The Challenges Ahead at Microsoft

The strategy is devices and services. Here’s why the One Windows Mantra may [still] screw that up…

Satya Nadella may be the new CEO, and he may have 22 years at Microsoft already; but he’s got one hell of a job in front of him. Microsoft is a company VERY set in its ways. Hell froze over; and now Nadella has to figure out a way of getting Microsoft out of the rut they find themselves in. It isn’t going to be easy; and I do NOT envy the spot that he’s in. Everyone both inside and outside the company will likely expect it to get worse before it gets better. I would also expect to see a great deal more personnel churn before all is said and done.

microsoft

In the end, Microsoft needs to change. Devices and services are, I think, a direction nearly everyone can agree is the right way for the company to go. However, its execution is going to grate against the growth rings of yesterday. In other words, in order to make devices and services work for Microsoft, they’re going to have to become very good at both Android and iOS development. This means that they’re going to have to put development for ModernUI/MetroUI on the back burner. I mean, no one – in reality, very few shops – are even really doing Windows Phone or Windows Store development. The biggest reason why Microsoft won’t leave Metro development behind isn’t because it’s a bad business decision, but because in order for them to do so, they must embrace a non-Microsoft based product and technology; and Microsoft just doesn’t handle that well. Case in point – Microsoft Office for Mac. Where’s the next version that we’ve been promised? Based on previous releases, it’s over a year late…

The Nokia X is the Android phone that will “carry” a Microsoft brand if not in fact, at least in perception, as Microsoft is in the process of buying Nokia. Microsoft having an Android phone as part of a low-end offering makes a lot of sense. Low end Android devices sell very well, appealing to budget conscious Americans and to users in developing markets. Microsoft already makes approximately $3.4B annually from Android device sales thanks to patent agreements that it holds. With the coming Nokia acquisition, Microsoft could make a ton more from Android smartphones that it sells, if only because Microsoft won’t have to cover patent licensing fees and can undercut the market as a result. They may be able to successfully take on Android-powerhouse Samsung in this market, and win, as a result.

Even though Android currently commands more than 75% of the smartphone market worldwide, and Microsoft stands to make tens of billions of dollars in that market, it’s likely they will kill the Nokia X shortly after it launches and/or the Nokia deal closes. Microsoft did something similar to the Kin 1 and Kin 2 phones that it had spent so much time and money developing; and only after 1 month of sales. Microsoft would have no problem killing the Nokia X.

Why would they do that? It’s really simple – the One Windows philosophy still dominates their culture. In the heart and mind of every ‘Softie is the idea that Windows is good everywhere. It works and fits on every device. If that were true, then Windows RT and Surface RT/Pro devices (RT especially) would have been better received. If that were the case, Windows Phone devices would have a real piece of the smartphone market. If that were the case, we wouldn’t be discussing how Microsoft will likely kill the Nokia X Android smartphone because it simply wouldn’t need to exist in the first place.

Microsoft has to figure out a way of getting past the notion that Microsoft services can only run – and run well – on Microsoft platforms and devices. For example, Outlook.com should run well in any and EVERY browser. Currently, it’s optimized for Internet Explorer. Most other browsers can get to the site and can muddle through tasks, but they don’t work quite right.

I’ve said it before, Microsoft should skin the Android implementation on the Nokia X in such a way that it looks and functions like a Windows Phone. Microsoft Services like Outlook.com, Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft OneDrive should all run and run well, not only on Android, but on iOS; and they should run SO well that people will want and desire them over Google Drive, Google Docs, iCloud and iWork.

The latter is easy. iWork still isn’t as cross platform as it could be or should be, and integrating iCloud into iDevices is so difficult that developers shy away from it or use another cloud service like Dropbox instead. Microsoft has an opportunity to move ahead of Apple in this regard, but needs to really put its head down and work when it comes to Google Services integration on an Android device. While both are good (OK in the case of Apple and its Services) on each of their respective native platforms, if Microsoft could bridge the gap and be good EVERYWHERE, this would go a long way to building device agnosticism into Microsoft products and into their culture. Microsoft will need both if they are going to remain relevant and profitable in the next 10-20 years.

