was complicated by the need to go manually remove incompatible software and drivers before performing the upgrade then running around after the upgrade finding and installing compatible software and drivers. Microsoft helped with a tool to identify what needed to be done, but still this was a highly manual process. It was super painful for a power user, and unapproachable for most users. The situation is even worse for Windows XP to Windows 7 upgrades. Apple’s complete control of the hardware environment, and greater control of the software environment, makes upgrades far less technically challenging. So the upgrade business has largely died because of business model and technology reasons, not out of a desire (at least on Microsoft’s part) to force new system purchases via pricing.

      The multiple editions are also the result of Microsoft’s business model. The customers for Windows, that is who directly pays Microsoft, is mostly split between OEMs and Enterprises. The editions are designed to respond to the needs of those two customer types. Enterprises want functionality that costs a lot to develop and does not add to consumer sales volume, thus you need to charge them more for it. OEMs want to hit a variety of price points and because of intense competition they pressure Microsoft for both lower prices for entry-level systems and greater functionality to show off their premium experiences. Microsoft can’t respond to both sets of pressure with a single edition. Apple doesn’t sell the operating system for installation on other people’s hardware, and thus it doesn’t have price pressure on the operating system itself. It looks at the total revenue and profit of a Mac Mini, not at the problem that to meet the Mini’s price point it would need to charge less for the OS than it can get away with on a Mac Pro. And so it does whatever price adjustments are necessary at the total system level rather than the OS level, an option not available to Microsoft.

      You can likely track Apple’s Mac OS upgrade price decline to pressure from its generally free upgrades on IOS. Wndows 7 Home Premium, the edition most comparable to Mac OS, upgrades are selling for $115 (Walmart) to $120 (others) which is in line with the historical Mac OS pricing. I don’t think Microsoft will do anything pricewise to encourage upgrades to Windows 8, but it will have to respond to Apple’s pricing and policies for upgrades from Windows 8 to future versions. Certainly on WOA Microsoft will need to be competitive on pricing, policies, and ease of upgrades. I think they’ll be forced to come closer on Intel as well.

      • Jason says:

        Obviously Apple have less issues with third parties, since they do both hardware and software, so getting upgrades to work is arguably easier for them. And all your explanations of the reasons why it is the way it is for Microsoft, I can’t argue with.
        The main point I’m making though, is that the end user experience comes down to more than what the interface looks like, or acts like, and that includes OS upgrades. It is a matter of priority, and looking at the total user experience.
        I still don’t agree though that a lower pricing option for Windows retail or upgrade is not an option for Microsoft, nor more streamlined versions, nor that they are forced to price this way due to development cost. They are selling the same software to OEM for vastly less. Otherwise no OEM, could offer a $700 laptop.
        Nor do I agree that Apple somehow has to charge less for the OS to cater for Mini customers than Mac Pro customers. They could, if they wanted, do like Microsoft and make Home, Premium, Pro and everything in-between versions, and charge more for ‘Pro’ users, but they don’t. They could also price Mini users out of an upgrade and force them to buy new hardware. Obviously Apple wants market traction and so have more reason to price lower, but even still, if it wasn’t so easy to upgrade a 2006 iMac 4 times to Lion Server, then I wouldn’t have done it. I would have sold the machine and bought a new machine, maybe another brand. That you could say is eating into their own hardware sales.
        Microsoft isn’t making money on hardware (mouse and kb don’t count), except for every PC sold they have sold an OEM version of Windows. At what price? Not more than $30 I’m guessing. Of course they have Enterprise where they want them (with nowhere to go), so they still continue to charge them. So why not price upgrades, or even full versions similarly?
        I’m curious as to how Windows 7 Home Premium is the most comparable to OS X Lion. 7 Home Premium cannot join a domain, and has no multi-lingual support, no remote desktop, no “advanced backup”, no disk encryption, just for starters. Now we run into the danger of an OS war when I say that is not comparable with features in OS X Lion, but it is a fact. Lion can join a domain, it is multi-lingual, it has “advanced backup”, disk encyption, remote access and I could list other stuff like network profiles for instance. Network profiles in Windows is still non-existent. You need 3rd party software. Switching between DHCP and static IP addressing with a proxy and exceptions is a pain on Windows (I do this every day). There is a long list of comparisons you could make, and we run into the danger of an OS war, so better stop here. I use both Win 7 and OS X practically every day (more Windows).
        Besides that, here in Australia, Vista to Windows Home Premium upgrade is $199, the full version $299 and Ultimate UPGRADE is $429, and if you haven’t noticed the AUD has been stronger or close to parity with the USD for a couple of years now. In terms of versions I would consider Ultimate more comparable with OS X.
        Now who’s going to upgrade a $500 laptop to Windows 7 for $199 at the minimum. Well you’d have to be thick.

