Software // Operating Systems
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1/27/2014
11:26 AM
Michael Endler
Michael Endler
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Windows vs. Mac: Desktop Battle Lines Drawn

Reports and executives' hints frame potential Mac vs. PC debates of the future.

Apple Mac Pro: 9 Ways It Wows
Apple Mac Pro: 9 Ways It Wows
(Click image for larger view.)

Paul Thurrott said Jan. 21, in ostensible affirmation of the screenshots, that his sources claim Update 1 will make the Modern UI easier to use on PCs. He said Modern apps viewed from the desktop will include a "close box," like the one in legacy applications, that can be clicked to completely close the app.

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley subsequently reported that Update 1's target release date is March 11, just weeks ahead of Microsoft's BUILD conference in San Francisco. Foley's sources indicated Update 1, previously rumored to include code to further unify Windows platforms, would reduce Windows 8.1's memory and disk-space requirements. She said this would enable the OS to run on cheaper and smaller tablets.

WZor was back Friday with more screenshots, these depicting mouse-friendly functions on the touch-oriented Live Tile Start screen. Currently, to modify a Tile a user must usually select the Tile and then navigate to controls at the bottom of the screen. Based on the new images, an updated Windows 8.1 could allow mouse-oriented users to skip this step: Instead of activating a Live Tile and moving the mouse to the bottom of the screen, a user could right-click the Tile to immediately access controls. The screenshots also show new Power and Search controls in the top-right of the screen.

A screenshot from an alleged Windows 8.1 update shows a more mouse-friendly Start screen.  (Source: WZor.Net)
A screenshot from an alleged Windows 8.1 update shows a more mouse-friendly Start screen.
(Source: WZor.Net)

What does this mean for users?

As Schiller opined, users want to translate data and services across devices -- and both Microsoft and Apple seem to understand this. Apple syncs iTunes and iCloud accounts throughout its device ecosystem and is now expanding iLife through the cloud. Microsoft offers a range of device-spanning services such as SkyDrive and Office 365.

Assuming Microsoft's next CEO doesn't shift course, rumors indicate the company still believes in convergence, even on desktops, but to a much less authoritarian extent. The company knows not only that users want to use the same services on both their PCs and tablets, but also that many users want to interact with their computers one way, and their tablets another. 

That said, Microsoft hasn't given up on convergence -- and perhaps it shouldn't, as it's clearly a demonstrated -- if niche -- market. Hybrid devices can be useful in certain scenarios -- but they're not ready to be the cornerstone of an OS strategy.

Apple, meanwhile, has a history of releasing products that defy its leaders' statements. Steve Jobs famously blasted small tablets, but the iPad Mini has since become one the Apple's most important products. It won't be surprising if, as supply chain rumors continually claim, Apple eventually releases a larger iPad Pro to complement the recently rebranded iPad Air. If Samsung's 12.2-inch models, announced this month at CES, gain any traction, Apple might even be forced to do so.

If such a device were to appear, rest assured: A lot of people would want to use it with keyboards at least some of the time. So while I believe Apple is more ardent than Microsoft about PC-tablet separation, I won't be surprised if Apple releases a productivity-oriented iPad. Tablets and computers still demand different interaction models, but convergence has benefits. Some measure of hybridity will make sense for Apple, just as it will for Microsoft. The hazier questions are how much and how soon.

While Apple is only dropping hints about future products and Microsoft is staying completely mum, Microsoft recently released a series of guides for Windows 8.1 business users. Those tips can help people waiting for Windows 9's alleged updates get the most out of Windows now.

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He graduated from Stanford in 2005 and previously worked in talent representation, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher.

Incidents of mobile malware are way up, researchers say, and 78% of respondents worry about lost or stolen devices. But though many teams are taking mobile security more seriously, 42% still skip scanning completely, and just 39% have MDM systems in place. Find out more in the State Of Mobile Security report (free registration required).

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Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
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1/27/2014 | 1:36:33 PM
Apple lucked out
What's the over/under on Apple having gone down the iOs/OSX convergence path prior to release of Win8, then sticking a fork in the projects after the reception Microsoft got in the market?

Just think about the benefits Apple got by letting MS take the lead into uncharted territory for once. You can't pay for that kind of market research.

