back to article Microsoft haters: You gotta lop off a lot of legs to slay Ballmer's monster

Contrary to increasingly popular belief, Microsoft is not a “dead” company, nor at immediate risk of collapse. I do, however, believe that Microsoft’s “Windows on the endpoint” monopoly days have passed, that Microsoft’s senior management are aware of this and are actively taking steps to compensate. Similarly, I believe that …

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  1. Robert E A Harvey

    Desktop monopoly

    They will continue to have a desktop monopoly as long as manufactures like Dell and HP; and retailers like PC World/Currys, are too cowardly to stand up to them.

    I applaud the handful of retailers like Novatech who will sell you a laptop with no OS.

    1. 1Rafayal

      Re: Desktop monopoly

      why should Dell and HP "stand up" to anyone when they are making money?

      I think the time to "stand up" would be when it is no longer profitable to sell machines configured in this manner.

      There are plenty of other, smaller retailers out there who will sell you a server, desktop or laptop with no OS installed. However, I do not think adding the choice of OS, be it Linux or Windows, is the key point here.

      As the author already noted, the point is the transfer away from a desktop with a full blown OS acting as the endpoint to mobile devices with a competent OS.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Desktop monopoly

        "the point is the transfer away from a desktop with a full blown OS acting as the endpoint to mobile devices with a competent OS."

        I think the more important point is the transfer away from owning software and renting it - basically a "back to the '60s" model of computing which on the one hand seems to guarantee income by milking the users at regular intervals, with their data as hostages but also reduces any "investment" in software to whatever this monthly fee was, so leaving is cheap. The bet is that the latter is much less of a factor than the former and that cloud users will continue to pay for access to their data no matter how attractive the apps from alternative suppliers might become.

        It didn't work out too well for the service vendors in the 1960's; maybe it'll work better this time. But, when mobile devices are able to run software locally as well as a 1990s PC then we'll find out what SaaS actually has to offer most users. By my reckoning it's precisely zip.

        1. Wade Burchette Silver badge

          Re: Desktop monopoly

          I'm going to fight against SaaS tooth-and-nail. And then when I loose my teeth and nails fighting against it, I will still keep fighting.

          1. Kunari
            Thumb Up

            Re: Desktop monopoly

            Agreed, right now this SaaS feels "new" so people are willing to sign on to Adobe Cloud, Office365, etc. Eventually people will begin to feel fleeced once they pass a threshold of how many services they have to sign up for a monthly or annual service. MS, Adobe, etc all want to slip into consumers minds like a monthly utility bill, but once they get people used to a monthly fee, they'll start to raise prices.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Desktop monopoly

      ebuyer do os free laptops too now.

      MS will continue to have a monopoly while people dont understand computing. I've worked in many places and MS software is generally used to write documents containing data and write other documents containing data about how the other data should be used and more documents are created concerning how the other documents should be preserved and access. 99% of documents are redundant once the data drives itself - that's what software has been capable of doing since Leo in the early 50's.

      I've met a few managers who actually understand data with semantics - unfortunately they tend to be in IT but when they are in the real world and want the company to benefit then you get very small bits of software doing amazing things very well.

      IT from MS is enabling 19thC office practice in the 21stC. Its just doing the wrong thing more efficiently. Works well for them mind.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Desktop monopoly

        @Tom 7 (10:05)

        "MS will continue to have a monopoly while people dont understand computing"

        People don't understand computing because "people" do NOT care about computing!

        "People" get one provided by work for them to do their job, and they buy their own to do stuff - how it works they do not care.

        And, IMHO, nor should they - it's just a tool!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Desktop monopoly

          @AC 12:13 'And, IMHO, nor should they - it's just a tool!'

          So is a car but you expect that people learn the names of things even if they don't know how they work. Brakes, pedals, indicators, clutch, engine etc etc.

          When it comes to technology people are just being lazy. The box is broken, I filled my memory up, the clicky thingy. With at least a basic understanding of what things are, they can get help easily when they have a problem. I hate it when people say 'I don't need to know any of that computer crap.' Yes you bloody well do. Computers run every aspect of your life, they have access to your most intimate details, your finances etc. A basic understanding of this is essential not optional. The internet isn't a safe fluffy place full of cats.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Desktop monopoly

            @AC 12:31

            Sorry but I totally disagree - this is the outdated geeks view of the world.

            People DO know the equivalent bits of computers, both hardware (mice, keyboards, touch UI's, storage etc,) and software (which primarily these days is the browser and web-based apps).

            They do not care how it all works, they just want it to work.

            And why exactly is that so wrong??? We should be striving to produce kit & s/w that does just work.

            So you don't have to figure out how to make it work, and can get on with USING it!

            And yes, for some people that isn't more than cats in boxes, but for a lot of others the browser is their window into their computer

        2. Roo
          Devil

          Re: Desktop monopoly

          I think Tom 7 made a valuable point. As for mugs who have to operate these corporate computing dung heaps "not caring", I disagree with the sentiment that they shouldn't care. The plebs bashing away at their work PCs should care that because vast sums of money are making folks like Ellison and Ballmer richer when that money could be making them richer instead.

          Tom hit the nail on the head with his observation that often the software used is a poor fit for the problem at hand. One particular system from recent memory comes to mind... It was a .NET WCF service that used Coherence as a it's primary storage to stream a bunch of updates to a bunch of unreliable remote clients, this thing had burnt $zillions of licensing, required a bunch of very expensive servers to cope with it's memory consumption, and had a bunch of expensive SSDs slotted in to work around Windows' poor file I/O performance.

          While bored and frustrated waiting for this large expensive and complex system to work, I read the requirements + interface specs and hacked up my own version within a couple of hours with some Python scripts and an Apache webserver running on my cruddy 5 year old Linux ultra-portable laptop.

          The resulting hack did the same job faster, burnt less network bandwidth, consumed less memory, was more reliable, more robust (ie: a client going offline didn't kill the whole system) and cost about 2 hours of my time to implement (vs. 6 people taking 8 months). My code was a lot easier to maintain too, < 1K lines vs >100K lines. ;)

          The guys implementing that system were not stupid or bad at their job, quite the reverse in fact. The root cause behind this expensive nightmare was that the *Requirements* specified that the system comprise of WCF services backed by Coherence running on Windows boxes, so I guess technically my hack didn't qualify as a valid solution either.

          It's a shame, an expensive one for that company, but that's what you get if all you have are hammers and every problem looks like a nail.

          1. dkjd

            Re: Desktop monopoly

            You must be a god, I couldn't even type 1K lines of lorum ipsum in 2 hours, let alone 1K lines of working debugged code!

            1. Roo

              Re: Desktop monopoly

              It was <1K lines of Python and lots of cutting & pasting code from elsewhere. I don't think of that as godlike. ll the scripts did was submit data to the webserver and query the webserver to retrieve it. :)

              Most of the heavy lifting and logic was done by the webserver & HTTP libs. By choosing a more appropriate set of tools I spent less time achieving a good quality solution than the guys banging away at WCF.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re:@Tom 7 (10:05)

          "MS will continue to have a monopoly while people dont understand computing"

          People don't understand computing because "people" do NOT care about computing!

          "People" get one provided by work for them to do their job, and they buy their own to do stuff - how it works they do not care.

          And, IMHO, nor should they - it's just a tool!

          Fair point RICHTO, so how about you relinquish those restrictive all-or-nothing licensing terms? Allow Windows to stand on its own in an open market and let the consumer choose what *their* new tools will run. No? Thought not. Looks like their new tools will continue to be phablets running AnythingButWindows instead of PCs then.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Desktop monopoly

      Do you really think there is a big market for "naked" computers?

      I suspect the market is 1% or less at retail stores. Businesses react to demand and that doesn't even register as demand. Consumers will more often than not stick with the OS supplied, then when it stops working they either take it to the shop or buy another computer.

      1. Robert E A Harvey

        Re: a big market for "naked" computers?

        Probably not. But that is no reason for having no market because "we are not allowed to sell computers without windows".

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Desktop monopoly

        Maybe Thomas Watson (IBM) was right - "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers".

        (I am aware this may not have actually been uttered)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Desktop monopoly

      You've rather missed the point. The article is not about the desktop, but the endpoint.

      1. Getriebe

        Re: Desktop monopoly

        "You've rather missed the point. The article is not about the desktop, but the endpoint."

        Yup, the world now includes machine tool controlers, autoweighing machines, sensors and scanners of all types and varieties, web sites with info - eg tax rates. Few are wedded to MS.

        Integration is the new money maker

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Desktop monopoly

          "Yup, the world now includes machine tool controlers, autoweighing machines, sensors and scanners of all types and varieties, web sites with info - eg tax rates. Few are wedded to MS."

          Actually loads run MS - Windows CE, Windows Embedded and Windows Automotive are everywhere...

          1. WylieCoyoteUK
            Stop

            Re: Desktop monopoly

            Windows embedded has been haemorrhaging market share for some time.

            WinCe was the last real version with market share, XPe never really took off.

            In the MFD market as an example, there are to my knowledge, only two companies still using Windows embedded, and their products suck (and they are based on XP)

            Toshiba, Ricoh, KonicaMinolta, Kyocera, Samsung, Panasonic, all use a flavour of Unix, Linux, NetBSD, or their own Unix-like RTOS.

            Or telephone systems, Windows is almost non-existent again.

            Entertainment devices? Bluray players, Video cameras, NAS boxes, streaming devices, mainly run BSD or Linux, although some are now starting to run Android.

            Oh, and of course, mobile phones.........

    5. Antonymous Coward
      Pirate

      Re: Desktop monopoly

      I don't think it's a matter of expecting "manufactures like Dell and HP; and retailers like PC World/Currys"... "to stand up to them" either.

      We have laws and regulations, legislatures and regulators to protect the manufactures and ourselves from this sort of abuse. Microsoft's monopolism has been found illegal numerous times. I believe what we're talking about here is illegal: If I buy a computer and do not wish to run a Microsoft OS on it, my purchase should be reduced in price accordingly. That's a TOTAL COST reduction, of course, TCO; ie my unwanted "licence" at cost PLUS Windows compatibility testing & development costs, all certification fees and the like, etc. Microsoft Inc has no power to raise tax, to take my money for something I do not want and do not use, or to construct a cartel which makes it difficult for me to go about my business without paying "tribute" to Microsoft Inc. Our legislatures and regulators should be policing these antics and, if the law isn't clear or strong enough, tightening it. That is their job it is their only job it's the whole reason we put up with the tossers.

      Instead of protecting the public and the market, our political lords and masters appear to have set about protecting the Microsoft Corporation Inc. Busily drafting Microsoft consumer protection rules carefully contrived to make it illegal to sell a computer which arrives in a "non-functional state", while carefully honing "non-functional state" to amount to "without Windows™". Drafting bizarre procurement rules so obviously designed to match ONLY the one product they've been bribed to procure. Then there are the demented "education" policies... IT "education"?... All for it... as long as it's painstakingly restricted to being nothing more than indoctrinating the next generation in using the GUI of "the OS and office applications most prevalent in industry at the moment" - I wonder what that might be. IT? Have they heard of it?

      With the rot so endemic it's hardly reasonable to expect individual companies to "stick there necks out". They have businesses to run, shareholders to consider, etc. They have to operate within the political and legal environment which prevails. The failings of the IT industry are our (the voters') fault. Just as all the other imperfections of our lot. Such is the meaning of "democracy".

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Desktop monopoly

      Hah hah, love the Linux crowd, still trying to win the 'linux on the desktop' war. That ended about 15 years ago. With a decisive MS victory.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Desktop monopoly

        >Hah hah, love the Linux crowd, still trying to win the 'linux on the desktop' war. That ended about 15 years ago. With a decisive MS victory.

