Winning with Windows 10 – What Microsoft Needs it to Do

After the mistake that was Windows 8.x, Microsoft has a few things to do with Windows 10. Here they are in a nutshell…

Introduction

07668051-photo-windows-10-logoWindows 10 is (going to be) Microsoft’s new desktop OS when its finally released next year. Currently in technical preview, Microsoft is giving it a test drive. I’ve published a couple of articles on Windows 10, letting everyone understand what they need to know about the new OS. I’ve been working with it for a while now and have installed two, new additional preview builds that Microsoft has quietly released.

Here’s what Microsoft ultimately needs the new OS to do if they want it to succeed better than its most recent edition, Windows 8.x.

Make us Want to Upgrade

In the enterprise, Windows 7 works. It’s the new Windows XP. While Microsoft SAYS it’s only going to last until 2020 and then everyone is going to have to move to Windows N(ew), XP lasted for so almost 15 years because it did the job, did the job well, and didn’t really make people want to leave. With XP now out of the way, for the most part… I’m certain some companies still use Windows XP at the time of this writing… Microsoft has to find motivation for people and companies to move away from their older computing operating systems and to embrace the newest platform.

From an enterprise perspective, this is REALLY hard. Companies can’t afford to have employees sitting on their hands because their stuff doesn’t work; or they don’t know how to use it. That’s one of the reasons why no one bought into Windows 8 at work…its UI is too different from Windows 7 and earlier to really invest in. It would take the average front line office worker three to six months to figure out where everything was, how the OS really worked, and how they can get all of their daily tasks done. Most companies don’t have the luxury of time to wait for that to happen. Nearly everyone experienced that with Windows Vista and THAT UI was still pretty much like Windows XP. It’s hard for anyone to get work done when the computing environment is so radically different.

As such, we’re all happy with Windows 7 at work. Now, Microsoft has to figure out how to get us out of that comfort zone without destroying our productivity; and THAT’S really hard. They may want or need to change the UI, but they must do so gradually without really making it too difficult.

Given that they can actually DO that, which isn’t an easy task, they have to find a way of making it easier to move from one major Window version to another without a bunch of hoops to jump through. In the past, you could move from one Windows version to another, provided you took every major version step along the way. If you wanted to skip a version or two, you couldn’t upgrade without completely wiping your computer of all applications and data; and no one wanted to do THAT either. Microsoft has to find a way to make upgrading from one version to another easy, even if you skip a version or three, without all of the in between steps.

The technology exists, the problem is, figuring out a way to do that without making it too big of a development task on their part. From what I know of Windows upgrades, while its painful for the end user, they don’t upgrade because for them, any pain is too painful. Microsoft may just have to eat the development costs and figure out how to move everyone from their current version OS (however far back that may be) to Windows N. It’s going to be ugly, but they may have to eat the end user’s pain if they want everyone to get and remain current.

Now… if you bring in the more popular computing concepts like cloud computing, mobile computing trends and BYoD, Microsoft still has a great deal of work to do and a great deal of consumer resentment and angst to get around (see my section on defining the difference between a desktop and a tablet, below). Cloud computing is something that Microsoft is still actively working on, and despite what they might think, they STILL don’t have a solid mobile strategy yet.

Make us [Totally] Forget Windows 8.x

Over the years, Microsoft has released some real turkeys in the Windows line – Windows ME, Windows Vista and Windows 8. Windows ME (for Millennium Edition) was an upgrade to Windows 3.11 that totally tanked. The UI added too much eye candy and glitz, moved some things around and broke a LOT of stuff. Microsoft made it go away with the release of Windows XP on the consumer side and Windows 2000 on the enterprise and power user side. It’s a good thing, too. Drivers for Windows ME were a mess.

