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.

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Touch Enabled Office Likely Coming to iPad Sooner than to Windows

Better late than never, I always say…

ipad_officeThere are a number of reports – in fact, I’d say that we were bombarded by them at the start of the weekend last Friday – that Microsoft is planning on releasing a touch enabled version of Office for iPad before it will be released on Windows. This really doesn’t surprise me at all. In fact, I’d say better late  – like more than three years too late – than never. Quite frankly, it’s about time.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lamented over the fact that a Microsoft version of Office doesn’t exist for iOS. Code named Miramar, the word on the street is that it’s going to hit before the touch enabled version for Windows, code named Gemini.  This version of Office, however, is likely to be for iPad only, so don’t’ think you’re going to be able to turn your iPhone on its edge, grab a wireless keyboard and edit your next manuscript. That likely won’t happen. The information I’ve seen has this version of Office working on the iPad.

How this all comes together is still up in the air. Mary Jo Foley quotes Steve Ballmer from a little while back saying that Miramar would appear after Gemini (the metro version of Office – Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote) hit the market; but that may have changed near the end of 2013. It seems that Microsoft is trying actively trying to get Office for iPad to market as early in 2014 as it can.  Whether that’s before the end of Q2 or not, remains to be seen… The original scuttle-butt had Office for iPad hitting sometime in calendar Q3 of 2014.

The big unknown is how this will get to end-users.  The original rumors of this program had the app tied to some kind of Office 365 subscription.  In other words, you had to have THAT in order to get the app.  I see that as problematic. What about users who have purchased a product code vs. a subscription? How Microsoft will allow them to have access, if at all, remains to be seen. Regardless of how its licensed, you can count on Microsoft’s other services – like OneDrive – being built in. It’s doubtful that Office for iPad will use iCloud for document storage.

This could be the biggest CoIT BYOD bone that Microsoft could throw its home users. We’ve been screaming for a version of Office for iOS for YEARS (as I mentioned earlier). I know I’ve tried to pull together an “Apple iPad at Work” series for years.  My biggest problem has been that either I’ve had the wrong iPad (I have a 32GB iPad 1 that I purchased myself for Christmas in December of 2010) or the lack of a good Microsoft Office replacement has prevented me from really giving it a go.

My work habits, like those of many, no doubt, revolve around Microsoft Office created and managed documents. While there may be Microsoft Office substitutes for iOS out there, I’ve learned over the years that “Office compatible” doesn’t always mean “Office compatible.” Moving back and forth between tools often kills formatting in documents that are heavily formatted. Remaking or reapplying that level of customization is not something that I’d recommend to anyone.  There’s also the issue of touch screen type. Handwritten notes don’t work well on an iPad, I’ve learned, and that means that you really need to have a decent keyboard in order to use OneNote (and now Word) in order to get the most use out of the tools.

This is likely to make a lot of people happy; but at the same time, I’m not certain it’s going to drive a lot of sales.  Tying the tool to an Office 365 subscription may not be the wisest choice.  As I said, what about Office users who bought a product code?  What do they do to get access to the app? What about users who just want to use the iOS version and don’t want a subscription to Office 365?  Again, while many users may want this app, I don’t think it’s going to be something that will drive sales of the larger Office suite product(s).

After thinking on this a bit more, I really do think that Microsoft needs to get a decent handle on licensing and figure out how they will allow users to make use of the product. Another possible in may be via purchasing a OneDrive subscription.  I really don’t think that this is going to work with iCloud. If that’s the case, Microsoft could allow ANY iPad user use of the app, provided they have a paid OneDrive account. That would at least give everyone the opportunity to download and use the app.  Many users have more than one cloud-based storage solution (i.e., Dropbox AND iCloud, or OneDrive AND Google Drive) on their computing devices, whether they be laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone.

