Technologizer posts about Microsoft

Microsoft has spilled the beans–lots and lots of them–on the Windows Store app market that will be in Windows 8. Presumably, it would never exist in this form if Apple had never introduced the iPhone App Store. But it does look good, with a slick interface and developer-friendly terms that offer more flexibility and a higher revenue share for programs once they hit $25,000 in sales.

The one thing that bugs me about the Windows Store is that it’s going to be the only way for developers to distribute Windows 8 apps with the new Metro interface to consumers. (Businesses can circumvent it for programs they provide to their own employees.) Am I being inconsistent, considering that I live reasonably happily with Apple’s identical restriction on iOS apps? Maybe. But maybe I’m just grappling with the fact that Microsoft is eliminating a PC feature that’s existed for decades: The liberty to install any program we choose. I’ll reserve further judgement until Windows 8 has shipped and the Windows Store is open–and hope that it, like Apple’s App Store, ultimately feels bountiful rather than limited.

Posted by Harry at 10:17 am

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What Price Office for the iPad? Who Knows!

By  |  Posted at 1:31 pm on Wednesday, November 30, 2011

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The Daily story by Matt Hickey on a possible iPad version of Microsoft Office which I mentioned yesterday is continuing to make news. And one part of the story that has folks excited is the notion that the Office apps might go for $10 apiece:

The thing is, The Daily’s story doesn’t claim to have any inside information that even hints at the $10 price point, let alone confirms it. The article is a gumbo of scuttlebutt and supposition–and downright incoherent in spots–but here are the relevant paragraphs:

In addition to an iPad-ready version, a new edition of Office is expected for OS X Lion sometime next year. The current version of the desktop package, Office 2011, officially supports iOS versions up to Snow Leopard. A Lion version, likely available via the Mac App Store, is widely expected. Windows, too, is due for an update, with Office 2012 currently in beta form.

It’s assumed that both of these would work with Office 365 as well as mobile versions, such as Windows Phone’s Office Hub. Because it would be compatible with these full suites rather than as stand-alone apps, the pricing will most likely be significantly lower than existing Office products. In fact, it’s likely the cost will be around the $10 price point that Apple has established for its Pages, Numbers and Keynote products.

If you fully understand these two paragraphs, you’re a lot smarter than I am. Putting aside the fact that it says Snow Leopard is a version of iOS rather than OS X, it makes reference to the next Mac and Windows versions of Office. Then it says “it’s assumed” (by whom?) that “both of these” will “work with” Office 365 and Windows Phone.

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Microsoft has come up with a super-clever way to let people experience Windows Phone 7.5′s unique interface for themselves: A Web-based simulation that runs on iPhones and Adnroid handsets.

Posted by Harry at 7:34 am

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Consumers Don’t Care About Windows Tablets? No Problem

By  |  Posted at 3:06 pm on Tuesday, November 29, 2011

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Research firm Forrester has conducted a survey that supposedly reveals that consumer interest in Windows-based tablets–once quite high–is now tanking. Forrester is concluding that Microsoft has therefore missed the opportunity to compete strongly with the iPad, since the first serious Windows-based tablets won”t show up until sometime next year when Windows 8 ships.  
 
If I were a Microsoft honcho, these results wouldn’t worry me much, for several reasons…

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Matt Hickey of The Daily is reporting that Microsoft is working on a version of Office for the iPad. His story isn’t the most compelling piece of writing and reporting I’ve ever read–he calls OS X “iOS” at one point and seems overly confident that some of his assumptions are likely true, such as the apps costing about $10 apiece.
 
I hope the rumor–which has existed as a bit of idle speculation for a long time–is true. It would be a smart, self-confident move on Microsoft’s part to reach out to all those iPad users rather than deny them a useful product in hopes of forcing them to buy Windows tablets. And even though there are scads of iPad productivity apps already, I haven’t found one I’d kill for: a word processor with an excellent user interface, a sophisticated word-count feature, support for hyperlinking, and built-in Dropbox capability. If Microsoft were to release a version of Word that did all that, I’d pay a lot more than ten bucks…

Posted by Harry at 12:36 pm

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Microsoft Surface, and Why It Didn’t Change Everything

By  |  Posted at 10:48 am on Tuesday, November 22, 2011

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Jason Hiner of TechRepublic has an interesting theory: He thinks that the release of Apple’s iPhone and Microsoft’s Surface table in 2007 marks the moment that the fates of tech’s eternal archrivals diverged. Both products cleverly commercialized multi-touch input, a technology previously seen only in lab experiments and TED demos. But while the iPad and its offspring became some of the most successful gadgets of all time, (Surface clearly hasn’t lived up to expectations. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a Surface table in the wild.)

