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back to article Forgetting Microsoft: How Steve Ballmer's Surface could win

In a Windows world we bought the product. In Google's world we are the product. Judging from market share trends, we apparently don't mind being bought and sold. At least, so long as the price is right. Yes, Apple gets all the news (and profits), but it's Google Android that is set to displace Microsoft Windows by 2016, …

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Confused

So Microsoft might come back. Or they might not.

They might have to change to do it. Or they might not.

They might shift to a hardware/software ecosystem manufacturer. Or they might not.

What an informative article.

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Holmes

Re: Confused

It might be informative, or it might not be. The only thing not in doubt is how fucked microsoft are.

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Devil

Ok ok, since you want to know, I'll tell you.

Microsoft 8 will be a failure.

Steve Ballmer will eventually get kicked out, but only after a long drop of market share.

Microsoft will never have so much influence as it did, though it will keep a niche business for corporate solutions.

Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.

Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin'd.

You will also meet a dark stranger under the influence of Saturn.

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Facepalm

Re: Confused

It's not supposed to be 'informative' - it's someone thinking out loud, mulling over the possibilities as they see them.

It's written by someone who doesn't get upset if they're not spoon-fed 'facts', but likes think for themself and try to foresee where the future is going.

It's aimed at people who will say "Interesting; I hadn't thought of that." or "Yes, that makes sense, but perhaps you also need to consider..."

Maybe it's not for you.

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Anonymous Coward

I thought that the relevant part of the spell for the Surface was...

Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,—

Make the gruel thick and slab:

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Megaphone

@Steve I

"It's not supposed to be 'informative'"

Don't be such a pompous wally, this is a tech news and comment site. The former should be informative, and the latter informative and lay out a writers opinion. Both should obviously entertain. The job of a decent journalist is to synthesize the facts and, if writing a comment piece like this one, provide a reasoned opinion one way or the other (note: you can still lay out both sides of the argument). The reader can then assess the facts and either agree or otherwise. Simply presenting a list of things which may or may not happen is sloppy, amateurish, and rather dull.

It's far more interesting to be presented a point of view on a topic, even if you disagree with it. See also every newspaper columnist since time began, or look at the vibrant discussion generated on one of Lewis's or Andrew O's articles.

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Thumb Down

Re: Confused

They have Matt Asay because he is popular with all the other writers. Many may hate what Andrew Orlowski writes sometimes, but he can write coherently most of the time. When do follow what Matt is saying, is usually seems like nonsense anyway.

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Re: Confused

Microsoft are far from fscked - they are going to be one of the most valuable companies in the market.

With $150Bn in cash, once they divest themselves of this silly little software sideline they can become a very sucessful hedge fund.

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Headmaster

Re: Confused

It's written by someone who doesn't get upset if they're not spoon-fed 'facts', but likes think for themself and try to foresee where the future is going.

The author's name and sex are clear. There is no reason, at all, to use the emetic and appalling construct "themself" to attempt gender-neutrality. Ever.

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Re: Confused

"Also in english the indefinite gender is always male..."

Was. At least where I live, I'd say the usage changed about a generation ago. The first stage was an insistence that plain "he" should be avoided, but nothing terribly pleasing was offered to replace it ("one" had disappeared about a generation earlier still, being considered too posh for the cool people who were about to inherit the Earth) and so we laboured under the aesthetic dead-weight of "he or she" for a while. More recently, "they" has become pretty much standard and it has dragged "themselves" in its wake. However, in my experience people nearly always use "they" with plural verbs, so "themself" is still an abomination.

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Re: Ok ok, since you want to know, I'll tell you.

Microsoft become niche?

Nah. It'll bounce right back with a Windows 9 that's not anywhere near as shit as 8 is. Just like they did with Vista -> 7

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Windows

Maybe...

Maybe the whole CEO cycle works the same way as the "Windows cycle". You know: Good version, Bad version, Good version....

I think Gates wasn't all too bad as a CEO. Now we have Ballmer who likes throwing chairs; who knows... Maybe the next one will actually have a good feel for technology again.

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Re: Confused

> "one" had disappeared

Bring it back. It is both elegant and correct.

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Re: Confused

Yeah, wake me up when your ipad finally has copy/paste and maps that actually work.

Now I like Android myself, but the arguments against Windows as a whole being doomed make no sense. If it's true that the Windows tablets are doomed because people like their PCs to stay as PCs, then so what - sure, the Windows tablets are doomed, but MS will carry on selling Windows on those PCs that people still buy, and ipads will stay a niche fad.

