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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Lenovo buys into the US Smartphone Market

Lenovo purchases Motorola Mobility from Google for $2.9B

levonovo moto 5

On 29.01.2014 the Internet was abuzz over Google’s announcement that it had sold Motorola Mobility to Chinese-based Lenovo for $2.9B.  The news is significant because Google has only held Motorola Mobility for 19 months; and it’s selling the manufacturing business to Lenovo at a $9.5B loss.  That’s enough to give any stockholder the willies.

I’ve seen a number of reports that differ on how long Google held the property.  Some say August of 2011. Some say May of 2012. The key point is that Google didn’t have Motorola for long; and honestly, Google didn’t buy them for the manufacturing business.  They never used Motorola to produce a Nexus branded smartphone.  All they were really interested in was their patents.

This is further supported by the fact that Google is retaining most of those patents. While the sale includes a license to most/all of those patents to Lenovo, they will also receive a number of patents, the Motorola Mobility brand and their trademark portfolio.  It also provides Google with some relief – Motorola Mobility’s hardware division has been struggling for quite some time.  And besides… Lenovo has been frantically searching for a way to enter the lucrative North and South American smartphone markets.  Now, it appears, they have a way to do that.

Hopefully, Lenovo will be able to do something more with Motorola Mobility than Google did.  Google really let them sit there and collect dust. They never really went all in; and since being acquired by Google, Motorola – who recently produced both the Moto G and Moto X Android smartphones – was never profitable, operating at a $192M loss last year and a $248M loss in the third quarter of 2013 alone.

Lenovo on the other hand has a decent track record for turning businesses around. In 2005, it bought IBM’s PC business for $1.25B. It’s made steady strides in that arena; and last year over took HP as the world’s largest PC manufacturer. It’s also done a great deal of work to build and expand the ThinkPad line’s perception of value and quality.

Acquiring Motorola Mobility will make Lenovo the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, behind Samsung and Apple, respectively.  With only two possible mobile OS’ to choose from – Android and Windows Phone, as Apple doesn’t license any of its operating systems to 3rd parties – Lenovo can capitalize on Android’s vast popularity and Blackberry’s waning market share.

That last bit is important.

Many feel that with the rapid decline and documented demise of Blackberry, Windows Phone, with Exchange ActiveSync’s solid, well positioned Push system, is becoming the enterprise-messaging platform of choice.  If that ends up being accurate and true, then a deeper partnership with Microsoft may really help Lenovo cement itself as an enterprise equipment supplier in the coming months and years.

Unified communications is something that Microsoft has been trying to get together for a number of years. Their MOC (Microsoft Office Communicator) application handles enterprise-level instant messaging via Exchange. If they can pair that with a secure, enterprise mobile messaging offering via Windows Phone, not only would it help them get back to relevance, but also it would make Lenovo’s goal of getting a foothold in the North American smartphone market possible.

What do you think about Google’s sale of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo?  Is this a good move? Did Google really just act as a protracted patent troll? Is Motorola Mobility worth saving? Why not give us your thoughts in the discussion area below and let us know what you think?

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OS X 10.10 and iOS 8 aren’t that Close

What I mean to say is, they aren’t the kissing cousins I thought they would be…which is a good thing.

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Late last week I saw a quote from an Apple exec stating that total convergence between OS X and iOS was not an organizational goal for the company. I’m very relieved.  The thought of a completely unified OS experience on my desktop and mobile platform of choice had me a tad concerned.  I mean, I use one while I am out and about. I use the other when I want to get serious work done, and need a bit more power.  You aren’t going to get that in a mobile OS and device.

I recently found out that OS X 10.10 (currently code named, “Syrah” – a common wine grape found to be the genetic offspring of two different grapes, Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche, originating in southeastern France) and iOS 7/8 won’t be completely converging. Apple has stated that it’s not a goal for the company. Instead, Apple will insure that the two have the same look and feel.

OS X 10.10 and iOS 7/8 will be related, but not the same. “Syrah” (which is not known to be the desktop OS’ “official” name) will have a flatter look and feel than Mavericks does, but it won’t be as drastic a change as we saw between Mountain Lion and Mavericks or between iOS 6 and iOS 7.  There may be a bit more blur and translucency, a bit more white space here and there.  Its menu bars may be more defined.  Its window controls may be more angular; but you won’t see a complete retooling of every app.

