back to article Microsoft's Dell billions have Windows 8 strings attached

If you can't beat them, join them, or - if you're Microsoft - infiltrate them. Just be careful not to go in too deep. Microsoft has recently developed a clever approach to launching into markets where it has previously failed or is currently failing: rather than buy an existing name, Microsoft has become its partner. To boost …


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  1. The BigYin

    Death of Project Sputnik then?

    MS will not tolerate any competition. I envisage Dell being instructed to desist in its penguin fondling.

    And the enforced monopoly rolls on.

  2. Dan 55 Silver badge

    You'd think with the amount hollowed-out shells of companies left in Microsoft's wake, potential 'partners' would have learnt by now...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Name a few (with cited sources)

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Err...

        On the offhand that you really are an AC who doesn't know the last 25-30 years of computing history, these two links mention most companies which have been stabbed in the back one way or another...

        - Desktop partners (see also part 4)

        - Mobile partners

        1. Levente Szileszky

          Re: Err...

          Don't forget game developer studios MS bought around 2000-2001 - they all ended up dead within few years thanks to MS' killer internal bureaucracy, the culture that butchers creative environments eg Ensemble (last game was Age of Empire III in 2005), Digital Anvil (Freelancer came out in 2003), FASA (last one was Shadowrun in 2007)... I remember either Bungie's boss said somewhere or Weisman (of FASA) said of Bungie that the creators of the Halo-series only survived their MSFT years because they managed to escape Redmond's deadly grope and go back private in the last hour, right before their creative production would have collapsed due to MS' destructive influence.

          It's pretty depressing to think that so many creative, talented people never manage to make their sw/game/app/etc simply due to this incredibly incompetent management.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Err...

          I know the last 30 odd years of computing history - as lots of people would have me believe it - but I was sort of thinking that on a site like The Reg, people would have a bit more critical thinking other than "MS=Bastards" and would be able to point to specific times when bad things happened.

          So: Your "Desktop Partners" just seems to be the usual whining about MS being successful in the industry and some other equally hard-ball players (IBM / Apple) not being. Very little in the way of cited sources and very much in the way of emotional writing.

          Mobile Partners: Did you even read the "what happened" texts? Most of the companies went to Android or were bought by another company, it's hardly MS stiffing them.

          Now, I personally think that MS have overstepped the mark on several occasions, but most people who hand wring about it can't actually point out anything in particular.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Err...

            No, using monopolies in one area to sink the competition in others on desktops and managing to sink one mobile company after another due to either malice (e.g. Sendo) or incompetence by their terrible mobile OSes (unless they realised in time jumped on the Android lifeboat) is nothing in particular...

          2. Euripides Pants

            Re: Err...

            But MS=Bastards. These bastards amuse and entertain me as I am long-haired, bearded Linux Freak but, at the end of the day, they are still bastards.

    2. tempemeaty

      Maybe another example of Suicide by Microsoft?

  3. dogged

    Was this article ghost-written by Eadon?

    It does everything except have "MICROSOFT FAIL" in caps at the end.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      I agree with dogged

      The article really is poorly written with: speculation on speculation; innuendo ("go private to restructure and avoid pressure from the market") - which market; false dichotomies (PCs are either low-margin commodity products or high-end Apple) - Lenovo has been doing pretty well with the high-end Thinkpads; and inevitably poor conclusions.

      Dell seems to be getting out of the consumer market and moving to servers and services. A tie-up with Microsoft would allow for the kind of horizontal and vertical integration that is currently popular: IBM, Oracle, HP are all doing something similar.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

          Re: I agree with dogged

          So not too far than Google's approach of making the customer the commodity, selling any data harvested on them to the highest bidder?

          Keep'em coming Eadon - why bore everyone with moderation when rabid, unfounded rants will do?

  4. Phil W


    "you had to wonder whether Elop was a trojan horse."

    No you didn't. It was bleedin' obvious!

    1. dogged

      Re: Elop

      You know, at the risk (well, certainty really) of being called a shill again, I have to disagree.

      Aside - Anyone who cares to disagree is quite free to call me wrong, that's fine, but please don't call me paid to be wrong.

      On topic. When Nokia's board hired Elop, Symbian wasn't exactly doing well and Meego/Maemo was a money pit that they'd flung hundreds of millions of euros into for basically nothing except politics and a shonky implementation that had no app support. Article after article said that Nokia was floundering, and badly.

      Further aside - Jess will be here shortly to tell me that Symbian is awesome and does all her housework as well having variable vibration controls and a "validate my feelings" function which nods sympathetically and provides free chocolate but the fact remains that it was sinking, if not in the market then certainly in the industry press and every single analyst estimate, and that's what the directors care about.

