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back to article Can Windows 8 bag Microsoft 20 more years at the top?

Microsoft opened the 1990s with two pieces of software that paved the way to its total domination of home and business PC computing: Windows 3.0 and 3.1. Microsoft's operating systems arrived at a seminal point in digital history: the rise of Intel, whose chips changed the economics of the PC, and the demise of a fractured …

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It could

So long as Sinofsky stops trying to annoy software developers and learns just what made Windows take off origially (Hint Steven S - Steve B used to shout it out).

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Or just three years.

Possibly, if what I have been reading is correct, Windows 8 only needs to enable Microsoft to tread water until they make it into a usable, coherent operating system and "re-release" it as Windows 9 in three years time, thereby continuing their "bad Windows, good Windows" alternating release schedule, which has been a pretty successful formula so far.

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I think you missed a point already...

"Has Windows 8 got what it takes to deliver another twenty years of success for Microsoft or has the market now changed too much?"

If you would have read through previous Windows 8 articles on El Reg or even the Microsoft blogs which talk about Windows 8 then you would have noticed that one of the seemingly key problems where acceptance is concerned is caused by MS fully betting on their believe that the market /has/ changed considerably.

Personally I don't think it has changed that much, as such I think they'll run into problems with Windows 8. It most likely works just excellent on touch enabled environments, but I think the influence of the desktop environment is much heavier than MS anticipates.

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Trollface

No - lol

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Anonymous Coward

Who Cares About The OS

As long as it allows me to manage or process my data in the most cost effective way.

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Thumb Up

Re: Who Cares About The OS

Who Cares About The OS

As long as it allows me to manage or process my data in the most cost effective way.

...... Is the correct answer. It's the whole point of the OS, anything else is gravy.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Who Cares About The OS

As long as it allows me to securely manage or process my data in the most cost effective way.

There, fixed it for you.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Who Cares About The OS

Securely - well that rules Windows out then ;)

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1990s thinking again

Securely - well that rules Windows out then

Welcome to the 21st century, AC. Rules have changed since then.

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The biggest selling feature of Windows has always been backward compatibility. They tend support the old junk for as long as possible.

With Win8 there's too much in the way of radical changes instead of incremental changes. Windows 8 may be quantum leap, but a quantum leap off a cliff.

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@Giles Jones. Win8 seems to run pretty much everything that Win7 runs as far as I can see. What problems have you experienced with backward compatibility?

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Hit and miss

I think reality will be inbetween somwhere. W8 runs my ancient copy of Photoshop 7, but not Windows Phone Developer Tools (it does run VS2010, just not the WP emulator or the XNA framework).

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JDX
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Maybe

It might buy them a decade of success, but it doesn't look like it will so directly. What it could do, is act as the tipping point away from traditional GUI which is later refined into something better.

Lots of people couldn't fathom Windows95 and are now lambasting W8 for leaving the tried & tested pathway XP took from 95. MS still has enough market share to force W8/9 on the general public, who will be forced to learn it... if that works then Apple & Linux might end up having to go the same way to offer alternatives Windows users can feel comfortable on.

I don't think W8/9 is able to flop, because they're too big and dominant. A slide into irrelevance will take longer than a single product version.

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Re: Maybe

>>because they're too big and dominant

namely, exempli gratia, they have:

-a lot of patents

-MS Windows Tax,

-plenty of schools and organizations lobbyists to promote their products, lawyers and Congress/Senate lobbyists to protect them when prosecuted for their favorite monopolistic character

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Anonymous Coward

@JDX - Re: Maybe

For your information, Apple did just that, offering a pretty good alternative Windows users feel comfortable on.

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Does anyone think microsft will exist in 20 years time?

Because I cant see it.

A rather deficient and expensive operating system tied to one hardware platform and not easily portable to others.

A rather poor bloated and buggy set of office and internet and media applications.

a consumer world that actually isn't interested in operating systems any more - it just wants to run 'apps' on its fondleslabs.

a corporate world that is more interested in value for money than ever before.

servers have by and large gone or are going Linux,

Consumer toys are broadly Linux

Apple went BSD with some eye candy.

The only reason to have Windows is because you have a WORKSTATION and that's the program launcher your BigApp runs on.

But porting that to Linux is not a wildly impossible dream either.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Does anyone think microsft will exist in 20 years time?

You may be right about a trend to Linux over next 20 years, although if that happens Microsoft aren't going to throw out the toys, they'll adapt however unlikely that sounds now.

Short term, Win8 installed base will almost certainly overtake Linux on desktop (all distros) before the end of this year and OSX (all Mac systems) by Spring 2013. Not exactly a fail.

Windows has a long history on non-Intel hardware platforms going back to DEC Alpha, Mips, Itanium but nothing to write home about in terms of success. ARM has been supported in Windows embedded and WP7 but Windows RT is their first high profile ARM product and its anyones guess whether it will take off or not IMO.