What do you think, though?  Is Microsoft Office on iPad something that you want?  Do you have an Office 365 or a Microsoft OneDrive subscription? Is this something that should be tied to a Microsoft subscription product, or is it something that should exist as a standalone product?  If it doesn’t, do you think it will help drive sales of Microsoft’s Office suite, or is it just a nice to have? I’d really like to hear your thoughts on the issue. Why don’t you join us in the discussion below and give us your thoughts on the issue?

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Macrorit Disk Partition Expert Home Edition

Manage hard drive partitions on your Windows PC’s with this easy to use utility.

MDPE-02

If there’s one thing that I know, and have learned over the past 30 years of working with computers, its that hard disk drive management isn’t always the easiest thing to do. I remember back in the day, if you wanted to do anything else with your hard drive, other than have one main, boot partition, you had to use not only format.com to format your drive, but you had to get very familiar with fdisk.exe. If you couldn’t master the command line syntax for either of them, you were in a pickle. This is why I really like tools like Macrorit Disk Partition Expert Home Edition. It’s a free and easy to use hard drive partitioning utility for Windows that even a novice user can work with.

MDPE-09Macrorit Disk Partition Expert Home Edition is a free hard drive management tool that allows you to extend partitions, settle low disk space problems, and manage disk space easily on MBR and GUID partition table (GPT) drives. The utility is designed for home users and supports 32 and 64 bit versions of Windows including Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.x.

The app is full featured. With it you can resize and move existing partitions create new ones, set individual partitions as active or inactive, hide or unhide partitions as well as other common disk activities. You can also defrag, wipe a drive as well as perform a surface test. The app supports up to 2TB hard drives, and supports 1024 sector sizes, as well as MBR and GPT partitions

I’ve always been partial to productivity tools and utilities on my PC. They are in fact, my favorite. The thing that I like the best about Macrorit Disk Partition Expert Home Edition is that its fairly easy to use. However, the concepts used in the app are very advanced. The tool makes it very easy to complete some very complex tasks that take place at the system level of your computer’s operating system. You need to be careful when using the app and understand the risks associated with making changes to your hard drive configuration. If you do want and need to make these kinds of changes, this is a great tool to do them with.

MDPE-03

 

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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.

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Hitting the Emerging Market Sweet Spot

Apparently, Microsoft (Nokia, really) WILL be releasing an Android phone.

Microsoft and Android

If there’s one thing that I know well, its mobile devices. I’ve said many times, I cut my journalistic teeth on mobile devices and mobile computing. It’s probably the one thing that keeps me in the game.  There are so many different kinds of mobile gadgets and mobile convenience gadgets out there. It really doesn’t get old.

However, the US tends to be a high-end device market. Most people – even some of the poorer citizens of the US – would be considered filthy rich in many of the developing countries in the world.  As such, low-end smartphones and other low-end mobile electronics, don’t sell here very well.  In the rest of the world, however, that’s where the money is to be made.  Chasing after those emerging markets is where many of the larger smartphone manufacturers would like to put most of their attention.

Apple would like to seriously get involved in the developing/emerging smartphone market.  It’s been difficult for them, however, as their products are mostly high end, and manufacturing costs for older iPhones haven’t really decreased.  The iPhone 5c was rumored to be a lower costing iPhone for developing markets, though that didn’t turn out to be the case. The 5c was meant as a lower costing iPhone for the US. Sales of that device haven’t lived up to its initial expectations. Apple is still looking for a solution for their ecosystem in this lucrative market.

Microsoft also seems to be looking long and hard at the developing/ emerging smartphone market.  They have also hit a small snag.  Apparently, Windows Phone designs don’t lend themselves well to lower end handsets. As such, the current scuttlebutt has Microsoft’s Project Normandy moving forward.

For those that may not know, Project Normandy is an effort at Nokia for an Android based smartphone.  The device is said to be a low-end replacement for the S40 smartphone.  The device will run a version of Android with most of the branded, Google functionality removed. The device is also rumored to be heavily skinned and won’t have the standard and now easily recognizable Android navigation buttons.  The presumption is that the device would run both Microsoft and Nokia branded services like, Bing, the recently rebranded Office Online, and perhaps Nokia Here Maps.