      Elop's call was to outsource the OS and thus most of the software engineering outside the "services" area (basically Navteq and Ovi), consolidate software efforts on providing Nokia's (rebranded) Ovi services and stick what Nokia are justly famous for - quality hardware.

      If you leave it at that, it's hard to fault as a decent CEO decision.

      What upsets most people here is that Nokia went with MS instead of Google but really, that's just religious hatred which feeds this "trojan horse" confirmation bias. Why MS? Because money. Operating funds and (WP8) a working OS with an easy-to-use flavour. Nokia has historically - pre Symbian - favoured easy-to-use. The 3310, possibly the best-selling phone ever, had an OS so amazingly simple that anyone who could read could use it in less than a minute.

      Nokia went with MS because MS gave them loads of cash and an OS that worked with their philosophy in the days when they sold billions of phones.

      You can hate this. You can scream in unfulfilled fanboy rage about the lack of a Nokia Android handset if you want. But it's just the way it went.

      I have a Motorola V3xx RAZR in my pocket so shill that, bitches.

      1. GregC

        Re: fanboy rage about the lack of a Nokia Android handset

        Actually, most of the fanboy rage that I see on here (and elsewhere) is more about Nokia binning Maemo/Meego just as it was reaching proper maturity. I know this, because I'm one of those fanboys and it will be a long time, if ever, before I forgive Nokia for that.

        The Maemo project may well have been a money pit, but that's down to mismanagement and stupid internal politics at Nokia. For it's time the N900 was a bloody nice bit of kit - the actual Ovi app store for it was crap, yes, but the repositories had all the apps I needed. With 20/20 hindsight, a consumer oriented UI slapped on the package manager would probably have helped immensely.

      2. dajames Silver badge

        Re: Elop

        Nokia went with MS because MS gave them loads of cash ...

        It wasn't really loads of money when you consider that MS were also getting access to Nokia's patent portfolio in that deal. I was rather surprised that Nokia hadn't asked for several times as much for the patents alone ... which brings us back to Elop and Greeks bearing gifts ...

        What upsets most people here is that Nokia went with MS instead of Google ...

        No, what upsets people is that Elop made Nokia throw away all the interesting work they'd done on Maemo/Meego. Another decent alternative in the marketplace wouldn't have been a bad thing at all.

        Mine's the one that no longer has a Nokia in the pocket.

      3. Dave 15 Silver badge

        Re: Elop


        When Elop was ejected from Microsoft for being the only guy to ever manage to reduce MS Office sales (quite how MS had been duped given his previous track record of failure is beyond me) and joined Nokia (not as a trojan horse but as a particularly gifted bull shitter) Symbian based phone sales were still increasing. True the market share was dropping - mainly due to the fact the market was actually taking off as people became aware (thanks to Apples marketing) that some phones had been able to do far more than make calls. (Indeed it is only in the last quarter of last year that the continued removal of Symbian phones from every market finally pushed their sales below that of the windows phone).

        As to Elop making 'decent CEO decisions' - well it seems stupid to say 'our current product is crap' rather than waiting 12 months and announcing... 'ooh look what wonderful new shiny thing we have thats far better than ANYone elses..' The guy is a pillock on a level with Ratner. Recently he has also scrapped the replacement for the S40 claiming that windows will be able to occupy the cheap phone space. To cover up some of the obvious flaws they are now even claiming that a S40 phone is a smart phone - though it very clearly isn't.

        I reckon - despite the claims of 'profitability' last quarter that Nokia will have folded totally within the next year - two at the outside - another corpse on Elops CV - though of course it will not have been his fault and some idiot will give him even more money to destroy the next company.

        1. John G Imrie

          The guy is a pillock on a level with Ratner.

          That's very unfair to Mr Ratner. Who has admitted his mistakes and has managed to build up another successful Jewellery business.

          1. Dave 15 Silver badge

            Re: The guy is a pillock on a level with Ratner.

            Sorry, agreed, Elop is a pillock on a level a whole lot worse than Ratner

      4. Phil W

        Re: Elop

        My criticism is not they outsourced the OS. Nothing wrong with that decision in many ways. I enjoyed Maemo on my N900 and Symbian on my N95, but I can certainly see good arguments for outsourcing the OS and I'm sure if the new CEO had been someone else and not Elop the same decision may have been made.

        His colours and greek horsey nature were shown in the rapid and total lunge towards Windows Phone though. Which at the time (and even now to a lesser degree) was a poorly received platform with relatively few apps.

        Android was to many people both inside and outside Nokia the the obvious and likely choice until Elop came along. Nokia already had a lot of Linux and Java expertise in it's Maemo and Symbian camps, which would of been useful and easily migrated to an Android based Nokia world.

