If you are an Old Fart [like me] then you have been rolling with the punches for the last twenty odd years as Microsoft plastered new layers of lipstick on its prize pig: Windows.
Rolling with the punches usually means:
1) Not being an early adopter because the first releases are always flaky.
2) Simply ignoring the latest lipstick by using the Windows Classic interface.
3) Trying to maximise the return on investment from my existing software portfolio.
4) Not getting sucked in by the hype and the latest here today – gone tomorrow fad.
This cynicism towards Microsoft arose primarily because I came to view Microsoft as a marketing company which just happens to sell technical products.
Microsoft has a very long track record of releasing half-baked [and/or half-finished] new products and an even longer history of updated versions that have [in my opinion] focussed upon superficial bling rather than usability, efficiency, reliability and technical excellence.
The proprietary nature of Microsoft software has led them to focus upon vendor lock-in, killing competition and extracting money from their captive customers.
This corporate strategy was fairly transparent when computing was seen as new technology and everyone was happy to upgrade their computer hardware for more processing power, more memory, more disk storage space and more bang for their buck.
However, as the technology marketplace matured after the year 2000 then Microsoft had to resort to more and more desperate measures to introduce change [simply for changes sake] so they could extract more cash from their customers.
Perhaps nothing illustrates the lack of technical enthusiasm displayed by Microsoft more than their pitifully inadequate text edit called Notepad which has been languishing [unloved] in the shadows since the very first release of Windows.
Notepad is a simple text editor for Microsoft Windows and a basic text-editing program which enables computer users to create documents.
It has been included in all versions of Microsoft Windows since Windows 1.0 in 1985.
Thankfully, this lack of interest from Microsoft has enabled other developers to step in with far superior products that put Notepad to shame.
UltraEdit is a commercial text editor for Microsoft Windows, Linux and Mac OS X (Intel) created in 1994 by the founder of IDM Computer Solutions Inc., Ian D. Mead.
The editor contains tools for programmers, including macros, configurable syntax highlighting, code folding, file type conversions, project management, regular expressions for search-and-replace, a column-edit mode, remote editing of files via FTP, interfaces for APIs or command lines of choice, and more.
Files can be browsed and edited in tabs, and it also supports Unicode and hex editing mode.
Originally called MEDIT, it was designed to run in Windows 3.1.
A version called UltraEdit-32 was later created to run in Windows NT and Windows 95.
However, when Microsoft began to become really technically unhinged around 2006 [when they unleashed Windows Vista] the languishing Notepad became extremely bloated as new thick layers of lipstick were applied to this unloved [and unenhanced] text editor.
Windows Vista, an operating system released by Microsoft in November 2006, has been criticized by reviewers and users.
Due to issues with privacy, security, performance, driver support and product activation, Windows Vista has been the subject of a number of negative assessments by various groups.
The retrograde changes from Microsoft then went into overdrive in 2007 when they began to abandon keyboard driven functionality in favour of the slower and more cumbersome mouse driven ribbon interface [which has become paler and less distinct with each new iteration].
In computer interface design, a ribbon is a graphical control element in the form of a set of toolbars placed on several tabs.
In 2007 Microsoft products introduced a form of modular ribbon as their main interface where large tabbed toolbars, filled with graphical buttons and other graphical control elements, are grouped by functionality.
Such ribbons use tabs to expose different sets of controls, eliminating the need for many parallel toolbars.
Prior to the introduction of ribbons in Office 2007, the user interface for its Office suites had barely changed since the introduction of Office 97 on 19 November 1996.
(Office 2000 and Office 2003 released relatively minor upgrades compared to Office 97, which itself was considered to be something of a milestone compared to Office 95).
A reason behind the negative reaction is Microsoft’s decision to abandon backward-compatibility and remove the traditional menu system, rather than leave it as an option that could be activated if needed.
Users of previous versions had to relearn the user interface in order to accomplish what they already knew how to do, and some configuration options were eliminated.
The decision to abolish menus has been likened to the Coca-Cola company’s infamous New Coke campaign in its abandonment of the existing user base.
The ribbon interface may be more intuitive for a younger generation that has only ever used mice but for skilled personnel with keyboard skills the ribbon interface is a very retrograde development and I have seen businesses reject outright computer solutions because they could not be efficiently controlled via a keyboard.
Needless to say, I do not willing use any version of Windows Office with a ribbon interface.
But the problems didn’t stop there.
In 2008 Microsoft managed to wangle international approval for their “next generation industry standard for office documents” which would drive another release of their cash cow: Office.