Finally, Microsoft needs to change the way it does business. While Microsoft can still make, literally, billions on licensing Windows in the enterprise and getting OEM’s to pay for Windows when they build and sell PC’s, that business model is dying. If Microsoft is smart, it will abandon it sooner rather than later. There may be money left to be made in enterprise licensing, but if Microsoft is smart, it will begin shifting the focus of monetizing the software license to one that monetizes the service driven by the software.

This means that Microsoft will have to develop software for all platforms and give equal prioritization to releases on all those platforms. If it does turn sideways, this is where Microsoft will screw things up. Entrenched management will have a hard time shifting out of this gear. The whole “Windows first” philosophy that has dominated everything that Microsoft has done as a company over the past 20+ years will have to change. I think their current management team – maybe at all levels – will have trouble making the turn. Successful implementation of “devices and services” may require a huge, HUGE management shake-up at Microsoft. I just have my doubts about how well the company will be able to make the transition with current, entrenched management still walking the One Windows Way. Nadella is going to have be beat the devices and services drum very loudly in order to get everyone’s attention.

In the end, it IS all on Satya Nadella. As the new CEO, he has to set the tone for the new strategy at the company; and he needs to get that moving quickly. The longer it takes, the harder it will be for Microsoft to make the turn and rebrand itself as a company that provides computing services rather than one that provides computer software.

What do you think? Is Microsoft going to be able to recreate itself or will additional management and SLT (senior leadership team) changes be necessary? I’d love to hear what you have to say. Why not join me in the discussion area below and tell me what you think.

Related Posts:

Microsoft’s Goal for 2014 – Don’t Die

It’s a lofty goal. It’s one I hope they succeed at.

You know, I had a quick thought – Microsoft is this year’s RIM. What I mean is, everyone knows that Blackberry is on its way out. It might take them a few more years to die, but unless something really horrible and press-worthy happens, they’re pretty much done. The bulk of the IT press has moved on to other, more interesting targets subjects.

However that doesn’t mean that Microsoft isn’t doing its best to try to stay relevant. Whether or not they succeed still remains to be seen; but I hope they succeed. The company is too deep into enterprise. They’ve got their fingers too deeply into the way I work and into the tools I use on a daily basis to get things done. While there are a few decent Microsoft Office alternatives out there, I don’t know of any [real] Windows alternatives that are worth seriously exploring at this time.

Untitled

I love OS X. It’s my OS of choice; but I don’t know of many organizations that deploy it in the enterprise. At least I’ve never been part of one. The same can be said of Linux. Both of these are awesome consumer alternatives, but when it comes to getting things done at the office, it’s Windows or nothing for many companies.

This being the case, my good friend, Preston Gralla had an interesting column. He’s wondering if after Windows 8.1, which was a free update to all Windows 8 users, and Windows 8.1 Spring Update (or whatever they’re really going to call Windows 8.1 Update 1), if Windows will be free at each client endpoint or not. Many Linux distributions are free for home use, and OS X is also free. Preston asks a good question regarding Windows. Will all versions of Windows also be free?

According to Preston (and, honestly, I happen to agree with him) – probably not. Windows endpoint licensing is still a very big business for Microsoft – $4.1 and $4.3 billion in the quarter ending in March 2014. That’s a huge amount of revenue that Microsoft would be giving up if it made Windows free. An ad-based OS based on Bing and sales of Microsoft Services won’t make up for that in a year, let alone in a quarter. Don’t count on a free desktop version of Windows any time in the future.

Updates, Service Packs, yes…perhaps. But full desktop licenses..? Not likely gonna happen. Microsoft may pass on the licensing fees for Windows Phone and perhaps low end Windows tablets (those in the < $250 range). Microsoft doesn’t make a lot of money on Windows Phone and wants to jump start sales of Windows 8 (read Windows RT-based) tablets. They won’t be leaving a lot of money on the table related to those and could conceivably write off those licensing fees to cost of doing business. However, I don’t see Microsoft leaving their mac-daddy money for Desktop Windows licensing on the table. It’s too lucrative a business for Microsoft to abandon that level of revenue to the cost of doing business.

