Why Microsoft?s Tablet Strategy is Fundamentally Flawed

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    Posted: 16 September 2011 02:30 PM #61

    FalKirk - 16 September 2011 04:29 PM

    Microsoft gets it. They know that to be successful in the brave new world of tablets they’ve got to leave Windows behind…

    ...but they just can’t seem to say goodbye.

    They “know” what to do, but choose not to do it? I’m not sure they really get it.

    First, I don’t think they really believe in a post-PC world. It’s not even a matter of semantics: everything is a PC. I think they believe that traditional desktop/laptop computers will continue to dominate consumer’s computing time & dollars. So they think that incorporating touchscreen UI elements into desktops/laptops will help maintain the status quo.

    Apple is taking a slightly different tack. They are incorporating iOS elements into OS X, just not the touchscreen parts. They were very quick to see the transition to portable computing and now dominate that space by a huge margin. Note the mad scramble now to build MB Air clones.

    The reality is that people are spending more of their time and money on smartphones and tablets. Post-PC or Mobile, call it what you want. This is where Microsoft with Windows 8 should be laser-focused on. They’re not doing that.

    The next 12 months will be very interesting. WP7 Mango on Nokia hardware comes first. Win8 Intel tablets are probably next, but still very far away. I can’t imagine those doing very well. Win8 ARM tablets are even farther away (waiting for quad-core?) and may not be ready even this time next year.

    I’m sure Apple is paying attention to what is being announced this week. I just don’t see them needing to change their current strategy. They will continue their focus on iOS, iCloud and the various iOS devices. The major portion of their energies are channeled to the post-PC sector.

         
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    Posted: 17 September 2011 08:22 AM #62

    FalKirk - 16 September 2011 03:29 AM

    ... Anyway, to understand what this means, let me translate this into Apple’s terminology. It would mean that OS X programs would continue to run on notebooks and desktops, that iOS Apps would run on tablets only but that OS X apps could run on a tablet - but only if it’s re-written first.

    Now from one point of view, this makes Windows 8 more flexible than Apple’s dual operating systems. There’s simply no reasonable way to run an OS X program on an Apple tablet. But with Windows 8, in can be done. As I’ve expressed before, I’m not sure why you would WANT to do that but, what the hey, it can be done ...

    Thinking lapse?  iWork was rewritten to run on iPad!

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    Posted: 17 September 2011 08:51 AM #63

    FalKirk,

    There may be many :evil: versions of Windows 8:
    Windows 8 Metro, Windows 8 Desktop, Windows 8 Professional, etc.

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    Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.  - Steve Jobs

         
  • Posted: 17 September 2011 09:44 AM #64

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    [ Edited: 19 September 2011 12:46 AM by John Molloy ]

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  • Posted: 17 September 2011 10:53 AM #65

    When there are consumer tablets available with Windows 8, let us talk.

    Apple’s first mover advantage is huge

    From the most recent conference call

    Today, 86% of the Fortune 500 are deploying or testing iPad within their enterprises, up from 75% last quarter.

    We are also seeing strong adoption internationally with 47% of Global 500 companies testing or deploying iPad. In the 15 months since iPad has shipped, we’ve seen iPads used in the enterprise in ways we could have never imagined. Companies like Boston Scientific, Xerox and Salesforce.com are deploying thousands of iPads and revolutionize in how their sales teams engage their customers. iPad is being used inside the country’s top hospitals like HCA and Cedars-Sinai and in retail at Nordstrom and at Este? Lauder’s Clinique counters. General Electric, SAP and Standard Charter have developed internal Apps for training, currency tracking and business process management to help make employees even more productive. And Alaska Airlines and American Airlines are using the iPad in cockpit to replace paper-based navigational and reference information pilots carry with him on every flight.

    We continue to be delighted by the diverse and sometimes, unexpected use cases we see around iPad.

    Advantage iPad and Apple. 

    Real advantage, not maybe someday over the rainbow advantage.

