Steve Ballmer's inaugural Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opener - taking over from Bill Gates - was important for its emphasis and what was missing. Ballmer opened with the proposition that the PC revolution has been good, but should have been better. There remain billions of people out there still untouched by either the PC or …
Microsoft = monopoly
They got where they are on desktops because of their history of (and ongoing) monopoly business practices, which . Where these business practices don't apply, they are either less significant (servers and "netbooks"), a minor player (mobiles) or near invisible (set top boxes and general consumer/industrial electronics).
There's only one way for them to go, and it's not up.
MS death spiral?
Oballmer can't be both wrong and right, now can he? I'm constantly amazed by the assumption of competence and strategy given Microsoft when confusion and mis-stepping are obviously what's going on.
It's worse than that Jim, they're dead..
He's Pretty Much The Norm
This moron is incapable of seeing reality; he has risen to his level of incompetence and roosts there like so many other corporate executives. It's goons like him who have contributed so much to the global economic morass we're in.
Paris because I bet she likes a side show in the zoo's monkey house.
I Swear I Try
I try to be politically correct and say what I want to say in "acceptable" terms, but I've just had a belly full of this worthless, subhuman, money-grubbing, low-life, maggot gagging dumb ass son of a bitch.
Did you neglect to mention what else what missing...?
...such as skipping clumsily about the stage, screeching like a tortured chimp, demanding the crowd give it up for him, the armpit sweat stains spreading rapidly in his shirt?
And, what about furniture? Were airborne chairs also missing?
Inquiring minds, etc.
less significant in the server market - than who?
Once you leave you never return
I've had a crash course (literally) with Windows and its software development over the last month or so. Its been a long time since I've done anything serious with Windows so I'd forgotten just how ridiculously arcane their world is -- everything is ridiculously long-winded, opaque, just plain weird. I was lamenting to a colleague (someone who doesn't know the alternatives) that "It might be justified is the result looked and worked any better but it doesn't -- its all pain and no gain".
Once you break the spell you wonder why you bothered. You can do so much more, so much faster and much more reliably using alternatives -- everything is just so easy.
Windows on my mobile ???
Hell no ... I take a G1 please
I see the Microsoft bashing has already begun. The reality is that Microsoft delivers some great products that lead the market for good reason - Office 2007 was a huge improvement, standing high above its competitors, and Windows 7 is heading in a very good direction as well. Despite all the criticism Windows is still the best operating system out there when it comes to the user experience (yes, even Vista) - Linux has no focus and OSX still refuses to allow an open platform or to support gaming.
"Where these business practices don't apply, they are either less significant (servers and "netbooks"), a minor player (mobiles) or near invisible (set top boxes and general consumer/industrial electronics)."
That's ignoring the X360, which has taken the crown for games consoles (ignoring the mainstream angle the Wii went for). They have demonstrated the best quality titles, with the highest attach rate, and the best priced hardware. Sure they threw money at it to get to where it is today but Sony did exactly the same thing. You also have to factor into the netbook equation that it's an ultra-budget market and Microsoft has to compete with a free operating system. As for consumer / industrial electronics they're simply not areas that Microsoft is focusing on; that's like saying that Burger King is failing to cater to Columbian coffee connoisseurs.
Still, Microsoft's CES showing was rather weak and Windows 7, as polished and improved as it is, has little new to offer the Vista user. Certainly it's lacking the focus that made Office 2007 such a dramatic improvement. They'd do well to price it considerably lower than they did Vista, especially as an upgrade to Vista. The world is facing a recession and the feature set is far from stellar, plus they also need to win over the Vista-haters.
"There remain billions of people out there still untouched by either the PC or Windows."
I bet they're bloody glad about it too.
Windows for mobiles
Disclosure: I do not own an iPhone, I have an HTC Touch Diamond, and having sat next to somebody who does have an iPhone I realised what a pale shadow of an imitation the HTC really is.
The instant response of the iPhone was breathtaking. In contrast the HTC is a clunky piece of crap. And half the time I need to bypass their "TouchFlo" interface and just open a crappy Windows menu.
Windows Mobile might be acceptable in a standard phone (ie. with a physical keypad), but it's absolutely useless for touch screen phones.
