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back to article Will Windows 8 sticker shock leave Microsoft unstuck?

"Sticker shock" is a US phrase that denotes a shopper’s surprised and generally disgusted reaction upon discovering the true price of an item they’re buying. Microsoft experienced a different kind of sticker shock a few years back with Windows Vista: such a memory and CPU hog was Windows Vista that most PCs of that time …

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WOA

I think WOA will probably be something well implemented but the marketing of this all is going to confuse the hell out of many.

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This is why the general PC purchase experience and user experience is so dire, probably why Macs and tablets are selling so well.

There simply is no need for about 8 editions of Windows and 4 or so stickers. Just simplify things.

Two editions of Windows one for desktops and workstations, the other for servers.

As for stickers, get rid of them. Let the computer vendors determine what constitutes a capable machine, if they mis-sell there's always consumer rights and "fit for purpose". Some laptops come with that many stickers that you end up damaging the casing removing the damn things.

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Waiting for the downvotes again... ;)

Here's a thought... did anyone look at what Apple did? They managed to rearchitect their systems away from PPC to Intel based, and while I wasn't an Apple owner during those times, those I've spoken to who were, didn't seem too confused about whether software they acquired would work or not - presumably because Apple managed to make the process relatively painless.

Microsoft, for all the bashing it gets, does have a lot of developer resources, not to mention the fact that NT was multi-architecture, so it's not like they don't have the technical skill to pull it off - but if they can learn something from Apple about how to manage and communicate it to users, maybe it won't be a total mess?

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Apple's transition wasn't as radical.

Thing is, while Apple transitioned architectures (TWICE--remember the 68K->PPC transition?) they didn't throw out their familiar UI in the process. Sure, there were adjustments and gradual evolution along the way, but most anyone who's seen a Mac desktop--ANY Mac desktop--would recognize one when they saw it. With the familiar UI intact, Apple's transition team concentrated behind the scenes with compatibility layers and so on. Plus, this was a strictly desktop affair, so energy efficiency wasn't an issue.

Microsoft's transition with Windows 8 is much more radical. You're combining the architecture change of Mac OS X with the UI transition of Windows 95. Microsoft is essentially trying to cold-turkey what they feel is a necessary transition away from a model not as well suited to tablets (and that's another thing: compatibility is going to be a BIG issue because of an INTENTIONAL lack of a compatibility layer--the article itself states this is again because of the tablet issue--power efficiency now has meaning).

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Re: Apple's transition wasn't as radical.

Nope, it wasn't about the UI, with Apples transitions the new kit could run the old stuff and the new stuff, it was the old kit that got slowly locked out as apps moved to the new platforms, but before you say "aha, planned obselecence" bear in mind that some apps didn't transition for a decade, *cough*Adobe, Microsoft*cough*.

What MS is doing is pretty much a line in the sand for WOA, new kit which only runs new apps.

As an aside, anyone know why it's called Office 2015 and not Office 2012? It is supposed to come out this year right?

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APA

Re: Re: Apple's transition wasn't as radical.

It's not 2015, it's 15. As in there were 14 versions prior.

(Not that I believe there WERE 14 prior versions but looking at the install directory of Office 2007 and 2010 which use the proper version numbers as opposed to some marketing label, it's in the right ball park)

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fat binaries

@Pete Spicer

I was. They had fat binaries and Rosetta. Some software came with binaries for both platforms in and the installer copied the right one. Rosetta was sort of a bit like Wine only more so and allowed older apps to think they were on a PowerPC when in fact they were in an emulator. Actually worked ok mostly.

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MrT
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Re: Office versions

MS skipped about with point-releases in the early 90's

MS Office = 1.0

Office 1.5 = 1.5

Office 1.6 = 2.0

Office 3.0/92 = 3.0

Office 4.0 = 4.0

Office 4.2 = 5.0

Office 4.3 = 6.0

Office 95 = 7.0

Office 97 = 8.0

Office 2000 = 9.0

Office 2002/XP = 10.0

Office 2003 = 11.0

Office 2007 = 12.0

Office 2010 = 14.0

The Registry shows in HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\: that there's a missing version 13 - MS got a dose of triscadecaphobia? Or were they finally aligning the version numbers with the releases and ironing out a 20yr-old wrinkle?

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Biggest shock for users

I think the most annoyed users will be those who buy a Windows for ARM device and then discover it's gimped. That it offers a subset of the functionality they expect, isn't backwards compatible and will probably be hobbled in other ways, e.g. only installs apps from Microsoft's app store.

