Windows Death Cross


Originally the internet was dominated by personal computers running Microsoft Windows.

But, as with all empires, it was doomed to failure.

However, the speed of the collapse has been astounding.


The problem for Microsoft is that their long standing policy of planned obsolescence began to fail in 2007 with the release of the unloved Windows Vista.

Windows Vista (codenamed Longhorn) is an operating system by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktops, laptops, tablet PCs and media center PCs.

On 30 January 2007, it was released worldwide[8] and was made available for purchase and download from Microsoft’s website.

Amid the negative reviews and reception, there were also positive reviews of Vista, most notably among PC gamers and the advantages brought about with DirectX 10, which allowed for better gaming performance and more realistic graphics, as well as support for many new capabilities brought about in new video cards and GPUs. However, many DirectX 9 games initially showed a drop in frame rate compared to that experienced in Windows XP.

In its first year of availability, PC World rated it as the biggest tech disappointment of 2007, and it was rated by InfoWorld as No. 2 of Tech’s all-time 25 flops.

Planned obsolescence or built-in obsolescence in industrial design and economics is a policy of planning or designing a product with an artificially limited useful life, so it will become obsolete (that is, unfashionable or no longer functional) after a certain period of time.

In a competitive industry, this is a risky strategy because when consumers catch on to this, they may decide to buy from competitors instead.

Crucially, the failure of Windows Vista in 2007 coincided with the release of Android and iOS which ushered in the era of smartphones and tablets.

Android is a mobile operating system developed by Google, based on the Linux kernel and designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Initially developed by Android, Inc., which Google bought in 2005, Android was unveiled in 2007 along with the founding of the Open Handset Alliance – a consortium of hardware, software, and telecommunication companies devoted to advancing open standards for mobile devices.

iOS (formerly iPhone OS) is a mobile operating system created and developed by Apple Inc. exclusively for its hardware.

Originally unveiled in 2007 for the iPhone, it has been extended to support other Apple devices such as the iPod Touch (September 2007) and the iPad (January 2010).


With the release of Windows 7 in 2009 it appeared [for a few short years] that Windows 7 would emulate the very successful Windows XP that was released in 2001.


But then Microsoft really blew it by ramping-up their planned obsolescence cycle with the release of three terrible turkeys:

Windows 8.0 [2012],
Windows 8.1 [2013],
Windows 10 [2015].


This leaves the future of Microsoft Windows in rather a precarious position.

Firstly, statistics from Lithuania during Operation Saber Strike 2016 suggest the military sector is still very committed to Windows XP.


Operation Saber Strike is an annual international exercise held since 2010 by the United States Army Europe (USAREUR) focused on the Baltic States.

The exercise spans multiple locations in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and involves approximately 2,000 troops from 14 countries.

Saber Strike 2016 is scheduled from May 27-June 22.

Secondly, the business sector appears to be hanging on for dear life to Windows 7 whilst hoping that Microsoft will return to planet Earth and release a viable alternative before extended support for Windows 7 ends in January 2020.


Thirdly, in the retail sector, the uptake of Windows 10 has stalled.


This stalled adoption is very evident in China where Windows 10 [8.47%] has only just managed to nose ahead of Windows XP [7.51%].


Over the next three years Microsoft hopes it can cajole the majority of its legacy customer base into “upgrading” to Windows 10.

The problem for Microsoft is that hope isn’t a viable long term strategy.

Even a massive marketing budget can’t transform hope into a winning long term strategy.

This especially applies to American consumers.

Just ask the Hillary.



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8 Responses to Windows Death Cross

  1. rishrac says:

    Microsoft Windows, also known as sit and spin. Don’t dare leave, there might be a yes or no question somewhere that will wait till you return.

  2. tom0mason says:

    I have been on Linux for more than 10 years. I finally had to give up on the 16 year old laptop PC I had been running due to the lack of reasonably priced hardware replacement parts.
    Other people have asked why I have few problems with my PC software as my machines are all over 6 years old. I point out I’m on Linux and they look incredulous. I always advise them to try a copy of PCLinuxOS as a live CD and see how they like it. Unfortunately not many try it as they believe that Linux is too technical, or will not run the software that they believe is essential.
    I don’t mind as I usually end-up buying their old machines as they go down the expensive route to more problems.