It’s obvious from the description above, that the version of Android is likely forked. It’s also going to be heavily modified. However, this won’t be the first forked, heavily modified version of Android that the world has seen.  Amazon has done exactly that with its Kindle devices for a number of years.  According to ABI, 25% of all Android devices are shipped with a forked version of the popular mobile OS.  Perhaps Microsoft can do its best to make a Windows Phone like, tiled interface for Android and then phase it out. That way, they get a foot hold into the market, get everyone used to the interface and then give themselves the design, engineering and manufacturing time to get it all together.

It’s not known how well the Normandy device will fare, internally, at least. As Microsoft isn’t too interested in putting money in Google’s pocket’s.  As such, Project Normandy may not make it as far as Microsoft Kin phones did a few years ago.  However, Project Normandy represents a sizable investment on Nokia’s part and may help bridge the gap until Microsoft can engineer low-end devices that provide acceptable performance and features on the low-end handsets that are popular in emerging markets.  They need to do something…or else they’re going to miss the entire party…again.

However – and this is the sad part really – Nokia’s, and Microsoft’s past behavior and current company policy don’t have me thinking the device will have much time on the shelf. Nokia spent a lot of time and money developing Meego before it killed the OS shortly after releasing it on the N9.  Microsoft spent millions of dollars developing its Kin phones, which by many accounts were supposed to set its mobile efforts aright.  That effort totally tanked shortly after release. The devices themselves were really no more than toys, or so most of the mobile community thought when reviewing them.

So here we are… full circle again.  The developing/ emerging market sector is difficult to successfully get into.  Android was able to do it well because the OS can run on just about any mobile processor you can throw at it, and as such, manufacturing costs are LOW.  The OS supports skinning and can function well with and without Google services built in.  Heck… Amazon ripped out Google Play and its ENTIRE ecosystem and substituted its own.  And that essentially proves it – you CAN engineer Google out of Android and replace it with your own set of mobile services if you wish.

Given all of this, the ONLY chance that Normandy has of staying on a shelf long enough for Microsoft and Nokia to get a well-functioning, low end Windows Phone out there is none other than Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella.  If he is truly going to initiate a changing of the guard at Microsoft and have the company really concentrate on devices, service and the software that powers them, he has to push old company politics, motivations, desires, etc. to the side and insure that the device isn’t killed before it had a chance to make a serious difference.  Nadella is going to have to make certain that this stop gap is allowed to fulfill its lifecycle purposes and initiatives and gives both Microsoft and Nokia the opportunity to get its own device out there to take its place, without anyone trying to tank it from the inside.

What do you make of all of this?  Is this a good or a bad idea?  Would you like to see Project Normandy get off the ground?  Should Microsoft try to kill it?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the discussion area, below.  Tell me what you think!

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Microsoft Wants You…

To help it kill Windows XP as part of the XP Army

winaccess denied2014-02-07 marks 60 days until support for Windows XP will officially die. After that, its malware defs only until that finally craps out sometime next year. After  2014-04-08, everyone running XP will be a target for hackers everywhere.

Oh, goody.

So, what’s a techie to do?   Easy… help Microsoft prevent the PC apocalypse by getting friends and family everywhere to upgrade to a different version of Windows – preferably Windows 8.x – ASAP.

Effectively, as suggested by Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc, you need to find a PC buddy, and if they’re running XP, get them to upgrade or help them purchase a new PC.

Wait… What?!

Don’t get me wrong. I am all about helping friends and loved ones. I really am…but when most people are so poor, they can’t afford to pay attention, let alone help someone pay for a new PC.   What’s more upsetting, is that neither Microsoft nor LeBlanc are offering any kind of price breaks on either Windows 7 or Windows 8.x or on new hardware.   While no one at Microsoft actually came out and said, “give your friends and family money so they can upgrade their rig,” the point was clearly taken.   They want everyone moving to Windows 8.x ASAP.

