back to article Microsoft COO: Our greatest enemy is old Windows

The cloud doesn't hurt Microsoft's business, but the company does suffer an image problem related to "old software", according to the company's chief operating officer. Speaking to 14,000 Microsoft partners on Wednesday, Kevin Turner played down fears that the cloud will hurt Microsoft's software business, insisting that it has …

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The partners fears are not unfounded...

.. the move of apps to the web, specially business apps, means that the OS loses many of its relevance in traditional computing (e.g. application security, session management etc). The greatest enemy of Microsoft is not their old OS, its their lack of imagination. Recommending people to use Active Directory?!! those are technology shackles!

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old school is cool

And yet, Microsoft Word 6.0 was all I ever wanted. Everything they've done since only makes me go into options to turn off.

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Anonymous Coward

Indeed

The last useful new feature added to Word - the squiggly red underlining. And that was, what, over 15 years ago?

IE6 needs taking out the back and shooting, though.

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especially office

How does MS justify making everything harder on professionals in the name of making it easier for the clueless?

Its not impossible to make it easier for the clueless, without making it harder for knowledgeable users.

But in Office 2010, there's no improvement that would justify the loss of speed for experienced users.

So, don't be surprised M$, if people aren't upgrading... The old product is only dead if you can convince everybody that the new product is better for them.

Office 2010 maybe better for people who never used office, but for anyone else, its just an annoyance.

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Devil

Is it only me?

That misread the line "The bullish "KT"" aqnd moved the "i" two characters to the right and added a "t"?

And I'm sure I'm not the only one that hates the "Ribbon" interface on office 2010, and would have been quite happy to stay with the Office 97 interface (though with the spreadsheet size limitations removed). The older versions did the tasks I required of them, so it's annoying to have Microsoft "fix" what ain't broken.

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"The bullshit kid"?

I must admit, rather than that, I had a geek moment, instead: I saw "KT", and thought of the mass planetary-extinction-event, of the same name. I must read too much xkcd, or something.

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Facepalm

Speadsheet size limitations removed

Easy - use a proper data solution instead of graph paper on a screen

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Office Ribbons

You can replace the horrible ribbons with the traditional menus by using Classic Menus from http://www.addintools.com/index. It is free for private use.

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FAIL

Typical salesman

Doesn't understand the products he's talking about.... specifically: "Windows XP, Office 2003, and IE6 deserve a standing ovation. God bless them. They've worked for the last twelve, thirteen years..." - except XP and IE6 are just shy of 10 years old, not 12-13 years, and Office 2003 sort of dates itself really.

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FAIL

NOT!

they got it wrong, their greatest enemy is NOT old windows, it's their own stupid mandatory "genuine checks" that they perform as a condition to obtaining updates. This in turn leads to obsolete software sticking around for ages.

Not my case but i get calls and i know a lot of people that simply DO NOT WANT TO USE windows/microsoft update AT ALL on their home computers because of that. They simply CANNOT afford to pay the bank-breaking fee (for them) that MS is demanding!

If the genuine check was just a gentle reminder in the tray that would pop out once a day they could live with it, BE SECURE and one day they might get a proper license when/if they can afford it but noooo, MS wants to mess with their desktop settings, stick them with old&insecure windows files and so on.

That's why in these cases i always carry an Ubuntu live cd around with me and most people LOVE it when they see what it can do and that it can be installed and updated without intrusive "genuine" checks.

Ubuntu (as almost any other linux distro there) does perform some "genuine" checks but it does so in the background just to make sure that the updates it downloads have not been altered after they were signed with the distro GPG key.

Also, roughly half of the people i introduce to Ubuntu decide to keep it and ditch windows completely.

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Yeah

Damn MS wanting to make sure people have paid them for the OS, anyone would think they were running a bussinees or something...

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running a business?

No, what they are really doing is the same old monpolistic trick that has served them so well and the buying public so badly. Churn, churn,churn, that's what all this is about. To quote Bob Geldof "Give us your ------- money!

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Yeah, business...

So's Canonical; but Ubuntu updates are free.

Yes, M$ makes a lot more money, but it does it by loading up-front fees on software (so by the time you need any service you've already paid for software with problems). They could, of course, use a model under which they charged for support instead,a dn used support feedback to improve the product. Oh, wait, they do that as well, don't they -or at least the charging bit.

If Old Windows is really the big problem, make an upgrade/licence for the latest version available at a low cost, and in the course of that legitimise any versions people are already running, Then you can pursue a proper security and upgrade model from then on.

