back to article Post-defenestration Microsoft: It's the APIs, stupid. And Metro

"Tiles to the right of them, Tiles to left of them, Tiles in front of them" - Alfred Tennyson, The Charge of the Metro Brigade (1854) The sudden departure of Steve Sinofsky from Microsoft leaves Redmond with its biggest crisis for years - and it needs to assure investors as a matter of urgency. He's achieved a huge amount of …

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Anonymous Coward

Nearly spit up my coffee on this one...

Surface looks like the ultimate vanity project - like Caligula planning to make his horse a consul: "a combination of all the gods and to be worshipped as one".

So tell me... does Ballmer own a fiddle?

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Coat

Re: Nearly spit up my coffee on this one...

So tell me... does Ballmer own a fiddle?

Well it's actually more likely that Nero played the Lyre, as the violin did not exist. As there are plenty of liars in Microsoft, I have to say yes.

Feel free to groan........

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nearly spit up my coffee on this one...

My personal preference on the issue is that the fiddling was a metaphor. From the link:

Nero's fiddling may not have anything to do with music at all, but rather is a metaphor for his ineffectiveness. Fiddling, after all, can also mean that a person is expending energy on something useless or misguided... It's possible that the idea is a relic of propaganda so effective that it's survived 2,000 years.

As a meme, this type of attack still exists and is still effective. A quick search for "Obama played golf while" and "Bush vacationed while" yield countless examples. Applying it to Ballmer here was done so jokingly. There are plenty of reasons not to like Ballmer but I haven't seen anything to indicate that the bumbling we have seen out of Microsoft under his watch was the result of disinterest... although the contrary argument (excessive meddling / overbearing control) might ring a little more true to some folks : )

An additional note, not only did the fiddle not exist during Nero's day (he played a cithara) but the historical record (Page 2 of the linked article) actually contradicts the narrative that Nero, more or less, sat on his ass while Rome burnt to the ground and was, otherwise, tone deaf to its impact on the people of Rome. That's not to say he was otherwise a good person/ruler by any stretch of course.

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Interesting.

I think this article says more about the ignorance of the author than anything about Microsoft. Microsoft had a huge logistics problem: it had two completely incompatible platforms (Win 7 and Win Phone 7) and a third platform to build (WinRT).

From a software development perspective, the next move was predictable: develop a shared code base that produced as much overlap between the three platforms as possible without taking 6 years to do it.

They did so very successfully. Metro apps can be written for two platforms at once (Win8 & WinRT) and can be easily adapted to Win Phone 8--certainly much easier than you could adapt an OS X app to IOS, right?

As phones get more powerful and Microsoft has more opportunity to merge these platforms, the development space will get easier and easier. As a developer, I think Win 8 (in all its variants) was an admirable first step. I'm on board.

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Re: Interesting.

Why would you want to adapt an OSX app to run on iOS? A phone and a desktop are two completely different devices that are used for completely different things, and therefore require completely different apps and user interfaces.

Even if, in many cases, you have two apps with the same name on desktop and phone platforms, people use them for different things. On the phone, they want something that can get basic information and take basic inputs while on the move, whereas you use the desktop for proper work on it.

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Facepalm

Re: Interesting.

I could not agree more with these comments, the person writing this article obviously is unable to look at a big picture/long term development plan which EVERY successful company must have. Now when it comes to millions upon millions of users of a certain product (who are used to using it in a certain manner as most are with windows) you cannot completely wipe the floor with everything you have done to this point even if that is your ultimate end goal.

You take steps in the direction you want to go, Windows 8 and all variations of it (RT, WP, Desktop) not only align quite closely in terms of visual style they are beginning to share more and more code with one another.

Author, before you start writing crap like this how about you try considering things from more than one (illadvised) angle......

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Re: Interesting.

Are you sure you've understood the article?

C.

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Re: Interesting.

Perhaps they read a different article - I can't see any basis for their comments apart from animosity towards AO.

What is interesting is that Andrew didn't say anything about the influence of Larson-Green on Sinofsky and how Microsoft intend to rescue Windows 8 when she is in charge.

Phil.

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Re: Interesting.

"Are you sure you've understood the article?"

Indeed. Apparently, one of them doesn't even understand what "logistics" means.

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Re: Interesting.

Exactly, the issue is not whether it is technically possible to deliver the same applications across all types of devices, but rather whether it is appropriate to even try. I would agree that it is not, since the use cases of each device class are so different.

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Re: Interesting.

