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back to article Microsoft exec: No 'Plan B' despite mobile stumbles

Should Microsoft's tablet and phone efforts continue to inspire little interest among the buying public, don't expect a radical shift in strategy – according to one senior Redmond exec, the company has no "Plan B". "It's less 'Plan B' than how you execute on the current plan," CFO Peter Klein told investors at Goldman Sachs' …

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They should have gone with Android

They could have made their own curated and moderated app store and made all the icons larger and square to fill the grid.

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Or with Windows CE

Windows CE at least had something of a point. It was at least open to your IT department so they could install programs on it. Currently they are just chasing the IOS and Android crowd, ignoring that those people already buy IOS and Android.

Windows CE, despite of all its limitations, would have been something businesses already know and trust. The current offerings simply alienate existing customers without bringing in new ones.

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JDX
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Re: Or with Windows CE

You can install apps on Windows devices too, even WinRT... it's similar to creating bespoke private apps for iOS I guess.

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Re: Or with Windows CE @ Christian Berger

Are you suggesting that no-one should ever try to enter a market if there are already popular players?

If this is the case there would be a lot less choice available out there and things would cost a lot more.

Microsoft, want in and they came up with a different idea. You don't like it, that's fine, others do. If it gets better (let's face it it needs to) more may like it and this will increase competition witch is good for the consumer (us).

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Re: Or with Windows CE @ Ragarath

... except there's nothing new here, just a shrunk down version of the "tablet" they've been punting for 10 years or more. Laptops are laptops, tablets are tablets. It was Microsoft's failure to separate the two that gave Apple their opportunity.

Go on, buy one. I'm sure it will make a fine conversation piece in years to come.

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Microsoft is not entering the market

They've been playing in tablet space since the 1990s.

They have been playing in the handheld computing space since about 2000 and phone space since about 2006 - twice as long as the iphones etc have been around.

What they have not been doing is taking the space seriously. For instance the team that works on Windows CE is tiny and always has been.

Microsoft cannot play the "we're a new player, give us time" card.

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Anonymous Coward

Doomed

Doomed I say, doomed!

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Sounds familiar

So they're going to do the same thing over and over and expect different results. Certainly seems like a company defining plan to me.

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Re: Sounds familiar

"We're very focused on continuing the success we have with PCs and taking that to tablets and phones,"

I agree.

Or, in other words "It was good enough for my father and grandfather." etc. This is not even a plan A, just hope that the money will keep rolling in as it has done for so many years.

Complacent? They probably know how to spell it, but not what it means.

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Re: Sounds familiar

"We're very focused on continuing the success we have with PCs and taking that to tablets and phones,"

The Reuters reporter should have picked up on this and asked, "How do you expect to replicate the desktop's success on tablets and phones when you've butchered the desktop UI so it looks like the tablet and phone UI? It makes no sense whatsoever, all you're going to do is screw up your desktop platform."

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Wait... so are they aren't supposed to sit back, do nothing and be complacent? Odd, I keep hearing complaints that they changed the Windows desktop even though it worked fine and didn't need changing.

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Re: Sounds familiar

Sounds like first world war generals:

- over the top lads, this time we will really get through the barbed wire and past their trenches

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Re: Sounds familiar

It's not working... bring me a bigger hammer!

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Happy

Re: Sounds familiar

Isn't it a sign of insanity to repeatedly perform the same action while expecting different results?

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@ GBL Initialiser

Hmmm, I think the point is that re-arranging the user interface IS the same thing they have always done.

See http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/rearrange_the_deck_chairs_on_the_Titanic

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sounds familiar

"Isn't it a sign of insanity to repeatedly perform the same action while expecting different results?"

And performing the same action while getting different results is the definition of Windows.

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"Drop your product price. Not that big of a deal."

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Pretty much this. And if RT is the way forward, at least give us a fucking development environment on it.

I like the idea of convertible laptop but my major use case for a laptop is software design. Not possible on RT as it stands.

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You don't need a dev environment on Windows RT - You can just use use RemoteFX and Terminal Services to connect to a fast box somewhere else.