M$ has to decide whether it's going to act as a responsible body which, due to its own practices, has effectvie control of a large proportion of a market in which there are serious security and compatability problems, or continue simply chasing the dollar until everyone gradually gives up on them. It's their call, and the market's eventual decision.

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FAIL

Isnt

Isn't that like blaming the immobiliser for a criminals arrest, rather than the fact he's stealing a car?

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Anonymous Coward

Pricing

A big part of microsofts problem is pricing. Both operating system and office software are hugely expensive

Apple's move to much lower priced (but regular - close to a rental model) means they have a much more up to date user base. As a home user £20 pa (for the household) is easier to swallow than £100+ for a new version of windows (even if the windows upgrade only comes every 10 years)

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Cost and too many versions of the same thing

Yes, the OS is expensive (here in the UK at least) and Office apps are ridiculously expensive.

The other thing I haven't been able to understand is the different versions of Windows. Surely one version of Windows desktop in x68/64 is enough? The licensing is a headache too. I just want to buy a cheap license, then maybe some support and software maintenance for a small percentage of the original cost payable annually.

I'm looking at renewing an MS Office Open Value subscription with software assurance and the renewal costs for the software assurance alone is more than the retail price for Office 2010 Pro. Where is the value in that? The cost of new licences under the same program would buy us two retail copies of office pro... can anyone explain that? (sure we get some extra benefits but not enough to justify this).

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Unhappy

From my cold, dead hands

I don't know what I'm going to do when Office 2010 is finally forced on me. Cry, probably.

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I gave up...

...and switched to the Exchange web interface. Quite nice if you run it in Google Chrome. I don't have much use for office apps appart from Outlook so it made life a lot easier. For a small company (and ours is a small company) it makes me wonder if the next step is to drop our internal mail server and use a hosted solution.

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Windows

Sadly I don't have that luxury

I'm a VBA jockey for a small NHS Trust supporting about 15 years' worth of mostly-janky front ends and interfaces, written by a gaggle of mostly-useless-but-very-expensive contractors. None of these (even the recent ones) have been written with the ribbon UI in mind, meaning custom buttons, menu items, entire menus, toolbars etc. all become buried in a hidden submenu or lost altogether.

I'm seriously considering just looking for another job.

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Facepalm

That list of good software

He was going well until IE6. I much prefer Office 2003 to Office 2007. Also, I prefer Windows XP to Windows Vista and 7. I always hated IE 6.

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Their greatest enemy is themselves

This is a company that slowly but surely is killing itself. In a decade or so they'll be wondering what happened.

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Old is "bad"? Marketards. Useless idiots.

"Microsoft needs to break its link with the "old software" not only in the business market, but in the consumer market as well."

Business-wise, I am still perfectly happy with WordStar & Lotus123 ... Well, to be perfectly honest, I still use vi and sc to run my businesses.

We are profitable. And only update hardware when it breaks.

The box I'm typing this on is a 7 year old HP laptop, running Slackware-current. It is my day-to-day go-to machine.

My mantra? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

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Windows

My mantra? "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

Well...when I was at Nokia, my 'mantra' was "If it ain't broke, try to break it!"

That's how we got reliable stuff out.

HP had a beautiful ad. slogan years ago. Ran something like:

"There's one thing better than passing (your product's test) and that's if it fails. As long as you know precisely why.

Became my "mantra"

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QA

I like that, might become my new email sig!

Part of Microsoft's downfall was it's use of end customers as QA.

Vista had little or no UAT.

Various versions of IE had wide security holes.

The likes of ME back in the day that didn't seem to go through a verification stage whatsoever.

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@Andus McCoatover

You're talking pre-consumer testing.

I'm talking using finished product in the real world.

Orthogonal issues, no?

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Windows

Orthogonality maybe...

But I was part of a small team that tried to improve a product (a Nokia basestation) even when it was out there. OK, still being produced at the time, but we weren't happy. Oddly, network operators were, so why did we bother, one may ask? Reputation.

We improved the MTBF by about 5x.

(Oh, and my IBM lappie (T30) was made in about 2000. Works lovely with Ubuntu.)

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::heh:: Missed this one somehow, Andus ...

As a hardware guy who groks operating systems and application software, and has a clue about programming same, I was often asked to participate in "destructive testing" ... Lots of fun! :-)

But mostly, we did it BEFORE product shipped ... Sounds like Nokia needed a little help in their QA department. Or were you unfortunately inflicted with ISO 9000 disease?