Windows Vista was an upgrade to Windows XP, and was supposed to be Windows Blackcomb, but Blackcomb could never get itself together, and Vista was the cobbled together bits of what survived. WinFS or an update to the much outdated NTFS file system was supposed to make file and end point management much better than it was under the (then) current paradigm. When Microsoft couldn’t get it together, they abandoned WinFS. Unfortunately, they didn’t abandon the rest of the design of Vista which depended on WinFS to lower resource consumption by the OS. As a result, Vista was a bloated, glitzed up processor and RAM hog that killed most computers and made computing slow and difficult. There’s more to this, and Paul Thurrott from the Windows Supersite has a great deal more to contribute to this this particular MS debacle. There’s more to the Blackcomb thing, and more to the demise of WinFS that will help you understand exactly what went wrong. If you’re interested in the full and complete story that was the hockey puck that Windows Vista was, you can go there to find it…

Windows 8 was, quite simply, a mistake from the start. The split UI that no one understood and Microsoft’s insistence that everyone use MetroUI no matter what type of computer you were using be it a traditional laptop (both with and without touch), a convertible laptop (including things like the Yoga, a more traditional TabletPC AND the MS Surface Pro line) or a traditional desktop, just confused everyone. No one knew where MetroUI really fit. Microsoft’s lack of mobile strategy and confusion over what a tablet is and is not (see below) as well as them trying to put a full blown version of Windows on a device with GREATLT reduced specs to help manage battery life, really hasn’t helped.

Define the Difference between a Desktop and a Windows Tablet

This is probably the biggest hurdle that Microsoft has to resolve in the actual, PHYSICAL market place. After hooking us and getting us to go with Windows 10, and helping us to forget the total train wreck that Windows 8.x was (both of which are really going to be tough to do…) Microsoft has to define exactly what a Windows 10 tablet is, help us understand that difference and then show us how magical THAT device can be.

Historically, Microsoft has been all about Windows and Office. Historically, this hasn’t been an issue for them, because they really had a lock on the desktop market and made businesses around the world run. Now, business models are changing and Microsoft has to learn to change with them. Windows and Office aren’t the cash cows they used to be, and Microsoft is switching Office licensing to a subscription model. Instead of paying $500-$600 per copy/ seat of office, you pay say, $7-$10 bucks and month and get nearly everything you need. This gets you Office at home, plus all the online storage you can eat (as OneDrive storage is now unlimited – or supposed to be – with an Office 365 subscription) for a year. The subscription auto renews, and you’re supposed to have access to the software on the platforms you need it on, be they Mac, PC or mobile device, plus all of the associated updates. MS still gets paid, but how and when they get paid changes a bit. I’m still not entirely certain (nor do I think, are they) if they’re making just as much on this model as they were before, BUT the way the world delivers retain software has changed, and Microsoft had to change too…

The change also came about because the WAY people are computing has changed. People don’t want to HAVE to work on a traditional PC any more. Most people often have to take work home with them, and as such, want to use the same tools at home as they do at work. While MS did provide a way to get office at a HUGE and DEEP discount, not every company took advantage of this, and not everyone got to buy Office for their home PC’s at $10 bucks a copy.

With the introduction of tablets and tablet productivity software – or at least the ability to run web based apps through a mobile browser, most people that don’t want to HAVE to work at a specific desk in their house can now come out on to the family or living room and instead of having a heavy and sometimes hot laptop on their laps, can instead work from a tablet or other mobile device.

Traditionally, Windows doesn’t run on these type of lean back – or more casual computing – devices, and as such, Microsoft has had trouble here. TabletPC’s or some sort of notebook convertible has worked in the past, but they’re now becoming too bulky and heavy to be used in these casual situations. Convertibles are also traditionally more expensive, and people have started shying away from these types of full-blown Windows machines.

This is where Microsoft has a huge problem – Windows doesn’t work well without a full blown computer. Microsoft’s foray into tablets – the Surface RT and Surface 2 – were a huge disappointment. Microsoft couldn’t break themselves away from the traditional computing model and failed to transition everyone away from Windows to a more tablet-centric version of Windows that should have existed without ANY traditional computing artifacts like the Desktop. People didn’t’ understand Windows RT, MetroUI (often called ModernUI), and they couldn’t get any of their developers to create applications for it. As such, the platform died, and Microsoft has still to really tell us if Windows RT is dead or just hibernating until they can figure it out.

The Surface Pro (in any of its carnations) isn’t a true tablet, despite its removable and detachable keyboard because it runs a full version of Windows. When you pull the keyboard, it’s still an Ultrabook, despite its now full tablet-like appearance, and regardless of how good the touch interface may be on top of Windows, you still need a keyboard and the on-screen version doesn’t cut it.

