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.
First 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
Some 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.
Of 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
From 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 wasn'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.
The 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 was Microsoft thinking?
Well I tell you what Apple is thinking- releasing a 128Gb iPad model! You have to admit that they have excellent timing.
And 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?
So, where is 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?