MS at Crossroads

  • Posted: 26 June 2012 02:40 PM #16

    Here’s the part I personally take issue with:

    FalKirk - 26 June 2012 05:09 PM

    IF Tablets take off and replace desktops as the de facto standard…

    For home use, I can see that happening in a few years. For enterprise use, no. The only people I can think of off the top of my head who would benefit from a tablet over a desktop or laptop (you can’t omit laptops from the equation—a lot of companies deploy laptops and docks as workstations) are salespeople, nurses and medical technicians, and concierge/face-to-face service people; in other words, people who need a high degree of mobility and don’t need to input a lot of information. I write and review copy all day, and my job would be a lot harder on a single-tasking, small-screen device without a hardware keyboard. (I own an iPad with a keyboard case, which I use for my own writing projects. The best that can be said of it is that it makes for an acceptable makeshift laptop. But I’d swap it for a MacBook Air in a heartbeat.)

    That is not to say that Microsoft is sitting pretty or that they can ride this particular gravy train til doomsday. It just means their primary revenue stream isn’t drying up anytime soon.

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 03:41 PM #17

    IF Microsoft fails capture any significant share of the tablet market?

    IF Desktops (and notebooks) start to drop in sales?

    IF Microsoft?s share of the dwindling desktop market declines more and more rapidly?

    IF Tablets take off and replace desktops as the de facto standard?

    IF Microsoft Office cannot be successfully ported to the tablet as anything resembling its desktop counterpart?

    I don’t think you can build an argument that strings together a bunch of ifs without linking each and every one of them to a causal event that makes them happen.  I could just as easily toss in “IF the world runs out of keyboards”.  That would pretty much doom the desktop right there, but of course it makes no sense. 

    I will pick on just two of the ifs. 

    Tablets take off and replace desktops as the de facto standard

    There is no plausible argument that explains how this is going to happen.  I can see tablets surpassing PC’s in units sold maybe, but not as replacements for PC’s.  They will do new and different jobs.  Office, CAD, software development, accounting, video editing, and countless other apps that businesses rely upon simply do not translate well to a tablet, with its limited horsepower, memory, and screen real estate.  The screen real estate restriction alone would result in a truly miserable experience if someone tried to put them on a tablet.  Maybe for simple dumbed-down versions, but not for Enterprise-Strength apps.  No way, not with the state-of-the-art in tablets today.

    IF Microsoft Office cannot be successfully ported to the tablet as anything resembling its desktop counterpart

    Microsoft Office is not the problem.  There is no Word Processing, Spreadsheet, or Slide Presentation app that passes the laugh test on a tablet today.  They are all truly pathetic.  Fine for something really simple, but not much else.  So this IF statement, needs an AND with it.  AND a competitor delivers an Office Suite on a tablet that is an effective replacement for the desktop version AND it has 100% file compatibility with the desktop version.  The iPad has been in the market for a couple of years now, and we don’t even have a hint of such an app suite. 

    and if that voice has to be translated when it goes to the Mac

    It doesn’t.

    Our business has iPad’s all the way through it right now.  NOT ONE of them has replaced a PC.  NOT ONE of them made it even a close call.  I don’t think we are alone. 

    So until we get the next discontinuity in tablets, I just cannot see them as much of a threat to the Enterprise PC.  Today, they are not even close to being up to the job.  As a replacement which is core to my argument

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 03:55 PM #18

    Nonsuch - 26 June 2012 05:40 PM

    Here’s the part I personally take issue with:

    FalKirk - 26 June 2012 05:09 PM

    IF Tablets take off and replace desktops as the de facto standard…

    For home use, I can see that happening in a few years. For enterprise use, no. The only people I can think of off the top of my head who would benefit from a tablet over a desktop or laptop (you can’t omit laptops from the equation—a lot of companies deploy laptops and docks as workstations) are salespeople, nurses and medical technicians, and concierge/face-to-face service people; in other words, people who need a high degree of mobility and don’t need to input a lot of information. I write and review copy all day, and my job would be a lot harder on a single-tasking, small-screen device without a hardware keyboard. (I own an iPad with a keyboard case, which I use for my own writing projects. The best that can be said of it is that it makes for an acceptable makeshift laptop. But I’d swap it for a MacBook Air in a heartbeat.)

    That is not to say that Microsoft is sitting pretty or that they can ride this particular gravy train til doomsday. It just means their primary revenue stream isn’t drying up anytime soon.

    Great post. Agree and disagree.

    “For home use, I can see that happening in a few years.”

