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back to article Microsoft profits soar 31% on Office, Xbox

Microsoft profits climbed 31 per cent during the quarter ending March 31, thanks to strong performance from the company's Office and Xbox divisions. During its fiscal third quarter, the software giant racked up $5.23 billion in profits, a 31 per cent jump from a year ago, while revenues reached $16.43 billion, a 13 per cent …

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"In line with global PC trends."

Of course it is; PCs by and large are Windows. (There is some Mac, some Linux...but not really a huge chunk of the market.)

The reason that PC sales are declining not during a recession, but during the recovery from a recession lies entirely in Microsoft's utter failure to innovate. PC sales would be soaring if they could remove cerebrum from sphincter and produce product that met the needs of more than just Big Business.

Putting it out at a reasonable price point with simple FRAND licensing would make huge differences too. You want to kill off linux/mac – including android – then you need a modern, innovative OS that is once-price-fits all. That price allows unlimited reinstalls, being in a VM, moving VMs from host-to-host, you name it. No CALs, no counting this, that and the next damned thing. Easy to understand, easy to implement, easy to account and easy to afford licensing.

“In line with current market trends” might be true of this year, but it won’t be the next. Next year Windows will start bleeding market share. The reason is not the typical Microsoft bashing of “they make insecure crap that gets viruses.” (As of Windows 7, Windows proper isn’t often the culprit, third party software is the hole through which nasties crawl.) No, the reason Microsoft is losing it’s grip on the market – and why PCs are on the decline in general – is that all the peripheral stuff about owning them is just too damned complicated.

I am not talking about using the computers, I am talking having to bear licensing, patching, system requirements, etc. etc. all in mind and fret about all this crap before you even get down to the “using it” part.

Don’t believe me? Go down to best buy, and tell them you want a “computer you can play games on.” Tell me if the computer they point you at is going to play the top 10 games of 2011, or 5 out of the top 10 in 2012? How difficult will it be to use that computer out of the box? How much crapware will be on it? How many 30-day trials will there be, how many setting to be changed, how many bits of fuckery will need to be poked at?

I can take an iPad out of the box, turn it on, do the wizard and 5 minutes later I am downloading and using my first app. The same goes for a console. What’s the unbox procedure like – and the ongoing maintenance mindspace overhead – of that Windows PC?

Pointless bureaucracy, and it’s killing the PC/notebook/netbook market.

</rant>

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Silver badge

You have a point, but...

Windows isn't going anywhere. Your average consumer has just two choices: Windows or Mac (the average guy hasn't even heard of Linux, or if he has it's just because he's 'got a nerdy friend who uses that'....sad but true). Most people will look at a Mac, see the price tag, and ask 'What does this do that Windows doesn't'. Not too terribly long ago that answer was 'it's immune to malware', but that's not true anymore. There may not be as much Mac malware floating about as Windows malware, but it's there so the answer to that question today is really nothing. That being the case, most of them will go with Windows. That's not going to change in the near future, so Mac is eternally doomed to have a low market share (unless they drop the premium pricing and sell their computers at a price point that can compete that is. If that ever happens then the devil's gonna need some snow shoes).

And because most average consumers are going to choose Windows, the major software vendors will continue to release their software to Windows only, and maybe Mac as an afterthought. None of them are going to spend the extra resources to release a version for the 2% of us who run Linux as our primary OS. Without those well known programs that everyone uses, Linux is doomed to have minimal market share.

I wish it weren't so, but that's life. Microsoft and Windows will continue to rule the world for the foreseeable future. The only real chance of that ever changing is if people can walk into Wal-Mart or Best Buy and buy a computer running Linux for $100 less than one right next to it with identical specs and Windows (which will never happen) or Apple cut their prices down to what an equivalent PC costs (which will never happen).

That doesn't even take into consideration the billions of dollars worth of enterprise systems that are completely locked into Windows and will be until something forces them to consider other options.

As for the idea of tablets replacing PCs...yeah, not gonna happen. At least not until a tablet can comfortably do what people use their PCs for. Right now they don't even come close. Another 3 or 5 years and we may start seeing that, but I doubt it. Businesses, where the real money is, are not going to give up a keyboard any time soon.

So you'll forgive me if I just roll my eyes and shake my head when you rant that Windows' market share is going to start slipping.

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FAIL

Apples and Pears there.

Now play the top 10 games of 2011 on your iPad.

Cheesy web appliances are simple, high-end gaming machines are more complicated. Who knew?

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Stop

Yep

Been watching the Microsoft world from a distance for a while now.

I remember getting given a laptop which was afflicted with the Redmond curse (of the Vista kind), and spent a good couple of hours uninstalling nonsense. Most of the stuff I used then, and still use now, works best on a Unix-like platform such as Linux. However, the laptop also was a poor performer under Linux...heavy as lead... poor battery life... it wasn't long before it was returned. We've since re-loaded it with Windows XP, where it runs well.