When the public will see it also remains to be disclosed.  There aren’t any developer program betas or builds available as yet. Builds that are available are currently only distributed internally.  However, if Apple remains true to its release schedule between 2011 and 2013 (Lion, Mountain Lion and Mavericks), we should see something soon.  Lion, Mountain Lion were released between July and August of 2011 and 2012, respectively. Mavericks was released between in October of last year. If Apple plans to stick to this rapid release schedule, we should start to hear more news about beta releases in the coming weeks and months.  Currently, there is no such activity in the developer community that I am aware of.

How do you feel about desktop and mobile convergence? Is there a need for a defined line between the two, or are you interested in the whole, “one OS to rule them all” concept that many – including me – thought was Apple’s goal? Should they be separate? Do they have to be?  I’d love to hear what you have to say in the discussion area below.

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Microsoft Rebrands SkyDrive

Microsoft OneDrive is coming to a PC near you, soon.

Microsoft recently announced in a blog post that it was rebranding its SkyDrive internet file access and storage product as Microsoft OneDrive.

one drive

The move comes after Microsoft lost a trademark case to European TV provider BSkyB.  In June 2011, BSkyB filed suit against Microsoft over SkyDrive indicating that the use of the name would confuse its customers, as it is a streaming and mobile pay-TV provider and also had an online storage service called “Sky Store & Share” that it offered  from 2008-2011.

Rather than appeal the judgment that was granted by the England and Wales High Court in June 2013, Microsoft and BSkyB announced a settlement in July 2013 where Microsoft would rebrand its cloud based storage service. Sometimes its easier to concede defeat than prove your point, and while I don’t agree with the action (because its really unlikely users of BSkyB’s service would be confused by the names Microsoft SkyDrive and BSkyB Sky Store and Share… I’m just sayin’…)

What we’re seeing now are the results of that settlement. Microsoft will rebrand SkyDrive as OneDrive. The product was previously known as Live Mesh, Windows Live Mesh, Windows Live Sync, and Windows Live FolderShare before being rebranded as Microsoft SkyDrive in February of 2012.  The product has had one heck of a history and has had issues finding its identity in a market dominated by Dropbox, Google Drive as well as competing with Apple’s iCloud.

Microsoft is spinning this rebranding as the “one” place where you can put all of your stuff. If you’ve used previous versions of SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro, you don’t need to do anything.  The service will continue to work like it always has. It’s really nothing more than a name change and rebranding of the product.

As a quick aside, I really like the way SkyDrive, now Microsoft OneDrive, works. If I wasn’t already huge into Google services, it’s a service I would seriously consider buying online storage from. Unfortunately, its pricing plans aren’t as generous with either storage or pricing options (see additional information later in this article). However, 25GB for free is a really nice plan, and is likely enough for most people. If you qualify for the 25GB plan, and don’t have cloud storage for your documents, this could be a really great option for you. You might want to look into it…

Interestingly enough, this is one area where Microsoft really has outshined Apple.  iCloud is a huge mess. Its API’s are confusing and difficult to work with. Many developers who want to build iCloud support into their apps either don’t or can’t because it’s too difficult to work with or because the features they need aren’t built into the SDK/API.  Apple even has trouble getting iCloud to work with its own apps.

Microsoft on the other hand has (now called) OneDrive support built into all of its apps.  OneNote can natively save notebooks either directly to OneDrive’s application interface or physically to a synchronized folder in OneDrive. The choice is yours.  Apple could really do themselves a favor here and figure out how this works and then model iCloud after it. It might do them a great deal of good. I know Apple wants ALL of iCloud to work like OneNote works with OneDrive – where your data saves there automatically and just appears as available when you open the app, but that’s part of the problem that they’re having with the service. It doesn’t work right.

OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox all work the same way – they sync a folder and its subfolders to the cloud.  Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t want to do this. They’ve had ample opportunity to look at the model and try to use it.  For some reason, they don’t want the data on your drive if it doesn’t have to be. Instead, they want iCloud to be just another storage location – like any other folder that is physically ON your Mac – so you can save documents there and retrieve them when needed. The data doesn’t reside on your Mac. It’s out THERE somewhere. They just don’t have this figured out right yet. I don’t know why.  Both OneDrive and Google Drive can do that, and have desktop apps work with the data.

