back to article Microsoft gets the hang of funky devices: Xbox magic for enterprise

How did that happen? Microsoft has become a hardware company. There is now a range of devices, from phones to phablets to tablets and tablets that verge on laptops, being made by Microsoft. In truth Microsoft is a long-established hardware company but mice and keyboards don’t capture the imagination like devices that run …


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  1. Squander Two


    I went through a similar process: I didn't make some grand decision to embrace Microsoft; I got a Lumia 800 because Quidco were giving away £160 to anyone who got one, and first it and then, one by one, other devices turned out just to be really good. I used to be a Mac user because OSX was streets ahead of Windows, which I hated. I'm hardly a Microsoft schill. But I had occasion to set up a new user account for my daughter on one of my old Macbooks the other day, and trying to get a fucking Mac to do something simple that's a piece of piss on Windows feels exactly as frustrating as the exact opposite did ten years ago.

    I have a 1020 with the camera grip. It is incredible.

    1. TheVogon

      Re: Quite.

      I'm waiting for my Lumia 930 and my Surface 3.

      The Windows eco-system is a long way ahead of Apple and Google's offerings these days - especially when you consider the online services.

      1. h3

        Re: Quite.

        I have an Android tablet that is impossible to stop Google from breaking. (Via the stuff that used to be in latitude that they added to Google Play Services which they force update all the time). Before Play Services 4 it had a reasonable 5 or so day battery life now its lucky to last one and a half unless I downgrade Play Services before leaving the house.

        My Lumia 800 Still works great. (Very pleased to not have stuff I don't want running in the background all the time so I get a decent battery life). Great call quality and a virtual keyboard that works well when drunk.

        I did like the Windows 8 mail client when I could use gmail via Activesync with it. (Not so much any more but at least it is not as bad as Google's awful web interface they keep on messing with. I did used to think it was fine). Activesync does just work.

        The Windows (Once called Metro) Ecosystem is rubbish though. (Unless it includes VDI and RemoteFX).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Quite.

      " a piece of piss on Windows"

      Clearly not using Windows 8 then.

      1. Squander Two

        Re: Quite.

        > Clearly not using Windows 8 then.

        I love Windows 8. But then I'm not frightened of change.

        Yeah, yeah, bring on the downvotes. Oh, and someone tell me I work for Microsoft.

      2. hplasm

        Re: Quite.

        " a piece of piss, on Windows"

        FTFY- Obviously is describing Win8...

    3. ThomH

      Re: Quite.

      Click the Apple in the top left of the screen. Click System Preferences... . Click Users & Groups. Click the padlock in the lower left where it says 'Click the lock to make changes'. Enter your administrator user name and password. Click the plus symbol at the bottom of the list of users to add a user.

      1. Squander Two

        Re: Quite. @ThomH

        > Click the Apple in the top left of the screen. Click System Preferences... . Click Users & Groups. Click the padlock in the lower left where it says 'Click the lock to make changes'. Enter your administrator user name and password. Click the plus symbol at the bottom of the list of users to add a user.

        Log in with new user's account to test it. Open Safari. Try to open Netflix: get some unhelpful message (that reminded me very much of the sort of fucking useless message Windows used to give) about the site not existing. Try to open Google: same message. Log out and back in with admin account. Fiddle with settings. Log out and back in with new user's account. Still nothing. Do this for a quarter of an hour or so, playing with various user account and network settings until I manage to get the damn thing working. Two days later, it stops working again. Give up on new account and just let child use her mother's account rather than letting her have her own one. Swear at Apple a lot.

        Seriously, this is a default new account, and it doesn't come with the same basic Internet access as the existing accounts on the same machine? Yes, I'm sure that you haven't had this problem. Lucky you. But what pissed me off wasn't so much that the problem occurred in the first place -- these things happen with computers, I know -- but that Apple's error messages -- when there even were any -- were utterly, utterly useless, and provided not the remotest scintilla of information that might even point you in the vague direction of what's wrong. Like Windows used to be, but worse.

