Archive for February, 2012
You are currently browsing the Mick Huxley blog archives for February, 2012.
You are currently browsing the Mick Huxley blog archives for February, 2012.
I asked the question on twitter the other day, I’m @thehuxman if you wanna follow me, whether I should start blogging again and the response was some what positive. So here is the 1st return post in a while and I hope is sparks some thoughts in you all.
As the host of Coal Face Tech (www.facebook.com/coalfacetech) I stated in Episode 23 that I believe that Windows 8 will be a flop. The episode should be released shortly after this blog post is written. I have a number of reasons for this statement and it’s not one that I have made lightly. Here is my thoughts on the potential failures that I can foresee in Windows 8 and some changes that could help to give it some hope.
Failure #1 – Device Support
Somewhat like Microsoft’s ugly step child, Windows Vista, the hardware that will really make Windows 8 sing isn’t available. In Vista this was due to performance, the OS simply required too many resources. Combine this with the new Driver requirements from Kernel changes and older hardware often never had a chance. Was this entirely Microsoft’s fault?? Yes and No. The codebase was not very refined and the resource requirements where ridicules. Remember that we were mostly running a 32-bit OS pre-vista and machines with greater then 4GB of memory were the rarity not the norm. At the same time Microsoft weren’t to blame if OEM’s didn’t update drivers. Despite this a number of frustrated users were angry that Microsoft would make such drastic changes that render their hardware useless under Vista.
So what devices are needed for Windows 8? Touch devices. The Metro interface, new start screen, application switching by dragging from side of screen, live tiles (just like the Windows Phone) are great when moving around with big fat fingers. Touch has always been an area that Microsoft was lacking in previous versions of the OS and it looks that in Windows 8 they are looking to improve this. But other then the new shiny Metro apps with buttons big enough for fingers how does the OS perform on the mainstay stage, the mouse and keyboard? Not well enough in my opinion.
This year at CES we saw it as the year of the Ultrabook (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultrabook) and these devices look great. But none of them are touch devices.
For my mind the touch device that will make Windows 8 sing is a dockable slate similar to the Fujitsu Stylistic (http://www.fujitsu.com/au/products/pc/tablets/stylistic/q550/features.html). A slate that is essentially a complete laptop replacement that can be used as a slate on the run, and docked as a workstation when returning to the office. Complete with 2-3 monitor support, 4-5 USB ports and perhaps even an optional optical media drive in the dock.
Even with this type of hardware the question of ease of interaction with a mouse and keyboard remains. Certainly the gestures on the Microsoft Touch Mouse (http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-us/products/touch-mouse/microsite/) would help… but they are not there yet.
Failure #2 – Ease at home
The biggest draw card away from a Windows environment in the home is in some aspects the biggest draw card to it. The inter-device relationships, whilst allowing almost complete flexibility in Windows are often seen as too complex. I have many, less technical, friends who are quiet happy in the home with an Apple TV, a Mac and an iPad, rather then a Windows PC. This is due to many reasons, but the simple catch cry I hear from all of them is that Apple “Just Works”.
I will admit that Apple devices work fantastically together and most are happy with the Vendor lock in. Unfortunately I have found the choice of devices with Windows and DLNA simply baffles most and being able to simply plug their Apple devices together is a dream of simplicity.
There is also the common misbelief that updating Windows devices every month is over the top and difficult. Whilst this is less true today, I certainly have no issues with everything on Auto-Update, Microsoft is paying for the crimes of the past and it will take some time to shake this stigma
Failure #3 – The Big One – The Anti Trust Case
Remember the Anti Trust case that Microsoft faced?? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft) All of this was simply about including IE in Windows. IE, an internet browser, who’s competition, Mozilla (www.firefox.com) and Opera (www.opera.com) and others, gave their product away for the price of $0.00 FREE!!!
The Anti Trust case, in my opinion has scared Microsoft and it’s OEM partners. Yet such as case has never been bought against Apple for bundling Safari, or a twitter client, or iCAL, or iChat or Facetime or Time Machine or Address Book and so the list goes on. The advantage here is that when it comes to OS X, for the home user most of the applications they are going to want, or need, are there in the box When they’re not the Mac App Store is just a click away. Yes I am aware of the Microsoft Store in Windows 8, I’ll get to that in another post.
Ever see driver issues on a Mac?? Of course not a closed ecosystem ensures that is not the case. Microsoft can simply not compete with this.
What Microsoft need is their OEM’s to start putting apps on the box for the customer, or better still, do it by default in Home Editions of Windows. The Live suite is a fantastic set of apps. Yet few people would know you can connect Messenger to Facebook Chat, probably Skype soon as well. The photo gallery app, can look for faces and tag them automatically. The application I’m using right now Live Writer is great for blogs.