        Windows Phone for Nokia meant dumping a large number of specialist staff, and building phones which were highly restricted in their hardware design. Which for a company that has a history of designing phones with strange/innovative/useful designs and features is an odd and illogical choice (the N900 is still the only smartphone I know of to have a built in FM transmitter making it immensely useful for in car audio, and the physical designs of the Nokia 7600 and 7705 are quite bizarre).

        You may argue that people being upset at the choice to go to MS instead of Google is religious hatred, but actually when you look at what Nokia had and did before, and what it became post Elop, there's a good deal of reason to be upset. That and the fact they could of done what HTC and others do, makes Windows Phones as well as their other devices, rather than throw all their eggs in the Microsoft basket.

        Also, I think it was a ridiculous choice yet I still like Windows Phone. It's not a bad platform at all, and I think the HTC Windows Phone devices in particular are very good.

        I still think that it wasn't the right choice for Nokia.

        1. dogged

          Re: Elop

          @Phil W - the "sudden and total lunge" thing wasn't sudden and wasn't total.

          Series 40 and Asha phones are still being made, so scrub "total". As for "sudden", as I recall Nokia were in quite deep talks with both Google and MS before they made a decision. They got better terms from MS because Google didn't need them and weren't shy about saying so.

          The thing about Elop is that he may be ex-MS but the emphasis is "ex". He wasn't there very long, he wasn't successful there (although he has been elsewhere), he was an "outsider" and as such, like many other outsiders in MS, never really fitted in and would have been looked at with suspicion by the insiders...

          You can love, hate or not care about his decisions but blaming MS for them in the light of his (brief) history there is, I think, bloody stupid.

          1. Dave 15 Silver badge

            Re: Elop

            Just where has this guy been successful?

            Lotus... (what did happen to them)

            Boston Chicken (bankrupt)

            Macromedia... sold off

            Adobe... did he do anything positive here?

            Juniper networks... a year? he must have made a really good impression

            Microsoft ... only guy who managed to preside over the lowering of office sales

            Nokia... profitable and market leader to loss making has been in a few weeks.

            1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Elop

                "NOKIA FAIL - how they let this worm tongue destroy a great European company is a mystery to me - other than it's blatant corruption."

                You should look on the bright side, if MS hadn't stepped in, we'd have to blame Nokia for Nokia's eventual collapse. at least this way there's a convenient scapegoat...

      5. eulampios

        @dogged: Elop works for Nokia?

        If you're really objective here, explain us why did Nokia put all of its dwindling eggs in one vendor's basket coincidental with the last Elop's employer?

        Why killing Meego when it was ready?

        Nokia didn't have to go with Google or anyone else, none of those who "went with Google" did go with Google only, they do try WinPhone8 (it's not working as nice as Android though). Why would you deliberately limit your options? What kind of strategy is it? The only one I can see is that Elop continues to be a Microsoft employee.

        1. dogged

          Re: @dogged: Elop works for Nokia?

          @eulampios - I'll take these in order, shall I?

          If you're really objective here, explain us why did Nokia put all of its dwindling eggs in one vendor's basket coincidental with the last Elop's employer?

          Because they're Nokia, they were (at the time) the biggest player in the world and they weren't happy to be just another OEM. They had services to sell, such as Navteq mapping (which is undeniably better than any other vendor's mapping solution).

          So they talked to Google. Would Google buy and use Navteq mapping? No. Would Google allow Nokia to set boundaries and definitions (important for the low-cost market in which Nokia traditionally shifts vast numbers) on the OS's requirements, capabilities and APIs? No. Would they chuck in a big bucket of cash as an incentive to go with them? No.

          Microsoft evidently answered "yes" to all the above because that's what they've done. I'm not saying Elop's employment history wouldn't have made this easier - Elop would know who to approach and how to get the best deal out MS. Short of hiring a CEO out of Google, Nokia couldn't get that kind of insider knowledge on that side of the fence.

          Regardless, if Nokia had gone Google, Nokia Maps services would be dead. All that money, thrown away. Their low-cost handsets would give the low-cost Android experience (which, unless carefully managed by a user prepared to tinker with their handset and kill battery+cpu munching background apps) sucks buttock. They would not have the transition cash.

          Frankly, if Nokia had gone with Android after the MS offer had been finalized, any shareholder performing a decent due diligence check would have been wholly justified in suing the board for commercial negligence. Not such a great start for the new CEO.

          Why killing Meego when it was ready?

          What's the thing everyone goes on about regarding WP? No apps. Now, in WP's case, this is partly justified because third-parties have been really slow about building WP apps (especially banks and financial services) which is a problem. Oh, and Instagram, for all your sepia-toned crap photo sharing needs. Apart from that, the OS itself does most things. Meego doesn't. And it practically had zero apps. And yes, you could implement Android apps over it but that leaves you with a cut-price Android handset (which sucks) and wastes the OS. And as for gaining support - nobody else was going to use it. It would have been a Nokia-only thing. And it would have meant retaining the OS teams and all the politics, cost and trouble they brought with them because it wasn't finished. No OS is ever finished. You know that.