I can't see why you'd want to run the same app on phones and desktops, but leaving that aside, given that this was the goal, Windows (Phone) 8 still fails at it.

When all's said and done Windows (Phone) 8 is a huge pile of APIs balanced precariously on top of the old API, Win32, but with the disadvantages that on Phone and ARM platforms you can't get at Win32 and the XAML between the three different platforms is different.

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Vic
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Re: Interesting.

> I can't see any basis for their comments apart from animosity towards AO.

Whilst such animosity is often warranted, I don't think yuo have to look that far in this case.

When someone seems to be defending the indefensible, it's often a good idea to look at his posting history. If substantially all those posts are in support of (or in opposition to) one company or other, it's a fair bet you've got a poster with an axe to grind.

It is left as an exercise to the reader to decide whether or not any particular poster has been paid to grind said axe...

Vic.

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"Microsoft feared it would become another Wang".

That was written like it is a bad thing. Really, what male would reject the concept of another wang?

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Wang went out of business because it could not addapt.

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Coffee/keyboard

@blerko

Sir,

Enough of this already - unless you have an unexhaustable supply of keyboards to divvy out...

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Anonymous Coward

@a_been

Go look up "wang" in the urban dictionary ;)

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Happy

At least they could spell it.

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Facepalm

What a mess.

I learned a lot about MS today reading various articles. This is going to take some un-f*cking.

Yesterday I installed Windows 8 and Office 2013 (I'm a Technet subscriber ) after falling for some of the positive hype. Luckily I had some time on my hands.

I'm sorry, but I just couldn't do it. After 8 hours of fighting Metro and failing to find things that are "just there" in Win 7 I was starting to get wound up. Even the charms bar search function appears to be defective...gives you different results depending if your are in an application or not.

It took me 30 minutes of Googling to figure out how to add my gmail account in the metro mail application. Turns out the "accounts" button I needed does not appear until you first sign in with a MS account!!! Why should I have to add an unused MS account in order to use my gmail?

I want to work with my PC, not fight it every time I want to do something my way!!

I eventually reformatted and went back to Windows 7.

I'm keeping Office 2013 but only because I managed to find an option that turns it from all white to shades of grey so at least I can tell one part of the UI from another. WTF is the all white color scheme about?

So, it turns out this Sinofsky is pretty much responsible for everything I have disliked about Microsoft for the past 10 years including but not limited to the ribbon and Win 8 / Metro.

Fuck that guy.

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Windows

Playing catch up

Microsoft got themselves in a real pickle. They were on top of things 10-15 years ago and just sat on their hands unwilling to take any chances that could risk hurting their cash-cow. Meanwhile Apple and Google had nothing to lose by dabbling in the mobile market, and they won big. So how does Microsoft look relevant again without playing catchup with products that look like Apple/Google knock-offs? Meanwhile, Windows and Office may be Microsoft's bread and butter, but in the long term, the choice of OS and spreadsheet/word processor will be marginalized. I mean, do people get excited about what the next version of Office will have in it, or care what OS their, say, tablet runs? No. And by forcing their established user base to learn a new UI with Win8, they are forcing potential customers into pondering other options, like MacOS, if they already have to learn a new OS anyways.

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Re: Playing catch up

EXACTLY!! This is what happened to me with Nokia when I was forced to "upgrade" to an early version of Symbian after my much coveted 6310i.... the rest, unfortunately for Nokia, is history.

I said to myself "well if I have to learn something this radically different I might as well go with something completely different" Same amount of effort but you have complete freedom to choose!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What a mess.

Couldn't agree more.

There are people who come out with the new SQL, and Linq, and c#4, and then there's this woman who wants to make everything look like a colour shade discerment test, and this man wants to make your computer something that looks like a games console.

Jesus shit. They want a beating. I've gone Android, despite it effectively being a portable spy device for Google, because if I wanted a toy, I'd buy one.

Tablets aren't computers. They're entertainment centres.

And the ui for visual studio 2012. Is that designed to cause depression. It looks like a 2-d graveyard where voldemort might come back to life. How do you work out what's a button?

Who is in control of MS? What are they doing?

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FAIL

Re: What a mess.

What a mess indeed that you cant figure out how to use the search function properly.......I have windows 8 pro installed, all my apps and devices are running great and actually smoother than under windows 7 and I am not looking back.

Glad you were able to change the color scheme though on office 2013 I bet that felt like an accomplishment. I guess anyone can get a technet subscription these days ehhh........