Further more they need to include Office with every copy of Windows sold outside the corporate environment. The number of programs that enable users to get Office for almost nothing are plentiful. There is the Office University Program (http://www.microsoft.com/student/office/en-au/default.aspx), the Home and Student Program (http://office.microsoft.com/en-au/home-and-student/) and the Home Use Program under Software Assurance (http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/software-assurance/home-use-program.aspx). Why bother Microsoft? Simply add it to the Home Editions of Windows along with Live.
Additionally I would place stricter controls on OEM’s ability to bundle bloatware with the OS. Any software which mimics that features already in Windows should not be allowed. Further encouraging users to look at the rich features buried in the OS and sell them as benefits as Apple does with the 250 features of OS X (http://www.apple.com/au/macosx/whats-new/features.html). Unfortunately this would probably end up with Microsoft back in court.
Possible Failure #4 – 1 OS
This failure probably sits closely along side failure #1. I understand what Microsoft are attempting to do in this space, by more closely aligning the Desktop OS and the Phone OS they are making it easier for developers to transport code between the platforms. Good idea? Let’s look at the other players in this space.
Apple has IOS is a tablet and phone OS with OS X for the desktop. Whilst many of the now familiar gestures, such as pinch and zoom, work on the touchpad the desktop itself is quiet different.
Android, similar story, the tablet / slate OS is more aligned to the phone and it would have to be said you’d be looking at a Linux distribution for a real desktop equivalent.
Why then would Microsoft try and align all three? Sure as stated earlier it’s easier on Dev’s but.. is it really want the customer base wants? I can’t see why not.. Remember when the iPad launched and the non-fanboi’s looked at it as a giant iPhone that didn’t make phone calls. I even blogged about it 8 months ago (http://www.mickhuxley.com/?p=136) and asked “Why do I need a separate device for creating and consuming content? “
Why then, is this a possible failure? Simply because the world has changed. We like having a device with enormous battery life, integrated 3G, that’s lightweight and great for simple things on the run. With the abundance of cloud services why do we need a full PC when out and about or travelling? Despite my previous post about not needing an iPad I will be buying one next week for this very purpose.
Is this where Microsoft can make up ground? There is a reason that I called this a possible failure and why I believe that it is closely aligned to Failure #1. If, and this is a big If. IF OEM’s can produce a device that is as slick as a Samsung Galaxy Tab, a device which Samsung market as a Smartphone (http://www.samsung.com/au/smartphone/galaxy-tab/index.html) or iPad (www.apple.com/ipad) and as useful as a full PC, when docked, we will have a winner. The OS will need to support this too though, and being able to switch Metro off completely when docked, as an option, would go a long way to also solving this problem.
Failure #5 – The Enterprise
Many would regard The Enterprise as Microsoft’s last great Bastian of hope, and I agree. Just as above I spoke about how nicely the Apple products connect in the home, Microsoft owns the Enterprise. From the Client, the Server, Active Directory, Exchange, Lync, System Centre, Office and SharePoint there is no better story. But… the big question is, will The Enterprise see Windows 8 as a consumer product rather then an Enterprise Product.
No doubt the maturity of an Organisation will greatly influence their view. “Bring your own device” is on the rise and the consumerisation of IT is strengthening, but how will users connect and work more efficiently. Many would say the answer here is in the Datacentre with a VDI solution, but what to run it on? Will Windows 8 really provide a feature rich experience when across an RDP or ICA session?
The other sticking point in the Enterprise space is training, both of Admin staff and Users. Having worked in recent years with Organisations that have a very non-technical user base some simply don’t want to re-skill in Windows or Office. During an Exchange 2003 to 2007 migration I had 1000’s of complaints about Office upgrades also from 2003 to 2007. An upgrade and the introduction of the Ribbon or Fluent UI was a pain and not something users wanted to learn. How are these people going to adapt to Metro if it can’t be turned off? Remember when XP launched and nearly every SOE turned off the new double width start menu? This proved as a great way to ease users into the changes and allow them to still work like they always had should they prefer. Windows 8 needs to allow for the same transition.
The other big killer in the Enterprise is again more aligned to a comment above. Earlier I stated that we are suffering now for the pains of Windows Update past. We are know, more then ever in my opinion, also suffering from the locked down SOE’s of years past. Having seen it in a number of Orgs, the consumerisation of IT is not about giving users a choice of device, it’s about locking IT out of their computer. All those years when Admins were busy locking down SOE’s to the point of minimal use have come back and many workers today feel they are skilled enough to look after their own computer. Many of the enterprise Mac users I speak to, claim this as one of the biggest reasons they love their Mac.
Will Windows 8 be a flop?
The points I have raised here could be seen as somewhat, pre-mature? I am casting criticism on a product that is not due to ship for months. About hardware that doesn’t exist, about mistakes that were made in the past.
In the end, only time will tell, but on the 2nd of February 2012 – I went on the record to say Windows 8 will be a flop, and I will stand by that statement, whilst hoping I am wrong.