MS at Crossroads

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    Posted: 26 June 2012 08:06 PM #31

    FalKirk - 26 June 2012 09:19 PM

    But name the function of these ancient, creaking, out of date PCs and I’ll wager that half the time - perhaps even 80% of the time - that function could be done better on a tablet.

    Eventually. Also, my guess is the annual cost of an iPad with appropriate software is still higher than a cheap PC. That will also eventually change.

         
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    Posted: 26 June 2012 08:56 PM #32

    Lstream - 26 June 2012 08:48 PM

    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.

    Your above statement is a bit broad.  I can think of many situation where I want a tablet.  The military just bought 18K to replace paper manuals.  You assume this won’t replace any PCs, and I agree that initially that is true, but currently each flying squadron has a laptop PC for mission planning for each aircraft and when that software is rewritten to run on a tablet, the PC will go away and they will just carry the tablet. 

    I know you have vast experience in large enterprise.  My personal experience in the Department of Defense mirrors much of what your saying, but in most of these environments the user doesn’t decide what systems are used.  I was responsible for the user side of a major command and control database with millions of lines of code and the biggest impediment to implementing new technology was the legacy code base, so if the time is taken to move key functions to tablets, then the end user will get tablets.  I doubt Microsoft is going away anytime soon and we still communicate in business with Microsoft Office so until the market accepts another product or a standard file format, Microsoft still has a monopoly in office software, but if you look at some of the tablet implementations to date it may currently maintain the legacy hardware in this upgrade cycle, but then the bean counters will come in and look for those cost savings and the hardware budget will choose between tablets and desktops/laptops.  Most of the tablet pilots appear very successful from my reading of the many articles on the web so Microsoft has already lost seats when the next contract comes due.  Backend software takes years to rewrite, but once started, the IT folks have a vested interest to see success.  We are rapidly approaching the time when Microsoft will no longer be considered the safe solution.  I think the monopoly has been slow to react and will not recover their lost market with surface.

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 10:04 PM #33

    Lstream - 26 June 2012 09:31 PM

    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.

    Let’s break down iPad use:

    1) Supplemental: Used as an adjunct to the traditional PC.

    2 )New uses: We’ve talked about this a bit. The iPad being used by pilots to depict flight maps, used by students in class, used by football teams in lieu of playbooks, etc

    3) New users: tweens, stay at home soccer moms, seniors. People who were uncomfortable using computers but are comfortable using an iPad.

    4) Replacement devices. This is where I think you’re hung up. The following blurbs are exerted from an article entitled: Once Wary, Apple Warms Up to Business Market

    “...home improvement retailer Lowe?s, which says it bought about 42,000 iPhones to be used by employees on store floors. Instead of having to find a computer…”

    “The iPad, in some cases, is proving to be an attractive substitute for laptops in situations where portability and speedy access to information matters. Technicians for Siemens Energy, for example, routinely have to scale 300-foot towers to service wind turbines, sometimes in blistering heat in places like West Texas. Some of the technicians have been using laptops to read manuals and run through checklists when they?re doing this work, but the devices are too bulky and take too long to boot up, said Tim Holt, chief executive of Service Renewables for Siemens Energy.

    Now the company is outfitting its wind service technicians with iPads, which are light, start instantly and have cameras that let workers send pictures to a technical support department if they need help troubleshooting an issue. About 350 technicians have the device already; within five years, about 5,000 should have it, Mr. Holt said.”

    I’m interested in this, but I haven’t got time right now to go through my materials and pull out examples of where the iPad actually replaced a computer. But if I’m right and this is your major objection, please let me know. Or clarify your position. Thanks.

    [ Edited: 26 June 2012 10:09 PM by FalKirk ]      
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    Posted: 26 June 2012 10:28 PM #34

    FalKirk, how soon do you think this PC/iPad split will hit 50/50 in Enterprise use? When will we see Microsoft’s revenue from Windows and Office stall?

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 10:59 PM #35

    pats - 26 June 2012 11:56 PM
    Lstream - 26 June 2012 08:48 PM

    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.

    Your above statement is a bit broad.  I can think of many situation where I want a tablet.  The military just bought 18K to replace paper manuals.  You assume this won’t replace any PCs, and I agree that initially that is true, but currently each flying squadron has a laptop PC for mission planning for each aircraft and when that software is rewritten to run on a tablet, the PC will go away and they will just carry the tablet. 