         
  • Posted: 17 September 2011 01:36 PM #66

    Mace - 17 September 2011 11:22 AM
    FalKirk - 16 September 2011 03:29 AM

    ... Anyway, to understand what this means, let me translate this into Apple’s terminology. It would mean that OS X programs would continue to run on notebooks and desktops, that iOS Apps would run on tablets only but that OS X apps could run on a tablet - but only if it’s re-written first.

    Now from one point of view, this makes Windows 8 more flexible than Apple’s dual operating systems. There’s simply no reasonable way to run an OS X program on an Apple tablet. But with Windows 8, in can be done. As I’ve expressed before, I’m not sure why you would WANT to do that but, what the hey, it can be done ...

    Thinking lapse?  iWork was rewritten to run on iPad!

    I thought that I stated it correctly? It’s true that OS X programs can be re-written to wok on the iPad, but on Windows 8, the original, unmodified, versions of the desktop application can run on the Windows 8 tablets - at least the Intel version of those tablets.

         
  • Posted: 17 September 2011 01:39 PM #67

    Mace - 17 September 2011 11:51 AM

    FalKirk,

    There may be many :evil: versions of Windows 8:
    Windows 8 Metro, Windows 8 Desktop, Windows 8 Professional, etc.

    True.

    Are you mad at me or is your ire caused by Microsofts inane and self-defeating policy of arbitrarily splitting their product into incomprehensible bits?

         
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    Posted: 17 September 2011 02:51 PM #68

    FalKirk - 16 September 2011 01:47 PM

    OK, I’ve just listened to the beginning of the Windows Weekly podcast.

    I watched most of this in videocast format. These folks really follow Microsoft closely and have inside contacts, but I still get the impression they do not know how this will all play out with actual products. I also think they were diplomatically parroting the “by back-to-school” time frame. In podcasts just a few weeks ago they were more realistically thinking it would be late-2012 to early-2013 before Metro tablets hit the market.

    The traditional PC part of Windows 8 is a minor upgrade from Windows 7. The Metro UI is the critical portion. More specifically, Metro on tablets is what will be most important.

    I mentioned earlier that one guest commented that multi-tasking was broken. He also criticized the overall app switching method. These are essential UI elements that can really detract from the overall experience.

    Although the tablet hardware is an early prototype, it had a widescreen aspect ratio with the home button along the longer axis. It seems like they are designing this with the intent that it will be used in the landscape mode most of the time. That makes sense if you consider that it needs to apply to the desktop/laptop environment also. But that clearly compromises the tablet experience.

    I couldn’t follow all the talk about the app development process, but I got the impression that porting Windows applications to Metro is going to be non-trivial. I’m sure that will be debatable even among developers. The broader question is will a compelling app market be created quickly enough to have any chance in catching up with the iOS app juggernaut? No doubt Microsoft thinks it can be done in the long haul, but do developers and consumers agree?

    One thing the podcast only touched lightly on was the integration of cloud services in W8. That could give Microsoft an “in” with enterprise if they can pull it off before others develop iOS solutions. That includes Microsoft itself, which is rumored (I think) to be working on Office for iOS and/or the cloud.

    There are so many dynamics to play out in the next few years. Platforms. Patents. Intel/ARM and Windows/Android pairing off into WinARM/WinTel and DroidARM/DroidTel. And who knows if/when Apple will start to incorporate ARM into the Air? Or will Intel be able to catch up with ARM in terms of efficiency?

    The next 5 yrs. could be just as momentous as the past 5 yrs. Apple will again be right in the middle of it all, if not leading the way (which is what they’re doing at the moment).

         
  • Posted: 17 September 2011 07:49 PM #69

    Drew Bear - 17 September 2011 05:51 PM

    These folks really follow Microsoft closely and have inside contacts, but I still get the impression they do not know how this will all play out with actual products.

    Agreed. This is not unusual. I remember the period of time between when the iPad was announced and when it debuted. Lots and lots of unanswered questions.