    Don’t forget about the bring-your-own-device-to-work movement. Many individuals who are comfortable using their tablets at home will want to use those self-same tablets at work too.

    “The only people I can think of off the top of my head who would benefit from a tablet over a desktop or laptop (you can’t omit laptops from the equation—a lot of companies deploy laptops and docks as workstations) are salespeople, nurses and medical technicians, and concierge/face-to-face service people; in other words, people who need a high degree of mobility and don’t need to input a lot of information.”

    I think there are more of these jobs than we know. Many of them are being done without computer assistance today. As businesses begin to understand the parameters of the tablet, the number of total tablets will rapidly multiply. These will not be replacing notebooks, these will be additive.

    “I write and review copy all day, and my job would be a lot harder on a single-tasking, small-screen device without a hardware keyboard. (I own an iPad with a keyboard case, which I use for my own writing projects. The best that can be said of it is that it makes for an acceptable makeshift laptop. But I’d swap it for a MacBook Air in a heartbeat.)”

    The question is, how many people sit at a desk in order to work? Most of them - but not all of them - would be better off with a notebook or desktop.

    As an aside, I think this is the fatal flaw in the Surface. It wants to be placed on a surface. That’t the role of a notebook, not a tablet. Tablets want to “free”.

    The world of work is changing. In the sixties, every office worker sat at a cubicle. In the eighties people began to telecommute to work. When we think of “Enterprise” we think of people sitting at desks. But how many more people work on their feet, at least a portion of the time? If you ever NEED to work on your feet then you need a tablet to either supplement or replace your current computing device. Just think about that for a moment. The implications are staggering.

    I would be very interested in knowing what percentage of current workers are desk bound 100% of the time. I suspect the percentage would be far smaller than what we think it would be.

    The reason this is hard to forsee is because tablets are not (just) replacing traditional computers but they’re going places where computers have never gone before. We can’t see how fast they’ll grow because our imaginations are too limited to see all of their possible uses.

         
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    Posted: 26 June 2012 04:11 PM #19

    FalKirk - 26 June 2012 05:20 PM

    Here’s where I think we diverge. I agree that there will always be a place for trucks (desktops) in the future but that does not necessarily mean that all of those trucks (desktops) will made by a monopoly like Ford (Microsoft).

    But who is going to replace those Microsoft/OEM “trucks”? Apple so far has not shown interest in catering to the low-margin business sector, either in hardware or software. Why bother when the Mac division is more profitable than any PC OEM?

    Once again I’ll point out there’s a lot of old “trucks” creaking along on XP. Enterprise isn’t about to replace those large fleets of old PCs and Office licenses with Macs and the OS X version of Office. Most likely they’ll buy cheap Windows 7 boxes and carry on for another 5-8 yrs.

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 04:16 PM #20

    Lstream - 26 June 2012 06:41 PM

    I don’t think you can build an argument that strings together a bunch of ifs without linking each and every one of them to a causal event that makes them happen.

    Good discussion. I don’t have the brain power to respond to all of your well made points, so let me just focus on one with the hope that I may get to the others at some later time.

    Tablets take off and replace desktops as the de facto standard

    I can see tablets surpassing PC’s in units sold maybe, but not as replacements for PC’s.  They will do new and different jobs.  Office, CAD, software development, accounting, video editing, and countless other apps that businesses rely upon simply do not translate well to a tablet, with its limited horsepower, memory, and screen real estate.  The screen real estate restriction alone would result in a truly miserable experience if someone tried to put them on a tablet.

    Agree whole-heartedly. But how many people do CAD, software development, accounting, video editing, or tasks that require massive processing power or multiple monitors? I’m guessing it’s a tiny sliver of the work force. My proof? Look around you. How many high end computers are sold as compared to low-end? The vast majority of computers sold today are low-powered, low-cost, bottom-dwelling, scum-sucking HPs, Acers,  Dells, Lenovos and Toshibas. Nobody’s doing anything on those machines (except possibly word processing) that couldn’t be done and done better on a tablet.

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 04:33 PM #21

    Lstream - 26 June 2012 06:41 PM

    IF Microsoft Office cannot be successfully ported to the tablet as anything resembling its desktop counterpart

    Microsoft Office is not the problem.  There is no Word Processing, Spreadsheet, or Slide Presentation app that passes the laugh test on a tablet today.  They are all truly pathetic.  Fine for something really simple, but not much else.  So this IF statement, needs an AND with it.  AND a competitor delivers an Office Suite on a tablet that is an effective replacement for the desktop version AND it has 100% file compatibility with the desktop version.  The iPad has been in the market for a couple of years now, and we don’t even have a hint of such an app suite.