          And let's talk about apps for a moment - Qt is a great way to write C++ but it's still C++ and as such it has a (partly justified) rep for being hard. To the Objective-C app writer, it would have looked like a scary new language (they'd be wrong but then, you have to be a deeply twisted individual to like Objective-C). The Android app-writer works in Java and Java coders are terrified of C++. MS were offering .NET instead - you can write apps in Visual fucking Basic (coding for retards) if you want to! Hell, you can use Python or C# or C++ or whatever you want to write WP apps. The potential pool of contributors to the WP ecosystem is orders of magnitude greater even than the potential pool of Android devs.

          That's why they ditched Meego. It was a dead end OS, doomed from the moment that Java coders started to rule the app world.

          I'm not saying it wasn't good - it was. But so was Betamax.

          1. Richard Plinston

            Re: @dogged: Elop works for Nokia?

            > Meego doesn't. And it practically had zero apps.

            Maemo and Meego are Linux. My N800 and the N900 run Gnumeric, Abiword, and even It may have few phone-style 'apps' but it has a lot of proper real applications.

            > you can use Python or C# or C++ or whatever you want to write WP apps.

            You can use Python or C++ and many other languages too for Maemo/Meego. I developed Python/SQLite/Glade applications that ran - without any code changes - on Linux, Windows and Maemo.

            > It was a dead end OS, doomed from the moment ...

            It was Linux. As with Melemi it was doomed from the moment that the cold dead hand of Microsoft signed the contract that paid $billions for Nokia to kill off everything they were currently doing.

            1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

              Re: @dogged: Elop works for Nokia?

              Maemo and Meego are Linux. My N800 and the N900 run Gnumeric, Abiword, and even It may have few phone-style 'apps' but it has a lot of proper real applications.

              Surely you can see that this, while nice for geeky types, is utterly irrelevant to the mass market. While I might like to occasionally run Gnumeric and OOo and, well, not Abiword, but perhaps LyX, on a phone,[1] the vast majority of smartphone purchasers want "phone-style 'apps'" and do not care in the slightest for "proper real applications".

              They want to go to an online store to browse around and impulse-buy games and "productivity" and "lifestyle" apps which are mostly eye-candy gimmicks. And they want apps that are minimal clients for online social-networking services. And in some cases they want in-house apps or vertical-industry apps specific to the workflows at their jobs. None of those count as "proper real applications", and proper real applications don't tick any of those boxes.

              The M* mobile-Linux projects were a nice idea. If Nokia could have gotten out of its own way and made them competitive, that would have been swell. When Elop killed Maemo, I'm not convinced it wouldn't still have been possible to rescue it; but it would have been a risky and difficult undertaking, because it was a long way from being appealing to most of the smartphone market. Yes, that's just a nice way to say "not enough shiny and stupid" - but shiny and stupid appears to be what sells.

              [1] The only two apps I've ever installed on my Symbian phone are PuTTY and a filesystem browser; that may give you some idea of what I think of the whole "app" idea.

              1. Richard Plinston

                Re: @dogged: Elop works for Nokia?

                > They want to go to an online store to browse around and impulse-buy games and "productivity" and "lifestyle" apps which are mostly eye-candy gimmicks. And they want apps that are minimal clients for online social-networking services.

                They want toys.

                > and do not care in the slightest for "proper real applications".

                Yet Surface RT has Office.

                1. dogged

                  Re: @dogged: Elop works for Nokia?

                  I think that's because it's designed to come with the keyboard+touchpad cover. Most tablets aren't.

                  In any case, I thought we were talking about Nokia and phones?

          2. eulampios


            Once again, you're making one mistake by implying that Nokia should have necessarily chosen only one OS vendor. With what Nokia had, Symbian and Linux/Meego, it would be understandable to choose no one at all, if they didn't dump the latter.Yes, there are thousands of apps from Linux repos runnable on a cute little OS that was Meego.

            An OEM doesn't have to swear allegiance to an OS maker to be able to use it. I don't know any other OEM that did it, actually. Moreover, I have not heard about Google having subsidized any of its partners. BTW, all never did any of its so-called partners ever dump MS. The only exception is Moto, which is Google by itself. Why did they have to kill their maps? Wouldn't they be able to create an app?

            I am sure about all those $1b of cash flow coming form MS. I mean, MS giving their OS for free? Google don't charge for Android too. What about the patent portfolio MS has access to now? How much is it estimated to be?

            All these circumstances are pretty fishy indeed and getting Nokia's last decisions do require some non-trivial logic.

            1. dogged

              Re: @dogged

              @eulampios -

              Once again, you're making one mistake by implying that Nokia should have necessarily chosen only one OS vendor.

