back to article Android's scariest nightmare: resurgently sexy Microsoft

Microsoft, lost in the mobile woods for so long, may have finally found a way back. Despite some problems, Microsoft seems to be on the right track with Windows 8 for tablets, not to mention the long-awaited Mango release for smartphones. But Microsoft's potential resurgence may have as much to do with Google's Android …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does a skin make a new UI?

    Nice article but personally I don't see much difference from Metro and any of the myriad of UI 'enhancement' programs that have come out for Windows over the years. Anyone here remember WindowBlinds?

    When you get right down to it it's a fullscreen UI replacement running on top of the traditional windows UI. Which you can see if you launch any windows program that doesn't exist in Metro, completely ruining the experience, as you have noted yourself.

    Like before, the need for Windows to have backwards compatability might be what kills yet another promising idea.

    1. Daleos

      Sorry but the absolute last thing MS need to do is lose backwards compatibility. Sure full fat OS's are no longer in the cool school but they're still needed and as soon as someone comes out with a workable way for me to run *all* of my desktop apps on a lightweight slate the better.

      However, I'm yet to be convinced that Metro is the right front end for that kind of 'production' device despite looking good for use as a consumption tablet.

      1. n4blue

        "I'm yet to be convinced that Metro is the right front end for that kind of 'production' device despite looking good for use as a consumption tablet."

        Totally agree.

        Most of the businesses I work with will, if and when they roll out Windows 8, disable Metro. Right now there's absolutely no reason to have it on a business desktop with no touchscreen.

        The bridge between Metro and the desktop is really clunky right now. The two UIs need to be much better linked up. It will be really interesting to see what the next version of Office looks like - we've heard nothing on this and it will be vital to the success of the OS. Office 2010 on Windows 8 looks terrible.

      2. Mark 65 Silver badge


        "Sure full fat OS's are no longer in the cool school but they're still needed and as soon as someone comes out with a workable way for me to run *all* of my desktop apps on a lightweight slate the better."

        Given the chasm in processing capability between a desktop and a lightweight slate, why on earth would you want to run all of your desktop apps on it? Get an ultra-portable for heaven's sake.

        1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge


          Nothing is new in software. My desktop apps ran fine when 200MHz was fast. I still use them so an ultraportable is just an ultra stealable.

  2. DS 1


    So, everything pre Windows 8 gets presented back to the user in the worst way I have seen since forever. And Metro - which I have tested and tried out has little useful content, and is a diabolically poor interface on mouse and keyboard if rammed face first into the user. There is no bridge or cross over. Want to use a windows 7 app? Crash back to the now broken desktop.

    I have no idea why people like 8. In my testing its not even good under touch, and frankly the moment you start applying it against needing to do real work - ie run the real windows environment, it gets much worse.

    And the crazy part is that people are trying to make a bone to bone comparison of Android against Windows. Its really like comparing tanks to rifles. Neither works well in the other's space, and trying to make a jump to lightspeed to reach the other's ground is in fact stupid.

  3. hitmouse


    "Microsoft will come to understand that we don't want to see the traditional Windows interface. Ever. Again."

    Except all those people who turn on the even older Windows interface, and all the corporations who rely on a common interface that they can roll out to possibly hundreds and thousands of employees. All of them HATE any kind of change.

    1. Mark 65 Silver badge

      I believe, perhaps mistakenly, that the part you are quoting is given in the context of a slate/tablet machine and is therefore on the money. Would you want to use OSX on an iPad? Likewise I wouldn't want to start an app on my Windows slate machine and see the ugly-arsed impractical (*in this context*) desktop version appear. I would argue that the machine for a corporation remains an ultra-portable, unless it is just a consumption device in which case you don't need windows at all.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      More to the point, all those touchy, whizzy, slidey UIs have one thing in common. While they're the mutt's nuts on the move, they're totally fucking useless when sat at a desk.

      I look around and I see things like the Motorola Atrix and its dock, the Asus EeePad Transformer and other such. Devices that could almost be made for Win 8 and its ability to swap between being a noddy tablet OS and a real desktop OS at the drop of a hat.

      I've got a really horrible feeling that MS have got this absolutely dead right. The only problem for MS is going to be that the first version of this (Win 8) will inevitably suck and everyone else will have caught up by the time the working version (Win 9) ships.