        Really RICHTO? Doesn't look like the Linux crowd got your memo: Linux has just kept growing. You should try it, I'm pretty certain you'd find something you like. The desktop Linux ecosystem has never been healthier, richer or more diverse. How's Windows doing? I hear you're up to version 8 now. A roaring success no doubt and good for you too: The market's plenty big enough for a bit of diversity.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Desktop monopoly

        He said "ended" but clearly meant *began*

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Desktop monopoly

          . . .

          I have about 40 copies of office that will die as soon as somebody builds an API that allow libreoffice to generate documents through the office API used by every CMS programmed in the last decade.

          THAT'S WHY WE CAN'T GET RID OF BLOODY WORD. Believe me, it's not any great love of it!

          And when somebody offers an alternative to outlook 2003 then it will die in agony as well. All we need is a very, very basic exchange client that offers the ability to read and send messages and the use of the delegates function. A separate calendar we might be able to live with. Having to give people your password so they can log into your account while your away on holiday instead of goto "file->open other users folder" is NOT something that is acceptable.

          Windows is dictated as the platform because use of the business specific CMS is built around word. and the users realistically need Outlook because the other options don't meet the level of functionality of Outlook 2003 in a exchange environment.

          Slay office and then there is bluntly no need to be running windows on the endpoint since at that point we can probably use React OS or possibly your OS of choice. Slay the windows endpoints and we aren't linked to windows server.

          But there is no practical alternative at the moment. Nobody in IT loves Microsoft, we just buy what we need to achieve the business objectives. And quite frankly, at the moment Microsoft's offerings from 2003 offer crushing productivity advantages over FOSS options available at the current time which mean that we are stuck with them.

          1. LDS Silver badge

            Re: Desktop monopoly

            Ask yourself why you don't have alternatives... Outlook 2003? It's more than ten years old. In ten years no Linux developer was able to deliver a better alternative? Why? No one has ever written an API to generate documents you need? Why? Oh, but that's open source, why don't you contribute and write them? Why just waiting for someone else doing what you need - for free?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Desktop monopoly

              why don't you contribute and write them?

              Imagine that your an SME with 40 staff. Do you:-

              A) Pay a developer to program a word compatible API for libre office and also develop a mail client duplicating office 2003 basic functionality. Investment: hire a programmer for 30k per year, likely to take 3+ years at best (ie ~100k spend)

              or

              B) Buy a copy of MS Office from a catalouge at ~£100 per copy.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Desktop monopoly

            How sad, and how true. In particular, seems that creating an Outlook killer is not on anyone FOSS agenda. And the heaps of dependencies you bring on with a CMS or ERP package are enormous. Another example is SAP: extremely cross platform on the server side, in practice Windows only on the client side.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Desktop monopoly

            "Having to give people your password so they can log into your account while your away on holiday instead of goto "file->open other users folder" is NOT something that is acceptable."

            Erm, you know you can just delegate access instead, right? Oh, nope - you are incompetent - which is why you still work in a 40 user company...

            http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/outlook-help/allow-someone-else-to-manage-your-mail-and-calendar-HA010355554.aspx

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Desktop monopoly

        "Hah hah, love the Linux crowd, still trying to win the 'linux on the desktop' war. That ended about 15 years ago. With a decisive MS victory".

        I understand why you could want to remain anonymous. The desktop strategy was brilliant. Get the OEMs to pay an inflation proof per-model fee to Microsoft, regardless of how many boxes the OEMs shifted without Windows. Currently, since a lot of hardware manufacturers have inexplicably not gone with Windows, MS had to go about 'taxing` the Android mobile manufacturers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Desktop monopoly

          "MS had to go about 'taxing` the Android mobile manufacturers."

          You mean, because Google chose to use technology developed by Oracle, Microsoft, Apple, Nokia, etc. in their product there is a corresponding IP bill to pay to use it....

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

    How often have I heard that or the closely associated press hype that "Microsoft are betting the firm on...something, something, oranges, something".

    Sadly, it's never true. They have a massive lock-in on business users. There simply is no alternative to Windows for normal day-to-day office work. Well, there is, of course, but nobody is buying it. They're buying "all your files belong to us" Office 365 and "all your phone calls belong to us" Lync systems which will mire any future attempt to move away to someone else in man-centuries of pain.

    People get the OS they deserve, I guess.

    1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

      I'm not so sure.

      All of us in our SME had our nice, speedy desktops replaced by thin clients. Dell lost out there and the manufacturers of the blades won. We, as employees, also lost out because the VM machines are less responsive than the desktops. It does make the work of the sysadmins easier though.

      Now, if the management is prepared to make such a big change for the sake of cost, then it is not hard to see them replacing the client OS and office software. All it will really take is a good salesman to demonstrate how easy and similar <linux variant> and <other office package> is and, more importantly, how many hundreds of thousands of <applicable currency> can be saved. Management gets big bonuses and MIcrosoft loses out.

      Indeed, I suspect that the reason that we still have Microsoft on the desktop is because our CFO uses Excel as his daily tool and the pain that he would have to suffer converting his elaborate Excel files to LibreOffice, or whatever, is too great. I suspect that Excel is Microsoft's killer app.

      1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

        Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

        "I suspect that Excel is Microsoft's killer app."

        I have to agree here. The number of custom, macro-ridden spreadsheets used in my previous place of employment was immense. It would have taken far too much time and resources to move those over to another spreadsheet package, let alone the amount of retraining required.

        The other killer feature keeping Windows alive is old, proprietary software. Again, at my previous employer, there were many old pieces of software, many of which interfaced with old hardware, which cannot be upgraded. Often, the original supplier is no longer in business, or will not upgrade it without significant capex. A company often will not do this while the old stuff still "works". We still had many machines running Windows 95, as hardware XYZ did not have drivers for later OSes.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Macro ridden spreadsheets

          Yes, we have these where I work too. And all the applications they deliver are badly designed and badly flawed, performing some useful but simple function and also in many cases generating misleading data, because these should have been on a proper database to start with.

          That creates a dependence upon Excel, but as a legacy app, until all these apps are properly migrated. The kind of platform best delivering this kind of legacy app is generally a virtual machine, as it can run in a suitable security sandbox with everything around it frozen.

        2. Robert E A Harvey

          Re: The other killer feature keeping Windows alive is old, proprietary software.

          This too. And not just old. Brand new as well.

          Rockwell, Siemens, etc. only supply their PLC programming environments on windows (they started with DOS). You can't set up a data acquisition unit from National Instruments or a temperature sensor from Neoptix without windows. Try talking to an ABB motor drive without anything but windows. The only way to get data out a Tektronix 'scope or a Fluke OTDR... well, that's the thing.

          You'd think that engineering companies would be capable of making portable applications. But they can't be bothered.

          1. PhilBuk
            Thumb Down

            Re: The other killer feature keeping Windows alive is old, proprietary software.

            @R E A Harvey

            Most of them still need a PC with a parallel port - a proper one too, not a USB->LPT1 simulator!

            Phil.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

        "All it will really take is a good salesman to demonstrate how easy and similar <linux variant> and <other office package> is and, more importantly, how many hundreds of thousands of <applicable currency> can be "

        That's already been extensively tested by Munich council and others. The TCO is vastly higher. Many millions for Munich council when you include the development and migration costs. And when you need to do real work - you end up still using Microsoft products via a virtual desktop....

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

          Funny, I've been doing "real work" on LibreOffice for about 2 years now, as have my clients. No problem. I guess your giant brush of generalizations doesn't apply to all cases. Maybe it even only applies to those who were stupid enough to use VB macros.

          And they deserve what they get.

    2. tmcd35

      Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

      I agree up to a point. MS certainly have achieved a high level of business lock-in with the Windows/Office cash cow. But the more they travel down the Windows 8/Office 365 path the more attractive Linux and Open Office look.

      They have best of bread product in Active Directory, System Center, Windows 7 and Office 2013. But the more they force a touchscreen UI and SaaS based Office on end users who don't need/want the more their core business market is eroded.

      It's true their core business monopoly can't last forever and they do need to diversify to protect themselves from the inevitable. But there's no reason to be actively quickening the process.

      We're fun while Windows 7 Pro and Office 2013 are still here and supported. I'm not convinced by Microsofts current direction of travel that they will have viable replacements lined up for us when the time comes. Since OpenOffice/LibreOffice is free maybe the cost savings in licensing can help fund a switch to the more expensive Apple desktop?

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Devil

        @tmcd35

        "They have best of bread product in Active Directory, System Center, Windows 7 and Office 2013."

        As in extracting bread from their customers?

        Yes I think I'd agree with that statement.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

        "Since OpenOffice/LibreOffice is free maybe the cost savings in licensing can help fund a switch to the more expensive Apple desktop?"

        They are only free if your time has no value.....

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

          Interesting, most of my customers use Android, Mint or Apple with LibreOffice and have seen a massive increase in free time thanks to the move. Less updates requiring reboots. Less logging on. Less fighting with things. It Just Works.

    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

      The biggest 'lock-in' products are IMHO

      SharePoint and Exchange

      Don't forget all those MCSE's out there who think that AD is god's gift to Admins.

      (there is a Policy for that, pun intended)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Windows

        @Steve

        "Don't forget all those MCSE's out there who think that AD is god's gift to Admins."

        But how long is that going to last now that they can soon no longer play with those toys themselves (hinting at Microsoft dropping TechNet support)?

    4. Stephen Channell
      Unhappy

      Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

      MS did have a “24 months is critical” point, but that was ten years ago.

      When tech historians look back at 1995, they’ll wonder how MS (with Windows 95 on DOS, no browser, and no TCP/IP stack (NT had one, but was too fat for Win95)) managed to hang onto PC hegemony.. they did that with sharp practices that they’re paying the price for to this day.

      When tech historians look back at 2002, they’ll wonder how MS (with virus friendly WindowsXP, and leaky DCE TCP/IP stack) managed to hang onto the PC & file-server hegemony.. they did that with the Trustworthy Computing Initiative, that closed enough vulnerabilities quick enough to stop somebody trumping them.

      Truth is “2002 to 2012” was always going to be a shi1e decade for Microsoft; that “the MS BASIC company” is still relevant is actually remarkable..

      Ironically, Steve Ballmer’s problem is that he’s too timid (RT should never have been “Windows”, gesture controls on non-touch, non-kinetic PC should never have happened)..

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

        It was Windows 3.x that won the desktop - from there on it was only easier. Nor Apple with its expensive hardware/software proprietary combo, nor IBM with OS/2 - and its attempts to tie it too much to expensive and proprietary PS/2 systems, were able to deliver an OS for the "masses". Windows 3.x was, it could run on any PC compatible with enough RAM and a 386 processor, and its applications delievered what user needed. Competition was strong and good products arose. That's why 95 could sell so well, and later XP. Nor MacOS, nor OS/2, nor the firsts Linuxes could match Windows software, and therefore the user desktop. And now Windows server OS is powerful enough to compete with *nixes also....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

        What was the alternative to Windows 95? erm, not a lot. Macs were expensive and had an even worse OS. Amigas and STs were on life-support. Linux was crap, it still isn't really as polished as Windows on the desktop now.

        Windows 95 didn't have USB either, so what? you can't look back at an OS in 2013 and say it didn't have XYZ when things were different back then. You could still get Windows on floppy discs back then.

        1. tmcd35

          Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

          AC@12:10,

          Both Amiga and ST where long buried by Win'95s release. I think even Escom (bought Amiga from Commodore) had gone bust by that point! And yep, Apple were still 6 years away from a usable OS. I don't Linux even entered the public consciousness much before '97/98.

          Yep, there was no real competition to Windows '95 at the time. I remember their being some fleeting talk of OS/2 Warp in magazines of the time but that never really panned out. And yes, if I recall correctly it was *only* available on floppy disk. I think Win98 was the first to boot from CD (CD installers where eventually available for '95 but required a boot from floppy first).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

            " Apple were still 6 years away from a usable OS."

            Trolls are now living on Fantasy Island, apparently.