Surface was announced at the Wall Street Journal’s D conference in May 2007; I wrote about it at the time for Slate. But Microsoft first showed it to journalists months before at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. I was there; we had to sign an agreement stating we wouldn’t write about it until Microsoft was ready to unveil it.

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Why do people choose not to upgrade to the newest version of Windows? In plenty of cases, it’s because they don’t want to deal with the hassle of the upgrade process. In a new blog post, Microsoft has outlined its plans for how upgrades to Windows 8 will work. They’re ambitious, involving a Web-based system that checks a PC and its apps for Windows 8 compatibility and can either install the new OS on the fly or create a DVD or thumb drive-based install. 

It’s not going to lure everyone who’s reluctant to upgrade–for one thing, you’ll only be able to perform a full upgrade, with existing apps remaining in place, on Windows 7 machines. But if it works as planned, it sounds nifty, and should be a good starting point for versions of Windows beyond 8.

 
 

Posted by Harry at 2:28 pm

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At AllBusiness.com, I blogged about the ongoing war between Office and Google Apps–as seen in recent Microsoft blog posts and this week’s Google Atmosphere conference–and why I’m not taking sides.

Posted by Harry at 1:38 am

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At the Windows World conference in 1991, an alarmingly youthful Bill Gates recaps the history of DOS and Windows to date and previews Windows 3.1:

Posted by Harry at 3:14 pm

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Commenter Ridd make a good point about Flash over at this story by Erica Ogg on why mobile Flash failed:

The real reason why Adobe is dropping Flash mobile support is not iPhone. It is Windows 8.

Microsoft made it very clear that they won’t allow Flash to run in Windows 8 Metro browser and they are pushing HTML5 as a platform. You do not need a crystal ball to see that without Windows’ (which runs on 95% of PCs worldwide) support, Flash is dead. It will be supported for legacy reasons for a while, but it has no future.

Windows 8 isn’t a mobile operating system–it’s an OS that aims to run well on both mobile devices and garden-variety, traditional computers. If its browser doesn’t support Flash–or any plug-in, how much longer will Flash in any form live on?

Posted by Harry at 11:21 am

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ViewSonic Tablet Runs Windows and Android: Good Idea, Poor Execution

By  |  Posted at 9:46 am on Tuesday, November 8, 2011

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As a holdover until Microsoft ships the tablet-friendly Windows 8, I like the idea of a Windows 7 tablet that also runs Android. Sure, Windows 7 doesn’t play nicely with touch screens, but it’s a great operating system for getting work done, and when you’re finished, you can switch to Android for leisure.

That’s what ViewSonic tries to accomplish with its ViewPad 10pro tablet. The 10-inch slab runs Windows 7, and also includes an Android emulator on the desktop, letting you run proper tablet apps without restarting the machine. (A previous ViewSonic tablet, the ViewPad 10, dual-booted Windows and Android, requiring a restart to switch between them.)

It’s a neat idea in theory. But in practice, the ViewSonic 10pro only proves that some ideas are better left unrealized.



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Here’s the second half of Jay Greene’s story on Microsoft’s two-screen Courier tablet, and why it never saw the light of day except as a spellbinding concept video.

Posted by Harry at 10:11 am

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Microsoft’s Courier: The Dream That Died…and Why

By  |  Posted at 9:53 am on Tuesday, November 1, 2011

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Jay Greene of Cnet has an excellent story up–the first of a two-parter–on Microsoft’s Courier two-screen tablet, which got everyone excited with an animated demo, but was killed before it ever shipped:

But the device wasn’t intended to be a computer replacement; it was meant to complement PCs. Courier users wouldn’t want or need a feature-rich e-mail application such as Microsoft’s Outlook that lets them switch to conversation views in their inbox or support offline e-mail reading and writing. The key to Courier, Allard’s team argued, was its focus on content creation. Courier was for the creative set, a gadget on which architects might begin to sketch building plans, or writers might begin to draft documents.