I installed Ubuntu Linux on a couple of laptops... one for a friend of ours who had been given a laptop also afflicted with the same curse... and my father's old laptop (which previously dual-booted Windows XP and Gentoo... the latter was so out of date it was easier to replace). In about a hour I had the machines booting Ubuntu. One needed to download a driver for the proprietary nVidia graphic card driver, the other Just Worked. I installed some small bits and pieces, but most of what the end users needed was there. The machines run like a dream. Hooking up 3G internet (Telstra Next G) was a snap... stark contrast to getting a Windows XP (formerly Vista) machine to do the same.

My latest acquisition was a Apple MacBook (2008 model). I've decided to keep to its native OS for now, and so far, so good. I've got a Linux partition ready for a Gentoo installation later, but MacOS X so far hasn't left me wanting too much. I miss some things from the KDE desktop I use under Linux, but all in all I've been quite happy with the Mac OS X desktop. This is the first Apple computer I've owned, and the first time I've had something more than a passing glimpse at their OS.

There are certainly some good ideas that'd be interesting to replicate in KDE 4.6. There are some ideas that I would love to implement in Mac OS X. I don't recall ever saying these things about Windows in the 18 or so years that I've had experience with it. Yes, that dates back to when it was an overglorified shell atop DOS. Microsoft needs to listen to its users if it intends to keep them.

I emigrated to the free software world a long time ago (before people flame; Darwin is open source) and now live there. I only go back to the Microsoft world on business.

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You missed the point.

The real point is that the PC is not going anywhere, so you can continue on using you 3-5 year old PC without any drawbacks, and put your fresh money on an iPad.

The same applies to digital cameras. Why buy a new camera, when the old one takes good pictures, and you're already using your mobile phone for photos on most occasions (because even the phone takes good enough pictures on most occasions)?

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Put your fresh money on an Ipad

Um, I have a PC.

Why would I want to waste money on an Ipad ?

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@TeeCee

No, I'd play the top 10 games of 2011 on a console. The iPad would do /everything else/ that the computer otherwise would be required for.

A PC can do everything an iPad or console can. It can be sexier, faster, crunch more numbers, etc. But why bother? The iPad + Console combo has become more than "good enough" to meet every computing need you could want. (Replace iPad with netbook, Smartphone, whatever compute appliance you want.)

PCs are seeming a lot like mainframes must have in the early 90s. "They aren't going anywhere," but by the same token, the need and demand for them is evaporating. Why use a PC for, well…anything?

If you need to game, consoles provide a stable gaming platform with a defined refresh cycle. It’s hell on developers to be constrained like that, but who cares?

If you need to do anything else…get an Android tablet with a keyboard. ASUS Transformer, anyone? Serves as a viable PMP (it’s primary function) in tablet mode, does browsing in either mode, and office work in smartbook mode. Fantastic all-day battery life, ultra-simple interface, integrated app store and (Most) applications sync data to the cloud in case you break the damned thing.

This might not be what I, personally, want for my PC, but what one person wants has zero bearing on the matter. The market as a whole wants this. Simplicity. Computers that help you get a given task done and don’t get in the way. Integrated, managed, and above all: SIMPLE. Did I mention the importance of simple?

It’s not granny asking for simple. It’s the kids. They grew up on this technology stuff. They know what it can do, and they are absolute snobs about cluttering up interfaces or unnecessary complexity. They want the freedom to modify and tinker…but the default proffered interface and it’s accompanying tools have to be adequate to engage them.

The PC is the F-350 with the 12-cylinder multi-fuel engine of the IT world. It’s big, it’s powerful, it’s versatile and it gets Real Work done. It’s also a pain in the ass to park, and has lousy fuel efficiency. Even deep in the heart of redneck Alberta, only those driving work trucks – or “real winners” – drive an F-350 around. Everyone else drives a much smaller vehicle custom-fitted to the uses they will put their vehicle through: usually moving people.

This is very reflective of the IT market. People don’t need or want to drag around a full-fledged PC. Sure it’s more versatile and powerful…but it’s just too much, to costly, and too power hungry for what they really use their systems for in their real, every-day life. Thus, PCs are fading to becoming “work computers.”

…though there will always be those “real winners” who get the bad assenist PC they can, and hang a pair of chrome testicles off the hitch.

It’s just not going to be “most of the market” anymore.

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Really?

"The iPad would do /everything else/ that the computer otherwise would be required for."

Really? Word processing? It can do it, but only at a piss poor level. Spreadsheets? Ditto. Creating multimedia? Don't make me laugh. Entertain the three year old? Probably, but it won't survive that treatment the way a keyboard will (and yes, my three year old plays Elmo games on my desktop).

