back to article The OS is 'no longer' important to Microsoft, and yet new Surface kit has 3 Windows flavours

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, speaking before the launch of new Surface devices in New York, told glossy tech rag Wired the operating system is "no longer the most important layer for us". "What is most important for us," he continued, "is the app model and the experience. How people are going to write apps for Duo and Neo will …

  1. sbt Silver badge
    Windows

    Sounds like an admission of defeat

    The classic claim, in the same vein as I never really loved you, or winning isn't everything, etc.

    Windows isn't important to me either, hasn't been for a long time. XP was fine. Vista was a hard no. 7 wasn't enough to return. 10 just confirmed my earlier decisions.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like an admission of defeat

      First they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win !

    2. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
      Windows

      Re: Sounds like an admission of defeat

      Weirdly, I was OK with Vista. Sure, it was a bit resource hungry but it actually seemed more stable for me than XP. 7 was nicely a bit quicker.

      10 I'm not happy with and it continued to move me across to Mac / Linux. It doesn't provide a speed boost, font rendering is worse, reliability is back to Windows 98 (not SE) levels of unreliability.

      The fact that Microsoft no longer considers the OS the most important thing suggests to me that they are starting to see Windows becoming less profitable, or even a loss-leader in the (very?) long term, and they're already working on a plan so they can pull the plug on it as and when that happens.

      1. sbt Silver badge
        Meh

        Windows becoming less profitable

        Well, they struggled to give 10 away.

        Their massive failure to attract devs to their phone platform was a good reminder to focus on keeping the platform relevant to users (via default shipping with hardware) and devs (via strong toolsets). They've done surprisingly well in the cloud (given earlier competitive landscape) so while the tentacles are still reaching well into IT use cases of all kinds they have less reason to worry, particularly as client platforms become less critical in the Web app age and non-Windows related Azure revenues are heading in the right direction.

        1. arctic_haze Silver badge

          Re: Windows becoming less profitable

          The Windows 10 business model seems to be sucking users' personal data and selling the to advertisers.

        2. LDS Silver badge

          "client platforms become less critical in the Web app age"

          Are you sure? Mobile platforms shown exactly the opposite - native applications for the platform. Quicker, and far easier to use.

          Web apps are still very clumsy to use when the UI becomes complex enough - and UWP tryintg to ape web apps made desktop applications clumsier too - one of the reason developers of complex application kept developing Win32 applications.

          When MS will lose the desktop advantage, really, why use Windows just to run Google's browser - given they gave up on IE too? Azure will follow - Azure is going well just because there are billions of Windows desktop systems which rely on Windows technologies.

          1. sbt Silver badge
            Meh

            Re: "client platforms become less critical in the Web app age"

            I was thinking desktop apps for business; the sort of thing that drives whole organisational platform choices, and MS's bread and butter. Sure, Apple have made some in-roads in education and media sectors, but at least around here, Windows is the most common platform for business apps (e.g. CRM, ERP, accounting/payroll), except that now, new systems are often going in as cloud-, and/or browser-based.

            That's low hanging fruit given the relative simplicity of transactional apps vs. CAD packages or similar, but it's early days and I'm seeing more desktop apps deployed on browser platforms or Electron to get cross-platform support cheaply.

            The time of the thin client may have finally arrived. Still waiting for the paperless office, although smartphones seem to have made a difference.

            1. big_D Silver badge

              Re: "client platforms become less critical in the Web app age"

              And in a lot of areas, cloud based solutions are a simple no-no.

              We use Microsoft 365 for the licenses, but we aren't allowed to use Exchange Online, Sharepoint Online, OneDrive for Business, Teams etc.

              1. sbt Silver badge
                Go

                in a lot of areas, cloud based solutions are a simple no-no

                Absolutely. My whole business model is predicated on a decent niche of organisations needing on-prem systems for the foreseeable future, due to security, performance or connectivity constraints. But I've argued there's still a clear trend from on-prem to cloud for the mainstream.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: "client platforms become less critical in the Web app age"

            "Are you sure? Mobile platforms shown exactly the opposite - native applications for the platform."

            Is this Microsoft running a few years behind and reaching the place mobile was a few years ago?

        3. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Windows becoming less profitable

          Web-apps age?

          Not here. 99% of our work is done with local applications. The web is only used for looking up reference material.

    3. ColonelDare
      Coat

      Re: Sounds like an admission of defeat

      > XP was fine. Vista was a hard no. .....

      <smug grin> Raspbian now does most of what I need on the desktop. </smug grin>

      Occasional help from its more powerful relatives does the rest.

  2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Throw some Sh1T against the wall

    and see what sticks.

    MS Marketing department ouija board not working then?