While Windows 8 was dirt cheap for a   while after its initial release on October 2012, it jacked the price back up to $120 bucks for the consumer version and $200 bucks for the enterprise version.   Microsoft also killed Windows 7 during this time, so you have no choice but to move to Windows 8.x at this point, whether you want to or not, whether you like it or not.

Everyone – from OEM’s, to security experts to tech enthusiasts, experts and journalists as well as the consumer community – has been pushing Microsoft to offer a (permanently) affordable SKU of Windows 8.x.   If they want the world off of XP, they need to make it super easy and silly not up upgrade immediately.

If this whole thing isn’t a stick in the eye from Microsoft, I really don’t know what is. While I don’t have any PC’s that run XP, either in physical or VM form, at home or at work, I know many people still do.   Its likely the 3rd  party development community will continue to support XP for a while until all of their customers upgrade, which may or may not happen any time soon.

I think the biggest scenario I’m afraid of, is someone who paid, like, $2500 for their XP computer, who refuses to upgrade, because their determined to get their money’s worth, and they get a huge virus that empties their bank accounts and files a civil suite against the Redmond software company; or worse yet, replace the consumer with a bank (many ATM’s run on Windows XP), and have the same thing happen. That could get ugly.

What do you think? Are you still using Windows XP?   Does anyone in your family? Will you buy an upgrade to the OS, or will you buy a new computer, if you upgrade at all?   I’d love to hear what you think of this situation, as well as what might happen  61 days from now in the comments section below.

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Gates Can’t Install Windows 8.1

It’s pretty telling when the creator of Windows can’t get the latest version to install on a Windows compatible PC…

RRT

I’ve seen a couple of posts on this so far today; and I’m sorry to say, I fell for it… The New Yorker is the first article I saw, and not only was it was my WFT of the day, but I fell, hook line and sinker. It took me a bit to figure this out; but it did provide me with a chuckle or two in the interim.

The story goes that Satya Nadella’s first day as CEO looks like it went well.  Bill Gates’ first day, and Nadella’s second, however wasn’t as positive.  According to the article, the Microsoft founder spent the entire day trying to install Windows 8.1 on his Windows compatible PC.  When he couldn’t get passed a specific point, due to a recurring error, he contacted Nadella. The two of them spent the rest of the afternoon banging their heads against a brick wall.

The article described the situation as tense. Both Nadella and Gates tried to weather the moment where a hardware error message prevented Gates’ PC from continuing with the install and would need to restart. Apparently, some of the language coming out of the executive suite hadn’t been heard for a while. So what did Bill do..?

He did what nearly every frustrated consumer has done – he dumped Windows 8.1 and installed Windows 7 instead.

This is where I got hooked, because, how many technically savvy people do YOU know that bumped into something as frustrating as this with Windows. I know I can raise my hand. Its actually the story of my life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been there.

All I can say is, “welcome to our hell.”

That may come off a little harsher than I really intend it to, but anybody who’s built or rebuilt a Windows box after a malware infection or after some kind of hardware/software snafu knows what I’m talking about. Going back to factory fresh isn’t always the easiest thing in the world with Windows.

In this situation, and in all seriousness, I think the humor here can be put to good use. Putting the public’s dislike for MetroUI/ModernUI aside for a moment, I think one of the first things that Gates should likely advise Nadella on is getting a handle on the hot mess that Windows has turned into.  If the company’s co-founder and former chief software architect really did have problems installing the latest version of the OS on his Windows compatible computer, then there’s certainly something wrong. When this happens to other technically savvy people, its just as frustrating as if it really did happen to Gates.

As a technology writer and product reviewer, I install software on computers all the time, every day, out loud. I regularly have to blow a box and reinstall everything on it. With both Mac OS and Linux, I haven’t had many problems with this.  Both of those are pretty easy to rebuild (and the reinstallation of end user apps is really very easy thanks to system utilities like Apple’s Time Machine on OS X). However, both of those are built on a Unix backbone; and that may have something to do with it.  With Windows, this has historically been much more difficult.