    Drew Bear - 17 September 2011 05:51 PM

    I mentioned earlier that one guest commented that multi-tasking was broken. He also criticized the overall app switching method. These are essential UI elements that can really detract from the overall experience.

    I heard that too. I’m going to assume that those types of things will be fixed before release.

    Drew Bear - 17 September 2011 05:51 PM

    Although the tablet hardware is an early prototype, it had a widescreen aspect ratio with the home button along the longer axis. It seems like they are designing this with the intent that it will be used in the landscape mode most of the time. That makes sense if you consider that it needs to apply to the desktop/laptop environment also. But that clearly compromises the tablet experience.

    Andy Ihnatko noted this and he didn’t like it. Gruber also linked to a post that found the default widescreen orientation to be inferior. The Metro interface demands a widescreen view. It sounds like it could be a problem, but perhaps in in only a trivial matter that one can get used to. On the other hand, the iPad doesn’t really have a default orientation (other than the single button) and most people use it in portrait.

    Drew Bear - 17 September 2011 05:51 PM

    The broader question is will a compelling app market be created quickly enough to have any chance in catching up with the iOS app juggernaut? No doubt Microsoft thinks it can be done in the long haul, but do developers and consumers agree?

    Well, developers do have a 1 year lead time and Window Phone 7 showed that Apps can be created in a hurry. Plus, There’s 550 million copies of Windows in the wild so I assume that their are a lot of available developers who might think it’s more than worth their while to hop onto the Metro train.

    One baffling aspect of the new Window 8 is whether Window Applications will run tablets or not. First I was told they would. Then I was told they wouldn’t. Then I was told that they run on some tablets but not others. Then Thurrott said that at the demo at AllThingsD, Microsoft showed off Windows Applications on an Arm machine! He thought that was what had everybody confused. Then I read somewhere than, when pressed, the head honcho for the Windows 8 project said that he’d get back to them on whether Windows Apps would or would not run on Metro.

    What the hey? It sounds like Microsoft hasn’t made up their mind yet! This in mind boggling on so many levels. Where’s the long term strategy? You don’t KNOW? That means you don’t have an overriding theme that is guiding your actions. And if you don’t know then why the heck are you having a developer’s conference? That kind of decision should have been decided long before the conference, not after it.

    Oh well. I guess we’ll learn more as time progresses.

         
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    Posted: 17 September 2011 11:00 PM #70

    Although I did notice that the Windows Weekly crew got a bit too excited about the speed of the Metro UI, I did not quite understand just how unimpressive that was. Daniel E. Dilger (DED) explains:

    I have to say, watching Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott go gaga over a Core i3 notebook computer smoothly animating tiles on the screen is just too much. If you?re in awe of Microsoft?s ability to demonstrate smoothly animated graphics on a Intel computer with enough horsepower to need a fan, you should walk to an Apple Store and launch Safari.

    Or don?t even launch Safari. Just flick the touchpad with four fingers and wet your pants as Mac OS X Lion smoothy animates between the main desktop, Dashboard, and any open virtual desktops you have. HARDWARE ACCELERATED GRAPHICS!!! It?s like 2002 is already here! GPU accelerated Quartz Extreme first shipped in Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar, folks.

    This isn?t brilliant futuristic technology stuff, it?s pretty basic GPU accelerated OpenGL made easy to implement by Apple via LayerKit and Core Animation. It?s been used on the iPhone since it appeared in 2007. It was new and pretty impressive back then. It?s not going to be new next year, or whenever Windows 8 ships with Metro, Microsoft?s own animated browser for web apps.

