#windows

The vast majority of people do not have, nor will they ever have a personal computer. They haven’t been exposed to Windows or Office, or anything like that, and in their lives it’s unlikely that they will.
Stephen Elop, Microsoft’s new executive vice president of Devices, in the post announcing the completion of the deal to acquire Nokia. This is not your father’s Microsoft.

Bill Gates in the summer of 1998 (from the same brilliant joint-inteview with Warren Buffett that I keep linking to):

Sometimes we do get taken by surprise. For example, when the Internet came along, we had it as a fifth or sixth priority. It wasn’t like somebody told me about it and I said, “I don’t know how to spell that.” I said, “Yeah, I’ve got that on my list, so I’m okay.” But there came a point when we realized it was happening faster and was a much deeper phenomenon than had been recognized in our strategy. So as an act of leadership I had to create a sense of crisis, and we spent a couple of months throwing ideas and E-mail around, and we went on some retreats. Eventually a new strategy coalesced, and we said, “Okay, here’s what we’re going to do; here’s how we’re going to measure ourselves internally; and here’s what the world should think about what we’re going to do.”

That kind of crisis is going to come up every three or four years. You have to listen carefully to all the smart people in the company. That’s why a company like ours has to attract a lot of people who think in different ways, it has to allow a lot of dissent, and then it has to recognize the right ideas and put some real energy behind them.

The first bit is important because it shows that disruption doesn’t always completely blindside those in power. Often times it’s just a matter of something happening far quicker than an incumbent realizes.

A great example of this with Microsoft isn’t just the internet as Gates describes above, but smartphones. Microsoft had Windows Mobile in prime position, but it wasn’t quite the “right idea” as Gates puts it. And once they realized that and came around to the right idea, it was far too late.

Andy Borowitz:

After failing to install the upgrade by lunchtime, Mr. Gates summoned the new Microsoft C.E.O. Satya Nadella, who attempted to help him with the installation, but with no success.

While the two men worked behind closed doors, one source described the situation as “tense.”

“Bill is usually a pretty calm guy, so it was weird to hear some of that language coming out of his mouth,” the source said.

A Microsoft spokesman said only that Mr. Gates’s first day in his new job had been “a learning experience” and that, for the immediate future, he would go back to running Windows 7.

So good.

Horace Dediu:

Ultimately, it was the removal of the intermediary between buyer and beneficiary which dissolved Microsoft’s power over the purchase decision. It’s not just unlikely that this situation will be reversed, it’s impossible. Computing decision making has moved to the furthest edge where use has been for decades. The computer has become personal not just in the sense of how it’s used but in the sense of how it’s owned.

Great line. And true. (And just look at those charts.)

A Clear And Present Shitshow

October 9, 2012, perhaps emboldened by a few tasty beverages, I went on a bit of a rant on Twitter:

11:45 PM Apparently tip-toeing around it isn’t enough so I’ll just come out and say it: Windows 8 is going to be a shitshow.

11:46 PM One man’s opinion perhaps, but it’s not really. I’ve talked to a lot of folks on both sides and as we get closer I’m much more confident.

11:46 PM Total. Shitshow. Just wait.

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Ben Thompson:

Meanwhile, the new entrant may not have all of the required performance – like my Chromebook – but along with that missing performance comes additional simplicity. Paradoxically, the fact the new entrant has less-than-desired performance makes it even better from a user experience standpoint. And, when the performance gets close enough, that user experience advantage makes it an obvious choice over a higher end product that does more, in every sense of the word.

This is a flip-side that most people fail to look at. One man’s feature is another man’s bloat.

The recent rise of the Chromebook suggests it may have hit enough features without the bloat of a Windows machine. A weakness becomes a strength.

More on Microsoft’s Chromebook nightmare, Miguel Helft:

But a story close to home gave me reason to think that Chromebooks are the latest headache for Microsoft, which has struggled to gain traction in phones and tablets at a time when growth in the PC market has stalled. At the public elementary school that my two sons attend in Oakland, the parent teacher association, on whose board I serve, recently decided to purchase 36 Chromebooks for students in the fourth grade. A few weeks later, we received news that the school district would purchase an additional 70 or so Chromebooks — and would upgrade the Wi-Fi in the school so all the new machines could work simultaneously. This allows half of fourth and fifth graders to work on computers at any one time, if their teachers decide it’s appropriate.

What was striking was not so much that a school in an urban district would purchase 100 Chromebooks, but that there was never any discussion of purchasing Windows machines. When an alternative to the Chromebooks was discussed, the conversation was about Macs — of which there are several in the school library, media lab, and some classrooms — or iPads.

While only anecdotal, this sure sounds like the ultimately disaster scenario for Microsoft.

Alex Wilhelm:

If Apple were to charge for the update to OS X after Microsoft — a company notorious for high software prices — made its own update free, Apple would appear quite miserly.

I like the notion that Apple followed Microsoft’s lead here — and was actually forced to — as if Microsoft had any choice other than to try to correct the shitshow that has been Windows 8 with a free update. (Much like Apple did way back in the day with OS X 10.1, by the way.)

You could also argue that these Windows 8.X releases are more akin to OS X 10.9.X releases, which have always been free.

But the key point is that Apple has now stated that all versions of OS X are going to be free going forward. Do you think Microsoft is going to do that with all future versions of Windows? Considering that selling that software is one of their core businesses, it’s hard to see how they could possibly do that. Which is why they need the hardware business to work.

The soon-to-be-a-part-of-Yahoo David Pogue:

The fundamental problem with Windows 8 hasn’t changed: you’re still working in two operating systems at once. You’re still leaping from one universe into another — the color schemes, fonts and layouts all change abruptly — and it still feels jarring. There are still too many duplicate programs and settings, one in each environment. And you still can never live entirely in one world or the other.

The more you work with Windows 8, the more screamingly obvious the solution becomes: Split it up. Offer regular Windows on regular computers, offer TileWorld on tablets. That way, everyone has to learn only one operating system, and each operating system is suited to its task.

Naturally, Microsoft PR chief Frank Shaw didn’t appreciate Pogue’s views on Windows 8.1. What’s different about Shaw is that he isn’t afraid to say so quite loudly.

That doesn’t change that fact that Pogue, of course, is right.

Taylor Soper:

The Microsoft co-founder said that there was an option to make a single button for such a command, but the IBM keyboard designer didn’t want to give Microsoft a single button. So Microsoft decided to use “Ctrl+Alt+Del” as a way to log into Windows. “It was a mistake,” Gates said, drawing a big laugh from the crowd.

Sort of amazing that such a user-unfriendly key sequence became a mainstream thing.