The problem here is that Microsoft still doesn’t have a clear mobile strategy yet. They’re taking their sweet time figuring this out, too. If they don’t do it, and quickly, they’re going to find themselves seriously wishing they had. At some point, they are going to lose their enterprise foot hold and will end up playing catch up to Google and Apple who are really trying to figure out how to best serve the enterprise with not only their desktop products (in the case of Apple) but their mobile products (both Google and Apple) as well. If they’re not careful, Microsoft may find themselves the Blackberry of the PC world – irrelevant and living off the glory of their past accomplishments. That only goes and lasts so far and so long…

Conclusion

Microsoft has a huge row to hoe here. They’ve been in the Windows and Office business for so long that I’m concerned that they know how to do much else. Despite buying Nokia’s mobile handset business, they still don’t have a clear mobile strategy that I or anyone else is aware of. They need to figure that out quickly or regardless of what they do with Windows 10 will make any difference…

Microsoft is unifying the Windows platform and Windows brand. That means they are putting Windows 10 on every compatible device, and it will only run what works. All apps developed for any version of Windows are SUPPOSED TO work on all Windows compatible devices without any kind of rewrites or recompiles. All of this is a huge what-if though, as no one has seen it all work yet.

I’ve been using Windows 10 now for about 6 weeks, and its ok, but really, it’s nothing more than what Windows 8.x should have been. It’s really more of Windows 8.2 than Windows 10 (or even Windows 9…) there’s nothing new and compelling in it yet that would make me want to dump Windows 7.

Windows 10 will definitely make me want to dump Windows 8, because its more Windows 7 like, plus all the “improvements,” so, the cleaned up UI on my Surface Pro makes a great deal of sense. With the ability to run all MetroUI apps in a movable, sizable Window, you don’t have to worry about things acting “stupid” on you. Windows just works like it always has, which is both good and bad.

Its good because now you can get work done again without worrying about MetroUI, or the Start Screen. The Start Menu is BACK, and it can function just like its Windows 7 counterpart if you so choose. It’s bad because, there really isn’t much of anything new that I’ve seen yet. I say “yet” because Windows 10 isn’t feature complete yet. There could be SOMETHING that Microsoft hasn’t shown us or announced yet that would make things a bit more compelling; but I have no idea what that might be.

I will say this for it all though – Microsoft better really wow the crap out of us, or there’s going to be a huge enterprise shift over the next 5 or so years to other platforms. Microsoft’s floundering won’t be tolerated as businesses look for stable, mature platforms that will help them move forward, make money and succeed in their business goals. Microsoft seems to be walking in circles with one foot nailed firmly to the floor, and most organizations won’t tolerate that for long.

What do you think? Is Windows 10 going to bring Microsoft out of the Age of Confusion? Will it set them back on the course for success; or are they headed down the same road as Blackberry is? Why don’t you join me in the Discussion area, below and let me know what you think.

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Kingsoft Office Suite Free

Reverse your dependence on Microsoft Office with this free alternative suite for Windows

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I’ve been a huge productivity software fan most of my computing career. PFS Write for the IBM PC and Apple II got me into computers, so it’s no surprise to me that productivity suites – word processors, spreadsheets, presentation tools, etc. are a long time favorite. With Microsoft Office cheaper, but still (somewhat) expensive, having free, compatible alternatives is a huge win for everyone on a budget. It’s for this reason that apps like Kingsoft Office Suite Free are among my favorite Windows apps. I’m certain that after a short introduction, the two of you will get along famously as well.

Kingsoft Office Suite Free 2013 goes a long way to simplifying its interface, making it easier than even easier to navigate through all of its applications. Most everything is where you would expect it to be, and the suite includes not only your favorite features, but some new ones as well. The redesigned UI makes working with your more complex documents easier than you thought it would be.

The suite includes three powerful applications – Writer, Spreadsheets and Presentation. The suite has the basic functionality that you’ve come to expect from an MS compatible office suite and has many outstanding features other suites doesn’t include. For example, Writer, includes a professional PDF converter, an advanced paragraph adjustment tool and intuitive table operation by default. MS Word either doesn’t have these, or requires a 3rd party add-in.