(It works just perfect for normal work type apps.)

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> I like the idea of convertible laptop

Surface are not 'convertible laptops'. They are not usable on the lap. The balance is wrong, the angle is too upright, the keyboard junction is floppy and don't even think about giving it a swipe.

They seem to be called 'Surface' because they require a firm flat surface, such as a desk but not an aircraft tray, to be usable.

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Thumb Down

"They are not usable on the lap" - endless youtube videos of people using a surface on their lap say you are wrong.

Not that this will stop you from continuing to make this claim.

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Do they need to win?

Or do they just need to have an ARM slab ready in case ARM/thin clients take off on the desktop or in the datacentre?

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Their entire future depends on this

A raspberry pi makes fine thin client. Although Windows has been dieting, it is still far too fat for that price or power range. 3 of the top 500 super computers use Windows so the datacentre is not Microsoft's strong point either. Microsoft wanted to be the gate keeper between people and media content, but tablets without Windows do that job at half the price. Games and e-mail are mostly on phones. Microsoft's near monopoly in desktop operating systems means very little now that desktops (with tablets thrown in) are a small proportion of the computing market.

Microsoft's strong point is Office. They have said for years that their phones integrate well with PC's but that did not make them sell. The boot is being strapped onto another foot now. It is up to Microsoft Office to integrate well with phones. If people plug a keyboard and monitor into a phone to use an office suite they will not be using Microsoft Office. (If Microsoft continue in their current direction, Office will lose it's keyboard interface and be accessible only through touch.)

Microsoft must either get a near monopoly on phones or release a free version of Office for Android. If they miss this boat, documents will be created in a file format that Microsoft does not control and people will not be locked into the Office cash cow.

(A good phone user interface ports well to a tablet, so winning in phones is a good first step to the relatively tiny tablet market. Desktop to tablet is a more difficult step. Trying to restrict a desktop to a tablet user interface is insane.)

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Re: Their entire future depends on this

Using Win8 on desktop and tablet-pc since the day it came out (and testet it since MS handed out slates with the dev preview in IIRC 2011). Despite what many claim they have not restricted a desktop to a tablet interface. They have changed the whole UI, dropped the start menu, introduced Modern as a replacement etc. The result requires some learning that is why two groups of actual users (1) are screaming

Group A: The larger group of "muscle reflex" operating office worker that switched XP, Vista, W7 back to "NT4" mode and does no where to klick to get a certain result

Group B: The small(er) group that made massiv use of some special features of the Win7 start menu (showing the last used documents) and miss that.

Like Ecos/Peaceniks both are "screaming minorities" that sound a lot larger than they are. Most users take 30-180min to get the concept behind Win8. Overcoming the "different than grandpa Xerox" meme is the hardest part.

One can debate details like the removal of Aero (I like the decision) and some feat but the end result is IMHO a system that works well on Desktop AND tablet. It may not be perfect for either but it is a lot better than the alternative. For me it is the chance to reduce the Zoo (Smartphone, Tablet, Desktop) to just one unit(3) - a nice dockable tablet or convertible like Helix or Sony Duo 11 having a unit that always works wether sitting at a desk, in a (crowded) train/plane(2) or even on a fair like CeBit (company presents there )

(1) Group 3 are Pengu-Boys, Fosstards and Gnuliban that have not used MS since Win 3.11 but simply know it is bad since Osama bin Stallman had a vision about it after too much toe-cheese

(2) Fold-out desks are rare in german trains and my manly girth is not all that compatible with them anyway :)

(3) Okay two, the tablet and a small, long-duration mobile phone that is so stupid it makes a nazi skinhead look like Einstein

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Their entire future depends on this

@Flocke Kroes: " 3 of the top 500 super computers use Windows so the datacentre is not Microsoft's strong point either"

At least I was able to stop reading there you saved me from having to carry on. You don't know anything about datacentres do you? I'm presuming you've never even been to one.