  3. PeterMG says:

    Hi Tim It is seldom that I disagree with you but I think here you are comparing apples with oranges and inadvertently doing what our renowned climate scientist do. (no offence please) Windows 10 is much better than Windows 7, and not the turkey you suggest. And whilst many users want to be flash and have an iPad, they are a pain in the butt to support and inflexible with little in the way of business focused applications. The Microsoft surface on the other hand can interface with everything your PC does and is supported by the same structure without any training cost. But the point is the world moved on and Microsoft missed a step and it didn’t get in early with a mobile OS with an attendant echo system of apps. That was what Window 8 was all about, trying to catch up, and their failure was less about the quality of the OS and more about the echo system of apps or lack thereof and the apathy of the developer community.

    By the way most mobile devices use the arm processor and not the Intel x86 based processors that all PC’s use, even Mac’s and almost everything running the Linux OS on a PC. The initial release of the Microsoft surface was with an Arm processor but the market didn’t like this and it has been quietly dropped ( I think it may come back as the arm processor has much to comment it for mobile devices) and Microsoft customers wanted the unparalleled flexibility that they get with the x86 platform. Also Intel upped their game as they had to when AMD started to eat into their x86 sales a decade or more earlier.

    So what your article needs to reflect is the market for internet browsing split, with many casual users switching to using their mobile devices, for social media, shopping, banking etc all running on the Arm processor, which is reflected in your charts. These switches have very little to do with how good or bad Widow Vista, Window 8 or 8.1 is or was. In fact the biggest issue with any Windows release is as always getting software and hardware vendors to update drivers, and given that the hardware and software estate is enormously larger and more diverse than the strictly controlled iOS or Android estates there is a lot of scope for whinging and whining to be given airtime out of all proportion to its overall importance. As an example the BBC loves to report any and all issues with Microsoft, but ignore any issue with iOS or Apple.

    My day job is with servers, I look after nearly 900 scattered around the globe, dedicated to front office trading, 99 % of which are Windows. We have almost no issues at all with Windows and there is now no realistic alternative to the active directory for organising users and computers. Our organisation is rolling out Windows 10 for our clients, (over 100,000) and I have not heard any of any negative noise about holding onto Win 7. Indeed there is a clamour to get to Win 10. There is strong demand to move to tablets such as the surface or some of the hybrid laptops with detachable keyboards.

    User applications in the business world will continue their move to web based apps from being locally based on each users machine, and interface innovations such as more touch screens for PC’s will see more users being able to work remotely when their applications catch up. But people on-line are not making things, or generating wealth, and so this revolution in mobile computing has happened and we are now in the established phase.

    In my opinion you won’t see the recent treads continue to some inevitable end, but rather a fight to see who can refine their IT offerings to best suit each user environment. If there are lessons here it’s that Windows 8 demonstrated you can’t just change the OS and force users down the touchscreen route, when none of their applications have changed. Right from the get go you could buy an $8 US app that put the start button and menu back in windows 8 and that turned it instantly into a normal OS again.

    Windows Vista was a NT kernel update and the introduction of NT6, XP being windows NT5, Windows itself NT being a development of the VMS operating system by a chap called Dave Cutler. NT3.5 was the first server version and the first secure client was NT4 . Windows 2000 was NT5 with the 2000 client being NT5.1, then the Server was updated to 5.2 and XP was introduced as NT5.3 which contained a raft of backward compatibility feature so that Window 95/98 could be dropped as this OS was based on DOS and had zero security built in. NT6 introduced a raft of features to enhance security, and added features such as virtualisation, and to enable Windows to align with many of the features and standards common in the UNIX world. Windows vista, 8, 8.1, 7 and 10 are all NT6. There has been no planned obsolescence, only the introduction of a better way of doing things. As I understand it there will not be any more great windows upgrades, only a series of enhancements and improvements delivered free of charge, as was Windows 10.

    I’m not a Windows fan boy and could point out masses of frustrations we have we have with interface changes, but most of my work is remotely via power shell anyway. But when we have an OS that is so good it would be remiss of me not to mention this.

  4. malagabay says:

    Peter: It’s always good to get feedback and push-back.

    Lots of points…

    We evidently have different opinions regarding Windows 10… that’s fine… but for me it was the straw that broke the camel’s back and I moved across to Linux.