        But, you know, thanks for assuming, even though I said I was an Apple user and that I was familiar with OSX, that the problem was that I didn't know how to do a basic easy thing in OSX.

        1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

          @Squander Two

          Welcome to the club.

          I'm a long time Mac user, long enough that I still wish the OSX minimise function was the same as System7's WindowShade. (I have been meaning to try WindowMizer at )

          However, I'm a Mac user, not an Apple fanboy... (I used to work for them a long time ago; what Bismarck said about sausages also applies to Apple products). I have never liked iOS (get beyond the amazing input method, and you find yourself in a very badly designed navigation system) and I don't like how Apple has neglected OSX so badly over the years, and now what efforts they are putting into it are to turn it into some kind of non-touch iPad.

          (And I agree that there is something badly wrong with OSX's networking UI - I regularly have to assign a second or third address to my ethernet interface, but once I do this, I know well never to use the Networking control panel again)

          I bought a Windows7 laptop a couple of years ago when my MacBook Air developed a Beyond Economic Repair fault after a disgracefully short period of time (but just long enough to escape the warranty, of course). After over fifteen years of using a Mac, I couldn't get over my newly-granted ability to buy just any peripheral I wanted AND HAVE IT WORK!

          I also installed no anti-virus software, yet had no viruses or malware. I'm led to believe that the stuff people say about IE security is based on IE6 from 2003, and so, like the stuff people still say about Italian cars is a judgment informed by information that has long since become outdated. (I drive Alfa Romeos, and have done for over a decade, with no problems)

          I've since replaced that laptop with a Surface 2 RT which has been superb in every way. I wanted web, email and Netflix, and it does them brilliantly, and lets my wife and I have our own user accounts on the same device..

          My desktop is still a Mac, but Terminal, ssh and text editors (SublimeText, BBedit, vim) account for 90% of what I use it for... I'm not ready to change the boot OS yet, but the day will come. However, when my current "work" laptop needs to be replaced, I'll be getting a Surface Pro 3, and either dual-booting or VMing Ubuntu onto it. And when my nearly four-year-old Nokia N8 eventually dies, my next phone will run Windows Phone.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This drivel is supposed to be an opinion piece? Who's opinion, Bill Gates ?

    Why not be honest about it and call it an advert for Microsoft?

    Ah, because the reg is now 90% Microsoft press releases passed as articles? OK then.

    1. Squander Two

      Re: "Opinion"


  3. Stefan 2

    Microsoft has a usable ecosystem? I think we can pretty much assume that Microsoft, Google and Apple each have a pretty usable ecosystem.

    Me, I like my Googles. Not for any other reason than it's what I'm used to, ever since signing up for a Gmail account back in the days of having to be invited to it.

    Lack of apps causing more work focus? That's just discipline or lack thereof, depending on the flavour of your device. I could probably switch to Microsoft on mobile, but why would I invest in that when my Android device already plays very nicely with my workflow?

    I've just been reading all about how Microsoft are giving us 15GB of OneDrive and competitively priced extra storage (well, 'that same as Google' isn't really 'competitive'). Gee, is shutting down or something? Sorry, I'll enjoy my 11GB of DropBox (yes OK, I had to do some things to earn bonus space for free), plus 50GB of Mega, plus 15GB of OneDrive. Fair enough, I do tend to just lump backups of my DropBox and OneDrive storage into Mega (you can never be too safe).

    Dare I mention that despite Microsoft selling excellent hardware, if I pick Google/Android, I can choose from several manufacturers, each with their own quirks, benefits and issues? Right now I want a great display to save my eyestrain, so I'm looking to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10". I'm also looking for a speedy, lightweight UI on my mobile, so I'm probably going to get either the OnePlus One or an Oppo device.

    I'd like to have a Surface Pro 3 though, because my 17" desktop replacement Clevo laptop is not the most portable (but boy does it power through Wolfens... I mean, PowerPoint).