            1. LDS Silver badge

              Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

              People like to firget in what situation Apple put itself at the end of the '80s and the beginning of '90s... the old MacOS was really outdated (just look at its history, it was well behind Windows 95/NT) - only cooperative multitasking - a la Win 3.x - and not preemptive one, PowerPC processor that started to be unable to keep pace with Intel ones, despite thir RISC architecture.... and what happened after 1997, when Jobs returned to the helm? A new OS that had to get rid of all the old code, and was BSD + NeXTStep, and a switch to Intel processor.

              Who is living on Fantasy Island, or Fanboy Island, perhaps? Apple was not all the time the money machine it was in the past years, it had its hard times as well.

              1. Robert Forsyth

                Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

                IIRC NeXTSTEP fat binaries ran on four differing architectures: Sparc, PA-RISC, Intel 486, 68k

        2. LDS Silver badge

          Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

          I believe downvoters are people *born* in 1995 and have no clue about the IT landscape back then. A browser in 1995? Most people didn't know even what "the Internet" was - and almost any PC for the home came without a NIC - and I still remember in those years when we had to open new PCs at the office to add a NIC for the LAN. TCP/IP? A lot of networks were still running on Netware's IPX connected to Netware servers - LAN Manager installations were only a few, and NT 4 was just released.

          Linux was only released in 1991, and it took years to be known outside its circles and becoming an alternative (and it still lacks too many professional applications to be a real alternative).

          Apple in 1995 was in very bad waters, Jobs was back only in 1997, it was at its lowest, struggling to deliver a new, modern OS.

          IBM OS/2 was doomed since MS broke the alliance, it had almost no software to run, device driver support issues, and even IBM after buying Lotus kept on delivering software first for Windows instead of its own OS - and because it couldn't run Win32 software like it did with Win16, the switch to 95/NT killed it.

          Dear downvoters, put yourself in the shoes of a 1995 computer user - what would you choose?

          1. Robert Forsyth

            Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

            Before Windows

            There was X Windows, many companies had Sun and Apollo workstations

            Sun allowed you to run multiple MS DOS sessions on their 386 workstation

            Quarterdeck Deskview/X

            NeXTSTEP

            Mark Williams Company Coherent

            Even VAX/VMS used Motif

            1. LDS Silver badge

              Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

              X Windows/Motif were already old in 1995. Sun and Apollo workstations, like NeXT one, were very expensive, much more than the average PC. How many of them you used? Apple bought NeXT when it already abandoned the hardware market because of little sales. DESQview/X (not Deskview...) was an X port of the older DESQview, and had almost no applications.

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayland_(display_server_protocol)

                1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

                  Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

                  @AC:

                  "To be fair, it's by far the best solution on the market - with a wonderfully integrated stack from top to bottom - and a massively lower TCO than any other solution that provides similar functionality..."

                  and your next 2 posts.

                  You have presented an opinion as fact. Personally, I don't consider O365 the best solution on the market. I find it a jarring experience, difficult to administer, and unreliable. Unfortunately the CEO is completely sold on it and won't hear a bad word...

                  I have to say you come across as an MS salesman, especially as you hide as an AC. You may not be. Maybe you just really like MS products, which is a perfectly valid point of view, though not one I share.

                  When it comes to office suites, the only thing I see in favour of MS is that people already know it. That does not make it a better product, it just means that it will take some time to learn a different one.

                  Given the amount of time it takes to learn where the hell MS have put everything in a new version of MS Office, I would say it makes no difference.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

                    "Personally, I don't consider O365 the best solution on the market. "

                    So what's better? It beats Google hands down.

                    "I find it a jarring experience, "

                    Cant say I do. it's completely transparent. You hardly know your data is in the cloud.

                    "difficult to administer,"

                    it uses the exact same tools as on site Exchange. So you are either lying or incompetent....

                    "and unreliable. "

                    Are you using wet string for your internet?

      3. david 12 Bronze badge

        Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

        >they’ll wonder how MS (with Windows 95 ...) managed to hang onto PC hegemony

        Perhaps they will look at the contemporary reviews and user experience, and realize again that the UI was not just "best of class", but identifiably superior to everything else on offer.

        Of course, you've marked yourself as unreliable by using the label "Windows 95 on DOS", which tells us that you deal in slogans, but are so stuck in the past that you can't even get a job in management.

        1. Stephen Channell

          Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

          marked yourself as unreliable”.. ouch, Ok Win95 use of DOS was little more than PSP, but full-screen DOS mode still suspended other processes.. prompting Marc Andreessen (& others) to described Win95 as a glorified program loader. Free IE killed Netscape Navigator and its CORBA migration to NC.

    5. PerlyKing Bronze badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

      "Mind the oranges, Marlon!" Thank you, that brings back good memories :-)

    6. K Cartlidge

      Re: People get the OS they deserve

      My main machine is a MacBook Air. Much as I prefer the hardware to my Lenovo, I can categorically state that *for me* Windows 8 is far superior to OS X. I still use OS X in preference, but only because of the hardware it runs on.

      1. david 12 Bronze badge

        Re: People get the OS they deserve

        Yes, I know, you get voted down for documenting personal experience. I don't understand it either.

    7. ben_myers

      Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

      Buyers (or licensees) of Microsoft products and services could do some sort of cost-benefit analysis comparing the way of the Microsoft borg with alternatives. You never know.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

        Google is The Borg. Consuming all knowledge about you....

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

      "They're buying "all your files belong to us" Office 365 and "all your phone calls belong to us" Lync systems which will mire any future attempt to move away to someone else in man-centuries of pain."

      To be fair, it's by far the best solution on the market - with a wonderfully integrated stack from top to bottom - and a massively lower TCO than any other solution that provides similar functionality...

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

        It's the best solution on the market only if all you care about is the technology. The instant that other things - trustworthiness of the vendor, the government the vendor must submit to, complying with your own laws, TCO, lock-in, business continuity and so forth - matter to you then Microsoft becomes a terrible plan.

        Microsoft may well have the best technology on the market. What Microsoft and the Redmondian buttsnorkle brigade simple cannot grok is that "the best technology on the market" simply isn't good enough. There are larger concerns and the competition is "good enough."

        Which was rather the point of the article.

    9. Jess

      Re: There simply is no alternative to Windows for normal day-to-day office work.

      But sadly for Microsoft that comment could be reworded "There simply is no compelling alternative to Windows XP for normal day-to-day office work."

      Windows 7 is an alternative, but it is a pain to move to in some environments (it doesn't just slot in as a replacement in many environments), but it's only significant advantage is it's not so close to end of support.

      Windows 8 is not an alternative. (Macs are a better alternative in a lot of situations, than Windows 8)

      There are likely to be a significant number of situations where it is easier to start again with an alternative system (more likely Mac than linux). Especially when those still on XP know they will have exactly the same issues a few years down the line, if they choose 7.

      I'm pretty sure Microsoft would be in a better situation in the business world had they stuck to XP and improved it incrementally, perhaps they could have used the model citrix use(d?) with feature releases, some new features only come with a new purchase, and could be bought as an upgrade.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: There simply is no alternative to Windows for normal day-to-day office work.

        Macs? Just the hardware alone is more expensive than the average office PC, and you get bound to a single supplier. They don't fit so well like Windows machine into an Active Directory domain, which means more administrative efforts in a large deployments. Moreover for every user who needs software which is not available nor on Mac nor on Linux you need some kind of Windows license to run it locally in a VM or remotely.

        And Linux releases gets desupported too - and you may not recompile some software as easily as you wish on newer releases, especially if no one mantains it any longer. And that's true for OSX as well. From many point of views, Windows retrocompatibility is one of MS strong points. Sure, there are applications that run on one Windows version only - but that's usually because they were coded as if they were Windows 3.1 ones - not because of API support.

    10. Vic

      Re: The next 24 months is Microsoft's true window of vulnerability.

      > something, something, oranges, something

      An upvote just for that reference :-)

      Vic.

  3. Anonymous Blowhard

    "A decade from now even the embedded systems powering "the internet of things" will be utterly dependant on the SaaS cloud"

    The day my ABS is reliant on the cloud is the day I go back to the horse and cart!

  4. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Android is no threat

    The key target enterprise platforms for mobile/tablet are iPhone, iPad and Win 8. That's it. For infrastructure, you go Windows (or Azure/Hyper-V), ActiceDirectory etc. These provide the tools and features needed by the enterprise). The "killer app" is MS Office and all the customised plug-ins/applications that people use. That is, for many, the enterprise. No alternative offering can give 100% fidelity, so no alternative can compete (and the alternatives can even sort out their own specs, leading to ambiguity and feature incompatibility which raise TCO).

    Until Google gets serious and gives Android some enterprise chops (and someone creates desirable hardware/branding) we won't see it in real use. In fact, it's probably already too late for Android in the enterprise. Chrome OS is an interesting toy, but again it has no chops where it counts and it has no desirability..

    It's different in the consumer market where you can't really compete with free. But then it's not really free, is it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android is no threat

      " In fact, it's probably already too late for Android in the enterprise"

      Yep - far too insecure. For Android to succeed in the enterprise they would need to build on something more secure than Linux imo. It's too much of a Swiss Cheese liability.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Android is no threat

        " build on something more secure than Linux imo"

        imo - not humble opinion I notice - well Vogons were never humble !

      2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Android is no threat

        "need to build on something more secure than Linux imo. It's too much of a Swiss Cheese liability."

        You're so full of shit your eyes are brown.

      3. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

        Re: Android is no threat

        "For Android to succeed in the enterprise they would need to build on something more secure than Linux imo. It's too much of a Swiss Cheese liability."

        Well, I have to say that it is not the most secure OS in the world (although it's one of the better ones), but I would love to hear what you would say was better. Lets see what are the options?

        Solaris/Some other proprietary Unix? It would be very difficult to port to ARM processors, given the closed nature.

        FreeBSD? Yes, that's an option. Good solid product with good security features.

        Windo.... Sorry, I just can't bring myself to finish that. The least secure modern OS in existence.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Android is no threat

          "Windo.... Sorry, I just can't bring myself to finish that. The least secure modern OS in existence."

          Windows is a lot more secure than Linux these days - it has far fewer vulnerabilities that are on average fixed faster - And security is built in from the ground up - not as an afterthought like Linux SEL and NFS 4.1. Plus Windows supports least privilege / access delegation that Linux simply doesn't...

          1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

            Re: Android is no threat

            "Windows is a lot more secure than Linux these days... And security is built in from the ground up"

            Where to begin?

            Only my opinion, but if you take a default Windows installation compared to a default Linux installation, I cannot see Windows (any version) being more secure (in any sense of the word). The same is true for well set-up instances of each. The only way I can see Windows being more secure than Linux is comparing a well set up, corporate Windows system with a default, run-of-the-mill consumer Linux system.

            And don't get me started on "from the ground up". Security has always been an afterthought on MS systems. It has been central to the design philosophy of Linus (and Unix in general) since day one.

  6. Ossi

    "Microsoft has largely run out of things to add to their productivity apps"

    This is simply not true. The problem is that they only bother with changes that are in Microsoft's interests. There are lots of functions that haven't changed in generations. An example is mail merge, where I would love to have the ability to merge to separate automatically named documents, or create emails with body *and* attachment text.* They could also fix things that have been dodgy for generations, like the way that numbering occasionally seems to have a mind of its own.

    *I never bothered with 2013, but I don't think these things have changed.

  7. John Styles

    Hmm

    I know I am an old fart, but to me lumping in 'real' PCs (server / desktop / laptop) with tablets and mobiles for 'endpoint' volumes makes as much sense to me as lumping in 'real' PCs with cans of baked beans and then saying that by shipped volumes (i.e. number of PCs vs number of cans of PCs) Microsoft should be worried that Heinz has a massively larger market share.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      As an old fogey myself ...

