Nearly spit up my coffee on this one...
Surface looks like the ultimate vanity project - like Caligula planning to make his horse a consul: "a combination of all the gods and to be worshipped as one".
So tell me... does Ballmer own a fiddle?
"Tiles to the right of them, Tiles to left of them, Tiles in front of them" - Alfred Tennyson, The Charge of the Metro Brigade (1854) The sudden departure of Steve Sinofsky from Microsoft leaves Redmond with its biggest crisis for years - and it needs to assure investors as a matter of urgency. He's achieved a huge amount of …
My personal preference on the issue is that the fiddling was a metaphor. From the link:
Nero's fiddling may not have anything to do with music at all, but rather is a metaphor for his ineffectiveness. Fiddling, after all, can also mean that a person is expending energy on something useless or misguided... It's possible that the idea is a relic of propaganda so effective that it's survived 2,000 years.
As a meme, this type of attack still exists and is still effective. A quick search for "Obama played golf while" and "Bush vacationed while" yield countless examples. Applying it to Ballmer here was done so jokingly. There are plenty of reasons not to like Ballmer but I haven't seen anything to indicate that the bumbling we have seen out of Microsoft under his watch was the result of disinterest... although the contrary argument (excessive meddling / overbearing control) might ring a little more true to some folks : )
An additional note, not only did the fiddle not exist during Nero's day (he played a cithara) but the historical record (Page 2 of the linked article) actually contradicts the narrative that Nero, more or less, sat on his ass while Rome burnt to the ground and was, otherwise, tone deaf to its impact on the people of Rome. That's not to say he was otherwise a good person/ruler by any stretch of course.
I think this article says more about the ignorance of the author than anything about Microsoft. Microsoft had a huge logistics problem: it had two completely incompatible platforms (Win 7 and Win Phone 7) and a third platform to build (WinRT).
From a software development perspective, the next move was predictable: develop a shared code base that produced as much overlap between the three platforms as possible without taking 6 years to do it.
They did so very successfully. Metro apps can be written for two platforms at once (Win8 & WinRT) and can be easily adapted to Win Phone 8--certainly much easier than you could adapt an OS X app to IOS, right?
As phones get more powerful and Microsoft has more opportunity to merge these platforms, the development space will get easier and easier. As a developer, I think Win 8 (in all its variants) was an admirable first step. I'm on board.
Why would you want to adapt an OSX app to run on iOS? A phone and a desktop are two completely different devices that are used for completely different things, and therefore require completely different apps and user interfaces.
Even if, in many cases, you have two apps with the same name on desktop and phone platforms, people use them for different things. On the phone, they want something that can get basic information and take basic inputs while on the move, whereas you use the desktop for proper work on it.
I could not agree more with these comments, the person writing this article obviously is unable to look at a big picture/long term development plan which EVERY successful company must have. Now when it comes to millions upon millions of users of a certain product (who are used to using it in a certain manner as most are with windows) you cannot completely wipe the floor with everything you have done to this point even if that is your ultimate end goal.
You take steps in the direction you want to go, Windows 8 and all variations of it (RT, WP, Desktop) not only align quite closely in terms of visual style they are beginning to share more and more code with one another.
Author, before you start writing crap like this how about you try considering things from more than one (illadvised) angle......
Perhaps they read a different article - I can't see any basis for their comments apart from animosity towards AO.
What is interesting is that Andrew didn't say anything about the influence of Larson-Green on Sinofsky and how Microsoft intend to rescue Windows 8 when she is in charge.
> I can't see any basis for their comments apart from animosity towards AO.
Whilst such animosity is often warranted, I don't think yuo have to look that far in this case.
When someone seems to be defending the indefensible, it's often a good idea to look at his posting history. If substantially all those posts are in support of (or in opposition to) one company or other, it's a fair bet you've got a poster with an axe to grind.
It is left as an exercise to the reader to decide whether or not any particular poster has been paid to grind said axe...
I can't see why you'd want to run the same app on phones and desktops, but leaving that aside, given that this was the goal, Windows (Phone) 8 still fails at it.