        But you’re right, the companies are different and the market model is different so it’s hard to make comparisons.
        Still, I think my recent experience with Android is a good parallel. I bought a cheap-ish Sony-Ericsson Android phone after my old Blackberry gave out. Guess what? Can’t upgrade the OS. Guess what? Android 2.1 can’t install apps to memory card (2.2 can. Notice the big difference between 2.1 and 2.2?). How many apps can I install in 512MB? Not many. Guess what? Sony-Ericsson, won’t be spending money to allow the phone to upgrade to 2.2 (or higher). They’d probably rather you just buy a new phone (with the new OS on it) – See the business model? Sony could have assigned resources to it. Heck amateurs are doing it. I endured for a few months. $250 down the toilet. Guess what? I didn’t buy another Sony-Ericsson phone. It doesn’t matter how good Android is now, or will be, if I can’t get it on my new (but not) Android phone.
        My original point was that the user experience is not just about what’s in Windows 8. All the hard work will be for nought, I feel, if MS don’t look at other issues to do with the total user experience. I just don’t believe all the excuses. They could change these models, but they are old ones that have worked for them in the past and so they’re sticking with them.

        • halberenson says:

          The bottom line is that I think what you will see is that on ARM tablets the Microsoft experience will be a lot more like the Apple experience. On Intel machines (Tablets, Notebooks, and Desktops alike) Microsoft is hindered by everything from legacy to business model to anti-trust implications, and so the experience there will evolve gradually.

          BTW, of course Microsoft could charge less at retail but the retail and OEM products are quite different. When you buy a retail product support comes from Microsoft, when an OEM buys the product they agree to provide support to the end customer for Windows. The OEM also absorbs other costs (e.g., product packaging) that accrue to Microsoft in a retail product. So while the bits themselves might be the same, the total contents of each “package” are quite different. For a power user one could make the case that Microsoft could offer a download only, no warranty support, version at a low price because their costs would then be comparable to the OEM version. But that isn’t the real problem that needs to be solved, it is the experience and cost for the general user population that really needs to be addressed.

  25. Will Rubin says:

    I hate the locked App Store. Why should I have to give Microsoft a third of all my sales. I already pay for the development software and users pay for the devices and Windows 8. Why should Microsoft be in the middle of me selling my applications to whoever I choose. And why should they get 1/3 of my money!

    • halberenson says:

      This is a case where Microsoft is definitely emulating Apple and thus picking up much of what is both bad and good about Apple’s App Store. On the positive side developers get broad exposure, a sales and distribution channel that most can’t build themselves, freedom from dealing with billing etc., an automatic secure update channel, and various other goodies. If these things raise your volumes and lower your costs then the benefits far outweigh the 30% that Microsoft takes. On the negative side there is that 30% as well as some restrictions on what they’ll allow in the Windows Store. For consumers a locked store model holds numerous benefits, but the one I think Apple best demonstrated is that it rebuilds the trust that an application you install will not have bad side-effects. Recall that before the App Store the conventional wisdom was that Apps were dead (and everything was moving to the Web) because Apps made client systems unstable, non-secure, and impossible to manage. And that the situation was irreparable. The App Store reversed this and made Apps cool again. Now one may still question if the reversal is permanent or just pushed a move to a pure web model off several years, but to the extent that on-platform Apps succeed going forward the locked store model is the most likely to do so.

      Note that while it would be easy for Microsoft to start with a locked environment and then open it up in the future the reverse is not true. So if the market demands it Microsoft could add support for alternate stores in the future (and modify the user experience to be like the Kindle Fire, where it comes locked to Amazon’s Android Market but has a setting to override and allow use of alternate markets). I’m not predicting that will happen, but I’m saying that it is possible. And I certainly can see ways to tweak the business model so that it works too.

