So long as Sinofsky stops trying to annoy software developers and learns just what made Windows take off origially (Hint Steven S - Steve B used to shout it out).
Microsoft opened the 1990s with two pieces of software that paved the way to its total domination of home and business PC computing: Windows 3.0 and 3.1. Microsoft's operating systems arrived at a seminal point in digital history: the rise of Intel, whose chips changed the economics of the PC, and the demise of a fractured …
Possibly, if what I have been reading is correct, Windows 8 only needs to enable Microsoft to tread water until they make it into a usable, coherent operating system and "re-release" it as Windows 9 in three years time, thereby continuing their "bad Windows, good Windows" alternating release schedule, which has been a pretty successful formula so far.
"Has Windows 8 got what it takes to deliver another twenty years of success for Microsoft or has the market now changed too much?"
If you would have read through previous Windows 8 articles on El Reg or even the Microsoft blogs which talk about Windows 8 then you would have noticed that one of the seemingly key problems where acceptance is concerned is caused by MS fully betting on their believe that the market /has/ changed considerably.
Personally I don't think it has changed that much, as such I think they'll run into problems with Windows 8. It most likely works just excellent on touch enabled environments, but I think the influence of the desktop environment is much heavier than MS anticipates.
It might buy them a decade of success, but it doesn't look like it will so directly. What it could do, is act as the tipping point away from traditional GUI which is later refined into something better.
Lots of people couldn't fathom Windows95 and are now lambasting W8 for leaving the tried & tested pathway XP took from 95. MS still has enough market share to force W8/9 on the general public, who will be forced to learn it... if that works then Apple & Linux might end up having to go the same way to offer alternatives Windows users can feel comfortable on.
I don't think W8/9 is able to flop, because they're too big and dominant. A slide into irrelevance will take longer than a single product version.
>>because they're too big and dominant
namely, exempli gratia, they have:
-a lot of patents
-MS Windows Tax,
-plenty of schools and organizations lobbyists to promote their products, lawyers and Congress/Senate lobbyists to protect them when prosecuted for their favorite monopolistic character
Because I cant see it.
A rather deficient and expensive operating system tied to one hardware platform and not easily portable to others.
A rather poor bloated and buggy set of office and internet and media applications.
a consumer world that actually isn't interested in operating systems any more - it just wants to run 'apps' on its fondleslabs.
a corporate world that is more interested in value for money than ever before.
servers have by and large gone or are going Linux,
Consumer toys are broadly Linux
Apple went BSD with some eye candy.
The only reason to have Windows is because you have a WORKSTATION and that's the program launcher your BigApp runs on.
But porting that to Linux is not a wildly impossible dream either.
You may be right about a trend to Linux over next 20 years, although if that happens Microsoft aren't going to throw out the toys, they'll adapt however unlikely that sounds now.
Short term, Win8 installed base will almost certainly overtake Linux on desktop (all distros) before the end of this year and OSX (all Mac systems) by Spring 2013. Not exactly a fail.
Windows has a long history on non-Intel hardware platforms going back to DEC Alpha, Mips, Itanium but nothing to write home about in terms of success. ARM has been supported in Windows embedded and WP7 but Windows RT is their first high profile ARM product and its anyones guess whether it will take off or not IMO.
I'm pretty much a Linux fan, but "overtake Linux on the desktop" really sets a pretty low bar. I don't know that I would bet on W8 overtaking OSX by next Spring, either, as that probably would require many more people to upgrade existing Windows than I expect will do so after looking at the new one.
Well, I see it happening. While your points about consumer & corporate worlds hold some truth you also ignore a key issue:
"A rather poor bloated and buggy set of office and internet and media applications."
What you call bloat is what I'd describe as key assets. While many people hardly touch the VBA IDE which sits behind most major Office programs (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) there are also plenty of people who do. And if you get into that area of Office you'll suddenly notice that the whole environment goes much deeper than you may have realized.
