back to article Microsoft buries Sinofsky Era... then jumps on the coffin lid

The path to redemption in 2014 lies not through baptism, but blogging. Former Merrill Lynch dotcom analyst Henry "what a POS*" Blodget agreed to a lifetime ban from the finance industry – but bounced back with a blog. And perhaps one-man wrecking crew Steve Sinofsky, former President of the Windows Division at Microsoft, can …

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  1. Alan Bourke

    A common API is definitely a must.

    Also clarity as regards to the path forward for developers.

    1. Bob Vistakin
      Holmes

      Re: A common API is definitely a must.

      For microsoft, it's also a first.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A common API is definitely a must.

        Windows has always had a common API. It is called Win32. As of today, you can run a Win32 app written 10 years ago in any machine without any issues -except perhaps some DLL hell- Nobody wants to write raw in Win32 nowadays, however.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: A common API is definitely a must.

          But it's hard for Microsoft to do this.

          It's not like they 10,000s programmers, complete control over the critical app and server infrastructure and a common language runtime that insulates the apps from the details of the machine

        2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: A common API is definitely a must.

          > Windows has always had a common API. It is called Win32.

          You are obviously new to this thing called computers. Win32 did not exist on several versions of Windows. It started as Win32s, a limited version, as an add on to Win3.1. It developed in Win95, 98 and ME. A _different_, but almost compatible Win32 was written for NT but it wasn't until XP that the incompatibilities were mostly resolved.

          Windows RT does not have the full Win32 API, it does have a limited subset and probably many incompatibilities.

          > you can run a Win32 app written 10 years ago in any machine without any issues.

          Simply not true for _any_ program. That is why Win7 has 'XP compatibility mode'. Basically an emulation of the WinXP Win32 API because there are differences.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: A common API is definitely a must.

            <<You are obviously new to this thing called computers>>

            Perhaps what is at play here is that I've been longer than you? I can dig my ZxSpectrum and MS-DOS 1.0 installation disks if necessary.

            <<Win32 did not exist on several versions of Windows>>

            Mmmm... I suppose it was pretty hard to write Win32 apps when Win32 did not exist yet. So yes, the word "always" is perhaps not accurate because it should say "since Win32 was created" . I'll take care of saying "I read The Register since the Register was created" instead of saying "I always read The Register" in future communications to you.

            However your nitpicking on the precise wording is surprising considering the generalizations on my comment that you (incorrectly) assume in the rest of your reply.

            << It started as Win32s, a limited version.... >>

            Oh yes, and evolved in a lot of iterations over the years. My point is, whatever you wrote for Win32 following MS guidelines, it will still work with W8 today.

            <<Windows RT does not have the full Win32 API, it does have a limited subset and probably many incompatibilities>>

            Yeah, that's why it is called Windows RT and not Windows version number X . Same with Windows CE, or other variations of Windows. My comment was about Windows, not RT, CE, embedded, etc.

            <<Simply not true for _any_ program. That is why Win7 has 'XP compatibility mode'. Basically an emulation of the WinXP Win32 API because there are differences.>>

            As said above, the point is, will it work or not? You say that is not true, but then explain how W7 has a layer to allow make it happen? So are you saying Win32 apps work or not? For which programs this is not true?

            There are whole categories of software written for a specific version of Windows that don't work on the next one. Off the top of my head: device drivers (if/when MS changes the driver stack) and programs that take advantage of undocumented or undefined API behavior.

            If you have an app making use of undocumented features that doesn't run in the next version of Windows you should address your rant to the app vendor, not to Microsoft Windows. Even for those apps, Microsoft usually (some exceptions applied in the past when they want to took out a competing app off the market) makes very notable -sometimes epic- efforts to be backwards compatible even if it means reproducing undocumented/undefined/plain wrong behavior.

            You see a Win32 app not working from one Window version to the next and blame it on changes in the Win32 API. And that is just __not_true__ . I'd suggest you educate yourself a bit in software development and Win32 history before your next rebuttal. Popping in installation disks and clicking on icons does not tell the whole story behind why something works or doesn't.

            I stand to be corrected: if you wrote an application using the Win32 API, it will still work today. It may not work if the app uses undocumented features, but that is hardly a problem created by "Microsoft not having a stable API" The Win32 API has remained stable since its inception and programs written for it still work.

            1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

              Re: A common API is definitely a must.

              > I can dig my ZxSpectrum and MS-DOS 1.0 installation disks if necessary.

              I can dig out my 1975 Polymorhic and 8inch CP/M disks.

              > Yeah, that's why it is called Windows RT and not Windows version number X . Same with Windows CE, or other variations of Windows. My comment was about Windows, not RT, CE, embedded, etc.

              Windows NT, Windows XP. You seem to be able to claim 'all the ones that you mean', and if it doesn't then 'I didn't mean that'.

              Windows 1.0 _is_ 'Windows'.

              > explain how W7 has a layer to allow make it happen?

              Explain away why it is _needed_.

              > You see a Win32 app not working from one Window version to the next and blame it on changes in the Win32 API. And that is just __not_true__ .

              Many Win32s/95/98 programs did not work correctly on NT because the API implementation was different. Even though the _documentation_ was similar the behaviour was different enough to cause problems. Such as:

              "Windows 95 RegOpenKeyEx Incompatible with Windows NT"

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: A common API is definitely a must.

                Please, Mr. Plinston go back and read the comment before downvoting/commeting again.

                "Windows 1.0 _is_ 'Windows'."

                Again, to reiterate the point, the comment referred to Win32 and it is next to impossible for something to be compatible with Win32 if Win32 did not exist at the time that something was created.

                "Windows 95 RegOpenKeyEx Incompatible with Windows NT"

                Please see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/137202/en-us "This code is incorrect, but it works under Windows 95 because OldKey and NewKey refer to the same key. However, the code fails under Windows NT, because NewKey is not valid after it is closed. "

                So you're using an example of an invalid use of a Win32 function to support your point? Please read again my post, you cannot blame Microsoft for your reliance on an undefined behavior. Thanks for reiterating my point by the way.

                1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

                  Re: A common API is definitely a must.

                  > Please, Mr. Plinston go back and read the comment before downvoting/commeting again.

                  Well I have, and I found that it actually did have:

                  """Windows has always had a common API."""

                  What you are belatedly attempting to do is redefine the word 'always' to exclude anything beyond a dozen years ago or so, and re-invent 'Windows' to only mean the ones that you were thinking of at the time. 'RT' is out, 'XP' is in, 'CE' never happened, and numbers less than 7 or greater than 8 should be ignored. 'Vista' of never should have happened, but that is a different story.

                  > it works under Windows 95 because OldKey and NewKey refer to the same key. However, the code fails under Windows NT, because NewKey is not valid after it is closed. "

                  You failed to continue to the 2nd example. The problem is not that the code was wrong. The problem is that the implementations are different, yet the documentation is the same. What is perfectly correct code under 95 fails on NT.

                  """

                  RegOpenKey(OldKey, NULL, 0, MAXIMUM_ALLOWED, &amp;NewKey)

                  RegCloseKey(OldKey)

                  RegQueryValue(NewKey,...)

                  RegCloseKey(NewKey)

                  This code works under Windows 95 because NewKey is still valid after closing OldKey, but the code fails under Windows NT. Code that is correct for Windows NT (don't close the handle until both OldKey and NewKey are no longer needed) leaks registry handles under Windows 95.

                  """

        3. JEDIDIAH
          Devil

          Re: A common API is definitely a must.

          > Windows has always had a common API. It is called Win32. As of today, you can run a Win32 app written 10 years ago in any machine

          How a bout a Rasberry PI? Where's the version of msword to go with it?

          Talk is cheap. I can recompile stuff for the PI and go on my way. Microsoft seems unwilling or unable and their lack of comittment sets the stage for the rest of the industry.

    2. yossarianuk

      Re: A common API is definitely a must.

      Like Ubuntu is doing.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What we want to know is...

    1) Will the modern UI/TIFKAM/whatever still be there on our non-touch desktops

    2) Will the majority of us still have to install a third party product to make it usable with some form of menu system that we can recognize and understand.

    IMHO, everything else pales into insignificance.

    Now I must get back to important things like figuring out why MSMQ queues are not visible from the Cluster IP address. Yes I know it is a toy compare to other queuing system but that is what the customer wants.

    1. Ragarath

      Re: What we want to know is...

      1) I assume / Hope it will be an option (I actually like it)

      2) Yes if you cannot learn new things.

      1. nexsphil

        Re: Ragarath

        Nice try Sinofsky. Actually, shit try. You sound exactly like a grubby, butthurt astroturfer.

        1. Ragarath

          Re: Ragarath @nexsphil

          And you just sound rude. Do you not see the irony in your post?

      2. Nigel 11

        Re: What we want to know is...

        @Ragarath - can I interest you in a car wirg a square steering wheel, the brake pedal where the accellerator used to be, and the throttle on the dashboard? I assure you, with a little practice it really is possible to drive the thing.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What we want to know is...

          car wirg a square steering wheel, the brake pedal where the accellerator used to be, and the throttle on the dashboard?