      Of course Android offers the alternate model and so you have markets, like Amazon’s, that are more locked down than Google’s and others that are more freewheeling. But as reports show many millions of Android devices are infected with Malware because of this failure to lock down the App lifecycle. Microsoft is getting closer and closer to making Windows the least hospitable to, and best defended against, Malware consumer platform while Google’s platform is becoming the Malware target of choice. Why would Microsoft want to emulate Google?

      • CharlieBear says:

        I think MS store is a consumer mall and is optional. Business apps won’t be affected. If it’s not optional then Linux will get a huge boost! (Even if it means going back to C++ or Java). As business app developers we feel WPF/C#/Entity Framework are all awesome, so I’d hate to have to make a switch.

        • halberenson says:

          It optional for desktop apps, so as long as you don’t want to reach WOA or write Metro apps for Intel you can ignore it. Looking at the inroads the iPad and Smartphones are making into businesses as a model, I don’t think business app writers will want to ignore WOA or Metro in general for long.

          Microsoft, for example, will do Metro clients for Dynamics. I’ll place bets that SAP, Best, and most others with substantial Windows-based businesses also do Metro clients. They will initially be subsets of their traditional clients but will eventually become the preferred clients if Windows 8 devices become popular. Sure you’ll want an WPF etc. client for a payroll clerk banging away at entering hundreds of employees’ data, or for a call center employee entering or checking orders all day, or a security trader’s workstation. But employee self-service? Most In-the-field CRM activities? Retail stores where employees are increasingly carrying tablets with them on the floor for inventory checks, catalog lookups, etc. It’s Metro baby, all the way. And the Microsoft Store (which offers private distribution) will be the way you distribute all these apps.

          • CharlieBear says:

            Then the real question: is the MS Store the only way to sell Metro apps? Can a user purchase from a private site and download to install? Sounds like a big mistake to me if MS Store is the only option. I understand the exposure a MS Store provides but that’s not our market. We are regional and don’t really care about global access.

            • halberenson says:

              Metro apps can only be installed from the Microsoft Store. The store does have the capability for private sub-stores, so for example GM could have a private store that only its employees could access to download either bespoke apps or third-party apps GM has license to. I also believe the Store has the ability for an app to be only available in a particular region, though the region definitions might not match yours. So if your business model is that you sell your app to a company, but then they need a way for their employees to obtain that app, the Microsoft Store supports that without you publishing your app to the world. But I sure haven’t looked at the details of how that is done, or how the business model works.

              Hal http://hal2020.com

              • CharlieBear says:

                It’s going to be interesting to see how this all shakes out. There are a lot of very smart people at Microsoft and I don’t think they are going to do anything that will chase away their huge developer base. If they did, it would be the end of an era. Google, Apple and maybe Oracle (ugh) would be there to scoop up the exodus. Exciting times! (and there is always Linux!)

                • halberenson says:

                  Agreed. The thing I worry about is in their haste to recruit new developers the rhetoric can turn off existing developers, and its really hard to separate the rhetoric from reality.

                  • CharlieBear says:

                    BTW: I really enjoy your rantings especially: “Dear Developer, excuse me while I slap you silly” perspective. That thought has popped into my head on serveral occasions! In 1991 after 2 years of warnings and an offical countdown, I had to personally uplug/de-plug our mini-computer system to force everyone to embrace pc’s 100%. I wasn’t invited to join in for lunch for a long time! Cheers!

      • Jason says:

        Although the article goes to great lengths to try and establish MS is not copying Apple in many areas, this comment is the first admission they are obviously ‘emulating’ the app store model with Windows 8. That model was so successful, every other mobile OS provider (to varying degrees), namely Google, RIM, Nokia and Microsoft, were scrambling to ‘emulate’ it AFTER the release of the Apple app store. Microsoft’s ‘emulation’ even goes down to the exact same 30% sales commission. Yet, this ‘locked’ model is the object of so much derision aimed at the original implementers.
        Again in my experience with ‘open’ Android, I bought a pre-paid phone that was full of demo apps from the provider (Vodafone or Sony-Ericsson – can’t tell which) on a phone with very little app memory. These apps were locked down by the provider, so that the end user couldn’t delete them. And there were lots of them. And they were all useless to me. And they took up a large proportion of the very limited available app space. I would have had to ‘root’ the phone, voiding the warranty (and have the knowledge and skills to do so), before being able to delete those apps. ‘Open’ Android can be not so ‘open’ for the end user.
        With the ‘locked’, app store model on the desktop. It would be hard to argue MS didn’t (or won’t) follow Apple’s lead with Windows 8 and onward. Currently OS X allows you to install apps from App store or anywhere. With Mountain Lion though, users will be able to gate their system to allow just App store apps, App store or signed apps (with certificate handed out by Apple to those with developer memberships) or they could allow them from anywhere (default is App store or signed). That’s the user’s choice. It’s also the developer’s choice how they want to publish. There is an incentive to sign and use the store though, as some users will gate their system from unsigned apps, or non-app store apps. That is currently in developer preview and MS has the benefit of being able to sit back and see how it all pans out before deciding whether to adopt the same, or adopt the same with variations (as they, and all other mobile OS makers did with the ‘locked’ app store model).
        Interesting though in a quick look at articles about Gatekeeper (on OS X), is that it has been fairly well lambasted by ‘security researchers’ from anti-virus providers, as paltry and not enough to secure a system. I wonder if their opinions are objective? Of course this will be more of an issue if MS decides the same path, as the anti-virus market on Windows is much larger and more lucrative. Anti-virus providers may be much more concerned that MS chooses a similar route.

    • David says:

      I hear ya; there’s plenty of it eldaary implemented people can use. We Flash/Flex developers use this a trolling statement, and compare it to ECMA Script 4 s death; we’re still good to go even though ECMA never panned out. HTML5 functionality is still being implemented, and works today in a lot of browsers, even though the spec isn’t actually done, etc. Again, the point here is describing the confusion around what HTML5 actually is and contains, and having that clearly identified as what you can deliver, and what you can’t, when and where which is really hard to do even if you know all that.If you look at how browsers are eldaary chomping at the heels of Flash/Silverlight, it’s proof they don’t need specifications. WebWorkers are a perfect example of a simple JavaScript implementation to get multi-threading support in a simple way. Already supported in at least 2 browsers, yet Flash Player doesn’t have this? Even Silverlight has threads.The point is, when Flash gets it, you can use it. Just because IE could get WebWorkers doesn’t mean you can use it; you’d need to have fallback, or just not use that functionality if you don’t have browser support in the browsers you’re supporting. There is a huge cost to this in application development, and the HTML5 crowd seems to glaze over this. If I get something in Flash, I can use it with confidence most people have upgraded in 8 months. I can’t do that with browser functionality unless I work in a company that ordains browser installations. There are a lot of those types of companies, but they are not the norm.

  26. Jim P says:

    If WinRT and the new UI pre-date the iPad, why is Microsoft last to market? Google, RIM and HP have all been able to release tablets while Microsoft still haven’t released a Win8 tablet.

    • halberenson says:

      Three answers there:

      1) Just because they predate the announcement and shipment of the iPad doesn’t mean they were on a concurrent development path with iPad. The point of the blog posting wasn’t to say Microsoft was ahead of anything, or to defend Microsoft’s tardiness in introducing a modern tablet experience. The point was that the initial design center was driven by a general need to modernize Windows rather than as a specific response to the iPad itself.

      2) Android and WebOS Tablets are, like the iPad, little more than their existing Smartphone operating systems running on larger screens. That takes a fairly short development cycle to accomplish. The Playbook is a failure, and RIM probably should have taken another year to get it right instead of rushing something sub-par to market. Microsoft already had Tablet PCs with earlier versions of Windows, also offered Windows CE to Tablet makers, and there have been numerous Microsoft-based Tablets introduced in the last few years. They were just never intended for the mainstream. There were also a variety of efforts and proposals that would have let Microsoft enter the modern consumer tablet space much earlier than they are. But ultimately Microsoft decided the right long term solution was to make tablet support part of its modernization of mainstream Windows rather than creating a separate Tablet OS.

      3) The “lost five years”, which is the time wasted creating Vista and how this has hindered Microsoft’s ability to be ahead, or quickly respond to the changing technology landscape. I’ve written on this topic as well as why waiting for mainstream Windows rather than doing a one off (like Courier) makes sense in other blog posting.

      3)

      • Jim P says:

        I’m still having trouble believing that the decision to reinvent Windows was made before the iPad. It took Microsoft a year and half to realize that Windows Mobile was dead:

        http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/technology/microsoft-defying-image-has-a-design-gem-in-windows-phone.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2

        How is it that Microsoft was so forward-thinking about the future of Windows but so badly in denial about Windows Mobile?