    Heck, even Palm shipped Metro back in 2009 under the name webOS. Why is Microsoft getting credit for being the last company on earth to ship mainstream technology?

    http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2011/09/16/apple-beats-microsoft-in-releasing-windows-8/#more-4577

         
  • Posted: 17 September 2011 11:11 PM #71

    Drew Bear - 18 September 2011 02:00 AM

    Why is Microsoft getting credit for being the last company on earth to ship mainstream technology?-Roughly Drafted

    It’s weird how much credit Microsoft is getting for ANNOUNCING a product. Many of the headlines apparently came from the future because they’ve already declared Windows 8 as beating the iPad or Windows 8 as having taken the lead. Taken the lead? Beaten? The product doesn’t even exist yet and it won’t for another year. What the hey?

    Imagine if Apple announced the iPhone 6 today. Woo Hoo! We’re ahead of the competition by whole year! Yipee!

         
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    Posted: 18 September 2011 01:36 PM #72

    FalKirk, did you listen to Friday’s thisismynext podcast? Joanna Stern (~42 min. mark) was diplomatic about it, but in the end she said that she has never been more confused about a major product release. She has to write about it while there are so many unanswered questions. She gives Microsoft until the beta release (CES 2011?) to “explain to people what the point is.”

    Nilay’s suggested message for Microsoft was for them to tell developers that Metro is the future and that they’d be focused on ARM-based tablets & phones running only Metro. Stern doesn’t think that’ll happen.

    Finally, towards the end of the podcast, they get around to talking about some iPhone rumors. Miller starts out by saying that he expects a physical re-design after 15 months, but goes on to state that it’s really all about the software. That’s what matters the most and that’s why he’s happy with his iPhone 4.

    Topolsky then says something incredibly stupid. He gives a passing nod to the developments in iOS 5 and says that “visually, functionally; not much has changed.” What?! He then cruises to imbecility by saying that he’s really excited about the Nexus Prime with Ice Cream Sandwich and the “monumental change to the OS” that it will bring.

    Thankfully Miller chimes back in and says that he always thinks he wants the next Android phone & OS, but always ends up with the next iPhone. And he’s always felt justified in his choice. Stern piles on a bit and Topolsky ends up reluctantly admitting that the iPhone is nearly perfect. He’s essentially bored with the “skin”.

         
  • Posted: 18 September 2011 02:57 PM #73

    Drew Bear - 18 September 2011 04:36 PM

    FalKirk, did you listen to Friday’s thisismynext podcast?

    Not yet. I generally listen to podcasts when traveling and I expect to listen to it late this afternoon.

    Drew Bear - 18 September 2011 04:36 PM

    Joanna Stern (~42 min. mark) was diplomatic about it, but in the end she said that she has never been more confused about a major product release. She has to write about it while there are so many unanswered questions. She gives Microsoft until the beta release (CES 2011?) to “explain to people what the point is.”

    I too think that we should be generous at this point. They’re calling it a pre-beta. Lots of good stuff might happen in the next year.

    On the other hand, I’m more interested in strategy than tactics. Microsoft went through a period of time in the early 2000’s where they just made bad products. There were lots of bad products but I guess the best example was the X-Box. Microsoft had to take a 1 billion dollar hit - a one billion dollar hit - in order to repair the “red ring of death.” Amazing.

    Anyway, I noticed - perhaps at the time of the Zune, perhaps just before - that Microsoft really tightened up their engineering. Their products became really well made. I think that trend continued with the iPhone 7 and has continue right through with Metro. We may or may not like Metro but its clear that a lot of thought went into it.

    However, it’s strategy or grand strategy, not tactics, that I’m most interested in. During World war 2 should Britain focus on tanks or ships? Should Germany focus on submarines of or a surface fleet? Well built tanks, ships and submarines are nice but its the overall strategy that will determine their usefulness.

    It’s in this area where I question Microsoft. As I’ve said before, I think that they really HAVE to follow the strategy of resisting the post-PC world and insisting that everything is a PC. But they only HAVE to follow that strategy due to the strategic blunders they made in the past. I won’t go into why I think Microsoft’s current strategy may be a mistake but I’m watching Windows 8 very carefully for signs that their strategy - regardless of their engineering brilliance - may bring them down in the long run.