 
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 1:44:52 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
There's some evidence to support your theory, Lorna. Apple has patents related to touchscreen MacBooks, tablets that convert into laptops and even an iMac, and a solar-powered iPad-attachable keyboard, among other things. Some of these patents pre-date Windows 8 by quite some time. That said, Apple is interesting and hard-to-predict when it comes to pushing new technologies. Sometimes, Apple kills a popular idea before the market has shown it's ready. Flash, floppy disks, etc. It also pushes forward-thinking ideas that are important to niches but not mainstream users-- firewire, thunderbolt, and so on. But in other cases, Apple sits on technologies until it feels they're mature enough to bring to market. Based on recent hires, Apple is clearly working on wearable devices, for example, but it seems unconcerned that its iWatch (or whatever) beat any other products to market.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
1/27/2014 | 1:56:21 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
Apple, like most large companies, looks into many things, and patents what they R&D. Apple has many patents over the years that they have not used. Just because they research an area doesn't mean the have intentions of entering it. A good deal of patenting things is for defensive reasons. Why should they let a competitor have the benefit of what they've done, even if that competitor have come up with it independently, later on? Much better to patent it first. On the other hand, Apple could be thinking about more convergence, and they likely are. They stated that the usability of the two OS's will continue to converge, without becoming one OS. But then, how far in the future is Apple thinking? It's clear that Microsoft did this all in a frenzied, desperate rush to remain relevant. Apple doesn't need to do that. Will the OS's converge sometime in the future, despite what Apple says now? Possibility, if they have really good reason for them to do so. I doubt very much if Microsoft's errors are telling them what they didn't know already though.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 3:49:20 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
I'm curious about what an Apple hybrid device UI would look like. Apple would merge the two platforms more seamlessly than Frankenstein Windows 8. But I don't see the motivation for doing it at all. There's no customer demand. And say what you want about Apple -- but the customer comes first. Windows 8 had little to do with customer needs, but was an effort -- and a clumsy one -- to solve a bunch of Microsoft's own problems at once (revive dying PC market, get into tablets). Microsoft rolled the dice and hoped we would go along with it.
melgross
IW Pick
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
1/27/2014 | 4:17:31 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
Well, there is the well known, and successful, concept of creating customer demand for a product, or service, that didn't exist before. This goes all the way back to pre history. Was there a demand for fire before it wasn't invented/discovered? How about the wheel? Bow and arrow? Coming closer, we can look at the Roman invention of concrete, or the arch. How about books? Magazines? Guns? Then we have the railroad, the automobile, the steamship, and ships in general. The fax, radio, tv, movies, Xerography, computers. Where do we start, and where do we end? Every invention, including the plow, weren't thought about until someone did, and invented it. Almost everything created a market, and a customer base. How about the steam engine, or the gasoline engine? So what about the question about customer demand again? It isn't whether there's demand, because unconsciously, there certainly is. It's about finesse. Microsoft doesn't have it. Maybe Apple does. I've stated my thoughts on this a number of times. The concept is that the OS would show the attributes required for a specific device, that would mean showing UI elements that would work for a small mobile device, such as a phone, a medium sized device, such as a tablet, both not requiring a hardware keyboard, and a "classic" desktop, which likely would. As Apple has it, the underlying OS is Unix. No reason all devices couldn't run the same apps. But the apps could distribute their own UI elements according to the device they were running on. To me, the ideal would be to purchase one app. That Apple could, using iCloud, install across all of your devices, as it does with iOS now. But here, it would install on OS X as well. However, the app would know what it's installing on, and arrange itself so that it would have the most appropriate UI and feature set for each device. So a phone would get the easiest, and best suited for that small screen, with the least ability to edit, or create. The iPad to be a big step up, and the desktop would be the fullest experience. But each move up the scale would result in a smooth accumulation of features and sophisticated usage.To all intents and purposes, this would appear to have a completely converged OS, even though that may not actually be the case inside. It's what I believe Apple is moving towards, and something like what I also believe Microsoft attempted to do all at once, but not really, if you know what I mean. Apple likely has the ability to do this. I don't think anyone else can. Google is a mess right now with Chrome and Android. Microsoft is Microsoft.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
1/27/2014 | 4:23:53 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
I would also like to say that Steve Jobs was said to have a reality distortion field. A writer, I forget his name, disagreed. He said that Steve jobs had a reality creation field. I believe that that was one of the most Insightful comments on it that I ever read.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 4:35:04 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
Yes, Apple is very good at addressing customer needs, both present and future. 
binarydaddy
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binarydaddy,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/28/2014 | 1:06:07 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
I'd be curious too, Shane...but sadly, its all curiosity ATM.  I'm an Apple convert because of the seamlessness of integrating hardware and operating system, yet I still support Windows professionally.  But since the passing of Steve Jobs, they've done little to innovate or revolutionize something.  Theyve not released anything truly new and innovative since the original iPad.  The mini was a smaller cheaper version of the original to compete with other smaller tablets that were beginning to catch on and the iPhone 5C to give customers an iPhone option when they couldnt afford the latest and greatest.