    My personal view is:

    1) Windows is slow, bloated and [relatively] insecure.
    2) The current kindergarten user interface is appalling.
    3) The default collection of telemetry data is destroying trust.
    4) Using
    home users as unpaid beta-testers is destroying good will.
    5) Force feeding updates [that bork a machine] is not a good idea.

    But then I’m a home user who wants some control over my personal computing facilities.

    The corporate world is different – as is their version of Windows 10 [so I’m told].

    The Windows customer base in the business segment has traditionally been very healthy… and the business segment has traditionally benefited from being able to recruit Windows literate staff that have used Microsoft products in their homes, schools and universities.

    This success has brought its own problems of market fragmentation as Microsoft has pushed out new versions of Windows.

    For the big corporations Microsoft’s planned obsolescence [aka “upgrade”] policy has always been an expensive [but affordable] hamster wheel operation of “upgrading”.

    However, as you move down the business food-chain these hamster wheel “upgrades” become less affordable and occasionally impossible because the business has invested in hardware [and/or software] that is not supported by Microsoft’s latest offering – numerous examples can be found in the retail banking, medical, engineering and military sectors.

    Adding to this [relatively minor] fragmentation problem is a developing issue called the Snowden Effect that may significantly diminish the global market for Windows in the longer term.

    The Snowden Effect is particularly evident in the China and the Russian Federation where Windows 7 holdouts still account for about half of the desktop market.

    There is also the Virtualization Effect where a few businesses have moved away from the hamster wheel “upgrade” cycle by putting their legacy desktops into virtual machines running Linux.

    Plus there is the developing Cloud Effect where business applications are accessed via the internet using a browser that runs on just about anything.

    All of these factors are headwinds for Microsoft which [I think] are slowly diminishing the Windows market in the business segment.

    That’s not saying Windows will disappear overnight in the business segment but it’s becoming a riskier proposition for business [in the longer term] and those business that stay with Windows will probably have to [continually] dig deeper to fund their Windows habit.

    The bigger problem for Windows is in the retail segment where they are losing out to mobiles and tablets – big time.

    This means that Microsoft will also be losing out on it’s cash cow sales of Office [in particular].

    Overall, Microsoft has lost momentum and relevancy with the younger generation [just ask my kids] and this [eventually and inevitably ] will reduce user demand in the business segment – and [ironically] in the tech sector!

    ZeroHedge is already reporting on their earnings:

    Where did this massive non-GAAP difference come from? Something called Windows 10 Revenue Deferral. This is how MSFT explained it:

    Microsoft recorded net revenue deferrals of $1.9 billion during the three months ended September 30, 2016 and net revenue deferrals of $1.3 billion during the three months ended September 30, 2015, related to Windows 10.

    That’s why I guess the next three years will be critical for Microsoft.

    “My day job is with servers, I look after nearly 900 scattered around the globe, dedicated to front office trading, 99 % of which are Windows”.

    In my last day job I developed and supported internet applications for a global team of marketers and traders… the traders were very demanding… and they hated Windows… in fact they hated anything with a mouse 🙂

    On the other hand: the corporation loved Microsoft.

    This was an interesting dynamic and it was a challenge developing IE applications that could be used effectively with a keyboard [and minimal mouse].

    Back in the day this wasn’t a huge problem but with Vista it started to become painful as keyboard short-cut support became flakier and patchier…

    But life moves on…


  5. PeterMG says:

    Tim: You raise some good points, and your choice of using Linux can’t be criticised. Given how you use Linux and your obvious awareness of things digital you will not suffer from some of the issues with the Linux client that the average consumer does, and hence its lack of broad appeal. Let’s not confuse the user interface with the base operating system, with the iMac (x86) Android (Arm) both running on a cut down Linux base. But the Apple iOS for the iMac is not open source and can’t be modified. It’s as locked up as is the Window NT6 kernel.