The iPhone needs no stylus, while I use the stylus all the time on the HTC. I honestly cannot believe why anyone branded the HTC as an "iPhone killer". And I've been told it's one of the best of the Windows touch screen phones!
To be fair, I think the iPhone is too big, and it's Apple, so it's a closed system (no removable battery, no data memory expansion, sub-standard camera, no Flash, etc.).
I'm now getting too embarassed to answer calls in public on my HTC just in case an iPhone owner sees how shite it looks :-)
The good news is that my phone upgrade is due in March. Unless a miracle occurs and Nokia releases an iPhone-like GUI for Symbian, I will be going back to a "conventional" phone with physical keys.
solid but uninspiring
Truth is that Ballmer's a businessman, and most of the MS senior management are similarly well-versed* in managing large companies. Unfortunately, there is no Jobsian character, with an eye for flair, imagination or style anywhere in the management structure, and this is reflected in how MS pitches all its products - as solidly-performing but distinctly unexciting new additions to the stable.
*- not 'well-versed' as in any good, mind, just as in they know it better than they know inspirational design...
Step down Ballmer, step down.
The future of Microsoft with Ballmer at the helm is about as bleak as the prospect of the future of an Apple without Jobs. The thing is, it would (theoretically) be easy to bump Ballmer out of his position, than it would be to stop jJobs from keeling over... Except. Ballmer represents exactly the kind of myopic, middle-aged, money grubbing incompetence which marks people's perception of Microsoft and constitues much of it's current upper management. The company has been hijacked by a Junta of miserable, self-serving nobodies, who each prop one another up. The notion that it should be Bach - who is widely percieved, within Microsoft, of haemorrhaging money out of the company in untold billions - who should add some sparkle to this lacklustre affair speaks much: only the blatant thieves within the upper management are capable of showmanship.
Oh, and by the way, Gavin, it's 'ought', to imply 'should', not 'aught'. 'Aught' - while a fine and handsome word, that deserves a better airing than it currently enjoys - means 'anything'.
If this was a Steve Jobs keynote...
There would be a hundred posts already.
Slow, painful death
I have a Windows background and have only relatively recently discovered Ubuntu, OSX etc, but it seems abundantly clear to me that Windows is not looking good. Ok, so the masses haven't adopted OSX or Ubuntu, but I think that has got a lot to do with price (Apple), availability of a wide range of third party software (Apple), a bit of complexity (Linux), and probably just the unknown. Microsoft seem to be doing well enough with Exchange, SQL Server, IIS Server, MS Office (although ubiquity is no reason for 3-yearly Office upgrades). Windows server seems to still be doing ok, but the company is hardly a dominating monolith. PC's? No. Browsers? Nope. Mobiles? Ugh. Even Ms thought to hide the OS behind a nicer UI for the latest phones. If I can, my next home PC will probably be a Macbook with XP running in a VM for third-party software. MS is a broken company right now. It needs fixing before the disease spreads to the remaining profitable business areas.
You sir, are an amusing troll. I know I shouldn't but since I'm posting anon I'll give you a little morsel
I seriously rofl'd when I read your little rant blaming everything on some so-called socialist leaning. Linux and Open Source in general is an extremely capitalist concept in that it encourages fierce competition between projects and many businesses can and do make money either from the use of the software or from supporting it.
WARNING WARNING: The below contains a long and unnessecary rant on the nature of the Desktop OS Monopoly currently held by Microsoft. It also jumps quickly over such themes as hardware lock-in and market segmentation, usually by the power of the tangent.
As 'bad' as the MS monopoly appears to be, it is also important to remember how the company came to be in such a position in the first place, and it wasn't all down to marketing and business tacticts (but ok, it was a big part of it ;o).
It was because they made 'computers' (you know, machines that calculate things and stand in the bottom basement of science departments at colleges) easy to use for common (e.g. stupid)people and they made them do things that common people wanted (write letters, play games, look at picures of naked ladies, tax returns). Other companies did the same as well, microsofts attempt was just easier to use and cheaper.
Warning: Tangent Jump.