And while curiosity for a hybrid UI is there, I agree that demand isnt high for it.  But one thing is certain; Apple has had success in the past creating products that there was never a demand for.  Their ability to think outside the box to how something could benefit the masses before we knew we wanted (or needed) it has been their trademark over the last decade.  No one thought they needed a phone that could access the internet or play games...now we wonder how troublesome life would be without them.

Microsoft has tried multiple times in creating versions of Windows that appear to integrate desktop and mobile; but have fallen dramatically short.  And Apple has a chance to perfect the integrated mobile/desktop platforms, especially since theyve added bits and pieces from mobile into desktop with various devices like the Trackpad and the pinch-to-zoom and multigesturing from iOS to OS X.  And with OS X at its last (numerical) iteration in 10.9 Mavericks, I'm hopeful for a dramtic revamp of Apple OS like we saw with iOS 7 that would merge the two and provide a refreshing alternative...one thats not just cosmetic.

We're not far from June (WWDC) and I'm anxiously waiting for the "next big thing" from Apple.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
1/28/2014 | 8:54:03 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
How often can a company come out with groundbreaking products? Apple came out with the iPod in 2001. It wasn't until 2007 that the iPhone came out, and it wasn't until 2010 that the iPad came out. The iPad, we need to know, was either being worked on since 2005, in seriousness, and since 2002, in conception. It was put aside as Jobs decided that a small screen touch device, such a phone, would be a better starting place. So when the iPad came out three years later, it was really in development for at least five years, and actually longer, from point of conception. So, now it's not yet four years from the delivery of the first iPad, and everyone's thinking that Apple isn't innovating since Jobs has gone? Is this serious?
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Ninja
1/28/2014 | 10:16:34 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
Excellent point, @melgross.  Of course, back then we didn't have nearly the proliferation of tech "news" sites that we do now, with all sorts of rumormongering and speculation about the latest self-driving flying laser-shooting car that Google is working on.  No wonder fanbois are all like, WHERE'S THE INNOVATION, APPLE???  The tech world is creating unrealistic expectations while spoiling us.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
1/27/2014 | 1:48:43 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
Don't think so. There's no evidence that Apple ever intended to go that route at all. It's just speculation on your part that they may have. What I think has been happening is in my other post.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 2:03:46 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
I suppose it would be more correct to say there's no evidence to support that Apple intended to bring any convergence device to market. That much is speculation. But there's certainly evidence to support that Apple investigated convergence, perhaps just to conclude that it was a bad idea, or perhaps to make things a bit more difficult for competitors. Certainly, companies patent things all the time that they never intend to bring to market.