          Too late, Apple has already patented that.

          1. Someone Else Silver badge
            Coat

            @AC 16Jan14, 13:29GMT Re: What we want to know is...

            car wirg a square steering wheel, the brake pedal where the accellerator used to be, and the throttle on the dashboard?

            Sounds like a 70's-vintage Peugeot diesel to me....

        2. NumptyScrub

          Re: What we want to know is...

          quote: "@Ragarath - can I interest you in a car wirg a square steering wheel, the brake pedal where the accellerator used to be, and the throttle on the dashboard? I assure you, with a little practice it really is possible to drive the thing."

          I have upgraded your strawman:

          Can I interest you in a car new IDE with a square steering wheel context-sensitive parser, the brake pedal where the accellerator used to be type-casting checks, and the throttle on the dashboard a keyword auto-complete feature? I assure you, with a little practice it really is possible to drive code with the thing.

          Also note: your strawman doesn't take into account that some cars have the controls on the other side of the vehicle (e.g. UK or AU RHD vs US or European LHD models), some manufacturers put the stalks on opposite sides (Uk market RHD vs Japanese market RHD, where indicator and wiper stalks are reversed), and some cars have specifically modified controls (e.g. an accelerator / brake lever on the dashboard and no pedals) to allow differently abled people to drive them. That is also completely ignoring the whole manual vs automatic gearbox thing, which is a whole other debate.

          1. Getriebe

            Re: What we want to know is...

            "quote: "@Ragarath - can I interest you in a car wirg a square steering wheel, the brake pedal where the accellerator used to be, <snip>

            people to drive them. That is also completely ignoring the whole manual vs automatic gearbox thing, which is a whole other debate."

            And of course if you drive dump trucks, bulldozers, back hoes or even Russian trucks, or much much yummier pre WW2 race cars, all of the oddities that the person of very little world experience mentioned.

            I know of a 75year old that can handle a central throttle pedal and get around Oulton better than me - so I guess it's down to free thinking and not wanting it all common.

        3. jgarbo
          Black Helicopters

          Re: What we want to know is...

          You've described almost exactly the Cessna 172 I fly at weekends. Squarish control stick, throttle in the dash, brakes tip-toe on rudder pedals. Then I drive home in a car. No big learning curve.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cessna 172

            Funny, when I read that comment I was sure it was going to have come from Jake...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What we want to know is...

        "2) Yes if you cannot learn new things."

        I learned pointing and swiping when I was one, however, now I have 28 open and active applications spread across seveal monitors and need to work, not watch cat videos.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: What we want to know is...

          So switch to desktop mode. You don't need to see all 28 applications when you're launching a new application. Even in WinXP the start-menu was by definition a modal experience.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What we want to know is...

          What are those 28 applications that you need to use the gui on simultaneously, out of curiosity?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: What we want to know is...

            Currently:

            4 terminals

            10 ssh sessions

            3 kvm sessions

            2 vnc sessions

            2 text editors

            opera

            firefox

            evolution

            calc

            2 java apps

            doc viewer with pdf

            2 caja

            and a spreadsheet i-in open off--ice.

            1. John 172

              Re: What we want to know is...

              No wonder you're so uptight and self appointed, that lot would stress anyone out!

          2. Getriebe

            Re: What we want to know is...

            "What are those 28 applications that you need to use the gui on simultaneously, out of curiosity?"

            Me too!

            That is some mutherfukka multitasking going on there dood (or doodette)

            1. This post has been deleted by its author

        3. Ragarath

          Re: What we want to know is...

          WoW you do more work than me (assuming you don't have some cat videos hidden in there), I have no problem switching windows. How come you do?

      4. Wanda Lust

        Re: What we want to know is...

        Ah, Ragarath, it's a brave man who speaks favourably of Modern UI and its start screen and denigrates the legacy 'Start' menu. You have no care for downvotes.

        @Nigel11: I, too, have used the analogy of the car and its controls many times, however, I don't consider the technology industry is at a place where the steering wheel and the pedals are yet defined.

        As for the idea that its not possible to be creative or productive without a keyboard and a mouse: we were (mostly) all born with fingers to point and touch, pencils (yeah, yeah, and chalk and crayons) were the first tools for recorded communications. The keyboard will probably have its place for a long time but its my experience that pen like stylii are developing fast and should replace the mouse.

        I am surprised that Microsoft is screwing up here, maybe their transition is misplaced and they should've followed a path with less radical desktop OS changes and brought together a merged 'mobile' strategy with RT and WP faster. But, hey, somebody else did it that way.....

        1. John Sanders
          Linux

          Re: What we want to know is...

          """As for the idea that its not possible to be creative or productive without a keyboard and a mouse"""

          You lack the clarity of having produced real content with a computer other than the odd email or comment in a forum.

          I have worked as an IT trooper in the printing industry, engineering, travel, advertisement, law industry, etc.

          Trust me the keyboard and the mouse will still be here for a long long time, the day the day any of those industries do not use a mouse and a keyboard to produce stuff is because either they have been made obsolete, robots have made us obsolete or the more impossible one: we have figured out how to connect our brains to the computer to control it directly.

      5. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: What we want to know is...

        Many people I know used it and learnt it - myself included. I can navigate around Windows 8 from TIFKAM, I can get into the control panel, shut down Windows etc. The problem is that I find TIFKAM to be less usable and less optimal than the Start menu. The Start menu was smaller, quicker and easier to use IMO.

        TIFKAM is like Marmite. Some do admittedly love it, but too many people out there do not like it. Too many for a company like MS with around 90% of the desktop/laptop market to just force it unconditionally onto everyone without creating a backlash.

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: What we want to know is...

          While a lot of the comments around the Win8 UI revolve around the Start Menu, it's more the braindead manner in which it was implemented that was the problem.

          As many people have already noted, the Start Menu in previous versions of Windows was a Modal interface - which for those that don't understand what "modal" means, it basically pops to the front and blocks access to anything else. Modal interfaces are generally modal with respect to either the application (or in tabbed browsers / applications, sometimes per tab) or the operating system (graphical shell). A modal popup within an application will force your attention to that popup window within the application when you try and use the application. A modal popup at the graphical shell level will prevent you from doing anything else in the graphical shell until you've dealt with it...

          Having a full screen modal Start Menu (effectively a Start Screen) or a partial screen modal popup window as the previous versions of Windows had shouldn't make that much difference. The previous incarnation of the Start Menu had serious deficiencies... install more than a few applications and before you know it you're having to navigate scroll lists, nested menus and all kinds of usability horrors. To help with this when Microsoft transitioned away from the "Classic" start menu to whatever the hell they called it in Windows XP, it was possible to pin favourite or commonly used applications, Most Recently Used application documents linked with these and the other most recently used applications were automatically listed while still allowing the user access to the full, nasty, tree of applications if they needed it. One downside of the TIFKAM start menu is that it removes the control that the user had and introduces an (subjectively) ugly and unusable lists of icons in place of the useful things that were in place previously. My main system runs Windows 7 and some of the most application launches I work with are, for example, opening the Start Menu, and selecting a spreadsheet out of the most recently used documents listed by the Excel link that I pinned to the Start Menu. This is far quicker than opening Excel and finding the document by either opening it through the file system or performing the ghastly operation of finding the most recently used document list in Excel and eventually locating the document I wanted. I also have the option, if I had a spreadsheet that I used all the time, of pinning common spreadsheets so they don't fall out of the Most Recently Used list (it's also possible to pin a document link directly in the Start Menu, but it's not simple: http://blogs.technet.com/b/deploymentguys/archive/2009/04/08/pin-items-to-the-start-menu-or-windows-7-taskbar-via-script.aspx has the details).

          The (short) point of it is that the new Start Menu removes the functions that were steadily added that made the older Start Menu actually useful. As a result the Windows 8.1 Start Menu is a huge step backwards in usability and, while it can be customised, it can't be customised enough to replace the useful functionality lost and to make the interface itself actually usable on a non-touchscreen device.

          ...and that's just the content of the Start Menu / Screen. There are many other very serious user interface (user experience) deficiencies in Windows 8.1

          1. Pookietoo
            Windows

            Re: full, nasty, tree of applications

            Hey, I like those deeply-nested menus. I agree with the rest though. :-)

          2. weathertop

            Re: What we want to know is...

            If only there was a way to customize the organization of your Win 8 native start menu to allow you to quickly launch your most frequent programs. Oh wait, there is...

            And if only there was a way to access programs you don't frequently access by simply typing the name of the program. Oh wait, there is...

            Click for click, navigating the new UI is not difficult. It is actually a lot more streamlined.

            But we are talking about learning and adapting, something that a vast majority of the population seems to have great difficulty with. "Must... learn... new... things! BAAAH! Just give my some damn Crayolas! I've been using them since I was two! They're good enough for writing this check or completing this form!"

            "Sir, blue or black ink please."

            "But, but, PEN! NEW! BRAIN! DOES NOT WORK! Crayon work fine! See, it write!"

            "Sir, here is a pen."

            "See, it doesn't write. Crayon does."