Microsoft takes important step in crushing its rival’s format
Microsoft has long profited from proprietary formats, occasionally at its competitors’ expense.
However, with open standards coming into vogue, Microsoft adopted an “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach, creating its own open document format.
However, its new format was not warmly received.
James Love, director of Knowledge Economy International, an organization campaigning for more open access to knowledge critical of OOXML, stated, “We are disappointed.
Microsoft’s control over document formats has destroyed competition on the desktop, and the fight over OOXML is really a fight over the future of competition and innovation.”
Microsoft lost an initial first vote, putting the format’s future in jeopardy.
The format was allowed a second balloting, though, and this time it passed.
Nonetheless, Microsoft has secured ratification and fulfilled its critics worse fears by moving one step closer to domination of the next generation industry standard for office documents.
Dailytech.com – Microsoft Wins Document Format Standards Battle
Jason Mick (Blog) – April 2, 2008 4:15 PM
The problems for Microsoft then got exponentially worse in 2012 when they bolted on a touchscreen interface [aka kindergarten face paint] onto Windows and then encouraged their existing customers to upgrade their non-touchscreen systems whilst simultaneously encouraging manufacturers to install this new version of Windows onto brand new non-touchscreen computers.
Unsurprisingly, this new shade of lipstick was a marketing disaster and customer satisfaction plummeted to its lowest since the release of Windows Vista.
Windows 8 is a personal computer operating system developed by Microsoft as part of the Windows NT family of operating systems.
The operating system was released to manufacturing on August 1, 2012, and was released for general availability on October 26, 2012.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) reported a decline in Microsoft’s customer satisfaction, the lowest it has been since Windows Vista.
Unsurprisingly, people started talking about “Microsoft’s Lost Decade” because the mass market had shifted towards tablets, smartphones and chromebooks.
Once upon a time, Microsoft dominated the tech industry; indeed, it was the wealthiest corporation in the world.
But since 2000, as Apple, Google, and Facebook whizzed by, it has fallen flat in every arena it entered: e-books, music, search, social networking, etc., etc.
Talking to former and current Microsoft executives, Kurt Eichenwald finds the fingers pointing at C.E.O. Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates’s successor, as the man who led them astray.
Microsoft’s Lost Decade – Kurt Eichenwald – Vanity Fair – August 2012
A smartphone (or smart phone) is a mobile phone with an advanced mobile operating system.
They typically combine the features of a cell phone with those of other popular mobile devices, such as personal digital assistant (PDA), media player and GPS navigation unit.
Most smartphones have a touchscreen user interface, can run third-party apps and are camera phones. Most Smartphones produced from 2012 onwards also have high-speed mobile broadband 4G LTE internet, motion sensors, and mobile payment mechanisms.
In 2014, sales of smartphones worldwide topped 1.2 billion, which was up 28% from 2013.
A tablet computer is a mobile computer with a touchscreen display, circuitry and battery in a single device.
Tablets come equipped with sensors, including cameras, a microphone and an accelerometer, and the touchscreen display uses finger or stylus gestures substituting for the use of computer mouse and keyboard.
They usually feature on-screen, pop-up virtual keyboards for typing.
A Chromebook is a laptop running Chrome OS as its operating system. The devices are designed to be used primarily while connected to the Internet, with most applications and data residing “in the cloud”.
A Chromebook is an example of a thin client.
Then in 2013 came the revelations about the “NSA-Microsoft connection” which further alienated retail and corporate customers.
Report: Microsoft closely involved with controversial NSA spying in US
UK newspaper cites top-secret documents provided by US spy contractor Edward Snowden in NSA-Microsoft connection.
The Jerusalem Post – 07/12/2013
This was followed by Microsoft desperately announcing it would acquire Nokia’s mobile device business in a deal [inspired by Apple Envy] totalling about €5.4bn.
On 2 September 2013, Microsoft announced that it would acquire Nokia’s mobile device business in a deal worth €3.79bn, along with another €1.65bn to license Nokia’s portfolio of patents for 10 years; a deal totaling at over €5.4bn.
Steve Ballmer considered the purchase to be a “bold step into the future” for both companies, primarily as a result of its recent collaboration.
It was also part of Ballmer’s long-term vision of transforming Microsoft into a ‘devices and services’ company.
Unsurprisingly, Microsoft parted company with its floundering CEO in February 2014.
Steven Anthony “Steve” Ballmer (born March 24, 1956) is an American businessman who was the chief executive officer of Microsoft from January 2000 to February 2014, and is the current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.
