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back to article Microsoft needs to keep visible under waves of Blue

Remember Microsoft's Blackcomb? Nor do I: it never happened. For years, Blackcomb was the code name for a “next” version of Windows after Longhorn. Longhorn became Windows Vista and when that lumbered out the working title for Windows 7 became Vienna. Now we have a new codename: Blue. Only Blue isn’t a new version of Windows - …

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Re: Jamie Jones

At least if MS goes bust we will no longer have to put up with Eadons ramblings....

It'll just be something else...

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Re: @Eadon

SharePoint does a whole lot more than merely serving Office based solutions.

True. It's also a ghastly CMS.

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@Sorry that handle is already taken....Re: Jamie Jones

> At least if MS goes bust we will no longer have to put up with Eadons ramblings....

>

> It'll just be something else...

True, there's still Apple, Unix, *BSD, Area 51, who really shot Kennedy, the moon landings were faked.. etc.etc.

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Blue ?

When I hear "blue" in an IT context the association I have is with "Big Blue", i.e. IBM. MS isn't "blue", it's "Azure", surely ?

It'll be interesting to see how MS holds on to it's revenue stream. My view is that they'll hold onto the business customers for Windows / Office in a single word: Excel. Every business outfit I know has lots of stuff on Excel that's been around donkeys. No one really knows how it does what it does & no one in their right mind would risk their job by suggesting an alternative. It's easier, cheaper & less livelihood threatening simply to pay MS's rental fees. The overwhelming majority of users neither know nor care what OS / software they're using, they just want it to work the way it did last week & no changes, thank you very much. That's a heavy inertial load in favour of MS in business for the foreseeable future.

Outside of business, there doesn't seem to be much reason to pay MS's increasingly hiked-up charges. XP still works just fine, & MS are asking £190 for W8, way more than Apple ask for OSX. Old versions of Office also work just fine & the latest versions (home & student) have had their price hacked up from £80 for 3 licences to £109 for a single licence. Unless you need or are required to use Office then Google's "Drive", at a purchase cost of zero, and a maintenance cost also of zero, seem very attractive. And, being cloud-based, it's got automatic backup built in, which means you don't need to wrestle with Windows Backup. Or as is often suggested Libre / Open Office might be worth looking at (can't say I was too enamoured of it myself when last I tried it, but that was some time ago).

I reckon that for the first time for years MS have a real fight on their hands. It'll be interesting to see how, or if, they can effectively respond.

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Coat

Re: Blue ?

Perhaps "Blue" isn't the full title… but rather "Blue Screen Of Death".

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Coat

Re: Blue ?

I'm actually thinking of Miles Davis. Why am I doing that?

Miles recorded a very famous album called Kind of Blue. The name of the first track is how I react to most Microsoft press releases. It's called "So What".

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Re: Blue ?

"A friend of mine ported Access DB scripts to LibreOffice Base, it wasn't a huge job, but he saved his company a fortune because they don't need to buy Access."

Um, what? Your friend never heard of the free Access runtime...? Sounds easier and much less time consuming, as well as less risky compared to rewritting to another dev platform. I would suggest cheaper (one copy of Access Vs. Man hours, training and possible bugs being introduced) Very odd choice.

I assume he is as knowledgeable as yourself on Microsoft software Eadon.

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Re: Blue ?

If the goal is to remove all MS software due to some vendetta then fine.

Your point was cost of using Access. My point was that you're talking bullshit as there is a free runtime.

If you hate MS so much (as you clearly do) then no amount of cost or risk analysis is going to satisfy you - as the objective is to change vendor.

But FFS, please stop spreading the FUD and BS around. My thumbs will thank you when having to scroll past your constantly, repetitive, ill-informed, anti-MS bashing on my mobile.

Thanks.

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Boffin

Re: Blue ? @TOS

Anyone using Access for "database" stuff who has even entry-level CompSci skills is doing something very wrong. Unless the "database" is actually linking to a real RDBMS like PostgreSQL, Oracle, Sybase, DB2 or yes, even SQL Server.

