Wow, so did I. So why didn't he win?
214 posts • joined 31 Oct 2007
If I had a nickel...
...every time I heard something like this on a support forum:
"please rate this comment with 5 gold stars to prove that I can regurgitate a support script without actually reading the question."
...I'd have a lot of nickels.
I'm beginning to believe that these "people" are not people at all, but chatbots composed of a few lines of Prolog with made-up names and avatars that are all missing kid photos from India. You'll, for instance, write an article with a very specific description of a problem, including log files and data dumps, and the official company response, from someone purporting to be named Arjun, who by his photo looks about 15 and has "genius level support" and "staff scientist" after his name, is "please to be updating your video drivers to their latest version", when the issue is as far away from a video issue as you can get and still be in the same galaxy.
computers in the basement
A place I worked had -- going back to the old IBM 360 days -- the computers in B1 -- first floor just below street level. At the time they apparently thought computers were waterproof. Flash forward several decades, and the servers are much smaller, so the idea is, in case the river -- which was only a quarter mile east of us -- ever overflowed, when the flooding started it'd be all hands on deck, and we'd roll the servers into the elevator and bring them up to the 4th floor where they'd be safe and dry.
And then, someone realized, just in passing, mind you, that the motors for the elevator were in B2.
Finding a way to get the servers up the stairs was briefly considered.
it's not that simple
The problem with new updates clensing older versions is that application require those older versions to work. Wife is an accountant for a large corporation, and this is a constant headache. She's required to use Oracle applications which require a very specific version of Java. Auto updates wiped this version out, and the app wouldn't work with the latest version, so the entire department was down. Offshore admins are absolutely incapable of understanding that some apps may need a version older than "current minus one" so are absolutely no help whatsoever.
So, someone in the department needs to gear up to be an "under the table" IT specialist, tracking Java SE versions on all the department PCs, learning how to turn off auto upgrades, and how to revert to the working edition should offshore force an upgrade.
And mind you, this is Oracle applications trying to work with Java SE, which Oracle also owns. You'd think that if anyone could get that straight, they could.
So yeah, cleaning up all the old versions of Java may sound great from a security perspective, but it will inevitably break mission critical applications. The three parts of security, as I don't need to remind you, are confidentiality, integrity, availability. In practice, the first part is given all the attention to the detriment of the remaining parts.
PCs are good enough
We're not buying PCs because a few years ago PC performance went past what regular people could really make use of. PCs are commodity items and there isn't any overwhelming reason to buy a new one. Most especially, there's no reason to try to get used to a new GUI paradigm and try to figure out where stuff has been moved to.
Back when the computer industry was changing rapidly, there was a reason to keep current. There is no longer a reason to do so.
why is this necessary?
This looks like a replay of the Saturn V "ground to the moon" project, where one rocket took everything needed for the trip. Do we really have to do things that way anymore? Docking with an already orbiting structure and building large structures in space are so common now that they no longer make the news. Why not build a mars vehicle in space and boost the pieces with known technology? I haven't worked the numbers, but I bet it'd be (a) cheaper, and (b) less likely to prang.
how does it know the carton is empty?
Modeling from usage history, of course. This is not rocket science. As you finish the milk and the fridge sees the carton replaced with another carton, it develops over time statistics on how long it takes you to use up a carton of milk. It uses this information to plan ahead and let you know when you're likely to need more. The more data points, the more accurate the prediction. The system over time asymptotically approaches some acceptable degree of accuracy.
How does the fridge notice that the carton has been replaced? The hot setup would be a unique barcode or rfid on each item, but probably what'll happen is that you'll need to tell the fridge (via touch panel) that this carton is being thrown out because (a) it's spoiled, (b) it's empty, or (c) I don't like this product, and the smart fridge would take this into account when creating your shopping list.
desktop on every phone
> Sources close to the matter stated: "doing this is the only way we haven't already screwed up"
They sort-of have already screwed up in this fashion. Windows Mobile 6 and earlier had this tiny "Start" button in the lower left of the Home screen that invoked a walking menu that had to be touched very precisely.
But the point I think you're trying to make still stands -- putting a desktop paradigm on a mobile device is ill-advised. However, putting a mobile paradigm on a desktop device is *not*, repeat *not* the solution.
"So many people are missing the point. Metro is there to provide a consistent interface across different devices, so you don't need to learn three different ways of doing things across three different platforms (PC, tablet, phone). I think most people would consider that a great idea if it wasn't MS pushing it."
What? Thank you, Mister Obvious. What a brillllllllliant observation.