      Dosbox on a Raspberry Pi would thrash my first PC. With that in mind, lumping modern phones in with desktops makes sense.

    2. BenN
      Thumb Down

      Re: Hmm

      Except that the number of baked bean tins sold by Heinz has no impact on the number of 'real' PCs sold.

      On the other hand, many consumers who would otherwise have bought a 'real' PC found that they could make do with just a tablet or smartphone, or at least that they could significantly slow their 'real' PC upgrade cycle.

      And what counts as a tablet anyway? Is a laptop with a touchscreen not a 'real' PC? Where did the old Compaq TC1100 Windows XP tablet fit in - 'real' PC or tablet?

      1. Otto is a bear.

        Re: Hmm

        Agree, with you both, the thing with endpoint devices is that you need to select the correct device for the job you want to do and when you want to do. If you do any substantial amount of authoring or data entry, an iPad is no good, a Laptop/PC, a desk and a big screen is what you want. If you go to a meeting an Note is brilliant, you can handwrite notes, lookup the web and so on, though a PC is still required for presentations.

        The thing is, a dedicated device is always better at a task than a multipurpose device, a Nokia 6210 is a better phone than an iPhone, but an iPhone is more convenient, a big TV is better than a PC. A cased Windows PC is still, I think the best all round device you can buy, ok, it's not mobile, but. I think MS need to move it towards being a better, secure home server.

        The other thing to consider is health & safety, in how we use our devices, wandering into the road texting, hunched over a laptop on the knee (Yup, me now), laptop shoulder, and so on.

        We all have our favourite device and I'll bet it depends more on our lifestyle than anything else. The PC will be around for a long time to come, but perhaps not for everybody, remember if you want privacy, you don't store stuff in the cloud. For another OS to supplant Windows, you need to have a seamless upgrade between the two, not really the case.

  8. Miek
    Linux

    "Microsoft haters" -- Or just critics? There's nothing wrong with being critical about a company, particularly when they are at fault. Labelling everyone that has something non-complimentary to say about them or their wares as a 'hater' is a weasel's way of trying to dismiss those people's views. For example, "don't listen to them, they are just tin-foil hat nutters ..."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I find some of the people who are most likely to accuse us of having metallic foil lining our headwear are those who mainly have used OSes from one vendor.

      Me… I started with DOS, then Windows 3.1. A few years later I got to see Windows NT 3.1 Workstation, then 3.5 and 3.51, finally NT 4.0. I got introduced to Windows 95 about the same time I saw Linux for the first time. Red Hat 4.0 to be precise.

      Since then it's been a whirlwind of OSes… OS/2 Warp, SCO OpenServer, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, IRIX, Solaris, Minix… Linux has been one I keep going back to.

      So for me, I've seen where both Windows NT and Linux started from and can appreciate how they've both developed. Some things change, others remain the same. I no longer have to remember what RAMDAC chip my video card uses or take educated guesses at modelines. I no longer have to go hunting for third party software for system essentials like a network firewall or file system maintenance tools.

      Both OSes have matured greatly. I put myself firmly on the Linux side of the fence however, as that side of the fence seems to be in good company. A lot of software that runs on Linux, can also be ported to MacOS X. The same software can be a royal pain to port to Windows, an OS that's never understood the meaning of fork(), and whose cheerleaders are all too keen to try and point out the superiority of PowerShell over the Bourne shell, whilst completely forgetting why the Bourne shell gets used in the first place.

      As for Microsoft… without a doubt the sun is setting on Windows and Office. Certainly in consumer space, it looks to be moving towards tablets which are prodominantly iOS or Android. In business… there's a lot of legacy out there, it'll take a while for the flood to drain out to sea. Windows Servers? If BYOD is our future, then our future is going to have a lot of non-Windows workstations, something Windows Servers have never traditionally been good at managing.

      I think relying on a single vendor has always been incredibly risky. We saw this with IBM, and Novell, Apple seem to have reached their peak now. Your turn, Microsoft. I shall sit back and wait, I shall not however, hold my breath.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "without a doubt the sun is setting on Windows and Office."

        The sun doesn't seem to agree with you - Office and Windows revenues are still pretty stable, and Office 365 is growing rapidly...

        "Certainly in consumer space, it looks to be moving towards tablets which are prodominantly iOS or Android"

        Until the entry of Microsoft late last year - they took over 7.5% total tablet market share in only 6 months...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "without a doubt the sun is setting on Windows and Office."

          The sun doesn't seem to agree with you - Office and Windows revenues are still pretty stable, and Office 365 is growing rapidly...

          Well, Office 365 didn't exist 12 months ago, so hard to argue that it can go any direction but up. The fact that global computer sales seem to be down, and this co-incides not with the great financial crisis, but with the release of Windows 8?

          Windows sales are stable only because of Windows 7. This is going to start dropping as more companies play hard-ball supplying Windows 7 OEM licenses for equipment, and that is already happening with some vendors. Office will naturally follow the curve as it is trapped inside the sinking gaol that is Windows, unable to escape as it does not run on any other platform.

          I already know of companies that are reconsidering the need for Microsoft Office … the mob I work for mostly use LibreOffice as the standard SOE, with Microsoft Office only used for very specific use cases.

          "Certainly in consumer space, it looks to be moving towards tablets which are prodominantly iOS or Android"

          Until the entry of Microsoft late last year - they took over 7.5% total tablet market share in only 6 months...

          7.5% still leaves 96.5% between iOS, Android and minority players. Sure, early days … but they're so late to the party it's not funny. The boat has well and truly left port, and they'll have to do a lot of paddling in the water if they expect to catch up. There's enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that the plan was not well conceived either with plenty complaining about Windows' schitsophrenic nature. Not the polished product one would expect for a device in the upper price bracket.

          Sounds very much like a case of if you leave me, can I come too?! Chasing a market because "that's what the cool kids are doing" is not a good way to enter a market. Google entered not having an OS in the consumer world, so they had little to lose.

          Microsoft have gone all-in however, and bet the house on it. Not wise, they might've been better off sticking it out with Windows Phone a little longer, maybe building on the API there to make it applicable to tablets (much like Android has done) with a compatible API… then started to transition the desktop world to it. Not dragging their users kicking and screaming onto the Partridge Family bus off to the land of tiles.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "with Microsoft Office only used for very specific use cases."

            We have that model too. The use case is 'I need Office and I need it to work'

            "7.5% still leaves 96.5% between iOS, Android and minority players"

            Erm, no it doesn't...

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              (Re-post, since I buggered up spelling on the last one…)

              "with Microsoft Office only used for very specific use cases."

              We have that model too. The use case is 'I need Office and I need it to work'

              Ahh, then you've already been lacking in open-mind enough to reject anything that isn't "Office" … i.e. LibreOffice et all. LibreOffice works just fine where I work where it's the SOE.

              In fact, the last person who had trouble, was using Excel to view an OpenDocument Spreadsheet … I blame Microsoft since they had all the specifications layed out for them. In that case, Microsoft Office didn't work.

              "7.5% still leaves 96.5% between iOS, Android and minority players"

              Erm, no it doesn't...

              True, bug in my arithmetic … my brain decided to go into early Pentium FPU mode. 92.5% it is. Not 96.5% … still 7.5% is hardly significant, especially in light of what Microsoft did to get there. Trevor makes a valid point here.

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Microsoft took 7.5% of tablet market share then stalled and even declined. Their tablets languish on shelves and they have give away a significant number of those tablets to even get there. Very few of the tablets were sold for what Microsoft feels they are worth and the OEMs that are manufacturing them are bleeding their cash reserves as well as market share.

          Oh, yeah, Microsoft's tablets are doing great.

        3. hplasm Silver badge
          Meh

          re: Microsoft late last year - they took over 7.5% total tablet market share in only 6 months...

          Headache tablets, mainly.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There is nothing wrong with being critical about a company, however you must have noticed a pattern in comments here:

      Critical about MS, upvote. Critical of Linux distro, downvote. Complements to MS go with accusations of being a shill, complements to Linux go with general approval.

      It doesn't matter if the criticism is valid or not, it's always the same. It's very, very boring.

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        I think you're full of crap. There are plenty of people who talk up Microsoft's legitimate achievements and get upvoted. Plenty more who bring up legitimate issues with Linux or open source and get upvoted. The issue here is "legitimate."

        Microsoft make good tech. They also suck out loud at basically everything else about bringing that tech to the masses. They exist today only because of their ability to milk the monopolies of yore; they have a built in customer base that they can keep failing to execute properly on for some time yet.

        Contrast this with Linux. Open source developers - mostly - highly responsive to community demands. So much so that nothing ever seems to actually move forwards some times. In the instances where some major open source project stops listening to people the entire community loses its shit and a dumps that project nearly instantaneously.

        The tepid reception to Ubuntu's Unity gave rise to massive community backing for Mint virtually overnight. The Gnome team's awful handling of Gnome 3 lead to at least 3 major forks and unprecedented hostility. KDE 4 still has a bad reputation, in no small part because of the "up yours" attitude of the devs towards the community.

        I completely disagree with your thesis that there is an anti-Microsoft bias here on The Register....at least insomuch as it is stronger here than it is amongst the general population. I think The Register is representative of "people in general" in that there is a "don't treat us like shit; actually listen to what we have to say and factor it into your development plans" bias at work.

        Most commenters on The Register will cheerfully upvote an insightful comment discussing the technical merits of something Microsoft built. Those same people will get all uppity if you try to praise Microsoft as a whole because - shock and surprise - people tend to give fucks about more than bits and bytes. We care about how you treat us...and Microsoft treats us all like shit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Trevor, I'm not sure if you're looking at the same forums as me, but the recent article about Hyper-v and MS supporting linux would be a classic case in point. People were being downvoted for stating basic facts about Hyper-v and correcting mistakes of others. Where as ridiculous unsupportable comments about Linux were being made and upvoted.

          I consider myself to be fairly OS agnostic, I work day to day with Linux, UNIX and Windows systems, from a storage/backup point of view, but with comments here, I find myself thinking that I'm pro-MS, merely because I spend so much time trying to balance/correct comments of others.

          I will point out, for the sake of clarity, that I don't believe for a minute that The Register itself has any bias, pro or anti MS, just that there are a number of commentors who can get carried away.

          I also don't think that the FOSS community as a whole has really anything that much to do with the comments made on The Register and their reaction to or against developments made by the distros don't really come into it.

          BTW: Accusing someone of being full of crap because you disagree with them is hardly a great way to start a discussion about something.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            There certainly are a handful of hardcore anti-MS types out there, but there are just as many hardcore anti-FOSS types in these forums. I'd say that one balances the other. You get downvotes for anything that even seems pro-Microsoft, but you also get upvotes. Choosing to focus on a handful of downvotes and wave that around as "proof" that the forums are "biased" is crap.

            Some people in the forums are biased. No question. But I simply do not believe that the overall posture of the forums is anti-Microsoft. If anything I think there are more pro-Microsoft commenters that come out with every article to defend his majesty's Redmonian honour than there are those who seek to tear MS down simply out of spite.

            Where each party to the debate gets all muddled is that they have a deep seeded psychological need to claim that moderates, cynics and agnostics are part of "the enemy" and thus anti-whatever-it-is-they-are-pro and vice the versa. It's perception, not reality.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Linux

              Some people in the forums are biased?

              I don't have an agenda, what does get in my craw is where MS ™ takes something generic, file formats® or communication protocols®, adds some feetures® to it, renames it and then claims to have innovated something totally original. Just sticking MS-- ™ in front of something doesn't mean squat.

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: Some people in the forums are biased?

                Dear gods, yes. How DARE Microsoft call *anything* OCS/LCS does "SIP"? It's cross-compatible with zip!

        2. Neil B
          WTF?

          @Trevor_Pott "I completely disagree with your thesis that there is an anti-Microsoft bias here on The Register....at least insomuch as it is stronger here than it is amongst the general population."