  4. eulampios

    So even M$ can improve?

    Did Redmond get their Mango-tango multitasking? The reason I am asking is it's always been a problem for them (Phone7 in particular). Lack of good programmers and plenty of greedy business people.

    On the other hand, what M$ is trying to do with FUD is anticompetitive. There's no theft, but FAT32 idiotism involved. Consider 70% of web and mail servers, 90% of top500, imagine all Google revenues.

    I would personally applaud M$ despite all the disgust to them if they could win fairly just only for once.

    1. Stephen W Harris


      Windows Mobile 5.x and 6.x had great multitasking. Indeed, in the 6.x series the "[X]" button just did the equivalent to minimising your app, which confused a few people.

      1. Robert E A Harvey

        s/confused/really annoyed/

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm on my second Android device, having trialled iOS at the iPhone 3GS stage and hating it. The only reason I'm using Android though is that it is marginally better than the dreadful iOS. I'm looking forward to trialling a WinPhone, but I'm waiting to see what Nokia bring out in that space before I leap.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You, sir....

      are spreading FUD

    2. Manu T


      '....but I'm waiting to see what Nokia bring out in that space before I leap....'

      Djeez, do you REALLY think that a Nokia Winphone would be better or different than e.g. a Samsung, LG or Sony Ericsson winphone?

      It'll only carry a higher price tag and a Carl Zeis logo on it's camera. In that respect it'll probably start a flame war between EXMOR- and Carl Zeis-fanboys, in a abysmal attempt to convince the public which one is better. Completely redundant because of the awfully small sensor chips within cellphones.

      And please stop deluding ppl with things like

      '...In the process, consumers should see more, and better, choice in mobile...'

      When Both Symbian and Android gone and only iOS and Winphoo as sole survivors there will be literally LESS choice and definitly NOT Better choice as Winphone still can't do most of its predecessor Winmobile. This is M$ multipple attempt to kill competition. Or in M$-language "business as usual".

    3. Eric Hood

      Nokia Nokia Nokia (I will leave you to imagine the sweaty man running about.) :)

      I too am waiting for a Nokia windows phone. Not because I like Microsoft or hate Apple and Android, my iPad is excellent and I would not give it up.

      It is because Nokia make great phones all this focus on software forgets the hardware side. My N8 is a superb phone the reasons for purchasing it are call quality and reception, the camera is lovely too.

      For me the multimedia and computing extras that go with a high end Nokia are bonus added to a device that is superb at telephony.

      1. Manu T

        @ eric Hood

        I can tell you right now that Windows Phone on Nokia will make these phones LESS usefull.

        - No More 2-way call recording!

        - No more Outlook synchronisation

        - No more login on hidden SSID's

        Not mention I'd like to see Winphone's integration of it's adressbook with Ovi-maps. I doubt it'll be as 'userfriendly' as it is with Symbian's current contactsmanager.

        and there's probably a lot more that I haven't even mentioned.

        But at least you can finally use any MP3 as a ringtone now on WP7.5

    4. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Stick to Android

      It seems you're the sort of person who likes millions of buttons and features, you'll find WP7 just as devoid of clutter as iOS is.

      Stick to Android with the millions of really unusable features and buttons.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stick to Android

        Translating: If you have the attention span of a 4 year old and need to be held by the hand when using your pc, go to metro or iOS. If you're an adult, can make your choices and can use a computer without calling helpdesk every 5 minutes, stick with android.

        And now, with the amount of voting done by softies on previous posts, I'm going to get downvoted like crazy...

  6. W. Anderson

    Gaga Press over Microsoft Mobile

    The one critical and all important point missing from all the Press's GaGa praise of Microsoft's mobile solutions, is that no matter what Microsoft puts out - even now, is still based on a very unreliable and abysmal security record. This is not "new" design software, but GeeWhiz! appearance and Gosh! superficial functionality based on the same ole tired, broken technology.

    Please! , give them the 315th pass on Mango and Windows 8, and whatever else you are drooling over from Redmond. None of this will make a hair brain difference in the overall result "shortly" down the road - failure of users to have performance, reliability or security they get elsewhere.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    blah blah blah

    The only reason the press love WP7 /7.5 is because Microsoft is holding them to ransom to say nice things, like they always have.