EDIT: Sorry, melgross, just saw your other reply, in which you raised many of these points already.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 4:29:54 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
OS X and iOS won't converge in the near future. Doing so would alienate OS X developers, who would find themselves unable to create apps, as they can now, without Apple approval. That's in addition to the differeing priorities of mobile (battery life) and desktop computing (processing power).
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
1/28/2014 | 11:22:48 AM
Re: Apple lucked out
I believe that to be an oversimplification. Apple already sells a lot of software through its Mac software store. It will sell more there in the future. While developers are not forced to buy there, many choose to do so, including Apple itself, of course. So Apple could sell someone software through the Mac store, and it would also arrive, in proper form, as I mentioned, on their iOS devices shortly afterwards. This makes perfect sense. Many companies offer software for pay on the Mac, and then offer, for free, equivalents on iOS, either freestanding, or when you buy the Mac version. I believe this will become more common. Software develops will just have to get used to it. Microsoft already requires all software for Win 8 to be sold through their store. Older software for the Desktop can still be purchased the old way, but you can see where things are going, as it's even more restrictive than what Apple is doing for the Mac, when you just consider the Modern UI, which Microsoft insists will be the only part of Windows left after some time.
midmachine
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midmachine,
User Rank: Strategist
1/27/2014 | 2:03:19 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
That is what APple does all the time (and then claim their "discovery" for themselves). They let the competition absorb the bumps and bruises until they see a viable market, then they "copy"/"tweak" the design and claim innovation.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
1/27/2014 | 3:59:31 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
To a certain extent you are correct. But the thrust of your post is wrong. Apple does innovate. Apple has been able to risk everything on ideas that at are either theirs, or are something they've seen that doesn't work well enough to become popular, or even functional. So a company may invent something that no company wants to use, or can get to use. Apple gets it to work well, and makes it a standard on their own devices. Then, after a while, everyone else follows. So, yes, that is innovation. But Apple does a lot more than that.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 4:26:42 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
I understand this point of view, but only to a degree. Apple didn't literally invent tablet computers, per se, but I bet most people think otherwise. I understand why that might irk some people.

But even if Microsoft or someone at Xerox PARC or whoever invents a concept, doesn't Apple deserve some credit for figuring out how to turn the concept into a disruptive force? "Invent" and "innovate" aren't the same (though Apple, like Microsoft, invents lots of stuff). Moreover, if all Apple did was "tweak" someone else's idea, why haven't more companies figured out how to copy Apple's model? Marketing is admittedly a part of Apple's success, but so are the products themselves. I find it difficult to deny Apple its reputation as an innovative company.
midmachine
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midmachine,
User Rank: Strategist
1/27/2014 | 4:31:05 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
I did not mean to imply that they were not innovative. After I posted my little blurb I knew that it would be taken as a little "anti'Apple", which I am not. I respect the company's legacy of truly beautiful products (over-priced for me) but I am not taken completely by the "it just works" marketing. I support and have worked with many different Apple products and all of them, at one time or another, have had a problem of some sort and in varying degrees from "that's anoying" to "I guess I have a doorstop now".
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 4:44:41 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
That's fair. I'm not sure I'd call Apple products uniformly overpriced, and I think there's definite value in their designs that somewhat justifies the price premium-- but I sure wouldn't mind if they were cheaper. And though it doesn't match my personal experiences, I've heard from others for whom the "It just works" mantra has fallen deal-breakingly short.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
1/28/2014 | 11:26:38 AM
Re: Apple lucked out
I also believe in the "nothing is perfect" concept. I was a partner in a pro audio manufacturing firm, and designed numerous speakers and electronics. No matter how hard we tried, and the pro field is a tough one, there were occasion design errors that required fixing after the product was in the field. Apple surely isn't perfect, but they're better than most everyone else out there.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
1/28/2014 | 1:25:49 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
And Apple provides different customer service than anyone out there, in my experience. Can MS deliver the genius bar experience? Can Google, some day? It is now the standard for consumer devices and BYOD devices in my mind.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
1/28/2014 | 5:31:39 PM
Re: Apple lucked out
>Can MS deliver the genius bar experience?