          This is just a mad comment. Based on volume of posts and propensity to down-vote, the reg community is enthusiastically anti-MS and uses every opportunity to say so. Contradict someone's loony ravings on MS software and at best you can expect to have a net effect on your voting record of zero.

          I would however agree that stupid comments about free software are usually down-voted appropriately.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            @NielB

            Well, we'll have to agree to disagree. Based on the volume of posts I would say that the majority of El Reg's forums are neither pro nor anti-MS and are, in point of fact, quite agnostic to the whole debate. Most forum posters - and voters - seem to be entirely willing to acknowledge the good and condem the bad of Microsoft AND open source. This is The Register; cynicism is the name of the game, and that means equal opportunity piss-taking.

            The issue is that you conflate those in the middle with being "against Microsoft" simply because they'll upvote a good rant that aligns with their experience. You miss entirely the part where they will downvote an anti-MS rant that doesn't match their experience. The handful of true anti-MS zealots here is roughly the same as the handful of true butt-snorkling Redmond-flag-waving types. They more or less cancel eachother out.

            Maybe what you're missing is the fact that general attitudes amongst people have shifted against Microsoft. It has nothing to do with The Register specifically, but is an overall attitude amongst all the various customer bases. That happens when you spend years pissing in the entire planet's cheerios.

            Again, however, I find El Reg to be more restrained than most; they'll still upvote a good technological discussion even when they'll also upvote a good moralistic "fuck the man" rant. Maybe that should tell the Redmondian types something. Perhaps it should even tell them the sort of thing I wrote about in my article: that you can have the best technology int eh world...but it doesn't mean a damned thing if your execution is so poor that you destroy community engagement.

            But who am I kidding; the type of people who are actually capable of seeing Microsoft as the poor beleaguered victim of the tech world are not the kind of people who will ever be psychologically capable of understanding concepts like "community engagement" or "listening to customers." It's antithetical to the mindset.

            Oh, and before you set about accusing me of being "anti-Microsoft", you should stop and think for a bit. I'm rather demonstrably not. I am anti-how-Microsoft-treats-it's-user-communities-and-customers, but I am rather a fan of their tech and many of the people who work there.

            Looks like people - just as with companies and most other things in life - just ain't so black and white as we'd like 'em to be, eh?

            1. Neil B
              Meh

              Re: @NielB

              @Trevor_Pott "Oh, and before you set about accusing me of being "anti-Microsoft", you should stop and think for a bit."

              Don't lump me in with echo-chamber commentards, please. I tend to stop and think for a bit quite often, as it happens. The Reg itself works hard to see merit where merit is due, and that includes with MS. My comments are aimed at its community, not its authors.

              Whenever I'm pro-MS it's in the interest of pointing out what I believe to be entirely unfair and, most often, ridiculously inaccurate statements made by posters on MS-related articles. I want balanced discussion, with people whose brains are engaged, not demented Eadon-wannabes who just waste everybody's time. If that's the nature of our community, as you say, then the people whose brains are engaged are eerily silent most of the time.

              "Looks like people - just as with companies and most other things in life - just ain't so black and white as we'd like 'em to be, eh?"

              I'm pretty sure you could be more patronising if you stopped and thought about it for a bit. You've sure made a lot of assumptions about me for someone lecturing about the grey area. Sheesh.

              1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                Re: @NielB

                Fox News also says they feel the need for "balance". That's why they will give 85% of air time to the 2% of people disputing largely settled science, all while exclaiming that they are real news because they "ensure balance."

                You'll forgive me if I don't give a bent fuck about balance; I care about the truth, and reality isn't balanced. Reality simply is, and it gives no fucks whatsoever about individual or group politics, hurt feelings or "balance".

                So I calls 'em like I see's em, sirrah. If you come across as trowling lipstick onto something do not be shocked if I patronize, probably with a heap of sarcasm and possibly even using a thesaurus. Sorry mate, but I'm the dude way on the edge of the spinny bits, unbalancing the disk drive so I can get the storage rack to run in horizontal mode.

            2. Miek
              Linux

              Re: @NielB

              "This is The Register; cynicism is the name of the game, and that means equal opportunity piss-taking." -- Absolutely.

      2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        "Critical about MS, upvote /.../ Complements to MS go with accusations of being a shill"

        Nope, not that simple. Seasoned folks have quite good bullshit detectors, fine-tuned with vast loads of the finest corporate manure. Rulesets are anything but simple.

        Simplest possible advice - drop that egregious attitude.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Meh

          The "John Doe" vote.

          Uhhhhhh, sadly I'm pretty sure the AC poster is right in regards to overzealous posts about a specific OS. However, I feel a lot of that is due to how the articles are framed, and I'm sure we've all seen framed articles here (especially about MAC). But all in all, the AC is right. Just take a look around the threads, it is no mystery. However, there is some mystery being that most of them are posted as "Anonymous Coward".

          Of course to me the real problem is that there is a voting/number system attached to human opinion. Then when you throw in anonymous votes, it just becomes a waste of bandwidth. Imagine the amount of fraud that would be presented if you could vote anonymously in real life, it would be horrendous! Typically, in some societies regardless of the type of government, identification is required to vote, and "Anonymous Coward" is no more identification than "John Doe".

          Kill the voting system/device, or at least kill it for AC posters.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: The "John Doe" vote.

            You still have to sign in to vote, so the system knows who you are and what you voted.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Coat

              Re: The "John Doe" vote.

              "...the system knows..." God Bless.

              I hate to use politics as an example, but it fits. How many bills do you vote on without any names attached? How many people do you agree and disagree with that are nameless? How many people in technology do you agree or disagree with that are nameless? How about journalism? In general, how many writings do you vote on or agree with that are nameless?

              There is many anonymous quotes and other writings that are brilliant, but those are diamonds in the rough. So with the AC system here, are we holding out for that diamond in the rough? A true leader?

              BTW, if something is good because anonymous people say so, then I have 50,000 anonymous people that will vouch that this deed to the Brooklyn Bridge I have is rock solid. Shoot me an email with a bid, *NO RESERVE*...*TOP SELLER*

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The "John Doe" vote.

            Mmm, except you need to be logged in to vote, and the forum software records that you have voted for a post. About the only thing that isn't recorded is which way you voted, only the totals of up and down votes. So no, there's no such thing as voting as an "anonymous coward".

            I'll admit to having an open-source bias for exactly the reason Trever puts it: Microsoft's attitude sucks harder than a vacuum digger. I try to be balanced in my criticisms. I lean towards the open-source side of the fence because I find where there is a technical limitation, I'm more able to fix it, given sufficient time to understand its code.

            Any software not burned into a permanently-mounted ROM can be fixed. Software for which you have the sources is monumentally easier to fix than software you just have binaries for, this does not mean people don't try it. They do, but it isn't economic. I personally would rather spend my time fixing something that I have the sources for, than to try and pick apart some binary black box.

            This is where I find myself avoiding Microsoft solutions — if my use case doesn't fit into their sometimes quite rigid design criteria, I'm stuffed. Their API seems to put to me an "us or them" proposition: Are you with us building Windows software, or are you with "them" POSIX-compliant platforms? So as a software developer, if I want to maximise my user base, I've got to weigh up using the subset of features available on both systems, versus locking out users from either of these two camps. The digital divide between Microsoft and the rest of the IT world couldn't be more vast, and my, the likes of Interix and Cygwin has all the security of a rope bridge strung across the Grand Canyon.

            The lack of common ground between systems is just one area where Microsoft shows its arrogance. Look at Office OpenXML. Did they incorporate existing standards like SVG or CSS? No, they went the NIH route and invented new "standards", and gave attributes ambiguous names like "autoSpaceLikeWord95".

            And then there's the licensing. In a BYOD world, why does Microsoft insist on making a standard Workstation version of Windows, and a hobbled consumer version? Why spend the extra time stripping the latter of functionality, only to upset users, have network admins tear their hair out and burden themselves with having to support yet another version of an OS? We might have kept our only Windows 8 installation at work, if it had a domain logon client, then the sales stats might actually mean something!

            What difference does it make if I have 1 remote desktop user, or 10 if the hardware can support it? Or 5 SQL clients making queries, versus 50? Some limitations are put on software for technical issues, but a lot are just purely artificial. 4GB limit on a database you say? If I pay for a license, does that suddenly make file position pointers grow an extra 32-bits or were they 64-bit to begin with and just ANDed with 0x00000000ffffffff?

            This, is exactly the sort of arrogance that gets right up my nose. I don't like it in open-source projects either, but there I'm at least empowered to fix these limitations, we're not stuck with the "my way or the high way". Don't like where they put (or didn't put) the launch button? Keep your apps and just move to a different desktop. KDE and Gnome apps work just fine on other window managers, I use FVWM myself. Try that on MacOS X or Windows: on Windows yes you can replace the shell, but there's only so much it can "fix".

            Want a heavily cut down OS to do one task and one task only? You've got it. Learn the art of debootstrap, catalyst or BitBake and you're away. The competition at the minimum forces on you a standard desktop and a web browser, even if your application will run kiosk-mode or headless and never use it. Desktops furthermore get abused as a place to run "servers". (yes, Rekon Accounts, CET PecStar, I'm looking at you! This is how you write a server for Windows. You don't see Microsoft Exchange or IIS running on the desktop!) Good news that Server 2012 makes the desktop optional.

            Anyway, I think I've laboured the point long enough. No community is immune from a certain level of arrogance. Microsoft and open-source projects are no exception. I think this arrogance is a bigger factor in people downvoting pro-Microsoft or anti-Linux posts. There are places where brickbats are deserved on both sides, and I'll deliver bouquet's where I think they're deserved too.

  9. TheOtherHobbes

    "Microsoft is not only gunning for the cable networks here, but ultimately could well spawn its own content production network challenging the likes of Disney, Fox and Warner Brothers."

    MSNBC ended a while back. It's not clear what MS was contributing to that particular partnership, beyond - perhaps - pushing for HD.

    The idea that MS has what it takes to create a media production empire is risible.

    In any case, the real challengers are going to be Amazon and Google, just as elsewhere.

    At some point someone - probably Amazon - is going to open up content production and distribution to the masses. Google already does a bit of this, but once someone makes it more of a feature and less of an accessory the old content houses are going to find themselves dealing with issues they weren't expecting to have.

  10. Roger Greenwood
    Mushroom

    Conflicted

    Part of me is fed up with the arrogance of MS (and partners) telling me products have "retired" when we still use and need them, so I want them taken down a peg or two.

    Another part of me likes the idea of a simple OS that I can get loads of applications for, that will work well and work together, so I want Windows to still be available.

    Thank goodness I am not Bomb #20.

    Thanks Trevor for yet another excellent article.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Missing the bigger picture?

    "The truth is that Microsoft can't keep us all happy."

    Normally I'd believe that.

    However, I think the author is missing or ignoring the bigger picture here. Because one can only acknowledge that it has become "awkward" to say the least that the feeling of dislike is happening all over the place as of late. And if you look at the hard numbers and the way Microsoft has been acting I think there's no denying the issue at hand. This isn't about a few people disliking Microsoft any more.

    Lets go non-tech: Gamers. A lot of XBox fans have been in high expectation of the XBox one, and hardly anyone liked it. The dislike spread so deep and wide that Microsoft eventually reversed some of their plans. I highly doubt that they'd go that far if we were talking about "some dislikes" here. But most gamers aren't stupid; they know that unwanted changes can occur after purchase as well, that has now become a big liability for the future of the XBox.

    And speaking of Windows 8: surely the extremely disappointing sale numbers say something here?

    Sure; let's go modern as well. Cloud you say? When talking "developers, developers" then Microsoft is putting a lot of effort in pushing Visual Studio 2012 forwards. The only problem is that most die-hard Microsoft developers would rather stay on 2010. And instead of acknowledging the whole problem (which, in all fairness, Microsoft has partly done) they're now getting ready for the next Visual Studio version.