What’s new in the latest update?

Having an alternative to Microsoft Office is important in today’s much weaker economy. Microsoft Office may be the bomb, and you may not WANT to accept any substitutes, sometimes you just have to. If you’re a college student, out on your own, and you don’t have access to Microsoft Office, yet need something to write reports or create class presentations with, then apps like Kingsoft Office Suite not only save your bacon (and your money), but they do it while giving you access to everything you need, plus nearly everything you want.

The free version of the suite is a total winner. Hands down… The only thing it’s really missing is a database app or Access clone, an Outlook clone (or something to manage your schedule, contacts and email with) and a Publisher clone (or something to make fliers, stationary and other printed goods with). Aside from that and the lack of any VBA or macro editing support, the free version has all that you’ll likely need. If you do need the ability to write active content into your spreadsheets or other documents, you’ll have to spend about $70 bucks USD in order to get it from Kingsoft.

Download Kingsoft Office Suite Free

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Office for iPad due this Month

The rumor mill has  2014-03-27  set as the day that Microsoft announces Office for iPad

Apple introduced the iPad in January of 2010. It was – and still is – the magical device that has changed the entire face of modern computing.   By 2011, the world was screaming for a version of Office for iPad; and they knew they weren’t going to get it; at least not then.   Now it seems they finally will.

microsoft-office-ipad-ios

New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is said to be hosting an invitation only press event at  10am  Pacific/1pm Eastern where he will speak about the “intersection of The Cloud and Mobile Computing.” The event – scheduled for the same date and time that MacWorld/iWorld kicks off – should put the world’s yearning for Office on the iPad to rest.

Previously, Microsoft had tied Office and Windows at the hip. Each new version of Windows would undoubtedly signal the business world that a new version of Office (for Windows) was just around the corner.   The two were so tied together that even though the new version of Office would run on legacy versions of Windows, doing so always created “opportunities for technical support.” New Office on old Windows wasn’t necessarily a good idea. The two products have always worked best when their latest releases were paired up.   And so, Microsoft’s cash cows mooed and were milked, and all was right with Redmond’s world. That was the way of the One Windows strategy from Microsoft for many years.

And then, tablet computing kicked off and changed the computing landscape forever; and it upset the World of Windows.   The consumerization of IT (CoIT) and BYOD (bring your own device) movements started to take hold of the world in late 2010. Corporate America wanted to bring their self-owned IT toys to work and wanted access to corporate resources with them. I know many IT managers who had to recreate entire Windows Policy implementations in Active Directory just to insure that capability to satisfy key members of executive management. Even though most every organization has some CoIT/BYOD presence (with the exception of some state government agencies around the US who aren’t ready for that just yet…), it’s still a big challenge for IT departments to manage.

Thankfully, however, for iOS, and specifically iPad users, that’s about to get a bit easier. Microsoft seems like it’s finally ready to decouple its Office/ Windows Release machine and give Office for iPad to the people.   I, like a number of other industry journalists, think that Office for iOS has been ready to ship for a while now, even as early as Q1 2012.   There was some credible evidence published on the internet coupled with what appeared to be screenshots of (near) finished product that indicated that Office for iPad was ready back then. Unfortunately, the release didn’t make it to the public due to entrenched Windows management.   With the many changes made, and still in process, at Microsoft, this – the final availability of Office for iPad – seems like the message to be delivered to the public at the press event on the  March 27th.

It was anticipated – and users can likely still anticipate – the need for an active Office 365 subscription, or full Office license – in order to be able to use Office for iPad.   This reaffirms the Microsoft (notice, I didn’t say Windows) ecosystem, and indicates a clear shift in corporate thinking in Redmond.   They are truly embracing the devices and services corporate direction set by Steve Ballmer before he was recently replaced by Satya Nadella.

Interestingly enough, it was thought that Microsoft could be missing out on as much as $2.5B USD in revenue due to the lack of Office on iPad.   However, it’s not clear if that estimate is accurate or merely an estimate. I happen to think that number is overstated, at least at this point. Microsoft isn’t planning to charge for the app specifically, but will instead require a purchase of either Office 365 or Office 2011/2013. I’m fairly certain that Office for iPad won’t compel the purchase of new Office licenses, however, I’ve been proven wrong before.

