back to article Microsoft's Surface bait-and-switch won't make people buy Windows 8

Microsoft had better hope departing board member Reed Hastings is wrong about Windows. In some parting comments to a group of Dow Jones reporters, Hastings called Microsoft's Surface tablet a "tactic to spur people on, to get Windows 8 really successful." In other words, according to Hastings, Surface is just a means to get …

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  1. EvilGav 1
    FAIL

    No-one buys an OS?

    Really? Then how the hell are paid for OSs the first and second most used on the desktop??

    Oh, that's right, we then go on to talk about mobiles - which it is true people don't buy an OS for - but the OS revenue stream for MS isn't from mobiles, it's from the desktop.

    At least one of the legs of this straw-man argument doesn't exist.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. nematoad Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: No-one buys an OS?

        "Once Google or someone starts to sell Desktop-ised Android,"

        Oh, you mean Linux.

        Android may not be fully free but if Google go down that path then I would put money on it that they will take full advantage of the vast amount of applications already available for Gnu/Linux. After all Android already uses a modified Linux kernel.

        Why re-invent the wheel?

        1. Neil B
          Megaphone

          Re: No-one buys an OS?

          Because the various desktop flavours of Linux have made laughably small inroads into the market. The Android user experience, if well-translated to the desktop, will seem immediately cool and familiar to the mobile-savvy user and could help in that regard.

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            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: No-one buys an OS?

              Stop spreading your own FUD

              Microsoft do not prevent any OEM putting linux on, have a look at Dell as just 1 example as they have linux machines available - please provide proof of your allegation.

              Linux netbooks did have a very high return rate as people didn't like them/couldn't use them. the only reason they bought them was they were cheap. Need proof, here it is:

              http://blog.laptopmag.com/ubuntu-confirms-linux-netbook-returns-higher-than-anticpated

              4 x higher return rate, no wonder they stopped selling them. What business wants to be left with that much aging returned stock?

              1. billium
                FAIL

                Re: No-one buys an OS? AC 12:16

                Eadon is not AC you are.

                Dell do sell linux pc's they are hard to find, lower spec and more expensive than the Win equivilant

                just google the microsoft tax.

                Your four year old blog quote for the failure of linux is probably similar to Win8's apparent failure .. people don't like change.

                1. RICHTO
                  Mushroom

                  Re: No-one buys an OS? AC 12:16

                  That's because they cost Dell more to support and create the builds for....

          2. RICHTO
            Mushroom

            Re: No-one buys an OS?

            So we can look forward to frequent hangs, reboots required, memory leaks, and lots of Malware to differentiate the Android User experience? Oh wait - We had one like that already - Windows XP...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: No-one buys an OS?

              "We had one like that already - Windows XP..."

              We had one like that already - Windows Vista

        2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        3. John Sanders
          Linux

          Re: No-one buys an OS?

          Ah the future, I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees it coming.

          Android and Linux will converge soon, someone somewhere will produce some kind of "Android Framework" that you could install on any distro so you can double click on .apk files.

          Voila, standardized Linux packaging and applications for mom, dad and aunty, and full blown Linux computer for me because I'm worth it.

          The whole point of Open Source is that it keeps getting traction and gaining critical mass. There is FOSS everywhere and there is more to come.

          1. Chemist

            Re: No-one buys an OS?

            "Android and Linux will converge soon, someone somewhere will produce some kind of "Android Framework" that you could install on any distro so you can double click on .apk files."

            Oddly enough I've just been trying a x86 Android build (for eeepc) in VirtualBox (on Linux) -seems stable and just like my wife's phone with the exception that there's no wireless, phone, GPS of course and there is a virtual Eth0. An SD card can be emulated but I've not got round to that yet so can't install apps. at the mo. There is a terminal emulator so I can tell you the kernel is 3.0.36-android-x86-eeepc.

          2. pepper

            Re: No-one buys an OS?

            Someone already did this for the N900(Maemo, debian based linux).

            http://wiki.maemo.org/Apkenv/Game_Compatibility

          3. P. Lee Silver badge

            Re: No-one buys an OS?

            er, am I the only one who wants android on the desktop about as much as I want W8 there?

            Different form factors - different requirements!

            MS' cash cow is not so much windows as the office suite. Windows itself is discounted a lot and is there mainly to provide lock-in. The problem is not android or OSX per se, but breaking the "windows only" mindset. If you have cross-platform authentication/single sign-on running, you can introduce non-windows far more easily. Forget BYOD being an end-run around IT depts, its cloud-services like gmail which provide an end-run around the local-OS ecosystem, which is why you see MS "cloud" dependent on MS locally (or paying for MS locally).

