Rounding error

“iOS powered devices generate more revenue than all of Microsoft’s products put together”


Microsoft Report

Apple Report

The charts above, from Horace Dediu at Asymco are amazing and pretty much a paper written proof of what everyone already feels instinctively. Microsoft is in deep trouble, their “evil empire” is crumbling and they haven’t manage to grow any enthusiasm or momentum (upwards i mean) in a long time. (( and no, i’m still playing with Windows 8 but i don’t think that it will save the ship. In fact i’m starting to think it will just sink it even more, because it tries to be everything to everyone while failing at it for every one. But let me play with it a little more… )) There is a lot more reflection on Asymcos original post so be sure to check it out.

The obvious joke at Steve Ballmer in the title of this post could have been forgotten or not used at all. But then again it’s just too easy to aim at him. That’s what you get for being a blind arrogant incompetent jerk most of your stage time.

Windows 8

Has anyone seen a video of Windows 8 running on anything else than a tablet?

Because if this is to be the One OS to rull them All, i’m really curious to see how that “touch UI over standard Desktop” mess works on someone that only has a mouse and a keyboard…

On the plus side, the lipstick (Metro design/ touch UI) is gorgeous, and the first design from Redmond that is actually nice and “easy” on the eye. On the down side, why do they keep the pig?

Usability, and why it is lost in the Windows world

I plugged my printer into a new MacBook Pro — my first mac ever. A week later I needed to print, so I started poking around for an ADD PRINTER process. Eventually I realized the OS has setup the printer. The OS is responsible for I/O and hardware, so why would it need me to participate. Why should the user be trained like a monkey to click NEXT, NEXT, NEXT, NEXT, FINISH.

Mac is a completely different mindset and design from the ground up. And great design pays off for a decade, the same way the bad designs of Windows 3.1 hurt Windows for a decade. It isn’t just about “OS” security. It is about the work environment that OS provides the user. Windows users (who arent geeks) feel helpless and at the mercy of this mysterious machine that keeps asking questions they don’t understand. Mac Users aren’t made to feel like morons because they don’t work in the computer industry. AND THAT is why they love and trust their machines.

And Windows people simply don’t get it, until they are willing to be a Mac users, no take backs, not using it only when I have to, not bothering to invest in it to have all the tricks you need to live on it the same way you did on Windows. When you jump fully in the pool you start to see the different perspective. Not that everything is rosey and perfection of a Computer Operating System. It isn’t about that, that is the Windows user’s view of a Mac User. The Mac people are busy using the computer to do something that has nothing to do with “OS”. OS isn’t their focus or concern.

A anonymous commenter on ZDNet

This is part of a comment on a gallery related to a “peter cried wolf” set of articles by Ed Bott at THe article itself is just another dose of “get ready, Macs are just as insecure as my faithful windows, so be prepared and start buying Norton stocks products.”

John Gruber has a nice timeline of other equal idiot valid articles here.

But this particular commentary is specially interesting. And true. And it touches another usability handicap of Windows that blows my mind. The User Account Control (UAC) and its endless stream of prompts.

Microsoft wanted, correctly i might say, that people started using the standard division of Administrator/User, starting from Windows Vista. It was the best choice they could have made and the major reason Vista is leaps and bounds a safer system than XP.

Until then to actually use Windows you had to be an admin, with all of the security faults it implied. I remember trying to set my Windows XP machine somewhere around 2005 (give or take) as an Admin/Reg.User duo and finding out that i couldn’t even plug in a usb flash drive as a regular user. (( This might have required that the admin pointed out point by point what every user could do. But i wasn’t ready, or am now, to loose time configuring something that should have been obvious that a regular user could do in a standard household environment and be properly set up from the first moment))

So, about 2 years ago, I was again recruited to give technical assistance to a relative, female, early fifties, school teacher. She had some basic knowledge of computers and still knew how to mess around on the control panel preferences. When she bought a Vista laptop, she setup herself as a Admin account. As it comes preconfigured.

When i picked up her computer to provide a “cleanup” i found out that she had completely disabled UAC. Why? because it kept annoying her and interrupting her workflow with prompts. Every single time from the startup to shutdown. So she did what most people did. Disable it. She wouldn’t know /think of setting her up as a second standard user, but she quickly found out where to disable the UAC. And as such there went the security. No wonder why i was being called.

I already knew why she had done it. If you are the admin, you are annoyed every time you are doing any kind of stuff that might alter the system. Even if it is “admin stuff”. So you would suffer a prompt every single time you opened up a “C:/Program Files” folder. Or every time you changed the wireless network. Or entered the Control Panel.

Jeeezzz!! IF i authenticated myself as the Administrator, if i already passworded my way in to admin land, then by Jove, leave me doing my stuff alone. Stop pestering me! I can’t possibly imagine what hell professional IT admins must have endured trying to use Vista. And then again, maybe that is why they didn’t and kept everyone using XP since then…

And this is what the commenter is referring about. If MS wanted people to setup the admin/user protocol, then force it, design it inherently, hide the admin (SUDO). But don’t do things halfheartedly with the firm intention of annoying the user so much that it must do what you wanted to him to do. Because he/she will find another solution. Probably easier and not at all what you wanted in the first place.

Speechless Comments

I’ve written below, something that has been on my mind for a long long time. Most precisely when i got so fed up with Windows performance deterioration, security faults, and just general clumsiness that i started looking for alternative OS.

Some of the comments on this article, here and on other sites, are basically that i don’t understand Microsoft, which i wholeheartedly agree. I don’t. Microsoft’s current direction is a mystery to me. I fail to see why it doesn’t want to address the change that it needs to do:

  • Fix Windows. Better yet, kill it and produce a worthy successor, preferably UNIX based so that it can stop being the lone ugly duckling in the IT world.