At the end of the day, we’re just going to have to wait and see…  2014-03-27  is less than a week away as of this writing. It is also anticipated that Microsoft will provide additional information on the ModernUI/ MetroUI version of Microsoft Office that will embrace touch and also run on Surface RT/ Surface 2 tablets. It was previously thought that the lack of this product was holding up the completed version of Office for iPad from release.

What do you think of all of this? Is Satya Nadella going to announce Office for iPad on  2014-03-27?   Will he announce Office 2015 for Mac?   Or will Nadella announce something different entirely?   Will the new version of Office for iPad contain just Word, Excel, PowerPoint and [some version of] Outlook, or will it be more complete, pulling in an updated version of OneNote as well?   How important is Office for iPad to you?   Will it compel you to purchase an Office 365 subscription or a licensed version of Office 2011 for Mac or Office 2013 Professional Plus for Windows?   Is the fact that they are effectively 2-3 years late on delivering Office for the iPad going to hurt Microsoft?   I’d really appreciate you taking the time to give me your thoughts in the comments section below and telling me what you think.

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Microsoft Releases OneNote for Mac

Microsoft formally responds to cross platform notes app challengers like Evernote.

OneNoteI’ve used Evernote for years. It really became popular in 2008-2009 when it released desktop and mobile device versions for most of the popular platforms of the day. Evernote came to the Mac in 2011.  Since then, they’ve been traveling at warp speed at the front of the cross-platform note taking app race. The strategy with them has been to give users one common place to collaborate with teammates and to hold their information. You can access your information from just about any device, on any platform anywhere.

Until the last few years, Microsoft’s been a bit absent from the party. OneNote was pretty good on a PC, but until recently, getting access to the information you may have stored there has been challenging.  OneNote for iOS solved some of those issues. Up until now, Office for Mac has been missing some big pieces – Access, Project, Publisher, and Visio are among those in the office that are still among the most missed.  However, Microsoft today removed OneNote from that list and has released OneNote for Mac.

Microsoft is rumored to be planning a new release of Office for Mac later this year. OneNote for Mac looks a LOT like its Windows counterpart, bringing UI standardization (within the suite at least) to the Mac version. It clearly makes you wonder if the new version of Office for Mac will share the same look and feel as its Windows counterpart, or if it will still have the standard Mac UI elements.  With all of the Office development teams now part of the same group (something that didn’t exist before – Microsoft had previously, purposefully from what my MS sources have said – put them in different groups with different goals and objectives), it’s clear that a standardized, cross-platform look and feel may actually be possible with this next release. It will also be interesting to know whether Microsoft makes OneNote for Mac part of the standard Mac Office install, or if they will make you download and install it separately.  We should know in a few months when the new version of Office for Mac is rumored to be released, nearly four years from its last update in 2010.

OneNote for Mac makes extensive use of Microsoft OneDrive. All versions of OneNote will be able to store notebooks there and sync them across all platforms, including OneNote for iOS. Users can also share notebooks with friends and coworkers, with near real time editing. This way, users will be able to share and collaborate with other remote users. Notes and notebooks will maintain a standardized look and feel regardless of what platform they are opened or edited on.

Are you interested in OneNote for Mac? Do you use OneNote on other platforms, or on an iOS device? Do you think it will become part of the standard Office for Mac install, or will it always be a separate app to install? Will the other missing Office apps – Access, Project, Publisher and Visio – be included with future Office for Mac updates or will the two suites forever be separate?  Why don’t you chime in in the discussion area and let me know what you think? I’d love to get your opinion on this, as Office has always been a favorite app suite and topic for me.

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Should Windows 9 be Free?