              I'm not, you know. Once you decide you're outsourcing the OS requirement, Meego/Maemo is no longer an option. Android is crap on low-power handsets. MS are paying big money for Navteq. The options were -

              a) keep Navteq but receive minimal revenue because there's no incentive for MS to buy the service,

              b) scrap Navteq and make high-end Android handsets as well as WP which implies patent liability against Apple and total loss of Navteq revenue and investment,

              c) keep Navteq, scrap Series 40/Asha and make high end WP phones and low end Android phones (which suck) or

              d) Make money from Navteq, make high-end WP phones and low-end Asha/S40 phones. Which is what they went for.

              You can't outsource OS development and keep Meego alive. The two are mutually exclusive.

              1. eulampios

                Re: @dogged

                Android is crap on low-power handsets

                Android minimum system reqs are lower than those of windows 8 or winphone8, at least as far as the RAM and disk usage are concerned (say, up to Android 2.* it was only about 100MB of ram)

                AMOF, I got a cheapo Chinese Android 4.0 tablet with

                -a10 (Cortex a7) chip+Mali400 video

                -512MB of RAM (<1GB occupied by the system)

                This thing is pretty snappy and hopefully will get a Debian happily running on it as smoothly as well... Not sure if Win8/Phone8 can do it.

                So is it Navteq that is the most valuable Nokia's asset? It appear that you don't have a solid case with "pledge allegiance to the holy banner of Redmond or die" story. So what if Nokia go bankrupt? They will do navigation business?

                Any one familiar with the risk management would find Nokia's ways pretty weird, especially when they try to bet all of their capital on the single yet unknown horse. Instead of, diversify first, see what sells better. Diversify further or dump everything you have on that horse, only when you realize that this horse is the/a clear winner.

                This logic would apply if a CEO is not a fanboy/payee of one company. However, if Microsoft is the only saint in his/her church, every other company is a bloody sinner, a different logic is required.

                1. dogged

                  Re: @dogged

                  I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean. I'm guessing (on the basis of username alone, I admit) that Greek is your first language? Try answering in that, I can read it.

                  1. eulampios

                    Re: @dogged

                    Okay, it finally makes sense: you can't get my language thanks to my Greek handle, the logic is also Greek to you due to its Ancient Greek etymology.



      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Elop


        The last full year before Elop announced the killing of Symbian, Nokia sold 134 million Symbian smartphones. The previous year was 100 million. So Symbian wasn't doing all that well? 34% year over year growth is not doing well? The last full quarter before Elop sank Symbian, that quarter was better than the same quarter any previous year. So Symbian was still on the up in terms of sales. The fact is, it took Nokia less than six weeks to sell more Symbian handsets than they sell of WP handsets at their best YEAR!!!!!!!!! WP is the failure and will never reach to where Symbian was. The burning platform was Symbian after Elop set fire to it and decided the burning platform of WP was better.

      7. hewbass

        Re: Elop

        No what upsets most people is that Elop solved the wrong problems.

        However good you think Symbian/Meego/Meltemi were/could have been, the main problem Nokia had was structural: their management structure left them built to fail on execution - too many managers who could strangle a project, and no one who would take it through to successful conclusion. They had plenty of talented engineers, but more managers than healthy.

        Elop's solution was to get rid of the engineers, and keep the managers.

        Symbian might have been a sinking ship, but at a least at was still afloat. A platform from which they could launch a new strategy to replace Symbian from, if you like. The shift to Windows Phone set fire to the boat, broke its back, and sent the pieces rapidly to the bottom - Nokia sales volume in Smart Phones is around 10% of what it was 2 years ago before Elop announced his "Windows or bust" strategy (and no you don't get to fiddle the numbers by pretending the series 40 feature phone is suddenly a smartphone because you've called it Asha). Market share has declined even faster because market growth accelerated.

        In addition he abandoned his largest key market to focus on Windows Phone. It's not even as if this is with the blessing of hindsight; Meego was a design in for China Mobile, and Windows Phone was never going to be accepted there, so it was obvious that he was abandoning huge sales volumes in pursuit of his "bust' strategy.

  5. billium

    Dell's penguin boxes are already underpowered, overpriced ... hence include the MS tax.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And Licence Fees ?

    If MS are putting a load of cash into Dell, then Dell are going to be asking for preferential licensing fees when it sells kit, pissing off other OEM partners even more.

  7. Ian 62

    Brand specific

    Windows boxes from Dell/Microsoft.

    MacOS boxes from Apple.

    Linux from anyone else.

    Microsoft can see where Apple makes its marque, so they'll try the same.