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Re: Their entire future depends on this

It seems your idea of a data centre is something that runs exchange and serves up files to Windows clients. Other people's experience may differ... When the Windows client machines go away (replaced by tablets and phones and alternative desktops that suddenly make sense now that you have to cater for tablets and phones anyway), then there is not going to be much call for such places.

If it's actually computing (as in carrying out calculations, like super computers do) we are referring to, then it's not being done (very much) on Windows.

And by "not very much" I mean less than 1%...

Render, compute and simulation farms run nearly exclusively on Linux or Unix.

Standalone desktops running Matlab or some finite element analysis sometimes do run Windows-- but the big jobs go to a compute farm or a super computer.

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Re: Do they need to win?

> just need to have an ARM slab ready

Microsoft do not need to win, they do need everyone else to lose. They would be quite happy is everyone gave up on tablets and phones and go back to their PC Desktops.

It seemed to me that WOA/Windows RT was more about threatening OEMs with loss of discounts to stop HP's WebOS and Dell's ARM Servers then it was about actually having ARM machines to sell. Trying to become a pseudo-Apple was just a later rationale.

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No 'Plan B'...

So that will be: "Plan A SP1" then.

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Perhaps..

..they were relying on other people's stuff 'not working properly' as soon as they introduced Windows?

Worked in the past.

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I love this plan

I hope they stick with it to the bitter end.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: I love this plan

OK, you made my day.. :)

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Anonymous Coward

No problem - all they have to do is hire Eadon as a consultant.

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Anonymous Coward

He's such a whining little so and so, they could offer to pay him £10 million a year and he would turn it down.

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There's the Kool-aid...

"the success we have with PCs"

To me this shows the MS corporate bubble - they genuinely think that Windows is a success. Commercially, it was a success due to 'right place right time' and various dodgy practices - but technically not so much.

This means they don't understand that they need to vastly improve the quality of their operating systems.

Thankfully, now we have some competition happening; Macs, MacOS, iOS, Ubuntu, Android, RIM etc and MS are finding they will have to compete on quality. What we could do with is Novell, Blackberry or someone having a decent crack at the corporate space and provide some real competition. That again would mean that MS would have to compete on quality and Exchange and Sharepoint would improve.

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Re: There's the Kool-aid...

Of course it's a success. On the PC, Linux STILL isn't a competitor. OSX is FINALLY getting to be one... but neither of these things are down to things like kernel stability, rather how easy it is to get your work done.

Ironically, OSX seems to be finally getting a serious slice of the pie just as it is starting to become unpopular due to some of the newer features, and as W7 marked a big step forward on MS' part. This illustrates further that the technical differences are not the most important. I might suggest the Linux crowd's focus on the technical side being the more important is one reason WHY they still have no market share, despite their product being very good.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There's the Kool-aid...

Look back to the mid 80s and find the alternative WIMP GUI system which ran on IBM PCs (and clones). There was only OS/2 and that was released two years after Windows 1.0.

Microsoft were in the right place at the right time and they fooled IBM with their bluff about having an OS for them (which they bought off someone quickly when the deal went ahead), but Windows itself was unchallenged for years on x86.

Other competitors were totally different platforms. Here in the UK only people who were massively business orientated had a PC at home, they were stupidly expensive too. Where as an Amiga or ST was around the £500 mark. Okay, by the time you added all the expansions to make these machines as powerful as a PC you would have spent a fair bit, but we made do with a TV set for a screen etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There's the Kool-aid...

Ironically, OSX seems to be finally getting a serious slice of the pie just as it is starting to become unpopular due to some of the newer features

Tell me about it. I have a good friend who is thinking about moving his entire office (6 people) to OSX, and he's asked me to have a look. I need to figure out how to give them "Save as" and kill off the versioning stuff (which means they would have to do "Duplicate and then rename the copay as far as I can see, which is stupid). Not that it isn't clever, but it's such a distance away from what they're used to on Windows that it creates change anxiety. *NOT* the best idea ever from Apple.

Clever stuff is only good if you can explain it to people who are not *quite* that clever. Otherwise, avoid..

