back to article Woz: Microsoft's innovation lead 'worries me greatly'

Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak worries that Microsoft may now be more innovative than the product developers at his former company. He also has a few harsh words for the management style of his fellow Cupertinian cofounder, Steve Jobs. Asked about Microsoft's innovation after he spoke at this week's TedX Brussels conference, …

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Happy

The Market agrees

Apple stock plunges again

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2012/11/15/apple-stock-falls/1707469/

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Re: The Market agrees

And it was up on Friday. The stock market doesn't mean much.

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Re: The Market agrees

Halve current share price and still overvalued. Worlds largest company measured by market cap - ridiculous.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Market agrees

As you get older you slow down, think less and get more stupid.

Yet people think as you get older you get wiser.

Make your own mind up.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Market agrees

They ought to get on and buy Microsoft while they have the chance.

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"citing the years between Steve Jobs' exit and return, when the company focused on simply improving products rather that creating anything new"

OK, I'm getting old and my memory is fuzzy, but in that period I recall things such as Open Doc, the Newton, Cyberdog, publish and subscribe (wasn't that cool?), taligent (whatever that was), and perhaps even a cure for cancer. I don't think there was a problem with creating. There was certainly a problem with delivering.

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Linux

In response to a leading question ..

In response to a leading question Woz, as always, answered honestly.

"Do you think that Microsoft now is more innovative than Apple"

“I’ve seen more of the type of innovation where you see something and, woah, they really changed things drastically. Woah, they really aren’t going in the same direction as everyone else, meaning the iPhone and Android operating systems.

A couple days ago I read an article where Microsoft has a machine, you speak into it in English and it comes out in Mandarin. If they’re making strides in this valuable voice-recognition area, I fear that Microsoft might have been sitting in their labs, trying to innovate, with a formula — how do we come up with new ideas, let’s not just keep doing the same things as before, just the newer versions of them.

They might have been doing that for three years, while Apple was just used to cranking out the newest iPhone, and falling a little behind, and that worries me greatly. It worries me because I love Apple so much.”

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Anonymous Coward

Apple is certainly in a rut

That is easy to tell because every new iDevice for quite a long time has looked exactly like an iDevice. Even a good streak in industrial design eventually gets boring. Apple's iDentity strength could be its downfall.

Microsoft, on the other hand, would have done much better to produce something that did look like a bit more of the same.

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Re: Apple is certainly in a rut

The problem seems to be an obsession with engineering and design challenges instead of thinking how they can make the end users life easier or make a given task more efficient.

Few people really care if a phone is 8mm or 11mm thick.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple is certainly in a rut

Smaller, thinner, lighter ...It is a common design obsession. Look at TVs: at least a phone is something we put in our pockets, and yes, I think people do care about 3mm, all other things being equal. It does have practical considerations, whereas 3mm of a 40" TV is irrelevant.

I don't use Apple products, so I can't argue their efficiency. I know my iFriends are perfectly happy with their devices. Very happy, in most cases. The question is, how many generations of the same thing will they buy?

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"all other things being equal"

- that's the key point...most sensible people put certain other features higher up the list of priorities, like, does it work? is it insanely over-priced?

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Windows

Re: Apple is certainly in a rut@Thad

"Microsoft, on the other hand, would have done much better to produce something that did look like a bit more of the same."

Well, to be fair, the bulk of Windows 8, 7 and Vista appears to me to be common code. Since the three household machines run this vile mix, I think I've done enough prowling around to know. There's some tuning to 7 to make it run more fluidly than Vista, otherwise they are near enough identical, and 8 looks like 7 with a sticking plaster application launcher (TIFKAM). Again, 8 has some performance tuning over 7, but start getting into the administrative bits and it all looks familiar (and ancient). At a guess most of the code is still Windows Server 1802, or something similar.

Same with Office. Other than performance tuning between editions, and the ribbon (Office's TIFKAM, but a year or two premature) there's stuff all to commend upgrading. Xbox - yadda yadda.

There's certainly a few bits they've tinkered with, but (as an Apple hater myself) I really can't see how anybody would believe that MS are doing more innovating than Apple. Admittedly Apple is beginning to look like the same old same old, and MS have temporarily gone into branded hardware (with a few problems now, dare I say, surfacing?).

So my take: MS are not innovative, they are a mature franchise milking the cash cow. Apple, unfortunately appear to be reaching the same stage, and what Woz is seeing is simply the corporate middle age spread.