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@itzman

Well, I see it happening. While your points about consumer & corporate worlds hold some truth you also ignore a key issue:

"A rather poor bloated and buggy set of office and internet and media applications."

What you call bloat is what I'd describe as key assets. While many people hardly touch the VBA IDE which sits behind most major Office programs (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) there are also plenty of people who do. And if you get into that area of Office you'll suddenly notice that the whole environment goes much deeper than you may have realized.

Its that part (amongst others) which many people ignore when they talk about Office. For many people & companies (myself included) Office is /much/ more than merely writing letters or setting up your household in a spreadsheet.

For me its being able to keep contact information within Outlook while also being able to access that information from Word (when writing letters such as bills, quotes, etc). Or how about being able to develop your own interfaces to connect your Office environment to other external resources? Right now I'm working on getting Office 2010 to extract / connect information from a Mantis bug tracking environment. Relatively easy because Mantis supports SOAP and since SOAP is commonly supported by Windows this support also finds its way into the Office environment.

As said; what some people consider bloat could actually be invaluable for others.

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Re: @ShelUser

Well, enjoy rebuilding those custom bridges and rewriting those custom scripts when MS arbitrarily changes everything around again in Office2015.

Version stability for corporates was a large part of their success, and I don't think a 3 year upgrade cycle on the OS and all associated software will sit too well in the corporate world. You know, the vast majority of businesses who didn't have a network and infrastructure until they bought a bunch of XP machines and who don't view IT as a moving target...

Like it or not, MS preferred business model is at odds with what most beancounters (and IT bods) want in an OS in that environment.

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Linux

Re: Does anyone think microsft will exist in 20 years time?

I'm pretty much a Linux fan, but "overtake Linux on the desktop" really sets a pretty low bar. I don't know that I would bet on W8 overtaking OSX by next Spring, either, as that probably would require many more people to upgrade existing Windows than I expect will do so after looking at the new one.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @itzman

"As said; what some people consider bloat could actually be invaluable for others"

However for 99.9% of the known universe it's still bloat.

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MJI
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MS Will be around

As long as it is the easiest way to run Windows executables on it.

So many applications, so many software houses.

We are looking at escape routes, but currently there is no need, but I feel that will change very soon.

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"but you'll get used to it"

Most of the reviews of Windows 8 seem to follow a standard format

1. Describe some key feature that has been removed/destroyed/made inaccessible

2. Talk about how "you'll get used to it".

3. Give some sermon about how change is good, even if it makes your life harder

Sorry, that's a fail.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "but you'll get used to it"

Yes, a lot of that about, thats 'journalism' for you.

Better to listen to, or talk to, people who've actually used the Preview in anger; not base your opinions from what you read in the press.

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Anonymous Coward

Microsoft have much more serious competition now - most corporates do not want Linux / Unix desktops - but OS X - why not?

OS X can do pretty much everything Windows can these days and almost everything Windows can with Parallels / VM Ware. I used to run Windows 7 - now I run OS X and have to say it was very easy to use / learn and nicer to use. Yes I have a few Windows applications but I just run those under Parallels - but it's only some older 'legacy' applications.

People think OS X and Parallels is a 'faff' or 'hard to install' - it was actually surprisingly simple.

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The problem with corporate running OSX is that they have to buy Macs.

Which today pretty much means MacBook pro. Very nice piece of kit - but an impressive bill if you have 10 or 20,000 seats that you were used to paying DELL prices for!

I can see the new Apple management looking at - if not actually selling OSX for Intel at least having a corporate-only deal where it can be installed on a specific cheap non-Apple Intel desktop.

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Beyond the fact that corporates would have to buy Macs... the fact that Macs do not support drive mapping, with letters... is a problem.

If Macs could belong to a Domain, and map drives to letters... I'd start deploying Macs tomorrow.

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"Microsoft have much more serious competition now - most corporates do not want Linux / Unix desktops - but OS X - why not?"

I think Linux has been heard enough at the upper management level that resistance is eroding. Part of the reservation was the fact that Linux looked a kludge until recently, part was the worry about retraining and reteaching users (new Windows is going to do that anyway), and part of it was uncertainty about reliability and such... Nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft products.

However, business is now looking hard at every expense, and Linux has been proven time and again on servers and small devices, I would bet with the massive rework that is Win8 and beyond there is a bit of a migration at long last.

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Linux

An OS in a box.

Running Windows in a VM is no escape.

You're still running Windows. You're still managing Windows. You still have to deal with all of the usual BS (especially as a large corporation).

If you're just going to run Windows in a box, you could do that with Linux.