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Beg your pardon ? A standing ovation for IE6 ?

Well, yeah, I guess. After all, IE6 single-handedly broke web standards so badly that 90% of web developer time was spent finding workarounds to make sales sites work properly.

That must be Microsoft's yardstick for success.

Now, can we please dispense with the age considerations ? Software is not a car that can rust and run down. Software will run for as long as the hardware works. Make hardware that runs for 100 years and the software will keep chugging away. Or, in Microsoft's case, bugging away.

The only reason IE6 "worked" for a decade is because Microsoft shat it out and was too lazy to do anything about updating it. Now, with all the alternates around and Internet suddenly appearing on Microsoft's radar, we get IE7, 8 and 9 in the space of 5 years, plus 10 coming up soon, which shows clear signs of panic in the Internet Exploder division at Redmond. That is NOT worth an ovation of any kind.

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Mushroom

That's what I was thinking

IE6 was a huge amount of ball-ache from day one (IE7 and IE8 are not much better). It will be 10years before IE9 is widely deployed in the enterprise (I base this on me still having to support IE6 for web apps). IE6 has held the corporate Intranet back in the back in the dark ages, whilst the public Internet has rocketed ahead.

And why? Simply because the public Internet has been increasingly following standards and this has allowed people to throw things together in all sorts of mad ways and to openly share ideas. One simply cannot do this within the MS arena where there are no inter-operable standards or the APIs are poorly documented (if at all). And by "documented" I mean "publicly accessible".

Then we have the fact that MS abhors standards and inter-operability, which should send alarm bells ringing in everyone's head. Why? Resilience. Imagine the scenario...you're running on the cloud. Good for you. And let's further say you're renting time on Amazon, where is your fail-over? Amazon? Maybe, but wouldn't it be cool if the fail-over was with someone else (say, Rackspace)? Why? Well if Amazon gets attacked/DDOS'd to buggery, you can fail-over to a totally separate infrastructure and keep on trucking. This would be impossible if you use MS as their infrastructure will be tainted so that it can only run on MS, just like everything else they have ever done.

Do you think we could have had Facebook, Google et al without inter-operable standards?

The MS model is dead - it just doesn't know it yet. It will fade into the background like IBM, but at least IBM still kick out some cool stuff from time to time and aren't hell-bent on pissing all over everyone (or maybe I've just been lucky).

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Windows

"Software is not a car that can rust and run down"

Well-OK - ish.

Done any FORTRAN lately?

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Silver badge

Fortran? Certainly. Working on a contract right now, actually.

I have a couple open contracts for COBOL, too. There are billions of lines of each out there, running most Fortune 500s. Lots of money in knowing the pair.

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Anonymous Coward

COBOL?

I keep thinking I should get back into that. Probably less stress than the crap I do now. Heck, a certified Java monkey who also knows COBOL could probably leverage serious wedge.

/dreams

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Stop

New software the issue, not old.

Microsoft doesn't seem to appreciate that the reason uptake of new software is so low is that the new software has serious design shortcomings.

'Pushing' the new products harder won't make the shortcomings go away, either. It isn't a question of adaptation or familiarization, it's a more fundamental issue that they simply don't work as well as the older products.

I find that customers are all fired-up to try Windows 7 when they buy new computers, but almost invariably, a month or two down the line, the request comes-in to replace it wth XP.

One of the major complaints relates to the cyclic juctions in Windows 7 profiles. I'd originally thought these were mainly a headache for tech guys migrating data, but it turns out they confuse just about everyone.

No. If MIcrosoft wants to sell more new software, first they need to fix it so it works. Properly.

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Alert

hmmm.

"I find that customers are all fired-up to try Windows 7 when they buy new computers, but almost invariably, a month or two down the line, the request comes-in to replace it wth XP."

I don't believe you.

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Sharepoint?

Really? He thinks that's a great product? It's the most annoying piece of crap I've ever had the misfortune to use.

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PainPoint

I remember in a previous life, our old systems guy who had gotten his MS certificates.

His goal in life seemed to be to kill our old "LAMP" intranet page and replace it with a Sharepoint page.

It was a disaster, we quietly migrated the LAMP page to a VM when he killed the server, and continued using it under the radar.

Even people outside our team found the page useful.

Sharepoint languished not used as anything beyond a document repository.

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It's the lack of innovation wot dun it.

The question shouldn't be "why are people still running XP?" (fess: I am, and intend to continue to do so).