The one person I can forgive for using Access would be an accountant who doesn't have programming skills, yet she was savvy enough to realize that Excel ain't a DB tool and thus built accounting stuff using Access.

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now I'm really worried

Why do I feel like the big squeeze is just starting. On the old model each service pack was little more than a bunch of bug fixes and under the hood performance improvements, it rarely took away any features or broke the UI (though removing >4Gb RAM support from XP was evil).

The PR push is building this to be a 'new Windows' every year and I can't help feeling MS intend to carry on vandalising desktop mode and mutating the beast into a Metro future with vestigial classic support. With new features confined to Metro it will become increasingly hard to avoid updating and the Windows Store could easily be used to punish holdouts.

From my 'desktop power user' POV this is threatening to have the shortest ever support window of any Windows release.

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Re: now I'm really worried

Like you, I'm also a desktop power user; as a programmer, graphic designer and 3D modeller it's not unusual for me to have Cinema4D, Photoshop, DAZ Studio, Notepad++ and a browser all open on my 4 monitors all at the same time. With the Windows 8 regression to the "one fullscreeen app at a time" interfaces replacing the windowed interface, it looks like I'd lose that capability. And as you can imagine, I also have terabytes of images, 3D models and source files on my hard drives.

No way am I trusting all that work - my life's work - to the cloud, or to a SaaS setup, to start with. But that's where the modern mentality seems to be going: no more once-off payments for your software, and no more bought-and-paid for storage either. In the future, everything is to be stored in the cloud, under the control of others, where you will be forced to pay and pay and pay or lose everything. Your computer is to be remotely controlled and subject to the whims of whichever company runs the OS for it - MS, Google, Apple, whoever. The only software you will be allowed to install is what 's permitted in their walled gardens. It's all abut taking control of your computer, your work, and ultimately your life.

Then there's my music and movie collection, which I've painstakingly built over the years. All this is now to be set up in the cloud and streamed to your system on demand - a set up which makes it really easy to rewrite history, restrict access by country, profile your entertainment tastes, delete an old favourite forever, and enables a pay-per-view/pay-per-listen model, in which nothing is ever really under your own control anymore.

So the way I look at it is this: I've become an upgrade refusenik from here on out. My heels are dug in, and the line has been drawn - THIS far, NO further. The version of Cinema4D I have (R12) is easily capable of photorealistic renders, it can do cloth simulation, hair, grass, trees, character modelling, the works - and it can render a scene so realistically it's indistinguishable from a photograph. The version of Photoshop I have also has more features than I'll ever need. The software I have now is more than capable of anything I'll want to be able to do in future. Consider - if my raytracing software can render to photorealism, why will I ever need anything more? In the past, it always fell short of photorealism, which was the Holy Grail of 3D modelling, but now that's been achieved. And with it's multicore support, this software is now set up handle however many cores I can throw at it in future: 4, 8, 32, whatever becomes available.

Likewise, processor speeds, memory capacities, hard drive sizes, and monitor resolutions have all plateaued. I've been running 3.2 GHz cores for 8 years now, although in that time I've gone from single-core to dual-core to 4-core machines. Drive sizes have stalled in the low TB range for about the same time, and monitors have been running at 1920 x 1200 / 1080 for the same time as well. So it looks to me like the technology has finally matured and stabilised, and improvements are now incremental rather than revolutionary.

Windows 7 x64, which I now have, can handle more than enough hard drive space, processor cores, and RAM to satisfy my requirements for years to come. I can upgrade my hardware, and continue running the same software because the software is now geared to handle the upgrades, and it does all I want.

So I can see myself still using this same software in 10, 20, even 30 years' time. Because I've reached my ideal goals. Because the technology curve has flattened out. Because I WILL NOT hand over control of my life's work to power-crazed corporations hell-bent on raping my wallet with rentism and taking control of every aspect of my data and computing devices.