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@ Giles Jones - Re: Apple is certainly in a rut

Wrote :- "Few people really care if a phone is 8mm or 11mm thick."

They do because it is the fashion. Like you, I don't give a toss - as long as I can get in my anorak pocket.

It gets crazier than that. I bought a large TV for home recently and half the sales shit was about how thin it was. WTF does it matter how thick a fixed LCD TV is, within reason? OK, if it is 20mm thick instead of 30mm I could view from 10mm further away - in 4 meters!

When I was about to buy my first PC in the 1990's I first read some magazine reviews. Every started off about something called the "footprint". I read several reviews baffled what this term meant, although they liked it to be small. I thought it must be something technical. Then it dawned on me that they meant the area that the system unit took on the desk. Never mind that the monitor overhung it anyway (and they liked those big), and that the keyboard also stuck out further. But if a "footprint" was "pizza box size", the reviewers were in heaven.

Then after a further 6 months of magazines (I continued to read them), mentions of "footprint" suddenly dissappeared, and the journos started banging on about something else, like mult-media. "Footprint" phobia had gone out of fashion.

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Thumb Down

Re: Apple is certainly in a rut

3mm really isn't an issue on the thickness of an iMac, either, but they've ditched the optical drive for precisely that reason and forced the purchase of a $100 outboard peripheral without which you can no longer make a burn to HDD or make a CD or a DVD - and guess what I use my iMac for *a lot* -? - which is why I won't be getting another one when this one is due for replacement. Which is a shame, I quite like it. Hopefully it'll last a good few years yet - it's 2 years old already, I am shocked to realise - but as a longtime Windows user with microsoft at work, I think win7 is awesomely productive (no opinion on win8) and would *never* choose a mac over windows for work.

Apple are boringly obsessed with thinner/lighter and haven't given us anything new since the iPad1.

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Happy

Re: Apple is certainly in a rut

Why do you have to use apples external DVD. I bought a Phillips one for 1/3 of that a few years ago when my internal one went tits up. It works brilliantly and although almost a big as a mac mini it works flawlessly.

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Anonymous Coward

For once Woz is right.

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This post has been deleted by its author

WTF?

Why?!?

Ah, Woz the ultimate one hit wonder of computing.

Why do people act as if his opinion still matters, considering the last time he did anything was 30 years ago, and he's been milking that ever since, in between posing for pictures, riding Segways and delivering any quote a journalist kind enough to remember him, is looking for...

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Linux

Re: Why?!?

Why? Because he's actually built something. He has demonstrated an understanding of technology. He's shown that he has a clue.

Plus he wasn't a jerk about it. He didn't engage in artistic megalomania.

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Re: Why?!?

The guy that built my house not only managed to build something once but many things through out his career. Building one computer doesn't make you a genius or mean you should be listened to ages after you've done nothing with your life.

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@toadwarrior

I don't know which is worse: your ignorance or your need to attack people more successful than you.

Just go and read a bit more and learn about someone before you tell them they've "done nothing with [their] life".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?!?

"Ah, Woz the ultimate one hit wonder of computing."

A put-me-down eh? So what does that generally make us hereabouts? The ultimate zero-hit wonders of computing who just like to knock others.

"Why do people act as if his opinion still matters"

I am assuming here, but would not the fact that he has achieved these heights, when we haven't, mark his opinion as more valuable than ours?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?!?

Because he's not evil.

I suppose that's also why he's on the sidelines of the industry, not in a CEO's office.

Sad.

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Holmes

@h4rm0ny - Re: @toadwarrior

Wrote :- "I don't know which is worse: your ignorance or your need to attack people more successful than you."

Wow, careful h4rm0ny, you are attacking toadwarrior - but how do you know he is not more successful than you?

So we are not allowed to criticise Obama, Cameron, Gates, Torvalds, Jimmy Saville, Hugh Heffner, Ghenghis Khan, Stalin .....?

I think toadwarrier has a point. There are many people who succeed in doing great things but who never generate any interest, and there are others (like Woz) who become media heros and who's every utterance is made into headlines.

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Re: @h4rm0ny - @toadwarrior

"Wow, careful h4rm0ny, you are attacking toadwarrior - but how do you know he is not more successful than you?"

Your ability to parse logic is weak. My statement assumes not that toadwarrior is more successful than me, but whether they are more successful than Woz. As Woz has founded companies, can buy his own aeroplane, contributed enormously to the development of the modern PC, gets interviewed frequently by the technical media, statistically it is extremely likely that Woz is more successful than toadwarrior.