    Your points
    1) Windows is slow and bloated. Yes and no. The first thing I used to do when purchasing a new computer or laptop was to format the disk and install the OS clean. Slowness of windows is entirely down to OEM bloatware, and users complain about this constantly, as does Microsoft to the OEM’s. For PC’s now days I use the Intel NUC with an M2 form factor disk for the OS. It makes the machine go like lighting, and being x86 based you can run Linux if you chose. As for security, that is defined by the user. If you log on as administrator, disable all the annoying “are you sure you want to do this” messages then browse doggy website running free or no anti-virus anti malware program you will get hit at some point. Fact of life and my daughter got hacked on her mac and was left with no option but to take it to the Apple shop.££££££ Windows insecurity today a myth, and no worse or better than any other operating system. It’s just in absolute terms there are a greater number of idiots using windows.
    2) The interface could be better, but the mac is worse (my opinion) and it’s a personal thing. Linux drives me mad, and having tried it and given my best shot I can’t be bother any more. I’m more interested in my photography and building plastic models than fiddling with computers.
    3) Not sure what you are getting at here, but today I trust Google, Apple and Facebook less than I do Microsoft. But again it’s a personal thing. Seems though that they are changing
    4) The beta user thing I have never thought about. All my beta copies are on virtual machines, and there is a very clear warning about being a beta tester on your primary machine. I think the serious beta testers are eagerly awaiting each release and can’t wait to pull it apart or discover a bug. Me I’m just curious.
    5) Look at it this way. When left to their own devices the vast majority of users don’t update and then get compromised. It doesn’t matter what the vendors do they get pilloried. We get notified of various issues that don’t make the news, and it’s quite revelling the flaws that are present in applications and OS’s other than Windows that the vendors have to be forced to fix. Microsoft does not hesitate these days. If you do an update to a Windows computer and your machine then fails it is most likely (99.9% in my experience) that your equipment vendor has not provided you with the correct drivers or you need to do a firmware upgrade. Most reputable hardware vendors have now developed firmware updates that can be done via your OS, rather than the techy route of booting to a disk offline.
    To finish you can easily have complete control over you Windows device. It’s really a question of do you really want to bother. So long as you log on with an account with a strong password (long is better that using special characters and very long will defeat even the most powerful supper computer) you are safe from the average hacker. You are not safe from government eavesdropping until we have a better system of safeguards in place.
    Windows 10 in the corporate world is the exact same code as the user world. In fact server 2012R2 / 2016 is the same code as windows 10. All that happens is you have a different answer file on the distribution that loads different components when you install the OS. Typically in the corporate world some client computing geek will spend six months tweaking the interface and documenting what they have done, take an image and blast this out to all the PC’s which are identical. This is why some think the corporate version is different to the retail version. Also in business you use active directory as a way to globally set security so that it can’t be overridden by the user community. But I guess you wouldn’t be surprised to know that this also breads an altogether better form of idiot who manages to destroy a PC is ways that are beyond our imagination.

    Lastly, when Microsoft moved from the TechNet model to public beta testing I was miffed to say the least. I paid £100 per year and had 10 copies of every OS and application ever. I have got over this now and for office I have a home office subscription I share with my son that gives us multiple machines we have office on and some cloud storage. Would I have changed voluntarily, NO but now that I have I realise I have not lost anything, and now my office suit is always up-to-date.

    Last point is the reason corporates love Windows is because of the Active directory. You simply can’t operate a large organisation (or small) without a directory and hope to have any sense of control over your IT. Novell had a lock on this but lost the plot due to their intransigence and lack of development. Google, Apple and Android have nothing to fill this void. And in the corporate wold you don’t use a “free” Linux; you use a supported distribution such as Red Hat. They don’t have directory services. I don’t see Microsoft going away anytime soon.
    Improvement in the pipeline

    • malagabay says:

      “Given how you use Linux and your obvious awareness of things digital you will not suffer from some of the issues with the Linux client that the average consumer does, and hence its lack of broad appeal.”

      I had to fiddle around with Secure Boot etc to liberate the machine…
      But then installing and using Linux has been remarkably trouble free.
      A quirk [if I remember correctly] with Linux Mint is that the Firewall is not enabled by default.
      Now I happily operate in “average user” mode.
      I’ve got back a “classic” desktop and I no longer have to endure Microsoft “ribbons”.
      Just my personal experience.
      It meets my requirements.
      Horses for courses.

  6. rishrac says:

    I like Linux.

  7. Erick Clasen says:

    Nice site Tim. A little backstory on how I found myself here. I found your site while looking up Phillip S. Callahan after reading about him in Dan Barber’s Book, The Third Plate. You have some interesting info on him as well as what I have seen so far on calendar discrepancies.Clocks, calendars, precision timekeeping are other interests of mine and I enjoyed those posts. After that I checked out your categories and that led me here to this post.