Yes, but it will be called the average bar. ;-)
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
1/28/2014 | 11:16:23 AM
Re: Apple lucked out
If we think of what a tablet really does, and how it does it, from input to form, Apple pretty much did invent the tablet with the Newton. The ipad is the only other real tablet, certainly the only other one that meant anything. I know that some insist in calling the convertibles of the 2000's, "tablets", but they really weren't. At best, they could be called tablet-like, but just in a very limited way. The Grid, for example, never went anywhere, though part of that was Microsoft insisting that they would have a similar product that never arrived, giving the name to products that were never intended to arrive; vaporware. Yes, that was the origin of the word. Apple may not invent some early version of something, but makes it useful in a way the original inventor didn't figure out. You mention PARC, and that's a good example. Apple may not have invented the GUI, as Xerox did. But Xerox's version was unusable. Apple invented the drop down menu, the overlapping windows and many more innovations. Xerox's own computer, the Star workstation based on their GUI, failed. That led Xerox out of computing. The failed Lisa led Apple to the Mac.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
1/27/2014 | 1:46:54 PM
The question of why
We need to remember that Apple and Microsoft are coming at this from different directions not because of some major difference in thinking, but rather because of practical considerations. Let's look at the two companies. Apple has a small but growing Mac business. They redefined smartphones, and came up with the first usable tablet. As a result, they have very well selling products in the mobile space. At the same time, they don't cater to enterprise use of Macs. Nevertheless, Macs are now growing rapidly in business. Part of that is due to the iPhone becoming so popular in business, and government, as well as the iPad. This allows Apple to do what it wants to do, slowly. It has the sales now. Whatever convergence they will end up with can be evolved over years, and has been. Microsoft, on the other hand, is the business and government computing environment. It has the vast percentage of sales there, and consumer sales of Windows is a direct result if people buying, over the years, what they used at work. But, in mobile, Microsoft has been shut out. The iPhone changed smartphones foever, and made them into the major area of growth for the industry, rather than a small 10% share of cellphone sales to business and government. This killed Win mobile, along with the other major competitors. Microsoft has not made it back from that. In addition, Microsoft had no presence in the tablet market. These two problems were a conundrum for Microsoft. Win Phone 7 was a stopgap measure using the old, discredited CE for a base, and went nowhere. But it was the first attempt for Microsoft to get back in the mobile race, which they, belatedly, saw as being much more important than they did at first, when Ballmer dissed the original iPhone. But the ipad already came out, and, of course, as to be expected, Gates dissed that as well. But as PC sales began to tremble, and then fall from increased sales of tablets, Microsoft was caught short. How to get people to buy a Microsoft phone and tablet became a major concern. As Win Phone was doing poorly, Microsoft had a dilemma. If people weren't buying the Metro devices, how could they get them to? Well, the answer, as we see, was to force it upon people with Win 8. In the last, it didn't really matter what Microsoft did. Even with vista, Microsoft knew that an updated version (especially after the Great Recession, which also held sales back) would mKe up for the lost vista sales. This was nothing new, and was expected, and it was exactly what was happening. But Microsoft could finally see that in the long run, that may no longer work with BYOD happening, not only for phones, but for tablets, and even computers. So they figured that with Metro, now the Modern UI, people would be forced to use this new mobile UI, and would like it, or at least, get used to it, so that it would influence their mobile purchasing. They even announced that the desktop would eventually go away!a nd that the Modern UI would bet he future of Windows. But why do it this way; bolting a second OS onto their primary one in a way that was so clumsy? It's pretty simple, really. Time! It takes years for a company to come up with an entirely reworked OS. Microsoft had no time. They needed to do it quickly, or get burned. So we had Win Phone 7. Really Win mobile with a UI taken from the doomed Zune HD. Why they would think that would be popular can be talked about for years. I think that one reason was that Apple and Microsoft have a major cross licensing deal in place that prevents Microsoft from copying anything Apple does in UI or usability concepts. So they had nowhere to go quickly, and so looked at the Zune HD, and decided that would be a good base on which to build. But that was designed for a small handheld device, not a tablet, and most assuredly, not a desktop, with its large screen and keyboard/mouse. But it was what they had, and could get out quickly, As so often happens, they were too close to the development, and no doubt became excited by it, not seeing the flaws that others saw after release. So we have from them what we see. An OS that simply isn't suited to the desktop (Modern UI), combined with an OS that simply isn't suited to a tablet (Win 7). RT had apparently failed, so nowhere to go there. Now, Microsoft is finding itself backing off on the Modern UI for the desktop, and just how far is anyone's guess. Where are they going to go with tablets is also anyone's guess, as even the Pro isn't selling all that well. I see estimates of total Windows tablet sales that seem well above actual sales. I only know one person who has bought one, a Pro, which he is now ridding himself of, as his employer, IBM has given him an iPad Air, which I suppose says volumes about where Windows tablets are going. So Microsoft has found themselves between the old rock and a hard place, with nowhere to go. If they can't slip out, they will be ground to dust. It will take time, but it will happen, and devices isn't going to save them.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 1:58:24 PM
Re: The question of why
Thanks for the wealth of great thoughts. I honed in on this observation in particular:


"But why do it this way; bolting a second OS onto their primary one in a way that was so clumsy? It's pretty simple, really. Time! It takes years for a company to come up with an entirely reworked OS. Microsoft had no time."