    If you don't say nice things about Xbox, WP7 or other Microsoft emerging products, you don't get lots of free stuff and invites to lavish launch parties... And your Microsoft advertising revenue will dry up.

    It's so very sad that nobody has to balls to stand up and say when a Microsoft product is shit.....

    1. ratfox Silver badge

      I think the Reg disproved your argument

      I have seen regularly Microsoft ads on the Reg. And don't tell me they are kind with Microsoft.

      1. Charles Manning

        No it doesn't disprove anything...

        For the most part the press just regurgitate press releases rather than form their own opinions. The vast majority of news outlets fawn over Microsoft.

        "I've spent time using Windows 8 on the Samsung tablets handed out at Build, and it's very slick."

        All very well on an over-specced tablet designed to showcase the pixels. It will be a different matter when run on a RealWorld TM device.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That's just not true.

      Vista -reported as shit.

      Zune - reported as shit.

      Office ribbon - reported as shit.

      Fact is wp7 is actually quite good, as for your other example, Xbox... Yeah that's so shit no one bought it.. Or the 360... Oh wait...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Give credit where credit is due

      I agree a few of MS products are shit. But please try the actual software before passing the comment. I've been using WP7 for a good few months now and must say it is great at what it does. It has few shortcomings (even with Mango) but what it does, it does well. In more than 6+ months of use I have to reset it once due to OS lockup, unlike Android which try to do lots of things but none of them well at all, biggest issues being Battery life and buggy (unfinished) OS.

    4. Mark Jonson

      As if Apple never does that...

      Microsoft used to do that, but they can't anymore. They don't have the clout to do it. Nobody cares if they get locked out of Microsoft press events. On the other hand, Leo Laporte used his MacBook's camera to stream video of an Apple press event a few years ago and he's been on the blacklist ever since. Of course, he's certainly not the only journalist/blogger/reporter/tech enthusiast to get blacklisted by Apple.

  8. Microphage

    re: Android's missteps on tablets?

    "In July, Nielsen placed the market share of Google's Android OS in the U.S. at 38 percent. Three months later, for the period ending in August, Nielsen finds that Android has risen to 43 percent of all active U.S. smart phones, a gain of five points. More importantly, among those who bought their phones in June, July, or August, Google had a formidable 56 percent market share"

    1. Darryl

      Phone vs Tablet

      The article you quote refers to smartphones. It hasn't anything to do with "Android's misstep on TABLETS"

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A title is not mandatory anymore 8-).

    It's not just a resurgent Microsoft but also a carrier friendly Microsoft, and a Microsoft that works very well with other Microsoft, and other Microsoft is big! I've never been a fan of Microsoft but from what I've seen, they've stopped merely trying to copy Apple and are innovating in their own right. This can only be good for the consumer IMHO. The current generation of WinPhone was pretty good from the start and I think it will get a lot better in the next year.

    Caveat IMHO (and a declaration that I'm a bit of an Apple fanboi who also likes Google and Android) applies.

  10. jim 45

    don't worry...

    ... Microsoft will blow this opportunity, as they always do, because there are 2 things that will never change.

    One - they'll never release anything more a shell/skin/UI over creaky, bloated old WIndows.

    Two - their wonderful "partners - like HP and Acer - will always add their boatload of cr@pware, demos, "free trials", and a giant tapeworm of fake "security" from Symantec or McAfee.

  11. mraak
    Thumb Down

    Sexy MS product?

    Not in this lifetime, not on this planet.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    where is the problem

    I really don't see the contradiction between the Metro and traditional windows interfaces.

    I love my old 11 inch Sony Vaio laptop which I am currently tapping away on, and I have an iPad too. Now when you think about it, both share a number of similar components - processors, screen, battery, etc. Now what would be awesome is that I could have the best of both worlds... a nice 11 inch laptop rather like the macbook air, with a touch screen. I recently saw a netbook that came ready to dual boot into Android or Windows Starter, which is almost getting there.

    Use Metro for casual browsing - fast start up, low battery usage, touch screen interface. Flip into the more classic interface when needing to use word processing, or other programmes that need full windows.