Couple of problems, there. (1) Microsoft has proven multiple times (Windows Phone, (a Start button? On a phone?? Really???) Windows "Tablet Edition" and now Windows Phone 7 / Windows 8) that Microsoft Does Not Understand Touch Interfaces. They've forgotten or ignored all the things they learned about conveyance and usability that they had improved and polished from Win95 to Win7. They've gone from the worst of all possible worlds (a mouse-centric interface grafted onto a touch device without a mouse) and gone and found a new, better worst of all possible worlds -- a touch interface where you can stare at it all day and it is not at all apparent what you should do next.
(2) Putting a touch interface on a KVM machine is PANTS. Defaulting to full screen apps on PCs with large displays is INCREDIBLY STUPID. In short, a consistent interface across devices with RADICALLY DIFFERENT input methods didn't work when they put a start button on Windows Phone, and it still doesn't work putting a touch-centric interface on a PC. What is totally amazing about this is that Microsoft could have the stupidity or hubris (or both) to take what they had learned in the past and make the SAME mistake again.
So yeah, we know WHY they did it. That part, at least, has been painfully obvious. It's still a really REALLY bad decision.
Re: MS could have won plaudits with 8 .....
"..... fairly easily. Basically give us an update of 7 and during install 'Hey, you have a touch screen, would you like a touch screen enabled version installed?'. Even if you decide which option people can choose they still prefer it to having no option."
Or install both versions, and boot into touch mode when touch hardware exists, and boot into desktop when touch hardware does not exist. Why in the name of all that's holy would an operating system boot into a touch-centric operating system on hardware with no touch support?
Um, I'm pretty sure that's not the case. This is a good excuse to go back and read the novels. My recollection is that Bond's insistence on his (vodka, not gin) martinis be shaken reveals his common roots -- that despite the tux and the debonair attitude, he was the son of a prostitute, an abandoned orphan groomed by MI6 into a successful assassin. That his suavity and poise was a thin shell over an unprincipled, low born killer.
it's in the books
It's been awhile since I read the novels, but I think Fleming even covered this in the books. It was, I think, You Only Live Twice where Bond contemplates that he's in his early forties, has a few years until retirement, "too many years", and he'll probably be dead before then. The novels made it clear that Double-0 agents had a very short life expectancy, and it's natural to assume that they would spend that time living it up without thought to golden years that they will most likely never reach.
This is not rocket science. The only interesting thing about the study is that someone got paid to do it.
it's not the age
> Hell, I'm performing that selfsame switch for users at work (who are literally only just getting XP upgraded to Win7 in some of our EU satellite offices) and some don't want to be updated, yet they'd kick up a real shitstorm if I handed them a 13 year old Blackberry (or even a gen 1 iPhone from 2006) instead of a new shiny iPhone 5.
That's because smart phones are on the steeper end of the curve than is Windows. There is still significant improvements ahead for smartphones, but with Windows XP, Microsoft created a decent OS that was relatively stable and had a reasonably good GUI ... and that was Good Enough. Eventually any product gets to the point where it's Good Enough.
The problem has always been, Windows 7 wasn't a problem that needed solving. There was no reason for substantial changes to the GUI for desktops. Yes, Microsoft felt they needed to get into the tablet market, and using the same kernel across all platforms made sense. Creating one GUI across all platforms was decidedly NOT a good idea.
The time is past where we hunger for the next version of Windows because it might be a little less crap. Around Windows XP SP1 we finally breathed a sigh of relief and concentrated on USING our PCs, not spending all of our time trying to make them work. Microsoft's mistake is not anticipating that this would happen some day. That they'd reach a point where people didn't really need the next version of Windows.
There's really no reason to buy Windows 8, because 7 allows us to do our work. Add that 8 is annoying and has a steep learning curve, and you've pretty much guarantee that people will hold onto their current version with both hands.
Re: Getting used to Windows 8
Agree. To "get used to" Windows 8 I'd have to use it, and there's not much danger in that. My work is just now upgrading to Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, and they tend to stick with an OS until it's not supported anymore. We've been using Windows XP for 13 years. We'll probably stick with 7 for a decade. A lot can happen in that time. Microsoft will either come to their senses (Ballmer leaving may help with that) or some other platform will become more interesting.
wow, there's so much wrong with this...
... I don't know where to begin.
Tablets are *not* the wave of the future. They are the wave of a future for a particular group of people -- the content consumers. One could even stipulate that most PC users are content consumers the great majority of the time.
But to have content to consume, you need content creators. Other than taking a low quality photo and drawing a moustache on it, tablets suck at content creation. There will still be a need for PCs. I'll be happy to revisit this when Adobe produces a usable touch-only version of their Creative Suite. (I know, they're working on this for some pieces of the suite, but they're not working very hard, partly because of the perception -- warranted -- that content creators do not use tablets.)