      2. EvilGav 1
        Meh

        Re: No-one buys an OS?

        They had the same offer for Windows 7.

        Apple have only been charging a small amount for an OS upgrade recently (10.7 onwards, I think), prior to that the upgrade price was double(ish) the Windows price.

    2. Chris007
      FAIL

      Re: No-one buys an OS? @Evilgav 1

      RTFA

      That is all.

    3. RICHTO
      Mushroom

      Re: No-one buys an OS?

      Erm, but Microsoft so far don't need to do anything to spur people on. It's already selling just as well as Windows 7 did at launch...

      1. The BigYin

        Re: No-one buys an OS?

        @RICHTO - That's because there is no choice and no competition. It is more tied to the sales of hardware as that ages out and is replaced, rather than people getting a hard-on for Win8.

        1. RICHTO
          Mushroom

          Re: No-one buys an OS?

          There is certainly choice - Linux, OS-X, etc. As to competition - it is not Microsoft's fault they don't really cut it for most users...

          1. Chemist

            Re: No-one buys an OS?

            "t is not Microsoft's fault they don't really cut it for most users..."

            Indeed MS don't !

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's simpler than that

    Microsoft's big money comes from the corporates. Win8 and Surface RT have nothing for them - it was a daft move to try and ape Apple. They are going to have to shift back to fellating corporate HQs if they are not to see their profit line fall through the floor.

    BYODs are a side show - since people will either go cheapest first (where Google will win) or flashiest first (where apple do). The only way they go Microsoft is because the IT department lays down standards, and those standards are going to be Win 7 and domains.

    What they seem not to have come up with is what is there past Office? Wordprocessors, Spreadsheets, etc. are decades old - where is the corporate innovation that people will pay for - the productivity gains in short?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Megaphone

      Re: It's simpler than that

      > They are going to have to shift back to fellating corporate HQs if they are not to see their profit line fall through the floor.

      Fellating and ass-raping at the same time.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: It's simpler than that

      >Wordprocessors, Spreadsheets, etc. are decades old - where is the corporate innovation that people will pay for

      More ribbons, in fact an entire screen covered in ribbons.

      Then they can invent some new confusing gui widget that only shows you the ribbons that have recently used

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's simpler than that

        It won't be confusing. There will be Clippy Ribbon Manager for Office. "You seem to be looking for a ribbon - can I help?"

        Ribbons came in just as screens got wide and shallow. Sheer genius.

  3. Paul 135
    Big Brother

    You PAY, oh yes you do!

    "going forward, no one buys operating systems. Apple makes it part of the iPhone/iPad experience for free, and Android, of course, is open source."

    This is complete and utter bull. Apple is hardly giving it "free"...

    ... and, more importantly, Google is NOT giving away Android for free. In the overwhelming number of phones sold, Google has received a licence fee to use Google Play. Apps sold on Google Play then are DRM-locked on Google Play to users mostly unaware, effectively meaning that Google Play IS Android for most users, meaning that users are locked into Google, Google licences and prominent advertising into giving Google a 30% cut on app sales (not to mention all that valuable spy data you will gibe them).

    1. Paul 135
      Big Brother

      ... and not only that

      ... Google has also bullied all major handset vendors into preventing them from offer a choice to the end consumer on whether they would like to have to pay Google or not.

      1. Epobirs

        Re: ... and not only that

        At least until Amazon produces a phone. You can already get tablets from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and others which do not ship with Google Play installed. Already, most phones will let you install the Amazon app store if you want to deny Google any post-sale profits on the phone.

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      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You PAY, oh yes you do!

        @edon - MS supply a jailbreak tool for the WP7/7.5 OS, so you are actually welcome to install apps from wherever you want. But, you know, don't let not knowing about something prevent you from commenting about it. I would caution you though that it detracts from the rest of your comments when you just make stuff up.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    3. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: You PAY, oh yes you do!

      Android's free, but no-one wants an OS, they want apps.

      Specifically, they want gmail and google maps/navigation on their phone.

      MS' problem is that they are trying to ape apple and google. If they gave away their phone OS for nothing and provided a few good apps, then that would be fine. However, they'll try to commercialise search and advertising. They will spy on their customers and try to take a slice of the revenue for app sales.

      In the process, they might lose the war, not winning the phone/tablet battle and allowing unix onto the phone, tablet and then desktop. Then their office suite and datacentre products will be in jeopardy.