    Systems engineers? Microsoft whacked TechNet and you can already see some of the impact because of it.

    Microsoft has shown a very weird tendency as of late to piss off a lot of their customers, developers and even their fanbase alike. Sure you won't see the effect of those actions the very next day, if you think that Microsoft would be out of business in a few months if those actions were really bad then you're a fool. Changes like that don't go that fast.

    But that also doesn't mean that the problem isn't there either.

    Surely it's not that hard to realize that if you're losing a monopoly position then the last thing you should do is piss off all the people who actually liked your products?

    1. tmcd35

      Re: Missing the bigger picture?

      I posted this somewhere else recently, seems apt here...

      I'm all for diversity but Microsoft appear to have both forgotten who their core customer are and are now fighting too many battles across too many fronts.

      For years MS's primary focus has been shifting copies of Office. Even selling Windows to a greater or lesser extent was ultimately about shifting Office licenses. It's this lock-in that captured the SBE space for them and it's this core business they should be fighting for fiercely. Instead they appear to be ignoring/taking these customers for granted and focus their efforts of fighting numerous bush fires.

      Just who are MS's competition? Is it Google/Apple in the mobile space? Is Sony/Apple in the living room? Is it Google/Yahoo in the web space? Oracle/VMWare in the server room? Amazon in the Cloud? Most of the time they look like they want to be Apple, the rest of the time the want to be Google. What they need to do is focus on being Microsoft.

      I read this somewhere else recently and am beginning to agree - Microsoft should have broken their business up in to smaller concerns years ago.

      1. P. Lee

        Re: Missing the bigger picture?

        > Just who are MS's competition?

        Anyone who can creep into their space. Monopolies generate massive profits and those attract competition. That means that Google Docs is competition, because they can do desktop-independent apps. Android is competition because that brings ARM mobile, which begets ARM server and ARM desktop with a cross-platform Linux or Android, not Win32 API. OSX is competition because the Director's Mac Air brings in BYOD and other non-windows desktop infrastructure leading to OS-independent Apps and infrastructure. Amazon is competition because they offer cheap always-on, low-power systems which is much of what companies use and they offer it with global reach. VMware are competition not just for hyper-v, but because the thin server infrastructure brings in linux skills to the data center. When scaling out, licensing costs become obvious and as data centres grow under hardware consolidation, the pressure to move to cheaper options increases while the web interface removes the UI/OS-specific skill requirements.

        Defending a monopoly, it isn't really about competing with other products, its about killing interoperability so that other ecosystems can't get a foothold. Eventually, however, the profits to be made / costs to be saved become too much and the monopoly crumbles. Small competitors can be crushed or bought but well funded competitors bringing money from other markets (search, mobile) with little existing investment in the status quo are difficult to combat.

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      @ShelLuser

      Agree entirely. Did you miss the end of the article where I talked about how in order to survive MS have to figure out how to engage with the community? I maintain that they can't keep us all happy, but they are doing such a terrible job keeping any of us happy that I believe this is their moment of vulnerability. There are ways that Microsoft could address the issues, changes in products, licensing and culture that could ensure a stable, strong Microsoft for decades. Similarly, if you're an MS competitor there are ways to capitalize on all of this to steal some very serious market share from MS.

      Damned if I'll tell what they are without a fat cheque though. :)

  12. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Time won't be enough

    Breaking down the warring fiefdom culture of Microsoft on a wider scale will take time, but if they succeed then great things could happen.

    Breaking down the warring fiefdom culture of Microsoft on a wider scale will take a miracle. Ballmer's proposed reorganisation to functional rather than product based units has been tried before elsewhere. Previous attempts have almost always been hamstrung by resistance from existing management. The few times functional reorganisation has worked, it was because the CEO could take the credit for an exceptionally successful product. Ballmer does not have the track record to push fundamental changes through a dense wall recalcitrant managers.

  13. Fihart

    Another Win8 and they're gone.

    If my experience trying to help a friend battle with Win8 is typical, a lot more people will be choosing Apple laptops right now.

  14. Jemma Silver badge

    To paraphrase Karrde & Gillespee..

    I personally dont happen to think the world should run on Dumb Terminals.. And if it did, I sure as hell wouldnt put Google in charge of them..!

    What is it with the human race? We seem to go round in circles more times than a brain damaged bovine. Not to mention the fact that the 'tech' companies seem to be using back issues of BOFH for product advice.

    M$ might create software that goes down more often than a DWP database, is flakier than a lepers crotch, and has more patches than a porcupines undies but at least it still has an inkling of the words customer & privacy. I never thought I'd be saying I trusted M$ on that of all things. There are alot of people who wont touch Chrome with someone elses bargepole - especially in a business environment - me included and with good reason - its like running your remote dialup using the password 'password' for everyone, all 50 of them, when you're the Japanese agent for Bentley, Rolls, Maserati et al... Have our 'free' OS... (30 seconds later) oh you mean a patent meant we couldnt accidently snarf that design and accidently add it to your competitors docs account -or- oops there were only 3 million customers who relied on that free feature so we killed it (strange how they were all on M$ OS or Symbian)...

    As for Ballmer people are abusing him because he's the biggest bloody idiot of this or any other age, he's only rivalled by Elop-bey (in the same way as Webber 'rivals' Vettel). To him competance is like Arianism to the early Church... Something to be wiped out wherever it is found. In every single field of endeavor he's tried to create a gold plated fuck up and he's generally succeeded. Gaming? I know! Always on internet, DRM that would give Reinhard Heydrich orgasms... Mobiles? An OS that weeps in the corner when it compares its feature set with a Nokia 6310i, not to mention alienating every poor sod & sod-ette who bought 7.xx. Desktop OS... Enough said... The only reason people use the word idiot to describe him is that an adequate word has yet to be invented

    1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      Re: To paraphrase Karrde & Gillespee..

      "What is it with the human race? We seem to go round in circles more times than a brain damaged bovine."

      Actually, it's more like a spiral. From certain point of view, it may look like a circle, but not quite.

      Most of the progress is made like this. Yes, we're coming back at the same idea, but now we're armed with a wider choice of tools, and can implement this idea on a different level of quality.

      Now whether this particular spiral is leading upwards or downwards...

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: To paraphrase Karrde & Gillespee..

      True.

      But watch him dance.

  15. Dan 55 Silver badge

    "Microsoft’s senior management are aware of this and are actively taking steps to compensate"

    Microsoft are entirely responsible for the problem in the first place, there was no need to make Windows some over-arching OS covering desktop and touch devices. Desktop Windows could have run Metro apps in a window yet not have the rest of the Start Screen/TIFKAM nonsense, Windows RT could have been called Windows Touch where the Start Screen is somewhat acceptable, all three OSes (Windows, Touch, and Phone) could have taken you to the same Microsoft app store. Practically the same yet people aren't annoyed because they know exactly they're getting.

  16. Alister Silver badge

    We all like to moan about and abuse Microsoft, but until recently there really hasn't been a viable alternative to Active Directory for centralised user management which integrates with shared resources, email accounts etc.

    That coupled with the fact that if you wanted to do business with other companies, you had to be able to create, edit and access Microsoft's file formats, meant that in practice, however much you may have disliked Microsoft, you had to use their products to function as a business.

    However, as more and more of the day-to-day functionality is transferred to the "cloud", the less is the need for the old centralised philosophy and therefore the less is the need for reliance on Microsoft products.

    1. Roo
      Boffin

      Re: Alister @ 29/Jul 12:39

      "there really hasn't been a viable alternative to Active Directory for centralised user management"...

      I'm guessing that the word "viable" means "comes from Microsoft and works exactly like Active Directory) because that statement is only true if you confine your search to products in Microsoft's catalogue.

      Back in '91 I used to login via Sun's NIS/Yellow Pages, so it's pretty clear to me at least there were viable products out there many years before Active Directory. AD is underpinned by some of the precursors in any case - Kerberos and LDAP for example.

      "However, as more and more of the day-to-day functionality is transferred to the "cloud", the less is the need for the old centralised philosophy"

      Wrong. The cloud vendors will need that stuff because all that's happened is that you've outsourced your IT Dept to the Cloud vendor. Good luck switching vendors a few years down the line, or retraining everyone when the vendor decides to change or discontinue the services you are relying on.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "until recently there really hasn't been a viable alternative to Active Directory for centralised user management which integrates with shared resources, email accounts etc."

      What is this recent miracle invention?

  17. darklordsid

    Don't underestimate the power of Ballmer in sinking the Metranic...

  18. Captain Queeg

    Authors of their own downfall

    Unfortunately what will break Microsoft will be a failure to develop markets and execute strategy effectively, on time and to a business case.

    This isn't a criticism of MS, but historically, given the Desktop monopoly, (which they built in the same way Google are building the coming Android monopoly - by providing consistency and a brand for struggling manufacturers) MS have been able to use the cash cows of Windows and Office to allow them to undercut and destroy competitors. I.E. Novel, Netscape, etc. etc.

    This model seems to have become the only one that MS understand and it feels like they're not capable of delivering anything with reference to a positive business case. The ability to write down cost against the cash cows means XBox is considered a success but had it been standing on it's own two feet it would never have made the grade.

    Diversification is absolutely the right strategy for MS, but until they learn how to be able to develop an idea of its own merits that stands comparison with it's peers without subsidy, they'll keep having to rely on the shrinking businesses to bankroll the success. And unfortunately those cash generating businesses margins are coming under more and more pressure.

    My view is that MS need to do something compelling within 3-4 years (more or less next week in strategic terms!) or their long term fate is sealed as a server company.

  19. Prowler
    Alien

    Article is missing the real point

    All this stuff about "desktop" is where everyone is getting confused. Try using the word "workstation" operating system, the whole point of the PC personal computer in the first place. What we have now is the inevitable return to client-server methodology with the cloud. It is "inevitable" because companies and governments can regain control of the landscape from the PC monster and the independence it brings. It also happens to be the low hanging fruit, less work for Big Tech corporations like Microsoft. In short, they are simply lazy.

    Microsoft is fully capable of writing a separate SKU for Workstations ( sometimes-connected standalone Home PC's ), Lord knows they flood the market with countless SKU versions as a rule. The question the author completely missed is why not continue doing it now rather than make one OS for everything? The answer is that Microsoft is making a cynical move on those billions of PC's that THEY DO NOT OWN, computers built by others that run Microsoft software. One these PC's and laptops Microsoft is the 3rd party, supplying the operating system installed on at the factory to the exclusion of everyone else. Their move is to rope them into the Windows walled-garden and shows a company clearly reverting to the monopolistic practices that almost got them broken up over.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Game Over.

    Windows is no longer the dominant OS. Android is.

    Nobody buys PC's anymore, it's all about phones and tablets. There are more Android powered devices than there are Windows PC's

    Microsoft are nowhere in this market, living in the sub 2% "also ran" category.

    1. tmcd35

      Re: Game Over.

      Alas, It seems MS actually believe this "no one buy's PC's anymore" BS. Would explain a lot about Window 8/Phone/Xbox/etc.

      Remember - phones and tablets are great, until you want to write a letter and print it... (or code, or edit media, or manage a database, or ...)

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Game Over.

        The traditional PC (defined by a keyboard and mouse, be it a fixed workstation or a notebook) is no more going away than mainframes did. That said, what was once "virtually every endpoint that users used to interact with data" is now less than 35% of the market. Bear in mind that "the endpoint market" is also far bigger now than back when PCs ruled.

        Millions upon millions of PCs will continue to be shipped for at least the next decade. Probably longer. That said, they will become ever more niche as "workstation"-class tasks become the minority of human interfaces with data. (The majority being the consumption of data by humans for various reasons rather than the creation or curation of said data.)