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Anonymous Coward

I like Windows 7 and use it and OS X (Lion) and when you look at what Mountain Lion is promising - especially for all those iPad / iPhone users - it's very compelling. I think Microsoft have previously underestimated the value of tying your phone / laptop / desktop together and keeping it all in sync (easily) - but perhaps Microsoft have solved that in Windows 8 - only problem is the ship may have already sailed with iOS and Android on phones...?

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Anonymous Coward

benefits of filthy lucre

I like the way the boss presided over a monopoly for many years and then gave lots of his money to charity. We all dream of doing that.

If competition had been allowed to flourish for all those years the money would have gone to many different skinflint individuals like the late apple supremo.

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Re: benefits of filthy lucre

His charity only gives away more or less enough to avoid tax. The rest of the money (like around 95%) is invested into corporations. Corporations that included companies that don't sell medicine to poor nations and the oil companies that are completely screwing up the niger delta.

He's arguably enabling more harm than good but not surprisingly the MS fanboys donlt look into those sorts of things or his racist scholarship programme and go about spreading misleading BS about someone who is trying to clean up his image after being an awful man running an awful company for so long.

Don't forget he's still the chairman at MS and if he genuinely care about helping people then may he should stop those 360s from being built at foxconn.

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Re: benefits of filthy lucre

He has stated he intends donate 95% of his wealth to charity. Whether he will actually do so and in what way, is another matter.

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Windows

Hello? I am amazed. A discussion about Win8 that largely appears to involve.......

.....thought out positions (both for and against) rather than howling? I am impressed. OK, enough with the satire. I am myself somewhat undecided (I have been running the beta on a Acer W500) and I am not yet sure how I feel about this at all. My impression, for what it is worth, is that Win8 is somewhat more nimble in desktop than Win7 and that it is a very much better experience as a touch-os when one explores "Metro". I will wait and see what the RTM looks like and how it performs on kit that is optimised for it when such devices are released in the autumn before I make up my mind. Oh and no, I do not give a shit about the fucking start-button.

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Windows

Amazing they're still around!

Given that they've completely missed two markets which they were already operating in, it's amazing if they'll be in those and other markets for much longer.

It's a serious issue of poor strategic thinking from the board. It is astounding that they don't have any significant presence in the smartphone and tablet market. All they have is a version 0.8 tablet and a mess of a smartphone that is anything but cool.

Shocking that the board are still in place.

As things get more cloudy and web-based, there's a massive threat to their core OS business too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Amazing they're still around!

Easy to say now. Most people were caught on the hop when the iPad was launched two years ago. In hindsight, the idea that tablet computing would only take off when Intel delivered power efficient 22nm parts in 2013 was wrong. x86 proved irrelevant and ARM could deliver a worthwhile experience (OK the original iPad was a bit underpowered but iPad 2 was pretty useable).

Android has yet to deliver a strong reply to the iPad (unless you count Kindle Fire, still not available outside North America). Microsoft may have screwed up but it was not alone.

Having said that, given that Microsoft was a pioneer in tablet devices it was plain daft to focus effort on the expensive niche Surface product and ignore the mass market.

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Re: Amazing they're still around!

Microsoft did not have an OS capable of taking advantage of tablets.

Windows tablets were PC's with Windows XP and a touch screen to use your finger as a mouse... So much for "pioneering"...

As usual... Microsoft couldn't see the possibilities and actually innovate for real.

THAT is why they failed with the tablet.

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Re: THAT is why they failed with the tablet.

Really disagree there. The reason tablets haven't taken off in the past is because to any sort of reasonable processing power and screen quality out of them, they had to weigh about 1.5kg. Tablets aren't great for real productive work (graphics, word processing, programming, anything), but they're good for lying on a sofa and reading the web, watching a movie on a train, basic emails, etc. You could do all that with a desktop OS on the tablet but if the device is too heavy to casually hold, what point is there? Size and weight were the real barriers - if you doubt it, just ask whether a tablet-focused OS would make any difference if the iPad was the size and weight of one of those older laptops. It wouldn't. But the inverse is not true: a device as light and portable as modern tablets would still be fairly fit for purpose even with a barely altered desktop OS.

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Re: Amazing they're still around!

They missed the boat because they are too tied to the desktop, and specifically backwards compatibility. If instead of trying to bend Windows into a phone/tablet OS they had developed a brand new OS they might have been better off.

The other, real, problem, is that they are just not "cool enough" for early adopters. Even if they had delivered a decent smartphone a few years it would have failed because the early adopter consumer types had already sold into the Apple empire. I mean Balmer vs Jobs? Gates was at least a techy at heart even if he lacked the charisma of Jobs. But Balmer? How did he last more than 2 years in that position? He should have been fired the moment the iPod came out and Windows had nothing to counter.