Some of these concerns might also overflow onto tablet / hybrids even those that use x86 architecture.

I think the backlash will be considerable. For traditional style PCs, probably not so much.

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Pirate

Re: Biggest shock for users

It doesn't end there. They will likely discover that in order to install software from the MS store some kind of MS ID is required. This will possibly be used to track activity online and build a profile. What would this be used for? Well, there's a reason I don't use the Android Market. On speaking to a techie mate who uses Linux, said users might then be disgusted to discover that secure boot has made it impossible to investigate putting an alternative OS on the device. If my tribe of family and friends users asks me about a WOA device I certainly wouldn't be advising a purchase. Yes, DrXym, the backlash could be considerable.

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Devil

Re: Biggest shock for users

What I infer is that the only thing Windows-on-Arm has in common with desktop Windows 8 is the new logo - I wonder if anyone knows if they even share a single line of code?

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Re: Re: Biggest shock for users

The PC is too power hungry and too easy to run pirate software. Microsoft is being beaten in the 'iPad' market because it does not have an OS for that. The tablet is the new computing paradigm which Mircosoft is attempting to bridge too.

Windows 8 for the PC is unnecessary because Windows 7 is perfectly OK. Windows 8 for the Arm is just not the same thing at all. The PC is going to die and along with it the freedoms we have enjoyed.

In order to get back those freedoms people are going to have to run Jail Broken hardware, most people will not do this because of all the problems.

The freedoms of the Internet and the PC were only transitory, it will be back to business as usual. We can see this happening right now.

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Re: Re: Biggest shock for users

"What I infer is that the only thing Windows-on-Arm has in common with desktop Windows 8 is the new logo - I wonder if anyone knows if they even share a single line of code?"

Yes they will but Windows on ARM is likely to be a subset. i.e. it will have WinRT, Metro and most of the same services, and the ability to run the same metro apps.

What is not clear to me is what the story is for the classic desktop. Most likely scenario is there is no classic desktop at all. But if there is it will be gimped, running only a subset of Win32 and native ARM at that meaning virtually no apps will ever work on it.

On the flip side if you just want a tablet and can live with metro, that may not be too big a deal.

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I don't see the need for these sticker programs.

I understand that Microsoft can't control what the people selling the computers are telling their customers, but that Microsoft's reputation probably suffers as much as anyone's when a computer running Windows is mis-sold, so I would have thought it would be better that they just publish the system requirements for the OS and then scream as loudly as they can to the customers that, if they are in any doubt as to whether a computer they want to buy is up to scratch, they should ask for a demo, or they should seek advice from a tech savvy relative or friend, or a vendor that they trust.

Clear information with no marketing rubbish attached, and then pushing the blame off of themselves if a sale does go pear shaped.

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Think the KISS principle.

The stickers exist precisely because what you describe is "geekspeak" to the average person. Microsoft could scream at people to "check the specs" 'til they're blue but for most people specs are eyeglasses. They couldn't distinguish a Core from a processor or RAM from a ream.

So you go back to the ol' "Keep it Simple, Stupid!" principle. So you have the sticker. The Windows 7 sticker program actually got it right: plain and simple, if the box has the sticker, you're good. End of. And if a computer box has a sticker but really can't do it, that's Breach of Contract--send in the lawyers! The only thing simpler than "If you see it, it works" would be "It just works", and you can't get any simpler without Apple's level of hardware control to ensure "It just works".

Unfortunately, the way Microsoft is transitioning (it feels necessarily) to ARM makes for a transition that can't help but be complicated.

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Because Microsoft rely on preinstalled copies of Windows - since they are the only ones anyone pays for.

So when the vendors pointed out that it would be expensive to build machines that met Windows Vista system requirements - MSFT introduced the basic certification, allowing the makers to claim that the machine ran Vista, allowing MSFT to get paid - and the punter to get stuck with a machine that didn't work.

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Linux

Re: Think the KISS principle.

The KISS principle is simply unnecessary. The n00b consumer won't pay attention to the stickers anyway. They will just buy something that's sitting in Best Buy. They may or may not even care if it has the current version of Windows. They won't check the pedigree of the box. They simply don't care.

People choose to remain blissfully unaware. That includes these silly little stickers.

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Flame

Are Microsoft ever going to stop larding new interfaces on top of the old crap they built way back when? It's getting ridiculous.