    Hmm. I think you’re missing my point. If you need a superior word processor or spreadsheet, then you’re going to need a notebook (or desktop) as opposed to a tablet anyway. But if the majority of your workforce is on tablets and they only occasionally need a word processor or spreadsheet, then you’re going to pick a word processor or spreadsheet that works the same on BOTH tablets and desktops so that your employees can comfortably switch between the two.

    Perhaps Microsoft will provide such a solution but I doubt it. Programs that are roughly “equal” will be much easier to match up and use than programs that have wildly elaborate desktop functionality.

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 04:49 PM #22

    FalKirk - 26 June 2012 07:16 PM

    But how many people do CAD, software development, accounting, video editing, or tasks that require massive processing power or multiple monitors? I’m guessing it’s a tiny sliver of the work force. My proof? Look around you. How many high end computers are sold as compared to low-end? The vast majority of computers sold today are low-powered, low-cost, bottom-dwelling, scum-sucking HPs, Acers,  Dells, Lenovos and Toshibas. Nobody’s doing anything on those machines (except possibly word processing) that couldn’t be done and done better on a tablet.

    I feel like you’re missing Lstream’s point. Processing power isn’t the issue, and nobody’s talking about jobs that require multiple monitors, a number so low that for our purposes it might as well be zero. The fact is that a hardware keyboard and a decent-sized stationary LCD screen are qualitatively better for doing a lot of productivity-related tasks than is a small, portable, single-tasking device with no keyboard. That isn’t even counting all the appliance-like functions that enterprise PCs fulfill. People forget that the terminals at airline desks, hospitals, grocery stores etc. are PCs too, all running Windows. Just because a job is doable on a POS PC doesn’t mean a tablet could automatically do it as well or better.

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 04:50 PM #23

    Lstream - 26 June 2012 06:41 PM

    Our business has iPad’s all the way through it right now.  NOT ONE of them has replaced a PC.  NOT ONE of them made it even a close call.  I don’t think we are alone.

    This interests me.

    So all of your tablets were additive? They all were given to people who didn’t have computers before?

    Or are they supplemental? They work in conjunction with existing computers?

    If you can tell me, without revealing any confidences, roughly why you got the tablets, I’d be interested in knowing.

    Thanks.

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 04:51 PM #24

    FalKirk - 26 June 2012 06:55 PM

    As an aside, I think this is the fatal flaw in the Surface. It wants to be placed on a surface. That’t the role of a notebook, not a tablet. Tablets want to “free”.

    Just wanted to say that this is a really good point.

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 05:08 PM #25

    Nonsuch - 26 June 2012 07:49 PM

    I feel like you’re missing Lstream’s point.

    Your making some great points, Nonsuch. Let me divide my response in two.

    Processing power isn’t the issue, and nobody’s talking about jobs that require multiple monitors, a number so low that for our purposes it might as well be zero. The fact is that a hardware keyboard and a decent-sized stationary LCD screen are qualitatively better for doing a lot of productivity-related tasks than is a small, portable, single-tasking device with no keyboard.

    Great point.

    That isn’t even counting all the appliance-like functions that enterprise PCs fulfill. People forget that the terminals at airline desks, hospitals, grocery stores etc. are PCs too, all running Windows. Just because a job is doable on a POS PC doesn’t mean a tablet could automatically do it as well or better.

    Here I’m going to disagree with you. I think that tablets are going to replace almost all of those appliance like functions, almost overnight. Let me supply you with some anecdotal evidence to support my contention.

    iPad technology speeding license renewals (Tennesee department of motor vehicles)

    Coming soon to an airport near you: free iPads

    Very soon three major North American airports are going to have select terminals decked out with about 2,500 iPads available for anyone?s use. First up will be New York?s LaGuardia, Minneapolis-St. Paul International and Toronto Pearson International.

    Apple’s iPad being used for Disney World’s new Fastpass ride ticketing

    Hospitals Integrate iPad Kiosks for Streamlined Operations

    And I think iPads are kicking the butts of traditional cash registers too. They’re popping up everywhere.

    [ Edited: 26 June 2012 06:06 PM by FalKirk ]      
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 05:21 PM #26

    Nonsuch - 26 June 2012 07:51 PM
    FalKirk - 26 June 2012 06:55 PM

    As an aside, I think this is the fatal flaw in the Surface. It wants to be placed on a surface. That’t the role of a notebook, not a tablet. Tablets want to “free”.

    Just wanted to say that this is a really good point.

    Thank you. A blind squirrel, a broken clock, a million monkeys pounding on typewriters and all that.