      If I were google, I'd put out a private cloud email system for corporates only. If they can break MS' lock on Exchange (where they aren't making much headway anyway) then far more corporates would consider a *nix desktop which would break MS' corporate grip, Office revenue would tail off and Bing would lose its funding.

  4. banjomike
    WTF?

    Microsoft needs to continue down this road...

    I don't mind if Microsoft produce a wizzo touchy-feely OS for Surfaces/tablets/anything, I just don't see why they would want to destroy the Windows environment that they have been heading towards for nearly 20 years. Windows 8 is CRAP on a desktop with mouse.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Microsoft needs to continue down this road...

      It's crap to use on a desktop with a touch screen.

      Reach out right now and try to touch your monitor. Monitor too far away? So move it from that comfortable viewing distance to something like 30cm away. Turn the brightness right down to stop pain to your eyes. Now press the monitor and hold your arm there for the same amount of time you'd generally use a mouse. Start to get tired pretty quickly eh, even at such a close distance?

      My point is for touch screen to work on the desktop, the desk needs to be reinvented. The monitor needs to be where your keyboard is now, with a second monitor behind it at an angle to read from. You'd have to come up with a cunning way to integrate a keyboard, but then it would start to make sense. Until such desks arrive though, its absolutely pointless.

      1. RICHTO
        Mushroom

        Re: Microsoft needs to continue down this road...

        Kinect 2.0 will fix that....

    2. fajensen Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft needs to continue down this road...

      "One Desktop to Run Office From" is a stupid decision from Microsoft! If they instead had separated the desktop from the OS, you could have Win8 mobile, tablet, desktop and classic (for those who love WinXP).

      I think that within a year, there will be a patch providing the option to disable off metro and revert to the old Win7-look.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Microsoft needs to continue down this road...

        Third party ones are already available.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Microsoft needs to continue down this road...

      You can get a touch mouse - The MS touch mouse (others are available) is currently on sale for twenty quid from Amazon.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about Google?

    People are generally dismissive of Google's cloud based Chrome OS. This may or may not be a valid assessment, but it does seem to be a long term strategy on their part.

    What is far more interesting is the possibility of them further evolving their phone/tablet OS.

    Android is built on a stable, full featured Linux base that is quite capable of doing everything Ubuntu does, but in a familiar, friendly package. I can see a desktop Android device with multiple windows and support for standard peripherals taking a serious chunk of the laptop/desktop market, provided it significantly undercuts Wintel prices. Perhaps it could achieve critical mass, leading to real competition in the desktop space.

    1. RICHTO
      Mushroom

      Re: What about Google?

      Well it doesnt look like happening yet. Surface is in V1 much better than Android. I can properly use a external screen for instance - and run multiple apps at the same time. Plus it has the devices drivers for 400 million supported devices! Not like Android crap where you have to root it and recompile the kernel just to load a driver!

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about Google?

      With Jellybean on my Galaxy Note 10.1 and a program some guy wrote which easily modifies app manifests, I can already run multiple applications in their own windows. This has only been possible a week or two but several developers (Lecture Notes, Locus Pro) have already modded their Play Store apps to natively support it and I'm sure more will be joining in.

      With my bt keyboard I'm already happily word-processing away in both native apps and LibreOffice running under Linux, and the TVPaint beta is fantastic for art with the stylus.

      So I don't need Office, and I have all the other gazillion apps that RT doesn't yet have, so why would I need a Surface or the like ? This tablet can be gotten for about half the price of a Surface now, let alone an IPad, and for any basic home productivity it's perfectly useable.

      1. RICHTO
        Mushroom

        Re: What about Google?

        But you cant run one of those apps on an external screen and another on the tablet at the same time can you?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What about Google?

          "But you cant run one of those apps on an external screen and another on the tablet at the same time can you?"

          There is the small matter of cost difference

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What about Google?

        A program some guy wrote which easily modifies app manifests, I can already run multiple applications in their own windows.

        Would be nice to know what this program is called please ?

  6. andro
    FAIL

    "familiar isn't going to win in today's market."

    I disagree with this entirely. The reason windows 7 is holding on is because its familiar. Microsoft would be on to a winner if they improved bits of it which they could, but generally kept it same, and sold licenses to manufacturers. I dont know how many people like the windows 8 home screen, but to me its not anything they it is. It is an ugly, scattered mess and the operating system as a whole looks worse than windows 7, is harder to navigate, and unnecessarily complex. I had to buy pcs for our office today, and the only options that were even on the table were windows 7. One piece of hardware looked like a winner for price/performance, but as soon as I found out it was windows 8 only it lost.