    Why do I need a Microsoft device in amongst all my Android fanboyism? In my world, there is still nothing that beats Windows for just getting on with work.

  4. Tom Maddox Silver badge

    . . . or not

    I recently had the opportunity to use a Surface Pro 2, and my impression is that it's quite zippy. Unfortunately, the screen is too small, the keyboard and trackpad are garbage, and Windows 8 . . . is Windows 8 (I quite like Windows 8 as a desktop operating system once I have effectively purged it of all the unspeakable "don't-call-it-Metro" crapola; ironically, I find it appalling as a tablet OS). $ork is contemplating replacing our laptops with Surface Pros, and there is precisely no way that's going to happen, since I have actual work I need to do. Even if someone gave me one for free, I'm not quite sure what I would do with it; all my non-work related portable content consumption is now done on my phone, and all my work is done on computers with real user interface peripherals.

    Microsoft have never been cool, and their recent efforts to strongarm money out of their customers and plant the eye of Sauron in the living room seem clumsy and hamfisted. Their enterprise software and operating systems have drastically improved over the past decade (stop laughing, you there at the back), and they've pushed out occasional decent consumer products, but the overall corporate image is, well, at lot like this:

    I sort of want Microsoft to succeed, just for the sake of watching the Linux and Apple fanboys froth at the mouth, but even that perversity was not sufficient to make me actually buy a Lumia for my most recent smartphone.

    1. Spearchucker Jones

      Re: . . . or not

      The Surface Pro 3 is a non-starter for me because the screen is too big. I move around a lot, and don't want to carry a large bag so 10" is my ideal screen size. To be fair I had a Sony VAIO P-Series (VGN-P19VN) before I got a Surface Pro 2, so am used to small text at full resolution. In a perfect world the P-Series would have the grunt to run Visual Studio 2013 at the same speed as it runs Visual Studio 2008, but that ATOM processor just can't.

      1. mmeier

        Re: . . . or not

        That is the beauty of the Win8/x86 tablet pc - choice in hardware!

        From 8''/Atom to 15''/core-i - It is all there. Wacom, NTrig or the latest Atmel - you choose. I prefer at least 12'' for my maschine since that is closer to A4 / US Legal and 10'' is a tad small for me. You prefer 10. And we both will find a decently priced device.

  5. Zane

    What's your point?

    I like to take notes and put links to the emails related to the notes. I don't think you can do this in your ecosystem. I really use computers as tools to make me more efficient. You still use them as playstations.


  6. Matt_payne666

    I'm a self confessed Microsoft fanboy, but even I find this article a bit like a Microsoft advert!

    I will agree that one drive and windows 8.1 is a very handy setup... and like the author possess a Microsoft tablet, phone and PC... the only thing lacking from my post apple world is proper integration with my car stereo... Microsoft and Nokia had mirror cast or something a few years back, for just this purpose, but they seem to have shuttered it....

    1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      MirrorLink, which is an open standard (also on Android, btw), but it's down to the application whether or not it supports it, and of course the equipment OEM has to implement it too.

      Miracast is the "wireless HDMI" spec.

  7. Gene Cash Silver badge

    "halo effect"

    I see what you did there.

  8. Paul Shirley

    is that the stench of a smokescreen I smell?

    ...on the day the BBC reports on Nokias X2 Android phone, the Reg throws up a distracting, WTF advertorial like this and avoids using the 'usual suspect' to lend it credibility?

    No, can't be anything but a coincidence...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: is that the stench of a smokescreen I smell?

      The notion that The Register wants to erect a smokescreen on behalf of Microsoft and even if it did would be capable of doing so is absurd.

      Simon likes Microsoft hardware. That makes him an enthusiast. Not a shill. He also wrote about the new Android Nokias today.

      1. Tom Maddox Silver badge

        Re: is that the stench of a smokescreen I smell?

        But you don't understand! If someone likes something I don't, that means they're a shill for the company that makes it! Obviously!