Its that part (amongst others) which many people ignore when they talk about Office. For many people & companies (myself included) Office is /much/ more than merely writing letters or setting up your household in a spreadsheet.
For me its being able to keep contact information within Outlook while also being able to access that information from Word (when writing letters such as bills, quotes, etc). Or how about being able to develop your own interfaces to connect your Office environment to other external resources? Right now I'm working on getting Office 2010 to extract / connect information from a Mantis bug tracking environment. Relatively easy because Mantis supports SOAP and since SOAP is commonly supported by Windows this support also finds its way into the Office environment.
As said; what some people consider bloat could actually be invaluable for others.
Well, enjoy rebuilding those custom bridges and rewriting those custom scripts when MS arbitrarily changes everything around again in Office2015.
Version stability for corporates was a large part of their success, and I don't think a 3 year upgrade cycle on the OS and all associated software will sit too well in the corporate world. You know, the vast majority of businesses who didn't have a network and infrastructure until they bought a bunch of XP machines and who don't view IT as a moving target...
Like it or not, MS preferred business model is at odds with what most beancounters (and IT bods) want in an OS in that environment.
Most of the reviews of Windows 8 seem to follow a standard format
1. Describe some key feature that has been removed/destroyed/made inaccessible
2. Talk about how "you'll get used to it".
3. Give some sermon about how change is good, even if it makes your life harder
Sorry, that's a fail.
Microsoft have much more serious competition now - most corporates do not want Linux / Unix desktops - but OS X - why not?
OS X can do pretty much everything Windows can these days and almost everything Windows can with Parallels / VM Ware. I used to run Windows 7 - now I run OS X and have to say it was very easy to use / learn and nicer to use. Yes I have a few Windows applications but I just run those under Parallels - but it's only some older 'legacy' applications.
People think OS X and Parallels is a 'faff' or 'hard to install' - it was actually surprisingly simple.
The problem with corporate running OSX is that they have to buy Macs.
Which today pretty much means MacBook pro. Very nice piece of kit - but an impressive bill if you have 10 or 20,000 seats that you were used to paying DELL prices for!
I can see the new Apple management looking at - if not actually selling OSX for Intel at least having a corporate-only deal where it can be installed on a specific cheap non-Apple Intel desktop.
"Microsoft have much more serious competition now - most corporates do not want Linux / Unix desktops - but OS X - why not?"
I think Linux has been heard enough at the upper management level that resistance is eroding. Part of the reservation was the fact that Linux looked a kludge until recently, part was the worry about retraining and reteaching users (new Windows is going to do that anyway), and part of it was uncertainty about reliability and such... Nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft products.
However, business is now looking hard at every expense, and Linux has been proven time and again on servers and small devices, I would bet with the massive rework that is Win8 and beyond there is a bit of a migration at long last.
I like Windows 7 and use it and OS X (Lion) and when you look at what Mountain Lion is promising - especially for all those iPad / iPhone users - it's very compelling. I think Microsoft have previously underestimated the value of tying your phone / laptop / desktop together and keeping it all in sync (easily) - but perhaps Microsoft have solved that in Windows 8 - only problem is the ship may have already sailed with iOS and Android on phones...?
I like the way the boss presided over a monopoly for many years and then gave lots of his money to charity. We all dream of doing that.
If competition had been allowed to flourish for all those years the money would have gone to many different skinflint individuals like the late apple supremo.
His charity only gives away more or less enough to avoid tax. The rest of the money (like around 95%) is invested into corporations. Corporations that included companies that don't sell medicine to poor nations and the oil companies that are completely screwing up the niger delta.
He's arguably enabling more harm than good but not surprisingly the MS fanboys donlt look into those sorts of things or his racist scholarship programme and go about spreading misleading BS about someone who is trying to clean up his image after being an awful man running an awful company for so long.
Don't forget he's still the chairman at MS and if he genuinely care about helping people then may he should stop those 360s from being built at foxconn.