On Windows 7 I'm still using the same dark ages dialog to change network adaptor settings I've been using since at least Windows NT 4 (probably further back but the details of Me, 98 and 95 have been mercifully blotted from my mind), but now I have to dig through about 20 layers of cutsey Aero balls to get to the dialog.

Is Metro really going to add anything other than another arserapingly bad UI layer between me and the same stuff I've been using for almost two decades? How about rationalising some of how your old stuff works instead? Prune the trees of arbitrary "advanced" buttons and condense similar functionality in to one easy to find location. Make me not want to shoot myself rather than click on the control panel.

Oh and while you're at it, I know it took you 'til Vista to really get the hang of these new fangled "wireless networks" I've been using since I had Windows 3.11, but is it too much to ask that my network adaptor IP settings might be tied to the wireless network profile? That would be kinda logical, doncha think? No hurry. Maybe in a decade or so you can get to that. Thanks, Microsoft. Gits.

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JDX
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Tricky

ARM/x86 sound like very different products... even more so than Windows for client Vs server.

I'd prefer Windows and "Windows Mobile" except that's already in use... then we'd have:

- Windows

- Windows server

- Windows mobile

- Windows phone

Question for linux bods... linux is known for running on a far wider array of hardware but does it run identically? How does it handle cases where underlying architecture is substantially different, as MS claim in the "porting x86 apps to ARM would defeat the point" comment?

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Re: Question for linux bods

Linux offers the same API on every architecture and most of the core components are open source. As a result, it is realistic to imagine that the apps only need to be re-compiled for your chosen target.

Purists will say that you have to re-test on each new platform. My personal experience of software at the cheaper end of the market is that testing is inadequate even on the original platform, so don't get your hopes up. That said, most bugs are in the apps, not in the underlying platform, so you'll probably retain whatever quality was originally there. :(

As I understand it, Apple took the same approach when they shifted architectures from 68k->PPC->x86. Since I'm not a Mac developer, I can't comment on how much porting work was actually required. Presumably there was a big-endian to little-endian transition somewhere along the way and that might have been a little painful.

64-bit Windows was the same API, but MS made such a pig's ear of the language bindings that porting is non-trivial. Fortunately, 32-bit binaries still run on everything except rarefied Server editions, so no-one notices that all the mainstream apps are still 32-bit. (That includes Office, by the way, since Microsoft's official advice is that you shouldn't install the 64-bit version of Office unless you absolutely need the extra address space, because hardly any Office extensions, from third parties, have been ported to 64-bit.)

Metro is a different API and most of the apps you've spent money on are closed source. The latter means that you will have to wait for the vendor to try recompiling. The former means that the vendor will have a shed-load of porting work to do before that is a serious proposition. As another commentator noted, almost the only thing that WoA has in common with normal Windows is the brand name.

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Re: Tricky

For non-gui software it's easy to port. OpenVPN for example runs on anything from routers to mainframes, without changing a single line of code.

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Re: Tricky

You simply download the app that was compiled for your version. Usually the OS will know where to find them. On the other hand you could download the source and compile it. That need not be a complicated thing, all automated.

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Confused by the confusion....

I don't get the confusion. It's called 'Windows On ARM' now, not Windows 8. Do people get confused between Windows Phone and Windows 7? Between Windows 7, Windows Home Server, Windows Embedded and Windows Server. No, Microsoft have always had different versions of Windows for different user with different features.

It will be simple, consumers ask what version of Windows the device has. If it is Windows 8 then you get the full PC experience. If the device is Windows On ARM then you don't. This is why they have changed the names so it is easier not to get confused as would have happened when you have Windows 8 x86 and Windows 8 ARM. I think they learned from the Vista vs Vista Basic issue and that is why Windows 8 and Windows On ARM have become two separate products that will launch around the same time and share a lot of the same code base. Now it is Windows 8 or Windows On ARM, simple as....

Also Windows On ARM will only be available on certified devices, like Windows Phone now. And yes if you want the openness of a Windows PC on ARM, then you need to go for Android. Go figure.

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Re: Confused by the confusion....

I'd guess people probably do get confused by Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7. After all I remember a lot of users telling me they had Windows 97 or Office 98.

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Coat

Re: Confused by the confusion....

I think they should rename Windows On ARM to...

Windows In Walls!

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Re: Confused by the confusion....

