What are Microsoft Thinking? Are their Days Numbered?


microsoft

What’s happening with Microsoft at the moment?

I’ve been a long time Windows user, using Windows 3.1 at University and owning copies of Windows from Windows 95 to Windows 8. I do continue to feel that Windows 7 is a great operating system. But I do find myself asking where Microsoft going at the moment? They seem to be all over the place without any clear vision. You could say the same about Apple, but that’s another story.

Surface

SurfaceFirst there was the Surface with Windows RT which has had very mixed reviews with some saying it is very laggy in response and of course it has a limited number of apps when compared to Android and iOS devices. I love the idea of the Surface and I have to admit that it is very well designed. Perhaps it is easy to dismiss the Surface at the moment, but there are some who think it could be a force to be reckoned with in the future as Microsoft release new models. For a review, see this one from Forbes. Still, my feeling is that the Surface was a disappointment. The Surface was supposed to save Microsoft, but instead it made people put their hope in the Surface Pro (but more of that in a bit!)


Steve Balmer, Dropbox & Live Mesh

steve balmerdropboxSome people are expressing the view that Steve Balmer is the problem. He does seem like a nice guy, but some wonder what planet he is on! Recently he dismissed popular file synching service, Dropbox as a “fine little start up” with only 100 million users. For more information, see this article from The Verge.

live meshOf course, Microsoft has a fantastic service very similar to Dropbox called Live Mesh. In a very odd move, Microsoft are shutting down Live Mesh and asking users to move over to their cloud storage service, SkyDrive. The problem with this is that SkyDrive doesn’t offer the same synching service as Live Mesh did- SkyDrive is purely a cloud storage service. Why kill such a useless service? Sure it had a silly name, but that would have been easy to change!


Windows 8 Prices

Windows 8From 1st Feb, Microsoft are putting up the prices of upgrading to Windows 8 to $199. If you are reading this article on January 31st 2013 this is your last chance to upgrade for $40! I’d like to say this is madness, but I really don’t know what I think. Although Microsoft do have to increase their prices at some point, there are still many people who remain unconvinced by Windows 8. This doesn’t seem like a good time to bump the prices up.

There are a lot of negative reviews of Windows 8, but my feeling is that is an operating system in transition. Microsoft weren’t able to go totally over to where they wanted to go, otherwise their existing user base would complain (particularly the business sector). So what we have is a half baked product where things aren’t as seamless as they should be. I am hoping Windows 9 will go some way to fix this. Having said that I do have my concerns, such as going down the Apple route of locking down the operating system and potentially only allowing certain “authorised” apps run. They haven’t done that yet, but there are signs that that is where they are going.


Surface Pro

Surface ProThe Surface Pro is coming out next week (in the US at least). The Surface Pro is Microsoft’s high end tablet device, capable of running full Windows 7 and 8 applications like Office. Full reviews haven’t been posted yet since they most reviewers haven’t had their hands on the Surface Pro. However it has been reported that the amount of available memory is insanely low. In the 128Gb model there is only 83Gb of available space. That doesn’t sound so bad, but the 64Gb model only has 23Gb of free space!
What were Microsoft thinking?

Well I tell you what Apple are thinking- releasing a 128Gb iPad model! You have to admit that they have excellent timing.


Office 2013

office 2013And then there is Office 2013 which has just been released. The last version, Office 2010 wasn’t a huge update on 2007- but they did complete the ribbon interface for all applications within Office- something they started in Office 2007. I’ll be honest, I haven’t had much chance to play with Office 2013- although I did have the beta installed for a while.Despite that it is obvious things haven’t changed much. Yes, it has an updated interface, but other than that there isn’t much that is different. You have to ask, as tech website ars technica have, what the Office team have been up to for the past 2 and a bit years?


Conclusion

So, where are Microsoft going? Can they survive? Call me mad, but I do want Microsoft to succeed. They do make some great products and software. Windows 7 is a great operating system. They made the XBox and Kinect. I like the PC and I like Windows. Windows 8 isn’t actually as bad as people make it out to be. However with Apple iOS and Google Android devices becoming much more prevalent these days, you have to wonder if Microsoft’s days are numbered. Is that over stated? Perhaps. What do you think?


Comments- Let me know what you think!

  • http://technicallyeasy.net/ Paul Salmon

    At the moment, I don’t think Microsoft’s days are numbered. While the mobile platform is the place to be, Microsoft still has a huge enterprise footprint, and that is where a lot of the money is. I don’t see companies switching from Microsoft too quickly, mainly because they can usually get a bundled price with Microsoft – server, desktop, etc. – along with support. Microsoft systems seem to be less closed than Apple computers, and companies pay less for a PC than a Mac, and have more choices.

    As for the Surface, it will be interesting to see what happens once the Surface Pro is released, and I’m thinking most people are waiting for that one to be released before they seriously look at the Surface. I agree, Microsoft needs to look at increasing the storage space on the Surface if it is to compete with the iPad. Also, if the Surface is compatible with many apps and devices that are currently available for Windows computers, then it already has an app market and device market that isn’t matched by any other available tablet – combined.