Now, about the RIM analogy… yeah, Microsoft has to do something to help stimulate business. PC Sales are really falling off; and they are desperately trying to find a way to bring people’s money out of mothballs and to a bank account near them.

PC usage is being abandoned for tablets and smartphones. Both Android and iOS are doing well in this new computing space because casual users can spend small amounts of money and still get the basic computing experience – mail, social networking, web browsing – in a small, light, very portable form factor that doesn’t cost as much as a PC.

Microsoft pretty much has the enterprise market fairly well in hand…at least for now. The consumer market where tablets and smartphones are really taking over the computing experience is where they are having the most trouble. They need to figure out how to capture a decent amount of market share here, or they’re going to face further revenue problems. BYOD and CoIT movements are very popular and businesses are making a serious dent into Microsoft’s enterprise market. With basically no presence in the mobile computing market (i.e. the market that many consumers are embracing for their computing experience) the amount of shrinking PC sales overall, and with CoIT/BYOD intruding on what has historically been a solid Microsoft market, Microsoft has to act and act quickly.

If they don’t, they could see themselves exiting the market entirely; and that would be very unfortunate.

No other desktop computing platform commands the level of support that Windows does. Most other mobile computing platforms – even though they can stand on their own – have a symbiotic relationship with what can be considered their desktop counterpart. I hate to beat a dead horse here – Ballmer’s already been replaced by Satya Nadella – but Microsoft’s failure to perform strongly in the mobile market is becoming a bigger and bigger mistake every day.

Nadella needs to get someone with a clear mobile computing vision in place over at Microsoft and he needs to get them in place and moving Microsoft’s mobile platform moving immediately. Without a solid mobile vision, Microsoft is going to face a really tough road in the future. They’re a LOT bigger than RIM/Blackberry, and having the same thing happen to them that happened to Blackberry is going to be, at least I think, nearly unrecoverable not only for Microsoft, but for the computing industry as a whole. Microsoft is too big to die. They have too big of a shareholder base…too big of a consumer and enterprise user base to be allowed to fail.

However, I don’t see anyone on Nadella’s SLT – Senior Leadership Team – with a clear and credible mobile computing vision right now. Windows Phone is and has been a marketing train wreck since 2006 (when it was still Windows Mobile). Microsoft Surface Pro tablets are ok, but the dual MetroUI/ ModernUI and Desktop interfaces need to be rethought and reworked. It might be VERY anti-Microsoft to totally admit defeat and separate the two, but it might be the only thing left to Microsoft at this point that will allow them to move forward.

Combine Windows Phone and Windows Tablet into a single OS (much like iOS is) and leave desktop Windows to its own devices. Market the hell out of mobile computing. Get units in the hands of end users. Make them affordable, high quality and easy to update. Hell, give them away with the subscription of Office 365 if you have to; but do something and do something serious and soon.

If you don’t, consumers may be happy to leave One Windows at the office and leave home computing to iOS and Android, where they’re much happier and the update, upgrade and hardware cycles are familiar, easy and well established.

What do you think? Am I totally off my nut? Is it premature to compare Microsoft to hot mess that Blackberry is, or are they kissing cousins? Why don’t you join me in the discussion area and give me your thoughts on it all?

Related Posts:

Rule #1 – Thou Shalt not Throw a Tantrum at Work

It’s a moot point now, but I’m certain Ballmer is probably kicking himself…

SteveBallmer.jpgYa know… you have to ask yourself… What is it with guys named Steve that run world famous computer companies and their temper? Jobs was famous for it. If you disagreed with him, not only did you lose your job; but it was probably one of the most memorable firings of your career. Some of those are things of legend. I think the last guy that Jobs screamed at still has ringing in his ears.

Ballmer was apparently the same way. Interestingly enough, new information regarding his exit from Microsoft (I don’t like to say firing… it just gives me the willies…at least for Ballmer. I don’t know why.) is just now coming to light. Apparently during a June 2013 Board meeting where Ballmer outlined his acquisition plans for the Nokia buyout, the Board initially rejected the idea. They didn’t see what Ballmer saw when he proposed turning Microsoft into a hardware AND software company. When the Board initially said, “no,” Ballmer hit the ceiling. It was so bad and so loud that it carried out of (an apparently VERY well sound insulated) board room and could be heard down the halls. While the board eventually did back him, it’s obvious that they didn’t take well to Ballmer acting out.