            "You have to click the button to expose the ball point."

            "Butt.. button... button? Crayon no had button."

            I tend to think this was part of the shift from command lines to GUI.

            "You mean I have to click here, here, and here to launch that program, I can't just type "run myfavoriteprogram.exe? BALDERDASH! I'm taking my baud modem and going HOME!"

            "You can put a shortcu..."

            "I SAID HOME! CRAYON! WAAAH!"

            1. asdf Silver badge

              Re: What we want to know is...

              >But we are talking about learning and adapting, something that a vast majority of the population seems to have great difficulty with

              People don't want to learn and adapt to a solution that is not considered better by the majority of the market. Also Enterprise has to spend money to get employees to learn and adapt and again unless it increases productivity they aren't going to. As the article correctly points out Win8 has been a lead balloon in the enterprise. Face it all the butthurt in the world isn't going to save Win8 or Metro. The market has spoken.

            2. Pat 4

              Re: What we want to know is...

              The very SECOND you start making fun of very legitimate user complaints about a new UI by just responding " Well ALL you have to do is LEARN something new!" Or "Well I guess your not smart enough to learn it because I've done it, and it's SOOO easy..."

              You have :

              1: Lost the argument COMPLETELY because people do not give a crap how easy YOU think it is.

              2: Become a complete douchebag because seriously... you're not that special, or smart, or better than everyone else.

              Nuff'said.

          3. This post has been deleted by its author

            1. Piro

              Re: What we want to know is...

              Ohh! You mean 9x style. Not 9.x.

              I honestly didn't know what you meant first read through.

        2. Decade
          WTF?

          Re: What we want to know is...

          Quote:

          TIFKAM is like Marmite. Some do admittedly love it, but too many people out there do not like it. Too many for a company like MS with around 90% of the desktop/laptop market to just force it unconditionally onto everyone without creating a backlash.

          And many people do not like the Start menu. It seems like a major waste of space, to have the entire screen in front of you, and you have to scurry into the corner to reach important controls. People are just used to the Start menu, because the Start menu was the main interface since 1995.

          Note, I rarely use the Start button. I vastly prefer to use the keyboard to open the Start menu/screen.

    2. Spearchucker Jones

      @AC - Re: What we want to know is...

      All queuing systems are toys - expensive, unnecessary toys: http://www.infoq.com/articles/no-reliable-messaging

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @AC - What we want to know is...

        While I don't agree with the first line of your post - "All queuing systems are toys - expensive, unnecessary toys: " - the linked article is excellent, and my own experience bears out everything the author says - in context.

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: @AC - What we want to know is...

        Oh deep joy. That link points to the clusterf*k that is a pure webservices solution. That just don't hack it in the real world.

        A decent queuing system offers stuff that webservices fans can only dream about.

        I totally agree with the original post that things like MSMQ is a toy when it comes to proper reliable queuing systems. Even a pure JMS solution is better than MSMQ.

        1. Roo

          @ Steve Davies 3 ~ 2014-01-16 13:22 GMT

          "Oh deep joy. That link points to the clusterf*k that is a pure webservices solution. That just don't hack it in the real world."

          The webservices aspect is tangential to the the main point the guy is making, ie: that you don't need reliable messaging and it doesn't actually help you because you really need to handle duplicate messages and non-delivery at the business layer to make sure the system behaves reliably.

          I was using the design principles outlined in that article before webservices were invented, so there is nothing stopping you from applying the same design principles to raw sockets, pipes, WCF, RabbitMQ or whatever else you want.

          FWIW I haven't seen a system built on a discrete "reliable messaging" layer that is actually reliable and fails safely. They usually choke on restart, run out of storage or deadlock if comms are stalled for a significant length of time. :(

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: @ Steve Davies 3 ~ 2014-01-16 13:22 GMT @Roo ~ 2014-01-16 19:21 GMT

            Whilst I large agree with the points being made, it is obvious the guy who wrote the article was confusing 'reliable messaging' with no loss of messages and 'guaranteed delivery and notification'.

            Everyone who passes a 'message' assumes the service to be 'reliable' - namely it will take the message and will try and deliver it to the correct recipient applications/systems and inform you if it succeeds, fails or doesn't know. The problems arise when things go wrong and how both the messaging service and the source and destination applications handle both the initial failure and then the subsequent escalated failure (eg. messaging system running out of storage).

            By the way back in the 90's I built a system with a 'reliable messaging' layer for handling international financial transactions and reporting. However the 'guaranteed delivery' component was achieved through an escalation process that culminated in an engineer visiting the site, downloading the message store on to portable media and couriering it back to the UK hub for processing...

    3. Bod

      Re: What we want to know is...

      While the Metro 'Start' may not be great, I've never quite got the love for the old Start menu. It's always been annoying deeply nested method of finding the apps you want to launch and much of it is grouped by vendor named folders which means you have to try to remember who made the app you're trying to find. That and if your mouse drifts off by a few pixels the sub menu disappears.

      Then you end up pinning things you want to find to the root of the menu or in modern versions to the start bar, along with sticking thousands of shortcuts all over the desktop in a right mess.

      I'm unsure about Metro Start but playing with a bit more I see it simply as a launcher much like iThings and Android. Also having found all the menu items are still there and can be dragged about into the main menu as you like, it's quite flexible, and it keeps the desktop from being cluttered.

      Okay you have to click/tap into it which brings up the menu full screen to launch something. But then most of us probably have to close a dozen windows to expose the desktop to launch various apps anyway.

      I'm a bit Meh about the whole thing. Only thing is yes Microsoft should have offered the classic menu for the luddites, who I admit are most of us. If it asked on first run if you wanted the classic experience and gave you the desktop with old Start, then few would be complaining. What you've got not is not far off, just lacking the old Start menu... which you can get 3rd party apps for.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Using Sinofsky As A Scapegoat

    We all know who the real fools were in all this calamity for allowing an inmate to take over the asylum, the MS board. In a state of panic about the opposition they allowed a very questionable strategy and execution plan to be put into action that has resulted in a very costly series of mistakes.

    Vista should have a new OS entirely written from the ground up that didn't worry about backward compatibility whilst addressing some of the fundamental issues of the underlying architecture and was designed to use the latest hardware features of the time as a minimum. Sadly a missed opportunity for MS to have completely re-written Windows which I don't think will come around again.

    Maybe W8 should have been Vista but it's too little too late.

    1. Jonathan 29

      Re: Using Sinofsky As A Scapegoat

      I always thought that a major rewrite was one of the goals of Longhorn with WinFS, but ultimately they couldn't keep postponing the release and had to scrap the whole project.

      In parallel universe Bill Gates was forced by this failure to leave Microsoft. He formed a new company where he rediscovered his passion for building software and developed WinFS into a fully functional OS. Microsoft ended up buying this company and Bill Gates returned as CEO, successfully incorporating WinFS into all future Windows releases to much acclaim and success.

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Using Sinofsky As A Scapegoat

      Exactly, perhaps. As I remember Gates was very much for one Windows for every device. To think that Sinofsky did something without support from Ballmer and Gates does not sound believable. Who knows, perhaps he just did what he was asked to do (and hated it).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Using Sinofsky As A Scapegoat

        ... and in principle there is nothing wrong with that goal, and from their business point of view it seems to make sense. They just made a mess of execution - the devil was in the detail for both.

        I don't agree with the point that they should have started with "a new OS". In general people were happy with the old OS (it was faster than the old one, more stable than ever before, finally fixed their driver model, and generally worked). Not liking a few aspects of the UI is not a reason to bin the whole operating system ...

        What it needed was continued incremental improvement on performance, memory, and stability, with _optional_ compatibility with RT/Phone, not a whole sale crammed down your face for compatibility when it wasn't actually compatible at all ...

    3. Chris T Almighty

      Re: Using Sinofsky As A Scapegoat

      He was Head of the Windows division, and he produced a loathed version of Windows. It's pretty hard to argue he's a Scapegoat.

  4. James 51 Silver badge

    defunct PlayBook

    I've got two and they work rather well. Never needed an app and I wasn't able to find one that did what I needed. There's a steady stream of android conversions too. Not as nice as native apps as they don't use swipe but you can't have everything.

    1. jason 7

      Re: defunct PlayBook

      My 64GB Playbook still does sterling work as a media player on the go. Just stripped it down to the bare essentials and thats it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: defunct PlayBook

        I have a suspicion that there will still be Playbooks in use when the last RT tablet is a doorstop. A bit heavy but a nice form factor and 64G of flash. I've given mine to someone who now uses it a lot, only to discover that there isn't a good 7 inch Android with the same capacity that is cheap enough to use as a media player/ebook reader.

        1. jason 7

          Re: defunct PlayBook

          Well essentially you got a premium built tablet for £130 (well thats what I paid for mine) and compared to a lot of tablets you can buy today, it really shows the difference. It's not a penny pinching design.

          The audio quality from the Playbook is one of the best I've experienced.

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: defunct PlayBook

            It said it all when a colleague brought an RT tablet in because they couldnt install "microsoft silverlight" on it for their sky TV viewer. Funnily enough there wasnt an RT silverlight app. Says something when your supposedly flagship new tablet range cannot even install something as simple as a viewer.