    Drew Bear - 18 September 2011 04:36 PM

    Topolsky then says something incredibly stupid. He gives a passing nod to the developments in iOS 5 and says that “visually, functionally; not much has changed.”

    I’ve actually noticed that the ThisIsMyNext crew has become much more Apple friendly since leaving Engadget. It feels to me like they feel less pressure from the Engadget commentators who were vicious in their fanboy attacks. The ThisIsMyNext crew seems to be taking a more independent path - following the facts instead of worrying how a comment would be received.

    Nevertheless one does hear some very stupid things on ThisIsMyNext. I don’t mind different opinions. In fact I value them. What I don’t like is UNFOUNDED opinions based on non-existant facts.

    I heard the crew on PCWorld podcast (can’t recommend the podcast) say the same thing as Topolsky. They went one step further and said that iOS 5 basically copied all the best ideas of Android - that it was merely closing the gap with Android.

    What! I almost left my seat and drove down to their studio in order to chastise them (despite the fact that this was a time delayed podcast and I have no idea where their studio is located.) I was beside myself. Just off the top of my head, there is iMessage, Geo-reinders, AirPlay Mirroring, Cutting the Cord, Over the Air Software Updates, Delta Software Updates (a biggie), Backup and Restore and, of course, iCloud. Some point to items like Cutting the Cord and Over the Air Software Updates as something that Android already has. But, in true Apple fashion, it’s the COMBINATION of all these features, each tied together via iCloud, that makes the whole so much more valuable than the individual parts. Oh well, I suspect that the users will appreciate these features, even if the pundits don’t appreciate them or even understand them.

    Drew Bear - 18 September 2011 04:36 PM

    (Topolsky) then cruises to imbecility by saying that he’s really excited about the Nexus Prime with Ice Cream Sandwich and the “monumental change to the OS” that it will bring.

    Anticipation is always greater than reality. It’s like Christmas. Studies have shown that imagining what we may get brings us more joy than actually getting that thing.

    Drew Bear - 18 September 2011 04:36 PM

    Thankfully Miller chimes back in and says that he always thinks he wants the next Android phone & OS, but always ends up with the next iPhone.

    So true.

    Drew Bear - 18 September 2011 04:36 PM

    Stern piles on a bit and Topolsky ends up reluctantly admitting that the iPhone is nearly perfect. He’s essentially bored with the “skin”.

    As I said previously, I think the ThisIsMyNext crew is a little more product objective than they used to be. And how can any objective person not wonder at what Apple has done and is doing? I don’t think that Topolsky - even if he had to be browbeaten into it - would have ever stated that the iPhone was nearly perfect when he was with Engadget for fear of the bile that would be poured on him by the Engadget readership.

         
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    Posted: 18 September 2011 05:28 PM #74

    FalKirk - 18 September 2011 05:57 PM

    However, it’s strategy or grand strategy, not tactics, that I’m most interested in…It’s in this area where I question Microsoft. As I’ve said before, I think that they really HAVE to follow the strategy of resisting the post-PC world and insisting that everything is a PC. But they only HAVE to follow that strategy due to the strategic blunders they made in the past.

    I guess I’m not as certain that they HAVE to follow this “everything’s a PC”/“Windows everywhere” strategy. Even their fans question this. Why not clearly bifurcate traditional from mobile computing as Apple has? On a practical level, it looks like that is what will happen no matter what Microsoft says.

    Enterprise desktop/laptop users are not likely to embrace the Metro UI until (if) all the workhorse applications have been optimized for that interface. It’s become increasingly clear that traditional Windows apps aren’t going to work “as-is” on the ARM-based tablets. Windows 7 & 8 on traditional PCs and Metro on mobile PCs. Why be coy about stating that flat out?