There are other instances that my friend, Preston Gralla cites in an article regarding Ballmer’s temper (by the way, it’s VERY rarely acceptable to drop the “F-bomb” at work. I don’t care if you’re Steve Jobs or Steve Ballmer…you just don’t do it).

Anyway, the current rumor has it that this particular rant is what ultimately lead the board to suggest that they and Ballmer part ways. It was the F-bomb that broke the camel’s back, and the last tantrum – among many over the years – that Ballmer (at least officially) threw at Microsoft.

If you look back at what happened to Jobs when he left Apple, it was largely because of his temper and mouth. As I said, I’m not sure what it is about computer companies with CEO’s named, “Steve;” but they sure do get angry a lot. Gralla sees this as poetic justice, saying that, “for once, the bully got bullied.” It may be bullying. I don’t know. I’ve never met either Jobs or Ballmer, so I really can’t say for certain. However, I would like to say that it wasn’t anger, or a bad temper, or anything else other than “passion.” Perhaps it was misplaced or mismanaged passion, but from what I’ve been able to see, I don’t think Ballmer MEANT to be a jerk. He may have thought YOU were one when you didn’t agree with him or couldn’t understand his message/point/vision, etc.; and that’s why he screamed at your, but I don’t think he meant to be a jerk. I think it may have been a bit different with Jobs. If you didn’t “get it,” I think he thought you were a moron and didn’t want you around.

But that’s (at least part of) the price of genius, isn’t it? Some of them are a bit “out there.”

I don’t know too much about Satya Nadella just yet, but it’s clear he’s making changes to how Microsoft works and functions. This isn’t going to be the same Microsoft that Gates gave to Ballmer. Nadella is definitely going to put his own mark on the company, which is good. He needs to if he’s going to be taken seriously and if the company is going to have any real chance at surviving.

We’ll have to wait and see how Nadella does. 2014 is going to be an interesting year for Microsoft. While it’s not necessarily going to be the making or breaking point, it’s going to set the stage for what is to come for the company, for certain.

What do you think? Are Nadella’s initial management changes good ones? Is his mobile strategy on target? Will he be a better CEO than either Gates or Ballmer? Why don’t you join me in the discussion below and tell me what you think

Related Posts:

It’s Official – Hell Froze Over

Or Microsoft really did get a new CEO with fresh ideas…

Satya-Nadella-700x325

Satya Nadella is starting to make his presence known at Microsoft. Not only did Tony Bates and Tami Reller leave the organization, with additional executive changes still likely to be made; but Microsoft recently announced that its going to make its Xbox Live gaming service available on iOS.

Yes. You read that right…

Microsoft is seriously looking to bring its Xbox Live gaming hub to not only iOS, but Android as well.  Now the platform will be available on every major mobile OS, according to The Verge. The news broke due to a job posting at Microsoft that indicated that, “[Microsoft wanted to] create a modern framework that is open-source, lightweight, extensible and scalable across various platforms including Windows Store, Windows Phone, iOS and Android.”  Microsoft later confirmed the intent to revive social, mobile gaming. Currently, that effort is blocked by proprietary networks, like Apple’s Game Center.

There’s huge money to be made, here. Limiting mobile gaming to their own platform, Windows Phone and Windows Store, is hurting Microsoft right now.  There aren’t a lot of users on either mobile Microsoft platform, and there are literally millions on both iOS and Android that could provide a huge revenue stream for Microsoft. Xbox is an immensely popular console gaming platform, and not every Xbox user is a Windows Phone user. Being able to play Xbox games, with saved progress from your console and vice versa, will be a huge win on both the iOS and Android platforms.

It’s clear to me that this is a result of Satya Nadella’s new influence. Prior to that, I don’t think either Ballmer or Gates would have sanctioned this kind of move. Julie Larson-Green’s “One Windows” mantra also wouldn’t have supported this effort. It deemphasizes Windows, or at least would have in the eyes of the older organization.