    'Boutique' WinDell boxes.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Strategy fail in motion

    First i'll say this, there is nothing in Windows 8 that can't be fixed, the product just needs a little bit more polish to make the two different UI paradigms work well together. Windows 9 will hopefully make the product more coherent. I use it day in,day out. Not because I have to, but because I think it is actually a great OS.

    It is the strategy side where MS is really failing. Releasing the Surface was a minor annoyance to the big partners like Dell, Lenovo and HP; it was clear for all to see that Microsoft were not going for broke but just seeding the market for devices that fulfilled its vision.

    But this Dell investment, that is a very different story, Yang Yuanqing and Meg Whitman must be seriously wondering what they will do if their biggest partner is all of a sudden one of their biggest competitors. And once they get whiff of threat to their revenue streams, they will start looking for alternate product strategies that reduce the risk of being primarily Windows OEM's. HP could thaw out WebOS, Lenovo has nowhere to go except Android and ChromeOS but one things is for sure, the loss of OEM loyalty to MS would seriously dent the market share of Windows.

    Another issue for MS as that Android is nominally free to OEM's as is Chrome OS, whereas Windows and Windows Phone range from $25 - $65 per device. When you are a commodity OEM $25 per device is a thick slice of the pie to pay for an OS when there are alternatives that don't carry such a heavy penalty. Microsoft need to establish a way to deal with this, maybe their patent aggression towards Android Handset manufacturers is evidence of that.

  9. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Why only a bit of Dell?

    This is an odd decision by MS. The market is changing, and I think they're going to need to change their business model, but this seems to be an odd half-way house. They have 3 choices, as far as I can see:

    1. PC sales are dropping. I'm not convinced people are replacing their PCs with tablets. I think they're replacing their new PC with their old PC + a tablet. Just like the biggest competitor to Windows 8 is Win 7, and Office 2013 is Office 2007 (or whichever version is the biggest at the moment). So the answer is BLOAT. If they could start making the demands of each new OS require new hardware again, like 'the good old days', then the PC OEMs and Intel would be ever so happy...

    2. OK, 1 is silly. So option 2 is to do nothing and hope for the best. Stupid idea, and MS aren't doing it. They may be flailing around, but they've recognised for ages that the market is changing. They've had another go at mobile, and at tablets, and they've tried the Metro convergence thing. They're also trying cloud, subscription, communications with Skype... Some of that might work.

    3. Try to be more like Apple. This doesn't have to mean high prices, but means doing your own hardware, as well as software and follow-up services. This has worked, to some extent, with XBox. They may have made losses on hardware, but they've made up for it with cash from software. Plus don't they charge for online gaming access? You then have more control, and at least get to find out if your strategy is wrong, by doing it. Whereas now, they have a 'touch' strategy, but their hardware partners won't let them try it properly.

    I don't see how owning a bit of Dell will help. They're going to worry (if not piss off) their other big OEM partners, but still not have full control. Unless I suppose they plan to make some Win8/WinRT hardware, and want a cheap partner. Dell aren't making the margins to justify the investment on its own, and I doubt they will even if things go right. Unless Michael Dell thinks he can turn it into Apple 2 - and I really don't see design as his strong suit. They may as well just put the $3bn in the bank. Buying Nokia would make much more sense, and only annoy Samsung and HTC a bit.

    It's even odder than Google buying Motorola. Surely patents can't be all of it? At least Google could theoretically suddenly become a hardware manufacturer, dump (or relegate) all their other OEMs, and try to make all the profit from Android. Don't know if they could do it, but it's a plausible strategy. Only owning 10% of Dell has some of the disadvantages but none of the possible advantages of what Google have done.

    I wonder if Ballmer has a strategy dartboard in his office, or a random strategy generator? Try enough ideas, then follow the one that works style. Has anyone ever seen Ballmer? I've only seen him on Youtube, that could be computer generated? Are we sure he's not an AI?

  10. Dick Pountain

    Party's Over

    The PC party is over and Microsoft is incapable of adapting - despite some clever tricks deep inside Metro, its surface sucks. Microsoft doesn't get touch, and probably never will. Intel might survive because at least it's moving in the right direction.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Party's Over

      Microsoft are good at learning, you'll tend to find that the first version of a particular product is fairly rubbish, the second better although with problems and by the third and subsequent releases they've aced it.

      Look at NT - 3.x, okish, 4 fairly good, 2k onwards aced it. I see no reason why touch based desktop/laptop/tablet OSes should be different.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Party's Over

        While MS's strategy of moving like a slug using the process of iteration to get things right served them well in the non competitive era, now the game is different as the market is moving so fast everyone is miles away by the time they catch up.

        Remember Ballmer sneering at the iPad and Apple going on to make billions ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Party's Over

          Forgot to add Ballmer also sneered at the iPhone:

          "as an expensive machine with no appeal for business customers because it lacked a keyboard"

          Iceberg, what iceberg ?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Party's Over

            the slow approach may still be successful, after all MS has a few years to get metro right. what are businesses going to do when win7 runs it's course, switch to linux?

