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Former Apple exec: Has Microsoft gone nuts?
bgr.com ^ | Dec 20, 2013 | Zach Epstein

Posted on 12/22/2013 7:27:41 AM PST by upchuck

Of all of the dramas currently unfolding in the tech world right now, Microsoft’s is undoubtedly among the most intriguing. Years ago, just before Windows Phone was first released, industry watchers warned that unless Microsoft could make serious strides in the smartphone market, it would undoubtedly be doomed. Then the iPad and Android tablets began eating into PC shipments and analysts warned that unless Microsoft launched an immediate and aggressive attack on the tablet market, it would be steamrolled by Apple and Google. Fast forward to today and Microsoft’s global smartphone market share still sits in the low single digits. Microsoft’s new tablet platform, Windows RT, is all but dead. And yet despite all that, Microsoft is still thriving, having racked up a $5.24 billion net profit on more than $18.5 billion in revenue during its most recent quarter. But the Redmond, Washington-based giant is hardly in the clear.

Former Apple executive Michael Mace recently penned a piece on Microsoft’s current debacle. We covered some aspects of it earlier this week, but the broader, simpler theme is one that really is becoming an important question that more and more people are starting to ask:

Has Microsoft gone nuts?

Mace points to three rumors early on in his piece, and he notes that while they are all just rumors, they come from well-sourced reporters with solid track records.

  1. Nokia was working on an Android phone and Microsoft might not make Nokia kill the project after it takes ownership of Nokia’s devices and services business.
  2. Microsoft is toying with the idea of offering its Windows Phone and Windows RT operating systems to partners for free.
  3. The Start button is already back in Windows 8.1, but the full Start menu may return in a coming update. “Metro” apps, meanwhile, might be removed from the current Start screen, instead functioning in more traditional windows on the desktop.

“Those are just rumors, of course, but they’re coming from multiple reporters who have strong ties to Microsoft, which means they’re probably genuine plans or at least serious trial balloons,” Mace wrote. “Taken together, the reports give a picture of a company that’s laudably willing to revisit its assumptions, but that also seems to have lost track of what it’s trying to accomplish.”

There are even a few other gems out there that Mace didn’t cover. Is Microsoft going to give Samsung a $1 billion bribe to keep making Windows Phones (that it doesn’t even bother to promote)? Is Windows Phone 9 going to ditch the “Metro” interface partially or even completely?

So again, has Microsoft gone nuts?

Mace goes on to pick apart these specific reports and to offer some offer some unsolicited advice to his former rival, but the biggest takeaway goes back to his main point. Once Microsoft names its new CEO, his or her first and perhaps most important near-term task will be to prove to customers and investors that Microsoft has direction.

“The challenge for Microsoft’s new CEO is the same one Steve Ballmer has tried and failed to answer for years: Demand for Windows is declining because the platform hasn’t done anything new for a decade, while Microsoft doesn’t control the fast-growing segments in tablets and smartphones,” Mace said. “Microsoft tried to use Windows 8 to take over tablets. That failed. What do you do now?”

There’s nothing wrong with experimenting, of course, but Microsoft appears to be reversing course on some core moves that were supposed to carry the company forward through the “post PC” era. What’s more, these well-sourced reports suggest that some of the big changes Microsoft is considering might simply make matters worse. Would a free Windows Phone OS really be any more appealing to vendors that have already invested several years and tens of millions of dollars in Android (which also, of course, is already free)? Is paying Samsung $1 billion to keep making uninspired Windows Phones a smart long-term play when Samsung is in the process of launching its own Android rival?

Microsoft is not in dire straights. Not even close. But the challenges currently facing the company are real and the recent string of rumors noted above suggests that Microsoft still has no idea how it is going to address them.


TOPICS: Computers/Internet
KEYWORDS: apple; msn
Mighty Microsoft stumbles? Time will tell.
1 posted on 12/22/2013 7:27:41 AM PST by upchuck
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To: upchuck

bgr.com is not exactly known for real news. They are known for gossip and rumors, all of which these are. Hard to take material fron bgr serious.