So is this a good idea?  Do you have an Xbox and carry either an iPhone or an Android smartphone? Do you want to see an Xbox Live gaming hub on iOS and Android devices? Is that a good idea, or is this just going to make things weird?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the whole matter. Why don’t you join me in the discussion area below, and let me know what you think?

Related Posts:

BB10 Gives Enterprise Customers a Sour Taste in their Mouths

BB CEO, John Chen admits that BB10 and the Blackberry Z10 left enterprise customers feeling confused

Having a mobile OS that’s intuitive is key to keeping your users engaged. Its key to attracting more users. In short, its key to continued success, in what has become the hottest computing market this side of anywhere in the known universe. Mobile computing… it’s what buys dinner.

Unfortunately, for RIM/Blackberry, despite their best efforts over the past six years or so, their distraction with the consumer market, BYOD and CoIT has damaged them in the eyes of their enterprise customers. According to Chen, previous BB CEO Thorsten Heins’ focus on the consumer market damaged the organization’s reputation.

BB10

“It is not about us leaving the enterprise customers before my time, but I think it is about us spreading ourselves a little too thin,” he said. “We spread ourselves too thin and we were so preoccupied with launching that phone [the Z10] in that market, that we have done some damage, in my mind, to our enterprise focus. That is not going to be any more. That has been done.”

Chen also called BB10, “very good, but too complex for the user.”

I’m not too certain how to take that. I mean, I agree; but how do you recover from that? What do you do? In Blackberry’s case, they are going to focus on their strengths – the enterprise. BES 12 was announced at Mobile World Congress this past week, and should be released before the end of calendar 2014. BES 12 will support all popular mobile OS – iOS, Android, and now, Windows Phone, besides its own OS. Users of rival mobile enterprise servers will be able to trade in their licenses and get the remaining time on that license on BES 12 for a free. Current users can upgrade to BES 12 for free, too. An enterprise version of BBM, Blackberry’s messaging platform, will also be available, “before the summer.”

From a device perspective, Blackberry is staying in the hardware business. Its latest handset, the QWERTY enabled Q20, is said to contain the best classic features most loved by its veteran users. It’s also due for release before the end of calendar 2014.

I’ve been a Blackberry watcher for quite some time, as RIM was THE name in mobile enterprise messaging for a long time before smartphones really became smartphones, leaving the PDA days behind them. They were rugged, high quality devices that allowed mobile employees and busy executives to stay in touch with the office and their teams while traveling or away from their desks. Their Push notification system became the defacto standard that everyone wanted and need to copy in order to be competitive not only in the enterprise space, but in the consumer space as well. The notifications you get on your smartphone of choice today can be traced in some way back to Blackberry’s push notification system.

For me, they are the company you love to hate. I never liked their devices. They were always a bit too rugged, clunky, and just plain ugly for me. Early versions of the device OS was too text-based for me when consumer-based devices like the Treo or any Windows Mobile device had a bright, colorful and inviting GUI. Described to me as an olive-drab army Jeep that just got the job done, Blackberries were the device that nearly every Exchange admin loved to work with; and I just couldn’t stand.

Looking at the information here, I can see a structured, concentrated effort to turn the company back down the road of core competency. This is an excellent strategy; but I’m a bit skeptical. I am wondering after so long, if Chen can turn Blackberry around and get it to be [somewhat] the enterprise darling it was back in the day.

The road back will be long and very tough, in my opinion. I do not see Blackberry making any money with native hardware. I think that ship has long sailed, and think that the Q20 and other devices will be nothing more than a money losing distraction. I think Blackberry would be much better off just concentrating on its enterprise software products. If it must be involved in the hardware business, it could partner with HTC or other hardware vendor and have them foot the bill for making and marketing the hardware. Blackberry has had such a hard time with the Storm, Storm 2, and its more recent Z10 and Q10 devices that it must just be a better idea to leave hardware to a trusted partner that has better experience with it.