I’ve seen a couple opinions, and I’ve decided to weigh in…

Windows 9 new

Like its predecessor, Windows Blue, Windows Threshold is in the process of entering its full development cycle. As with Blue, many people are excited about Threshold and for a couple of key reasons.  Briefly, they are:

  1. Consumers don’t think much of Windows 8
    There are a lot of diehard Windows users that really are NOT happy with Windows 8.  Windows 8.1 is a step in the right direction with the ability to boot directly to the desktop and the return of the Start BUTTON.  However, many people will tell you that the improvements seen in Windows 8.1 are a start (no pun intended) and not a destination.  Microsoft still has a long way to go before they regain the public trust and earns their forgiveness.And they’ve earned this disdain, too. Microsoft mucked with, and moved everyone’s cheese and really brought productivity way low, and killed many IT upgrade plans. Windows 8.x really takes too long for office workers to figure out how to use. Its ModernUI (unofficially called MetroUI) confuses a lot of people, even on Microsoft’s own Surface line of ultrabooks. If Microsoft can’t sell the new interface on their OWN devices, relying on partner devices to do it, doesn’t look to be a winning strategy. This older business model is proving to be part of Microsoft’s downfall, and they seem to know it. Their July 2013 reorg definitely identifies the older management structure and mode of doing business as something that needs to change.In short, MS needs to get its revised vision on as many Windows 8.x devices as it can in order to help generate positive press so it can “turn that frown upside down,” and reverse what appears to be the start of a steep decline.
  2. Microsoft and Windows 8 have no place to go but up
    Windows 8.x adoption sucks.  Windows 7 adoption rates are on the rise. Microsoft desktop OS sales aren’t too horrible, but when it look at it in a Windows 7 vs. Windows 8.x perspective, it’s clear that the public doesn’t like the OS or the devices that it comes on.Prior to the Christmas Shopping Season, Microsoft was still feeling the effects of its $900M Surface RT write-off. Sales of Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro weren’t strong at all.  However, something happened over the 2013 Holidays that directed many users to not only look long and hard at Surface 2/Pro, but had the devices moving off the shelves as well.Microsoft needs to do whatever it needs to do to continue this positive trend.  If they don’t, the company is going to have some serious work to do regarding not only Windows, but the rest of its product offerings.

Given that they have work to do, AND given that most Linux distributions have been free for years, and that Apple gave Mavericks away (and it runs on Macs that are at LEAST 5 years old); Microsoft needs to do the same thing with Windows Threshold.  They need to give it away, and it needs to run on any computer that can push Windows 7. This accomplishes a couple things:

  1. If it’s free, it’s for me – Low to no cost upgrade fees
    “If it’s free, it’s for me!” I knew a guy in college who had that printed on his checks; and it’s pretty much a way of life for many people.  If they can figure out an  easy way to get something for free, you can bet that they’ll bust their behinds to make that happen.Much of the computing public still sees a great deal of value in the Windows brand. If they can get that level of value on their existing PC, for free, with all future platform updates and upgrades also coming in at no cost, then the platform has a better chance of actually getting on legacy machines than not. I may be in the minority opinion, but I really think that if Microsoft wants to remain competitive, as well as make a successful transition to a devices and services organization, it’s going to need to give the platform that powers those devices and drives those services, away.
  2. Increase <Latest Version > Adoption Rates
    Recent Windows 7 adoption rates have surged past Windows 8.x adoption rates. This means that people who are actually buying Windows compatible PC’s aren’t buying them with Windows 8.x on them, they’re buying them with (or downgrading to) Windows 7.  Microsoft doesn’t want Windows 7 to turn into the 2010’s version of the 2000’s Windows XP.  The last thing that Microsoft wants to do with Windows 8.x is have it be the “next Vista” where everyone sticks with the older version.  They undid much of the damage to the Windows brand with the release of Windows 7, but shot themselves in the foot with Windows 8 (and have effectively gone backwards).The company has a new strategic direction. What better way to foster that, than to give the platform away to end users?
  3. Continues and fosters its new direction as a Devices and Services organization
    The old guard organization where both Office and Windows are cash cows that provide years, if not decades, of revenue is over. As I stated recently, the old Microsoft has died and most of the management team from that regime has been moved to other areas or has left the company.  Microsoft’s new organizational focus, its new product portfolio is the whole Windows experience and not Windows itself. That means that it has to sell the devices and it has to sell the services that make the Windows platform a value-add. That’s where MS will make its money going forward. The best way to insure that is to give the platform away, making adoption for many an autonomic option.