        Another way of looking at it would be that tablets and mobiles are not displacing the traditional PC so much as replacing the "dumb" televisions, radios and newspapers that were the traditional data consumption methods used during and prior to the PC-dominant era. The difference today is that instead of using PCs to create and curate content for this "old media," we're doing so for "smart" devices that are proper computers in their own right.

        The line between content creation, content curation and content consumption devices has blurred almost into insignificance and will continue to do so. The problem for Microsoft is that it only "owns" the traditional PC market; a shrinking piece of the pie as these new "smart" consumption devices gain creation and curation capabilities in their own right.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Game Over.

      "Microsoft are nowhere in this market, living in the sub 2% "also ran" category."

      Actually Microsoft went from 0 to over 7.5% in 6 months on tablets.

      Windows Phone also just hit nearly 9% of sales in the UK (over double Blackberry)

      Microsoft are going to be taking big chunks of the current Android market.....They do after all have a much more powerful and secure OS to tackle it with. I can't see sign of Android catching up on those areas anytime soon.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Game Over.

        Stop looking at cherrypicked stats. Globally Microsoft marketshare is 3% on phones (and dropping) and 1% on tablets (and that consists of firesale and eval units).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Game Over.

          http://winsupersite.com/windows-8/report-windows-8-secures-75-percent-tablet-market

          http://venturebeat.com/2013/05/16/windows-phone-jumps-to-third-in-global-smartphone-market-share-and-could-be-second-faster-than-you-think/

          3.2% global share for Windows Phone - which makes them third above Blackberry - and growing rapidly....

      2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Game Over.

        Microsoft is strongest in the UK for phones - by far - when compared to any other region. Interestingly enough, so is Blackberry. What's more interesting is that you are comparing Microsoft's UK market share to Blackberry's GLOBAL market share to get your numbers.

        You are also spreading utter FUD with your bullshit with your "more powerful and secure OS to tackle it with". This is an outright lie.

        If you compare Windows Phone to ANdroid Froyo or Gingerbread you might have a point. Maybe. On the other hand, Microsoft's market share is so insignificant they aren't a target for malware or hacks. Yet they still fall regularly during any concerted attempt to hack the OS.

        It's just that in the real world nobody gives a bent fuck about Windows Phone so nobody bothers putting effort into compromising it. Should it ever become relevant, it will end up as riddled with compromises as the desktop version. Likely through that festering wound called "Internet Explorer." Just as on the desktop.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Game Over.

          "What's more interesting is that you are comparing Microsoft's UK market share to Blackberry's GLOBAL market share to get your numbers."

          Nope. http://wmpoweruser.com/latest-kantar-numbers-for-june-shows-windows-phone-holding-8-1-of-uk-market-blackberry-still-fading-fast/

  21. Maharg

    Transit Vans

    Using the car analogy, sure I know how to drive, I do a lot of it, but I would not say I have more than a ‘basic’ understanding of how it works, which is the same as the ‘average’ PC user.

    I know the right sequence of actions to perform to make the car move forwards and backwards, and at varying speeds, as well as change its direction, work the lights, radio windscreen wipers, I even know how to change a tyre, as well as a host of other things like changing oil and filling up with fuel to operate it and do so in a safe manner.

    That is the basic knowledge, and that is all I need it to do.

    90% of people who use a computer know how to do the equivalent, as what I described, it is a tool, they need to know how to turn it on, type, use a mouse, construct and send an email, browse the internet, fill in online forms, use Word and Excel, insert a device in and use it to print, scan a photo, store information or play a game or music as well as a host of other things, but they still don’t need to know how it works.

    Trying to convince people not to use Microsoft is like trying to convince me that I should have a Transit van instead of a car, after all in a Transit you sit higher up and see more of the road, there is much more space to store things in the back, the fuel consumption is better, the side mirrors are bigger and you get two on each side so I can see more around me, there is more places to put drinks and the glove box is huge, the engine is bigger and the whole thing is stronger, tougher and al round more useful than a car, hell, even the wheels are bigger! I can’t think of a single thing my car has that is not in a transit.

    Logically we should all be driving transit vans to and from work, so why don’t we? Is it because we are ignorant? Lazy?

    Or is it because for what we need a car is the simplest, most comfortable and for 90% of us a van is just unnecessary?

    1. Roo
      Angel

      Re: Transit Vans

      Poor analogy that misses a rather important point.

      With stuff like Apple/Microsoft UIs there is only so much people can do to clone them before they get their product forcibly removed the market place / fined to penury / jailed. Patents are the electric fences that keeps the herd of users in the pen, ready for slaughter/milking by the vendor.

      You sound like someone turning down a McLaren MP4-12C on the grounds that it doesn't have a stick shift like your beloved Datsun Cherry rust bucket.

      Leaving the pen can be difficult and painful but you will have to eventually because vendors kill products, including your favourites. :)

  22. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Alien

    A message to all commentards

    I find your lack of faith in our future survival and growth disturbing....

    The power of your comments is as nothing compared to the vast size of our cash mountain..

    (signed) Steve Darth Ballmer.

  23. Mr. Peterson

    "the inner layers of Microsoft’s management structure are heavily insulated from criticism"

    hope I live long enough to experience the emergence of the next Alex St. John within MS

  24. Peter Johnston 1

    Community Engagement will never happen while Ballmer's in Charge

    I remember the OS wars with Apple. Apple updated the OS every year or so and charged for the update, dressing it up as a major move forward. Microsoft gave it away for free and took the flak for "another bleeding bug fix". Game to Apple - and a healthy revenue boost too.

    The problem at Microsoft is in the negative customer connection.

    They've never addressed the "We hate Microsoft". Or counteracted the "Think Different" image of boring.

    People don't show off their Microsoft product to their friends. People have no good feelings towards Microsoft. If something goes wrong they assume it is Microsoft's fault. And that they won't help fix it.

    This is reinforced by Ballmer's mindset. He is old fashioned Command and Control personified.

    Microsoft tells us what to do and we don't like that.

    This is important. It turns successes into failures.

    This is the fatal wound. It is bleeding Microsoft to death in the B2C space and increasingly in B2B too.

  25. launcap Silver badge

    It's all in the brand..

    As other have said, Microsoft/Steve B seem obsessed about 'the brand' - hence you get Windows RT (can't run regular Windows stuff), Windows Phone 8 (can't run regular Windows stuff) and regular Windows (15 flavours, prices variable depending on how much Microsoft think they can charge you) which can run some stuff but not others (and in a corporate context have gradually shifted the licensing goals - the result of which is that we are actively thinking of migrating our in-house SQL Server stuff to postgres running under Linux (CentOS 6.4 most likely)).

    The *Brand* ruled everything. And everything had to be tied in to what the Marketing types had assumed would make positive brand associations (ignoring the fact that, for a lot of people, MS Windows isn't a positive brand association at all).

    So you have an artificial tying of everything to the Windows brand, creating confusion and uncertainty. Apple got round that by *not* selling the iPhone as "OS X for Phones" (packaged it as something new even though it shares a good deal with OS X), Google got round it by not selling Android as "Linux for Phones". They both had a clue.

    Microsoft? Not so much.

    1. Mikel

      "Branded"

      This is a movie out recently (2012) that covers this delightfully well. Available on Netflix. IMDB only gives it 2 stars as a sci-fi drama, but as a documentary it is worth more.

  26. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    FAIL

    Where's the Eadon post?

    About Microsoft FAIL FAIL?

    1. Jemma Silver badge

      Re: Where's the Eadon post?

      He was strung up for crimes against commentards, inciting total (flame) war & (constant & deliberate) whining with intent to nauseate. Couldn't happen to a nicer chap..

      Tvtropes would probably call it dropping a Ballmer...

  27. Trokair 1

    Easy

    Bing already has all of my search buisness and they got it fairly easy. They will literally pay you with gift cards to get your searches. Sure, it may take a month or two to add up to the $5 gift card but that is still $5 more than Google has given me. They are both feeding me ads and recording my activity so I should at least get paid a bit for it.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Easy

      Easy.

      Yes, you are.

  28. Mikel

    Why slay his monster?

    As long as he is leading it in circles neither is any danger.

  29. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Sorry folks but we *have* been here before. Repeatedly.

    Yes it might be wounded.

    But once an organization grows beyond a certain size as long as it retains a small core of staff who know WTF they are doing it can persist almost indefinitely despite the rampant stupidity of even Board level management.

    Like "Boris the Blade" in the film "Snatch" they just won't lay down and die.

    Would a MS free world be a better place? Depends if they shredded all the file format details as a final "F**k you" to their customers I think.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Sorry folks but we *have* been here before. Repeatedly.

      And? Novell is still technically a going concern. For that matter Sco is still filing lawsuits.

      Microsoft being "alive" and Microsoft being an unchangeable technology superpower are two totally different things. Microsoft has the option right now, today, to choose between the two paths.

      On the one hand, they onboard someone at an executive level with real authority to make changes and they start down the long road to redemption and customer engagement. It will be bitter, hard and filled with a lot of bile internally...but it would ultimately lead to a massive and incredibly loyal fanbase in all the different communities that are relevant to ongoing operations. In this scenario Microsoft evolves into an unchangeable superpower and retains the status for decades.

      On the other hand they can continue to believe that they can simply dictate how we will use technology, when, where and why. They will alienate quite literally everyone at some point using this strategy and will do nothing to redeem themselves to those they've alienated. This will lead to mass customer exodus as "best of breed technology" is simple "not enough" for more and more people. The empire will slowly crumble into obscurity, though it takes decades to do so.

      Were Microsoft existing in a vacuum then they could cling to their userbase simply out of inertia for another 10 years all the while abusing them rapidly. They wouldn't have to worry about reputation, enmity or the magnification effects of social media because their users simply would have no alternative except to go build their own software.

      Of course, Microsoft doesn't exist in a vacuum. It's competitors are aware of this and they will put significant resources into accelerating the latter scenario. I can think of about a dozen fairly cheap ways to really stick it to Microsoft and do disproportionate amounts of damage. If I can, others can as well.

      Credible alternatives to most Microsoft products exist with more being created each year. The competition doesn't need to become a monopoly and block replace Microsoft to win; they simply need to whittle away market share to the point that Microsoft is no longer dominant. At that point, Microsoft has to compete...

      ...and competing against companies with rapid, loyal communities built around them is really hard when your customers hat the ever-loving shit out of you.

  30. N2 Silver badge

    Unless

    Microsoft realise they can no longer charge top book prices for software that is varying between complete crap & half decent then they are doomed.

    However, I for one wouldn't even notice their fall, to me they are somewhat irrelevant.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Xbox One ..

    I think Microsoft were/are betting a lot on the Xbox One. Once they achieve preeminence in the living room, the rest will follow, One Xbox to rule them all, even if it does take eight cores and three OSes.

    1. Mikel

      Re: The Xbox One ..

      The terrific outlay for a new console may be their undoing. It will rob them of the cash flows they need to support their mobile and online efforts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Xbox One ..

        "The terrific outlay for a new console may be their undoing. It will rob them of the cash flows they need to support their mobile and online efforts."

        Seems unlikely considering the billions they have flowing in from Xbox 360, versus Sony making a loss...

        The Xbox 360 just overtook the Wii to take first place in current generation console sales in the UK!

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: The Xbox One ..

          And the Xbox 360 will be the last time Microsoft sees anything like a decent market share for xbox. After having pissed in the planet's cheerios with the XBone, they won't be repeating that exercise and Sony will be the dominant console for the next era.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The Xbox One ..

            "Sony will be the dominant console for the next era."

            I think you under estimate the power of Kinect + Full TV / Sat / Cable integration + significant cloud computing resources....

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: The Xbox One ..

              Not a whit. I think you underestimate how many people aren't fond of the NSA pedocam - software-only off switch or not - or the insulting "compromises" Microsoft threw out as it tried to halfheartedly backpedal in the face of Sony kicking their ass.