When it comes to the consumer market I don't really want it split up into competing factions of non-compatible software platforms.. I use linux for the more advanced things where I need to customise things the way I want (or need, depending), and it works, but I don't want to have to keep a computer running a multitide of operating systems just so I can play the games that I want or run a particular program that a company has decided to only release on one platform. At least Apple has gone over to x86 so 'everyone' are at least on the same hardware. (Apple PowerPC'ers; apple doesn't love you anymore. Apple+Intel=True; don't feel to smug, you never know when they will dump you as well for someone else)
Yes, there are plenty of places where x86 doesn't belong, and yes, there is a need for other hardware platforms in certain situations (embedded, mobile, server, in the spare room where I've set up my old favorite the C64 to play around with, etc), but I like the fact that almost all software (yes, I am aware that there are still some programs that arn't on wintel, but they are few and far between) that I can buy today will run on windows.
Personaly I am glad that linux isn't a major force on the desktop. It's a great OS (kernel + usually gnu + whatever else you have decided to add to it) that you can customise to your hearts content and get to do whatever you want. It's solid as a server software and can be customised to suit a range of applications (and devices). why does this success have to be measured against the fact that it hasn't been adopted widely on the desktop?
The major player desktop wise apart from microsoft is apple with their osx (which runs on wintel now.. so if it gets 'too big' and starts to get too much software only available on that platform at least I won't have to run a setup of duplicate hardware just to run it) and unfortunately it is starting to move into the desktop market. if you are a (insert OS of choice here) zealot then you probably will think that this is a good thing. it is not.
Sure, there could be worse scenarios... amiga could still be around... it could still be on motorola processors, apple could still be running on powerpc... and they could all have divided the desktop market between them with 33% each. software would be more expensive to develop for 3 different systems/hardware and more software would be platform/hardware specific (as in only runs on system x, ignore system z & y).
Caveat: I have nothing against Amiga, it was a brilliant architecture at the time (somewhat outdated now), and I certainly wouldn't mind if it was still around... as long as 'around' wasn't in the desktop market ;o)
In short, (aka return from tangent mode), the fact that there is a monopoly on the desktop isn't a bad thing, the fact that apple is 'starting' to move into that market isn't bad, as long as the only effect that it will have is to get the 'monopolist' to get it's act together and create a better product to regain marketshare. Segmented market with lots of incompatability = bad.
Solution to any of this? Get apple to make an OS for their hardware (most of which is very good indeed) that is machine code compatible with windows. Likelyhood of this happening? Hell, snow, Jobs showing up in a white turtle neck, you get the idea. It's not going to happen, for the same reasons that IBM in it's time decided not to go for ASCII and decided to go down the EBCDIC route back in the day; because there isn't a vendor alive today that don't love the sweet sweet smell of VLI in the morning (Vendor Lock In).
If we ARE going to be locked into just 1 vendor, please make it a 90% marketshare one.
Alien, because I dream of a world where all code runs on all hardware without needing to be re-compiled, just like in independence day.
"That's ignoring the X360, which has taken the crown for games consoles (ignoring the mainstream angle the Wii went for)."
So what you really mean is:
"That's ignoring the X360, which would have taken the crown for games consoles except that the Wii pisses all over it regarding sales.
"As for consumer / industrial electronics they're simply not areas that Microsoft is focusing on; that's like saying that Burger King is failing to cater to Columbian coffee connoisseurs."
I am not sure what you mean by the above statement. I may be misreading it but you appear to be either claiming that MS does not want to sell consumer hardware (such as the X360, Zune etc.) when it clearly does or that someone who likes Columbian coffee (or possibly a Columbian who likes coffee) would inherently dislike Burger King coffee which is a logical non-sequitor.
Is Balmer admitting that MS is a minor player in operating systems. 1 billion DOS/Windows systems sold, 4 billion mobile, predominantly Symbian, OS's sold and disregarding PC's sold with Symbian as their OS.
Looks like MS is in a downward spiral that even their CEO can see.
Touch!!! Welcome to yesterday. Go to you tube - search on 'Ubuntu', 'touch screen' and 'compiz' and find out what the kids were doing in Linux world over a year ago.