When all's said and done Windows (Phone) 8 is a huge pile of APIs balanced precariously on top of the old API, Win32, but with the disadvantages that on Phone and ARM platforms you can't get at Win32 and the XAML between the three different platforms is different.
I learned a lot about MS today reading various articles. This is going to take some un-f*cking.
Yesterday I installed Windows 8 and Office 2013 (I'm a Technet subscriber ) after falling for some of the positive hype. Luckily I had some time on my hands.
I'm sorry, but I just couldn't do it. After 8 hours of fighting Metro and failing to find things that are "just there" in Win 7 I was starting to get wound up. Even the charms bar search function appears to be defective...gives you different results depending if your are in an application or not.
It took me 30 minutes of Googling to figure out how to add my gmail account in the metro mail application. Turns out the "accounts" button I needed does not appear until you first sign in with a MS account!!! Why should I have to add an unused MS account in order to use my gmail?
I want to work with my PC, not fight it every time I want to do something my way!!
I eventually reformatted and went back to Windows 7.
I'm keeping Office 2013 but only because I managed to find an option that turns it from all white to shades of grey so at least I can tell one part of the UI from another. WTF is the all white color scheme about?
So, it turns out this Sinofsky is pretty much responsible for everything I have disliked about Microsoft for the past 10 years including but not limited to the ribbon and Win 8 / Metro.
Fuck that guy.
Couldn't agree more.
There are people who come out with the new SQL, and Linq, and c#4, and then there's this woman who wants to make everything look like a colour shade discerment test, and this man wants to make your computer something that looks like a games console.
Jesus shit. They want a beating. I've gone Android, despite it effectively being a portable spy device for Google, because if I wanted a toy, I'd buy one.
Tablets aren't computers. They're entertainment centres.
And the ui for visual studio 2012. Is that designed to cause depression. It looks like a 2-d graveyard where voldemort might come back to life. How do you work out what's a button?
Who is in control of MS? What are they doing?
What a mess indeed that you cant figure out how to use the search function properly.......I have windows 8 pro installed, all my apps and devices are running great and actually smoother than under windows 7 and I am not looking back.
Glad you were able to change the color scheme though on office 2013 I bet that felt like an accomplishment. I guess anyone can get a technet subscription these days ehhh........
Having installed Windows 8 on a tablet (Acer Iconia W500), I can confirm that Google was a great help when it came to making it usable and useful. This is the least intuitive interface since some of Creative's UI efforts.
Having to use Google for help is somewhat ironic isn't it?
First we lost multi-tasking.
Then we lost colour.
Then we lost overlapping windows.
Then we lost interest.
Except that none of these are gone except your interest, which is evidently the interest of somebody too stupid to click "Desktop".
Man. I wouldn't like to be the guy that hired you. It beats me how you manage to open this website.
You don't need to reformat if you have HDClone and a large USB backup drive.
Expecting exactly the same aggravation I backed up my Windows 7 install with HDClone and, following a quantity of buggeration with Win 8, restored it to a faster hard drive with no problems at all. Not an investor or an employee, just a happy user.
Even the charms bar search function appears to be defective...gives you different results depending if your are in an application or not.
These, oh editors and writers, are the new breed of Power Users of the Register. People too fucking stupid to understand what context-based search is.
This is your market.
Write articles which says Microsoft fails at everything all the time so that they will be happy and click your ads!
Oh wait. You already do.
Microsoft got themselves in a real pickle. They were on top of things 10-15 years ago and just sat on their hands unwilling to take any chances that could risk hurting their cash-cow. Meanwhile Apple and Google had nothing to lose by dabbling in the mobile market, and they won big. So how does Microsoft look relevant again without playing catchup with products that look like Apple/Google knock-offs? Meanwhile, Windows and Office may be Microsoft's bread and butter, but in the long term, the choice of OS and spreadsheet/word processor will be marginalized. I mean, do people get excited about what the next version of Office will have in it, or care what OS their, say, tablet runs? No. And by forcing their established user base to learn a new UI with Win8, they are forcing potential customers into pondering other options, like MacOS, if they already have to learn a new OS anyways.