    I know you have vast experience in large enterprise.  My personal experience in the Department of Defense mirrors much of what your saying, but in most of these environments the user doesn’t decide what systems are used.  I was responsible for the user side of a major command and control database with millions of lines of code and the biggest impediment to implementing new technology was the legacy code base, so if the time is taken to move key functions to tablets, then the end user will get tablets.  I doubt Microsoft is going away anytime soon and we still communicate in business with Microsoft Office so until the market accepts another product or a standard file format, Microsoft still has a monopoly in office software, but if you look at some of the tablet implementations to date it may currently maintain the legacy hardware in this upgrade cycle, but then the bean counters will come in and look for those cost savings and the hardware budget will choose between tablets and desktops/laptops.  Most of the tablet pilots appear very successful from my reading of the many articles on the web so Microsoft has already lost seats when the next contract comes due.  Backend software takes years to rewrite, but once started, the IT folks have a vested interest to see success.  We are rapidly approaching the time when Microsoft will no longer be considered the safe solution.  I think the monopoly has been slow to react and will not recover their lost market with surface.

    I should clarify something about my perspective.  My main point is that I don’t believe that the iPad has done serious damage to PC’s so far.  Apps like the DOD one you mention are perfect for an iPad.  It is easy to see how it will deliver a clear increase in utility.  An important point here is that this is not a typical stationary enterprise app.  Those manuals need to be plane side, which makes for a perfect fit.  iPad’s will definitely bleed away PC share here.  But the maturity of the iPad ecosystem means that most of this disruption is coming.  I just dont think historical PC sales have been hit that hard by this phenomena yet.  By the way that DOD app is if serious interest to me, since our business is working on a deal related to aircraft maintenance in the Air Force.  That kind of application has HUGE upside for iOS devices. 

    But all those other apps that I mentioned earlier, involve someone sitting at a desk and doing their job.  I am having a hard time seeing why a tablet can do those jobs better as Falkirk is suggesting.

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 11:19 PM #36

    Drew Bear - 27 June 2012 01:28 AM

    FalKirk, how soon do you think this PC/iPad split will hit 50/50 in Enterprise use? When will we see Microsoft’s revenue from Windows and Office stall?

    Since I’m just making these numbers up out of my head, I’ll say 2017 and 2015, respectively.

    If I had told you, in 2007, that by 2012, Palm and Windows Mobile would be gone and Nokia and RIM would be on their death beds, you would have (rightfully) called me nuts. What we’re seeing in tablets today is just as big, if not bigger, than the disruption we saw in phones in 2007.

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 11:22 PM #37

    FalKirk - 27 June 2012 01:04 AM

    4) Replacement devices. This is where I think you’re hung up. The following blurbs are exerted from an article entitled: Once Wary, Apple Warms Up to Business Market

    “...home improvement retailer Lowe?s, which says it bought about 42,000 iPhones to be used by employees on store floors. Instead of having to find a computer…”

    “The iPad, in some cases, is proving to be an attractive substitute for laptops in situations where portability and speedy access to information matters. Technicians for Siemens Energy, for example, routinely have to scale 300-foot towers to service wind turbines, sometimes in blistering heat in places like West Texas. Some of the technicians have been using laptops to read manuals and run through checklists when they?re doing this work, but the devices are too bulky and take too long to boot up, said Tim Holt, chief executive of Service Renewables for Siemens Energy.

    Now the company is outfitting its wind service technicians with iPads, which are light, start instantly and have cameras that let workers send pictures to a technical support department if they need help troubleshooting an issue. About 350 technicians have the device already; within five years, about 5,000 should have it, Mr. Holt said.”

    I’m interested in this, but I haven’t got time right now to go through my materials and pull out examples of where the iPad actually replaced a computer. But if I’m right and this is your major objection, please let me know. Or clarify your position. Thanks.

    You nailed it.  I know of that Lowes deal.  When they talk about a computer in that app, what they mean is a stationary PC at a kiosk.  Those PC’S would most likely stay.  The real loser in that deal was Symbol/Motorola who were trying to sell their Enterprise PDA’s for those employees.  PDA’s with scanners.  So you are right that I don’t think that iPads have replaced many PC’s yet.  PC’s were never going to be very succesful in this class of app anyway.  As I mentioned in earlier posts, in Mobile Symbol/Motorola and companies like that are about to get their asses disrupted off first. 