            RT was a disaster. 8.1 was a disaster - they had a chance to fix the ill's of 8 metro force fed to people.

  5. Stanislaw
    WTF?

    What were they thinking?

    The whole Windows 8 adventure thoroughly perplexes me.

    We all love touchscreens on our mobile devices cos they're great for the odd email or a bit of web browsing. Nobody (who's sane) expects to do much serious work on these devices. So why on Earth MS thought we'd all like to do our word processing, spreadsheets, computational fluid dynamics and so on through a touchscreen is entirely beyond me.

    But then I'm not a highly trained, highly paid, top exec in the software industry. Just a guy who uses a PC every day.

    1. Def Silver badge

      Re: What were they thinking?

      I bought my girlfriend a Surface Pro 2 with a Type Cover 2 keyboard/cover combination for Christmas. It replaced her slow, old, heavy (about 1.5kg) Eeepc that she used for working on the train in the mornings. I looked at all of the Ultrabooks currently on the market and they were all either too large or too heavy (she was always complaining about the extra weight in her bag).

      The Surface was pretty much the only sub-1kg Windows machine I could find - real Windows 8.1, not RT. With the keyboard built into the cover, it's as good as a laptop, and she loves it.

      The interesting thing I've noticed though is when working on it she does actually use the touch screen quite a lot. It's a lot more convenient to scroll through an email by dragging it instead of using the cursor keys or clicking/dragging the scrollbar with the track pad (which, let's be honest, always have been a pain to use anyway)., and she will usually just tap on dialog buttons, etc instead of dragging the mouse cursor over.

      Obviously I can't see myself sitting pointing at the screen on my desk, but then mice are much more convenient than any alternative found on a laptop.

      1. ColonelClaw
        Joke

        Re: What were they thinking?

        You mean ex-girlfriend?

        1. Def Silver badge

          Re: You mean ex-girlfriend?

          Well played, sir. Well played.

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: You mean ex-girlfriend?

            We have a couple of dell venue pro 11s here at work for evaluation. They sit in their docking cradles most of the time (plugged into a normal keyboard, mouse and LAN). People do "hybrid" with mouse, keyboard and touchscreen but then again I think that is because W8 is infuriating at the best of times to do certain things. Not a single person has come to me asking if they can have a touch screen for their desktop (or laptop).

      2. John Sanders
        Devil

        Re: What were they thinking?

        """The interesting thing I've noticed though is when working on it she does actually use the touch screen quite a lot."""

        That's just because the whole thing is impractical with that crappy keyboard, specially if while in the train you do not have a table to put the laptop on top.

        1. Def Silver badge

          Re: What were they thinking?

          ...with that crappy keyboard...

          To be honest, I'm quite impressed with the keyboard. The weakest part of it is the lack of real buttons on the track pad - something of a design flaw given that the keys on the actual keyboard are real.

  6. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Windows "Threshold"?

    So no doors or backdoors then?

  7. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Don't forget W12K

    Don't forget that Windows Server 2012 has that abominable user interface too. Can we expect a service pack to replace that crap?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Don't forget W12K

      You're supposed to use the command-line like a man!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @JDX - Re: Don't forget W12K

        I see you stopped short of saying "like a Unix man".

    2. IglooDude

      Re: Don't forget W12K

      Indeed. I still can't fathom how that made it through any design meetings.

    3. Hans 1 Silver badge

      Re: Don't forget W12K

      >Don't forget that Windows Server 2012 has that abominable user interface too. Can we expect a service pack to replace that crap?

      What, you are using W12k ? At gunpoint, obviously ... otherwise you are a cretin !

      1. Kunari

        Re: Don't forget W12K

        By gunpoint. The next version of our ERP software --which we have in testing server now-- requires Server 2012. Once I installed Classic Shell on it it's not bad at all.

    4. Piro

      Re: Don't forget W12K

      Install classic shell so you don't feel like ending your life in a windowed rdp session.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back in the real world

    The world has moved on from the PC, and it's now an Android, iOS and Chromebook world that Microsoft have no place in.

    The only thing I don't understand, is where is the Microsoft shareholder exodus? They must surely also see this, or do they believe the Microsoft hype.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Back in the real world

      To some extent. But there is still a need for PCs for a large number of jobs. For example CAD, mathematical analysis, design and photography as well as many others.

      I'm an IT technician, for my sins, and I'd much rather work with a full size keyboard and screen.

      1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

        Re: Back in the real world

        Quite! Software engineering on a mobile device? You're 'avin' a giraffe.

        1. P. Lee Silver badge

          Re: Back in the real world

          QA on software for a mobile device? You're 'avin' a giraffe.

          FIFY

          S-J, S-J, how many patches have ya' sent today?

          ... on a mobile device.

          (I know, but there's a historic reference in there too)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Back in the real world

        There is indeed a need for heavy duty desktop and laptop computers for many jobs, but as far as I can see none of them benefit in any way whatsoever from the Metro/Mod/TIFKAM UI. Just adding a second monitor makes it look silly, and who doing any of the jobs you describe doesn't benefit from at least two monitors?

        Microsoft's foot shooting is to make it look as if OS X is the obvious go to for professional users. To use my favourite (car) analogy, it's as if Porsche brought out a 911 which had a pink paint job, nodding dog in the back window, and started up by default in a Fiat 500 driving mode.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Back in the real world

      Really - how many PC's in your office have been replaced by Chromebooks, Ipads or mobiles?

      None? thought so. With the exception of the chromebook which is essentially a discounted Netbook/Ultrabook with an ad supported OS all of them are complementary devices to the PC rather than replacements.

      In the consumer world they are Replacements - not in the enterprise.

      Ironically MS have probably exacerbated a temporary slump in PC demand by producing such an abortion of a product.

    3. dogged

      Re: Back in the real world

      Chromebooks? Seriously?

      The only technology in the last five years to be substantially less picked-up than Windows 8 and even running below Windows Phone in terms of popularity? Chromebooks are your great hope?

      You shouldn't have posted AC. Then you could use the "joke" icon.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Back in the real world

        You realise Chromebooks easily outsell Windows 8 laptops right:?

      2. Longtemps, je me suis couche de bonne heure

        Re: Back in the real world

        You are terribly out of date - the top laptop bestseller on Amazon has been a Chromebook for the last 8 months. And over Christmas, the top two best sellers were Chromebooks. You may say these are consumer purchases so they don't count. But alas, the NPD data for the first 11 months of 2013 about commercial and government laptop sales in the USA indicates that Chromebooks have 20% of that segment, too, and by inference 10% of the commercial/govt PC market in the USA.

        I cannot help thinking you may be yet another minion of the dark lord, Steve Baldemort...who always seem to come out in droves when Chromebooks are mentioned. Why would that be, I wonder?

        1. commonsense

          Re: Back in the real world

          "You are terribly out of date - the top laptop bestseller on Amazon has been a Chromebook for the last 8 months. And over Christmas, the top two best sellers were Chromebooks."

          As it stands, I have no idea whether Chromebooks outsell Windows laptops, but just because the top seller is a Chromebook, it doesn't mean Chromebooks outsell Windows laptops.

    4. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Back in the real world

        I suppose I could use another profile to upvote you twice, but I hope a virtual 2nd upvote will be satisfactory.

    5. cyborg

      Re: Back in the real world

      Toys. Work. Disability.

  9. Terry 6 Silver badge

    The real question though.....

    ...is whether Microsoft will ever get back to the point where they provide users with what they need to get on with their jobs effeciently.

    Users buy stuff that helps them do their work.

    Win 8 was designed to make users change the way they worked despite the fact that they had no need or wish to.

    Even the cursed Ribbon didn't do that.

  10. CADmonkey

    Steve's Engineering Windows Blog

    I messaged Steve a few times with concerns, ideas etc. He actually sent me some personal replies!

    The f**ker must have been DESPERATE!

  11. K Silver badge

    I'm not a fan of Sinofsky

    But you are effectively laying the whole blame for this at his feet, he may have been the man-with-the-plan, but Balmer and other Senior Execs at Microsoft need their share of the blame. After all the whole point of having a Management Team is so that it checks and balances it self out.

    1. jason 7

      Re: I'm not a fan of Sinofsky

      Trouble is there is a hands off approach when you bring in some industry wunder-kid hotshot.

      "Don't embarrass him Mr Ballmer, we can't afford to lose him!"

      1. K Silver badge

        Re: I'm not a fan of Sinofsky

        Yes indeed.. I know of 2 current occurrences of this at my current company.

    2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: I'm not a fan of Sinofsky

      I agree 100 per cent. The buck stops with the Management Team.

    3. Vociferous

      Re: I'm not a fan of Sinofsky

      > you are effectively laying the whole blame for this at his feet, he may have been the man-with-the-plan, but Balmer and other Senior Execs at Microsoft need their share of the blame

      Sinofsky had Ballmer's full support. Anyone who spoke out against Metro was simply shown the door.