    I figure if I write 10,000 words, I’m bound to eventually string together 10 or so that make a lick of sense.

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 05:43 PM #27

    Nonsuch - 26 June 2012 07:49 PM
    FalKirk - 26 June 2012 07:16 PM

    But how many people do CAD, software development, accounting, video editing, or tasks that require massive processing power or multiple monitors? I’m guessing it’s a tiny sliver of the work force. My proof? Look around you. How many high end computers are sold as compared to low-end? The vast majority of computers sold today are low-powered, low-cost, bottom-dwelling, scum-sucking HPs, Acers,  Dells, Lenovos and Toshibas. Nobody’s doing anything on those machines (except possibly word processing) that couldn’t be done and done better on a tablet.

    I feel like you’re missing Lstream’s point. Processing power isn’t the issue, and nobody’s talking about jobs that require multiple monitors, a number so low that for our purposes it might as well be zero. The fact is that a hardware keyboard and a decent-sized stationary LCD screen are qualitatively better for doing a lot of productivity-related tasks than is a small, portable, single-tasking device with no keyboard. That isn’t even counting all the appliance-like functions that enterprise PCs fulfill. People forget that the terminals at airline desks, hospitals, grocery stores etc. are PCs too, all running Windows. Just because a job is doable on a POS PC doesn’t mean a tablet could automatically do it as well or better.

    +1.  For the vast majority of these tasks, a basic computer will do.  You no longer need to buy a high end machine.  I think this is one of the reasons that sales are tapering off.  Hardware has outpaced software.  That stalls the upgrade cycle and eliminates most of the need for true high end boxes.  The cheap commodity box or notebook is good enough for almost everything now.

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 05:48 PM #28

    Nobody?s doing anything on those machines (except possibly word processing) that couldn?t be done and done better on a tablet.

    How is a tablet better?  I don’t see how a slower, non-multitasking, cramped screen real estate tablet = better.  In fact, I don’t see how it is anything but way worse.  I have people doing some of these jobs in my company.  If I tried to force a tablet on them, they would simply refuse.  Actually they wouldn’t even need to, because the tasks I mentioned can’t even be done on today’s tablets.

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 06:19 PM #29

    Drew Bear - 26 June 2012 07:11 PM
    FalKirk - 26 June 2012 05:20 PM

    Here’s where I think we diverge. I agree that there will always be a place for trucks (desktops) in the future but that does not necessarily mean that all of those trucks (desktops) will made by a monopoly like Ford (Microsoft).

    But who is going to replace those Microsoft/OEM “trucks”? Apple so far has not shown interest in catering to the low-margin business sector, either in hardware or software. Why bother when the Mac division is more profitable than any PC OEM?

    I think that a lot of those old “trucks” (PCs) are going to be replaced by “cars” (tablets), because those old things weren’t being used for their designed purpose anyway. There will be many exceptions, of course.

    Once again I’ll point out there’s a lot of old “trucks” creaking along on XP. Enterprise isn’t about to replace those large fleets of old PCs and Office licenses with Macs and the OS X version of Office. Most likely they’ll buy cheap Windows 7 boxes and carry on for another 5-8 yrs.

    There are ancient PCs being being used as cash registers and they are going to be replaced by tablets. There are stores that do all their accounting on ancient PCs and they are going to be replaced by tablets that can do inventory, accounting or act as cash registers. There are ancient PCs that are dedicated word processors. They may survive, probably as notebooks.

    But name the function of these ancient, creaking, out of date PCs and I’ll wager that half the time - perhaps even 80% of the time - that function could be done better on a tablet.

    P.S. You guys may hate my guts, but I think that this is a great, great discussion. Then again, I’m a lawyer. Arguing is in my blood.

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 06:31 PM #30

    FalKirk - 26 June 2012 07:50 PM
    Lstream - 26 June 2012 06:41 PM

    Our business has iPad’s all the way through it right now.  NOT ONE of them has replaced a PC.  NOT ONE of them made it even a close call.  I don’t think we are alone.

    This interests me.

    So all of your tablets were additive? They all were given to people who didn’t have computers before?

    Or are they supplemental? They work in conjunction with existing computers?

    If you can tell me, without revealing any confidences, roughly why you got the tablets, I’d be interested in knowing.

    Thanks.

    All of those people had and continue to have computers.  The iPad does a different job - lots of note taking for example.  Many of us don’t use pen and paper any more to take notes in meetings.  Distribution and storage of documents like manuals, and various other PDF’s.  Stuff that would have been printed before and carried around.  Tasks that PC’s were not being used for to begin with.