Microsoft is in full transition mode. They’ve reorged the company and most of the old management team is gone. They are getting a new CEO in early 2014. They are changing not only how the company does business, but they’re changing their product portfolio as well.  They need to embrace the change and “unlearn what they have learned” over the past 25+ years of computing success. If they don’t, Microsoft’s relevancy as well as profit margins will decline as PC adoption rates decline.  The best way Microsoft can move forward is to give away not only Windows, but Office as well.  They need to start doing that with Windows Threshold.  How they figure out the best way to do it with Office – if at all – is something they will have to figure out as the release date for the next version of Office starts to appear on the horizon.

What do you think? Do you think Microsoft should give the next version of Windows away?  Why don’t join us in the discussion area, below and tell us what YOU think?

 

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No Derp Intended – What Apple Might be Doing with iWork

There may be madness to the method…

Apple’s iWork has been causing a ruckus. As I mentioned the other day, angry users are ditching iWork for Office. Microsoft fired back in the resurging Office Suite War without even loading their guns. Apple seems to have shot themselves in the foot with the stripping down of iWork.

But consider this – Final Cut Pro. How familiar is this situation?

Didn’t the same kind of thing happen? Didn’t users wail and gnash their teeth? Was not the cry so loud that the SDLC gods moved Apple to pacify the natives before they revolted?

i dont workComputerWorld’s Jonny Evans seems to think so. He sees this not as a dumbing down of the software, bringing parity with iOS and iDevices everywhere, but as a way of leveling the playing field before reintroducing features and functionality in a way that will allow those things to be universal across the App Store.

He has a point. That’s sorta what Apple did with Final Cut Pro. Sorta.

Jonny’s point is – wait and see. And he may be right. For now, users who upgraded can look in a subfolder under the iWork app folder and they can run the OLDER version (ver. 4.x) of iWork that version 5 replaced. At least until newer versions are released that contain the features that users are screaming about. However… there is a catch.

Apple really has one chance to get this right, and while they don’t have to reintroduce ALL of the removed features in the next version, they DO need to communicate their intentions without it seeming as though they are caving to user demands and putting things back that they took out. It’s a little thing, but it’s going to go a long way to strengthening their credibility in the eyes of a user base that feels jilted.

The problem with that is that Apple – and for that matter Microsoft or any other software publisher – doesn’t make it public policy to publish the roadmap for every <widget> out there. Apple is one of the most secretive companies in the world; and I expect them to stay that way. However, part of getting this right is going to be Apple explaining what’s going on and not making everyone either guess or wait until pundits read the tea leaves just before or just after another update of iWork is released.

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The Biggest News at the Apple Event – Microsoft and Google cut to the Core

Guess what kids – iWork (Pages, Numbers, and KeyNote) is FREE and available in the App Store right now.

It was over a LONG time ago. Microsoft beat out both WordPerfect and Lotus SmartSuite back in 1990-blah-blah-blah to win the Office Suite wars. It was hard fought. It was a bitter victory, especially for me, as I used to be a WordPerfect 5.x for DOS and 6.x for Windows instructor. I made money teaching people how to use WP5.x 6.x for DOS and Windows. That is, until Microsoft’s Office 95 hit and changed the world forever.

What was the death blow? That’s simple – integration with other apps. You could write a report in Word and include “live” spreadsheet data or easily import graphics and the text would all just flow around everything… it was so beautiful, it made me cry. It was a paper-jockey’s dream; and the closest competitor, WordPerfect, had a release of WordPerfect for Windows that was SO bad, the CEO of the organization recalled the app (which was already over a year late to market) and made the development team start from scratch.

and Microsoft has dominated the Office Suite world ever since. Hands down. The end. Game over…

Today… at the theater at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, Apple not only restarted the war, but it ended it in a single move. They win. Hands down. The end. Game (now really) over.

iwork vs office

How did they do it? That’s simple.

The latest update of iWork, their office suite which contains a word processor (Pages), spreadsheet (Numbers), and presentation creator (Keynote) is available today, and it’s free.

iWork is cloud enabled. All of the documents that you create and edit can be saved to iCloud, Apple’s cloud sync service. It can be used on the desktop or in a browser. It can be used by Mac or PC users. Documents can be started on one platform and edited in another, at the same time.