In terms of technology - Microsoft have nothing over their competition. It's all down to their desktop dominance over the last decade. They'll need to come up with more than Windows 7 and mobile to stop their ongoing erosion.
"That's ignoring the X360, which has taken the crown for games consoles (ignoring the mainstream angle the Wii went for)."
Ha-ha-ha-ha! "If we ignore the product that kicked MSs ass, MS is the best". Well....duh!
The XBox360 maybe be technically wonderful - but what did people actually buy? The Wii. That's what matters, end of discussion. In a free market MS got caught with their pants down and people voted with their wallet. Why did people choose MS? Compulsion - it was not a free market back in the day.
And the server market (especially the webserver one) who won that one, hmm? OMG FOSS socialists! ARGH! Save the women and children! In a free market MS got caught with it's pants (and that's British "pants" by the way), on their feet and Apache kicked them square in the rump with the pointy shoes.
The only reason MS is here today in its present form is inertia and all those dodgy deals many years ago. They have written some nice stuff (I like "Media Center" and have yet to find anything to touch it) but there OS is, in one word, crap.
The fear of Vista has had me investigate Linux and yes, that still requires more technical competence than Windows to set up (but not much more for the basics - you still need to know how to hack the registry in Windows at times). IME it pisses all over Windows, and I am sure I am not the only semi-savvy person who has decided "enough is enough" and begun to look around.
Is Linux the answer to all ills? Nope. SQL Server is nice too (I seem to get on with that much better than Oracle) and that is Windows based, but I see the client market (potentially) fragmenting just like the server market and people picking what they like/need. This is a "Good Thing"(tm) as standards will have to be enforced. Are you 100% compliant? No? Get out then. And standards mean stability, open markets and fierce, fierce competition. There is nothing "socialist" about FOSS, someone needs to make money - it's just not from selling the components (I work in a closed source house and we use FOSS all the time for frameworks etc, standards are a good thing).
ps MS Office (all versions) is a sack of ugly, inconsistent (within itself!), non-standard shit. It is an abomination (I have written enough plug-ins to know). OpenOffice still has some issues (mostly minor UI gripes), but it seems to be much more consistent and less resource hungry. I really should have a gander at the API some day.
Simple reasons why many people don't have a computer. Linux, OSS and Windows are too complex for the elderly absolute beginners who aren't technical, engineers etc..
Some of these simple OS desktop platforms (like the one that comes with Asus Eeepc for example) are much better suited to beginners. Plus the low cost of these netbooks makes them more attractive.
Even £100 is a lot to some people.
And for how long did the Xbox division do nothing but piss away oodles of money harvested from buyers of Office and Windows? It's not so hard to get to the top of your industry if your competitors have to turn a profit but you need only concern yourself about building market share and bleeding everybody else white. Now we can all get ready for phase 3 in the Standard MS Business Plan
1-Launch substandard product
2-Subsidise with profits from WinOffice monopoly while eliminating competition by fair means or foul
Couldn't have put it better. So I havent'.
If you want to compare toolsets, compare gdb to debug, or msvc to eclipse. Thats the correct comparison - and then you find the economics a whole lot more interesting. Otherwise you're saying "lookit, this string bag is useless for serving soup, the gold chalice is much better". Sure - but did you consider a slightly cheaper option, say a bowl?
As for Office suites, the sum can't even be done - OpenOffice does everything that 99.99% of users need, and even then its full of bloat that nobody will touch in a million years. Sure, there's power users who write enormous excel macros and link into C++ etc. Fine, buy one Excel license for that guy and give everyone else OpenOffice. Saving in a 20 person company - 19x the annual license fee.
Your conclusion is right by the way - its just your maths and comparisons that are faulty...
"...Linux, OSS and Windows are too complex for the elderly absolute beginners...
...simple OS desktop platforms (like the one that comes with Asus Eeepc for example) are much better suited to beginners."
Err....the Asus Eeepc runs Linux. :oS
Windows without walls
Isn't that exactly the same sort of solid architecture we've come to expect from M$?
"Ballmer opened with the proposition that the PC revolution has been good, but should have been better. There remain billions of people out there still untouched by either the PC or Windows." - what happy little fuckers they must be!!
This is Beatles all over again!