            1. hewbass
              Thumb Up

              Re: Party's Over

              I think they'd be daft if they weren't already considering it.

              What's holding most people back from purchasing a machine with Linux pre-installed? It's certainly no harder to use than Windows, so the answer is presumably a mixture of familiarity, the availability of Office and, well the fact no oems do Linux pre installed.

              MS already broke familiarity with Windows 8, a replacement for Office seems an ideal niche for a new start-up, and maybe the oems will fix the availability issue...

  11. LDS Silver badge

    Gartner - as usual - got it worng. People are using new tablets along old PCs - not replacing them

    The guys at Gartner, as usual so busy to please their customers, got it wrong again. Most people are not replacing PCs with tablets, they are using new tablets along old PCs which they feel no urge - now - to replace. From a PC maker short-term perspective that's alike if PCs are replaced - you don't sell much new ones - but in the long term unless tablets turns into an hybrid form able to replace PCs really for those who do something more than browsing, play some silly games, and updating their facebook profile, those PCs will require to be upgraded anyway. Sure we'll see changes in PCs form factors and structure from the actual ones, but those who believe Gartner & C. too much have usually a good chance to get the wrong direction wholly.

  12. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Touch is ok for

    erm,.... not actually sure what its good for.

    I hate touch phones, touch tablets and all this crap. I type words, you can't do that with these poncy 'on screen keyboards'

    Give me a 'real' computer any day. And because windows 8 is designed for fondling it will suit only people that love to fondle by themselves... and there is a phrase for them.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Touch is ok for

      Dave 15,

      You are not the whole computer market. Other people's tastes may differ from yours. It's possible, shocking I know, that you're actually in a minority - in which case company's catering to your tastes will make less cash than those which ignore you.

      1. Grogan

        Re: Touch is ok for

        No, but he represents MOST computer users. Remember, not everyone cares to go to technology news sites and post comments.

        Most people that I know (and hundreds of average users make up my clientele)

        Hate operating touch screen gadgets

        Hate Windows 8 to the point that it's unusable to them.

        Pay me to get rid of Windows 8 and install Windows 7 and/or Linux.

        (I completely drop my hourly rate and do this for a nominal fee, because... I HATE WINDOWS 8 and I fight against what it stands for, at every turn. It's more than just a horrid user interface, to me. It's a power play that is not in the best interests of the computing industry, or users.)

        It's a severe disconnect.

        Microsoft desperately wants hardware manufacturers to churn out devices that either can't be downgraded or are impractical to do so.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Touch is ok for

          No, but he represents MOST computer users. Remember, not everyone cares to go to technology news sites and post comments.

          Most people that I know (and hundreds of average users make up my clientele)

          Hate operating touch screen gadgets

          Hmmm. Apple have sold about 100-200 million iPads. Probably double that in iPhones, and many iPod Touches. The touchscreen smartphone market is running at 400 million sales a year. There have probably been over 10 million Windows tablets over the years, and tens more millions of Android ones.

          So do MOST of them secretly hate touchscreens, but go on buying them anyway?

          I'm perfectly happy to agree that touchscreens are crap for typing. I read this comment last night on my iPad, while sitting on the sofa. I didn't reply. I saw it again this morning, and did, because I'm on a desktop. The iPad is for reading stuff and entertainment, the PC is for work. Although the iPad is far more convenient in meetings.

          When you go out and get some survey evidence, then you can tell us that most people hate touchscreens. Until then, just stick to telling us that some people do. Which we already knew. I've not actually met a single person that hates touchscreens by the way (or at least that's told me they do) - but I'm fully aware they exist.

          Microsoft desperately wants hardware manufacturers to churn out devices that either can't be downgraded or are impractical to do so.

          Huh?!?! MS want people to produce touchscreen tablets using Win8, which is designed for touch - which obviously won't be as good with an OS not designed for the damned hardware. They also want to sell WinRT kit, which is the only one that's locked down, as an appliance, like an iPad on Android tab. Also both locked down. I'm sure it's very nice that you have launched a one man anti Win 8 crusade and charitable removal service - but let's keep things in perspective here.

  13. El Andy

    "Also, The Reg was told, when consumers walked into shops expecting to see Windows 8 machines and didn't see any, they bought PCs running Windows 7 instead"

    Hang on a minute. If consumers were going in planning to buy Windows 8 PCs and then, faced with none, ended up buying Windows 7 machines, how can that possibly be anything other than the OEM/Vendors fault? It would seem to suggest that the boys from Redmond might be onto something when they suggest OEMs just aren't producing the things people actually want to buy....