The Courier was a wonderful concept product, but I’m not convinced it’s a tragedy that Microsoft axed it, for three reasons:

1) It’s a heck of a lot easier to make a product impressive in a conceptual demo than in real life.

2) Like the Tablet PC, the Courier was heavily invested in the idea that lots of people want to take notes using a stylus and store them in their own handwriting. I’m convinced that very few folks actually want to do that.

3) It behooved Microsoft to identify the one most promising future path for Windows–which turned out to be Windows 8–and then pursue it as aggressively as possible. (And I don’t see why Windows 8 couldn’t be used as the basis of a Courier-like device.)

Still, it would have been fun to see the Courier in that demo in real life. Maybe the most important lesson is this: DON’T LEAK DEMOS OF PRODUCTS YOU AREN’T WILLING TO SELL.



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Why Would Anyone Use Windows XP Today, Anyhow?

By  |  Posted at 10:15 am on Wednesday, October 26, 2011

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Windows XP Splash ScreenAs the world celebrates–or at least acknowledges–the tenth anniversary of Windows XP, I wondered why so many people continue to use an operating system that dates from an utterly different era in the history of personal technology. So I conducted a quick survey to ask XP users…well, to ask them why they’re XP users, and whether they intend to continue on with the OS forever. Bottom line: A plurality of them use it because it’s what their employers provide. But most of them seem to be reasonably okay with that.

(Standard disclaimer: This was an informal survey, and the results reflect only the experiences and opinions of the people–almost 900 of them–who happened to take it. I’m not claiming their responses map to the world at large.)

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The Life and Times of Windows XP

The first drama-filled decade of the operating system that wouldn't say die.

By  |  Posted at 10:44 pm on Monday, October 24, 2011

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If you’d been alive in 1924 and had enjoyed the comedy stylings of a young Vaudevillian named George Burns, you never would have believed he’d still be packing them in seventy years later. In 1963, you might have dug the music that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were making, but the idea they’d still be touring almost forty-five years later would have sounded insane. Those of us who watched Dennis Eckersley pitch for the Red Sox in 1978 would have scoffed at the notion that he’d be playing for Beantown once again in 1998.

And then there’s Windows XP. The press release announcing its release on October 25th 2001 called it “Microsoft’s Best Operating System Ever.” A decade later, so many people still agree with that assessment that it remains the planet’s most pervasive desktop operating system.

Nobody would have been prescient enough to predict that Windows XP would be flourishing so many years after its debut. Not Microsoft. Not consumers and businesses. Not the analysts who get paid to know where technology is going. And certainly not me.

No single factor explains XP’s astonishing longevity. The most obvious one, of course, is the failed launch of 2007′s Windows Vista, an upgrade so lackluster that many PC users simply rejected it, instinctively and intelligently. But I think you also have to give XP credit for being just plain good, especially once Microsoft released Service Pack 2 in 2004. And desktop operating systems, from any company, simply aren’t as exciting as they were in the 1990s; people are less likely to want a new one every couple of years, and more likely to drive the one they’ve got into the ground.

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Microsoft has struck a deal with Quanta, the giant contract manufacturer, to license its patents which may be violated by Google’s Android and Chrome OS. (I knew that Microsoft had been doing these pacts for Android, but wasn’t aware that it thinks that Chrome OS also rips off its intellectual property.)

Jay Green of Cnet reports:

As Android has grown and surpassed Microsoft’s mobile-phone operating systems in the marketplace, the company has targeted handset and tablet makers that use the Google operating system. It’s racked up a laundry list of licensees in a little more than a year, starting with longtime partner HTC. Just last month, Microsoft reached an Android licensing agreement with Acer.

I’m not criticizing Microsoft for its dealmaking. For one thing, I’m not a patent lawyer, so I don’t have a stance on the legitimacy of its claims against Google’s products. For another, aggressive licensing is probably less depressing than what the rest of the industry is doing: Attempting to sue everybody else’s pants off. But considering the company’s lack of success with Windows Phone so far, the possibility exists that it’ll slowly devolve from a product company into a patent-licensing one–and that would be sad.

Posted by Harry at 11:24 am

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