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Re: There's the Kool-aid...

Umm...the first GUI I ever used on a DOS PC was called Gem, and it worked a lot better than Windows 1.0 which came about a year later as I recall.

What happened to it? Apple sued, and that was that...

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Linux

Re: There's the Kool-aid...

"I might suggest the Linux crowd's focus on the technical side being the more important is one reason WHY they still have no market share, despite their product being very good."

You'll find a lot of people in the linux crowd who aren't really interested in market share unless it brings more developers in to develop the system. Not the cheerleaders of course, but the 'it's awesome for me' crowd. And it is awesome for me, I can make computers running linux dance for me in exactly the way I want. That said I wouldn't wish to confuse someone like my mother by changing the way she does things, she has a hard enough time telling apart the AOL client ("the internet" which I'm trying to ween her off) and Firefox ("the Google", because that's the homepage).

People like her are why MS has a *very* fine line to walk with its interfaces, because if they change things around too much then people like me will get sick of trying to retrain them and just go with linux instead.

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Re: There's the Kool-aid...

yess.... clearly, one small difference, which only affects a few of the built-in apps. Obviously, people should avoid it like a swarm of bees.

I suppose if your friend were to ask your advice about a new car, you couldn't possibly recommend him anything other than *your_current_car* because:

a) it is the best. You are driving it, therefore, it is the best.

b) all other cars are stupid/complicated/inefficient. For instance, some might have GPS with a BLUE button, rather than a RED one as it is in your car. How will anyone will be able to comprehend this, when clearly RED is the only apt colour for GPS.

Also, I would shy away from people who regard me as being too stupid to understand how to use a Mac...

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Re: There's the Kool-aid...

"rather how easy it is to get your work done"

There's that Kool-aid again if you think Windows is the best OS for getting things done. You can get far, far more work done by using Ubuntu or MacOS - they are so much faster.

A mobile phone sales guy came around our office the other day to check the mobile signal. When he saw my workstation he was genuinely amazed at the speed and responsiveness. Without prompting from me he said that my machine must have huge amounts of RAM installed to be so fast.

I pointed out that it's a low end HP Elitebook with 4GB RAM - the difference is the OS - in this case Xubuntu.

And as for usability - I've now installed Ubuntu on a few small office and business PC's for non-techy users and they get along fine with it - i.e. I don't get any 'support' calls.

Try Ubuntu, or my choice which is Xubunutu, and from the ease of installation onwards I think you'll be amazed.

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Happy

Re: There's the Kool-aid...

people like me will get sick of trying to retrain them and just go with linux instead.

There's also Linux-lite, aka OpenOffice / LibreOffice running on a Windows PC. It's probably easier to re-train someone off Office 2003 onto OpenOffice, than it is to re-train them onto Office 2007. And the OO folks seem mercifully free of the desire to inflict new interfaces on their users in order to look cool.

And of course the price of OO / LO is very competitive indeed.

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JDX
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Re: There's the Kool-aid...

>>There's that Kool-aid again if you think Windows is the best OS for getting things done. You can get far, far more work done by using Ubuntu or MacOS - they are so much faster.

Please don't spread these kind of lies. I work on a Mac and a PC and there is no perceptible difference in productivity. If the work you're doing is impacted by how fast you PC is running, you need a new PC regardless of OS.

My Windows PC is 3-4 years old and out of 8 hours a day, I lose maybe 5min waiting for it to keep up with me... far less than I spend on internet forums!

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Re: There's the Kool-aid...

How to give them Save As... here, here, or here.

Enable ask to keep changes, close windows when quitting app here.

See also De-IOSise Mountain Lion here.

It just works!

Actually when you do all this it's usable again, hopefully they won't go mad and remove these options in 10.9.

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Unhappy

Re: There's the Kool-aid...

"There was only OS/2 and that was released two years after Windows 1.0."

You may not have seen it but there was another WIMP OS.

GEM from Digital Research.

This came out in about 1985 and was most successful on the Atari ST. However it did run under DOS and I remember using Ventura Publisher on a PC at a training course I went on in about 1992.