The problem will be what another poster mentioned: that's all geek speak to your average user. They don't hear "Windows on ARM" or "Windows 8"--they hear that it's "Windows" and they expect it to work like Windows always has. That means installing apps they download from shady sites and running all that old stuff they have sitting in a bottom drawer. For a user who buys a WOA device expecting that same old Windows experience, being forced into MS's walled garden (no non-MS store apps allowed) is going to be frustrating.

MS has done a pretty good job of making backward compatibility transparent to users. For the longest while, you could run DOS games on Win without thinking about it. You can still run a lot of legacy stuff on the latest Windows. When that ends, customers who aren't expecting it are going to be confused/upset. That's something you want to avoid both to reduce the threat of lawsuits and to prevent damage to your brand.

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FAIL

Re: Confused by the confusion....

Don't you mean Windows CE, Windows Mobile, Pocket PC, and SmartPhone which were blood enemies there for a while. M$ has gotten itself in plenty of branding charlie foxtrots in the past.

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FAIL

Re: Re: Confused by the confusion....

Currently, Pocket PC (now called Windows Mobile Classic), SmartPhone (Windows Mobile Standard), and Pocket PC Phone Edition (Windows Mobile Professional) are the three main platforms under the Windows Mobile umbrella. Each platform uses different components of Windows CE.

Not confusing at all.

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JDX
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Re: Confused by the confusion....

Oh - I hadn't even realised "Windwos on Arm" was the proper brand name; I thought it was still Windows 8, and WOA was a more technical thing.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Confused by the confusion....

Indeed I am, and more confused for having read your post

Paris : because in a confused world, she represents a remarkable example of simplicity "that's hot"

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This post has been deleted by its author

My point still stands

The concerns in the article are out of date, now that the re-name has happened. In the same way people do not expect a full Windows experience when buying a Windows Phone device, they should also not expect it on a Windows On ARM device.

That the rename has happened is good, the name they have picked is not though. It is a mouth full and not properly descriptive, as Windows Phone is also being run on ARM processors. It should have been called Windows Tablet (yes, I know it has been used by them before) or Windows Touch.

The article also missed that the same thing that was the complaint with Vista could happen with Windows 8, with multiple versions, from Ultimate down to another Basic edition.

What MS are guilty of is talking about the ARM version of Windows in the same breath as Windows 8. That has confused most of the world into thinking Windows 8 would be CPU architecture agnostic and you would get the same experience whether on ARM or x86. It was obvious that this would not happen and they should have made it clear that the ARM version was going to be a completely separate thing, a lot earlier on....

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Re: My point still stands

> the ARM version was going to be a completely separate thing

The other question is: is WOA Office (and x86 tablet Office) going to be a different thing too. Will this be a cut-down version, will it add ribbons to Metro ? Will it allow add-ons and plug-ins or eliminate these as IE will ?

And what will be the cost ? Take a top-line tablet price: Samsung or Sony perhaps, and add ~ $70 for WOA OEM, add ~ $100 for WOA Office. How many will you buy ?

What about an x86 tablet. Add ~ $ 50 for Intel chips compared to ARM and then add the above, or more.

Will the OEMs make any money on these or will they (will MS allow them to) pass.

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Windows XYZ

I think the stupidest thing Microsoft has done is the creation of half-a-dozen "different" versions of the same operating system. I realize they did it to squeeze more money out of people, but it's still pretty stupid. Who honestly thinks Windows "Basic" is anything other than crippleware? Does it still have that 4 app limit?

Out here in the corporate world we had to sextuple our testing environment just to make sure our kit runs on all these "different" versions of the same damn operating system.

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Re: Windows XYZ

It's true. If there were any real difference between the versions, I'd feel kind of insulted that I paid 2000 quid for the World's Bestest Evar Laptop (TM) and still only got Windows Professional, not Windows Ultimate. Of course there's no feature difference that anyone actually cares about, and pricing difference for the OEM versions is a rounding error. The only difference is the branding.

Professional says "I'm a serious guy with a leather bound filofax", while ultimate says "I bought this laptop as a penis extension." I can only assume the message Home Premium is designed to send is "you are too poor to use our software, peon."

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Re: Re: Windows XYZ

Or Windows Ultimate says 'I routinely work with more than one language'. Why it was felt necessary to make people fork out more for the complete set of localisation files and is a mystery to me.

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JDX
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Re: Windows XYZ

It's hardly unusual though - you can buy software for $50 for your personal/hobby use, if it's for commercial use then suddenly it's $200.

