A little commentary on recent Microsoft news

After a flurry of activity I expect my blogging to be light until the end of the year.  For example, I find myself with only 45 minutes to spare today.  But I did want to comment on a few things that were in the news this week.

Microsoft released a lot of data this week and Jon Box has a great summary.  This was carefully chosen data designed to tell the story Microsoft wants to tell while giving little additional insight.  I was particularly interested in some of the telemetry that was released.  Now here is  thought, why doesn’t Microsoft sanitize the telemetry and make it available in raw form so we all can analyze it to death?  Now that would be huge (but probably not wise)!

Let’s take a quick glance at the 40 Million Licenses sold number.  How many were upgrades?  How many were new PC sales?  How many were tablets?  Convertibles?  How many had touch screens?  How many of the 40 million are actually deployed?  How many purchased Win8 but then used downgrade rights to install Win7?  I don’t want to throw water on Microsoft’s Win8 parade, but the 40 Million number is almost meaningless without at least a few more details.  Ok, one more detail.  How many systems are actively running Windows 8?

Getting away from any negative thoughts, I was looking at some of the web browsing data from Statcounter and others.  Ed Bott pointed out via twitter that those 40 million Windows 8 licensed represented half of the entire Mac installed base.  Yes, in just a few weeks Windows 8 will be in use by more people than use OS X.  Assuming deployment is anywhere near license numbers.  Of course Statcounter shows that Vista is as common as OS X, so the bar is pretty low.  For all the Mac hype of the last few years it is almost an irrelevant platform.

IOS and Android are of course very relevant platforms, but not apparently when it comes to web browsing.  The October Statcounter data doesn’t include Windows 8 (either filtered out or included in Other along with Android).  I expect the November data will show Windows 8 has equaled or surpassed both Android and possibly IOS for actual web usage.  Of course there is one problem with Statcounter and its ilk, they are mostly used by smaller websites.  So the data might suggest that IOS and Android users avoid the long tail of the web rather than avoiding the web altogether.  Note that even if you factor apps in, using data that app and web usage are roughly split 50/50, IOS and Android combined would still only about equal Windows Vista and OS X.  So Windows 8 will have little trouble in surpassing them in importance to online services (web sites or services) within a few months.

I don’t know if this is related, but I’ve started to complain to websites that use Flash but aren’t on the Microsoft white list.  First one to respond was “Good news, we are moving to HTML5 in January”.  This makes the web better for everyone, but particularly for Windows RT.  I’ve noted other sites that tried to serve up Flash to my Surface a month go but now serve up HTML5 video.  They already used HTML5 for the iPad so this was a pretty simple change and it is nice to see they responded so quickly.  Seems to me like Windows 8, despite its support for Flash, is turning into the nail in the coffin that IOS built for Flash.

Of course Steven Sinofsky’s departure continues in the news.  Two comments here.  First, why all the angst over his departure?  Microsoft Office has shipped two top-notch releases since he moved to run Windows.  Whatever your opinion of Sinofsky he creates very stable teams and processes that live on long after he moves on.  As with the loss of Jobs at Apple, Steven will most be missed the next time some kind of major change is required.  And that should be years from now when, hopefully, new leadership will be ready to handle it.

The second comment is on collaboration.  Collaboration is not when you use big sticks to get people to line up behind you.  It isn’t when the message is “you’re either with us or against us”.  It isn’t when your mutual boss shows up every week and says “what are you doing to support Windows 8?” and makes it clear you’d better get in line.  True collaboration is reciprocal.  It includes when you show up and say “I need X, Y, and Z” you get told “we can do that for you”.  Or “we can do X and Y, could you live with Z’ instead of Z?”  It includes you doing things to help me further MY business.  H0wever people lined up behind Windows 8 I don’t think most teams felt it was collaborative.  They did it either because they recognized the opportunity or because SteveB twisted their arm.

Enough for today.  I hope everyone is already enjoying the holiday season!

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3 Responses to A little commentary on recent Microsoft news

  1. Paul says:

    Going to miss my Hal fix during December 😉 Seriously though, your coverage of MS is the best on the web.

    “First, why all the angst over his departure?”

    I think because W8 is seen by many as make or break for MS’s current and future prospects. So losing him at this critical juncture is concerning. Also because he was very technical, had a sense for where the industry was going, appeared to have a vision for where MS needed to be (right or wrong), and the clout to make some of it happen. It’s not clearly who provides that now. Certainly it’s not Steveb.

  2. Brian says:

    As an ex-softie (with a lot of stock), I’m getting a little frustrated that the press is going all “Vista” on Microsoft these days. Reporters seem to be in a race to out-negative-headline each other in an effort to show how cool they are. Everyone quotes the NPD study (that in the 28 day period starting October 21, Win8 sales were 21% less than Win7 in it’s first four weeks on the market), but they don’t do normally do a very good job of pointing out that Win8 wasn’t even on sale for the first 5 days of that period. Ed Bott seems to be the only exception.

    And then you get the folks who say “well, there are only 20k apps in the Microsoft store, it can never succeed”. I’m not sure how anyone can come to that conclusion – in a year from now, when there are 100s of millions of Win8 and WinRT systems in the wild, I’m guessing the dev community will have noticed that there’s a market for “Metro-style” apps.

    The other thing that bothers me is that no one points out that one of the distinguishing features of WinRT tablet/convertible systems (compared to other tablets) is that they support the Windows account model. My Surface has an account for me, for my wife and for my daughter. We can share the tablet without stomping on each other’s stuff. (And, in a similar vein, I’m hoping that the “Kids Corner” feature of WP8 gets well known – if I still had small kids, I’d love that feature (for pretty much the same reasons)).

    • Khaja says:

      The multiple account support on Tablets as a feature is yet to prove its value I think. Depending on the implementation, the cost of the feature in terms of complexity / fragility introduced and actual utilization / demand, it might turn out to be a significant differentiator or a drag.

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