OTOH, if tablets are the future, then it's not true that Windows tablets are doomed - even if they don't retain their 90% share, MS will still continue to grow in sales. Apple manage to get lots of love even when their share is often a pathetic 10%.

Personally I'm not giving up my keyboard anytime soon, but that also means I'm going to continue buying PCs, not oversized feature phones.

Unless you're suggestion that both Windows is doomed because people don't like touchscreens, but also everyone will throw away their devices for touchscreen-*only* devices. That are far more locked down than MS. Then, I just know you're an Apple shill.

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Trollface

@Steve I & Re: Confused

Yeah, call me a dumb, unimaginative, engineer, but this article lost me at :

"Given Microsoft's continued reliance on an outdated, licence-based revenue model"

Say what you will about Microsoft, but they do seem to make money. Despite their software. It is far from obvious that playing the Bing adsearch game would make them near as much. I think Matt would have fitted in very well in the late 90s and early 00s, with the "revenue is an outdated concept" crowd. I respect good imaginative marketing (and good accounting), it is a godsend. Sloppy build-it-and-they-will-come marketing? Less so.

"Fortunately, Microsoft has plenty of experience playing Google's online game, what with Bing and Hotmail"

That depends on how you define "fortunately" ;-)

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Re: Confused

Also in english the indefinite gender is always male... [and further rubbish]

Nothing shows false pedantry like an unqualified prescriptivist generalization about English usage; it instantly demonstrates both an utter refusal to acknowledge how language works, and a glaring ignorance of how English in particular is currently and has historically been used. And, of course, it is a favorite stomping ground of the schoolmarmish sort who are always ready to declaim "facts" but not so ready to think critically.

That's literate English.

No, it's ignorance masquerading as fact.

Out of curiosity, what are your credentials for lecturing us on what "literate English" might be? I admit I don't work in the "literate English" industry myself, but I do hold a B.Sci. in the subject, and I'm ABD in English Literature, and I'm on the verge of completing my MA in Rhetoric. I've given a dozen or so presentations at language-related academic conferences and I have a handful of academic publications in the area. My wife is a professor of literature and rhetoric, and the chair of the major US national organization of college-level English teachers. So I'll admit to a certain familiarity with the subject.

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Re: @Steve I & Confused

Yeah, call me a dumb, unimaginative, engineer, but this article lost me at :

"Given Microsoft's continued reliance on an outdated, licence-based revenue model"

Say what you will about Microsoft, but they do seem to make money.

Indeed, this piece seems to wallow about at Assay's usual level. I keep giving him another chance, and he keeps turning out mush like this - the sort of thing I mocked in the '80s when it was proclaiming "the death of the mainframe" (been a long time dying) and in the '90s when it was "the death of the fat client" (ditto) and so on.

Microsoft is a huge business. Some of their size comes from the consumer end, true, and that is likely to continue to shrink for a while, because a portion of the market has found something else it's willing to buy instead. Some of their size comes from corporate desktops, and again a portion of that - likely a smaller portion - will defect to various alternatives. Some of the big business apps that drive Microsoft's server-side sales will migrate to (non-Microsoft) cloud platforms. But it will be a long, long time before businesses can unwind themselves from Windows - just as they're still using "legacy" platforms like CICS.

And perhaps Microsoft will eventually dwindle and be bought out by someone else and disappear as the major industry force it is now. So what? Few companies last forever, and that's not going to happen anytime soon. So there's little to be said for predicting it (particularly in a maze of hedging). The simple fact is that Microsoft doesn't need to beat Google in consumer-device OS dominance. They'd like to, because they like to make money. But if they lose it, they'll just become smaller - and they'll still be important.

It doesn't help to throw in banalities like "developers go where the volume is", either. Developers go where they think the money is. Some want to chase opportunities like Android; others are content to collect a steady paycheck working on software that may not be the flavor of the week, but continues to be used.

Oh, and as for "the sexiest nun in the convent": hey, if it was good enough for Meg Tilly...

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Holmes

We are not the product-

We are the target.

You can ignore an advert (GOOG )- you can't ignore an invoice. (MS)

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Re: We are not the product-

Information about us is the product.

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Meh

Re: We are not the product-

Demographics are worth nothing except to demographics companies that sell them :)

Stupid consumers are where the money lies.

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Holmes

Re: We are not the product-

Agreed. I don't find Google's model compelling in the long run, because

1. What I get from them is not only worth more, but costs more, than what they get from me, even at the margin

2. Barriers to entry aren't any higher now than they were in 2001, at least in search. A Google was considered unlikely then, and it happened anyway.