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What a mess.

I think one of the points he was trying to make is that the default settings and the way they try to make you run out of the box is poorly thought out.... as is metro/ modern UI etc etc etc ... You shouldn't need to use google to make your email work!

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Meh

Re: What a mess.

Having installed Windows 8 on a tablet (Acer Iconia W500), I can confirm that Google was a great help when it came to making it usable and useful. This is the least intuitive interface since some of Creative's UI efforts.

Having to use Google for help is somewhat ironic isn't it?

Phil.

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Joke

Re: What a mess.

Well let's face it - Visual Studio was already a pretty good cause of depression.

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Thumb Up

Re: What a mess.

First we lost multi-tasking.

Then we lost colour.

Then we lost overlapping windows.

Then we lost interest.

What's Windows 9 going to be? A text mode UI?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What a mess.

You don't need to reformat if you have HDClone and a large USB backup drive.

Expecting exactly the same aggravation I backed up my Windows 7 install with HDClone and, following a quantity of buggeration with Win 8, restored it to a faster hard drive with no problems at all. Not an investor or an employee, just a happy user.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What a mess.

The UI even infects SQL Studio. Why?

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MJI
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Re: What a mess.(AC 22:16)

Looks like a games console? Actually a games console looks neater but I wish they wouldn't move things

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MJI
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Re: Email working

If I find a supplied application is not user friendly I download something more suitable.

I could not get the Win 7 Outlook Express replacement configured, no menus, so I used Thunderbird instead.

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Trollface

Re: What a mess.

Even the charms bar search function appears to be defective...gives you different results depending if your are in an application or not.

These, oh editors and writers, are the new breed of Power Users of the Register. People too fucking stupid to understand what context-based search is.

This is your market.

Write articles which says Microsoft fails at everything all the time so that they will be happy and click your ads!

Oh wait. You already do.

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FAIL

Re: What a mess.

First we lost multi-tasking.

Then we lost colour.

Then we lost overlapping windows.

Then we lost interest.

Except that none of these are gone except your interest, which is evidently the interest of somebody too stupid to click "Desktop".

Man. I wouldn't like to be the guy that hired you. It beats me how you manage to open this website.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What a mess.

You mean you didn't use Bing

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Unhappy

Re: What a mess.

Hey, at least you can run the apps that it comes with by default - I have t plug a second monitor into mine to do that as the primary has too small a res.

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Windows

Re: What a mess.

I can think offhand of five different ways of making the metro interface go away forever in Win8.

http://classicshell.sourceforge.net/

Try killing App* services

I'll bet there's a registry hack

RDP

VM

Problem solved.

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FAIL

If Ballmer and Microsoft think any professional would ever use Metro they are on crack

They seriously expect developers, engineers, designers, network administrators and anyone else doing business with their computers to ever waste time with the messed up childish unusable nonsense that Metro/ModernUI is all about?

Surely Ballmer will try all possible dirty tricks to twist numbers and claim that Windows8 is a success and everyone wants Metro and everyone is buying Metro and loving it. Just lies.

Windows8 is way worse than Vista.

Vista had bugs BUT it was still usable. And once the bugs got fixed it worked pretty well already with SP1.

Windows8 it's a fraud and a nightmare to any user.

It's a mess even for anyone playing games on their PCs.

The whole Metro fraud has to go. Eveyrone involved with Metro must be fired. Starting with Ballmer.

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Stop

Re: If Ballmer and Microsoft think any professional would ever use Metro they are on crack

out of curiosity, have you actually *used* it?

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Are you wondering if he's ever used Metro

...or crack?

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Thumb Down

Re: If Ballmer and Microsoft think any professional would ever use Metro they are on crack

It's even more stupid on Windows Server. Everything is launched from the Metro tiles but everything runs on the desktop.

Oh and of course the Server Manager is redesigned so that now you can't find anything you want. To say nothing of the awful Web interface they've replaced EMC with.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Are you wondering if he's ever used Metro @sideshow

Doubt anyone's wondering whether he uses crack ...

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Anonymous Coward

Good Piece

But what I still cannot fathom is why they didn't scale WP8 to tablets and keep W7 as an evolutionary product for desktop and enterprise. WinRT is really some sort of nothingness that's not really needed.

This cannot all go on Sinofsky's toes and Ballmer must take a large portion of the blame, it's his watch after-all.