  12. regadpellagru

    OEMs lack of innovation

    "And it’s also fair to say the decline of the PC market isn’t entirely Sinofsky’s fault. As HP’s Eric Cador pointed out, the OEMs were not innovating."

    Couldn't agree more, here. It's been, what, 8-10 years every single PC laptop is exactly the same as the next with:

    - unusable touchpad, clicking everywhere on its own unless you disable the press/click explicitly

    - same connectors, only differentiated by speed (USB1/2/3), numbers and position

    - same buttons for sound volume

    - same inability to go suspend and resume properly

    - same 3 screens size: 13 15 and 17 inches

    - same "die the 14th month" battery, just after guaranty end

    - same CD/DVD player in a slack drawer, that ejects the CD/DVD or the full drawer anytime you press the button

    It's not been a surprise someone with a brain (Apple) came with an innovative touchpad one day. And with a magnet-attached connector for power, to avoid your running kids throw your precious laptop to the ground.

    "The current strategy for mobile devices is to gradually bring RT and Windows Phone to a common API and binary compatibility – just not overnight."

    Makes sense, but it's already dead, Jim.

    1. jason 7

      Re: OEMs lack of innovation

      Yes indeed, try to find anything vaguely interesting below £700 in the PC/laptop world is hard work.

      I do however, wish a plague upon the folks at Oberon Media for wasting so many man hours removing their crap from laptop after laptop.

    2. Shades
      WTF?

      Re: OEMs lack of innovation

      "unusable touchpad, clicking everywhere on its own unless you disable the press/click explicitly"
      Never had this problem on any laptop. Ever. Perhaps you've got massive, clumsy, sausage fingers?
      "same connectors, only differentiated by speed (USB1/2/3), numbers and position"
      What a bunch of b*stards! Fancy including prolific connections which caters for pretty much everything you can plug into a computer these days and upgrading them when upgrades become available. We should all still be using RF modulators, serial and parallel ports, and IDE drives.
      "same buttons for sound volume"
      I often lament that there isn't a myriad of buttons to perform the functions of turning something up and down. Why don't laptops come with a wheel/knob attached to a pot, or provide 100 buttons (0-100) to control volume? Now that would be innovative!
      "same inability to go suspend and resume properly"
      What the f*ck are you smoking?
      "same 3 screens size: 13 15 and 17 inches"
      Yeah, absolutely. Imagine a world where laptops have been produced with 9, 10.1, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 19 inch screens? It would be chaos, fortunately its never going to happen.
      "same "die the 14th month" battery, just after guaranty end"
      You should live where I do, we have battery fairies here. The battery in my NC10 is still working 6 years after I purchased it. Must be those fairies. Although I do wish they'd replace each one with a battery of the same capacity instead of steadily reducing it each time its replaced. It now only lasts 3 hours instead of the original 8.
      "same CD/DVD player in a slack drawer, that ejects the CD/DVD or the full drawer anytime you press the button"
      Couldn't agree more. It preposterous that a button that is pressed performs the function for which it was intended. What we should have are CD/DVD drives that are accessible by having the keyboard hinged and the CD/DVD disc pops in under there. At the very least, if using buttons to perform the function, there should be a prompt that appears on screen asking you if you'd like to eject, then another asking you if you're sure, then the drive pops open and then closes itself because its not actually sure you were sure you were sure.

      1. Newt_Othis

        Re: OEMs lack of innovation

        "What we should have are CD/DVD drives that are accessible by having the keyboard hinged and the CD/DVD disc pops in under there."

        I vaguely remember a laptop that had just such a feature. It was motorised and took a satisfying amount of whirring and clicking before the CD popped out. As a young lad, fresh to IT, I thought it was the mutts nuts.

        1. Shades

          Re: OEMs lack of innovation

          @Newt_Othis: Actually, I must confess, I did think to myself, while I was typing it, that a hinged keyboard with a CD/DVD drive hidden underneath would be pretty cool.

    3. gerryg

      Re: OEMs lack of innovation

      OK, fair enough but while you're going large on Apple perhaps you might want to mention proprietary connectors, arbitrary changes in interconnect, hardware designed to lock out cheaper third party alternatives, lack of interoperability, blah blah

      If that's innovation I'll leave the fruits of it to others

      1. regadpellagru

        Re: OEMs lack of innovation

        @gerryg,

        Well, yes, we'll have to agree Apple are indeed going the proprietary way for more or less everything, which indeed means they're going to charge. Big time.

        My point is this is happening because of lack of innovation from PC OEMs.

        No OEM innovation = someone else innovation and big margin ...

    4. James O'Shea Silver badge

      Re: OEMs lack of innovation

      Hmmm...

      "- unusable touchpad, clicking everywhere on its own unless you disable the press/click explicitly"

      I don't much care for the touchpad on my Asus, but it's not unusable. When for some reason it's too much like work to dig out the cheap wireless mouse I got for it, I can function almost adequately with the touchpad.

      "- same connectors, only differentiated by speed (USB1/2/3), numbers and position"

      That, I'll agree with.

      "- same buttons for sound volume"

      and that

      "- same inability to go suspend and resume properly"

      Errm... what are you on about? My Asus does this very well indeed.

      "- same 3 screens size: 13 15 and 17 inches"

      Errm... 15.6". Same idiotic resolution, that I'll give you.

      "- same "die the 14th month" battery, just after guaranty end"

      Errm, again, what are you on about? My old Toshiba's battery lasted three years; the replacement battery is still running after three years. (I handed the Toshiba off to a relative who needed a cheap, but not very high-end, laptop. Works for him...) My Asus battery is still running fine, two years on. Now, my bloody Samsung t159 flip-phone, that's gone through two batteries in 18 months. Bloody Samsung. Yo! LG! What do you have in a nice cheap flip-phone format and how long do your batteries last?

      "- same CD/DVD player in a slack drawer, that ejects the CD/DVD or the full drawer anytime you press the button"

      Errm.. My problem with the Asus' optical drive is that the damn thing _doesn't_ want to eject the damn CD/DVD unless you exert sufficient force that the Asus' plastic case starts to flex.

      1. regadpellagru

        Re: OEMs lack of innovation

        > "- same inability to go suspend and resume properly"

        > Errm... what are you on about? My Asus does this very well indeed.

        Lucky you, I have yet to meet a laptop with Windows and this working without hours of tweaking ...

        > "- same 3 screens size: 13 15 and 17 inches"

        > Errm... 15.6". Same idiotic resolution, that I'll give you.

        The point was on lack of innovation.

        > "- same "die the 14th month" battery, just after guaranty end"

        > Errm, again, what are you on about? My old Toshiba's battery lasted three years; the replacement battery is still running after three years. (I handed the Toshiba off to a relative who needed a cheap, but not very high-end, laptop. Works for him...) My Asus battery is still running fine, two years on. Now, my bloody Samsung t159 flip-phone, that's gone through two batteries in 18 months. Bloody Samsung. Yo! LG! What do you have in a nice cheap flip-phone format and how long do your batteries last?

        Possibly you are on old stuff that was still working ... My 3 years old Dell laptop battery has been dead with no charge since more than one year ... Good thing is I never paid for this crap, my employer did ... I have yet to see any recent laptop with a 3 years old battery still kind of working ...

    5. Arbuthnot Darjeeling

      Re: gradually bring RT and Windows Phone ...(together)

      great idea.

      but given RT was a new product, why make RT and winphone different in the first place?

      Android on a tablet is android on a phone amirite?

      1. Vociferous

        Re: gradually bring RT and Windows Phone ...(together)

        > but given RT was a new product, why make RT and winphone different in the first place?

        Allegedly territorial turf-wars within Microsoft.The version I heard put the blame on the Windows Phone group, that they wanted to go their own way and not be bogged down with RT, but I'm pretty sure that's bunk. (Then again, these are the same drug addled people who thought forcing users to interface with their phone via the Zune media player was a good idea, so who knows.)

    6. John Sanders
      Trollface

      Re: OEMs lack of innovation

      """It's not been a surprise someone with a brain (Apple) came with an innovative touchpad one day. And with a magnet-attached connector for power, to avoid your running kids throw your precious laptop to the ground."""

      They also invented round corners and do not forget they patented it all out so no one else could use it.

    7. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: OEMs lack of innovation

      ... and still no-one can bring themselves to add an ARM chip to a laptop with a little switch to flick the screen and keyboard/mouse between android and whatever is running on the x86 system.

      Oi, Google, if you want people to use your cloud, allow them to migrate, don't force them to choose. Look how well that went for MS and W8. Android on a pcmcia card or whatever the kids are using these days.

      Ah wait.. people don't want expandability any more, do they?

  13. Schultz

    Sinner

    I personally consider the Office Ribbon a greater sin than all the Win8 shenanigans. Most Win8 shortcomings were easily fixed with third-party software. But the lock-in to upgrade office seems to be stronger than that to upgrade the OS, so MS is getting away with it for now.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Sinner

      It's been like 7 years. Get over it already.

      1. Pookietoo

        Re: Get over it already.

        So is it somehow less bad now than it was back then?