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Must be a blue blood blue fondling thing...

Big Blue (IBM), supercomputer Blue Gene/Q Sequoia (IBM), The Blue Card (American Express), Blue Ray (Sony) and now Microsofts' "Blue". I seem to notice a lot of blue fondling by big wigs here. Are they trying to tell us something?

btw if this MS "Blue" is also going to spit out the solution to Windows 8 as being an OS as a subscription service, to that I think the chaos that is Windows 8 might well have been planned in order to crowbar us all into accepting a more orderly subscription OS. (Order Out Of Chaos or From Chaos Order, "Ordo Ab Chao")

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Re: Must be a blue blood blue fondling thing...

@tempemeaty

"Big Blue (IBM), supercomputer Blue Gene/Q Sequoia (IBM), The Blue Card (American Express), Blue Ray (Sony) and now Microsofts' "Blue". I seem to notice a lot of blue fondling by big wigs here. Are they trying to tell us something?"

I have also noticed that a lot of new bits of kit have blue lights.

Is blue the "new green"?

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Holmes

This is a brilliant idea!

All M$ have to do is write into the OS. "This OS will stop working on (Insert Date) unless you contact our store and pay for the new update"

No more new releases needed, just SPs, Then they can milk the cow for ever more, for as much as they like.

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Linux

Re: This is a brilliant idea!

They can - for sure.

Until they come across more and more and more people like me, who go dual boot (initially) and then get the Linux system up and running with all the gear in it, and when the MS stuff fizzes out, "Well - ain't that just tooo fucking bad - for Microsoft."

I will wait it out - even another decade or two, and then hold a "Crash and Burn Party" when MS goes bankrupt.

Or when the competition does back to them, what they did to the competition - along with ALL of the EX customers.

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Lies...

"One thing we were hit over the head with by Microsoft in the last few years is that the hard work on Windows 7 was done in Windows Vista while Windows 8 owed a lot to Windows 7. It’s been clear for years there are no real big features left to add to Windows: the touch-based UI was the biggest thing in Windows 8."

Microsoft stripped out some useful bits out of Windows 7 to make Win8 easier to FB/twitter/midgetporn..... oh some things like A WIFI PROFILE MANAGER! Sorry... still twitching over that unpleasant fact.

Trying to place things in perspective here: Windows and MacOS always tried to be an all-in-one OS model (Office and Photoshop aside), including all the little tools for doing things, trying to exclude outside vendors (Netscape, Novell, etc). Unix and Linux were basic kernel OS framework with roll your own addon software, just install what you need right now, not guessing what you might need in the future or as an oversight.

This seems to have changed with the introduction of iOS and Android - bare OS's with just enough to get by, with monetized 'app stores' to provide software to individually customize the OS for the consumer. Pretty good model, Apple proves this everyday.

However, I think Microsoft is trying to duplicate this success but with tweaks of their own that they believe will maximize the profit potential. Like marketing/accounting have taken over the world with the consumer as the, well, neverending consumer.

IDK, pondering my navel this morning, it's been a long week.

;)

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Re: Lies...

@Eadon

"... it also comes loaded with crapware - virus scanners, trialware, adware, nagware and god knows what else. You start out with a bloated system with all this crap taking up your RAM as in-memory "services"..."

Sounds just like Android.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lies...

Sounds just like Android.

Not the Android I know: http://source.android.com/

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Re: Lies...

For those unaware, MS are not ALLOWED to bundle hence the big monopoly / browser thing a while back, and the N and K editions.

Windows does ship with a text editor, mp3 player / library, zip tool, movie player and terminal emulator.

Win8 RT also has Office.

No where near as comprehensive, powerful or feature rich as Linux apps that are shipped in the box, but then again - where do you get these boxes? Because the end user sure as hell isn't installing an OS themselves are they?

MS can't bundle without being accused of abusing their market position.