EXACTLY!! This is what happened to me with Nokia when I was forced to "upgrade" to an early version of Symbian after my much coveted 6310i.... the rest, unfortunately for Nokia, is history.
I said to myself "well if I have to learn something this radically different I might as well go with something completely different" Same amount of effort but you have complete freedom to choose!
They seriously expect developers, engineers, designers, network administrators and anyone else doing business with their computers to ever waste time with the messed up childish unusable nonsense that Metro/ModernUI is all about?
Surely Ballmer will try all possible dirty tricks to twist numbers and claim that Windows8 is a success and everyone wants Metro and everyone is buying Metro and loving it. Just lies.
Windows8 is way worse than Vista.
Vista had bugs BUT it was still usable. And once the bugs got fixed it worked pretty well already with SP1.
Windows8 it's a fraud and a nightmare to any user.
It's a mess even for anyone playing games on their PCs.
The whole Metro fraud has to go. Eveyrone involved with Metro must be fired. Starting with Ballmer.
It's even more stupid on Windows Server. Everything is launched from the Metro tiles but everything runs on the desktop.
Oh and of course the Server Manager is redesigned so that now you can't find anything you want. To say nothing of the awful Web interface they've replaced EMC with.
But what I still cannot fathom is why they didn't scale WP8 to tablets and keep W7 as an evolutionary product for desktop and enterprise. WinRT is really some sort of nothingness that's not really needed.
This cannot all go on Sinofsky's toes and Ballmer must take a large portion of the blame, it's his watch after-all.
What I can't fathom is why:
Metro apps can't just sit in a Window on the desktop, even if that's a large fixed size one to match Metro expectations
Live Tiles (known everywhere else as widgets) can't work on the desktop, as just another OPTION
classic mode support had to be killed
detailed desktop theming had to die
There was a correct way to unify the platforms but it was to partially unify them, with the Metro subset a Metro-on-desktop experience. With the desktop a real user choice between classic and Metro modes. Of course that would further expose the bareness of Metro to even casual viewers but at least we'd be spared the pointless context switches.
The PC manufacturer aren't really behind Win8. A few token products, but it's not like wholehearted support and if corporates aren't interested why should any development shop be bothered with it. You would have thought Microsoft of all people would understand you get the corporates onboard first and drag consmers kicking and screaming behind you. That's the whole reason Apple had such crap market share in 'real' computer markets.
If you have not used windows 8 for longer than 20 minutes when you installed it, realized it was a lot different than windows 7 or any earlier incarnation of windows then decided (subliminally or not) that you were not smart enough to learn a new system or just flat out don't want to thats cool, but don't flame windows 8 unless you actually have a good amount of experience with it. A lot of people I see commenting on "Metro" here have either obviously not tried it (yes that's you guy who cant use the search feature), are not willing to try or are incapable of learning something new.
Once you have windows 8 set up with all your shortcuts added into the metro interface for desktop apps and customized your start screen as to how you like to use your pc windows 8 is actually a pleasant surprise.
I am a department manager who manages a team of people at work, on the team are many different characters, one is an older lady that can hardly use a computer, she also cannot learn to use it more than she does now no matter how many times she is shown time saving, effective ways to work sometimes you cant teach an old dog new tricks. If you are blogging on a tech site I hope for all our sake that you are not too old to learn some new tricks, windows 8 is cool and surprisingly productive, give it a chance and you might find you like it but sshhhh don't tell anyone!!
"If you have not used windows 8 for longer than 20 minutes when you installed it, realized it was a lot different than windows 7 or any earlier incarnation of windows then decided (subliminally or not) that you were not smart enough to learn a new system or just flat out don't want to thats cool, but don't flame windows 8 unless you actually have a good amount of experience with it. A lot of people I see commenting on "Metro" here have either obviously not tried it (yes that's you guy who cant use the search feature), are not willing to try or are incapable of learning something new"
Quite right. I have been cutting pizza using a knife and more recently using a pizza cutter with great success. These new fangled pizza scissors that you are waxing lyrical about certainly get the job done but the trouble is you get pizza all over your hands, when there is really no need to.
