Bill Gates foresees a future without PCs or tablets - where there are only "Surface-like devices" - he told PBS chat show host Charlie Rose last night. Evangelising about the new Microsoft tablet – Surface – Gates sketched out his vision for a world where everyone is using the Surface, saying that the device which promises to …
Is this surface something tangible or is it a virtual surface.
This may come back to haunt him, such a late arrival to the surface that they may find it hard to make inroads to an already established genre. It will have to be very very special and have an impact like the first tablet had.
This of course is doubtful.
What's wrong with that?
Anyway tally-ho, I'm just off to the shops in my 'Carriage-like-device'.
I had to bing it...cough.
"Anyway tally-ho, I'm just off to the shops in my 'Carriage-like-device'."
Doesn't much matter if it were called a 'carriage-like-device', an 'automobile' or a 'car', they still sell just fine. Since when did marketing become more important than the product? Or are we no longer engineers?
"Since when did marketing become more important than the product? Or are we no longer engineers?"
Umm, ever since we lived in the real world. Yes we're engineers but non-engineer people (and also engineer people) who live in this real world select the products they buy using criteria other than a series of technical 'top trumps' scores.
> It will have to be very very special and have an impact like the first tablet had.
Gates must be hoping that the surface will have a much bigger impact than that of the first (widespread) tablet. Which incidentally _he_ was selling.
>>Since when did marketing become more important than the product? Or are we no longer engineers?
No marketing means no sales.
No sales means no sustainable production, research or design. No work for the engineer.
I may be on my own with this observation but;
Is it not true that 'Marketing and Politics' have only one pre-requisite to be an overwhelming success?
Be extraordinary and very convincing liars.
'Since when did marketing become more important than the product?'
Apple have proved that is the case repeatedly.
History is littered with great inventions that failed for their time for non-technical reasons. The shining example being Betamax (readers under 35 will probably have to look that one up).
Whilst Sony were busy getting Betamax to be techincally superious to VHS, the VHS guys were quietly doing deals with Hollywood studios for exclusive VHS releases of movies. When the war of the formats hotted up VHS won hands down.
Thing is, Sony *learned* from this. Which is why they went on a massive spending spree in the 90s, buying up studios and record companies - remember the Prince/George Michael sagas ?
So, yes, sometimes it is about marketing.
You mean other than GB, MHz, GHz, number of cores, 0-60 time, top speed, number of carats, number of bedrooms...
No, those top trump scores are just ignored by the public.
The 'problem' with the MS tablets of 5-7 years ago were that (a) they were squeezing a desktop OS designed around mouse+keyboard into a touch form factor, and (b) the hardware still wasn't good enough at the time to support a great user experience.
(b) was hardly MS's fault, although they could have insisted on higher standards or waited for some tech to mature... but (a)??? I mean, can you imagine if Apple tried to cram OSX into an iPhone or iPad? It would have been a disaster, and I suspect that's where Windows 8 is heading. MS want to leverage their desktop dominance on mobile, and MS are well aware that their desktop dominance is based on availability of apps. If they start from scratch from a new mobile platform, a lot of code needs to be re-written before that mountain of apps can be leveraged. Hence the insistence that the mobile platform be able to run desktop software.
But I think that line of reasoning is flawed because most of the desktop apps written for MS are specifically desktop apps, developed with the idea that the user is sat at a desk, and many of them will not 'translate' well to a mobile platform. Apple on the other hand, love them or loathe them, worked it out right in the sense that they got mobile developers developing specifically mobile apps for iOS and the don't really care that their OSX software runs on iOS.
Of course this is also a rational decision made at a time when desktop computers are still significantly more powerful than tablets. Quite possibly 5 years from now when tablets are more powerful than the most powerful current desktop, the ideal form factor will be the surface MS is proposing (really pioneered by the Asus Transformer) where the tablet is the computer and the keyboard and everything else is just an accessory
Was that when problems began to 'surface'...?