Indeed. As as these new leaks suggest, Microsoft is still going through this time-consuming process-- not of refining a solid foundation, but of getting the foundation in shape in the first place. Some of Microsoft's old gambles are still haunting them (such as all the resources invested in Vista that should have been invested in mobile, a mistake Ballmer has lamented in interviews), despite the company's formidable enterprise clout. Maybe Microsoft will wow everyone in April at BUILD. But maybe they'll show a version of Windows 9 that just reminds everyone of what desktop users wanted back in 2012. Given that Microsoft is playing from behind, that wouldn't be a good sign. 
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
1/27/2014 | 2:21:01 PM
Re: The question of why
Another thing I picked up on is the concept of getting your stake in the ground in light of agreeing to not copy UI functionality. One could think of Win8 as the equivalent of a kid taking small bites out of all the chocolates in the box so the grownups won't eat them. Get the tiles concept, and whatever else you can jam in, out there. Now MS owns it and can refine (eat the candy) at leisure.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
1/27/2014 | 3:47:46 PM
Re: The question of why
Yes, exactly. If current trends go on for a while longer, Microsoft will not see more major growth in their business software either. I've always said that as sales of Windows goes, so goes the sale (or licensing) of Office, delayed by about a year. We're seeing that already. This last quarter's results by Microsoft is being hailed as great, but really, underneath the numbers, we can see troubling trends. I'm sure Microsoft is aware of this, though whether or not they think it's as bad as it is is another thing entirely. Firing Ballmer, no matter what it was called, is an indication that Microsoft is in worse overall shape that just writing down $900 million from poor Surface sales.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
1/30/2014 | 3:57:30 PM
Re: The question of why
1)  Microsoft didn't and still doesn't need a new OS.  The iPhone is Unix.  Android is Linux.  Neither vendor created a new OS, they simply married those kernels with new human interfaces. 

2)  Regarding Windows 8, Microsoft didn't bolt a new OS on the old one.  They added a new UI paradigm -- I might even go as far as saying they have two presentation managers but even that's not really true as a touch app is nothing more than a maximized, borderless desktop window using touch-first controls

3)  The iPhone showed Microsoft why it failed in mobile and tablets although they were too proud to immediately reocognize it.  Apple and MS desktops offer the same GUI concepts.  Apple ditched all that and started over with the idea of a small screen where the finger would be the mouse.  Contrast this with Microsoft's PocketPCs that were just micro versions of desktop Windows.  Although touch was supported, finger precision doesn't work with pint-sized desktop GUI controls.  It's like threading a sewing needle with a Golden Gate support cable.  The hardware was horrible.  All of them had squishy, low res touch screens that were more suitable for microwave oven keypads.  The software had pint-sized features -- pocket IE was a brain dead excuse for a browser.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
1/30/2014 | 6:20:00 PM
Re: The question of why
I agree with several things you said, but I disagree with others. You certainly are correct that iOS is Unix inside. Android isn't exactly a Linux distro though, because Google replaced the libraries inside Linux with their own proprietary ones. What that makes it, I'm not entirely sure. Does Microsoft need a new OS? Well, perhaps not. But if it runs different software, then it is a new OS. It doesn't matter that iOS is basically OS X inside. It's a different OS because it runs different software (and runs on a different CPU). It's not just the kernel, Mach, but an entire OS, named Darwin, which is OS X without the GUI desktop. Apple offers Darwin as open software. But in Microsoft's case, Win 8 is two OSs bolted together. They run entirely different software. Their programming models are different. Their operating models are different. That makes them different. The Pocket PC wasn't even Windows, just a facsimile. The OS was based on CE, which bears no real relation to Windows. Microsoft has been using that "Windows Everywhere" marketing ploy for years, event thought the different "Windows" OSs were actually different OSs. Microsoft felt that if they were called Windows, and looked like Windows, even thought they ran different software, people would be fooled. And in most cases they were, at least until they used them for a while. Of course, all of those small Microsoft devices used a stylus with a resistive screen, no touch available, unless you regarded a hard tap with a fingernail as touch. Even the horrible convertibles were resistive, though they had 13-15" screens. They were still impossible to use. Trying to use the Desktop on a Surface Pro is a frustrating experience. And now we hear that they may be coming out with a cheaper 8" version. They must be trying to torture people. Oh, and by the way, how is paragraph support managed here? I've never been able to figure that our.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
1/30/2014 | 6:47:44 PM
Re: The question of why
Mel,