Barriers to entry are higher in the enterprise, where the money is. The Surface, and Win 8, don't matter when your customers are bleeding the same ELA subscription regardless.

So is MS really in competition with GOOG? Everyone is afraid of Google because of their habit of loss leading markets away. But other than local search on Android, I struggle to see Google's stickiness.

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Tsk

"Developers go where the volume is" is clearly a falsehood, as

1. if this were true, Linux would not attract any developers at all, therefore there must be something else that draws them

2. developers go, like everyone else, to where the MONEY is. That is why iOS still comes first, despite Matt's insistence.

I read an articel today about how the new Nexus devices were supposedly an attack on Apple, but let's see, which other company has been trying to flog their new tablet-y devices this week?

Google are indeed going after Microsoft

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Re: Tsk

"if this were true, Linux would not attract any developers at all, therefore there must be something else that draws them"

But it does get less. Of course not all developers go for the most popular platform. One key point ought to be the demand together with competition - so smaller platforms should still have some developers, but less.

"That is why iOS still comes first,"

Nope, why does it also get more support even for free stuff?

It's nothing to do with share or money, it's just the same unfair support that Apple always gets, whilst more popular platforms that most people actually use are ignored.

"which other company has been trying to flog their new tablet-y devices this week? Google are indeed going after Microsoft"

I think timing is a poor argument, but what about ipad 4 and this "mini" that's finally stopped being vaporware?

The Surface RT still has some relevance for those who want a keyboard, Office, or easier interoperability with Windows. Apple have just been smoked into irrelevance though, with their new device being poorer in specs and far more expensive than the Nexus 10.

There's also the point that Google are targetting their device at media consumption like Apple, and not productivity like MS. Hell, they're even competing and way outdoing directly on the one spec that Apple focused on (resolution). Meanwhile, the ipad is Apple's flagship and one hit wonder, whilst the Surface RT is just a small part of MS. The Nexus 10 looks great, and makes an ipad irrelevant, but it's little competition for Windows PCs.

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Anonymous Coward

QOTW... already?

I LOL'd, IRL even: "owning the desktop is like being the sexiest nun in the convent.

:D

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Anonymous Coward

Re: QOTW... already?

Oh dear. Now I will have to Google "Nun on nun action".

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Happy

Re: "Nun on nun action"

Penguin Wrestling.

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Re: QOTW... already?

Funny thing is, my father was a nun.

-A.

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Am I the opnly one...

Who read this

"Above all, it brings all of Google services, built straight into the device."

and thought what would have happened if it had have read:

"Above all, it brings all of Microsoft services, built straight into the device."

I guess the EU/US administrators would be all over Microsoft. Lets have a fair playing field eh chaps... Why should google devices have the monoply of google only services?

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Why should google devices have the monoply of google only services?

I have a Nexus 7 and it did come with all the Google services. But I had no problem installing a different email client, video player, browser...

I'm not locked to Google only. That's one of the big reasons why I bought the Nexus and not an iThing. It will take a while and maybe a service pack before I know if (not)WindowsRT is like Apple or not. Will it be IE only for example?

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Stop

Gartner's predictions are meaningless

Here's another of Gartner's genius "insights" in 2006 just before the iPhone came out:

"Gartner Invest believes that it is time for Apple to license the Macintosh, and that Dell would be the best partner. Apple would benefit from expanded distribution, Dell would benefit from the differentiated products, and Intel would benefit from wider sales of a non-AMD platform."

Better information - and cheaper - from any astrologist in the back classifieds

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Re: Gartner's predictions are meaningless

At least they were prepared to make a statement about what they thought should happen. Where're your insights?

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Facepalm

Re: Gartner's predictions are meaningless

Speaking of stunning insights regarding the iPhone from a visionary tech guru:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eywi0h_Y5_U&noredirect=1

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Re: Gartner's predictions are meaningless

Gartner's actual claim is that Android will be "used on more systems" than Windows by 2016. I've heard similar claims for the keyboard controller chip on the original IBM PC. It tells you nothing about where the money is.

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Anonymous Coward

Gartner advice to Apple

"Gartner Invest believes that it is time for Apple to license the Macintosh, and that Dell would be the best partner. Apple would benefit from expanded distribution, Dell would benefit from the differentiated products, and Intel would benefit from wider sales of a non-AMD platform".

Good advice from Gartner, if Apple had taken them up on it they would be number one on the desktop as well as everywhere else.