              Additionally: People give way fewer fucks about cable/satellite/etc integration than you seem to think. Oh, and they keep grudges. Why invest in the XBone when Microsoft was hell bent on screwing the public the first time around and shows no sign of changing their tune in the future?

              With the XBone Microsoft can make you an unperson at the flick of a switch, separate you from your entire content library, invalidate years of investment, spy on you and change the terms such that you have to fork over more to get less than the month before.

              Sony can do this too...but there is significantly less reason to believe they would. Selling consumer products - and asking consumers to put their content library investment in your hands - is difficult when your name is "mud." What possible reason would anyone have to have faith in "subscribe now" Microsoft?

              I could go on about why they shouldn't, but I've been there, done that and I really don't feel like bumping your salary any more tonight. (I'm assuming you get paid on a per-shoddy-and-baseless-refutation.) MY piece is spoke, I think the proles are by now immune to "the message."

  32. anaru

    When I picture Ballmer as a monster...

    ...there aren't any legs involved

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The truth is that Microsoft can't keep us all happy."

    The fact is, they seem to be catering to the few, not the many. WP doesn't appeal to the mass market but only a niche one. Surface RT is the same. Windows 8, yep, not a huge success either.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "WP doesn't appeal to the mass market but only a niche one. Surface RT is the same"

      Have you used them? They are significantly better in terms of usability and UI than Android or IOS. I think the appeal is there.

      It's more the app store maturity - and that many people have not seen them yet or are not even aware of them. That's starting to change though - for instance Lumia sales are growing at over 30% a quarter....

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        "Have you used them? They are significantly better in terms of usability and UI than Android or IOS. I think the appeal is there."

        A) That's subjective

        B) You're full of shit. Android is by far the best mobile UI.

        C) 30% of nothing is still nothing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "B) You're full of shit. Android is by far the best mobile UI."

          Android is horribly glitchy and laggy - as to be expected with an OS that requires background garbage collection. Even with 8 cores thrown at it, it can't match the performance and smoothness of Windows phone on 2 cores....Plus the Windows Phone UI is much faster and more intuitive to use.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            The windows phone UI is smoother. You can have that one for free.

            It is not more intuitive. It is actually a sack of dogshit covered in vomit speckled with the brightly coloured pustules of all of humanity's worst diseases. Android's UI is far simpler to user, far more flexible and the operating itself far - far - more open to customization.

            Stock Android roms as provided by the OEMs are generally terrible (though increasingly less so when we're talking about Samsung and HTC.) The Nexus UI is smooth as silk and Cyanogen is better still. (Probably why Samsung hired the dude in charge of Cyanogen.)

            If you compare Windows phone to a $50 ZTE special then yeah, you're going to compare against teh worst that Android has to offer. But when you put flasgship against flagship you're comparing OS/2 warp to Windows 2000, with Android playing the role of Windows 2000. A better app ecosystem, way more flexibility, customisibility, far easier UI and ultimately more user control over the device and the interface.

            Windows Phone - like Metro itself - is a straight jacket restraining the user from doing anything useful or productive except in the very specific ways that the designer thought they should be done. It is an attempt to impose one man's view of how the world should work on 7 billion unique individuals and - fucking shocker - most people don't want anything to do with that.

            To put this in terms that I hope you are capable of understanding:

            Whether it is a phone or a PC, a tablet or a notebook, whether it is a desktop or an embedded device it is my fucking computer and it will do as I say, not the other way around. Microsoft doesn't understand this. That's okay.

            We don't need them any more.

  34. david 12 Bronze badge

    Developers, developers, developers

    I'm adopting the position that it's down to their broken "stack ranking" HR policy:

    http://www.vanityfair.com/business/2012/08/microsoft-lost-mojo-steve-ballmer

    You promote people based on their contempt for co-operation and other developers, and you get a management class with contempt for co-operation and other developers.

  35. HKmk23

    Some peoples heads are so far up their A.......ndroids!

    I only have one question..........have you tried to print anything from your wonderful Android device (without relying on some sort of wireless or remote cloud printing solution)?.....I thought not, because you can't!

    Same goes for IOs unless you have an Airprint facility.

    These non desktop solutions are not computers in the desktop sense they are glorified calculators.

    1. Chemist

      Re: Some peoples heads are so far up their A.......ndroids!

      "These non desktop solutions are not computers in the desktop sense"

      Can't help but agree with that ! ( must be equivalent to a NULL statement )

    2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Some peoples heads are so far up their A.......ndroids!

      Who prints things? Between Docusign and eFax I haven't killed a tree in 8 months.

      Maybe next time you're shambling down the aisle at the grocer's in your walker you can think really hard about how some day we might be able to send pictures down those crazy newfangled telegraph lines. What a rush!

  36. AdamFowler_IT

    Great article - maybe because it matches my views :) But it's a realistic response with real details. Most articles only consider the desktop side of things, and yep that's falling but still huge. Server side, for many companies to move away from Microsoft is just not feasable - and not because of vendor lockin, but having to learn so many different technologies and actually spend the huge amount of time and money to migrate. On top of that, a lot of the specialised 3rd party vendors/companies align themselves with Microsoft technologies - how many Office Suite addons are out there, and how many 3rd parties only officially support Microsoft (or even have their app available on a non-MS OS)?

    Even if Microsoft fall a long way from where they are, their server side of things will go on for a very long time.

    1. Getriebe

      @AdamFowler_IT also there is a significant number of companies such as the one I work for where there is a ton of code developed and refactored over the years that uses the MS Server set up and there is no way we are going to change.

      As a multi billion dollar company we have sway over our customers and our market. Almost whatever Apple/Linux do we will not leave MSFT.

      We have twice stuck a toe in the water and offered some Linux based back ends but as the take up was so insignificant we just gave up.

      We cannot change our technologies which all work rather well unless there is a some huge economic driver – and I can’t see what that is.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Almost whatever Apple/Linux do we will not leave MSFT"

        "Almost whatever Microsoft do we will not leave MSFT" - Fixed

  37. BrentRBrian

    We don't need to chop off anything ....

    Ballmer is doing a FINE job of that already.

  38. Colin Millar
    Facepalm

    Local apps as niche and quaint?

    Oops - best get on with getting all those local machine calibrations and templates set up as a remote service by some dick who doesn't have a clue (or any interest at all - other than grabbing a share of the budget). And if the big expensive piece of hardware running here at this location in these conditions with this history doesn't respond well then its probably broke and needs replacing.

    I know that the IT industry is plagued by people who think that knowledge of the dirty end is completely uneccessary and that the answer is always in the model and not in the actual but you try selling that to someone who makes stuff for a living and you might get a surprise. *aas, cloud, app - marketing and accounting terms which are meaningless in the context of whether the problem is solved. They are frameworks for how you spend your IT budget - not the basis of how you use IT to make things work better.

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Local apps as niche and quaint?

      Bitbashing is already niche. Sorry you missed "USB" and everything that came after that. Have you been introduced to x86 virtualisation? Network virtualisation? Anything in the past 10 years?

      I never said bitbashers were going to evaporate entirely, just that they were going to be rare, (niche!) and probably very expensive. Everything else will be "virtual" and "cloudy" and "as a service." We're already mostly there.

      1. Roo
        Pint

        Re: Local apps as niche and quaint?

        " Everything else will be "virtual" and "cloudy" and "as a service." We're already mostly there."

        In my view you are massively overstating it.

        Not everyone will drink the kool-aid. VMs might be the new "ShinyShiny" in the Wonky World of Wintel but let's be honest here, they are mostly deployed to work around the application packaging & deployment short-comings of the x86 world. They also come at a cost in terms of extra components to the system (more stuff to break), extra skills (to fix the extra stuff) and performance (yeah you personally may not care about it but some folks do care).

        Given the enthusiasm of the folks riding on the VM bandwagon I am a little bit surprised there hasn't been more noise on the MIT Exokernel front, surely binning the OS next natural step for the VM fundamentalistas. :)

        I prefer Beer to Kool-Aid.

  39. kitekrazy

    Ballmer is good for Apple.

    When Microsoft releases something new (W8, XBox) people get pissed. When Apple releases something people want to buy. MS reminds me of the political party you vote for and they go their own way.

  40. N13L5
    FAIL

    Shooting themselves in the foot continuously...

    Quoting the Article: "that Microsoft’s senior management are aware of this and are actively taking steps to compensate."

    And look what they've been doing in their panic! Shooting themselves in the foot continuously...

    Completely forgetting that you have to make products tasty to customers, rather than just dishing them out like slimy soup in a prison, to match their latest monthly twist in corporate strategy.

    Without their actively taken steps of fear and greed, much damage to their finances and brand perception would have been prevented.

  41. Jim 59

    Hipster wet dream

    "..."the cloud" was a joke... [now] everything from management applications to my new thermostat all have a "cloud" component....[in future] "the internet of things" will be utterly dependant on the SaaS cloud, and we'll be looking at entirely local apps as niche and quaint."

    Thanks for that. Meanwhile in the real world, world+dog uses MS on the desktop, Linux in the server room, a full suite of local apps, and businesses large and small continue to dodge the cloud because they like privacy and dislike all the butt-stuff that cloud fluffers want to perform on their data assets.

    I use linux on the desktop.

  42. briesmith

    Monopolies and Remembered Pain

    I'm not a management geek, I've never bought a book at an airport telling me how to take over the world - and manage it - in my life but I have long held to the theory of remembered pain.

    What made me decide this was a piece of management speak that had some truth to it was the fate of IBM. Even at its pomp, through the 70s and 80s, everybody hated IBM. They hated its arrogance, its dominance, its threatening sales behaviour (if you Mr DPM don't buy our stuff when we tell you to we'll tell your bosses you're not up to the job) even while IBM's sales continued to grow.

    But the remembered pain that was being generated would have its day and as soon as any opportunity presented itself that said not buying the IBM solution was the right solution, people in their 1,000s made the move away to alternative technology.

    This is why the author of this piece is so right when he emphasises the community engagement aspect of company success. You annoy, frustrate and disenchant your user base long term at your peril. They will turn and bite you as soon as they can.

    There will be many people just waiting for the day they can ditch WORD simply because Microsoft have annoyed them for years by not fixing the document preview bug. There is a similar number of network admins waiting to out Windows Server because of the pain Microsft caused them in Windows Server 2008 by not recognising 4096 byte disk sector size and the same thing is happening now with Windows 8.

    It is almost impossible ever to get a meaningful response from anyone meaningful in the Microsoft empire when something is clearly wrong and forums all over the place are full of people complaining about something in a Microsoft product that doesn't work and they can't get fixed.

    Why a company the size of Microsoft can't manage this crowd speak to its advantage is beyond me. And it will be their undoing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Monopolies and Remembered Pain

      I think there's a certain maximum size a company can get to before it becomes too big for its own good.

      IBM got to that size, their management became arrogant, the arrogance infected the company culture then that became their undoing.

      I heard somewhere that a manager can reliably be responsible for about 7 people. Beyond that, the manager misses too much of what's going on. This of course does not limit company size, the size can easily grow if the people reporting to that manager are also managing around 7 others.

      As a company grows though, it's harder for information to flow in the organisation. Work becomes less about the business at hand, and more about the towering bureaucracy that's slowly strangling the business from within. Either that, or management becomes blissfully unaware of what's going on beneath them. The company changes from being this sprightly dynamic organisation that quickly reacts to user demand, to a slow lumbering obese Goliath. They develop too much inertia to be able to change direction rapidly.

      Microsoft is now that Goliath. Yes, you can turn a steering wheel of a large truck and attempt to round a sharp corner at high speed, but it's not going to handle like a sports car… it'll skid, it'll slide, and as we've seen with Windows 8, the result is not pretty!

      I think we'd be better off, with separate companies that co-operate, than the current monolithic mess we have now. Half a dozen smaller firms that can react more quickly, be responsive to user demands, better manage the crowd speak. It'd bring each division down to a size where the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.

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