My biggest concern with this particular tactic is obviously… partial failure. BES has always been a huge money maker for Blackberry and I think they should be fine there. The added support in their MDM for Windows Phone is going to make that offering much more attractive – BES will then support all the major mobile device operating systems and should offer support to everyone. That should bring a lot of comfort to current enterprise customers and may actually attract new ones.

However, I see Blackberry’s continued dalliance with handsets as a huge risk. Since 2007 – and the introduction of the iPhone – they have not been able to get it right. Their Storm and Storm 2 devices were abysmal, and BB10 was too confusing in an iPhone like body (with no physical keyboard) to attract and retain any customers. While they’re going to give it another go with the Q20, unless the world has some unforeseen epiphany when the device is released, BYOD and CoIT based enterprises aren’t going to bother much with it. I don’t see the Q20 making any kind of impact on the Blackberry world at all. I see it being yet ANOTHER money losing disappointment for an organization that is desperately trying to maintain its relevance in a world that left it behind long ago.

What do you think? Am I totally off my nut, or does this story have legs? Will BES 12 attract new customers? Will its free upgrade cost to existing enterprise users make them want to extend their service contracts? Will the Q20 be a money maker or a money loser? I’d love to have your thoughts in the discussion area below. Please give me your ideas and thoughts and lets hash it out a bit more…

Related Posts:

Windows 8.1 Update 1 Coming Sometime this Spring

Well, I’m glad we got THAT cleared up

One of the greatest conferences in the computing world is MWC or Mobile World Congress. It’s held in Barcelona, Spain every year. It’s the kind of conference that makes you want to get your passport updated and ready to be stamped. I’ve never been able to go, and at this rate, it’s doubtful that I will; but if you’re into mobile computing like I am, then it’s something that you pay a lot of attention to if you’re unable to attend. Some really great innovations and products get announced at MWC.

This year, Microsoft is there, and they’re announcing details around the next version of Windows 8.1.  Joe Belfiore, head of phones, tablets and PC’s at the Redmond software giant is there and has currently revealed that the update is coming, “this Spring.”

windows_8

Wow.  Thanks, a lot there, Joe.  Way to be specific.

All kidding aside, the release, currently internally called, “Update 1,” as no real release name has been set EITHER (so, this could be called Update 1, Windows 8.2, or something totally different…), is focusing its updates on making the desktop experience more palatable to mouse and keyboard users. Users should see things like MetroApps with title bars, an easier way to launch and switch to running apps via the Taskbar as well as a new context menu UI.

The biggest improvement, however, is going to be totally behind the scenes. The OS will run on lower-speced machines.  PC makers will be able to put the latest version of Windows 8.x on machines with just 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage space.  This is going to allow OEM’s to offer tablets and other computing devices running the OS that retail somewhere in the neighborhood of $250 or lower. This is going to go a long way to helping Microsoft compete with lower priced Android tablets that are easy to find in the sub $250 range.  This is an area where Google and its Android operating system have enjoyed a complete monopoly. No OEM has been able to create a tablet with an OS other than Android at that price point or lower.  Unfortunately for Microsoft, that fact has been providing a great deal of heartburn.

If Microsoft can make the newest version of Windows 8.x run on lower speced devices, then it’s very possible that devices like the Dell Latitude 10 ST tablet that I reviewed last year might be able to run with better performance and provide a better overall experience. That would go a long way to making it easier to take to school, to work, or anywhere for that matter.  Windows tablets need a better overall experience.  Even native tablets like Surface Pro/2 Pro will benefit from an OS that runs better on less powerful components. You should expect to see quite the performance boost on existing devices, I would think.

Now, getting back to the “available Spring 2014″ thing… Microsoft Build is set to be held in April of this year. Its “largely expected” that Microsoft will announce and release the latest version of Windows 8.x to the world at that time.  My guess is that it should be available right after the opening keynote concludes.

What do you think? Do you think that Windows 8.1 Update 1 will be something that’s worthwhile, or is Microsoft bring all of this to the party a year or more too late? I’m still not totally sold on anything related to Windows 8.x’s MetroUI. The “whole” Windows experience needs to be totally revamped.  However, I’d love to hear what you have to say. Why don’t you tell me what you think in the comments section below?