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Re: Good Piece

What I can't fathom is why:

Metro apps can't just sit in a Window on the desktop, even if that's a large fixed size one to match Metro expectations

Live Tiles (known everywhere else as widgets) can't work on the desktop, as just another OPTION

classic mode support had to be killed

detailed desktop theming had to die

There was a correct way to unify the platforms but it was to partially unify them, with the Metro subset a Metro-on-desktop experience. With the desktop a real user choice between classic and Metro modes. Of course that would further expose the bareness of Metro to even casual viewers but at least we'd be spared the pointless context switches.

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Anonymous Coward

The PC manufacturer aren't really behind Win8. A few token products, but it's not like wholehearted support and if corporates aren't interested why should any development shop be bothered with it. You would have thought Microsoft of all people would understand you get the corporates onboard first and drag consmers kicking and screaming behind you. That's the whole reason Apple had such crap market share in 'real' computer markets.

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Lack of Use (If Any) and Lack of Knowledge (If Any)

If you have not used windows 8 for longer than 20 minutes when you installed it, realized it was a lot different than windows 7 or any earlier incarnation of windows then decided (subliminally or not) that you were not smart enough to learn a new system or just flat out don't want to thats cool, but don't flame windows 8 unless you actually have a good amount of experience with it. A lot of people I see commenting on "Metro" here have either obviously not tried it (yes that's you guy who cant use the search feature), are not willing to try or are incapable of learning something new.

Once you have windows 8 set up with all your shortcuts added into the metro interface for desktop apps and customized your start screen as to how you like to use your pc windows 8 is actually a pleasant surprise.

I am a department manager who manages a team of people at work, on the team are many different characters, one is an older lady that can hardly use a computer, she also cannot learn to use it more than she does now no matter how many times she is shown time saving, effective ways to work sometimes you cant teach an old dog new tricks. If you are blogging on a tech site I hope for all our sake that you are not too old to learn some new tricks, windows 8 is cool and surprisingly productive, give it a chance and you might find you like it but sshhhh don't tell anyone!!

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Windows

Re: Lack of Use (If Any) and Lack of Knowledge (If Any)

So when I am asked to look at a third man's poorly setup windows 8 computer without any shortcuts, I am what? Probably hot and surprisingly unproductive?

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Trollface

Re: Lack of Use (If Any) and Lack of Knowledge (If Any)

"If you have not used windows 8 for longer than 20 minutes when you installed it, realized it was a lot different than windows 7 or any earlier incarnation of windows then decided (subliminally or not) that you were not smart enough to learn a new system or just flat out don't want to thats cool, but don't flame windows 8 unless you actually have a good amount of experience with it. A lot of people I see commenting on "Metro" here have either obviously not tried it (yes that's you guy who cant use the search feature), are not willing to try or are incapable of learning something new"

Quite right. I have been cutting pizza using a knife and more recently using a pizza cutter with great success. These new fangled pizza scissors that you are waxing lyrical about certainly get the job done but the trouble is you get pizza all over your hands, when there is really no need to.

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FAIL

Re: Lack of Use (If Any) and Lack of Knowledge (If Any)

Windows 8 cannot fail, it can only be failed.

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Re: Lack of Use (If Any) and Lack of Knowledge (If Any)

I pity the poor sods who have to work under you. Great attitude!

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Stop

Re: Lack of Use (If Any) and Lack of Knowledge (If Any)

OK, leaving aside the fundamental impedance mismatch between touch and desktop UI metaphors, we geeks could probably hold our noses, learn to configure away the worst bits of it and set it up so it is vaguely usable again, because after a lifetime of it we're used to reconfiguring our brains and spending hours tweaking to adapt to badly designed products

That's not the point. The point is the vast majority of users are like your "older lady" and we are going to have to support them. That is a sword of Damocles hanging over the IT world and everyone except Microsoft and a few gadget freaks knows it.

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WTF?

WP8

Not really sure how you can say "now Microsoft has mobiles running on the NT kernel. That's a great achievement.", when the NT kernel was originally written processor agnostic (MIPS, x86, Alpha, PowerPC). If you look at the hardware spec of the machines it was targeted at originally, all of them are completely dwarfed by today's average mobile phone - first NT machine I installed was a 150MHz Alpha with 64Mb RAM. As it's a microkernel architecture, the "achieveent" was really stripping out all the cruft that had accumulated over the years so that it could run on a phone that has the specs of a PC from about 2000 (ish).

Still, at least that old NT 3.51 install was (supposedly) 64bit, apart from the apps. Funnily enough, it's still the same case over 15 years later.

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