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      You've got a point there. The article was a bit confused. Not only did it say that about Win7/Win8, but it also said the OEMs had ignored Microsoft's strategy, and then that this strategy had failed. Well both can't be true. Either MS's strategy has been tried and failed, or it's not been tried - in which case we don't know if it'll subsequently fail or not.

      1. Levente Szileszky

        No, MS simply wanted OEMs to *FORCE* us onto this pile of junk called W8...

        ...and, understandably, OEMs refused to do so and since W8 by itself is a stinking pile of sh** nobody's really buying it and MS is blaming everybody left and right for not forcing that half-baked crap down on our throat.

        Well, I say FO to the Ballmerian gang and thank you for Dell, Sony, HP, Acer, Lenovo etc for not signing up for the angry, fat, bald beancounter's 'protection racket' and letting me choose what I buy.

    2. Richard Plinston

      didn't see any

      > to see Windows 8 machines and didn't see any,

      I find that _very_ hard to believe. Around here they were wall to wall.

      I think that the _actual_ explanation is that they _did_ see Windows 8 and bought Windows 7 instead. In fact they probably bought Windows 7 before it was too late and they were forced onto 8.

  14. kororas

    Dell going private - good move imo.

    Letting MS in on the party - bad, very bad.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The assumption is that the investment is for hardware, Dell own Quest Software, which develop a HUGE stack of enterprise supporting software and services business.

    This could be a way to integrate some of the Quest toolsets into the core server OS better, akin to taking on IBM rather than Apple, as enterprise is where the money margins still are, not consumer kit. Ask Larry how many tablets he's sold this week...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a Dell employee, I think all the internal emails about the XPS 10 that we're getting sum up how well this Microsoft deal will go.

    XPS 10 is Dell's version of the Surface RT. Pretty much as soon as this launched we've been getting emails about a "great offer" to own one, with a far, far bigger staff discount that the (terrible) discount we normally get. This is something that never happens - Its cheaper to buy a Dell from PC World(!!!) than using the staff discount and buying direct, and the response from senior management has been "well then, go to PC world"

    The volume and frequency of these literally begging emails to buy this RT indicates theres a warehouse in China stuffed to the gunnels with this piece of junk that Microsoft dictated and nobody wants.

    They can try and blame OEM's, but this is one OEM that rolled over and did exactly what Balmer requested. Net result is Michael Dells next purchase is going to be a excavator, to dig a gargantuan hole to bury all these unwanted and unsold units.

    Icing on the cake was our Windows 2012 training, with course materials provided directly by Microsoft. The first four or five slides were all about why a touch interface is a good idea on a server - First time I've ever heard a whole classroom howl with laughter at an operating system training slide deck!

    1. Levente Szileszky

      THX for this story - it clearly shows the level of incompetency and arrogance at Ballmer's MSFT

      "The first four or five slides were all about why a touch interface is a good idea on a server - First time I've ever heard a whole classroom howl with laughter at an operating system training slide deck!"

      This. No further comment is necessary, it literally sums up everything you have to know about Ballmer's utterly clueless management, just how broken this company is..

  17. Levente Szileszky

    If you are MSFT and you cannot beat them because you are incompetent and clueless... the fat, bald, chair-throwing beancounter CEO then you will waste money on stupid things like Skype etc.

    You might establish some presence but surely people will take notice and will know that you are utterly incompetent, stock remains in the tank etc so eventually you will get fired. The question is: WHEN WILL BALLMER et al BE BOOTED?

  18. Anonymous Coward

    3 is 10% of 20?

    How sad to think back on the golden days when El Reg was a truly technical site hoping to achieve official recognition for its own set of units.

    Oh wait, perhaps this is one of the new units?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When will M$ sort the ASLR out?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Addition to the script

    Now when consumers call in, if they are not running that latest Windows OS they will offer a paid upgrade for the consumer to buy.

  21. uncoveror

    Marriage made in hell

    Microsoft acquiring interest in Dell would be a disaster. Steve Ballmer and his lackeys could not manage their way out of a wet paper bag.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In other words, Dell will the the next Nokia

    Once market leader becomes another struggling OEM bitch of Microsoft.

    Michael Dell had better watch his back amidst the infiltration.

    Microsoft can never, ever, ever be trusted.

  23. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    $499? Feh.

    $499? Feh. Just put like $800 of hardware into it and mark it up to an even $2000. Look at THAT margin! But seriously, Microsoft has lost their mind; blaming OEMs for Windows 8's failure is a fail in and of itself. The fact is, the makers know what is selling, and it is the lower end machines. Why? They have enough power to do what most people want, and they'd rather keep those extra $100s in their pocket (or, to spend on food, electricity, and rent.) I got a netbook, and since I kept Windows far from it (it has Ubuntu 12.04), even the 1.3ghz one is fast enough.

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