  3. LDS Silver badge

    "under Nadella concluded that it would never win the application support"

    And he does believe it could win it now with UWP again on even more niche devices? And frankly UWP applications like Windows 10 Mail are notable for what they lack and how much their are clumsy to use - not for being great ones.

    Microsoft is keeping on fragmenting its own platforms, and from a developer perspective if you need to write complex application Win32 is still the way to go. There is the tooling, well polished after so many years, there are the libraries, etc. UWP and newer MS UI may deliver more fashionable interfaces, but they don't add much for most professional applications, and just make UI design even more complex (not everybody has a graphic artist available), while there is far less support around in tools and libraries.

    IMHO a vertical integration of devices and their OS would have made UWP applications more palatable for developers, but if you have Android there, Windows 10X here and then plain old Windows 10, with some Linux thrown in, it becomes quickly a nightmare.

    IMHO Nadella hates the desktop - but once MS loses it it will lose everything.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: "under Nadella concluded that it would never win the application support"

      Nadella hates the desktop - but once MS loses it it will lose everything.

      I think that sounds right.

      What is Microsoft known for (or even as)?

      Windows and the big Windows programme Office/office's components.

      If it's all about little "apps" then why bother with MS when you can get that stuff on Android or IOs or even 'Nux

      And yes, most Microsoft UWP "apps" are pretty much piles of crap.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: "under Nadella concluded that it would never win the application support"

      UWP and newer MS UI may deliver more fashionable interfaces, but they don't add much for most professional applications, and just make UI design even more complex (not everybody has a graphic artist available)

      Least of all MS. Many icons in Windows 10 and Office 365 remind me of the placeholder icons I used to draw for toolbar icons before the graphic artist came along and sorted them out.

      1. Dave K Silver badge

        Re: "under Nadella concluded that it would never win the application support"

        Couldn't agree more. Windows 10 in general smacks of being decidedly unfinished in many areas. There's the "busy" circle where the dots keep suddenly disappearing and re-appearing, as if it was a quickly bodged animation that wasn't finished properly plus the awful, samey and bland icons in both "settings" and Edge which look like temporary placeholders. It's not just the icons, you've also got the sound effects - which sound as if they sent an intern into a meeting room for a couple of hours with a cheap keyboard to "knock something up temporarily" and yet are still there now.

        The whole UWP experience feels inconsistent, cheap and unprofessional.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: "under Nadella concluded that it would never win the application support"

        "Least of all MS. Many icons in Windows 10 and Office 365 remind me of the placeholder icons I used to draw for toolbar icons before the graphic artist came along and sorted them out."

        The entire look and feel since Windows 8 has been declining, along with the ability of the user to change the look and feel to suit their needs. It feels like a significant step backwards.

  4. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Quick earnings - it'sall about beancounters

    "Apps" are by and large quick and easy bits of software that can be developed quickly, sold and forgotten about. The main investment is in marketing.

    Maximum income in the short term.

    OSs and big suites need lots of development and support.

    Which means lots of investment.

    They are long term investments.

    Bean counters don't like those.

    1. ROC

      Re: Quick earnings - it'sall about beancounters

      So are bean counters giving up Excel to count the beans?

  5. Dwarf Silver badge

    I wonder

    Where would they be today if they had :

    1. Remembered who their customers are and what they want

    2. Stopped fiddling with the OS to make it all new shiny

    3. Not gone down the rabbit hole of one OS to rule them all

    4. Listened to their customers.

    5. Stopped fiddling with the development tooling and lost a big chunk of their developer community

    6. Not tried to force things down people's throats

    7. Not tried to force advertising on people

    8. Not tried to force all the telemetry on people

    I wonder if anyone is Microsoft is brave enough to admit their failures and try and make things better with a product that people actually want. You know, the next generation OS that replaces Windows 10, you could call it Windows 11 and base it on Windows 7

    Otherwise, it looks like Windows 10 will indeed be the last OS that Microsoft make

    I used to be quite a MS fan, but its going to take a heck of a lot to get me to start looking at their products again as it turns out that both Apple and Linux are absolutely fine for the vast majority of people.

    1. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

      Re: I wonder

      Trouble is #7 and 8. Microsoft don't see them as negatives because they've seen social media get away with it for 10 years and make billions from them. Easy money.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: I wonder

      It's kind of hard to understand what motivates MS' decisions.

      So many things they do are crap, with a crap inlay. e.g. Win 8 was grim enough. But they then they stuck in those stupid " charms" which could only be found when you didn't want them.

      But why?

      And then they impose software items that can't be uninstalled in the belief that they could force people to use them - with enforced entries in the Start menu. i.e. clutter, as if the playground bullies had been put in the headteacher's office.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I wonder

        There's a saying that the structure of software reflects the structure of the organisation that produced it. Maybe it says a lot about Microsoft development organisation.