As of May 11, 2015, his personal wealth is estimated at US$22.7 billion, ranking number 21 on the Forbes 400.
Microsoft Mobile was established following the acquisition of Nokia’s Devices and Services division by Microsoft, which was completed in April 2014.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to interpret the purple prose of his successor which is articulated using marketing motivators, corporate clichés and [for many] good old fashioned gibberish.
Today’s plans were outlined in an email from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to Microsoft employees.
“We are moving from a strategy to grow a standalone phone business to a strategy to grow and create a vibrant Windows ecosystem including our first-party device family,” Nadella said.
“In the near-term, we’ll run a more effective and focused phone portfolio while retaining capability for long-term reinvention in mobility.”
ZeroHedge.com – Tyler Durden – 8 July2015
SatNad’s purple haze could see Lumia ‘killed’. Way to go, chief!
Microsoft’s self-inflicted PR crisis. Note to self: Speak clearly
Microsoft’s CEO has attempted to explain the future of its mobile platform in a latest public statement addressed to staff.
But, this being Satya Nadella, such is the verbal haze that it’s hard to make out what on Earth’s going on.
Nadella’s language is becoming a real problem for Microsoft, creating uncertainty where clarity is needed.
His insistence on using the word “experience” has stoked a mini-PR crisis.
Reporters have already inferred from the purple haze that Windows Phone has received a death sentence, and that Lumia will be snuffed out, probably some time next year.
Such reports may not be true, as we’ll see, but it’s very hard to tell.
The Register – Andrew Orlowski – 9 Jul 2015
What is certain is that the new CEO is busy letting go and writing down.
Microsoft SLASHES 7,800 bods, BURNS $7.6bn off books in Nokia adjustment
Record writeoff officially terminates the Ballmer era
Ballmer: His record of cutting has been eclipsed by Satya Nadella
Microsoft will carry out one of its largest rounds of job cuts and a record book writedown in a restructuring plan that calls time on its ill-fated Nokia acquisition.
The Windows goliath confirmed on Wednesday (July 8) that 7,800 staff will go, primarily from its phone hardware business – the Nokia devices and services unit it bought in April 2014.
Microsoft’s last single big round of cuts saw the axe taken to 5,000 posts in 2008 and 2009, as the Western economies hit meltdown and the company cut its costs.
This round of layoffs and restructuring will cost Microsoft between $750m and $850m.
But the bad news for the Nokia legacy doesn’t stop there.
Its decision will also see Microsoft report the biggest writedown in its history – $7.6bn, which will show up in the fourth quarter for fiscal 2015 this month.
This figure busts Microsoft’s existing write-down record of $6.2bn in 2012, for defunct online ads operation aQuantive.
The Register – Gavin Clarke – 8 Jul 2015
Part of that letting go includes watching personal computer shipments falling “off a cliff”.
PC sales dip below 2009 levels, with Japanese sales off 44 per cent
Dell dives as Lenovo and HP pull away from the pack
68.5 million PCs trundled off the world’s production lines in 2015’s first quarter, the lowest number since 2009 according to box-watcher IDC.
The Register – Simon Sharwood – 10 Apr 2015
PC sales go OFF A CLIFF to under 300 million a year
Everybody went backwards – some by 20 per cent – during Q2
The PC market had a horror second quarter, according to new data from analyst outfits Gartner and IDC.
Gartner counts “ultramobile premium” devices as PCs.
Rival firm IDC counts two-in-one laptop/tablets as mobile devices, but even then has reportedly done its sums and found 66.1 million PCs shipped in 2015’s second quarter, an 11.8 per cent year-on-year drop.
The Register – Simon Sharwood – 10 Jul 2015
What? EMEA PC sales dropped by HOW much?
Figures plunge into toilet with sufficient force to drench bathroom
With tech distributors and retailers suffering PC inventory indigestion in EMEA, shipments into the region during Q2 were always likely to be bad, and they didn’t disappoint.
Some 18.6 million desktops, notebooks and premium ultra mobiles found their way into outlets in the three months, that is down 15.7 per cent, or 3.47 million fewer units, year on year.
The Register – Paul Kunert – 10 Jul 2015
Another part includes letting go of billions of dollars in a share buyback bonanza.
We hope Satya Nadella at least has the courtesy to wait a week before announcing a comparable $7.6 billion or so buyback authorization.
ZeroHedge.com – Tyler Durden – 8 July2015
And that’s just the bad news…