In my opinion, I think MS need to think a couple of steps ahead now. Forget about iPads and smartphones. Instead focus on what comes after that. Because in 5 years time tablets and smartphones will be commodity items that every man and his dog owns. No one will care whether yours is an iPhone, S2 or Lumina. It'll just be a gadget. Microsoft actually have lots of interesting projects on the go but they never seem to understand how to market them.

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Linux

TINRA

Microsoft will carry on into the indefinite future because, for the millions of corporate cubicle bunnies, There Is No Reasonable Alternative.. Windows applications, both off-the-shelf and bespoke, is now so tightly interwoven into all businesses that paying the Microsoft upgrade tax every few years is cheap in comparison to the huge costs and risks consequent on a major change of OS.

Even given a "free" OS and applications, the cost of staff retarining alone will make the whole thing uneconomic. (Assuming suitable applications exist. And don't consume vast resources in data conversion and capatability verification.)

I've been involved in a project to "just" subsitute OpenOffice for MS Office in a large (<10,000) organisation. While notionally compatible, the differences entailed huge efforts to convert documents, spreadsheets, presentations etc. Realistic staff retraining costs were so enormous that it was basically ignored, leading to huge ineficiencies until the users had learned the bare minimum .

We all still have QWERTY keyboards. Demonsrtably not the most efficient layout for typing. But the cost of changing things so far outweighs the benefits that we'll still be using this for the forseeable future. Microsoft is just the same.

I'd bet my own money, (if I had any), that Win8 will be another of Microsoft's "alternate" products. Business will stick to Win7 until some time after Win9 restores sanity to the OS world.

Oh.. btw.. touchscreens have no place in an office environment. Most people's fingers don't bend that way.

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Re: TINRA

So if Windows8 completely reinvents the desktop paradigm for a new generation of intuitive multi-media, interactive, cloud based, streaming metaphor, wibble, wibble, wibble

Doesn't that involve some re-training ?

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Anonymous Coward

@Steve May 1 - Re: TINRA

Watch out with the FUD, mate!

Care to tell us how many medium to large size companies have sent each and every one of their 10000+ workforce to training courses on latest version of MS-Office ? What were the costs for this training ?

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Steve May 1, @nice disinformation

>>I've been involved in a project to "just" subsitute OpenOffice for MS Office in a large (<10,000) organisation. While notionally compatible, the differences entailed huge efforts to convert documents, spreadsheets, presentations etc. Realistic staff retraining costs were so enormous that it was basically ignored, leading to huge ineficiencies until the users had learned the bare minimum .

Steve, are you sure you were not retraining those poor 10^4 people for Emacs or, God forbid, vim... I mean vi?

Why do you use a penguin image? When did it become a Microsoft troll mascot?

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Re: TINRA

I think there will be a nice "windows classic" theme coming with service pack. Hope it costs to that ego maniac bald guy though.

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Re: TINRA

Don't know why you got the down votes, truth is as long as Word, Office, and Exel run primarily on Windows, business will just keep using Windows. It ain't the OS any of them give a crap about, it's the software that they're using that matters.

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Re: TINRA

Most seats in most big corporates aren't running office, and especially not Excel and Access - they are running a single app in a browser that is probably doing little more than screen scraping some mainframe app.

Now if only there was a $35 computer with networking and enough horsepower to run a browser and plug into a keyboard and LCD screen

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Unhappy

"Can Windows 8 bag Microsoft another 20 years of success?"

Windows and Microsoft are growing old, only death will do them apart.

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First, Microsoft's dominance and subsequent abuse of it should be considered one of the, or the worse thing that's ever happened to the IT industry by orders of magnitude.

Second... no, people at large, especially people in a corporate environment, are definitely NOT ready or even willing to switch over to an entirely new way to work and do NOT want to switch to using a touch screen... that makes no sense at all.

Third, in order for their "strategy" to work and have all Windows devices use the same interface, they would have to sell a couple copies of the device that this interface is mainly designed for... the phone. And selling about 1.8% of market share isn't remotely close to getting them anywhere.

Windows 8, and it's Metro interface is a giant step backwards. It's a ugly, clunky waste of space on a screen larger than 4". The menus are missing, it takes more time and effort to do anything And it has more limitations and LESS features.

It's a giant steaming pile of dung, and I don't understand what all the OS's have with this fetish obsession with touch screens. Ubuntu, Gnome, Windows... everyone is falling into the same latrine pit...

A phone is not a PC... a PC is NOT a phone. They are used for different things and forcing backwards changes down people's throats is a very quick way to make them look to see if other alternatives taste better.

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Go ahead a make my comment disappear quick by voting it down!

Let the Astro rug-burn begin!

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Facepalm

"A phone is not a PC... a PC is NOT a phone"

Perhaps MS have decided that the real OS money is in consumer devices (pads & phones), but are failing to sell WP7/Metro as it looks "different" (there are other reasons, but I bet the's what MS thinks!). So get people used to it via the desktop and Win 8, which they will have to use?

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