      • Bettina says:

        Being the only gatekeeper will be uicfifdlt for Microsoft to balance. They’re in an odd position.It’s in their interest to be more open than Apple is with the App Store, but the carriers will be holding Microsoft responsible for what is on their App Store.Google can argue that they might as well offer some groundbreaking apps (PDANet is a perfect example), as those apps have shown they can thrive off-Market anyways. Microsoft can’t argue that position to carriers with WP7S.As such, the carriers will demand takedowns/restrictions, and Microsoft will likely have little chose but to comply (at least on a per-carrier basis). The carriers can always strike back with stopping new WP7S sales, or force consumers to have to jump through hoops to even know the carrier offers a WP7S device.In short, the dreams of PDANet and WMWifiRouter on your Windows Phone 7 Series device are over. Other apps that push limits however will be more likely to be offered, as Microsoft will be able to tell carriers that otherwise the apps would be thriving on Android and webOS.The only problem is that this is another hurdle for the next big thing that the carriers won’t like whatever that innovation is, or however it pushes the limits of net neutrality.

  27. Paulo Duarte says:

    A high level article with civilized comments and answers. Thanks for this. It helped me to understand it better. About the iPad and other tablets I tried to fit them for 2 years into my routine and job (as long as 4 friends of mine) without success. A notebook is my favourite at this moment.
    Waiting for W8.

  28. WindowsVista567 says:

    Metro may be about modernizing Windows, but it doesn’t work. It is completely unnatural on a standard computer and makes no sense. A new application model makes sense, but a new UI will only get in the way unless it turns out to be spectacularly well-designed. Office 2007 was good because it was well-designed. Metro, however, fails to achieve its goals.

  29. JKepler says:

    The ‘real’ vision is the seamless integration of Live and Azure/Private cloud (for enterprise apps) services with Metro Style apps. In fact down the road you pay for services and the relevant apps are installed from the store automatically providing on-board functionality plus services.

  30. CharlieBear says:

    LOL, I just love comments that are all rant and no facts! Name one BUSINESS application that Apple dominates? CAD/CAM, ok, but that’s it. It was a clever group of CONSUMER products (iPod, iPhone, iPad) that launched (saved) Apple. Be on the look out for a iTV coming soon. Microsoft is just the opposite (except for the Xbox). For the last 25 years, they have dominated the business world (to the tune of 94% in USA). Recently, they have been trying to get into the consumer arena but with all the baggage from 20 years of Windows development/bloat they needed to come up with something new from the ground up, ah la, Window 8 Metro. Which is at least the 3rd attempt and will likely do well over the long haul. From a business perspective it will eventually be possible (with W10 or so) to create BUSINESS apps that run on all devices with few modifications (if designed that way and the main point of the authors blog). But look for Window 7 to have a long life similar to XP (not sure the dual W8/W7 clone mode will be all that inticing). BUSINESS application developers will, as quickly as possible, create advanced productivity applications running on W8 Meto. Call me a Microsoft fanboy and I say “thank you very much”! (But putting all my Apples in one cart isn’t an option either, pun intended, hence the high level of anxiety for the 94% developers!). I’m kind of like those loyal NYC sports fans: lose and I hate you! Cheers to all!

    • Jason says:

      @CharlieBear Maybe you’re referring to my comments, I don’t know.
      Firstly I’d like to clarify, that I’m actually a .NET developer by profession, but I use OS X as well.
      My only criticisms here of MS are where I think they really are falling short in the total end user experience. That includes more than just the UI (most of the focus of discussion with Windows 8). And I would hope that for Windows 8, that they don’t ignore some of those factors I mentioned previously.
      I also don’t believe MS are “hindered” in any way. I don’t think they are victim to the market, and so I believe they do have the power to shape the market, and to determine strategy. I just don’t think they have made the best strategic choices they could have and I find there are a lot of apologists who will stand up and defend those choices.
      As you say they still have the vast majority of the market, and to correct you, they have almost always dominated the consumer OS / Office market as well. In fact it took them longer to wrestle some share of the business server market that was dominated by Unix / Linux for many years.
      It is very hard to have an objective discussion on this though, because as soon as you give Apple credit for something (and they have gotten some things right), you have someone jumping down your throat, telling you, “you’re a fanboy”.
      Hey I use both systems (on a developer & user level), and so I can make a comparison. Many people who level criticism at OS X / Apple etc., don’t have any experience on the platform.
      For instance I use both Windows developer documentation (for full-time work on .NET) and Apple developer documentation (my own programming). In my personal experience, the Apple developer documentation is better. Now MS fans will come up with a whole bunch of reasons. MS has so many more software products, so much more difficult to document, etc etc. I just don’t believe all those excuses. It is a matter of priority. Apple simply place more priority on the quality of their documentation. As a developer, I like quality documentation. I think it is a massive productivity booster.
      I’m just using this as an example that MS or Windows fans should not be so precious to admit where the competition is getting it right, or where they can improve. In fact many MS fans are in denial that there IS any competition. They don’t want any!
      I think MS has the power to make the changes. They are not the victim of the market they created.
      So with Windows 8, I personally think they need to look at the whole user experience, not just the pixels on the screen.

      • CharlieBear says:

        Hi Jason, my reply was in response to an anonymous comment that was a wee bit rude. You sound to professional and polite to be that person. I agree with your comments and expecially about MS documentation for sure. I’ve relied on numerous sources for learning but the main event: banging my head against the wall trying to figure things out has always been #1. A bunch of critics are saying MS is a “has been” and lost it’s leadership but I think MS has such a huge user base it can’t react as quickly as their competitors. Microsoft certainly has the talent, so it’s not that their heads are burried in the sand. They market their products extremely well so it not about lack of exposure. Then, to me, it has to be that they can’t move as fast as they would like. (Vista was a mistake but it was a marketing mistake to get to vectored graphics too quickly). The iPhone UI that Microsoft is copying (and Google copied) is a stategy to provide a way to move from iPhone/iPad (and all the clones) to Metro with minimal effort. My original comment (about 2 weeks ago) was developers will need to rethink how they develop software for business applications in order to really take advantage of touch screens, mobile desktop, business oriented social networking, paperless office (minimal paper) and a world without mice! Make the jump to Metro don’t stick with an OS you’re confortable with. BTW: I’m all for Apple, Google, Amazon, OpenSource etc. as primary competitors. If it wasn’t for competition, we’d all still be using CP/M and not having nearly as much fun! Cheers!

        • joebrockhaus says:

          “The iPhone UI that Microsoft is copying (and Google copied) is a stategy to provide a way to move from iPhone/iPad (and all the clones) to Metro with minimal effort.”

          — I don’t know how you see MoSH (Metro) as a clone of iOS in any way, other than it’s touch-centric?

          • CharlieBear says:

            No, sorry, I wasn’t trying to compare Apple iOS to Windows OS, they are totally different. The OS I was comparing is W7/Win32 to Metro/WinRT. I personally think WinRT is a stoke of genius, but apparently I’m in the minority. However, when I compare Metro to W7, XP, iPhone or Android style apps, Metro looks more like iPhone/Android then W7. How iPhone apps actually work is all about touch (of course). I think the challenge for nextgen business/desktop apps is to figure out how to improve productivity and user experience in a manner similar to iPhone apps. Won’t be all touch, need keyboard or something for data entry centric apps. But eventually, even keyboards might slowly disappear. There are a bunch of iPhone apps that users LOVE. A lot of the love comes from not needing a manual and having a short, discovery bases, learning curve. We are working on the design of an accounting system that doesn’t use a mouse. Touch can be easier, even on a desktop. In short, minimal touch/pointing, minimal finger drag/drop with a keyboard works good so far. (This is for at least 3 to 5 years down the road, not for current production). We experimented with voice but didn’t like. I’m guessing that 10 years from now we will look back at W7/XP apps the same way we now look back at DOS apps. Cheers.