Related Posts:

Microsoft sets Windows 7 End of Sales Date

If you’re a consumer, you have until 2014-10-31 to get a new PC with Windows 7 on it.

windows-7

Microsoft’s been busy; and I’m not entirely certain that it’s a good thing.

They have a new CEO and a new technical advisor. They’ve announced a target date/timeframe for the release of Windows 8.1 Update 1. Oh yes… the ‘Softies have been busy; and I’m not entirely convinced that all of the developments have been good, either.

Case in point – Microsoft has set 2014-10-31 as the end of sales date for new consumer-grade Windows 7 PCs. This means that if you want a new PC with Windows 7 on it by default, you need to purchase it before 2014-10-31. This would include PC’s with Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium or Ultimate. If you go look for one on 2014-11-01, you may not be able to purchase it. Interestingly enough, they have not set the do-not-sell-after-this-date for business machines.

Microsoft’s been trying to force its partners to stop selling an older OS to retail customers one year after the release of its latest desktop OS since at least 2010, after its release of Windows 7 in 2009. They are desperately trying to prevent the creation of another Windows XP-like scenario where users can continue to buy the OS long after 1-2 generations of successors has hit the market. Windows 8 was shipped in October of 2012, so the world has already gotten a bit of a reprieve.

The problem is that Windows 8…well, it kinda sucks. Windows 8.1 goes a ways to resolve some of the issues that Windows users have with Windows 8’s dueling and competing user interfaces, but it doesn’t go far enough for many. Windows 9 is supposed to put the issue to bed; but that’s after the release of Windows 8.1 Update 1, and the word that I’m hearing from people in the know, is that Microsoft seems hell bent on not doing itself any favors.

Windows 8.1 Update 1, based on the bits that have leaked thus far, seems to be a bit of a bust. Some of the UI updates that come with it are again, a third to a half of what you’d want to see in another “release” of Windows 8.x from Microsoft. The OS has a bad reputation to begin with. You would think with such large obstacles for Windows 8.x to overcome, Microsoft would be a bit more committed to righting them as quickly as possible. Instead, they are waiting until what the world is currently calling Windows 9, but is currently known, at least internally, as Threshold, is released to bring back the full desktop experience. While this includes a REAL Start Menu and more – and that’s all seen as a good thing by many business and CoIT/BYOD users – Microsoft IS going to make everyone wait at least another year for it all.

(Interestingly enough, you can get just about all of Threshold’s native features now with a few, low priced trialware titles from Stardock – Start8 and ModernMix.) Windows 8 isn’t a bad OS, in and of itself…that is, if you can find a way around MetroUI and the Start Screen. If you can, you should find that Windows 8 is more stable and faster than Windows 7; and its TabletPC features are better integrated, should you have a Surface or other Windows-based tablet.

If you’re looking for a copy of Windows 7, you can try Amazon or NewEgg. I hear both of those online vendors have ample supply of Windows 7 consumer editions.

Related Posts:

Android on Windows..?

Wait, what..?! Microsoft is going way past Project Normandy if they’re considering this…

Android on windows2

 The other day I wrote about how Nokia was pulling together the final touches on a low-end Android phone to compete in developing and emerging markets where high-end phones don’t sell well. That grinds against the traditional wheels in the Microsoft machine. Traditionally, thems is feudin’ words…at least in Redmond.

However, I stumbled across a couple other articles yesterday, including one from Mary Jo Foley (totally love her column), that really had me thinking, and I wanted to take a bit of time to try to wrap my head around all of it. Apparently, Microsoft is considering going well beyond an Android phone. They are actively considering – I think debating might be a better word, and strongly debating at that – not only releasing an Android phone, but they are considering the possibility of allowing Android apps to run on all Windows Phones, and on Windows tablets (think Surface RT/2 and Surface Pro/2 Pro) as well on traditional Windows laptops and desktops.

Wait, what?! That last part confused me…

The big problem honestly gets down to 3rd party development resources and the reach of Windows Phone. Windows Phone has a VERY small share of the smartphone market right now. In fact, its single digit small, where Android and iOS share double digit ownership of the number one and two spots, respectively. I’ve heard many 3rd party developers say that they would like to make apps for Windows Phone, but the sales just don’t justify the resource and development costs. As a way to get Windows powered devices (again not only phones and tablets, but computers as well) in the hands of more people, Microsoft is trying to figure out a way (the best way..?) to get Android apps to run on Windows devices. That could be Pokki, or it could be something else.