So if they do then competitors complain to the regulators, if they don't people like you moan there's little shipped with Windows....

Can't really win this one can they? Unless you have a suggestion to keep both sides happy?

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FAIL

Re: Lies...

@Eadon

I think everyone here knows you're BarryShitpeas' identical twin and that you have an intense dislike for anything from Microsoft. However you didn't answer @The Original Steve's question. Try again?

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It's tick-tock all over again

I suspect the best analogy for what Microsoft is doing is Intel's "Tick-Tock" approach.

They release a new version of Windows (and all other software, like Office) in the Fall. Then, a year later, they significantly update it. It's a free "Feature Pack" (as opposed to a "Service Pack" that just fixes bugs).

Then. the next year, two years after the release, they come out with a new release (which, of course, you have to pay to upgrade to).

Simple, and far more oriented to the consumer market than the enterprise market.

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Anonymous Coward

Bad marketing name

Blue wave could = Blue Wave Of Death if they get it wrong.

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Meh

" hyping new versions for more money or ensuring old versions of Windows quickly run out of support"

But it you look more closely MS doesn't really do that. When does official full support for XP finish? Thats 12 years old already. Not exactly putting a gun to users heads is it?

Every version of Windows I've bought since XP has cost me less.

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Re: Shhhhhhh.......

There are those here who like to bash MSFT like it's 1999.

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Facepalm

Re: Shhhhhhh.......

Yeah its odd. A version of Ubuntu I installed in 2010 was screaming at me that it was no longer supported just a few months ago. Had to install a new version which surprise surprise had a new UI to it!

But that's all okay I guess as it's linux.

One rule for one........

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Coat

Blackcomb?

With a silent 'l'?

As cool as ;-)

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Go

Why "Windows" 8

With the future UI, Metro, you can't have proper "windows". Back to MS-DOS, one program at a time.

All the joys of M.B.A. I assume.

Go Steve, go ! You are close to achieving the ultimate goal !

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Coat

lawsuit

from IBM as they have trademarked Blue on anything computerish

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Too vague

Thrifty Rent A Car tried that already for a service mark. Application was rejected as too vague AND upheld on appeal. Doubt IBM could do much better.

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Re: Too vague

Cadbury claims to own "the colour purple" in the legalese on all its wrappers.

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Features....

So previous Windows version have been reactions to evolving security concerns, or to support or take advantage of newer and more powerful hardware. So far, the main argument for getting Win 8 over 7 seems to be: "Ignore Metro, and you have native USB 3 support and a Storage Spaces LVM that might be handy". Hmm useful maybe, but not exciting... if I had the hardware I might pay £10 for it, maybe.

-Multiple Desktops would be nice.

-A Taskbar that doesn't pop up just because some updater wants attention (obscuring the notification panel of whatever application I am using)

- An LVM that does what OSX's Fusion or ZFS does (use a combination of HDD and SSD intelligently for system and regularly used files, invisibly to the user). MS's Storage Spaces can't be used on boot drives.

- A re-design of the built-in back up utility. At the moment, it isn't made clear whether subsequent disk images overwrite older ones, or add to them. Running it without performing a virus check first can cause it fail part way through. OSX's Time Machine does it well.

-MS have had an alternative hardware-specific GUI in Windows for years- called Media Centre. It knew its place. The best place for Metro would be on a second screen. Maybe things like the LeapMotion controller will become popular enough down the line to merit native OS support.

-Computer to use phone or tablet as second display/HID

-A system-wide 'current project' selector, that changes default application's default open/save locations, and their 'recent documents lists. This could be achieved through the use of multiple desktops - so one desktop could be designated "Client: Mr Blog's Bakery" and another "My accounts". A spreadsheet would change its behaviour depending on which desktop it was opened in. There could also be a 'Play' desktop, with short-cuts for games and videos, and which has its own screen brightness setting and audio settings. "We are all several users"

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Flame

Since 2001 or 2003

Approximately

MS releases have been Bloatware, tinkering and using the major changes in the wrong direction. I doubt I will be buying any more MS. I used to even pay for MSDN / Technet and the entire space under the bed is MS CDs going back to 1994. Every major application, IDE and OS till 2003. Then we cancelled.