Microsoft sold the first tablet form factor PC, but it was rubbish since it was about using a stylus to take notes and completely about office or academic users.
It was not pitched as a consumer device and all the uses that brings.
They still haven't really learned that it can be better to create a new device and OS just for that use case. Instead they're hobbling desktop users to keep the tablet users happy.
"Umm, ever since we lived in the real world. Yes we're engineers but non-engineer people (and also engineer people) who live in this real world select the products they buy using criteria other than a series of technical 'top trumps' scores."
Yes, but that does not mean that when people debate these devices, they should debate them on the merits or not of the marketing techniques. We should debate them on their actual merits and faults. To read these forums these days, you'd think that clever marketing was the highest virtue of a company, rather than the art of manipulating people's opinions which is what two thirds of it is.
"Apple have proved that is the case repeatedly."
Turns out Apple can actually make some reasonably engineered products, too. With all the gloss in the world, the various iWhatevers would have floundered if they hadn't had a pretty slick UI and serious integration work.
For the category name, I nominate "Surface Type Devices" or STDs.
May well prove contagious.
He's trying real hard to sell something that is still on fantasy island.
he has a crap-load of shares, and Microsoft have pretty much bet the company on this vaporware.
Things are even bleaker for Microsoft now than than their "who, where did the internet come from?" moment they had back when.,
I'm pretty sure Windows8RT will fail, and "proper" Windows 8 won't far much better. Total lack of interest, and lots of laughter when people see MetroUI.
I seem to remember a sweaty gibbon leaping round telling us the same about slates:
Change "slate" for "surface" and you've pretty much got a ready made statement:
"You'll see new slates with Windows on them. You'll see them this Christmas," he told an audience of students, staff and journalists at the London School of Economics.
"Certainly we have done work around the tablet as both a productivity device and a consumption device," he said.
Plus one for "Sweaty Gibbon". So much more poetic than the more usual "Monkey Boy"
Slate is missing a few letters, letters that might make them sound like a self-absorbed law firm or advertising/PR firm:
Bill Gates is sooo much better at talking than anyone in the electronics industry. He actually had to retire to give Jobs & Ballsack an opportunity. Hype sells gadgets & Bill Gates is the king of hype.
I think I remember Bill Gates being on stage as CEO at the Windows Vista launch... oh and the Zune too.
Both wildly successful products on the market. /s
Or the very successful (again /s) ads he made with Seinfeld in 2008?
Maybe he used so much hype it ran out? But I'm glad he regained his skills in another field.
> He actually had to retire to give Jobs & Ballsack an opportunity
That you think Jobs needed an opportunity from *anybody* in order for him to talk is a great source of amusement for me. Nobody could touch Jobs as an engaging speaker.
"Nobody could touch Jobs as an engaging speaker."
He never engaged me, ever.
I'm assuming you are not being ironic; others have taken you at face value too.
Gates is pathetic on stage. He just comes over as a burbling geek, or like a lowly MS employee who has suddenly been thrust in front of the cameras. The only reason people listen to him is because they know he [still, just about] has some influence so it is politic to know what he is thinking. Surely only the hardest MS fanboys listen because they actually admire him.
He is hopeless at thinking on his feet. Depart from the script and he deflates like a baloon. Look at this :-
I am not blaming him for the technical failure, but for the fact that he was completely incapable of handling the situation. Anyone in a public position like his should have come out with aplomb.
What was he supposed to say? Best to keep quiet and not dig yourself any further into a hole whilst the techies fix the problem. And it did not adversely affect Xbox sales which is the main point. What a load of iCrap you are spouting.
but, well sorry again.
Its sad to see someone who had such an impact on the world with the software his company produced (even if a lot of it was bought in and improved) doing his best to sale something that is too late, will be too expensive compared to the opposition and doesn't have the wow factor of the ipad for many consumers.