    That Siemens story just gave me a sales lead.  Thanks a lot.  We have sold a small number of systems for wind turbine repair, but using our own hardware.  We are disrupting our own hardware with an iPad app that solves the very use case in that story. Until now I didn’t know Siemens were using iPads for that purpose.  Again, this is a mobile application.  See my response to Pats about the DOD mobile app, and how I think we are at the dawning of disruption in mobile that will be huge for iOS.

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 11:37 PM #38

    Lstream - 27 June 2012 01:59 AM

    But all those other apps that I mentioned earlier, involve someone sitting at a desk and doing their job.  I am having a hard time seeing why a tablet can do those jobs better as Falkirk is suggesting.

    Way, way back near the start of this (fascinating) conversation, I said that any job that required one to sit at a desk would be better suited for a notebook/desktop than a tablet. My question was, just how many people DO sit at desks all day long? I think the number is growing smaller with every passing day.

         
  • Posted: 26 June 2012 11:42 PM #39

    I’ve been asked to write another article for tomorrow or Thursday. I may use this as the topic. You guys have given me a lot to think about.

         
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    Posted: 26 June 2012 11:55 PM #40

    Nice.  How’s that work?

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  • Posted: 27 June 2012 12:04 AM #41

    Mav - 27 June 2012 02:55 AM

    Nice.  How’s that work?

    Ben Bajain of Tech.Pinons saw some of my work and asked me to write an article every other Thursday. I think they’re short handed this week and Ben is attending the I/O conference tomorrow, so they asked me, tonight, to write something for tomorrow. Yikes!

    As you know, I can write a mile a minute, but to write a good long piece, I need to have a theme and I’m still trying to come up with one. Suggestions?

         
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    Posted: 27 June 2012 12:04 AM #42

    FalKirk - 27 June 2012 02:19 AM
    Drew Bear - 27 June 2012 01:28 AM

    FalKirk, how soon do you think this PC/iPad split will hit 50/50 in Enterprise use? When will we see Microsoft’s revenue from Windows and Office stall?

    Since I’m just making these numbers up out of my head, I’ll say 2017 and 2015, respectively.

    If I had told you, in 2007, that by 2012, Palm and Windows Mobile would be gone and Nokia and RIM would be on their death beds, you would have (rightfully) called me nuts. What we’re seeing in tablets today is just as big, if not bigger, than the disruption we saw in phones in 2007.

    We’re all just guessing. I think we agree on the broad trends and differ only on how quickly they will occur. I fully agree the iPad is as disruptive as you state. I just think it will take a few years longer to displace the entrenched Windows/Office work environment.

         
  • Posted: 28 June 2012 12:54 PM #43

    From Horace’s brilliant Asymco blog:

    As a percent of total activations, Android is running at about 15% and OS is at 10%. Android has already overtaken Windows activations and with the new iPhone, it?s likely iOS will do as well this year.

    Activating 5.6 million units per day

    Astonishing. By the end of the year there will be, not one, but TWO operating systems that are larger than Microsoft’s. An unimaginable sea change that many have not even begun to recognize.

         
  • Posted: 28 June 2012 06:48 PM #44

    Lots of great observations, but I think everyone is missing an important point: think Cloud.  We are headed towards networked thin clients in the enterprise, and networked (Internet) thin clients for consumers.

    Just as HTML5 has unseated Flash, a standards based “Office” suite will overtake MSFT’s Office. You see it happening right now. How many posts, blogs, emails, or other documents are posted to the Internet as Word productions? A standard exists that allows the many methods to post to the Internet to be read regardless of OS, or reader/modifier application on the client end.

    I can see that standard as emanating from Apple. Think about it, iWorks is released as a standards based Open Source product that already is compatible with many hundreds of millions of iOS users (and growing exponentially).  Probably won’t happen for another 3 years, but it will.  MSFT has the power to accomplish this, but lacks the vision.

    The computing truck of the future is going to be the enterprise mainframe/server farm and/or the Internet.  Apps will enhance indivual needs (be they enterprise or consumers), and they don’t require trucks. 

    In my thinking desktop Windows is a technology of the Jurassic period just before an asteroid put Earth into a long nuclear winter.

    If your business model hasn’t completed this paradigm shift by 2020 you will be a footnote in history.

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  • Posted: 28 June 2012 07:22 PM #45

    Gregg Thurman - 28 June 2012 09:48 PM

    Lots of great observations, but I think everyone is missing an important point: think Cloud.  We are headed towards networked thin clients in the enterprise, and networked (Internet) thin clients for consumer….

    Fantastic stuff, Gregg.