  • Or why it refuses to produce cross-platform enterprise and productivity software, when that is clearly the value generating activity at Microsoft.

Regular people don’t “want windows”. They don’t care about the insane start menu at the bottom left corner. What they really want to know is:

  • “can i open the documents and presentations other people send me?”.

  • Will i be isolated in data exchange with my customers and suppliers?”

That’s the killer app for windows right now, Office and other Productivity software for the enterprises. Nobody actually enjoys using Windows. They use it because they have to. And the moment an alternative is present they will change boats.

Like what is happening now. The iPad is being bought because it is mainly hassle free. And the regular Joe can use it to check Facebook or consult the cable tvguide without being harassed by an antivirus or a mandatory restart windows update.

So if some of the elaborated and highly knowledgeable commenters/insiders can explain to me why Microsoft keeps letting alternative software being constructed and perfected in the Linux and Mac ecosystem (Mac for the consumer, Linux for the Enterprise), to the detriment of Microsoft’s own, then by all means enlighten me. Show me why have i been wrong stating what i have stated.

Assessment based opinions.

Unlike some fanatics/”guys with little brains” around the web, i don’t have anything religiously against Microsoft. Or Apple. Or Linux. Or fanatically in favour of them, for that part. I use what’s convenient and currently a better solution. I used Windows because for a long time it was

  1. the best value approach;
  2. the easiest solution;
  3. a good enough system;

I stopped using Windows when i got fed up, and none of the above were true. I used Linux for about a year until i needed a laptop (and linux on laptops is not the same as on desktops) and everyone refused to sell me a general consumer laptop without windows. I don’t like paying for something that i won’t use and generally disagree with.

So I changed to Apple. I’ve played a bit with them before, they were nicely built with an endless amount of detail attention and it had MS Office, which i would probably need for my coming PhD years. And i loved it. Mac OS is most of the things a Microsoft OS should be. (And a MS OS doesn’t need to be WINDOWS for pete’s sake).

But Macs too have, as stated endlessly before in this blog, several faults and shortcomings that i find annoying as hell. Yet, currently, they are the better solution for most consumers. Linux is good enough for most of them (like i said i have my mother and some family members using it for up to 2 years until now and no problem). And Windows is only the correct solution for a very specific and limited segment. And this doesn’t appear to change in the near future.

Final Thoughts

So for the offended Microsofties/MS fans, if i criticise Microsoft management and lack of direction, it is not because i don’t like or hate MS, but because i can see the great value hidden in the company, the great value of some of their offerings and i find absurd that those values are being slowly destructed by management shortcomings and in the end, is the consumer (as myself) that is being deprived of a good solution for its problems.

And Shareholders of Value too. Not to mention employees of their livelihoods …



I find this graphic astonishing. If added all the losses (done roughly by the graphic bars) it means that in the last 5 years, Microsoft has wasted, without any meaning, over 8 billion dollars. This is eight thousand million dollars! Lost. Wasted. Without any significant sign of change for the future.

And for what exactly? What is the added benefit of the “online division”? Bing? Hotmail? Why are MS stockholders quiet about this? It truly blows my mind. I fail to understand what’s the point of a company squandering all those resources into something it has nothing to do with their core business, and it clearly is not the future for them.

Microsoft should join Sony and some other infamous companies into a case study compilation of companies so poorly managed that you are amazed why they are still afloat. It should be mandatory study at management courses worldwide.

Advice to Microsoft stockholders:

  1. Fire Ballmer.
  2. Get rid of money burning divisions.
  3. Break Microsoft into several isolated Divisions (example):

    • Windows/Desktop and Server OS;
    • Office and Business software;
    • Computer related Hardware ((MS makes some of the best keyboards and mice));
    • Entertainment and Consumer devices;
  4. Make them run unbounded by other Microsoft divisions, and keep a trimming eye to those that continuously lose money or market-share.

MS Office has the potential to be the “perpetual” monopoly office suite for decades to come. If, and only if, it can cover all of the computer/OS bases that exist and may exist. And that means, have Office for Linux, have Office for Mac, have Office apps for iOS, ANdroid, WebOS, have a Office suite everywhere! Of equal quality and fully compatible.

If you can open, read and modify the same Office documents that your clients, colleagues, friends, and governments everywhere exchange with you, why would you want to change or bear the weight of “being different”? It would be virtually impossible to break this siege.

OpenOffice/LibreOffice only gets resources and interest because people need an alternative to MS Office on Linux and other low cost/low visibility platforms. That’s where the programming brainpower behind it resides. If there should be no need, fewer and fewer resources would go into it. And and other suites would slowly die or fade into irrelevance. KOffice anyone?

Why is this not being done? Because Windows folks won’t let them. So MS Office has areas where it is forbidden to enter. Ever. It’s like trying to win a war when you can’t step inside your enemy’s territory and you have to wait for him to come to yours. Slowly you will loose ground. And resources. And one day it will be too late to stop the full blitzkrieg attack.

What is the interest of keeping Windows alive if that means slowly choking all of Microsoft into a slow death?

And why is Windows the “soul” of Microsoft? It had DOS, it had Windows NT, it had Windows 2000/XP and now Vista/7. Why can’t it simply produce another OS, not named Windows please!, and not built on the same architectural errors, and just sell it as the new product? Apple has done it. Oil Companies are doing it as we speak, changing from Oil sellers to Energy providers. It probably won’t be easy, but it is the only sure way of having a shot at the future.

It’s like Ford still selling the old Model T (upgraded with lots of coloured fins!) when everyone around them is selling electric/hybrid cars. It makes no sense at all, except in Mr.Ballmer’s head. And tens of thousands of employees around the world are being guided by this blind steersman into a not very bright future.