    I am pretty sure that this is the way devices will be going, so Win 8 in that respect may be on to something by providing both interfaces on the same core, especially if it is quick and easy to switch between them and share data between them.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      You might think you want a laptop with a touch screen, but there is the gorilla arm problem if you use such a machine for any length of time. I guess what people really want is a fondleslab with a keyboard dock for when you want to do some serious typing on it, like the Asus Transformer, or indeed the iPad.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows Classic.

    ""Microsoft will come to understand that we don't want to see the traditional Windows interface. Ever. Again.""


    So what about the legions of Windows 7 users who turn back to Classic at the first opportunity?

    What about the users who hate the ribbon interface with a vengance?

    I walked through our Telesales Dept the other week. This was about 6 weeks after Windows 7 was rolled out to the dept.

    A good 60-70% of the PC's were running Classic.

    IS tried to force Office 12 on us recently. Such was the clamour about the ribbon plus the blue/blue colour scheme that was locked down by a silly group poligy that eventually they relented ant let those who wanted to use Office 2003 and could change the Office 12 scheme if they wanted.

    Microsoft are IMHO doomed it they think that PC users with 24in or greater screens are going to opt for Metro as the prime UI. If they think that then Balmer and everyone else deserve to be carted away by the emn in white coats.

  14. Richard Willetts


    The thing is, by all accounts Metro isn't just a skin, it's the core of the new os and the W7 interface is just an addition to allow the backwards compatibility.

    Same goes for Mango, okay so there is a SMALL core of windows mobile, but it's so pared down that it's never seen and the os is fast and fluid so it never has any knock-on effect on using WP7.

    People need to actually try things before passing judgement, and try them with an OPEN mind!

    1. Levente Szileszky

      RE: Except...

      "The thing is, by all accounts Metro isn't just a skin, it's the core of the new os and the W7 interface is just an addition to allow the backwards compatibility."

      Are you high?

  15. Justin Clements
    Thumb Up

    MS and Android

    Microsoft are resurgent because as Orlowski's article points out, MS are making money from Android and Google are picking up all the liabilities, and trashing relationships. Google have been totally outplayed by Microsoft.

    And Microsoft didn't even need to be anti-trust to do it! There's a first for MS.

    At the end of the day - follow the money.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Cross Licensing

      I just love how they make money out of something that google built to give away.

      As we know MS Apple and Oracle are all teaming up against Google. But this is like a game of monopoly, there's that stage in the game where everything stops for people to trade.

      MS seems to be in the middle of nearly every trade. At the beginning of the year, I would have said they're about to loose the game... But now?

      Anyone got any popcorn? This should be interesting to watch.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Wow, two MS shills following on from each other!

        Actually, MS's statements are carefully worded to give the hint that they are getting money from device manufacturers for Android infringing on their IP, but actually if you read them carefully you will note that this is not the case. Microsoft are not getting money from the use of Android. It is actually one of the following reasons:

        1. The FAT long filenames patent that should never have been given in the first place. Made a de facto standard and nearly running out, Microsoft are desperately trying to get people to pay for it.

        2. User interface additions added on top of Android by each device manufacturer.

        3. Nothing to do with Android at all but just FUD from Microsoft. With each company being forced to sign NDA's and the so called 'patent money' going to Windows phone division, it appears that what this really is Microsoft negotiating discounted deals for Windows Phone 7 and taking payments up front. They just lie about the press release stating it is to do with Android.

        Oh, and if it is actually to do with Android, wich I highly doubt, then there is a lot of anti-trust that could bite them in the arse because they could be using the threat of higher prices on their other products (ie, Windows) in a bid to persuade the device makers to make deals.

        My money, however, is on no.3.

  16. Mikel


    Somebody's slipped Matt a mickey. I hope he's ok in the morning.

    Matt, drink lots of water. You're going to be fine.

  17. masked_freetard

    I thought that Matt Asay had hit some kind of nadir of asinine nonsense in last week's column in which he treated us to his mind-boggling comparison of Bill Gates to Mother Theresa, but here we see him top even that rubbish. He spends much of this column outlining the ways in which MS had used every underhanded trick known to man to get ahead in mobile, then, with a breathtaking leap of logic, claims that MS' resurgence is due to their building an interface that people actually want.