OK, leaving aside the fundamental impedance mismatch between touch and desktop UI metaphors, we geeks could probably hold our noses, learn to configure away the worst bits of it and set it up so it is vaguely usable again, because after a lifetime of it we're used to reconfiguring our brains and spending hours tweaking to adapt to badly designed products
That's not the point. The point is the vast majority of users are like your "older lady" and we are going to have to support them. That is a sword of Damocles hanging over the IT world and everyone except Microsoft and a few gadget freaks knows it.
Not really sure how you can say "now Microsoft has mobiles running on the NT kernel. That's a great achievement.", when the NT kernel was originally written processor agnostic (MIPS, x86, Alpha, PowerPC). If you look at the hardware spec of the machines it was targeted at originally, all of them are completely dwarfed by today's average mobile phone - first NT machine I installed was a 150MHz Alpha with 64Mb RAM. As it's a microkernel architecture, the "achieveent" was really stripping out all the cruft that had accumulated over the years so that it could run on a phone that has the specs of a PC from about 2000 (ish).
Still, at least that old NT 3.51 install was (supposedly) 64bit, apart from the apps. Funnily enough, it's still the same case over 15 years later.
"when the NT kernel was originally written processor agnostic"
I take your point, but the kernel today is a different beast to the system put together by Cutler et al back in the 90s, right? Plus support for MIPS, Alpha, and PowerPC was dropped after NT 4.0, and the microkernel design is compromised by the placement of drivers - always has been. Prof Tanenbaum would have a fit.
The achievement is porting the core of a modern-day Windows OS to ARM. You may think that's small potatoes in the same way a brain surgeon considers the simplicity of routine operations; if so, I tip my hat to you.
Porting an well designed and portable kernel to a new platform is a new CPU architecture such that it is functional is relatively straightforward. There is very little platform-specific code in a modern operating system. Go and look at the Linux or *BSD source trees to confirm this.
What will have been a lot of work is cracking the problem of power management - particularly as WIndows 8 is targeted at mobile devices. MS has achieved this for no fewer than 3 ARM SoC platforms - no small achievement.
I feel the need to grab a Microsoft executive by the scruff of the neck and bang their head on a desk while repeating "The OS is not the GUI, the GUI is not the OS. You should be able to design both independently. You should be able to replace both(*) independently."
(*) well... at least the GUI.
You might want to do what I just did. Waffle off to the Classic Shell site and read the "how it works and how I did it" section.
Basically, using the provided hooks to replace MS's shell with your own Just Does Not Fucking Work(tm). It would seem that the OS itself cares deeply about the structure of certain things that should, in any sane world, be entirely internal to the shell implementation, which artificially constrains what can be done in the shell.
You might remember, some years back, all that nonsense about the browser being at the centre of everything. How it could not be removed from the operating system, and how, eventually, everything would run under the browser.
Microsoft loves this sort of stuff. You're going to have to bang a lot of heads on a lot of desks.
MS' problem is that phones/tablets have taken up a large proportion of the populace's mindset, as well as cash.
Leaving it to apple and google and valve would lead to losing the home market. That means fewer windows devs growing up with windows at home, which is not an option.
Being fourth in the tablet/phone market is hard to fix, so why not leverage the desktop monopoly to accustom users to the phone/tablet OS? That seems reasonable.
However, the tablet/phone market is not like the PC market. Document formats which provide desktop lockin for MS aren't really used there, so loyalty to a brand/vendor is slim beyond the fanbois. The documents of the tablet are in h264, epub and mp3 formats, so even if people become familiar with the GUI (whether they like it or not) there's little to hold them there unless it is actually "better."