My own criticism of toadwarrior is not based on a need to attack those more successful than me (which you correctly point out, I don't is the case or not), but a dislike of both talking with authority about something they exhibit ignorance on and a spiteful dislike of someone who is successful.

"So we are not allowed to criticise Obama, Cameron, Gates, Torvalds, Jimmy Saville, Hugh Heffner, Ghenghis Khan, Stalin .....?"

Go ahead - the question is whether you are criticizing them because of your need to attack and whether you show ignorance about them at the time.

"I think toadwarrier has a point. There are many people who succeed in doing great things but who never generate any interest, and there are others (like Woz) who become media heros and who's every utterance is made into headlines."

toadwarrior said that "the guy who build their house" not only built one house, but then went on to build other houses. That's a rather flawed analogy for someone who, in these terms, would be rather someone who significantly developed the concept of houses and influenced how everyone else built houses. It also presumes that after "building the house", Woz then stopped work and did nothing. Rather than starting companies, doing other consulting work and teaching.

You seem to be lambasting Woz for being the headlines and yet you think toadwarrior "has a point" when they damn him for not being in the headlines. When people created damned if you do, damned if you don't criteria for judging someone, I usually smell a need to damn that person that exists prior to actually weighing evidence.

"and who's every utterance is made into headlines."

That's rubbish. How many times a day do you read an interview with Woz? Or how many times a week, or month or year? I'd be surprised if you personally read more than one interview with him a year. How is that "every utterance made into headlines".

If you personally are not interested in his opinion, that's no big deal. Plainly journalists run interviews with him because other people are. That's no cause for personal attacks by you and toadwarrior that damn him for not being Jesus. It's just the usual double-standard for when someone becomes successful. What would be a cool achievement for anyone you knew or worked with that you praised them for, becomes a damning failure for not being revolutionary in someone successful.

Woz is just a smart and generally honest person with a lot of specialist knowledge built up over decades of experience in our field. If you resent that he gets called up and asked for opinions by younger journalists, just don't read them. Don't make really, really stupid personal attacks on them for "doing nothing with their life." If you do that to Woz, then I can only imagine you spend your entire day going out and shouting at every colleague and person on the street for "doing nothing with their life" as well.

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Holmes

Re: Why?!?

The fact is, most of the population NEVER have a good idea, ever. This is followed by the fact that there is only ONE good idea in most of the people who are capable of having a good idea. Another fact is, most good ideas come before the 25th birthday. You, dear toad, miss one salient point, the first Apple was like moving out of a cave into a cabin. Woz was not replicating some commodity hardware, he was creating the very first home computer that you could buy from a retailer, power on, and use. Nothing but a pile of dollar bills was required on your part. Being FIRST is the hard part. After that it just looks easy.

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Re: Why?!?

Correction - most of the population do have a good idea now and then. Ideas are like arseholes, everybody has one. It takes soemthing really exceptional to develop that idea, to make it work in the real world and to actually create something that works and get it out there.

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Vic
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Joke

Re: Why?!?

> the first Apple was like moving out of a cave into a cabin

"I learnt to play Stairway to Heaven when I was twleve years old. Jimmy Page didn't actually write it until he was 22. I think that says quote a lot"

Vic.

[With apologies to Vim Fuego :-) ]

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FAIL

Re: Why?!?

Shame that Apple wasn't actually the first at anything, when it came to "home computers". The Apple 1 /was/ vaguely innovative in having TV out and support for a keyboard, but it internally it was probably much like other 6502 machines around at the time (like the MOS KIM-1 - the development board). And it was still a kit - you had to provide a monitor, a keyboard, a case and a PSU yourself. The Apple II wasn't the first home computer either, being announced several months after the Commodore PET. Its other contemporary in the "1977 Trinity" - the Tandy/RadioShack TRS-80 - sold 5 times as many computers in the first four years after the Apple was released and it wasn't until Visicalc came along that the Apple started shifting units (even then being released on the Apple was more coincidence than anything).

So enough with the Apple revisionism, please!

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Re: he was creating the very first home computer that you could buy from a retailer

Minor nit: not the first, maybe not even the first successful, but certainly inspirational, early, and long term successful. Apple (Woz and Job in their pre-incorporated garage) and Radio Shack-Tandy (French and Leininger) were inspired by Altair. And for all that Gates & company churned out dull boxes, I believe they were also inspired by the Altair. Interestingly, initially they were all also primarily promoters of their own versions of BASIC.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: the sociopathic Gates and Balmer.