      2. J. Cook Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: I wonder

        And let's not forget that the UWP apps, when they break, (not IF, but WHEN) are screamingly impossible to fix, or figure out how they broke to begin with.

        "format and re-build the machine from bare metal" is NOT the answer you want to hear from their second level support, especially when you've paid a buttload of money for said support.

    3. Dave K Silver badge

      Re: I wonder

      Windows 7 is the last OS that MS designed to meet user's needs. After the failure of Vista, and with XP becoming an increasingly aged OS, MS knew that Windows 7 had to be a well received OS, so they focused on fixing all the main issues with Vista whilst adding a few subtle but genuinely useful features (redesigned task bar, Aero-snap etc). In short, they used the "carrot" approach to entice people to part with XP.

      Windows 8 was always intended to be an OS to push people over to MS's mobile offerings - and with Windows 7 being only a few years old, MS knew they could afford to gamble by not making the OS user friendly on traditional PCs. With Windows 10 however, instead of going for an OS to appeal to users and businesses (another "carrot" approach), MS decided to take the stick approach for a change. Add just enough stuff to placate people after the Windows 8 disaster, then use as much force as possible (GWX, blocking W7 updates on newer hardware) to ram it down everyone's throats.

      Honestly, I cannot ever remember a Windows release that has achieved respectable market share despite being so widely disliked as Windows 10.

  6. jake Silver badge

    Scorecards!

    Scorecards here! Get your scorecards! You won't know the player's names without a scorecard!

  7. revenant Silver badge

    "The OS is 'no longer' important to Microsoft"

    I sort of came to that conclusion a few years ago when it became apparent that Microsoft didn't really care what people thought of Windows 10. All they cared about was getting it on as many machines as possible, by subterfuge if necessary. What we have now is a telemetry-laden data-gathering platform, and that's all they seem to have wanted.

    In truth, I think Windows 7 was their last OS.

  8. karlkarl Bronze badge

    The OS has *never* been important to Microsoft. Only your money has ever been important to them. ;)

  9. Hi Wreck
    Facepalm

    This clanger explains Nadella's nickname...

    "How people are going to write apps for Duo and Neo will have a lot more to do with each other than just writing a Windows app or an Android app, because it's going to be about the Microsoft graph."

    I guess you now need a satnav to figure your way through "the graph".

  10. HmmmYes

    Sadly, MS make a bigger hash of their APIs than they do of their OSes.

    Winsocket 1, 2, 3, etc....

    Powershell, v6 at mo.

  11. Baudwalk

    If selling Windows licenses isn't important...

    ...then could they please throw their weight, and insider knowledge, behind Wine.

    Rather than running Linux programs in WSL, I'd much rather want 99.9% of Windows programs running on Linux without too much faffing about.

    1. dajames Silver badge

      Re: If selling Windows licenses isn't important...

      Rather than running Linux programs in WSL, I'd much rather want 99.9% of Windows programs running on Linux without too much faffing about.

      But not Windows malware, of course.

      Could malware writers please write code that only runs on genuine Microsoft Windows (TM) and not on, say, Wine on Linux?

      Thanks.

  12. Binraider666

    If it's not important, dare to open source it. At very least, the key parts of it?

  13. Barry Rueger

    Microsoft. + Android

    Dear God. I can't imagine how that could be anything but a disaster showcasing the worst elements of both OSs.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft. + Android

      Search for 'Microsoft Launcher Android' and scan through the reviews. None of the nearly 1 million ratings are mine, but the score of 4.5 / 5 suggests it isn't a disaster.

      Again, this is not my view, I'm just drawing attention to other people people's views. There's no need to just imagine if there's a chance to examine.

  14. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    So we're back to "Developers ! Developers ! Developers !" then ?

    I think that's a good idea. Of course, it's not a new idea, but it's a good one.

    That also means that Microsoft is going to have to stick with its tools for the long term. No more burying a product after only a few years, you're going to have to grin and bear it.

    In this day and age, that might be a bit too much for Microsoft to do.

  15. Smartypantz

    Sucking

    Whats important for that creep is that you subscribe, subscribe, subscribe! If you run any code, on any OS, they will get their drop of blood.

  16. Smartypantz

    Endgame

    The Endgame of all this convenience-driven cloud-frenzy. is 2 or 3 players owning the computing platform of the future, shaping it in any way they see fit. The personal and independent computer is unobtainable because of cost or incompatibility with the "cloud" providers platforms. This, very real and eminent, scenario effectively eliminates any kind of free information processing. If "cloud providers" get free reign in the future. can you trust any information at all?

    We NEED free computing!! "cloud computing" is slavery!

  17. Timmy B Silver badge

    10/10 for being so clickbaity....

    "The OS is 'no longer' important to Microsoft,"

    Is both not true and not what he said.

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