Look, MS is the most used, they got their nose in the trough first, Billy got that deal with big blue and the rest is history. Just 'cos it's first most definitely doesn't make it best. Beatles wrote happy go lucky tunes, nothing that amazing, but they were the first with management that really pushed them as the first teeny-bopper band, lots of young impressible kids with a new found pocket money to burn. The Beatles are by today's standards rather dated and quaint leftovers from a bygone age, they have been far surpassed in certain areas but still hold some charm for a simpler time.
MS put a GUI on the desktop for most people, only freaks, weirdos and Yanks used the original Apple Mac. Back in the day when average Joe Public knew a mate of mate who could get him a computer for his business or home, that would run standard business software that meant he wouldn't need to take out a second mortgage, ala Apple, he jumped for it. More people wanted it, the more MS pushed it. The more it got pirated and spread around, the more apps and games makers realised where the real money was.
I suppose were I am going is, people are asking why MS are so big, pure luck. Billy saw an opening at a critical moment in time, stuck to his guns and made his decisions, good or bad. I am sure in an alternative universe, someone convinced Jobs to make the Mac for peanuts and he has conquered the universe. Maybe Linus was born 20 years earlier, he and Stallman convinced IBM to buy into something free but with real potential!
There is nothing that bad about MS or it's software, but as each year passes with dynamic items like Mr Jobs and his shiny OSX O/S, Linux with it's Compiz and it's free and cheerful server room antics, MS is looking rather dated and like the Beatles, old and quaint as the world rushes forward to a shiny, on-the-move connected world.
@Doug Glass & Mike Flugennock
The presentation resembled what youd see in a zoo as opposed to a CEO or whatever crown he claims to wear presenting his companies new products.
@Frank Gerlach RE socialist label
You've got it completely the wrong way around.
Microsoft is the same as the old East German Socialist republic. Look at the cars they had - without competition they had the tinbox on wheels, 2-stroke Trabant. Have a laugh at
These pieces of crap were produced until 1991! It's what happens when you have NO competition as in an old socialist/communist state.
Meanwhile - in the capitalist West Germany they had - oh let me think - BMW's, Mercedes, Audi's, Volkswagens, Porches. It's what you have when you have fierce competition - Darwin's rules etc etc.
And in the open source world the competition is fierce (but friendly) - look at the traditional flamewars about which sodding editor to use! There is competition between products; Ubuntu/Fedora, Gnome/KDE, emacs/vim, python/php etc etc etc etc etc
even within a dominant product such as Apache there is fierce competition to produce the best modules and fixes.
What you don't realise and us techies do is this:
Your Windows OS is like the Trabant - and Ubuntu/Debian/Fedora/Suse/more... is like a 1991 BMW 7 Series. Once you've driven one you'd feel a bit crap going back to the Trabant. Those of us who *have* used the better OS are shouting at you poor suckers in your Trabants - 'Get out and have this free BMW!' No wonder we're shouting loudly - we're only trying to help!
I now can do everything that I used to do in Windows 2000 / XP in Ubuntu, for nothing, with about the same level of hassle, except I don't have to part with several hundred quid for the privilege. Now those are economics I can live with.
Call it whatever insulting label you like, but Open Source products have overtaken Microsoft for everything but games, and I have a console for that and, yes, it's a PS3, partially because I'm sick of giving the Redmond mob my cash for gash.
Hmm, think I'll use some of that money I saved by NOT paying Microsoft to support some of those godless commie OS projects you have such little regard for.
I keep hearing people say...
...you can do it all in WINE. Well, frankly, **HOW**? I've tried a few installs into WINE and nothing has worked.
Or is this another case of having to be a computing god understand anything on Linux?
I don't like his face.
Especially the eyes, creeps the hell out of me.
I'd use Linux in a flash if WINE supported the full range of Adobe apps (especially flash). It doesn't, so I leave it. Simple as that... The hardware compatibility is excellent, but the software side of things is horribly lacking.. unless you're a programmer, of course, suprise, suprise. ;)
"Linux: Socialism is supposed to kill capitalist Microsoft ?"