Let's just disagree and leave it at that.  A recent InfoWorld post regarding your thoughts on Java and Android have colored my interpretation of all you say.  Peace brother.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
1/30/2014 | 8:02:30 PM
Re: The question of why
Sorry you aren't happy with my views, but that's your right. I take each view of a person separately. That really makes more sense than disregarding everything because you aren't happy about something else.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2014 | 9:37:11 AM
Re: The question of why
By your views, Java would make every OS on which it runs a dual OS.  Further, Windows is way beyond dual operating systems since it can run DOS, Win 16, Win 32, Win 64, .Net, modern touch applications and Java.  Any Unix system with WINE would also be multiple operating systems except Unix runs Java too so does that make it three bolted together?  IBM's latest i-Series (AS400) can run programs written for the System/36 and it also runs Java.  Does that make it three operating systems?  Applications are also written to run inside browsers?  Is that too an operating system?

Just let it go...
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2014 | 9:34:35 PM
Re: The question of why
@rradina,

 

You raise an interesting question, along with Mel's comments just before that, about how we define the difference between a unified operating system as opposed to two things bolted together. Is X Windows an OS? No, it's a graphical interface that sits on top of some kind of *nix OS. And yet with OSX (years of seeing IBM products has me typing OS/X without thinking it's incorrect ;-) we have a very good GUI sitting on top of, well, *nix. So why do we see it differently to X? Windows 3.x for example, was arguably a GUI that ran on top of an underlying DOS shell, but we consider that (like OSX) to be a unified operating system, albeit one with some severe limitations. And let's not even start on the whole "what makes a particular *nix unique" question... kernel? userland? libraries? *shudders* Then when you run other environments within that OS, things get more complicated.

To me though what matters is how it appears to the user. If Windows 3 was a GUI bolted on top of DOS, I don't care so long as it works. Ditto Windows 8. Reading back on Mel's comments, I got the impression that rather than criticising a layering of one OS on top of another one, it was talking about two OSs sitting side by side pretending to be the same thing. That's only a problem if you discover that they aren't the same. If not, who cares what's under the hood?
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
2/1/2014 | 9:18:43 AM
Re: The question of why
When Windows 3.x ran on DOS, they called in an operating environment, not an OS.  My father has an all-in-one touchscreen desktop that runs Windows 7.  HP added a touch friendly UI on top of Win7 that makes it work in a unique way.  However, I don't think anyone, even HP or the Microcenter sales staff think it's a new OS or some hybrid merger of two operating systems.

When Windows is running a kiosk app that replaces the desktop with it's own GUI, it no longer looks like Windows and it's difficult to tell what the device is under the covers.  Would we call this a merger of two operating systems?

The reason I think this is important is because calling it two operating systems is making it sound like Microsoft put in a lot of blunderous effort and "fixing" it is a huge task.  This is similar to the FUD Microsoft spread in the 90s when it tried to defend how Internet Explorer was part of the OS and not just another application.  They claimed it  couldn't be removed or Windows woudn't be Windows.  While Microsoft did it's best to tie lots of Windows dialogs and even Explorer to the IE HTML rendering engine, I don't recall anyone suggesting they bolted two operating systems together.

The modern touch features of Windows 8 are similar to the IE rendering engine....just smoke and mirrors.  If we stop there, Microsoft has less room to squirm and there are no excuses as to why it cannot allow folks the option to enable favorite features such as a classic start button and running modern apps in desktop windows.

Win8 (not 8.1 as I believe it's miles better), is like those auto-retracting seatbelts the auto industry tried ~30 years ago.  While the safety concept was admirable, the implementaton left us all scratching our heads.  8.1 addressed a number of rough edges.  Hopefully the next Windows service pack will be like the airbags that eliminated those motorized seatbelt systems.