  7. Amonynous
    WTF?

    Face meet Mr Palm

    "As I've argued recently, Microsoft's Office suite is no longer the primary means of creating valuable business data/content."

    Yes, and as many of the commenters on that argument pointed out, that is an asinine statement that beggars belief. You argue against yourself further down this article when you say "Microsoft's Windows 8 already faces fierce headwinds, as IT executives continue to favour Windows 7."

    There is good reason for that fierce headwind, and IT executives of profitable businesses** (especially information businesses) and their CFO's are not going to be 'ended-around' by Microsoft, Apple or anyone else. People need appropriate productivity tools to generate valuable business data/content, as opposed to merely consuming it. There is a space for the new breed of devices in the consumption side (i.e. willy-waving executives reading docs prepared by their minions using tablets and the like), but:

    - The serious work of producing content cannot be done efficiently on a slab, even with some silly flat keyboard add-on.

    - No serious business is going to take the vast productivity hit that will result from moving to the badly thought out Windows 8 Frankenstein desktop experience, hence everyone is waiting for 9 to come along, as per the Vista->7 debacle.

    ** Profitable as in generating wads of actual cash for owners/shareholders to take home and stuff under their bed, as opposed to the Web 2.0 definition of business value which is basically "Here hold this valuable bit of paper whilst I jump on my executive jet and sod off to the nearest tax haven before you realise you have been done over."

  8. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  9. Epobirs

    Corporates would have ignored Win8 regardless

    Massive companies that are still in the process of eliminating Windows XP dependencies in their array o mission critical software are in no hurry to have the latest. Getting past the anything goes era of ignoring the guidelines and producing software that uses antiques installers and techniques that threaten to trash the registry is a big leap for these outfits after decades of being able to ignore such things. Nevermind that it lead to huge costs in unreliability that could have been avoided if vendors were required to follow the XP guidelines published back in 2001. They painted themselves into this corner and once free won't be in any hurry for the next change.

    Windows 8 could be completely non-controversial. Just all under the hood improvements and little change to the user facing portion. And it wouldn't matter for the corporates who have only recently gotten to Win7 or are still in the process. If Apple had a big footprint in the corporate market it would be facing a similar problem with its frequent OS releases. At the least, they would have to retain backward compatibility much longer than they do now. Being shut out from that market gives them freedom to do things that serve the other markets better.

    It's pretty obvious how Windows RT will be a profit maker if they find they need to pretty much give it away to compete. Every bit of software for those systems, outside of corporate sideloading, comes through the Windows Store and Microsoft makes a nice slice on that stuff. It's finding a ground in between Apple where you can only buy hardware from them and only get software through them, and Google whose OS might not even be clearly named on a device like the Kindle Fire and may have its own app store rather than use Google's.

    It appears if Microsoft accepted the new normal and sold the OS for a token amount in favor of focusing on the app store for profits, they could give Google a serious problem. So long as this is an OS installed solely by OEMs it shouldn't affect sales on the Windows 8 version. But it may make sense to cut the price a good deal if the app stores proves a money maker there as well.

    Change is hard and uncomfortable but it has to happen now and then. The hard part is that there is no going back. Once the price tag of the OS is majorly reduced it cannot revert. Over the years, if you consider inflation and the massive growth of the feature set, Windows has gotten a lot cheaper. A consumer PC license has always been available for around $100. In the early days this meant getting DOS and Windows 3.x for $50 if you bought them together. Later, it meant Upgrade packages of the latest consumer edition for around $90 or the same price for an OEM full install version if you built your own machine.

    $100 is a much lesser amount for the product than in 1992. The product does vastly more and the money is greatly devalued. (In the crudest terms, $100 in 1992 is equivalent to $164.87 today.) This would be fine if everybody was selling OSes as retail items or tied it exclusively to their brand of hardware. But they aren't. Android is out there and cannot be ignored on devices like tablets as Linux could on desktop PCs.

    So the business model must change. Finding not too much and too little is the trick.

  10. koolholio
    FAIL

    The people have clearly spoken...

    They do not wish to pay for an OS which is by virtue, insecure unless updated, they do not wish to pay for updates which should be a privilege if you really must charge for the OS...

    The common mentality is 'If it aint broke, dont fix it' combined with 'if it is broke, replace it' (usually at a cost)

    Replacing the UI with "metro" indicates where the whole OS should belong... Underneath a vehicle! Not everyone wishes to touch their screen, which uses more resources and comes with its own lifetime span and readability issues.

    Re-invent the wheel, in a rush, purely for profit and this is what you get... We also, will not re-write our code because you wish to re-invent the wheel every other day of the week! Just like you massacre'd true DOS with XP!