What MS should have done is build a private cloud server for the home. Make information available online/offline and sync'ing brilliant. They should have paired a very low power server with their phone. They should have built a private cloud and phone with no advertising or data slurping. Produce something better, not just rely on leverage or monopoly to work for you. Got a hotmail account? Get fast flux DNS too so people can run drop-box or lync from their own homes without needing apple or google's cloud. Don't annoy OEMs with surface, work with them to provide in-box NAS solutions. Put windowsRT on a PCIe card with SATA and NIC ports to convert DAS to NAS so that when you power off your PC, your data is still all available.
Just like the old windows-on-a-phone attempts, MS has just tried to re-skin what they already had, rather than provide something new and better.
MS is providing a solution (OS) for a problem that doesn't exist. How many people are looking around thinking, we really need a windows OS on a phone?
What people might be asking is, "how can I get better privacy while using my phone?"
The current malaise infecting Microsoft reminds me of an STD. If you have one and get it treated then you may suffer a bit of embarrassment, especially if you have to tell others, but then you'll usually get better with treatment. If you have one but pretend it doesn't exist to the extent that you're beating up those who'd normally support you just to pretend that you're better than ever then eventually you'll either fall over dead or become the social equivalent of Abu Qatada at BNP rally.
Admit Win8's broken, take the hit for a year in developing an SP1 that creates a proper desktop GUI while actively promoting in the short terms that Win7 is actually a very good, stable and quick OS with massive compatibility and consumer user adoption.
Managing the user change process from XP to Win7 is hard enough for most businesses but, as mentioned above, the change from Win7 to Win8 is large enough that most companies just won't bother. Keep them sweet with Win7 until there's an OS capable of being business-friendly.
As an off-topic aside, the company I'm working at now would happily go to a full Apple rollout rather than Win8 if only they could get a Citrix desktop to match.
Use W8 with a touchscreen laptop (which I did at an HP store in Johannesburg) and it's actually pretty slick. Bear in mind every time Facebook gets a slightly new look everyone's up in arms defending the previous look...which they also hated when it came around.
Maybe many years of software development have made me a bit immune to worrying about UI changes, I dunno. I totally don't see the problem. I certainly don't see the problem for El Reg users (hence the icon). The day I start complaining about the fact that everything's changing very slightly is hopefully the day I'm in an old people's home :)
No-one denies that Win8's touchscreen support is superb and it comes into it's own with a touchscreen. One of the major complaints about TIFKAM and Windows 8 is that it can feel like a touchscreen OS with mouse & keyboard support tacked on as afterthought.
Over three quarters of ALL computers sold over the last five years or so are laptops. With trackpads. They are only occasionally supplied with that god-awful RSI-inducing 1960s-era design that is the plastic rat.
The desktop PC so beloved of the more vocal elements of El Reg's commentariat has been dying since before the release of Microsoft Vista for f*ck's sake. Stop banging on about it as if it's some sacred beast: it's dead. It has ceased to be. It is an ex-form-factor. Certainly nobody's selling them in any great numbers today.
Note that OS X's last two incarnations have also favoured the (multi-)touch trackpad, to the extent that Apple are even offering a separate multi-touch trackpad for their iMac, Mac mini and Mac Pro users.
And, yes, there are plenty of whiners from amateurs who only think they're good with computers, but who really aren't anywhere near as expert as they think they are.
Incidentally, professionals who are actually worthy of that name learn the bloody keyboard shortcuts, which – surprise, surprise – tend to stay much the same even across major releases. (Graphic artists are one of the few exceptions.) That mouse pointer, the icons, and so on are only there for the newbies. This is very basic GUI design stuff: You're only supposed use the mouse, pull-down menus, and icons to explore and learn the system. All those keyboard shortcuts in the menus and tool-tips? They're not there for decoration.
Windows 8 is a transitional product. It is most emphatically NOT change for its own sake: Microsoft can't just ditch the old WIMP GUI overnight; they need to allow developers and enterprises time to adapt, and we're likely to see that old desktop stick around for a few release cycles yet. But it will be killed off eventually. Any applications that rely on that environment are on notice.