Much as I hate MS's business practices, MS was very far from being a headless chicken under Gates, which maybe proves your point about departing CEOs

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Re: Apple is in trouble - MS is deep in mammoth dung trouble.

I don't agree. Apple and Microsoft cater to very different markets. Apple needs to have the current fashionable must-have retail products - they need innovation. Microsoft is the opposite - they have the corporate desktop, mainly because of the entrenched position of MS Office. They need to maintain continuity and compatibility rather than innovate. Just look how many companies still use XP, despite Microsoft's repeated attempts to kill it off All they have to do is not screw up Office (although the change of user interface in Office 2010 could be viewed as Microsoft's best attempt to inconvenience and annoy their users).

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Anonymous Coward

Innovation

All great points by Wozniak and I agree that at least recently MS are more innovative. Looking to the future though, Apple is led by an ops guy plus Sir johnny so they will probably do pretty well, although their kit is far too pricey in a failing economy. MS are more innovative, but also pricey, but their biggest failing is that they are led by a baboon called Balmer. Android although spurned on by the Evil Google, is just simply simple to use, and cheap as chips and relatively open and flexible. Over the next 5 years of austerity Android will therefore wipe the floor with the other two.

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Trollface

Woz is just a boring hardware engineer

He did nothing significant at apple there were more smarter people designing the amigas and the nintendos at that time!!

However he's right about microsoft and its ways!

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Happy

Re: Woz is just a boring hardware engineer

He did most of the programming for Apple I and Apple II, machine code in those days. but this "when he "invented the personal computer," is a bit too much for me.

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Headmaster

Re: smarter people designing the amigas

Amigas didn't happen until almost 10 years after Apple I, and Nintendo still made hanafuda cards in 1976 (Nintendo began to produce electronics in 1977).

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Anonymous Coward

Microsoft doesn't have a history of great innovation...

But this time, I think Woz is right.

Of course, the design innovation in Surface, Win 8 RT, and TIFKAM may sink them. It's certainly not my cup of tea. But continuing on with their usual incremental changes to adequate but unexciting software was just going to leave them in the slow, but inevitable death spiral they've been in for the past half-decade.

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Re: Microsoft doesn't have a history of great innovation...

Does innovation mean they need to fuck up the desktop just to push out a mobile and a tablet operating system?

Apple recognised they didn't need to, although the last two iterations have way too much creeping iOSisation for my taste.

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Re: Microsoft doesn't have a history of great innovation...

"Does innovation mean they need to fuck up the desktop just to push out a mobile and a tablet operating system?"

I would ask if you've used it, but I would inevitably get the reply back "yes I have". But have you actually used it properly? Have you run it as your main OS for a few weeks? I use it with a dual monitor set up (neither are a touch screen), keyboard and a trackball and I can do everything on it as easily as I can on Win7. Sometimes more easily. Go ahead - try and objectively show me what takes more mouse movement and clicks to accomplish on Win8 than on Win7. If you manage to come up with anything that can't be rectified with 60 seconds of customization and isn't a specialist case, I'll be surprised.

And if you repeat something about "context switching", then all I can say is that I personally don't get confused at all by having a Start Screen instead of a Start menu and I don't believe I'm especially smarter than the average person.

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Re: Microsoft doesn't have a history of great innovation...

"Go ahead - try and objectively show me what takes more mouse movement and clicks to accomplish on Win8 than on Win7."

Try this on Windows 8: type "system restore" and tell me if "System Restore" appears in the search results. Type "uninstall" and tell me if you get "Uninstall a program" in the search results. I also tried typing "programs and features". That is two right there.

However, I will admit this, my copy of Windows 8 is the TechNet copy which is actually a crippled version of Windows 8. Try it for yourself and let me know if your version brings up these things. I'm willing to admit that my TechNet crippled Windows 8 might be souring my opinion of it.

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Re: Microsoft doesn't have a history of great innovation...

"Try this on Windows 8: type "system restore" and tell me if "System Restore" appears in the search results. Type "uninstall" and tell me if you get "Uninstall a program" in the search results. I also tried typing "programs and features". That is two right there."

If you want to uninstall a program (Desktop or Metro), you can just right-click on the program in the Start Screen and select Uninstall. It's basically a two-click operation. Alternately, you can still access this under control panel which is where it was in Windows 7.