Did I mention that it’s cross platform and it’s free?

Both Microsoft and Google charge subscription fees for their office suites. Microsoft’s Office 365 has a number of different subscription tiers and the monthly fees aren’t bad. However, you’re still paying a lot for a set of apps that Apple is now giving away for free.

Oh… and by the way, Apple is also giving away OS X 10.9 Mavericks – the latest full version of their desktop operating system – for free. This really makes life difficult for Microsoft whose main revenue streams have been not only Office but Windows as well.

Apple’s new iPad announcements don’t mean much in comparison. Don’t get me wrong the iPad Air looks compelling and the new iPad mini has a retina display. Both hardware updates may be enough to get those still outside the tablet world or waiting for a reason to upgrade from an iPad 1 or an iPad 2 a compelling reason TO upgrade; but the big story from San Francisco today – free software from Apple. If that’s not a reason to give a longer, harder more serious look to computing platforms and ecosystem, then I’m not certain what is.

The war is over, my friends. And whether you think so or not, Apple really cut both Microsoft and Google to the core. They’re now going to have to rethink a lot of their mobile strategy and price points in order to combat this latest development after Apple’s announcement today.

iwork

I’d love to hear what you have to say about all of this. Why not join us in the discussion, below and tell us what you think?

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What if – Microsoft Doesn’t Make it..?

I had an interesting conversation with someone at the office today who asked about the MS reorg and some Surface pricing changes – What happens if Microsoft shuts down?

msreorg

Its an interesting question, and one that made me, as well as some people around me and my friend, shudder – What if Microsoft doesn’t fare well after the reorg and everything continues to tank for them?  More than 80% of the world’s enterprises run on Microsoft clients and servers. What would happen if they just evaporated?

Now, I don’t want anyone to panic.  This isn’t very likely to happen, so don’t go getting your undies in a bunch.  However, when you start looking at how many businesses run MS software – servers, clients, middleware – it’s a legitimate question.  Where does the world turn if Microsoft and Windows dies?

Yeah… I’m at a bit of a loss too. I have no idea what viable alternatives are REALLY out there.  Now, assuming Microsoft is TOTALLY out of the picture (again, possible, but not probable…for now), some companies would likely adopt the same strategy with Windows 7 as they did with Windows XP and ride it as long as they could, hiring as many software engineers and developers to patch their enterprise implementation of the OS for all their clients as necessary. They’d have to do their own security patches, as again, MS wouldn’t necessarily be around 5-7 years from the finalization of their demise.

Thankfully, the problems at the OS level aren’t there when it comes to a productivity suite (meaning, Office).  There are many alternatives available, despite the fact that Office is the defacto choice at this time.  Things like LibreOffice, OpenOffice.org, and SoftMaker Office offer free or affordable, robust alternatives to Microsoft’s classic office suite, without imposing online, subscription restrictions or requirements on users. Regardless of what happens in Redmond, I don’t see this area being as big of an issue as the lack of Windows would create.  All three of the products I cited are MS Office compatible, AND have versions available for Windows, OS X, as well as numerous Linux distributions.

So what does this get us at the end of the day? Not much… The level of speculation here is crazy-huge.  But it’s one that a lot of people have had wander through their minds, especially at the large office I work in.  Many of the PC’s that are in use here today are still using Windows XP.  Windows 7 should be fully rolled out over the next 6-12 months – 4 years after its release in October of 2009.

If Windows were to evaporate, there’s no clear heir-apparent for an enterprise client OS out there.  OS X and Linux both have an enterprise presence, but its miniscule in comparison to what Microsoft has.  If I were Tim Cook or Jim Whitehurst (the CEO of RedHat) I’d be watching Microsoft like a hawk and step up the enterprise marketing at each and every opportunity.

My friend Preston Gralla says that MS has to kill the Windows brand to succeed. Greg Keizer, also from ComputerWorld, doesn’t give Ballmer a good chance of making the recent Microsoft reorg a success.  Part of that is Ballmer.  Part of that is clearly based on industry data of past reorg and culture change success rates.

The odds just aren’t in Ballmer’s favor; and any way you cut it, there’s definitely blood in the water. The only questions left to be answered are when and how badly will the shark attacks be…

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