Concise postmortem of Ballmer-era Microsoft

John Gruber on Microsoft's past and future:

Windows 8 wasn’t designed to adjust to the new world; it was designed to turn back the clock to the old one.

What always amazes me is that Microsoft designed a fantastic, forward-looking pocket computer interface, Metro, then grafted it in crude fashion onto the same old thing, in pursuit of that end. It's always good, though, to remember why it has the luxury of relentless failure at new ideas.

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  1. tlwest says:

    I must say I agree with Gruber's main point:

    Rather than ... focus on making Windows as it was better for people who want to use desktop and notebook PCs, Microsoft forged ahead with a design that displeased traditional PC users and did little to gain itself a foothold in the burgeoning tablet market.

    However, I have sympathy for Microsoft's position. They're not losing their market dominance. It's that the market they dominate is gradually becoming less important. Still, unlike RIM, which had its market (business-oriented smartphones) completely destroyed, Microsoft's core market is going to make them gagillions for years.

    Quite frankly, they should probably become an income trust and cease spending tons of money on futile innovations that businesses are only marginally interested in. They've got at least 20 years of life unless they, like so many companies, bankrupt themselves way early because they cannot conceive that companies have a natural life-span.

  2. rider says:

    People keep saying the PC market is becoming less important but being in support I don't really see it.

    I see just as many PCs out there. People look at declining sales figures and jump to the conclusion it's because of tablets. PCs last longer now.

    Most people and businesses are using tablets and phones to augment and empower the PCs they have now not replace them.

    Now I have to support 30 different devices including PCs.

    The whole "oh my good the sky is falling we must disguise our desktop OS as something new" is what is wrong with Windows 8. Give me all the improvements of Win 8 without the idiotic Metro interface on a PC. At least make us able to shut it off at the push of a button. It's all there just by default every file type is associated with a damn Metro app that is clunky and useless on a PC.

    They need to make it operable as both, which would be trivially easy for them to do.

    It's jsut stubbornness and I'm not sure what the want the end goal to be.

  3. hallam says:

    I don't think Windows 8 was crude in the slightest. When I first saw it, I was blown away by the look. It is still much better than anything Apple has done except for iOS 7 which was really Apple playing catchup and Ives finally getting to jettison Job's peculiar taste for skendomorphism.

    The problem is that Windows 8 is like that kid at school who has to keep telling you how smart they are and how everything has to be done their way. I have been using Windows since NT 3.5 and the reason I prefer it to OSX is that it works the way I am used to. the problem with Windows 8 was Sinofsky's attempt to force Windows users to buy Microsoft tablets by making their desktop machine work like a tablet.

    Plenty of people in Microsoft knew that Windows 8 would be a disaster years ahead of the launch. There was absolutely nothing that was subtle or ambiguous in their usability testing. Everyone who participated in trials hated being forced to relearn the start menu. Not just some, EVERYONE.

    Unlike the Vista fiasco, the Windows 8 fiasco wasn't driven by a technical need. The reason system managers ganged up against Vista was that the new security model makes their jobs a lot harder. But it was a completely necessary change because Vista is a lot harder to break than XP. Windows 8 was completely gratuitous.

    Most people can work out how to make Win8 work somewhat like Win7 or Vista in about 30 minutes. It is not that hard to do. But unlike Win7 or Vista you have absolutely no control over the start screen. You can't drag and drop an item to your start menu and none of the obvious ways of creating start screen entries work. Oh and to turn the machine off you have to know three completely non-obvious incantations.

    The problem with Win8 is that it is inconsistent for the experienced windows user and counter-intuitive for everyone. The fact that this fiasco was caused by one idiot (Sinofsky) and his boss who didn't fire him earlier should tell people something about how free markets work in practice.

  4. hallam says:

    Exactly. Imagine what would have happened if Windows Tablets had been simply a stripped down version of Windows desktop with built in Microsoft Office and Windows 8 desktop had just been new cosmetic skin on Win7 that allowed the tablet to be used as an extension of the desktop more conveniently.

    The other huge drawback to Win8 is that you can't run it on the Macbooks very easily. Yes it boots but you have to choose between bootcamp and VM mode. It is only licensed for use in one mode. No more switching back and forth.

    That is a major pain for those of us who prefer Windows as a development environment but like Apple hardware.

  5. kai says:

    Well ironically now I think they have a better more focused vision than almost any other big tech company. I just graduated with a phd in applied math and while I was looking for a job it became apparent from various job postings that IBM is really the most active player in forward thinking research in AI and computing.

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