System Restore is a new one on me - it certainly fails my criteria for common use and if you use this so often that you mind about the number of clicks it takes is a factor, I'd suggest a different OS such as a Spectrum with a ROM chip. But on Win8, you just click on the Charms bar and go to Settings->Change PC Settings. Under "General" there are two options offered: "Refresh Your PC Without Affecting Your Files" and "Reinstall Windows". There's a little explanation under each stating the effect of what they do. E.g. the second one states this returns it to a factory state if you want to recycle your PC or start over from scratch.

So including opening the Charms menu and clicking on the final choice, (everything other than "Ok / Confirm" basically, it's four mouse clicks. How is it done on Win7 (I've never done it).

How is a System Restore

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Re: Microsoft doesn't have a history of great innovation...

Wow! Two down votes already from people who dislike being told how to uninstall a program on Windows 8 or how to do a system restore on it. People who down voted that should ask themselves if they think it's okay to vote down actual facts just because it makes someone or something they don't like sound easy. Apparently some people think bias is okay, so long as it's bias toward the thing that you like.

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Re: Microsoft doesn't have a history of great innovation...

Control panel settings like those appear under Settings in search as opposed to Programs (which the Start search defaults to). Note the Win 7 Start Menu also separated those, but due to space constraints meant you never got more than the top 3 results in any category, in that respect the Start Screen makes finding things a lot easier.

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Re: Microsoft doesn't have a history of great innovation...

On the Start screen type "uninstall" or "system restore" and on the right hand side next to "Settings" you'll see a non-zero number. Click Settings and it'll show you all the matches. Basically it only shows you apps by default, but all matches can be seen on the right.

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FAIL

Re: Microsoft doesn't have a history of great innovation...

Take this or this as average people. That to me is a fucked up desktop.

Now multiply training costs across enterprises. Windows 8 is the version to miss.

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Re: Microsoft doesn't have a history of great innovation...

I notice that the first link has 17th March on the Lock Screen. That means she is using the Developer Preview. That Lock Screen that she was having trouble with at the start is different now. The moment she had clicked on it, it would have rolled up to show the option for entering your password the moment she clicked anywhere, which is what she did right away.

She is also able to get into email immediately on being asked. She's only flummoxed in two places that I can see - it takes her a minute to work out how to close the email program and it takes her a while to work out how to get onto the Internet because - and I quote from the video poster's comment, she didn't recognize the Internet Explorer icon because she has never used Internet Explorer before, only Firefox and Chrome.

Actually, she seemed pretty intelligent to me. I also quote that her first comment on reaching the Start Screen is "I like how they done all this." And the other link is that same old one of someone's father that's been doing the rounds. In both cases, the user would have been able to manage fine if someone had just told them about clicking on corners and the sides of the screen. Something that is pretty easy to communicate.

Maybe you also shouldn't be assessing usability based on people trying out the early developer preview where things that were giving them problems no longer apply.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Microsoft doesn't have a history of great innovation...

"Apple recognised they didn't need to, although the last two iterations have way too much creeping iOSisation for my taste."

What we're witnessing here is the rise of the appliance - it's unstoppable. At the risk of doing same old same old, another car analogy works.

We're now in the position where the home grown brands (Windows) that frustrate are still supreme but more and more people are taking about how their japanese cars (OSX-IOS) don't stuggle starting in the morning and aren't forever breaking down. Away from this mass market there's a really health tuning/custom/kit car market (Linux) for those petrol heads who want to tinker and enjoy their vehicle for it's own sake rather than to ferry the kids around safely and quickly.

If it plays out we'll see Microsoft respond like GM and Ford did (and Rover didn't) and we'll all be happier in the end, but also we'll see fewer opportunities to tinker in those two marketplaces, which will then naturally retrench in to the Linux sphere.

Android? Probably Kia/Proton - Cheap/cheerful/does the job ;-)

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Re: adequate but unexciting software

Adequate but unexciting is what I want. I do not want to turn my computer on and go "woah, holy shit! What have they done THIS time?"

It doesn't matter if WIndows 8 is faster, leaner or meaner under the hood. My desktop is not a phone. They've given birth to a supermodel, then taken it out back and smashed its face in with a brick. If I want TIFKAM, I'll buy an Xbox. You know, a toy.

Until then, that abomination sits in a VM jail where it belongs and gets used so that I can say I've used it. Everything else uses a halfway-sane desktop interface.

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