Interestingly enough, that was what Apple’s iDrive did about 6 or so years ago. Unfortunately, it didn’t catch on…at ALL.  Apple discontinued the service and I can’t find any information on it under Apple’s name at all. iDrive itself is still available as a Dropbox-like clone.  It at least looks like it’s a decent option, and its pricing options seem very competitive.  Their 1/2 terabyte option, priced at $75 a year, is one of the best deals I’ve seen. Its 69% cheaper than Google Drive’s 400GB option (at $240 a year), and you get 100GB more space, too.

Unfortunately, right now, you can’t sync folder contents to Apple’s iCloud. If you could, I’d use it instead of Google Drive.  However, it doesn’t, so I don’t.  However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple reconsiders that strategy so that more developers – and therefore, more applications – can use the service.

What do you think? Is the OneDrive rebrand a good move for Microsoft? Can Apple fix iCloud, or its always going to be a hot mess?  I’d love to hear what you have to say in the discussion, below.

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Apple to Release Larger iPhone, Discontinue iPhone 5c

There are lots of rumors hitting the airwaves about Apple’s new iPhone plans…

iphone-6-concept-render

I watched the Ashton Kutcher “Jobs” movie last night, and while I won’t go into a review of that film here, even with its disappointments, it DID do one thing pretty well – it gave many an insight on what Steve Jobs may have been like at the office…what kind of person he may have been to work with…sorta. The movie, unfortunately, left you wanting a great more than it was willing to deliver.

HOWEVER, if there’s one thing that I do know – did know – even before watching that movie, it’s to understand that regardless of what it did or didn’t show us about Steve Jobs as a person, the iPhone 5c would never have seen the light of day if he was still here.  It’s a shadow of what the iPhone 5s is, and it just wouldn’t have made the cut.

green-iphone5cAccording to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Apple is planning on discontinuing the iPhone 5c this year, due in no small part to its dismal sales and demand for the device.  That, and save its colored, plastic backing and lack of Touch Sensor (and a couple other key, internal components) the device is nearly identical to the iPhone 5s. I say good riddance.  From a technical perspective, the device was about 1/2 of the iPhone 5s. Technically, buying an iPhone 5 would have been a better deal. From a product perspective, in my opinion, the device did nothing but cannibalize sales of the iPhone 5s. The 5c may have had a subsidized price of about $100 bucks, but older iPhones – the iPhone 4, the iPhone 4s – I think would have been a better consumer choice if you were looking for an entry into the iOS ecosystem but didn’t have a large budget. Either way, the device is rumored to be discontinued with the release of the iPhone 6…

The iPhone 6 is currently rumored to be announced as early as June of this year.  The big feature for it is thinner and wider. Current rumors include an iPhone 6 (and for lack of a better name) iPhone 6c with a 5+ inch screen and 4.5 inch screen, respectively.  Both devices are rumored to also contain 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

As far as the implementation or desire of these features in the actual device, I know that Apple is going to be very picky about screen size. They have a firm belief that a smartphone should be easily operated with one hand, so the screen can’t be too wide.  I happen to agree.  While most people use two hands to operate their phones, being able to do that with one hand is an important distinction.  The device likely won’t get too much wider than it currently is.  However, the screen could get a little wider, and it wouldn’t hurt too much. Any more than say, another 1/4 to 1/2 inch wider, though and you’re going to risk a sprained thumb…

As with all Apple rumors, this is pure speculation; and while fun to ponder, these rumors are really nothing more than fodder to make your garden grow. Predicting what Apple will actually release is an art, and one that many, if not most to all, don’t excel in, including investor analysts.  Sometimes, they can be the worst of the prognosticating lot, as they have to deliver for the investors they try to prognosticate for. Dollah-dollah bills, y’all…

As far as what else the device may contain, or what else it may do, I have no idea. Apple released the original innovation for the device between 2001 and 2007 (iPod to iPod Touch to iPhone).  Everything that’s happened to the device since then has been evolutionary instead of revolutionary.  Where they can or will go with the device going forward probably won’t come with such a giant step from device model to device model.

Even after almost 2 years with an iPhone 5, there’s nothing really WRONG with my iDevice. I have no real reason to upgrade it other than AT&T says I can, and I may want <this new, incremental feature> or <that new, incremental feature>.  If you want the big, “I gotta have <this new feature>” experience from an upgrade, then you may want to wait more than 2 years.  Based on what’s going on with the iPhone, it may be that I wait until the iPhone 6s (or whatever THAT’S called) before I think about upgrading.