They are spending a vast amount and achieving little. No vision either. Trying to ape Amazon Cloud, iOS walled gardens and Touchy Feely Tablets (which are really only useful for Personal Video, Web & email) won't work.

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Future Computer User

I want to install program VeryNice

Windows Store: VeryNice? Sorry we don't sell that. Try our special offer off Windows ExtraNice at $$ extra.

But i want VeryNice.

Windows Store: Tough excrement bud. You can only use Store to install programs.

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The subscription model could be made to work

The pricing would need to be attractive and Microsoft could make money from one off charges for none core features of the OS. Such a model might also avoid the peaks and troughs in income associated with Microsoft's traditional business model. Investors are often a bit too thick to understand that. A model with a nice, steady (but growing) income stream is, OTOH, easy to understand.

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Anonymous Coward

agile

Isn't this just agile rather than waterfall dev?

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Re: agile

It's related to the "every iteration ends with a working product" tenet of agile development, yes. Whether it owes anything to agile-development philosophy, or was inspired by other influences, is a question only Microsoft could answer.

I suspect a significant majority of agile practitioners, even those who adopt the "every iteration a working product" goal, don't commit to shipping the result of every iteration (or committing it to the release channel, or whatever they do to announce it as the official latest-and-greatest release for general consumption). The idea is to avoid the sort of project that flounders for months or years and never produces working code, to be flexible enough to put something in place if deadlines change, and to be able to demonstrate at least some functionality to product owners and other stakeholders.

And, of course, there are nearly as many interpretations of "agile development" as there are self-styled agile developers.

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"Only Blue isn’t a new version of Windows. Instead it is the name given to a raft "

They are going to need a raft. All their main ships have already sunk. It has better be a big raft, so that big sweaty balmer has enough room to runaround on it..

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From a business perspective upgrades of operating systems on existing non-enterprise PCs is non-material to Microsoft. Nearly all Windows revenue comes from sales to OEMs and from Enterprise Agreements/Software Assurance. This frees them to play around quite a bit with the pricing model for retail upgrades. The actual difficulty on the upgrade front is that if all upgrades are free, or super low cost, how do you get Enterprises to purchase Software Assurance? I think we saw one approach with the Windows 8 launch, you make cheap upgrades available for a limited time window (thus capturing the bulk of people who really care) and then return to more traditional pricing. But there could be other ways.

Imagine that 3 years of a variant of Software Assurance are included with every OEM and retail copy of WIndows. So any updates, including new versions, of WIndows that ship within 3 years of your device purchase are free. After three years you must pay for new versions. This very much would approximate Microsoft's current revenue cycles while adapting them to the demands of the consumer market. Alternating "Updates" and "New Releases", as Ian Easson also mentioned, is another option though I don't think I'd do it quite as mechanically as that. I'd base declaring something a New Release rather than an Update depending on some key new capabilities.

But this article wasn't about the revenue situation, it was about how Microsoft has a marketing rythm that is driven by infrequent big honking releases. After decades of operating this way will they be able to generate excitement with an annual release cycle that by definition offers a more gradual evolution of the product?

A likely consequence of the new release strategy is that each release will actually contain a larger number of user-visible improvements, and particularly small "delighters", than its traditional big releases. The big releases often get focused on major infrastructure upgrades with the user-visible improvements lost both in the planning process and then those that make it into WIndows get lost in the messaging. On the former, imagine a planning session where the networking team decides it can't do customer request #7 because it has to rewrite the entire network stack to support IPv666. And even if it does both then which is going to get all the attention? It's hard for anyone to notice feature #7 when the entire networking world is going to hell.