.....thought out positions (both for and against) rather than howling? I am impressed. OK, enough with the satire. I am myself somewhat undecided (I have been running the beta on a Acer W500) and I am not yet sure how I feel about this at all. My impression, for what it is worth, is that Win8 is somewhat more nimble in desktop than Win7 and that it is a very much better experience as a touch-os when one explores "Metro". I will wait and see what the RTM looks like and how it performs on kit that is optimised for it when such devices are released in the autumn before I make up my mind. Oh and no, I do not give a shit about the fucking start-button.
Given that they've completely missed two markets which they were already operating in, it's amazing if they'll be in those and other markets for much longer.
It's a serious issue of poor strategic thinking from the board. It is astounding that they don't have any significant presence in the smartphone and tablet market. All they have is a version 0.8 tablet and a mess of a smartphone that is anything but cool.
Shocking that the board are still in place.
As things get more cloudy and web-based, there's a massive threat to their core OS business too.
Easy to say now. Most people were caught on the hop when the iPad was launched two years ago. In hindsight, the idea that tablet computing would only take off when Intel delivered power efficient 22nm parts in 2013 was wrong. x86 proved irrelevant and ARM could deliver a worthwhile experience (OK the original iPad was a bit underpowered but iPad 2 was pretty useable).
Android has yet to deliver a strong reply to the iPad (unless you count Kindle Fire, still not available outside North America). Microsoft may have screwed up but it was not alone.
Having said that, given that Microsoft was a pioneer in tablet devices it was plain daft to focus effort on the expensive niche Surface product and ignore the mass market.
Microsoft did not have an OS capable of taking advantage of tablets.
Windows tablets were PC's with Windows XP and a touch screen to use your finger as a mouse... So much for "pioneering"...
As usual... Microsoft couldn't see the possibilities and actually innovate for real.
THAT is why they failed with the tablet.
Really disagree there. The reason tablets haven't taken off in the past is because to any sort of reasonable processing power and screen quality out of them, they had to weigh about 1.5kg. Tablets aren't great for real productive work (graphics, word processing, programming, anything), but they're good for lying on a sofa and reading the web, watching a movie on a train, basic emails, etc. You could do all that with a desktop OS on the tablet but if the device is too heavy to casually hold, what point is there? Size and weight were the real barriers - if you doubt it, just ask whether a tablet-focused OS would make any difference if the iPad was the size and weight of one of those older laptops. It wouldn't. But the inverse is not true: a device as light and portable as modern tablets would still be fairly fit for purpose even with a barely altered desktop OS.
They missed the boat because they are too tied to the desktop, and specifically backwards compatibility. If instead of trying to bend Windows into a phone/tablet OS they had developed a brand new OS they might have been better off.
The other, real, problem, is that they are just not "cool enough" for early adopters. Even if they had delivered a decent smartphone a few years it would have failed because the early adopter consumer types had already sold into the Apple empire. I mean Balmer vs Jobs? Gates was at least a techy at heart even if he lacked the charisma of Jobs. But Balmer? How did he last more than 2 years in that position? He should have been fired the moment the iPod came out and Windows had nothing to counter.
In my opinion, I think MS need to think a couple of steps ahead now. Forget about iPads and smartphones. Instead focus on what comes after that. Because in 5 years time tablets and smartphones will be commodity items that every man and his dog owns. No one will care whether yours is an iPhone, S2 or Lumina. It'll just be a gadget. Microsoft actually have lots of interesting projects on the go but they never seem to understand how to market them.
Microsoft will carry on into the indefinite future because, for the millions of corporate cubicle bunnies, There Is No Reasonable Alternative.. Windows applications, both off-the-shelf and bespoke, is now so tightly interwoven into all businesses that paying the Microsoft upgrade tax every few years is cheap in comparison to the huge costs and risks consequent on a major change of OS.
Even given a "free" OS and applications, the cost of staff retarining alone will make the whole thing uneconomic. (Assuming suitable applications exist. And don't consume vast resources in data conversion and capatability verification.)