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Re: Re: Windows XYZ

Indeed, but using more than one language doesn't have to be for commercial use (you can live in a multi-language household) and even Apple can manage to not charge for including the complete set of languages.

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Windows

Did the stickers sometimes just show what was installed?

I bought a reconditioned Dell Inspiron that came with Vista Basic and bore the corresponding sticker. I wiped it and put Win7 Ultimate on and it runs beautifully, Aero and all!

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Anonymous Coward

Understood

Didnt know that you couldn't use the trad. Windows desktop for much on ARM neither could you customise it. Who said that x86/x86-64 had its day?

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It's consumerism, stupid.

Two stickers, one for WOA Tabs (Comsumers) another for Wintel Tabs (Business). Simples, Innit. Erm...

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Anonymous Coward

Apple got it right

much as I hate to say nice things about them... they made an incredibly smart decision in separating OSX and iOS to avoid exactly these sorts of arguments on the iPad.

Microsoft are busy trying to please everyone... who the hell wants Metro and touch on a desktop PC to do accounts? and who wants Office with teeny tiny icons on a finger friendly touch device?

If I need a keyboard because I'm writing code, a long document or fighting with a spreadsheet then a laptop/notebook/ultrabook is the perfect form factor (I don't have to lug around additional peripherals). If I want to browse the internets or watch a movie then a finger friendly slate device is what I need

The iPad is a pretty good bit of kit - battery life, form factor, performance - though there are times (eg note taking, sketching with a client) I'd like to see a stylus option to avoid scanning bits of paper when I get home... maybe that's what Metro WOA will bring to the party...

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Coat

As I see it...

...there are four types of users:

1. PC users

2. Windows users

3. Mac users

4. Penguins.

So saying 'how could anyone get confused between Windows on ARM and Windows 8' is simply that MOST people when asked for a preference will simply say 'Windows'. This is why the stickers didn't work - too much information.

A Mac is a Mac is a Mac and Penguins, well, they know what (mostly) they're on about, so they don't count in this test.

"Do you want Windows with that device?'

"Yes please"

"Windows On ARM or Windows 8?"

"Errrrrrr...."

/

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Coat

Re: As I see it...

I'm not sure about your types of users. 2-4 I can understand. What is number 1? Is it all of the others, plus OS/2, BSD and any other random desktop OS, because, as I understand it, a PC is a pretty generic term for a Personal Computer, usually refering (but not necessarily limited) to x86 architecture?

I tend to classify users as:

- Those who can and should use a computer.

- Those who should but can't use a computer.

- Those who can't and shouldn't as they are too stupid to even manage a paper pad and crayons.

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WOA

For the average consumer WOA (or winpho for that matter) is not windows.

You can't run Windows software, it's not windows. You could take an Android device and stick tiles on it and call it windows and it would be about the same for the consumer.

If they are going to copy Apple's locked garden they should have given it a different name then Windows (like iOS), maybe call the OS Metro.

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Anonymous Coward

So much for MS' expensive rebranding exercise.

>"Microsoft has just unveiled a new logo for Windows 8, a Metro-looking flag that dumps the flying flag logo of years past."

As the article you linked in the middle of that sentence makes clear, it's not meant to be a flag - it's supposed to be a window. It's clearly not working as intended. What a laughable fiasco^W^Wtragic waste of whalesong and joss sticks that was.

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LDS
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Vista 2

WIndows 8 is going to be a "VIsta 2" experience. MS is trying again to force upon user an "experience" they didn't ask for, thinking it will be "easier" to use (only if the only device you ever used is a phone...). They adopted the same approach with the upcoming "Flight", where they have removed all the Flight Simulator X advanced features - and blocked third party contents.

Hope users won't be dumb enough to accept this "dumbsizing".

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Re: Vista 2

Could be worse. They could be improving the user experience by removing the yoke and rudder.

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Itanium

... it's going to be tough for WOA not to follow the path of Itanium. Not impossible, but very, very hard.

But then who remembers that Windows NT actually had support in it for platforms other than Intel x86? Not many, but the old header files mentioned Amiga, PPC, Motorola and various other platforms.

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Stop

Re: Itanium

The difference being that more ARM chips are sold in 15 minutes than all Intaniums ever produced. Windows might die on ARM but as crappy as x86 is at the low end of power spectrum ARM will be around for a very long time.

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