So to summarise; he's screwed it up good 'n proper, leaving a right old mess of half-finished bits 'n pieces lying around. Then buggered off with a fat severance package before the shit really hits the fan.
Sounds like all the right qualifications to be an "energetic and capable executive" to me.
"A new unified API would be the means to do it: developers would write a Metro app and it would run across a range of Microsoft devices. So although Microsoft was non-existent in tablets and barely visible in smartphones, developers would be obliged to make it their third choice.."
And of course these developers would have to pay to even get the opportunity to actually develop applications for their smartphone (without any option to try on the real thing, even if you want to use your own phone, before you buy).
And once you have your killer application ready then best prepare yourself to pay Microsoft again because while you now can place your application on the marketplace; Microsoft wants to have their cut of the deal as well (which in all honesty is fair since you're using their infrastructure, but within the context of already having to purchase an expensive subscription in order to actually being able to develop something...).
Then there's of course the tie-in with Windows 8 for some development environments. I would have to purchase Windows 8, invest hours in setting the whole thing up on my PC and require a steady dose of medicine to keep my blood pressure low as I actually try to work with this monstrosity.
Are we there yet? Not quite... Paid apps. on the MS marketplace can't be submitted to all markets. Cyprus? Forget about payouts, even though its a European country (part of the European Union). WTF?
Greenland? Nope. Iceland? Nope. Iraq (wasn't that liberated according to the media?)? Nope.
Here's a really funny one: Liechtenstein? Monaco? Can't target those, check out the List of regional info for Winphone development.
"developers would be obliged", well, you don't say....
Here's a really funny one: Liechtenstein? Monaco? Can't target those, check out the List of regional info for Winphone development.
It gets worse when you look at the payouts minus sales tax. See Tax details for paid apps
Looking at the EU countries there, the lucky developer sees the VAT applicable for each country subtracted from the payout.
I installed windows 8 and was quickly frustrated by it. Then I searched around for a bit and got used to it. All you have to do is hit the windows key on the keyboard or hover around the corners of the screen. Now I'm used to it's super quick boot time and tiles that tell me the weather and things without having to do anything, I like it. I don't like the new IE app, as I find it fiddly with a mouse to open up a favourite, but I understand with a touch screen it would be a more pleasant experience. Want to open word? Go to the metro interface (hit the windows key) and hit W. Oh look there it is. Yes, it took me a few days of getting used to, but I would feel robbed if I went back to Windows 7. All that for £25. Not bad at all.
...what's going to happen to Microsoft when Google make a play for the desktop market?
Microsoft has the desktop market, sure, and is trying to get a foothold in the mobile market. We all know that.
However, Google owns the mobile market. Android is *firmly* entrenched and is not going to go away. What is to stop Google taking the Android way of doing things to the desktop, and releasing a full blown Android OS for desktop/laptop? It's only a small leap from the very sophisticated system that they *already* have running on very capable tablet hardware. Some Android systems even support a bluetooth mouse for goodness sakes!
It's not as bonkers as it sounds. Sure, they would have to ground to make up in terms of providing quality production-grade applications (OpenOffice for Android, anyone?) but there are millions of experienced Android Devs out there who would *flock* to write the next killer office apps for Android Desktop if it were to become a reality. It might not set the enterprise sector of the OS market on fire (Windows firmly entrenched) but average Joe, who uses his home PC/Laptop/Tablet for Gmail, FB and Twitter and FF would be very comfortable using Android on a laptop with a real mouse and keyboard.
I'd like to see a cogent "what if" analysis of this by Andrew or one of our other esteemed journalists at the 'Reg. The way I see it is this:
Microsoft is trying to increase the coverage area of Windows by increasing it's 'width' to encompass tablet/mobile systems. Fine. But Android is already in the Mobile/Tablet market, and I personally believe that it would be far easier for Google to come at Microsoft's desktop end of the market from their mobile end, than it is for Microsoft to break into Google's market share from Windows.
Microsoft are simply lucky (IMHO) that Google hasn't come after their lunch.