I've been involved in a project to "just" subsitute OpenOffice for MS Office in a large (<10,000) organisation. While notionally compatible, the differences entailed huge efforts to convert documents, spreadsheets, presentations etc. Realistic staff retraining costs were so enormous that it was basically ignored, leading to huge ineficiencies until the users had learned the bare minimum .
We all still have QWERTY keyboards. Demonsrtably not the most efficient layout for typing. But the cost of changing things so far outweighs the benefits that we'll still be using this for the forseeable future. Microsoft is just the same.
I'd bet my own money, (if I had any), that Win8 will be another of Microsoft's "alternate" products. Business will stick to Win7 until some time after Win9 restores sanity to the OS world.
Oh.. btw.. touchscreens have no place in an office environment. Most people's fingers don't bend that way.
>>I've been involved in a project to "just" subsitute OpenOffice for MS Office in a large (<10,000) organisation. While notionally compatible, the differences entailed huge efforts to convert documents, spreadsheets, presentations etc. Realistic staff retraining costs were so enormous that it was basically ignored, leading to huge ineficiencies until the users had learned the bare minimum .
Steve, are you sure you were not retraining those poor 10^4 people for Emacs or, God forbid, vim... I mean vi?
Why do you use a penguin image? When did it become a Microsoft troll mascot?
Most seats in most big corporates aren't running office, and especially not Excel and Access - they are running a single app in a browser that is probably doing little more than screen scraping some mainframe app.
Now if only there was a $35 computer with networking and enough horsepower to run a browser and plug into a keyboard and LCD screen
First, Microsoft's dominance and subsequent abuse of it should be considered one of the, or the worse thing that's ever happened to the IT industry by orders of magnitude.
Second... no, people at large, especially people in a corporate environment, are definitely NOT ready or even willing to switch over to an entirely new way to work and do NOT want to switch to using a touch screen... that makes no sense at all.
Third, in order for their "strategy" to work and have all Windows devices use the same interface, they would have to sell a couple copies of the device that this interface is mainly designed for... the phone. And selling about 1.8% of market share isn't remotely close to getting them anywhere.
Windows 8, and it's Metro interface is a giant step backwards. It's a ugly, clunky waste of space on a screen larger than 4". The menus are missing, it takes more time and effort to do anything And it has more limitations and LESS features.
It's a giant steaming pile of dung, and I don't understand what all the OS's have with this fetish obsession with touch screens. Ubuntu, Gnome, Windows... everyone is falling into the same latrine pit...
A phone is not a PC... a PC is NOT a phone. They are used for different things and forcing backwards changes down people's throats is a very quick way to make them look to see if other alternatives taste better.
Perhaps MS have decided that the real OS money is in consumer devices (pads & phones), but are failing to sell WP7/Metro as it looks "different" (there are other reasons, but I bet the's what MS thinks!). So get people used to it via the desktop and Win 8, which they will have to use?
"Can Windows 8 bag Microsoft another 20 years of success?"
It depends on whether you agree that the last 20 were a success? Were Millennium and Vista a success? Were the security jokes of nimda and slammer an endorsement of success? Was Microsoft's answer to piracy, that of shitting on their paying customers a success?
I guess the phishers and punters of malware and hostageware would endorse the trail of destruction and declare it a success for them.
If it had been about the software, Microsoft would have died off long, long ago. It's been solely about marketing and aggressive business technique.
Will that iron grip continue for another twenty years? I think the doubt on that one has been growing ever since Mr B took over.
Finally somebody said it! I find it interesting that so many people continue to discuss the pros and cons when the reason the average Joe, Microsoft's largest market, uses Windows is that it was on the box when he bought it and he doesn't know what to do about that - or that he even could do something.
Can the lawyers bag Microsoft another 20 years of success? That is the question.
Microsoft stranglehold on the PC OEMs and PC retail channel is largely unchanged and there's no sign of rebellion on the horizon so they should be able to pull this off easily. Outside of this realm, I would say there's slim chance Microsoft will get dominant. Besides the two reasons mentioned above, Apple and Android have shown users can still have a rich computing experience outside the Windows ecosystem.