    If you are planning to re-invent the wheel, organise it properly, keep accessibility features optional instead of integrated, yet integrate full backwards compatibility and consider naming it something different!

    And yes, MS, you are part of the reason why idiots are getting more and more idiotic, let alone somewhat naive.

  11. NoneSuch Silver badge
    FAIL

    A rose by any other name.

    People are not buying it because it is crap. It tries to appeal to tablet, mobile and desktop users and is compromised beyond usability.

    Jack of all trades = Master of none.

  12. Corborg

    KISS

    I like MS's new take on things. They appear to be going back to get the basics right so they can build on that. Server 2012 is great, Windows 8 is great (with Start8!) Hyper-V is charging at ESX. I think they are back on track.

  13. Tank boy
    FAIL

    That didn't take long

    Why not just write an article that says Microsoft sucks, Apple rules? Two paragraphs in already, comparing the two.

  14. Tom 35

    "tactic to spur people on, to get Windows 8 really successful."

    That's backwards. They stuck a phone UI on Windows thinking it would spur on people to buy Serface and Phone. They think people are locked into Windows so they can use it as a lever.

    They are also trying to force Web Services. Click on the calendar and it will not let you look at anything until you log into a Microsoft account. The Weather app has ads like some free phone ap.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft just doesnt get it!!!

    Most of the people buying iPhones and iPads are making fashion statements. My neighbors kids buy $200 jeans and wont be seen in anything costing less. There are plenty of quality branded jeans costing $50 but wearing them will get you kicked out the cool kids group.

    The name itself Microsoft Surface just sounds too geeky. They would have better luck creating a fictitious company called Orange and selling Orange iTabs. In addition there tilled tabs are also too geeky, maybe they could improve it by producing a skin which shows the home screen like an Android or iPhone device. There isn't much difference in features between an iPad, Surface and Android ICS tablets. Sure, iPads may be ever so slightly smoother with apps expanding to fill the screen but most could live without such features.

    Apple wasnt the first to create a music device with the iPod, Creative and others had gigabyte mp3 players on the market years before. They just made gigabyte mp3 players cooler by creating the iPod. The same goes for their iPhone, Symbain was on the scene long before them. The iPhone just made it fashionable to own a smart-phone. Plenty of tablets were on the market before the iPad but once again it will be the Apple product which is the most sought after. LG understands the minds of under 20 kids and hence markets the LG Prada phone.

    I think Microsoft is losing it a bit. I read on Daily Mail they are spending time on developing Biogas plants, turning waste poop into energy.

  16. The BigYin

    I have recently been told...

    ...that the Surface will out sell the iPad.

    I don't know whether to laugh at that preposterous suggestion, or cry at chance it might be true.

    Not that I have much love for the iPad.

  17. h4rm0ny

    "I have recently been told......that the Surface will out sell the iPad."

    This is simply impossible for the reason that nowhere near as many Surfaces will be produced as there are iPads sold. Even if every single Surface made is sold (which will probably be the case), the Surface could not outsell the iPad. The Surface is a pace-setter for the OEMs. Surface Pro included.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WTF?

    "If Microsoft steps back to focus solely on Windows 8,?"

    Yes not like there are other products being rolled out such as Server 2012, Lync 2013, Exchange 15, Office 365, Office 2013, Xbox 720 and on and on and on....

  19. Magnus_Pym

    Follow the money

    Google makes money from web services, Apple from hardware and downloads. Microsoft makes money from?

  20. Sirius Lee

    The guy is on his way out

    Sounds like he kept failing to read the memo including the copy with the amendment saying if he didn't read it his desk would be cleared and drawers emptied.

    Whether or not Microsoft has done a good thing with Surface it is at least realizing it needs to do something. This kind of carping must reflect the ingrained thinking in Redmond and of those not finding a chair when the music stopped.

    1. Chemist

      Re: The guy is on his way out

      "Redmond and of those not finding a chair when the music stopped."

      Er, I think there might be a shortage of unbroken chairs at Redmond !

  21. Richard 15

    The problem is, is that people generally do not like change.

    Windows 8 "might" be successful, but they need to put in the tools that let people

    use what they already know. The OS is so different and is not optimized for keyboard entry.

    Nice for a user of prepackaged games, but crap for the people programming them.

    And, guess what, if it sucks to work on, less people will want to work on it.

  22. Narg
    FAIL

    What?

    I tried to make sense of this article. If this guy thinks he can run a company the size of Microsoft, then why's he just writing a bitch column?

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