Friday, April 19, 2013

Kick 'em while they're down

It's that time again to have a tech post - bear with me while I vent.

Poor old Microsoft. Even if they made 6 billion in profit last quarter they still apparently cannot afford to buy a clue. I am, of course, talking about their ongoing failure to extend into markets with anything that doesn't contain the word 'office' or 'windows' in it. I guess the one exception would be the xbox but if that's your only hit (in how many years?), it's a little alarming. I would never have thought a multi-billion dollar company would be an underdog but that's how I see them at this point in time. Here's the list of attempts to remain cool and relevant:
  • Windows Phone - owns 4% of the market after two years.
  • Surface RT (AKA Microsoft iPad (AKA 'the neutered Windows 8 tablet')) - not even 1% of the market and no chance of improving.
  • Surface Pro (AKA 'proper Windows 8 tablet') - not even 1% of the market and only a slight chance of this improving.
  • Windows 8 (AKA 'the finger paint OS') - apparently so bad it's causing a mass defection to OSX or motivating people to upgrade back to Windows 7.
Doesn't look good, does it? On windows 8, I think the major failing is that it is trying to be everything. I can understand that you would want a touch interface if you're using a tablet but it should not force professionals to swipe with the bluntness of an index finger every time you want to do something. But enough about that. I would rather suggest ways in which they can attempt to solve most of their issues:

  • Release a desktop version of Windows 8
    The 'iphone/ipad' users can have Windows 8 touch and the rest of us can have a 'non-touch version' that does proper multi-tasking and has minimal fluff to get in the way of actually being productive.
  • Remove the desktop interface from Windows 8 touch
    In the immortal words of Steve Jobs: duh. If you're doing a touch interface, then damn-well do a touch interface. Do not pollute the environment with a wishy-washy kinda-sorta experience. Commit to it and own it.
  • Hold off on releasing Surface Pro/RT
    Too late. Just as Jar-jar got canned in subsequent Star Wars films when everyone despised the poorly-masqueraded 'black subservient slave' alien (shame on you George Lucas), Microsoft should realise that throwing out a tablet PC to the masses with an OS that most people don't like is probably not wise.
  • Consolidate the Windows 8 touch/phone user experience
    Ideally 'W8T' should emulate the same experience whether it's on the phone, tablet or a touch-enabled laptop. It's close but not close enough. Also, it wouldn't hurt to share settings/preferences/mail/messages etc. between devices.
  • Make it Grandma-proof on 'Windows 8 touch'
    If people have to follow tutorials or search the internet on how to login, close a program or logout, you know you didn't get it right. Use your mothers/grandmothers. If they don't know how to do something, go back to the drawing board until they do.
  • Give your OS a simple name
    'Windows 8 touch' is a'ight but I would just call it 'touch' (or possibly Windows Touch) and the other one should be called 'Windows Business' (because that's your market).
  • If the device doesn't have a touch-sensitive screen, do not install Windows 8 Touch
    Do I need to explain this point?
  • Lose the Ballmer
    He is an embarrassment and lacks any form of vision outside of a reactionary one.
UPDATE: I think I might be goddamn soothsayer. Ballmer's out, they're reintroducing a desktop version and they're aligning their OS's UI based upon whether it's touch-based or not (i.e. mouse/keyboard guys gets Windows 7 UI, touch gets the blergh instead). The only thing left is to fix the touch UI (never gonna happen) and for the names to be simplified.  Anyways, my job here is done *drops mike*