2 posted on 12/22/2013 7:39:43 AM PST by cyberstoic
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To: upchuck

They should have put some thought into what they were doing in the first place. They should have gone full Windows on desktop and the Metro on tablet and phone.


3 posted on 12/22/2013 7:41:52 AM PST by Jonty30 (What Islam and secularism have in common is that they are both death cults)
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To: upchuck
"Mighty Microsoft stumbles? Time will tell."

Well, it certainly looks that way to me. I have one computer at work that has "Windows 8" (now just updated to 8.1) and I have yet to have a positive experience with the machine. NOTHING about the whole "Windows 8/Microsoft Store" system is even remotely intuitive, and (at least to me) downright "user hostile">.

I've been a Windows user since before Windows became available (it installed as a run-time-engine to drive a graphics program....."Micrografx In-a-Vision" (later "Micrografx Designer).

Nothing Microsoft has ever done has been as screwed-up as their attempt to make a desktop computer into a phone.

4 posted on 12/22/2013 7:44:56 AM PST by Wonder Warthog
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To: upchuck

I despise the Win 8.1 interface and want nothing to do with any phone that runs it.

Don’t bother to try to convince me the interface is good. It isn’t — to ME (the only one that matters).

It took exactly 0 minutes for me to comprehend the Android OS interface.

It looks like I am not alone.

As the car manufacturer learned — don’t try to convince the buyer that the Aztek is anything less than butt-ugly.


5 posted on 12/22/2013 7:52:29 AM PST by freedumb2003 (Fight Tapinophobia in all its forms! Do not submit to arduus privilege.)
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To: upchuck

For the present, I’ll be sticking with all my Mac products.


6 posted on 12/22/2013 7:54:28 AM PST by basil (2ASisters.org)
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To: cyberstoic

Shoot the messenger? LOL

I don’t know who bgr.com is or what axes they may have to grind but it’s a safe assumption that MS is nutz. Microsoft has, er, appropriated - and abandoned more architecture than most companies ever create. They don’t innovate - they acquire. And theirs isn’t even so much experimentation as it is dalliances. They are notorious for putting out new products and then abandoning them - and stranding users - just as things are getting started.

Microsoft’s bread & butter is its operating systems. America’s business gets done on Windows. But MS has shot itself in the foot with every new version because they don’t listen to their user base - they give us what THEY want, not what we need (sound a little like the GOP?).

As a result their OS’s look more like an arcade game than a business tool. That’s OK if you’re buying a toy, but not if you have work to do.


7 posted on 12/22/2013 7:57:12 AM PST by rockrr (Everything is different now...)
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To: basil

For the present, I’ll be sticking with all my Mac products.
*****************************************************************
Me too, but you’ve likely just triggered the Apple haters to come here (LOL).


8 posted on 12/22/2013 7:58:39 AM PST by House Atreides
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To: House Atreides

Like I really care-—LOL!


9 posted on 12/22/2013 7:59:41 AM PST by basil (2ASisters.org)
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To: Wonder Warthog

Human factors people have ubiquitously infested computer software development manufacturers. Their relentless retooling of what they feel the optimum human experience with a computer should be CONSTANTLY falls short of the mark.

Instead, the average user in most any popular OS today is pummeled with a constant barrage of endless questions, warnings and data that foretell the outcome of the desired action.

If I could line all these ‘humans’ up in a room, I’d machine gun them.


10 posted on 12/22/2013 8:05:23 AM PST by Gaffer
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To: upchuck

Why don’t they just follow their age-old cheap, marginally-functional-but-apparently-good-enough Apple knockoff formula? Pricepoint me-tooism made them into what they are today. Their efforts at actually creating something new have been unintentionally hilarious.


11 posted on 12/22/2013 8:06:38 AM PST by RegulatorCountry
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To: rockrr
Microsoft has, er, appropriated - and abandoned more architecture than most companies ever create. They don’t innovate - they acquire.

A number of their applications were home grown (Word, Excel). They threw so much at the Xbox that it really has earned a place at the table (despite betting on the wrong DVD successor), the original Windows NT (NOT 1.0./3.1/95) actually was a decent OS in its class and was home grown, the Microsoft mouse was the standard for a long time, a LOT of their programming tools are home grown, and decent.