    2. John Sanders

      Re: Sinner

      Me personally I'm waiting for the Office 365 fallout.

    3. Charles Manning

      Re: Sinner

      But the Office Ribbon is also sorted out by 3rd party software.... openoffice.org

    4. Vociferous

      Re: Sinner

      > Office Ribbon a greater sin than all the Win8 shenanigans

      A sin yes, greater no. Ribbon is a misfeature, but not as bad as being forced to only have one window open, having crap pseudo-randomly pop up on screen because the pointer strayed, or having to hunt for settings only to realize that they no longer exist.

  14. jason 7

    One thing to learn.

    Don't employ multi-millionaire playboy Execs on golden win/win contracts.

    Adopts Mugatu look, "He's so hot right now!"

    MS had two in quick succession with Sinofsky and Mattrick. Both nearly killed important parts of the business but both left laughing all the way to the bank.

    They had nothing to lose so where is the pressure to deliver the right product?

    Give those important roles to people within the business who have a real passion for the product and have something to lose if they screw up.

  15. Carpetsmoker
    Stop

    Desktop sales go down, tables sales go up, and eventually a new equilibrium will be reached. Tada! I'm a business genius. I should buy a suit.

  16. JDX Gold badge

    Sinofsky’s logic was that this would brute-force...

    The "we know best and we're going to force it on you" approach is not fundamentally bad, and even if you're wrong, can succeed if you really do force people to get over the changes so they can get on with things. Ribbon is a good example of that; some people hated the thing until they were forced to use it and then decided it was great, others hated it but had no choice but to learn it and then get on with doing some work... mission accomplished for MS (before someone says "OO was an option", it wasn't an option for the masses).

    But if you're going to ram something down users' throats which is a big change, you can't at the same time make it confusing what the change IS, and that's the problem with W8. A clear vision, even one which wasn't very good, could have been pushed through and accepted after initial griping - regardless if it should work that way, it can - but a messy vision like W8/RT meant nobody even wanted to try.

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Sinofsky’s logic was that this would brute-force...

      'The "we know best and we're going to force it on you" approach IS fundamentally bad, always, period.' - there, I fixed it for you.

      1. Hans 1 Silver badge

        @ DropBear Re: Sinofsky’s logic was that this would brute-force...

        It is bad when the bunch of tasteless copy-pasters over at Redmond do it ... when some Cupertino company does this with touch devices with rounded corners, a totally new design for a phone (that everybody copies since) and FAR LESS FEATURES, apparently, according to most punters, it is ok ...

        LOL

      2. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: Sinofsky’s logic was that this would brute-force...

        ... but you look so cool when you get it right!

        The real issue was that W7 upgrades were still going on and W7 has a better UI. No desire for an upgrade can be ground down over time, no budget for an unwanted upgrade is fatal.

        If W8 had come after XP, it would probably have done well despite itself.

  17. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    A more appropriate redemption path

    "The path to redemption in 2014 lies not through baptism, but blogging"

    In the case of windows 8 I'm sure blogging begins with an f

  18. Jess

    2) Yes if you cannot learn new things.

    I can learn new things, but if they are inferior, I want to be able to revert.

    'modern' (if modern is the poorest end of the choice in 1990) interface is bloody awful. Things jumping to full screen is horrible.

    Example. click on a music file.

    Result - a black screen with a triangle in the middle. (fine on a touchscreen that can be held in one hand.)

    The last time I remember behavior like that would be on a 386 running GEM in the early 90s, but in that case it was a step forward from running everything full screen.

    All this metro stuff would be fine if it worked in a window on the desktop. (Even DOS apps could do that on a windows desktop back in the early 90s)

    It would be such an easy design fix.

    Microsoft deserve all the lost sales (more even) by being so stupid.

    Requiring 3rd party apps to make a NEW system as usable as the old one, then blackmailing people into migration; not acceptable.

    (I use the term blackmail, because fixing decades old bugs in newer versions, and not XP is little else.)

  19. Blarkon

    Henry Ford

    It's not about listening. As Henry Ford said, if you asked customers what they want, they would have replied "a faster horse". If you want to be innovative, you have to accept that you will fail occasionally.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Henry Ford

      I don't think that's a very good example. If the customer says "a faster horse" you ask why, or what it will be used for. Marketing is partly about understanding that customers either are not very good at articulating what they want, or can only explain it in terms of familiar things. The trick is to find out what they are really looking for, implementing it and then telling them.

      If someone was asked what they wanted from Windows and said "to work the same on a computer and a phone" (which I very much doubt) the next questions are why, and how. The solution is not to jump to the answer of "OK we'll do that by adding the phone interface to the desktop."

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Henry Ford

      But Ford did at least improve on the horse.

      Microsoft have ignored the "faster horse" request and instead replaced it with a slower zebra where you have to press all the stripes to find the one to make the horse go.

    3. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: Henry Ford

      Interestingly enough that's also what Eugene Pinklewhicker said when demonstrating his steam powered trousers. Unfortunately, for every Ford there's a thousand Pinklewhickers.

  20. Chemist

    "entirely new Windows"

    Wish I'd had £1 for every time I'd heard that before - I could have bought my own supercomputer by now !

  21. IGnatius T Foobar
    FAIL

    I think I'll skip Windows 9

    I think I'll skip Windows 9. Just like I skipped Windows 8, 7, Vista, XP, 200X, 9X, 3.X, etc.

    Through all of this nonsense, all of the crap Microsoft has tried to force onto users (Metro will be remembered as the second coming of Active Desktop), all of the "we know best and you will buy what we shovel at you" attitude ... all those years my Linux has been rock solid.

    Thanks but no thanks, Microsoft.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: I think I'll skip Windows 9

      I take it that you don't use Ubuntu then?

      Debian, SUSE or RHEL yes but please not Ubuntu. It has been anything but stable IMHO.

      1. Vociferous

        Re: I think I'll skip Windows 9

        > It has been anything but stable IMHO.

        ...and it has an interface that's almost as bad as TIFKAM.

    2. Piro

      Re: I think I'll skip Windows 9

      Active Desktop was useless crap but don't even compare it to Metro.

      You could quickly disable it, and then it literally had no impact on the rest of the system. Even if you use one of the many applications which gives you a start menu and disables all the hot corners, in 8 and 8.1 you still get the stupid Metro apps opening files by default, and the ridiculously large network pane, not to mention many other annoyances.

      Active Desktop at least allowed me to set a gif of bouncing breasts as a wallpaper. Hey, it was fun when you were a teenager.

      1. Vociferous

        Re: I think I'll skip Windows 9

        > set a gif of bouncing breasts as a wallpaper

        That should be the Wikipedia illustration for "Distraction".

  22. peebee

    The future is touch (sort of)

    Article seems to miss the point - Windows 8 was never going to rescue PC desktop sales. Win 7 is too mature - it's hard to imagine what features could have been added that would have made people feel they had to upgrade. Desktop sales have tanked, also because of market maturity, and to a lesser (but growing) extent because of tablets.

    Sinofsky's focus was entirely on making Microsoft relevant to tablets, because he judged (quite rightly) that tablets were going to shape the future of computing. What he came up with (win 8 + RT) was dismally executed but the core thinking was unavoidable. The game is still wide open, and the balance is beginning to tilt back to Microsoft. Anyone who's tried to use iOS or Android tablets for serious work knows that they are poor substitutes for a laptop - even as a secondary device. The new wave of 8.1 tablets and hybrids are more plausible. I believe a properly windowed environment will remain important (and certainly more productive for all but the simplest linear tasks, but it all seems apparent that touch UIs on phones and tablets will increasingly condition how we expect to interact with computers.

    I do agree that trying to drive people screaming into a touch UI on their existing desktops was crazy, and if Microsoft had listened to user feedback they could have avoided their worst mistakes. Then again, I think this is a clear case where you have to look beyond your existing customers, because you're trying to anticipate the future. Sinofsky apparently misjudged the balance between these two imperatives, and as others have pointed out, the emergence of three different APIs was ridiculous, but I think time is already proving that the fundamental strategy was the right one...

    (I wrote something on this subject a few days ago at http://paulbrasington.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/247/)

    1. Vociferous

      Re: The future is touch (sort of)

      I have no idea why you're getting downvoted, your analysis is spot on.

  23. Deuteronopia

    I don't understand the 'Metro-whatever is SO difficult to use' complaints that go round. Rather, it seems that a lot of that moaning comes from tech professionals (I know a couple, even heavy Linux users), who really shouldn't be that confused by it. You've seen an iPad, right? It's like that.

    And it's not like it's taken over your system or anything: it's just the Start menu. How long each day do you spend looking at the Start menu? A minute in total?

    1. jason 7

      I must admit I use Windows 8 on two machines and once I'm in the Desktop I don't see the Modern bit for the rest of the day.

      In fact I really don't notice I'm using 8 anymore. I guess some take more convincing.

      Different strokes and all that.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Even when I can't figure out how to do something in W8, a simple Google search finds the answer very easily. Techies just like being angry about change, or are too autistic to be able to cope with it (i.e. Sheldon). If they put half as much time into learning how to use the new OS as they do complaining about it on the internet, they'd have mastered the changes and got on with the whole purpose of the computer, which is using it to do stuff.