The iPad and other tablets are excellent entertainment machines, but do not try to shoehorn them into a PC replacement role. It's a very bad fit for them. Personally I wouldn't even want to type on email on the things, let alone try to do any 'real' computing.

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@sisk

Well, this is where we gt into the "splitting hairs" portion of the excercise. At the moment, I don't have an iPad. I do however have a Galaxy Tab. It came with an office program - albiet fairly primitive - that does about 75% of the office work I need.

I'll be honest though, when I need the heavy lifting, I use a (Virtual) PC. What do I mean by this? I mean that I use Wyse PocketCloud to RDP into a virtual desktop I maintain (Windows XP, with OFfice 2003) and get done what i need to do from there. So far, I haven't found anything that I wouldn't normally put into "workstation" roles* that I can't do on my Galaxy Tab.

The key here is it's use as a replacement for my /personal computing/. Not my business PC. It does e-mail, basic office work, multimedia, some games, lots of browsing, basic video/picture/audio editing and remotes into my work machine for when I have actual work to do.

The Galaxy Tab is a first generation tablet, and it has already functionally rendered half my extant PC estate obsolete. This one portable device has become the gateway to all the other devices I own; they in turn have become headless server boxen. For lack of a better term, the Tablet is a “thin client appliance.” The exception here is that it access my own personal “cloud,” (house-local storage, virtual machines, media, network resources,) as well as “cloud” services provided by third parties. (Google, my mail server at work, drop box for document synchronization, etc.)

The tablet is remarkably disposable. All the data exists somewhere else. The account configurations exist elsewhere. As long as I remember my passwords to the various services, and the names of the apps I use frequently enough to re-download them, then I an be back up and running on any android device I pick up in a matter of minutes. (Indeed, my HTC Desire has a nearly identical app loadout, but the smaller screen real estate really hampers productivity.)

Now, bear in mind that I am not claiming

A) That tablets don’t need a keyboard to do any real work. They do. Buy a Bluetooth keyboard and they become laptop replacements.

B) That tablets are replacements for business PCs. They aren’t. Business PCs do workstation tasks. They also have to be locked down according to corporate policy as well as run (usually windows-only) corporate software. I claim only that a tablet can do pretty much any non-gaming personal computing activity for ~90% of the population. Thus making them a /mass market/ PC replacement.

*Video editing, CAD, 3D work, etc. Stuff usually reserved for /business/ computing.

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Re: Sisk

Pc's (windows, Mac and Linux) are always going to be more capable than tablets for most tasks. However techie PC users are failing to understand just how completely and quickly the Tablet paradigm is overhauling PC use. I have more than a casual acquaintance of this now. After initial skepticism I'm truly amazed by what is happening. I'm amazed at the number of friends and acquaintances who have picked up my tablet and said, "that's great, i want one." Most people are sick of the problems PC's bring, with their corruptible HDD based OS's, corruptible system state, malware and arcane workflows. They pick up a tablet and it makes instant sense to them. They relate to it immediately. Also i'm willing to bet the point about production on a tablet is being turned around very quickly. You can do your emails. You can edit HD video very easily and to the level most people want to do it. You can do casual word-processing easily with a keyboard dock.

Yes children do love them, and they do have massive appeal to children but that's hardly a criticism. Given everything they can do (and do well), when you think about it, that's actually a very big indicator of why they are so successful. Most people see tablet ways of working as wonderful and children don't see limits with cynical adult eyes, and I have no doubt they are *producing far more with tablet in hand than with PC's*. I suspect we adults will very soon be following in the productivity footsteps of children have already taken and many of my friends already prefer them for email - a huge proportion of a productive business day, because they are so accessible and just work.

Tablets will improve PC's massively, because to date there has been a large element of ignoring the bad (a bit like how a messy person stops seeing the mess in a room, we have become accustomed to arcane ways of working that are not required and make no sense and PC's have not improved quickly enough). In some ways it's a little unfair because tablets are benefitting from the instantenaity of solid state just before it's affordable enough for the average PC punter to make the switch. But that doesn't change the fact most non-technical people find managing the lifecycle of a PC a horrible and frustrating business. Tablets take them away from all that. So running them down isn't going to make a jot of difference to the massive and unprecedented adoption rates already in evidence.

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Stop

iPad unboxing steps

Doesn't it really work more like this.

I take my iPad out of the box. Turn it on. The connect it to my PC (or Mac) to update it.

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FAIL

shitebox360 profits

They are only actually profits if you ignore the 8bn of rrod losses and Dev costs. Microsoft are ontrack to make nothing this gen.

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Megaphone

Stop the xbox

So your xbox made even more money, mmm ...

YOU AND YOUR XBOX ARE KILLING PC GAMES!