Windows 8 will get virtually no traction in the business sector because it's virtually unusable in a business context, and would require large scale retraining of staff. Meanwhile XP continues to work adequately well at minimal incremental cost and doesn't require retraining.
For most users Office hasn't had a useful new feature since long file names. The only reason to upgrade is the continual changing of the file formats, and the requirements of enterprise licensing.
This will be compounded by the fact that a large number of senior executives (ie DECISION MAKERS) now have iPhones and iPads, and have discovered computing that "just works". Increasingly they will want to know why their huge investments in PCs provides systems that keep falling over and failing to deliver in spite of continual "upgrades".
Microsoft is dead in the water, which is why its shares have been flat-lining for years, in spite of the huge profits it continues to make from its legacy business.
I don't think any large enterprise or even experienced end user will jump to win8 no matter what Microsoft says.
I know XP and win server 03 are still used. As vista crashed and burned (even Intel declined), once win8 ships, there will be huge installs of win7.
So, they still win.
Really wonder what kind of an insane panic attack it is to ignore billion PC with mouse& keyboard.
No possible way.
Exhibit 1: Windows 8 is on the wrong end of the bad/good release cycle. That by itself means M$ will just scrape by using paying customers as Q/A until Windows 9.
Exhibit 2: Windows 8 is a major redesign, which makes it even less likely that M$ will get it right the first time.
Exhibit 3: Windows 7 is Good Enough. With people just now finally starting to move off XP (first released in 2001), they're more likely to move to Windows 7, which has a proven track record. Only full blown Fanbois and people in circumstances where they have no choice, will make the leap to 8.
Exhibit 4: By now, everyone knows the above, and anyone who uses Windows to make money, as opposed to being paid to review it, will wait at least until SP1, and will probably skip the release entirely. (I know I will.)
Till there is the ability to roll out Windows 8 with Bob 2 turned off and locked down with no ability to activate it all via GPO it will not make any headway in the Enterprise arena. If there was a little animation that showed the Bob 2 interface (Metro) being burned away revealing a "Classic" fully functional interface then I would be all for it. Windows 8 has some great things under the hood but that crappy Bob 2 interface gets in the way and is just in general crap.
Businesses buy Windows because they need to run their old 1990s software on, as well as their VBA based software infrastructure. That is the reason people have Windows. Nobody cares about "advanced features" or anything, people care about running what they have.
As soon as people think they can run their old programs better on Windows than on the alternatives, Windows will stay. Once they believe Wine is more compatible than the latest version of Windows they'll switch. That's why Windows on ARM won't be very popular. (Although SMB share access is quite an incentive)
Nobody builds anything new on Windows. It's a dead platform for new things. Browser GUIs are now good enough to replace most native applications. And thanks to visualization it's now possible to deploy even complex web-server based packages easily.
Win Vista Useless
Win 7 Useful
My prediction is Win 8 will be a horrendous stopgap whilst MS scrabble to make the next useful version.
Windows 9 will probably be the next good version after 7, if they don't lose their market share before then.
You left out the early versions, which wouldn't even allow you to play Solitaire while your files copied.
You left out 2000, which, in my view, was the first Windows version that wasn't entirely crap. Let's zoom in on that:
Win 98: Useless
Win 98-something: (I forget what they called it) showing, at long, long last, promise
Win2000: Useful! Wow, but can I have my money back for all the previous attempts? No? I thought not.
WinXP: Gosh, a half-decent OS, with a good user interface.
If they'd stopped there, a vast number of people would be satisfied, but hey, MS need our money.
Personally, I can see the operating system becoming less important and thus Microsofts power waning. I see the power shifting to digital distribution, digital rights management suppliers, whoever they may be in 20 years time.