  31. Agustina says:

    Oh Elijah, you poor thing, you missed the retine point of the article, didn’t you? Let me give it one more shot, just to see if we can crack through that thick outer layer:This is about Windows 7 saving Microsoft. I say it will not, because the war is no longer about *just* the desktop. Microsoft is #1 on the desktop NOW, but there are viable alternatives getting more realistic for the average Joe every day. And most people simply don’t have a compelling need to upgrade: they will only do so when they buy a new computer, which just may be a Mac (you’re the one carrying on about the year of desktop Linux nonsense. I imagine you must’ve been proud adding that snarky last line, although, it’s a response to an argument no one made but you).The server space is a joke: there are far more Linux servers than Windows ones, but we can’t measure it accurately, because it can be downloaded once and installed many times. Windows sales might be bigger than Linux, but that doesn’t mean there are more Windows servers; there aren’t. On a related note, there are far more sites served by Apache than IIS.While Apple is penetrating the desktop world at a ridiculous pace, Windows Mobile sales are leaking to iPhones, RIM and Android devices, etc. Microsoft’s video game platform is losing money. Zune was DOA. Microsoft’s Office products are no longer seen as necessary by most home users, causing them to heavily discount the entry level edition of their cash cow. All peripheral Microsoft divisions struggle to either be relevant or simply to maintain current revenue.#1 or not, if you can’t see the tides changing, you’re a fool. This is about what’s going to happen in 10-20 years if Microsoft doesn’t realize that what used to work for them isn’t producing the same results. But then, you probably think GM was probably on the right track too, huh?

    • joebrockhaus says:

      Why are you making a fuss about Windows Mobile?
      — RIM is /not/ gaining any market share — I don’t know where you got that. In Dec ’11 they fell to 6.5% from 7%. (http://j.mp/w7iKO9)
      — And Android is still on top (http://j.mp/ACUyab)

      “The server space is a joke: there are far more Linux servers than Windows ones, but we can’t measure it accurately.”
      — there is a big difference between bland web hosting and corporate environment servers. for productivity-related services in the corporate environment, windows is king. (with still a lot of unix too, but that’s legacy applications) and now with mega growth in virtualization, you might have VMWare running linux, but only to run a great number of windows servers. especially in the corporate environment. This usually increases the number of windows servers in an org at a faster rate than windows services

      “#1 or not, if you can’t see the tides changing, you’re a fool. This is about what’s going to happen in 10-20 years if Microsoft doesn’t realize that what used to work for them isn’t producing the same results.”
      — I’m pretty sure at this point you don’t know what you’re talking about. Or your overly-committed emotions are clouding your ‘vision’. Given .. y’know .. that MS has been working this goal for .. 4-5 years? .. and since, y’know .. the market /just happens/ to be walking right into their hands? Go look at the work done with WinMin that led to 2k3, 7, 2k8, and now win8 and a unified platform that is adaptable across any platform a hardware manufacturer can throw at you, including ARM. What about that screams disconnected? You seem to be coming at this from the angle that MS is /reacting/ to the Apple/Android iPhone/Tablet popularity — but that’s just not true. Most everything they have been doing predates the last 3 years of market explosion, because that stuff doesn’t matter /in the long game/, like you say.

      iOS/Android have been good at getting into the mobile space, and people who want to see MS toppled will look to stats of legacy windows users ‘jumping ship’ and buying non-windows-based mobile devices as a sign of the impending doom. But for those users – productivity users – it fits the niche for the moment. The ‘offerings’ are not ‘unique’ — it’s simply a software problem. MS’s bread and butter is software on architecture/platform that empowers the user to do what they want/can. Apple is converse to that: hardware with a splash of software that does mostly just what they want. In the end, the same dynamics that led to MS dominance are still the same dynamics now. MS has been focused on building the architecture and platform needed to be able to do whatever they need to do in the general computing space; be it desktops, tablets, mobile devices.

      — You’ll see: platform unification will be more important than providing a toy fad. If the iPhone wasn’t born out of a music player, it wouldn’t be enjoying the success it has now. And Apple only wishes that they could sell as many Mac laptops/desktops as iPhones/iPads — but the don’t, and won’t! And you’re kidding yourself if you think there is a viable competitor for Office. Windows is for the productivity users. And when people have to start being productive regardless of their mobility, a toy that offers very little in the way of productivity will not cut it.

      • CharlieBear says:

        I have some friends who got Mac’s for Christmas and they were thrilled, happy to unplug their PC’s (at home, of course). But now after only a couple of months usage they have plugged their PC’s back in! I think Linux is a bigger threat to Windows than the Mac. Especially if Linux could acquire a large business oriented developer base. Just hasn’t happened yet. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Google release a Linux based OS (Andriod PC?) for the desktop. Cheers.

  32. Pingback: Does Windows RT have a place in the sun? | Hal's (Im)Perfect Vision

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