Is this small potatoes compared to what they acquired/appropriated? Yes, but not ridiculously so given the position they are presently in.

At this point, they make their profits on business. Business does not particularly look for user interface innovation at the OS level, they'd prefer fewer jarring changes. Business wants security, access to a large skilled pool of people who know the product, affordability, serviceability. Microsoft's place at the table will not be withering anytime soon. Most every cube still has an MS OS in it.
12 posted on 12/22/2013 8:13:56 AM PST by Dr. Sivana (There's no salvation in politics.)
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To: upchuck

If it weren’t for the fact I needed to get a new cellphone in late November 2012, I would have seriously considered getting a Windows Phone 8 device. I ended up getting a Samsung Galaxy S III instead—a pretty good phone if you don’t mind having to plug it into the charger at least once a day.


13 posted on 12/22/2013 8:15:21 AM PST by RayChuang88 (FairTax: America's economic cure)
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To: Wonder Warthog

When I was searching online for a laptop for the wife, the first thing I did was limit the query to NOT include Win8 machines. If forced to buy one with Win8 installed, I would have bought none, or went with a Mac. I’m SURE I’m not the only one taking this approach, with such a dislike of Win8. Sure, Win8 might work on a phone, but I believe it downright sucks on desktops and conventional laptops where REAL WORK might be done. I view tablets as little more than media consumption devices - not for any real productivity.


14 posted on 12/22/2013 8:18:21 AM PST by KoRn (Department of Homeland Security, Certified - "Right Wing Extremist")
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To: upchuck

My daughter has a Windows phone and my wife has a laptop with Windows 8.1. The Metro interface/GUI works fine on the phone but is terrible on the PC. Different devices used for different purposes, one size does NOT fit all.


15 posted on 12/22/2013 8:30:10 AM PST by jeffc (The U.S. media are our enemy)
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To: jeffc

Download the classic shell with the Start button. Looks and feels just like the old Windows. I just upgraded to Win 8.1 and am learning to love it. Fast and very stable.

http://classicshell.net/


16 posted on 12/22/2013 8:46:27 AM PST by Red in Blue PA (When Injustice becomes Law, Resistance Becomes Duty.-Thomas Jefferson)
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To: upchuck

Tablets and smart phones are consumer personal entertainment technology. .not business and business infrastructure ....guess who own this second category: Microsoft...the reason Windows 8 is a flop is because they tried to make it consumer technology and not business technology...Microsoft basis business don’t forsack your base


17 posted on 12/22/2013 9:23:01 AM PST by tophat9000 (Are we headed to a Cracker Slacker War?)
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To: Red in Blue PA

I also use classic shell on my wife’s 8.1 computer that I built from scratch. No problems whatsoever once I got rid of the stupid apps screen.


18 posted on 12/22/2013 9:24:49 AM PST by Oshkalaboomboom
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To: upchuck; martin_fierro; Swordmaker; Ernest_at_the_Beach

> despite all that, Microsoft is still thriving, having racked up a $5.24 billion net profit on more than $18.5 billion in revenue during its most recent quarter.

That reminds me, I need to take this somewhere I can use free broadband to get that 8.1 update. :’)

MS’ phone biz is in Latin America; the cheap notebooks (like this one) have too many easter rotten-eggs (crap popping up, doing things no one would *ever, ever* want to do on a normal computer, but someone with a stylus might want on a tiny little mobile phone screen) but don’t cost any more than a Chromebook.

As long as MS stays out of the hardware business, or takes its entire OS business into a proprietary hardware platform (iow, copy Apple), and sells it (not “give it away” to “partners”), it can remain profitable.

Any OS company that doesn’t start OEMing its OS and/or apps to TV manufacturers will watch its market shrink, whatever its share may be.


19 posted on 12/22/2013 9:29:27 AM PST by SunkenCiv (http://www.freerepublic.com/~mestamachine/)
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To: upchuck

Even without a touchscreen, I have few issue with Win 8.1.

You can set it to open on the desktop.

Windows Key + X in the start menu basically shows you the old start menu +

My biggest problem was having the Upgrade to Windows 8.1 Tile show up in the Store. Dell took care of that and then I was good to go.