The first thing that crossed my mind was RIM/Blackberry, who (eventually) tried this strategy when they released their failed and much maligned Playbook tablet. Everyone thought they had figured out a way to make Android apps run natively. Instead, they had to run inside an emulator – a clunky, poor performing, and unfortunately buggy – emulator (and it totally tanked). Now with the release of BB10, Android apps can be installed OTA (over the air), but users have to find the application files (*.APK files) on their own. From what I understand, Microsoft would have to do much the same thing – run Android apps inside an emulator, and again, it may be Pokki – in order to get them to run on a Windows powered device.

I’m on the fence about this. I don’t like the idea of an Android app on a Windows powered device. I especially don’t like the idea of an Android app running on my Windows laptop or desktop. Android is a mobile OS, and as such, the apps aren’t as rich or full featured as those found on a traditional Windows laptop or desktop PC. I don’t think the end users are going to like what they get, or more importantly, what they don’t get, from the experience.

The reason why BB10 users can install Android apps OTA is because at its core, BB10 – or QNX – is just as Linux based as Android is. A GREAT deal of work would have to be done to Windows to be able to have Android apps run natively as they do on BB10. Unfortunately, you don’t see this feature creating a lot of BB10 device sales. In fact, you don’t see a lot of BB10 devices anywhere. I have yet to actually see one in the wild (and I am actively looking). Ultimately, I’m afraid that the same thing will happen with Windows.

If a user wants to run Android apps, a user is going to buy…an Android device. Period. They aren’t going to buy a BB10, or in this case, a Windows powered, device. Redmond isn’t going to create a draw or see a huge uptick in demand for Windows Phone or Surface RT/2 devices if it finds an acceptable way to run Android apps on them. It’s a nice to have. It’s something EXISTING users might find useful; but it’s not going to cause the masses to dump their iOS or native Android devices for a Windows powered device. It just won’t… History is replete with examples, too. If it wasn’t, the IBM PC clone market would have led to an Apple II clone market, a Commodore 64 clone market, etc. Blackberry also wouldn’t find themselves in their current situation, either. Users want to run native apps on native devices. They don’t want to use an emulator or have functionality limited.

All of this also goes against every bit of cultural norm I’ve ever seen come out of Redmond. However, as a devices and services company where the focus is now being placed on the software that powers both those devices and services, it’s clear that Microsoft has to do something. WHAT that is… I’m not certain yet; and I hope that they haven’t made their decision on it yet, either. Doing this would be a mistake; and it would really upset their development partners as well. Why would they want to develop for Windows Phone or in MetroUI/ModernUI if they can develop an Android app and hit both markets? I’m just sayin’…

However, it’s clear Microsoft has to do SOMETHING. They need to turn the tide around; and find a way to get more users on Windows powered devices. They need to find a way to get more mobile users. They need to find a way to stop people from using older, out-moded, outdated Microsoft operating systems and get them to adopt the most current version. They need a strategy that’s going to lead them into the future instead of milking profits from the past.

This is the biggest, root cause issue that Satya Nadella has before him. He’s going to need all the help he can get too, which is why I am glad that he has Gates around as an advisor. This is a sticky situation and they have a lot of work to do. They need to reengineer the company, their products and Microsoft’s identity. The faster they can do this, the better chance they will have at being successful.

In the meantime, the world is watching…. and waiting.

I’d really like to hear what YOU think about this whole Android on a Windows device thing. Is it a good idea? Will it inspire you to purchase a Windows device over an Android device, if they do it and do it right? I’d really appreciate you chiming in, in the comments below and giving me your opinion on the whole thing.

Related Posts:

Stay in touch with Soft32

Soft32.com is a software free download website that provides:

121.218 programs and games that were downloaded 237.780.356 times by 402.775 members in our Soft32.com Community!

Get the latest software updates directly to your inbox

Find us on Facebook