    Really, is Matt Asay unable to keep track of his own arguments when he writes? Or is he, as last week's nauseating apology for Bill Gates showed, utterly blinded by technology to all the ethical and moral issues that are under his nose? How much extortion, bullying, threats, and FUD will it take from MS before Matt Assay finally wakes up?

    At least will he consider changing the name of his column from "Open and Shut" to just "Shut", since it has been a very long time since he has had anything worthwhile to contribute to anything that is open.

  18. Alan Denman


    Can't have consumers choosing freely so Apple and Microsoft might well become known as mAppleSoft.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    "But maybe, just maybe, Microsoft will come to understand that we don't want to see the traditional Windows interface. Ever. Again."

    Speak for yourself mate, speak for yourself.

    I like windows, used it for years, it works for me.

    I also like MacOS and am rather partial to Ubuntu.

    I have an Android phone, I like that too.

    See, Matt, you can't go putting words into people's mouth, you should rather say:

    "... that I don't want to see..."

    Actually, better still, specify you don't want to see it on a *tablet* device, which is a fair point.

    Stock Android is exceptionally good at what it does, it may not be wearing it's best shiny pants and blowing an angelic trumpet with rainbows and unicorns flying out, instead it's more the clever geek in tshirt & jeans, getting the job done without fanfare. It *Works* - guess what, it launches applications. Clever that.

    However, the real kicker for anyone competing in this market, is having a lack of applications to load onto the device.

    You can pour all the eye candy and clever UX in the world onto a device, but if it doesn't have the apps people want, it's dead in the water.

  20. Uwe Dippel


    I would have wished for Matt to think beyond the edge of the plate that Microsoft has so cunningly provided for him to spout his laurels.

    Yes, I have installed the latest Developer Edition, and it is quite nice - on Metro. But when I use it on my, it is plain {four_letter.word}. Why would I have to accommodate some big, ugly, icons that my blind great-grandmother could click on - and subsequently scroll left-left-left respectively right-right-right - when any proper, easy mouse click will select one icon out of 100 on a single screen whenever I happen to have a mouse at my disposition?

    The message is clear: nobody, and especially not the usual MS-using layperson, will want to learn two totally different interfaces. And even less would I want to give training courses; "one for with and one for without". iOS is much better already in this aspect, or check the latest KDE-plasma for netbooks. The latter is somewhat usable with a mouse, and likewise with a touchscreen.

    *That* is what Microsoft would have to come up with (or what Steve B. ought to have ordered his developers to come up with). Everyone knows that a unified desktop UI is necessary, and MS looks like being the last to have it. Probably they will have to steal from someone else, as always before. As long as they believe in a switchable Metro, they believe in Father Christmas.

  21. Ilgaz

    I hate Google and Android

    Really, a mobile "OS" which you can't even code another browser (opera for example) or a full feature IM client (fring, nimbuzz) will be cooler than Android?

    Seriously? Developers you say? Ask them privately and they will enlighten you.

  22. All names Taken


    A google engineer and Microsoft engineer arguing about who or what is the most sexy?

    Too much to embrace there dood!

  23. Levente Szileszky

    Metro-loving but largely ignorant writer? No more Start Menu..? Ouch.

    "But maybe, just maybe, Microsoft will come to understand that we don't want to see the traditional Windows interface. Ever. Again."

    Speak for yourself, pal - some of us actually do WORK for a living USING computers, not just spending time with fondeslabs, only to write hilarious things about it (on a 21st-century typewriter running Windows, ahem.)

    Last thing I want is this PoS Metro junk - I'm already horrified by the lack of Start Menu in W8 Dev Preview; if MS won't put it back by release I won't upgrade our network (couple of hundreds) anytime soon, that's for sure. You've been warned, Ballmer.

  24. T J

    Not a hope

    Not a hope. A phone that stands even a chance of getting viruses, let alone one that Will, Definitely, No Doubt About It get viruses, does not stand a snowflakes chance in an autoclave.

    Everything down to a pencil will be running Android by the end of 2013.

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      not on my phone!

      I want GPS without it insisting on telling google where I am....

  25. James Hughes 1


    "No, this doesn't ultimately solve device manufacturers' differentiation problem, but nothing short of developing their own OS (or forking Android, which essentially amounts to the same thing) will do that."

    Are you really saying that forking Android is the same amount of work as writing a new OS from scratch? Have you any ideas how absurd that statement is?


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