        1. John Sanders

          """Techies just like being angry about change"""

          One can drive a car with a joystick, handicapped people do, and there is an argument that the joystick makes manoeuvring quite precise, more so than the steering wheel.

          However I dare you to drive a car with a joystick, I have no doubts you will manage to do it quite well once you get the hook of it, but you will be wondering... why? why? why the hell did they do that.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: I dare you to drive a car with a joystick

            I agree with your point, but would modify it:

            You can get a small appreciation of the TIFKAM problem that many experience by simply switching between a car with conventional physical key ignition and one with keyless ignition. Being used to using a key, I've yet to get into a car with keyless ignition and effect a swift drive off. Once the car is going (ie. in desktop mode) I have no real problems until I wish to stop the engine etc. and have to engage with the keyless interface.

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Even when I can't figure out how to do something in W8, ...

          >, a simple Google search finds the answer very easily.

          I think this state of affairs actually speaks volumes.

          Whilst I agree with you that often a Google search will return an answer faster than drilling through the MS Help, the questions are firstly: why am I having to do a Google search in the first place, particularly when the problem is typically of the sort "it worked this way in Windows 95/NT/2K/XP how do I do it in Win8", and secondly, why are so many people posting their findings ie. solutions to simple problems, if there wasn't some kudos and/or demand for these answers and/or style of help.

          I suspect because lots of people complained about Win8, lots of people realised that they wren't the only one's having difficulties and hence when they found out something they posted it in a form that was more accessible to others.

          Personally, having installed Classic Shell and ModernMix on all my Win8 machines, I've forgotten all about TIFKAM, but then that does still leave all the other daft stuff in Win8/Office2013...

    2. Swarthy Silver badge

      It's not difficult to _Learn_

      It's difficult to use.

      I do not have a touch screen on my laptop, or my desktop. I like hierarchical folder structures, especially for large collections that can be grouped thematically: Graphics, troubleshooting, IDEs, database 'stuff', and games. All of which I use on a fairly frequent basis, but scrolling thruo all of my games to get to SQL Developer... well, I might not make it. ("just a few minutes on SimCity...")

      Also side-scrolling is widely held to be "Of the Devil"; and yet, that what the Start Screen uses for it's "menu".

      It works on a tablet/touch screen, it fails on a non-touch device. so, yes, it is hard to use.

      1. Vociferous

        Re: It's not difficult to _Learn_

        > I like hierarchical folder structures

        So do I, and we're both screwed: common wisdom is that users get confused by directory trees and files, that's why Microsoft constantly makes it harder to directly manage files, and try to abstract them away.

      2. quarky

        Re: It's not difficult to _Learn_

        " but scrolling thruo all of my games to get to SQL Developer... well, I might not make it. ("just a few minutes on SimCity...")"

        You know you can drag the tiles around right?

        1. Swarthy Silver badge

          Re: It's not difficult to _Learn_

          Either way, I have to scroll past SQL Developer to get to Civ, and think "I could be doing work, and getting paid for this time" , or I have to scroll past Civ to get to SQL Dev, and risk not making it.

          Yes, I know this is admitting poor impulse control, verging on ADD, but I have developed a system to work with it. Win 8 tiles break that system.

    3. pacman7de

      Metro-whatever is SO difficult to use?

      > I don't understand the 'Metro-whatever is SO difficult to use' complaints that go round ..

      I think forcing a tablet UI onto the desktop was a mistake. Touch on a vertical screen is not a good idea, as in your arms get tired very quickly. Using a keyboard/mouse with the Metro interface is also a hassle.

      1. jason 7

        Re: Metro-whatever is SO difficult to use?

        But the fact remains that you don't have to use the Modern/Touch bit if you don't want to.

        If thats the case what is the issue? I don't like using Modern/Touch because like most people I have zero use for it. But that doesn't stop me using Windows 8/8.1 in desktop/normal mode just I like I do with Windows 7.

        As I mentioned earlier I don't see Modern/Touch when I use Windows 8. Its 100% desktop. Simple.

        I'm not saying that some people don't have valid issues, but a lot sound like they are punching themselves constantly in the nuts for no reason.

        Which is both bemusing and amusing in equal measure.

        1. Piro

          Re: Metro-whatever is SO difficult to use?

          So then why would you even use 8/8.1?

          By using 8 and 8.1, you're giving Microsoft valuable feedback in the form of usage statistics that they did the right thing, even though you are avoiding the ENTIRE POINT of using it.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

  24. jason 7

    It could have all been so different had they....

    ...either given the install option of "Do you wish to install either Modern/Desktop mode or Desktop Only mode?"

    or in Control Panel -

    "Disable Modern UI"

    But they wanted that App Store Income luxury so bad.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: It could have all been so different had they....

      Your typical user wouldn't understand the question.

      And they DID add the option of boot to desktop in 8.1.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @JDX - Re: It could have all been so different had they....

        Nice try!

    2. Pookietoo

      Re: But they wanted that App Store Income

      It's not about income, it's about mind share - income comes later.

  25. stucs201

    How I think it should have been

    Rather than try and force a phone/tablet style interface onto the desktop what would have been better would have been to make them work well together. A few possibilities:

    * Include a Windows phone emulator in desktop windows. Allow windows phone apps to also be run in a window on the desktop. Use this an updated version of the deprecated gadget platform. This would likely appeal to developers as well as users if an app can target both Windows phone and desktop Windows from a single executable. Allow phone apps on the desktop to be launched seamlessly from the same places as native programs (Start menu, pinned to taskbar, desktop shortcut, etc.)

    * Allow phones/tablets to recognise when they are connected to a PC. Allow them to act as a second screen and/or graphical touchpad. Allow dragging apps/data between the monitor and phone screen.

    There could still be a case for full Windows to boot up with a TIFKAM interface on something like the Surface Pro, but only if being used as a standalone device, not when plugged into an external monitor and keyboard. The Surface Pro would be somewhat unusual in that it would need to both be able to act as the PC when having a phone conneced to it, or as just another tablet when connected to a desktop PC.

    This greater integration of the phone into the desktop environment would equally have merit for an OS X/IOS combination or a Linux/Android combination. Even better would be mix and match integration, but even getting it done at all would be nice.

  26. Yugguy

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.

    I HATE all this " you should learn new things" smug comments.

    NO!!!!! Why the hell should I have to? New is NOT a synonym for better.

    I welcome change if it improves something. I DETEST change for change's sake.

    Windows 8 did NOT improve anything. It made many things worse.

    1. John Sanders

      @Yugguy

      My sentiment!

    2. Eponymous Cowherd

      Quite.

      The wrong UI for the wrong device.

      Trying to force a common UI on phones, tablets, laptops and desktops is like trying to force common controls on bicycles, motorcycles and cars.

      They have different controls for a reason.

    3. jason 7

      @Yugguy

      Just try writing all of that on your next CV.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blame it all on Sinofsky ..

    I thought Sinofsky was fired precicely because he wasn't fully on board with the "vision", as were the others who were ushered/enthused out the door.

    "To continue this success it is imperative that we continue to drive alignment across all Microsoft teams, and have more integrated and rapid development cycles for our offerings"

  28. itzman

    Micosoft is great! - no, Microsoft is a POS! - No ACTUALLY....

    Microsoft is becoming increasingly IRRELEVANT.

    And I think that is the greatest thing to be understood.

    Apps, even commercial apps, are no longer things that talk to an operating system. They are things that talk to a cloud or a device.

    Or they are server based and talk Linux increasingly to the hardware, and the above to the user interface.

    And I think that is why people are hanging on to XP, because they don't want to spend money upgrading to the sort of platform that mobile devices and chrome OS style kit may make completely pointless in the future.

    IF word processing and spreadsheet and mail move to a cloud, private or otherwise, what is left for the desktop workstation to do that cannot be done by almost any OS with a JavaScript enabled browser? Your database is now accessed by web forms as well.

    Really, and I would be interested to hear it from others, in my direct experience its only 'creative' stuff.

    Design and drawing technical, and artistic - and that includes coding.

    Picture, movie and music editing.

    These are the only things I can offhand think of that REQUIRE high bandwidth fast video interaction and a lot of local storage and processing power that still cant be done with a client/server model.

    Yes, there are legacy windows apps, but who is writing new apps for windows exclusively? Rather than some sort of cloud based stuff.

    I may be relatively biased but it does seem to me that Microsoft is stuck with a company geared to delivering something no one needs, and not that many people actually want, any more.

    When Windows came out, it was despite the hype, simply a cheap way to get a GUI on a desktop, to do simple boring stuff. Only creatives really NEEDED a GUI at all, and they ran Macs anyway. OK games were fun, but consoles blew that away.

    Now there's a friggin' GUI on everything and the API is HTML/JavaScript.

    The question has to be 'why do we need windows at ALL?'

    IN my case there is a very simple answer: because Linux freeware can't match two specific design applications that exist on Windows. Nearly, and getting better, but no cigar yet. And virtual box suffices.