    I will be speaking from personal experience with what I have experienced on my machines and others that I have worked on. There is a bit of a chronology to this as well.
    Back when Windows started, I was a late adopter. I stayed in the command line, the DOS world, until Windows 95. It was out when I was in college and I briefly had Win3.1 until I could install 95 on the machine I had at that point. At the same time I was using the universities computers, a bank of Win95 PCs was located in a convenient computer lab. The Internet was really coming on hard and fast, so the inevitable occurred, the room was packed to the gills with students and there was a waiting line most of the time. But, there was another computer lab mostly for computer science majors, full of Sun Sparcs running UNIX, barely used at all. The room was cooler and quieter too, a bonus. This was when I got a feel for what a non Microsoft OS could be like. I would up learning it enough to use it with fair competency, a struggle at time to remember how to do something at times, but worth the effort to stick with it as it ran so smooth. I wondered if there was anything like this that I could load on a PC. A few years went by and I started to do this with Linux.
    The first few machines I used Linux on were set up with dual boot. Red Hat/W98 and later Ubuntu/XP combos on two separate machines, one after the other in time. Setting up Red hat was a pain at the time and not for anyone that is not “good” with computers. Ubuntu was easy to set up, almost as easy as setting up Windows. But, it was much easy to work with than the earlier Red Hat 9.0 and that was the key. It was easy enough for my non-technical minded spouse to use, she was not lost in it in other words and could actually could use it without a lot of questions or frustration. On top of that the performance of both machines was hands down better with Linux. Things like time from a cold boot to the time you could click and open a program were faster. More programs could be run simultaneously without bogging the machine down. Moving around on the screen and opening files went faster as well. On Linux there was minimal weird behavior and very infrequent total lockups, requiring a reboot. There was no degradation either. What I mean is that it seems after having a Windows install running on a machine for years and then loading programs on it one after the other over time, it seems to get more unstable and flaky over time to the point that a fresh install is needed. This has gotten better at least with Win 7, I have noticed. On a machine that I had after the XP/Ubuntu, one was to be the last Windows machine. A Xeon machine (XP/Lubuntu) that had 1GB RAM, it was expensive RDRAM and I chose to ride it out a while as is, Linux seemed to run a bit better with less memory. In other words it would take longer to hit the out of RAM wall and start to swap to the drive and when it did it was less aggressive and didn’t do a lockup for a long time like it did while running XP. A lockup meaning the time you have to just wait for the machine to start responding again as the disk just grinds. As I said, this was the final Windows machine for me, with expensive memory, it paid to toss the PC and get a newer used machine for the same amount of money as an upgrade. This is the machine that I am on now, 6 years old and running Mint XFCE. Right now I am actually composing this while on it running Slackware in a Virtual Box, to test it out a bit. She, my spouse, has basically the same machine, same age, same CPU, with Windows 7 ( after a brief try at Windows 10, which was short as the performance was sub-par, plus the fact that when it did updates it “inhaled” 100% of the bandwidth on my connection for long time periods was frustrating), the speed difference is quite noticeable between the two machines, Win7 vs Mint XFCE. On a cold start with Mint, I can click and open something like Firefox or Word Processor, as soon as the network card is recognized, about 9 seconds after boot. The Win 7 machine takes at least 3-4 times longer. It also performs much more sluggishly overall when it finally “arrives” after a few minutes. My estimate of the speed at which I can maneuver on the Win 7 machine is along the lines of equivalence to when I tried Ubuntu on a Pentium 4 machine, single core, circa 2004, so 14 years old. One final comparison. I had a neighbor with a new machine, a budget one, but new, with Windows 10 and it still moved a lot slower than the 6 year old machine that I have with Mint.

    The difference in performance is just what I have experienced and motivated me to move to Linux 100%. Not to mention the stability as well, less odd behavior and virus and malware issues are bonuses. Linux has come of age, it once was a tool that was too technical for the common user but, at this point most people could get up to speed with it fairly quickly. A little learning upfront is an investment that will save time in the long run with all of the spare seconds saved over waiting for Windows to respond to human inputs.
    Microsoft has had a few hits, XP and 7 come to mind, but the product seems to go off the rails badly almost every other release, Vista and 8 come to mind. I wonder why 9 was skipped, maybe it was going in the wrong direction early on and that was realized in house before launch, I don’t know the history with that.

    To all the readers, happy computing to all, with whatever OS you run,

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