And this brings us to Windows 8. It's a little screwy but somewhat usable on a touch-only device, (although for some things you will still have to attach the optional keyboard) but on a desktop machine, the machine on which content is created, it's pants. I'm sure Microsoft knows this; they're not idiots. But they pushed on anyway, no doubt thinking that they'll make enough on the Surface to balance the losses they'll experience in the desktop model.
"Intuitive?" Are we talking about the same Windows 8? Ok, you have never seen Win8 before. I hand you a slab. You can scrape your finger across the screen, see some squares which don't always tell you exactly what they are. Some have dynamic content. You touch one, and an app opens up. Ok, now I want to do something else. HOW DO YOU DISMISS THE APP? There's nothing obvious to press -- no conveyance -- to tell you what to do next. How do you get to the control panel? How do you turn the damned thing off? All of these questions have answers, but you have to learn them elsewhere, or divine them by random scraping similar to finding easter eggs in a first person shooter.
iOS? Intuitive, yes, if somewhat limited and boring. Android? Intuitive enough that my 73 year old mother can pick one up and make it do stuff. But Windows 8? It should be renamed WTF, because that's the phrase you'll be repeating over and over.
Moore's Law didn't need to continue indefinitely, it only needed to continue until PCs are Good Enough. And now they are. There are still performance bumps possible -- denser memory, faster disk (mechanical or solid state), better caching algorithms, but commodity computers are Fast Enough for most people right now. Computers that are not upgradable seem wasteful to me, but it is what it is. If the computer starts out Fast Enough, and is cheap enough, I'm happy with replacing it when my requirements change.
From Task Manager, I list 18 apps currently running, 40 processes and close to 60 services. The CPU Usage tab shows all these disparate programs running roughly evenly across all four cores. Even with only 1 app running, I still have a pantload of processes and services, more or less evenly distributed across the cores.
So no, unless you're running Lotus 123 from a Dos prompt, you can't help but have many many things churning around just under the surface, even if you don't realize that this is the case. "If you run just one app you need only one core" is an idiotic statement for anyone who professes to write for a technical website. Multiple cores really do buy you a lot in an OS with proper multitasking. It's almost as if the author is making a case for single tasking because Metro tends to run apps full screen -- getting us used to the idea that no, we really didn't want to do more than one thing at a time. It just doesn't fly.
There's a LOT more wrong with the article, but I'm out of time and need to get back to work. In summary, the entire article tries to wrap up some idiotic conclusions in a few half-truths and some outrageous ... well, let's call them Misunderstandings. We aren't going to an all-tablet world anytime soon. Windows 8 continues to be Pants, and was probably Ballmer's worst mistake in a long series of arrogant blunders.
My company allows a choice -- iphone, several Android models and a single Windows Phone. As an IT guy, I see mostly iphones, 100% in executive row, and the great majority of managers and would-be execs. It appears to be the thing to have.
We also support the ipad for some company apps, but not Android tablets, and we have completely ignored the Surface.
Amongst geeks Android phones are somewhat more popular than iphone.
I have yet to see anyone, *anyone* in the company, choose a Windows Phone. I strongly suspect that if the company forced the issue, it would bring us back to the bad old days, where we carried two phones. A company phone because we have to, and a personal phone because that's the one we use.
I don't see this changing, and the primary reason is, the people who would sign off on the decision to force Windows Phone are all using iphones, and they don't want to give them up. So Exchange administrators will have to deal with that.
Re: What is it this week?
As in the article, the cause for sudden non-working and the necessity to reinstall drivers is "drive by updates" that happen in the middle of the night. "automatically install updates" may seem like a good idea, but it really isn't. On all of our machines, I periodically run update and choose which patches are installed. And if a device is working, I decline to install driver updates. Because at that point the very best you could hope for is that the device continues to do what it's already doing.
Re: If I wanted a laptop...
I think that touch versions of media creation utilities would work fine, if the companies involved would design the interface appropriately for touch. After all, the mouse apes physical manipulation. Microsoft's early attempts to provide a touch interface had touch gestures aping a mouse which apes physical manipulation. No wonder it sucked.
For instance, I use Adobe Lightroom a lot. There is no frakking reason why Lightroom couldn't be a completely touch-oriented application. It just needs someone to come up with a reasonable interface. (I'm told that there is an (as in one (1) single) engineer working on this at Adobe.)
When Lightroom works in some reasonable fashion on a tablet, IOS or Android, I'll dump my Windows laptop and never look back.
Re: Office = a selling point?
Agreed, but Microsoft never really "got" tablets. They've tried in the past to make Windows work on tablets, mostly by repurposing Accessibility features, and it really didn't catch on. (Those of us who had to use it would say "for good reason".) They don't "get" that the tablet is a different kind of device, having a different usage model, and requiring a completely different interface paradigm, and that plus Microsoft's overriding mission to have one single code base for all devices, tends to produce abominations like Windows 8, which is too much touch paradigm for desktop use but not touch paradigm enough for touch devices, causing desktop users to struggle to find mouse workarounds for touch gestures, and for Surface users to struggle to use it on tablets without a keyboard.