Microsoft's ability to make noise every year rather than every three years is, in my mind, much more positive of an opportunity than the risk exposed by the author. There are probably 10 rather small but significant changes to WIndows 8 that would significantly move the experience forward, generate positive buzz from pundits, and feed user lust IF they are available within a year of the original release. If you take those same items and leave them for three years then the typical case is that no one cares. In the worst case they become negatives ("It's about time Microsoft, you should have done this three years ago") as reminders that Microsoft wasn't reacting quickly enough to its users' needs.

So there is great opportunity for Microsoft to actually generate bigger and better buzz around annual release cycles than the three year monsters. The real question is, can their marketing organizations adapt to this and take full advantage of it?

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Anonymous Coward

the revenue situation

From a business perspective upgrades ...

TL;DR.

To summarize, M$FT's monopoly dependant bussiness model is fatally hemorrhaging, but with a little PR turd polish they hope to stem the decline of their share price. Maybe.

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Mushroom

Bye Bye Microsoft

Its desktop monopoly is crumbling, every attempt to get a foothold in the mobile market has failed spectacularly, and the enterprise's stuck on decade old software and refuses to downgrade to Microsoft's latest tragedy. All in all, things are looking bright in the computer industry for the first time in years. We have the Pi, GNU/Linux's meteoric rise, Chrome OS, Android, and slew of other FOSS initiatives progressing nicely.

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Anonymous Coward

FUD, right?

Something might be about to happen. Several things, even --- and they might be on the same day. It'll be big, maybe it'll be blue, but not Big Blue of course.

FUD.

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waves of Blue to Red

The planned move by Microsoft - called Blue - to subscription base model for it's Operating System (OS) software and applications income, similar in concept (I guess) to Office 365 offering has the potential of also producing much more Red (from $losses) since the whole concept of Software-as-a-Service or Cloud Computing also puts Microsoft at a disadvantage of "reduced reliance and dependence" on the Microsoft brands and products by all computer users, particularly thousands of enterprises .

Already this is happening where many entities - corporations, governments and academia can be just as or more productive with no or much reduced Microsoft Windows and Office purchases and maintenance fees. That also means much less revenue to tune of hundreds of millions or billions of $dollars.

Just today, I learned that Microsoft Bing has fallen behind the Russian Yandex Search services to fourth place, that further exacerbates their online ad revenue stream. How sad is that. Redmond's dominance and automatic cash cows of yore are disappearing quickly, and except for the $multi-billions invested in the company by large pension funds and "paid for" politicians in Washington (via 90+ lobbyists), they may have gone south before now.

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Oh, so like .NET?

Oh, so like .NET? Not the present-day .NET (Common Language Runtime and C#). Like .NET years ago, when they were going to have Server .NET, .NET web services, .NET programming language, .NET desktop, .NET ID stuff, Vistual Studio .NET (this one actually shipped..), Office .NET, and on and on.

I have nothing else to say really. Just, I've seen it before -- I guess they can go ahead and call everything "blue" if they want. It'll just make it all that much more confusing for people relying on Microsoft products and services.

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Re: Oh, so like .NET?

Yes, this could just be a branding exercise, like the flurry of "Everything .NET" back in the day. (I still have my collection of MSDN CD-ROMs with Windows.NET, Visual Studio .NET, etc.) That would be largely uninteresting and likely quickly discarded and forgotten by most customers.

Or it could be a branding exercise and a move to a more rapid release schedule, with automatic rolling updates rather than monolithic upgrades, like we have with, say, Firefox these days. That has advantages and disadvantages, and it's too early to say whether it'd be better overall for most customers.

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Anonymous Coward

Air Gaps

One thing that always seems to be missing on these comments is the fact that some businesses run with an air gap. With my previous employer we ran multiple networks, of differing security levels (guess what industry). It was a pain in the ar$s manually registering Windows and Office via telephone then, as we have no Internet connection. With these refreshes and new subscription models, how does that work 'offline'?

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