Troubleshooting Windows PC problems has been more difficult as well. Usually, when you bump into driver conflicts, a BSoD or some kind of Registry error or corruption, its better just to pack it in, nuke the drive and reinstall Windows from scratch.  While it doesn’t address the root cause of the problem – which drivers conflicted, where and how you got a malware infection, or what corrupted your Registry – it does get you back to operational mode faster. It’s also a lot less frustrating.

Having a restore DVD or some kind of drive image that has your entire, or most of, your needed setup and configuration and software, is a big help.  This is one of the things I like about Apple’s OS X and Microsoft’s Windows 8.x.  You can take a Windows 8.x box back to factory fresh from within the defective PC…but with Windows, that version of the OS has to already be on the computer; and the recovery partition already been created.  Windows 8 is the first version of Windows to create a recovery partition during installation.

Windows 9 (or whatever the successor to Windows 8 is officially called), currently code named Threshold is due for release in the Spring of 2015. While the recovery partition is an important part of Windows, there’s a lot more that Microsoft could do from an engineering perspective to make the OS easier for both consumer and enterprise users to manage. Getting rid of the Registry would be a start…

What does Microsoft need to do to improve Windows? What do you think Bill Gates can do to advise Satya Nadella? I’d really like to hear what you have to say in the discussion, below.

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What will Bill do now, with the House that Gates Built?

Speculation is rife with what Gates will do after Microsoft’s new CEO is named

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I’ve always liked Mary Jo Foley.She’s got a great analytical mind, and her connections are awesome. When she puts out a new piece, it always makes me think…

Case in point – MJF recently opined about some interesting, behind the spot light issues related to Microsoft’s CEO search:

  1. No new info, despite her sources; so we still have to wait for a formal announcement
  2. The board and the company want to distance itself from Ballmer somewhat (or at least remove him from the spotlight)
  3. Gates is said to be stepping away from the role of Chairman

The world is waiting, and we want to know who is going to be the next Microsoft CEO.  While all signs currently point to Satya Nadella, no one knows for certain, and unfortunately (for him…), he and Ballmer have been pretty tight.  Being mentored by Stevie B. isn’t a bad thing.  However, I’m certain Wall Street wants a CEO bereft of and Ballmerfication, and unfortunately, in this case, being mentored by Ballmer certainly isn’t helping Nadella win the role.

However, there’s a lot of hub-bub going on behind the scenes regarding Bill Gates, former MS CEO and current Chairman of the Board of Directors.  The latest shizzle is all about Bill taking on a more prominent role at the company after the CEO transition is announced. That news is causing quite the stir.

Bill has been all about curing/preventing malaria and building a better toilet as part of the humanitarian work of the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation.  While there may be active reports of him taking a more proactive role at MS after Ballmer’s retirement, I don’t see it happening. Gates has said repeatedly that his life’s work is his foundation, not the software company that built the fortune that enables it.  While Microsoft may power the Foundation, it’s not his driving focus. Helping humanity overcome its challenges is.

That being the case, any reports that are out there about Gates taking any kind of an active role in the fate of the software company are most likely false and nothing more than rumors. Microsoft spent a lot of time spinning Gates away from the organization as they spun Ballmer into control. Reversing that and adding a new CEO into the mix is only going to confuse everyone, including shareholders and Wall Street; and that’s exactly what Microsoft doesn’t want to do. They want to strengthen Microsoft’s stock position, not call it into question. Besides, it’s been more than six years since Bill’s been involved in Microsoft’s daily grind. I really don’t think he wants to get back into it.

What do you think? Will Bill Gates come back to Microsoft in a formal role after Steve Ballmer retires?  I’d love to hear what you think about this latest batch of rumors.  Why not join me in the discussion area, below and tell me what you think?

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