You don't know socialism as it was implemented in historical situations, clearly. Fortunately for me Kevin Bailey has already laid out the argument, above. Real-life socialism (not the nicer, theoretical variety of the 19th century) is where the one big party controls it all, with no chance for anyone else, and all the money/benefits go to the members of the party.
Linux, if compared to a political system, would be more like anarchism -- it can then be anarcho-capitalism or anarcho-socialism, depending on who's doing it.
@ untouched & @ Gerlach
"There remain billions of people out there still untouched by either the PC or Windows."
I bet they're bloody glad about it too.
I bet they are, my mercifully short experience of using Windows on a daily basis might very well have scarred me for life. Thankfully I'm cured now, the sun will explode long before Windows ever gets to be the "center of my solar system" ever again.
As for you Mr Gerlach, when you invoke "socialism" as if it's some sort of insult, you just sound like the dumber variety of redneck inbreeds around here who still have their McCain-Palin lawn signs out: clueless, irrelevant and ignorant.
"...you can do it all in WINE."
Yup. Just run this windows emulator (with a subscription) on your happy-go-lucky OS... missing options, not fully supported, can't correctly detect hardware, etc. OR just install windows and everything automagically works correctly.
Vista 32 Business at work: no issues at all.
Vista 64 Ultimate at home (licensed): no issues at all.
Same goes back to XP, no issues.
2000? No issues.
98SE? No issues.
95? No issues.
DOS? No issues.
Tweak a bit sure. Just don't fuck with what's under the hood and it runs quite happily on what it's supposed to and does what it's supposed to.
My home Vista install was 15 minutes from boot to install media to desktop login, and everything WORKED.
Good points but I always thought the Beatles were crap from the onset
Wine doesn't require a subscription - you're thinking of CrossOver Office, which is a commercialization of it. Wine also has an application database(appdb.winehq.org) to allow you to check for compatibility before hand. As for Wine doesn't support the entire Windows API, that's a huge moving target with hundreds of shims for specific applications. Replicating the API itself is difficult(but they've done a great job so far - many applications DO run on Wine, including many games - just don't expect the latest, yet to be reverse-engineered APIs to be supported), but finding and implementing the shims is bound to be a nightmare. Hell, it's a wonder it hasn't imploded on Microsoft.
And besides, last I checked, the Windows desktop was still a rigidly 2d, monopanel, single virtual desktop affair. These have been around FOR YEARS over here in Freedomland.
Linux has no focus ..
"Office 2007 was a huge improvement, standing high above its competitors"
What competitors ?
"Despite all the criticism Windows is still the best operating system out there when it comes to the user experience (yes, even Vista) - Linux has no focus and OSX still refuses to allow an open platform or to support gaming", Jonas Taylor
Assuming that were even true, how does OS X not-supporting-gaming make Vista the best operating system. I know I'm going to regret this, but do you mind clarifying on what you mean by 'focus'. Most any Linus desktop I've used posess a browser, email, word processor and a media player. What obscure feature are you refering to?
Do you mean 'open' as in Windows is open as long as I pay a 'license' to Microsoft for selling my own machine or software? And didn't Apple just recently open up the iPod to non-DRM music. And anyone can go into a store and buy an iPod, what coudl be more open than that :)
Ballmer is clueless
@Bill Gould. I could find no efficient way of sorting through the thousands of rebuttals I had to your post. Clearly you are deluded / deranged / work for Microsoft so I'm not going to bother.
I had an open mind about vista but that product finally convinced me that, as soon as possible, I will have nothing to do with Microsoft ever again. Alright I quite like the xbox.
The Microsoft philosophy has always been: "extract money from customers first, give them what they actually need / want later (if ever)". I *loved* the MS patent application for a system that charges users hourly, pay as you go, to use applications on their own desktop. What ****ing planet are these guys on??
The philosophy works when you have somewhat of a monopoly and consumers have no choice. But this is changing dramatically in the desktop world as the definition of 'desktop' itself changes with RIA and the plethora of alternative clients.
Ballmer is clueless, has absolutely no vision and will drive Microsoft into the ground. Happy days!
Only noticed the important things in the article;
blah blah bla...New Halo games! FCUKIN' SWEET! blah blah...
He should wear a wig!