    I'd be interested in other peoples answer to this very serious question.

  29. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge
    Flame

    Viva la Revolucion! Out with the new - in with the old!

    You realise that if Windows 9 is a major new release (i.e. Windows NT 7.0 - where Windows 8 means Window NT 6.2) then not only is it the fastestly developed one since MS WIndows 2.0, but especially it is the very first major new version that does not bring a new Graphical User Interface, but will bring you the unloved old Modern / Metro GUI. OK, Wikipedia says that the biggest improvement (overlapping panes) came with Windows 2.03.

  30. Bill Gould
    Coat

    Yay

    More Win8 UI arguments &c. Adapt and evolve. It's not "worse" than the now ancient Start Menu, it's different and just as usable. I really just... ARGH. Some archaic throwbacks just make me furious. I'm out.

  31. Hans 1 Silver badge

    Microsoft committed HaraKiri the day they brought webmail "thin-client" that was as useful as a "fat client" to the masses.

    They killed office with the ribbon, windows & server with Metro or WTFTNI (What the F... the Name Is) ...

    Touchscreen interface on server ? Seriously ? Nooooooo ... come on ... and you bought that ?????? Are you fscking nuts ?

    Two words: window cleaners

    1. NumptyScrub

      quote: "Touchscreen interface on server ? Seriously ? Nooooooo ... come on ... and you bought that ?????? Are you fscking nuts ?"

      It's either the stupidest move ever perpetrated by a technology company, or subtly shrewd.

      It all depends on whether you would consider using a touchscreen based mobile device (tablet / phone) to remote on to a server for any reason. If your local interface is a touchscreen, then having a touchscreen aware remote device could be considered quite an advantage in some circumstances... friends of mine have RDP apps on tablets and do use them to connect to remote Windows boxes (some being servers) if the need is dire enough and the proper tools (aka laptop) are not at hand. If the RDP app can communicate touch to the server, and the server can recognise and adapt to provide a touch-friendly UI, then it does sound like there could be a gain in usability for that situation. YMMV of course; it's either a worthless gimmick or a potentially useful option, and it all depends on whether you would actually find yourself in that situation or not.

  32. Tom 13

    The way forward for MS is actually pretty clear. They just keep denying it.

    Form follows function. PC have a different function than phones and tablets. Therefore the forms will be different. Bifurcate the monolith and be done with it.

    Maybe they can keep core code the same, maybe they can't. Take a stab at it and go. If they can't, then fork it. But they are going to need the revenue stream from both sets of devices.

    1. Vociferous

      Re: The way forward for MS is actually pretty clear. They just keep denying it.

      > Bifurcate the monolith and be done with it.

      The thing is that Microsoft believes the PC market is dying. Not that it will become less dominant, they think the PC will go the way of the abacus and the astrolabe. Therefore it is vitally important for Microsoft to get a foothold on the devices of the future, ie mobile devices, EVEN if that short-term means dissatisfied customers and lost sales.

      To best way to get that foothold is to leverage the strength of Microsoft on the PC: by accustoming users to the mobile interface, and getting developers to write for the mobile devices API.

      That was the plan. Short term pain for long term gain. In fact, it is still the plan - Microsoft hasn't abandoned it.

      That's why they wont bifurcate: that would save the PC market, but at the expense of Microsofts future in the mobile market.

  33. Feldagast

    Talking computers

    I thought by now we would have moved onto talking computers, hell with typing everything, the computer on the Enterprise (star trek) albeit fake could pick up on when it was asked a question. We already have the communicators, phasers, lasers, much is known about anti-matter, and other suggested future technology from the show, now where is my talking computer. If you say how ever would it determine when you were talking to it, how about ctrl+v when you wish to address it. If Apple can come out with Siri on a phone why cant anyone else come out with something for the desktop. I can imagine a day when you would just tell the computer to go find pictures of Miley Cirrus swinging on a wrecking ball and get shown a list like a google search for pictures and videos. Even better for bonus points would be to ask you if you want video, or pictures.

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge

      Re: Talking computers

      Mac OS X has voice control since, what, 2002 ? Might even be 2001 ... however, it could only do very basic stuff in the beginning. This got better and better over time - a lot of phones had similar functionality to Mac OS X, in a very basic form ... remember "call eeeeeeeee-an"

      As for talking computers, go and see the accessibility options, in Windows since 2000, in Mac OS X even earlier, iirc.

      It takes quite some AI geniuses to make a computer talk (listen, answer), and siri is just in its infancy.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Talking computers

        First we flipped switches to communicate with computers

        (this predated me, and I don't really understand what was going on there - but it was complicated, and only people specially trained and/or with letters after their name could and were allowed to do it)

        Then we typed in our orders with something resembling a typewriter keyboard. At first, onto cards or other similar methods like sending postcards or telegrams and getting same back.

        (incidentally the most common layout designs were primarily designed to slow the typist to mitigate a major design flaw in the original technology)

        Then same as above but with screens.

        (this is the point at which our communication with computers becomes more 1 to 1)

        Then we used mice to point at things on a screen

        (this tehcnology was never really evolved much beyond changing from rubber balls to light)

        Then we just pointed at the screen

        (when you look at it, this doesn't seem to such a big breakthrough)

        We've been ignoring our primary communication method.

        Speech.

        The true breakthrough will be when we can communicate naturally with our computers through speech.

        I've used the speech input on chrome, and the palaver and lispeak programs on ubuntu (both currently only use google speech recognition) and therefore have problems with my accent. Windows has the advantage over linux at the moment in this area. However few people use it.

        We also seem to have overlooked the one we all default to and which has been proven for over two thousand (if not more years), and which every member of the population receives manadatory training

        Handwriting.

        Yes, why has the use of lightpen/stylus not caught on?

        I had a lightpen for my Commodore 64 back in the 80's, it was slow and obstinate to use and not very ergonomic or natural as I was not used to writing on a vertical surface, but I imagined it would make more sense with a slim screen set horizontally like a page (or a crt embedded in the desk at an angle.

        Some tablets come with a stylus, my N900 stylus gets used a lot (when I remeber it has one), the Nintendo Ds/3DS is invaluable for some games.

        However, without handwriting recognition/learning s/w these are handicapped.

        Whatever happended to the Sharp Zaurus?

        I used to have one of these, it showed good progress toward handwriting input. I used it, and used it, and used it and broke it....

        Perhaps microsofts eyecam thingy truly is the way forward in terms of human-computer interaction (even if its a very creepy way). Speech and gestures and bodymovement, and always on...

        Imagine if the front facing camera on your mobile ws always on, and trying to interpret you mood from your expression.

        "You seem happy writing this text message, would you like to add a smiley face?"

        Perhaps what we need is for computers to communicate on our level, and be able to approximate moods and learn.

        Chi!?

        1. sisk Silver badge

          Re: Talking computers

          Yes, why has the use of lightpen/stylus not caught on?

          Because most people have absolutely atrocious handwriting that a computer would never be able to learn with current technology. Our handwriting is just way too inconsistent. Perhaps someday, but right now we would need a very clever person to write some very clever code to teach machines to deal with our chicken scratches.

        2. KjetilS

          Re: Talking computers

          [i](incidentally the most common layout designs were primarily designed to slow the typist to mitigate a major design flaw in the original technology)[/i]

          This myth has been debunked

  34. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. sisk Silver badge

      Re: I know everyone likes to rag on Apple but...

      I'd assume it's down to a couple of things, basic things

      I'd assume that its down to they started with a solid foundation that they got from open source and built up from there. Everything else you said is spot on, but that proven BSD base that they built on should not be discounted. The hardest parts of writing an OS were done before Apple ever started, at least for OSX.

    2. Kunari

      Re: I know everyone likes to rag on Apple but...

      How quickly people forget Mac OS 9....

  35. Yugguy

    Heh.

    Weathertop can get bent.

    If I wasn't flexible, intelligent, skilled etc. I wouldnt be a 3rd/4th line Ms, Citrix, VMWare, RSA, Websense, Symantec, I could go on for ever, support, design and implementer for one of the top 5 UK financial institutions.

    I still hate Windows 8.

    Windows 8 is crap. It's change for change's sake, not to make things better. It is fine on a touchscreen tablet, It's crap on a business desktop.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  36. sisk Silver badge

    Still more to it

    I'm not sure what the 'more' is at this point, but if all you needed was a common API across all devices and interfaces that suited each then some major vendor would be shipping Linux in force and leaning on the likes of Adobe to release Linux versions of their most popular products by now. It's had the common API since way before someone decided to turn the Linux on a toaster jokes into reality and appropriate UIs for each device nearly as long, all freely available for the taking.

    Then again Linux has a serious lack of marketing muscle. Maybe that's the missing piece of the equation for it. In which case the common API and differentiated UIs might just be enough to save MS. Regardless the desktop is in no danger of extinction. It may become a niche market, interesting only to businesses and gamers, but it's not going away any time soon.

  37. Brian Souder 1

    Wel at least ...

    Well at least they can still boast Windows 8.1 has more users than Obamacare.

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