20 posted on 12/22/2013 9:50:39 AM PST by UB355 (Slower traffic keep right)
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To: Wonder Warthog

Well I had Windows 8, upgraded to Windows 8.1 and loved it.

Unfortunately I am too wedded to Ubuntu, so I promptly installed that, but by far I thought it the most pleasant Windows I have yet tried.

Don’t backslide too far Windows. I believe you’re on the right track.


21 posted on 12/22/2013 9:56:43 AM PST by Cringing Negativism Network (Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, bring him back...)
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To: Oshkalaboomboom

The desktop interface should be standard for PC’s while the metro interface is used for tablets and phones.

Who is the guy who thought it would b a good idea to use it as a computer UI for a computer OS people have gotten to know over 20 years?


22 posted on 12/22/2013 10:04:36 AM PST by Red in Blue PA (When Injustice becomes Law, Resistance Becomes Duty.-Thomas Jefferson)
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To: Red in Blue PA
These people are all fanbois. I have been in the microcomputer business since 1978. I have windows 8.1 on many desktops, a laptop, a surface RT a surface pro and several Nokia phones. I can go any machine and log in with the same ID and have access to all my stuff. It is amazing!
23 posted on 12/22/2013 10:08:29 AM PST by BillM (.)
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To: upchuck

Microsoft puts up crap but makes up for it in volume. If I weren’t forced to install their garbage win 8 and overpriced office I wouldn’t touch any of their products. Microsoft puts out junk and they can get away with it because of their market domination.


24 posted on 12/22/2013 10:29:48 AM PST by Organic Panic
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To: upchuck
Is it just my observation, or did Microsoft really start cratering after Bill Gates heartily endorsed 0bama's Marxist agenda and the mainstreaming of homosexuality (but, I repeat myself...)?

Buddhists might call it "karma". The Bible refers to it as "the Wrath of God". Either way, it seems to be happening.

25 posted on 12/22/2013 10:46:19 AM PST by Gritty (Liberals think living your life free of welfare, EBT, and government nannies is "cheating"-J Hawkins)
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To: KoRn

http://www.classicshell.net/

Fixes almost all your Win8 issues :)


26 posted on 12/22/2013 5:47:46 PM PST by Svartalfiar
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To: Cringing Negativism Network
"Don’t backslide too far Windows. I believe you’re on the right track."

My hope is that MICROSOFT gets back onto the right track. The RT/Metro crap was, I think, the single biggest bad decision the M'soft has ever committed.

The desktop machine is NOT going away any time soon, and M'Soft OWNS the desktop. What the WORKING world needs is tablets that run full Microsoft Office applications....not "Apps".

Once upon a time, M'soft at least somewhat understood that they had to consider the installed base and not to leave those many millions behind. But M'soft has apparently been infected with the Apple virus which says "screw the installed base, we're changing things, and to hell with you".

There are probably hundreds of thousands of dedicated machines costing $100,000 and up which REQUIRE software that runs under Windows. THOSE end-users simply cannot "change things" at the drop of a marketing meme.

This is true to the point that there is actually a market for PC's with modern processors, video capabilities, etc. that will run older versions of Windows.

What M'soft needs to do for those applications and customers is to make available downloadable, legal, working versions of ANY of the older Microsoft operating systems that will run as virtual machines under the new OS, and can run the dedicated software that all that (irreplaceable) hardware requires.

27 posted on 12/23/2013 5:31:06 AM PST by Wonder Warthog
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To: Wonder Warthog
"What M'soft needs to do for those applications and customers is to make available downloadable, legal, working versions of ANY of the older Microsoft operating systems that will run as virtual machines under the new OS, and can run the dedicated software that all that (irreplaceable) hardware requires.

I'll go one step further.....installation of a new OS should ask the question "Run old OS and applications as virtual machine?", and then if the answer is "Yes", AUTOMATICALLY set things up to do precisely that, transferring the old OS and software to do so.

This automatically removes ALL the pain of an OS switch, and allows the customer to make the transition as quickly or as slowly as he/she wishes.

28 posted on 12/23/2013 6:39:42 AM PST by Wonder Warthog
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