Now Google have bought Quickoffice I forsee it being updated and included in a future update to Android ICS and Jelly Bean.
Who will want to spend maybe 3 times as much for a windows machine when then can get a nice Android one that will do everything they want out the box without having the bloatware that is windows Office.
As too the surface replacing the PC, I'll have some of what he's smoking please
Theres is this difference between:
* Consuming information/creativity.
* Producing information/creativity.
When consuming, a touch pad is more than enough, you are basically reading a book with pictures/movies.. But when I am producing information/creativity I feel like I need 6 more arms, and a lot of keyboards/input devices to keep up with me. So even a PC with fancy logitech keyboard, and mouse with 10 buttons will just not do.
I am not sure that surface can deliver, or that I will be running to my desktop as soon as I want to input something more than a few sentences, like I do now.
"Bill Gates foresees a future without PCs or tablets - where there are only "Surface-like devices"."
Gates could begin his new vision by getting his 'old' company to (a) fix up existing Windows, (b) Drop Windows 8 or fix it, (c) bring out a version of Windows that users could properly configure the way they want, and (d) get Microsoft to act like a normal non-monopolistic corporation which acts reasonably towards its customers.
Gates has never been a good futurist, let him first finish the unfinished projects that he knows something about then he can pontificate.
Err, let's see: Chairman, former CEO and founding member of the world's largest software company, who was pretty much responsible for putting a PC on every desk. Now, I know if it wasn't MS it would have been someone else, but: Hell yes, anyone who isn't stuck in an Anti-MS, "everything they do is evil" mindset cares what Bill Gates has to say about computing.
He still has stock in MSFT, doesn't he?
Seriously, why would anyone expect him to be anything other than favourable to the company he built?
Keep in mind people were doing exactly what they were doing. It's not like MS DOS was the only DOS but MS played dirty and made software that intentionally didn't work with other versions of DOS.
And given all the competition they had killed off with unfair tactics I'd argue we'd be much better off without them.
But as well his original point stands. Gates isn't good at predicting the future. The only thing they did well is stuff people were already doing but something they gained through underhanded tactics. Even when Gates was in control and they tried going outside their safe zone, in mobiles for instance, they failed and they didn't exactly set the world on fire with PDAs. If anything they helped kill them sooner.
He's still the chairman too.
See what I mean about anyone not suck in an MS hate mindset...
It's all unfair this, intentionally destroyed that, doesn't know anything about computing the other.
AC@ 21:22 Billy, that you?
>> Now, I know if it wasn't MS it would have been someone else,
The PC market of the late seventies and early eighties was fractured in a dozen different ways. Incompatible hardware. Incompatible software.
The two unifying forces were MBASIC (and other Microsoft programming languages) cross-platform --- and in the business world CP/M.
What Microsoft delivered to IBM was a serviceable 16 bit CP/M clone. The Holy Grail for every hacker who wanted an entry into the 16 bit sweepstakes.
MSDOS at retail was $50. 1/5 the price of CP/M-86, It broke the tightly woven bond between OEM hardware and OEM software that is Apple's model to this day,
The MSDOS PC was a viable commercial product before the cloning of the IBM PC BIOS.
The modular design of the IBM PC and PC compatible meant that the tech would advance rapidly and that incremental upgrades of your system would be both attractive and affordable.
Thank you for showing that there are still people here who were around before 1998.
I was beginning to think that ElReg audience now consisted only of 13-year-old fanboys of various factions.
I think the other company best placed at the time was DR, IBM also knew this hence their software was available for PC, but they didn't take IBM's PC efforts seriously and we know where that ended up. I also think Acorn in the UK had a good chance, had they got the US market sorted, which never happened for various reasons.
It's also nice to hear people still remember that MS was a significant company pre PC/MS DOS.