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Baahhhaaa

"Microsoft has plenty of experience playing Google's online game, what with Bing and Hotmail and its other online services, coupled with associated online advertising. "

Really? Did you just put Microsoft's services onpar with Google and Gmail, seriously????

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Meh

Re: Baahhhaaa

I don't see a statement of quality, so effectively the answer would be "No". Recognizing that services compete doesn't equate any specific level of quality to the competition.

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Re: Baahhhaaa

Yeah - that was funny. But he just laughed it out of town. Had he given some thought and reason behind why he thought it'd fail and explained those reasons, he wouldn't have looked so stupid.

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Re: Baahhhaaa

"Really? Did you just put Microsoft's services onpar with Google and Gmail, seriously????"

Bing and Google seem to return similar results to me. I use Bing because I prefer the layout. I only switch back to Google if I want to search newsgroups, which I haven't done in some time. Do you have examples of search terms that return relevant information in Google but not in Bing? If not, then your comment is mistaken. As to Outlook.com vs. Gmail. What makes Outlook.com inferior (genuine question)?

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JC_
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Re: Baahhhaaa

Bing and Google seem to return similar results to me. I use Bing because I prefer the layout.

I'd mostly agree, but google search has two useful features:

* filter by date

* decent shopping results

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FAIL

Re: Baahhhaaa

I say this as a fan of MS on many levels, and as a developer for serious stuff. ie NOT iOS or Android.

I say this as someone who now runs W8 on laptop and desktop and wants a Surface and a Nokia 920.

But when I did a MS C# course recently I went back to the office and needed to download the some extra course material. I inadvertently fired up IE9 and typed my search using the MS code for the course and some text relating to extra material. Bing gave me ZERO results. Fired up Google and it was the first hit, of many.

Bing is crap, really crap, it can't even find Microsoft's own stuff!

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Re: Baahhhaaa

"@harmony - You're using a different bing to the one I occasionally visit then. Bing is pretty awful at returning relevant results. All that's a failure given that all the SEO's are gaming google."

You've skipped the part of my post where I asked for a few examples of search terms that returned relevant results in Google but not in Bing.

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Re: Baahhhaaa

"You've skipped the part of my post where I asked for a few examples of search terms that returned relevant results in Google but not in Bing."

Note also that to make that a fair comparison, we would need to use a system that neither Google nor Bing had ever seen before. Google certainly remembers what you've searched for. Presumably Bing does, too, so if you've been using Bing ever since it came out and let them accumulate everything, switching to Google for a day would be a dismal experience.

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Re: Baahhhaaa

That's interesting. They certainly both remember some stuff. But do they actually use previous searches to influence new searches? Genuinely interested if so in how that works.

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Anonymous Coward

I use Bing because I prefer the layout?

> Bing and Google seem to return similar results to me. I use Bing because I prefer the layout

Results from Googling and Binging (?) on "Matt Asay"

[ Google]

Matt Asay | LinkedIn

Asay: Offline and Off-topic

Matt Asay (mjasay) on Twitter

8 Dec 2010 – Asay leaves Canonical to joining Strobe, an early stage open-source start-up.

5 Feb 2010 - Open source industry veteran Matt Asay joins Canonical as chief operating officer

[Bing]

The Open Road - The business and politics of open source

Matt Asay | LinkedIn

Matt Asay • The Channel

Asay: Offline and Off-topic

Matt Asay (mjasay) on Twitter

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Re: I use Bing because I prefer the layout?

That's an interesting one. You quoted the first five links on each page. Three of the five on each side are duplicated on the other with two different in each case. I've just tried your search to see what the rest of the page is and one of the ones missing from the top five ("Assay joins Canonical...") is present in the other just

not in the top five and one of the ones you list as not showing up in the top five actually does for me. Which might be regional differences (I'm in the UK for reference).

I'm not sure if you were posting to agree with me or disagree with me or just for interest, but it seems for the top five results on a page, we get a a lot of duplication, which rises if you go beyond the first five results. For instance, all of the five you listed for Google show up on the Bing page (with the exception of a story about Matt joining Strobe) and Google has all of the Bing ones except for The Channel link which it is missing. Again, I'm not sure if you were making a specific point or just commenting, but it seems to demonstrate what I said: if I'm looking for stuff on Matt Assay, I get all the major links in both search engines' first page. Just not necessarily the same ones in the top five (though three of them are).

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Facepalm

"Apple is happy to occupy the premium segment of the market"

An old phone and UI with limited features compared to todays offerings. And that's the premium segment of the market??

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Yep, seeing as what price they charge for it ;)

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FAIL

More importantly the fact that people are willing to pay for premium prices for it defines it.

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