Now that Q1 2014 is firmly out of the gate, you can expect to see more iDevice rumors as well as iOS 7.x or iOS 8 rumors beginning to churn prior to the annual iDevice event everyone is expecting later this year.  What future versions of iOS will do, along with the implementation of any new hardware components, remains to be seen.  So far, iOS 7 is working pretty well. Aside from the security based, lock screen bugs that have come up with the last 2 major releases of iOS, I don’t hear many people clamoring for the implementation of this, that or the other feature.  I also haven’t heard anything definitive coming out of the iOS development community on what Apple will or should implement in future releases of iOS 7.x, let alone, iOS 8.

Now, depending on what Apple decides to do with the iWatch – if and when it releases that piece of highly anticipated wearable technology – I can see a number of different hardware and software based tweaks that might or will be implemented with both the iPhone as well as the iPad.  If it could do most of what the Pebble Steel will do, most of what the Galaxy Gear does,  as well as incorporating what the Fitbit Force, and Nike Fuel Band SE and others do NATIVELY, that device could work with a new, updated and REVOLUTIONARY iPhone very well; and that’s something that I’d like to see and would likely buy as soon as it was released.

What about you?  Do you want a wide(er) screened iPhone?  Are you glad to see the iPhone 5c be set out to pasture?  Are you interested in the iWatch or any other wearable tech?  Why don’t you join us in the discussion area below and tell us what you think.

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HP Applying OS Pressure

HP’s “Back by Popular Demand” Promotion confirms – Windows 8 really does suck.

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I heard this while listening to episode 926 of TNT, “Get Adam Curry on the Phone.” My initial response was that this was a huge problem for Microsoft. HP is not only offering a current PC i.e., not refurbished and not a clearance item with Windows 7 on it, but it’s doing so at a $150 discount.

HP is offering the HP Pavilion 15t-n200 Notebook PC with Windows 7. It has  a 4th generation Intel Core i5-4200U Processor and is priced $599.  This is huge for both consumers and the enterprise, as many users have really struggled with Windows 8. Many enterprises are still using Windows XP and their IT departments are more inclined to refresh those aging endpoints with Windows 7 rather than Windows 8.  The Windows 8 UI is totally different from Windows XP and the learning curve is steep.

Many organizations aren’t willing to take the productivity hit associated with the new desktop OS. That coupled with the fact that many critical, proprietary and other traditional enterprise apps have not been fully vetted or optimized for Windows 8 makes them an unlikely candidate for the touch-centric OS.  Add in the absence of a Start Button and a more traditional Start Menu and you begin to clearly see the hot mess that Windows 8.x has created for itself.

I think the biggest issue here is that Microsoft is having to compete against itself with much older products.  Windows 8 has less than a 10% market share of all Windows PC’s worldwide, and they’re under a great deal of pressure to:

1.Make Windows 8.x work – Microsoft has a long row to hoe, here. Their Windows 8.1 Update 1, or Windows 8.2,whatever they’re going to call it, has a large bill to pay. It needs to right more wrongs than Windows 8.1 did gain more confidence, more user satisfaction than it currently enjoys and it really doesn’t have a lot of time to do that with.

2.Distance themselves as quickly and as far as they can from Windows 8.x. Microsoft can’t make Windows 9 get here quick enough.  While its next OS, code named Threshold is currently scheduled for a Spring 2015 release, for Microsoft, this next year is going to crawl.

Microsoft’s PC market is losing a lot of ground to the tablet market, especially the Android tablet market. Not only are Android tablets cheap , many decent models can be had for between $250 to $450.  Microsoft’s tablet offerings, Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro are much more expensive, and Windows RT doesn’t have the ecosystem of apps and content that Android has, yet another area where Microsoft seems to be seriously struggling.

HP’s move to bypass Windows 8.x and instead offer the outdated Windows 7 is a slap in the face for Microsoft. It’s clearly a challenge.  Microsoft clearly needs to do better with Windows 8.1+ and Windows 9. It needs to make serious advances with its tablet offerings, and either change, enhance or open its mobile ecosystem to insure that it attracts users, or its going to have some serious relevance issues in the next 5-7 years. It can ill afford a third Vista, let alone two…

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