    I heard the crew on PCWorld podcast (can’t recommend the podcast) say the same thing as Topolsky. They went one step further and said that iOS 5 basically copied all the best ideas of Android - that it was merely closing the gap with Android…I was beside myself. Just off the top of my head, there is iMessage, Geo-reinders, AirPlay Mirroring, Cutting the Cord, Over the Air Software Updates, Delta Software Updates (a biggie), Backup and Restore and, of course, iCloud… in true Apple fashion, it’s the COMBINATION of all these features, each tied together via iCloud, that makes the whole so much more valuable than the individual parts. Oh well, I suspect that the users will appreciate these features, even if the pundits don’t appreciate them or even understand them.

    I agree it’s mostly the punditry that doesn’t get it. I think Microsoft does understand this and will be incorporating similar functionality in W8…eventually. It’s all unicorn farts right now.

         
  • Posted: 18 September 2011 07:28 PM #75

    Drew Bear - 18 September 2011 08:28 PM
    FalKirk - 18 September 2011 05:57 PM

    As I’ve said before, I think that (Microsoft) really HAVE to follow the strategy of resisting the post-PC world and insisting that everything is a PC. But they only HAVE to follow that strategy due to the strategic blunders they made in the past.

    I guess I’m not as certain that they HAVE to follow this “everything’s a PC”/“Windows everywhere” strategy. Even their fans question this. Why not clearly bifurcate traditional from mobile computing as Apple has? On a practical level, it looks like that is what will happen no matter what Microsoft says.

    Here’s my theory on why Microsoft has to insist that the tablet is just another PC.

    1) Microsoft will make north of 90%  of their revenues from just two items: Windows and Office.

    2) Right now Windows and Office only run on desktops (for convenience, I’ll merge notebooks into the desktop category). There is no Windows or Office on either phones nor tablets.

    3) How Microsoft acquired its monopoly over the PC space is one thing. But they certainly maintained it using the Network Effect. The more Windows Operating Systems that were in the wild, the more valuable the platform became as hardware makers and software developers flocked to Office’s banner.

    4) Microsoft cannot leverage their Windows and Office monopolies - their huge cadre of developers and their numberless end users - unless Windows and Office work on their tablets. Without that, they’re just one of many competing for market share. They’re just Metro vs. Android, Metro vs. iOS, etc. They have no Network Effect advantage.

    5) There is a military maxim that if you find yourself in a fair fight…you haven’t planned well enough. Microsoft hopes that Windows on a Tablet will give them two unfair advantages. First, they hope to bring over their huge user base from Windows. Without Windows on the desktop, then people could simply choose the tablet that they liked most, be it an Android Tablet, an iPad or a Metro Tablet. This does not favor Microsoft at all. For examples of how well Microsoft has done when they come late into a fair fight, see the Zune and Windows Phone 7.

    Second, Windows hopes to garner an unfair advantage from being a “real” computer. (I heard Thurott trumpeting this line already. “But it has a fan.” said a surprised Leo Laporte. Well sure,” replied Thurrott, “it’s a REAL computer.”) “The iPad is nice and all,” the Minions of Microsoft will coo, “but can it run “real” applications on a “real” computer?” In other words, Microsoft is hoping to attract all of those customers who are frustrated with the limitations of the iPad, those who want something more, those who want a single computer than can “do it all”.

    CONCLUSION

    Let me put it another way. If Microsoft DOES NOT add Windows to their desktop, then they’ll be just one of many. And if Microsoft doesn’t do well in fair fights, how are they going to do in a fight against a bully like Apple who has all the advantages?

    Drew Bear - 18 September 2011 08:28 PM

    Enterprise desktop/laptop users are not likely to embrace the Metro UI until (if) all the workhorse applications have been optimized for that interface. It’s become increasingly clear that traditional Windows apps aren’t going to work “as-is” on the ARM-based tablets. Windows 7 & 8 on traditional PCs and Metro on mobile PCs. Why be coy about stating that flat out?

    As insane as this sounds, I’m honestly beginning to believe that Microsoft is hiding this truth from their user base. They don’t want them to know that Metro and certain (all?) Metro computers will not run Windows. I know, I know. It sounds nutty, but there it is.