You can see it today with Steam today as to where it's going. You now have a choice on what platform (Windows/Mac OS X) the Games in your account run on. The day I can run my Steam catalogue on a Linux or new future open source OS, will be the last day I boot up a Windows machine at home.
Aye matie.... me thinks 1982 MS DOS V1.0 shipping on the IBM PC was a pretty bloody important step. It as the IBM platform was 'open' spec, it was quickly cloned and MS's clever marketing / arm twisting ensured all the clones shipped with DOS. DOS was the clear standard until Win 3 showed up in 1990.
Me thinks they should rename Win 8 to Metro V1.0, then rev it annually until Metro V3 is shipped no one will touch it with a barge pole.
If MS waits three years to ship Win 9 / Metro V2, MS will be toast. The tablet / mobile market is leading the way now (just look at Apple's earnings!) and annual cycles are de rigeuer. so the Steve's had best pick up their pace.
Stating the bleeding obvious clearly sometimes is useful, so here goes.
It seems to me that the cloud and web-based apps *are* a game changer that have the potential to make the Operating System much less important than in the past. Microsoft's business model is fundamentally based on leveraging the Windows/Office/VBA eco-system. Consumer use has steadily pulled developers away from that towards the web, and that is starting to filter back to business environments with growing momentum.
If I was in charge of Google, I would be turning google gears/gmail/google docs/g+ etc into a proper platform to rival and exceed office/outlook/exchange/vba. The key here is productivity applications that you don't need to be a rocket scientist to customise for specific business purposes.
My guess as to how revenue from productivity applications will be structured in future is by tying them to carriers. Using the cloud increases your bandwidth requirements, and you pay for that. So I think consumer device speeds are going to be less important (already happening with tablets and smartphones vs laptops) and internet bandwidth more important and you're going to see a redirection of resources (investment and intellectual capital) in this direction. I believe after the dot.com boom there was a perception for a time that bandwidth was in over supply. That is patently untrue now.
I am not convinced of the "game changing" nature of cloud computing, OR tablet/cellphone-styled computers will be dominant in the market forever. They are a new and novel technology who's cost is only just now beginning to lower enough for the average curious joe to partake in the feeding frenzy for ipads and smart phones. But novelty has a nasty habit of wearing off. Apple has done a magnificent job in putting the "cool" into their product. That said, rummage through your parent's old photos and then come tell me that nothing dies a more horrible death than last generation's notion of cool.
I predict, rather unpopularly, that this trend will slow down to be more or less equal with desktop sales. I believe this will happen because I suspect portable computing will remain supplementary to the desktop environment in the long term. While this will make stodgey old programs like operating systems LESS relevant, it will not force them out. Cloud computing itself will also only be supplementary to localized storage/processing.
My evidence for that is found in an economy that is faltering, energy prices perpetually going up for the long term forseable future and, even more importantly, security. Sony's experience with PS3 hurt them, and hurt their online platform. This time it was just video games, but the first time a forbe's 500 or a large swath of the population has their tax information stolen from a cloud based program, they'll become smart real quick about localized processing. The market will swing back and we'll see a balancing act between the two forms stabalise. And let's be honest here; the concept of programs as a service, whether that be pay by the hour or a flat rate fee to use, is unproven on a large scale. In an age of a vanishing middle class, I don't necessarily see it being all that popular once people really get smacked with those first few bills and see that it magically now costs them a ton of money to do what they were doing for free after software purchase a year r two ago.
Microsoft is in a very good position to take advantage of this.
Sorry for the wall of text.
Windows 8 is all about tablets - unfortunately tablets are quite ready for windows yet.
Windows ARM tablets will eventually arrive but they will be 1st generation products. Hybrid intel-based systems will take longer still due to battery / power consumption / CPU power issues.
So by the time hardware is ready for Windows 8, it will be time for windows 9.
Windows 8 itself is a "Vista" - lots of new features = lots of teething pains. No doubt these will be resolved by Win9. If the hardware gets there by the same time, there's a good opportunity for MS to secure the crown for another 10 years.
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