    • http://iag.me/ Ian Anderson Gray

      Thanks for your comment, Paul. I don’t think Microsoft’s days are numbered either. However they need to have more success than they are currently doing. It seems that they have been on the back foot ever since that thing that Bill Gates thought wouldn’t catch on called the World Wide Web became quite big. It seems the internet, the iPhone, iPad and Android have taken Microsoft by surprise. Currently companies aren’t switching away from Microsoft very much as far as I can tell- Apple will need to make some serious changes to OSX and their whole ethos if that were to happen. Having said that businesses are buying iPhones and iPads in their millions. We’ll have to see how the Surface Pro does in the business sector. I do hope it does well, but I have my concerns. You mention Microsoft systems seem less closed than Apple computers- you’re right, but I do see glimmers of this changing. Microsoft seem to want to adopt a more controlled system and that worries me. Of course there is Linux, but I think it’s going to take a lot of persuading and the right software to get many business to switch to Linux.

      As for the Surface Pro, we’ll have to wait until it is released. I really want to like it- I love the fact that you can run full Windows apps on it. The amount of available memory space on the 64Gb is concerning. At least it has a memory card slot which is something the iPad doesn’t have. We’ll just have to wait and see.

      • http://technicallyeasy.net/ Paul Salmon

        I forgot about mentioning Linux. The issue with Linux, however, is that “users hate change”, so going from Windows to a Unix-based OS would be tough. I think for Microsoft to compete in the tablet space they would need to drop the price of their Surface tablets to undercut Apple’s iPads. That is the only way that I can see that they can compete. Apple products are too good to compete against with the same price point.

        Then again, people didn’t think Microsoft stood a chance when they entered the gaming console area, but just over ten years later and they have one of the best-selling consoles on the market and have gone toe-to-toe with both Nintendo and Sony.

        • http://iag.me/ Ian Anderson Gray

          Yes, Linux. It’s not really a viable business alternative yet is it? I’m hoping the Surface Pro will work for businesses and schools. I know schools particularly have been crying out for an alternative for the iPad, so maybe the Surface will be it?

          Thanks for your comments- you speak a lot of sense- something I think is rare whenever I hear people talk about Microsoft these days! ;-)

  • Patryk Poblocki

    Time will tell but comparing their services, products and most importantly pricing to alternatives I think it can happen. Maybe not soon but in the next ten years. I don’t agree with the previous comments regarding Linux. Linux is much more powerful and enterprise capable platform that you may think. People who thinks that Linux is hard to manage and implement just stuck in the nineties.

    • http://iag.me/ Ian Anderson Gray

      Thanks for your comment, Patryk. I think you’re right- we just have to wait. The Surface Pro 2 actually looks fairly promising and cloud based Office services are really great. However I still have big concerns with Windows 8, even with 8.1. Most people will be installing the likes of Start8 to get the old start menu back if they can.

      As for Linux, I am a big fan and use it as a virtual machine and for my web server. It is a very capable platform, but although it can be enterprise capable we still get down to Microsoft Office not being on Linux- and most companies want to use that. Some are moving over to Google Apps, but it doesn’t offer the same power as MS Office.

      • Patryk Poblocki

        You can use Microsoft Office 2007 and 2010 in Linux via Wine layer. I know because I use it. And Microsoft Office 360 is the same as MS Office 2013 and it is cloud based. So you run it in your browser no matter which platform you use. So that’s resolves the problem with MS Office.Also Libre Office and Open Office (native GNU/Linux Office suites) and their document formats are among document standards Worldwide. As for Windows 8.1 I use it and it’s a pain for me to be productive using this OS but regarding stability I found it a lot more stable than 7. I think that there is a huge lack of decent advertisement regarding Linux. Also we still are under the influence of MS. I am geek, I love technology and competition because competition means innovation and also gives me a choice. But I hate big companies polices and the business model. It shouldn’t be all about money. It should also be about us users and consumers.

        • http://iag.me/ Ian Anderson Gray

          Great stuff! I’ve never used Wine, but I do think that would be a little too complex and unnecessary for corporate clients. However, I do think cloud based apps are the way forwards, and that is totally possible via Linux. What flavour of Linux would you recommend? Ubuntu? I’d definitely love to recommend Linux, but it requires a lot of rethinking and investigation.

          • Patryk Poblocki

            I know I could be eaten alive by FOSS followers for what I’ll say but after years of mixed experiences with GNU/Linux there is no other option than Ubuntu. I know all those other distros are doing a great job and it is really nice to have them around but Ubuntu is focused on end user. Average Joe with no tech experience and they (guys from Canonical) doing a great job. This distribution has best support (even from third party) and the biggest community. It’s dead easy to set up and use (a lot easier to set up than Windows 7 and 8). It’s perfectly stable and I didn’t experienced any problems with it. With a little bit of digging (if someone willing to) you can be able run all MS software and most of the newest games (not to mention we have already few good titles running natively in Ubuntu and native STEAM client) via mentioned earlier WINE layer. Also I like their approach to security by not enabling root user by default. It is also very secured distribution. There is a lot more I could add to it but It would be too long and you would be to bored so I’ll stop in here ;)

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