 
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
2/1/2014 | 12:46:48 PM
Re: The question of why
@rradina: "Hopefully the next Windows service pack will be like the airbags that eliminated those motorized seatbelt systems."

 

No kidding. Personally I just cannot get on with Windows 8. Each time I touch it (no pun intended) I back away very shortly thereafter. To me it just proves that despite (hopefully) best intentions, having one interface for mobile and desktop Just Doesnt Work. 

I don't recall the "Operating Environment" terminology though I have no reason to doubt it. From a user perspective, we talked about "Installing Windows" as if it were a single OS, just as we do with OSX. And honestly, I don't care too much what's under the hood so long as it works for me as a user, and we don't see huge stability issues that get blamed on the nature of the Operating Environment.

One of the things that frustrates many mobile users may be on the application layer rather than the OS side of thing (preference aside), and that is that most desktop apps aren't mirrored by tablet and mobile versions of the app that allow a relatively seamless transition between platforms. The nature and ubiquity of cloud storage makes this a highly desirable feature, and I really believe that's what MS was aiming at as much as anything else. That's a good aim, but I think they missed the point along the way. We all accept that the interface will be necessarily be different between a smartphone and a desktop; it's how the data can transfer that makes for an improved user experience.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
2/2/2014 | 10:55:27 AM
Re: The question of why
8.1 on a tablet, even an 8", is pretty slick... provided only the lightest of interaction is done with the classic desktop.  For anything beyond that, a keyboard and some kind of mouse control is best.

If 8/8.1 are soley used outside of a tablet/ultrabook context, Microsoft needs to let it cook a little longer.

Regarding naming, it was an operating environment(1.0/2.0), then a graphical environment (3.0) and with 3.1 I think they called it an OS.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
2/2/2014 | 12:38:56 PM
Re: The question of why
We have to keep in mind that Microsoft was terribly rushed here. They needed to come out with an OS that people would buy on tablets, and phones too. They were just so far behind, that they were in serious trouble. No one can rush this though, and Microsoft isn't known for quick moves. How long would it have taken them to re-work Win 7 enough for tablets and phones so as to have it work well all around? Years more time than they had. They basically went to the ZUNE HD and lifted the more primitive UI from that, along with the programming model, and worked it up. But they still had a problem with convincing people to use it. Win Phone 7+ is evidence of that. While I don't know exactly at what point they decided to do Win 8 the way they did, it's obviously an attempt to get people to use the Modern UI, in the hope it would stimulate both tablet and phone sales. Being so close to the project, and having the; "Wow! This is a GREAT idea! It will solve all of our problems." syndrome we see all too often, blinded them to the major defects of the idea itself, not only the implementation. While a few people do love it, most everyone either has a slight dislike, to a strong hatred. So much so that Microsoft seems to be backing off on some of the more important points.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
2/2/2014 | 2:21:43 PM
Re: The question of why
"it's obviously an attempt to get people to use the Modern UI"

 

You answered your own question.  The modern UI is great on a touch device.  The classic UI is great on a desktop.  Force folks to use both on every device...  we're just Monday morning quarterbacking at this point.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
2/3/2014 | 9:36:22 PM
Re: The question of why
I have no argument with that. Each UI is best for a specific purpose. But sticking them both together is a bad idea, despite the reasons they had for doing it.
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
2/2/2014 | 12:24:45 PM
Re: The question of why
You respond in a post, and then you tell me to let it go? You really didn't need to have that last post, you could have let it go, but you didn't. jgherbert has given a good response to you that I completely agree with.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
2/2/2014 | 2:14:21 PM
Re: The question of why
I'd prefer to not debate this topic with you.  I don't know what else to say because I don't think either of us will make progress convincing the other.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2014 | 9:37:24 PM
Re: The question of why
@melgross:

>"Oh, and by the way, how is paragraph support managed here? I've never been able to figure that our."

I hit enter at the end of a paragraph and things "just work."
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
2/2/2014 | 12:28:46 PM
Re: The question of why
I'm working on an iPad, and trying "return" which is the same thing, doesn't give a paragraph stop. Odd, it works properly on every other site.
jgherbert
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jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
2/2/2014 | 12:31:00 PM
Re: The question of why
Very odd indeed! I haven't tried on an iPad but like you, across multiple other platforms it has worked fine. Weird!
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