  9. cambsukguy

    Maybe he just saw a picture on a lumia 1020

    And someone showed it zoomed in. He couldn't believe it so he kept looking and zooming trying to get how it was possible.

    Finally he just realised it was insanely cool and wanted one. I gave up a Lumia 920 for one and it was hard, until I saw the picture of course - a plane, five miles up, speck on the display, snapped, hand-held straight at the sky. Zoom in and you can clearly see it is a plane, wings and all, extraordinary and not believable until you actually see it.

    The fact that it performs in low light and has special mics to allow recording to work well even at a Motorhead concert just adds to the amazement.

    I couldn't even consider a mortal phone, I could care less if it has some app that lets you say someone is ugly or something.

    And I am not even a camera guy, no longer own a proper camera in fact.

  10. SVV

    OK, so you like using this stuff

    Fair enough, if it works for you then why criticise?

    However I've tried a Surface Pro and it was rubbish as a tablet and as a desktop in my experience : should have been one or the other and designed purely for that purpose instead of the annoying compromises it seemed ro impose at every turn. And Win 8 on a desktop is an embarassing mess, offered as it was by the dominant industry leader..I found the evangelical zeal of this piece quite ludicrous from the perspective of my own experience with these products and knowledge of the alternatives (20 years professional IT experience, many writing Windows applcations, 10 years as hobbyist before).

    I'm not knee-jerk anti-MS but this article is another nudge that way for me (I Irun Windows and Linux on Laptop and PC, Android on tablet, and get to choose the right tools for each thing I want to do that way - there is no one magic best solution for every computing need)

    1. mmeier

      Re: OK, so you like using this stuff

      What's wrong with the S/P2 as a tablet? A tad to small for my liking (I am used to 12 and 13'' units) but otherwise? As far as I know even touch works if one prefers that.

  11. dan1980

    The main point I took from this is that embracing an entire ecosystem can yield benefits that you might not see if you use/evaluate/review individual components in isolation.

    That's nothing new and the same can certainly be said for Apple and Google.

  12. Goat Jam

    Good Grief

    Shouldn't this have an "Advertisment" disclaimer in the corner somewhere?

    Microsoft has become a hardware company. There is now a range of devices, from phones to phablets to tablets and tablets that verge on laptops, being made by Microsoft. How did that happen

    Microsoft sent in the trojan horse to wreck Nokia and then bought the smoldering remains with petty cash once the smoke had settled, that's how it happened. Do try and keep up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good Grief

      "Shouldn't this have an "Advertisment" disclaimer in the corner somewhere?"


      As an AC put up there, 90% of the reg these days is microsoft press releases passed as articles. Why should they single this one out?

  13. Hans 1

    April fools in June

    What the hell is this ? zdnet ? Certainly not theregister that I like reading.

    Whatever floats your boat man, I use services that work on all my devices from any vendor ... you just dug yourself a hole and when MS gives up mobile in like 2 to 3 years time, you will have trouble climbing out of it, again, good luck.

    I do not even think 90% of MS-related articles on here are press releases, 85% are vulnerability-related for a start, this one is gross, full of marketing terms, ala zdnet. Not even funny ...

  14. Spearchucker Jones

    Unintended consequence?

    Amusing how an article about Google's new design language leads to comments predominantly about Microsoft.

  15. smug git

    Praise Gates!

    I'm also sold on the Microsoft ecosystem -- I think it works really well and I like their hardware enough that I'm going to move onto it, too (although I can't give up my Yoga 2 Pro, which is the best electronic device I've ever owned, so for me the Surface 2 Pro will be a tablet and secondary laptop) -- but I don't think I'd write a Register article about it.

    Not that anyone's invited me to write a register article about it. I may change my mind if you ask me. Just sayin'

    1. mmeier

      Re: Praise Gates!

      Tried the Thinkpad Yoga? That was the first unit in years that made me consider giving up my T902 convertible when I tested it recently. A bit short in the memory department (only 8GB) but otherwise a fine book that might replace both units with one.

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