From what I can recall the DOS version was intentionally crippled due to pressure from Apple. Some things never change.

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Happy

Save As on OS X

Hold down the Option/Alt key whilst clicking the File menu (or pull down File menu and pres Option/Alt key to get 'Save As'.

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Windows

@Bailey

"This means they don't understand that they need to vastly improve the quality of their operating systems."

I think they do. Just look at, for example, the authorization aspect of Windows XP in comparison to Windows 7. There's a huge difference even though the user only notices this in the form of extra pop-up messages to request permission for changing OS related stuff.

And although MS sure knows how to create and produce horrible software, never underestimate their abilities to improve on it. Its not always for the best (Metro, or take a look at the "improved" user interface of a vanilla installation of Visual Studio 2012) but often they do manage to come up with some good stuff. Windows 7 vs. Vista for example, SharePoint designer vs. FrontPage, Server 2003 vs. Server 2008.

Their main problem, as I see it, is that they still retain their arrogance to think they can dictate how users should approach their products. Visual Studio 2012 is a good example and showed them that they were wrong. After protests from hundreds (if not thousands) of developers they actually had to implement hasty changes to the IDE (most likely out of fear that no one would touch it). Even a hasty "theme editor" was eventually released allowing people to turn the interface back to the way it used to be.

(for those unfamiliar with this: initially they removed all colour from the interface and basically turned it into a bright whitish full-screen window which didn't have any variation between the coding window and the control sections around it whereas VS2010 used to be somewhat dark-blue on the edges with a white coding window).

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Pint

@Bailey

"There's that Kool-aid again if you think Windows is the best OS for getting things done. You can get far, far more work done by using Ubuntu or MacOS - they are so much faster."

That heavily depends on what you're doing and how you're doing it. Right now my company is also heavily involved with Windows server maintenance and I can tell from personal experience that although this is easily doable using a Linux desktop (remote desktop connection to a server is no problem) its much quicker when you have a Windows desktop around; preferable one with PowerShell onboard.

Or what about when you actually need to develop Windows related stuff? Maybe you can get Visual Studio to run on Linux using Wine (most likely best in a virtual machine) but I don't think it'll be the most ideal situation. Especially since VS can be quite resource hungry.

As such; it depends. I can well see how anyone would benefit much more from using, say, Ubuntu and LibreOffice instead of Windows 7 & MS Office. But that doesn't make it the de-facto solution for everything. There are just as well plenty of scenario's where Windows can be the better tool for the job.

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Re: There's the Kool-aid...

"There's also Linux-lite, aka OpenOffice / LibreOffice running on a Windows PC..."

You think my mother knows how to operate a spreadsheet!?!

We have a hard enough time with the concept "I'm only available on skype when the computer's on" and the resulting expectation that my computer be left on all the time. Though for some reason the converse doesn't apply (things must be switched OFF! when not in active use).

She's figured out how to browse and book holidays online well enough though...

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Re: There's the Kool-aid...

There was also DesqView (and later DesqView/X) around the same time. And the non-x86 systems where equal or even better than the (mostly) DOS-based units back in the late 1980s/early 90s. It was not until the 386(sx) and 486 that the Windows-units became dominant and not until NT 4 that they ruled. It's simply that Atari and Commodore dropped the ball (Even more the the latter - they had a strong stand in business and education) and ignored the marken (i.e not delivering the Unix-Version of the Atari TT - nice and stable SVID compatible unix for a resonable planned price - got a change to play with it for a few hours at the Atari fair)

And while Win1.x might have been out before OS/2 the Windows DOS add on did not take hold until 3.1. And that came out after OS/2 2.x. At that time OS/2 was clearly better than the DOS-based Windows (1.0, 2.11, 3.x, 95/98/ME) and equal ton Win NT 3.5. Good, solid stuff but as an article here showed - IBM never managed to get the developers and hardware companies onto the bandwagon. The OS was pricy (VOBIS and/or ESCOM sold it) and the hardware support was so-so.

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