And you can kinda see their predicament. As far as tablets are concerned, Microsoft has nothing to bring to the table. Zip, nada. The entire tablet market does not fit into Microsoft's business model in a fundamental way. Microsoft sells operating systems. On Apple and Android tablets, the operating system is free. Microsoft sells office suites. The tablet usage model lends itself to *viewing* documents, (for which there are various free apps -- I use quickoffice) but not for *creating* documents. Therefore, having Office on a tablet is not a selling point. Which means the Surface needs to be marketed as a mini-laptop, not a tablet. And around in circles it goes.
Microsoft is really between a rock and a hard place. Apple and Google have positioned the tablet business model to be the antithesis of the Microsoft business model. (Which I'm sure was deliberate.) And this makes it a real struggle for Microsoft to compete in that space.
> We've asked our pals at Apple for a comment, and (when) if they respond we'll update.
Likely, they'll respond when they finish laughing themselves sick.
But seriously, these days both parties appear to be living in somewhat of a dream world. Microsoft is still apparently in denial that their cunning plan (of putting a phone OS on the desktop and a keyboard on a slab) hasn't resulted in humongous sales, and Apple seems to think they piss perfume. I think they're both wrong, although Microsoft is more wrong than Apple.
Re: What about fitness-for-purpose?
> Good luck with your 13 year old car.
Shrug. We have one 13 year old car, and one 19 year old car, and they still run fine, thanks. We haven't had to make a car payment in a very long time.
Also still running Windows XP and Office 2000 at home.
The similarity is this: The purpose for a car is not to own a car, but to have personal transportation. The car still fills that need, so there's no reason to replace it, until it gets more expensive to maintain than payments on a new car. And please, don't go on about leaded gas -- that went away over 30 years ago, and mostly only affects collectors now.
Similarly, the Windows XP machine exists to load programs and provide a certain set of system resources. While it continues to do that, there's no point in replacing it. One does the normal stuff -- don't use IE, run a current antivirus, (I use AVG) and run behind a properly configured router. But that's normal stuff that a cautious user does anyway.
We need to remember, the OS is not the application. The OS exists to load applications. As long as it continues to do that adequately, there's no reason to upgrade.
XP works. Win7 is basically XP with transparent frames for $150 more. Win8 sucketh mightily. XP is stable and runs all the legacy stuff. For the great majority of the rank and file, there's no reason to take action, other than vague warnings of some future doom. Kinda like global warming.
"Windows 8. No thanks. Definitely no, thanks. No, no, no, no." - sounds like a knee-jerk "I hate Microsoft" reaction.
"Price: no thanks" - fair enough.
I dunno... I have Win7 at work and at home, and get along with it. I have Win8 on a convertible, and it's essentially shelfware. I may give it another try when 8.1 comes out, but I consider the device essentially unusable at this time.
So, it's possible to not want Windows 8, not due to a knee jerk "I hate Microsoft" or "I stood out in the rain to get my latest trendy brushed metal fruit box" but simply because "I tried it, and in my professional opinion, it sucked."
> Prices for the Surface 2 start at $450 for a base-spec unit and $900 for the Surface Pro.
Let's PLEASE stop continuing this misconception. The Surface 2 and Surface Pro (Surface 2 Pro) are two different products, with different architectures, and they are not software compatible with each other. The Pro purports to run Windows PC apps. The Surface 2 will only run the paltry handful of Windows apps compiled for the ARM processor.
Users interested in the Surface product line must be very careful about this. I can't imagine that more than a tiny, tiny fraction of the consumers interested in the Surface product line want to buy one because of how cool the form factor is and how nifty the GUI. They want to buy one in the belief that they are slates that will run their existing PC applications, being the best of both worlds. Yes, exactly in the Borg sense, but never mind. This (backwards compatibility) is the ONLY reason to buy one of these overpriced devices.
The problems are these:
1) Windows PC apps will "run" on the Surface Pro, but because legacy apps are not touch enabled, to use them effectively requires a keyboard and a mouse. Hence, you are technically running your app on a slate, but you're not using the slate in the way slates are generally understood to be used.
2) Windows PC apps will not run AT ALL on a Surface RT or a Surface 2. This can not be said enough times. If you buy an ARM based Surface, it must be with the understanding that the only apps you can use are the ones that come with the device and whatever is in the Windows RT marketplace. If you're buying an ARM based Surface, you need to be satisfied that you prefer the Surface form factor and the Win8 interface enough to put up with the lack of apps.