Yes DR were definitely a player back then, My first 8086 PC had DR GEM as the GUI (prior to that it was Z80's with CPM). Everyone seems to forget that one when the GUI wars are discussed. It was okay, but as you say DR never took their competition seriously and suffered because of it. Oh those were the days though, 3 months salary to buy a basic machine with no hard drive, a monochrome monitor and no real software to run on it.... I did get a hard drive eventually - it was 5mb
@CarlC - I had an Amstrad PC1512, which came with DR's GEM and IIRC MS DOS, I managed to get a 21MB 8 bit MFM hardcard, which took up the whole of the full sized card bay. I never really got on with GEM, I was interested in it, but I just didn't really "get it", I guess there was no software and it was already getting easier and easier to get MS software through the shareware market and cover disks.
> Hell yes, anyone who isn't stuck in an Anti-MS, "everything they do is evil" mindset
You mean people who are either have no knowledge of the facts or morals ?
I simply will not fund a company that it having such a malign influence of our daily lives, who are damaging innovation for everyone and who use their position to make sure competition cannot exist on an anywhere fair playing field (hence why they owe the EU 1 billion US dollars)
Want an example of how MS are damaging us ?
How about their support for such laws as PIPA and ACTA (if we didn't fund these shits they wouldn't be able to lobby in support of such bad laws), and how abouts the fact they have lobbied our government to abandon the principle of using open standards - this is far worse when you consider that MS are jacking up the cost of the licenses (which if were not using open standards means being dependent on MS.)
It angers me so much that as a tax payer I HAVE to fund this hideous company when there is no reason at all - when they gained their monopoly in the 90's you could argue that there was really no competition, that is just not the case now.
NO government dept 'needs' to run any Microsoft products.
Yes, mildly amusing how some people eat up on historical half truths, propaganda and the words of dodgy lawyers to construct a hate driven universe in their own, small, minds. A little tedious however to see fiction endlessly repeated as if fact.
@westlake. Indeed. In fact Microsoft were a far more satisfactory and honest company to deal with in the 80s and into the 90s compared with pretty much all the large software companies DR, IBM, Lotus, WordPerfect, Ashton-Tate etc. Around 1985 it was critical to divorce applications from vendor-specific hardware in order to turn the potential of ubiquitous personal computing into a reality. Microsoft were the only major company to full commit fully, with at least some attempt at a medium/long term vision rather than the 'my company car is bigger than yours' short term sales driven philosophy guiding their competitors.
Incidentally. I believe there is a case for saying Windows became a success despite Steve B, then leading the OS division, but to be fair the bloke was no fool and not the clown-like caricature that makes him a favourite on elReg. Hate to admit it but found him very helpful on a couple of occasions. Curious how some people get obsessed about celebrities and other people they have never met in person.
@Yossarianuk: "...I simply will not fund a company that it having such a malign influence of our daily lives, who are damaging innovation for everyone and who use their position to make sure competition cannot exist on an anywhere fair playing field ..."
You mean you don't use Google?
No Gates was not responsible for "putting a PC on every desk". Zylog, Alan Sugar, and Gary Kildall were maybe responsible for mine, for example. The idea of a personal computer for everyone was already well established before Gates happened to get a contract to supply software for a particular IBM project.
I was around at that time and most guys I knew already had some type of home computer. Those other types did fall by the wayside because of Wintel PCs, but there is no question that the market for desktop computers was going ballistic with or without Gates, IBM or any other individual or company.
I maintain that Gates retarded the development of desktop PCs with his buggy software. Most people accepted it as they had never seen any better, but those who had regarded DOS and Wintel with contempt; but for a time there was little or no alternative.
"Thank you for showing that there are still people here who were around before 1998.
I was beginning to think that ElReg audience now consisted only of 13-year-old fanboys of various factions."
Well for me you can multiply 13 a few times, but I still don't entirely agree with Westlake. Funny you should think that everyone who witnesses the same thing should all agree on how it was. Perhaps you will come to learn human nature better.