New PC games are still dx9, and look like crap. --- Because of the xbox's very old gfx

New PC games are small and claustrophobic. --- Because of the xbox's lack of ram

Stop making the xbox, it's the lowest common denominator.

Why Don't You Just Switch Off Your xbox and Go Do Something Less Boring Instead

like use a PC ;)

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Anonymous Coward

People still fall for Microsoft Office?

I didn't realise that people still bought Microsoft Office, I thought it had gone extinct with Open Office and Google Docs?

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Well, I still MS Office from time to time. But...

...it's still only Office 2000!

Why would I bother to upgrade it to the latest version.

- There's SFA change in the speller since O2K, that'a now over a decade ago.

- Similarly, there's no change in the grammar checker since O2K--a decade ago (Microsoft bought Grammatick, integrated it into Office then forgot about it).

- There's stuff-all improvements in the more sophisticated formatting options such as needed improvements to headers/footers and the integration of some DTP features etc.

- Font handling has gone hardly anywhere in a decade or so.

- With Office 2007 MS introduced the damn clear type fonts such as Segoe.ttf into office title bars etc. now titles and menus look fuzzy! (Talk about annoying--the only way to fix this is to close Windoze down, run BartPE, and copy Arial or whatever over the Segoe clear type which fools Windoze into believing Arial is actually Segoe--voilà sharp Office fonts on title bars once again).

- Latest version of Office has interoperability and other useless feature-creep that I'll never use.

There's more but that's enough.

Oh I nearly forgot, the Sun ODF plugin for MS Office v2 works fine with Office 2000 which means I can seamlessly interchange ODF files in Word or Excel with Open/LibreOffice.

All I can say is that you've more money than sense if yuh still upgrading MS Office.

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Anonymous Coward

oh dear

aye thats right, my company tried doing just that, and it ended up a complete nightmare, people like what they know and whilst open office is fine if you stick to it, the hassles mount up as soon as you start sending documents back an forth to folk that use MS Office or other versions of Open office, Give them Office and they can open any MS Office doc without format issues with minimal fuss

The reason you are supprised that people actually buy MS office is probably the same reason you could get away with using wordpad and a calculator, in that you dont really use all of its functionality

Excel is a beast of a program and ive not ran in to anything it cant do yet.

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JDX
Gold badge

extinct?

Open Office is OK but lacks loads of interop functionality and other stuff which is essential in the business/enterprise sector; g-docs is a joke for anyone who does anything non-trivial. I think g-docs is pretty neat, especially spreadsheets, but I would never use it for serious documents.

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Linux

As the fat-client dies so does the MS cash-cow

As the fat client model dies so will Microsoft. I haven't run Windows on any of my PCs for years, my family also increasingly run Linux too. However I don't believe that people will migrate to Mac or Linux on mass - though I still wish they would - what they will migrate to is managed services like the iPhone, iPad, Android phone/pad and other smart appliances that do a few things well enough.

Most people at home and at work don't need a fat client PC, can't administer a fat client PC and as soon as there is a thin client alternative they will ditch the PC. Already the Playstation and XBox have eaten into PC games sales and the smart phones and pads will eat into PC sales in the same way.

The fat client PC is doomed and that can't be good for a company that only makes a profit because of it's monopoly in the fat-client PC market...

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Stop

Erm

"However I don't believe that people will migrate to Mac or Linux on mas"

Oh yes I forgot, Apple are the NICE heartless multi-national! :-)

Microsoft and Apple users are the same. Linux users are the only ones breaking away.

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Flame

@Anonymous Coward - I still use MS Office. But...

...it's still only Office 2000!

Why would I bother to upgrade it to the latest version.

- There's SFA change in the speller since O2K, that'a now over a decade ago.

- Similarly, there's no change in the grammar checker since O2K--a decade ago (Microsoft bought Grammatick, integrated it into Office then forgot about it).

- There's stuff-all improvements in the more sophisticated formatting options such as needed improvements to headers/footers and the integration of some DTP features etc.

- Font handling has gone hardly anywhere in a decade or so.

- With Office 2007 MS introduced the damn clear type fonts such as Segoe.ttf into office title bars etc. now titles and menus look fuzzy! (Talk about annoying--the only way to fix this is to close Windoze down, run BartPE, and copy Arial or whatever over the Segoe clear type which fools Windoze into believing Arial is actually Segoe--voilà sharp Office fonts on title bars once again).

- Latest version of Office has interoperability and other useless feature-creep that I'll never use.

There's more but that's enough.

Oh I nearly forgot, the Sun ODF plugin for MS Office v2 works fine with Office 2000 which means I can seamlessly interchange ODF files in Word or Excel with Open/LibreOffice.

All I can say is that you've more money than sense if yuh still upgrading MS Office.

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