A better question would be "Why have we failed to induce them to upgrade?" and when I say induce, I don't mean coerce, force, threaten or demand. I mean provided new features in the new versions of XP (if this was linux, W7 would still be called XP 1.8) that would have people thinking "hey, that is really bloody excellent. I *must* have that - even though what I have now is perfectly adequate."

Now, that's not to say that other O/Ss have done any better. Apart from supporting newer hardware, fixing bugs and keeping up with the minor feature-tweaks in KDE/Gnome/whatever linux is still essentially the same old kernel and utilities and freeware that we've had to a decade or two, too.

So, why has Microsoft (and the various mutations of Linux) failed to provide any killer attractions in their new systems? I have no idea - though backwards compatibility, large installed base, poor internal culture and a focus on things that actually make money must be in the mix somewhere.

So until MS, or Ubuntu or some other bunch can come up with something that really, completely changes the rules on personal computing, I fully intend to keep running XP until the hardware fails, my virtualised environments won't support it any more, or OSX comes up with something I can't live without. So I reckon it's safe for another 10 or 20 years. Maybe XP really is all we need?

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Linux

That will be nice.....

...if you can write your own patches/fixes. Unfortunately when MS drops support you're going to be left in the lurch. :( Personally, I wish the gov't would actually do something useful and pass a simple law: if you've charged people for your software you must either 1) support it OR 2) open-source it so legacy users can continue to maintain their systems. If keeping their code secret is so important, they should continue patching it, end of story.

Since that's not going to happen, I'm encouraging all my friends who are running XP to at least give Linux Mint a spin before shelling out for a pricey Win7 box... It's not like they're losing money if they don't like it.

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Defined by memories

or nightmares.

"-too many customers define Microsoft by old versions of Windows and old versions of Office."

Well let's be honest here, post traumatic stress disorder isn't that easy to shake off.

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FAIL

or...

... the fact that they are a convicted monopolist, with the same ethical standards as Capt. Jack Sparrow "take what you can, give nothing back" and a stunning lack of innovation.

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Pirate

Hmm

I forgot Cap'n Jack was flyng the Disney colours...

Well done sir!

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Never use even numbered MS software

Over the years I've worked by the idiom of "never use an even numbered release of Microsoft software".

Having just got Win 7 bedded in and reasonably reliable there isn't much point of thinking about Win 8.

It seems to me that the berst coders/designers in Microsoft work on the development of odd numbered versions. After the big release they drift away or get promoted away from usefulness. Then mediocre/less experienced coders take their place to work on the next (even numbered) version. Inevitably there are administrators keen to show their cost cutting skill in Microsoft by not paying for the best. You then get a poor even numbered release, Microsoft panics and recruits good coders and sharpens up their act and so the cycle goes on ....

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even numbered MS software

That model kind of breaks down after version 12 as MS folk appear to be fairly suspicious....

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WTF?

Even numbers

So you avoided Windows 7 as it was NT 6.1?

And you will embrace Windows 8 as it will be NT 7?

You skipped from Windows 3.11 / NT 3.5.1 to 2000 / XP, thus avoiding dos-based 4.x stream, and NT 4?

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Go

No XP here. Move along please...

I have upgraded all the PC's here to Windows 7 and my parents two PC's too. Initially Windows 7 was needed to run a new application and to provide support for new hardware on one PC. Having become familiar with it I upgraded all the PC's as it is far more stable and easier to use than any previous version of Windows. It's not perfect by any means but it is a big improvement on what has gone before.

Anyone had experience of networked printers always going into the 'Use Printer offline" mode and refusing to print? Happens all the time here with Windows 7. Keeps me busy....

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Unhappy

Oh, yeah, that one

That happens to us all the time. A product of Win7 being only tested in a nice clean lab with an excellent network. However, in the home the wireless is dodgy, and the shared printer is a bit disinclined to wake up in time.

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Stop

@Andy E

We aren't talking about your parents' crappy PCs, or your own piddling little network.

We're talking about corporate use, where some networks support tens of thousands of users. If the existing software works, it is NOT going to get changed without a damned good reason.

Who wants to spend a fortune testing all of their software against a new OS when it runs perfectly well on the old one?

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WTF?

Lab?

Windows 7 was released on the internet for beta testing, it was not stuck in a lab. Microsoft do more external usability testing than pretty much any other company.

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Anonymous Coward

"Microsoft do more external usability testing "

So how come they get it so wrong ?

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Anonymous Coward

"Microsoft do more external usability testing than pretty much any other company."

And then they make the release candidate, or in MS language "Service Pack 3".

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