Category Archives: Microsoft

Why Windows 8 is a mess, redux

Steve Wildstrom of Techpinions tries to set the sleep timer on his Windows 8 laptop, and finds it’s a little harder than he thought it would be

“The best I could do to stay in Metro was: From the Start screen, bring up the Charms bar and select the Search charm. Pick Settings as the search domain and start typing ‘sleep.’  ’Change when the computer sleeps’ pops up; click it and the control panel opens. Of course, at this point, you are back in Desktop. Again, this method to perform a simple task seems totally unintuitive, especially since if you type ‘screen’ or ‘display’ in the search box you are not offered the sleep option.”

Windows 8 is a mess. Not because Metro is bad, but because Microsoft has bolted two operating systems into one, which makes the entire thing confusing. 

A Simple Illustration of Why Windows 8 is Going To Fail

Brent Ozar, in an update to his earlier post:

After getting linked from HN and Reddit, I’ve gotten a bazillion comments that boil down to “You should have updated Office.”  Yes, if only I could have figured out how.  Since this post went live, Microsoft has explained how to get it:

For Windows RT Surface users, the update can be had by:

  • Head to the Control Panel version of Windows Update, not the Metro-accessible version that you use for more everyday settings changes.

Two different versions of the same functionality, one of which is semi-hidden. And that’s the one you need to use to do a very necessary thing. Windows 8 – or at least the Metro/Old Style combination – is looking more and more like a failure every day.

A simple illustration of what Microsoft doesn’t get about hardware design

Why I’m Returning My Microsoft Surface RT | Brent Ozar:

This tablet hardware doesn’t just compete with the iPad – it bypasses the iPad in many ways that are significant and valuable for me.

I plugged in my USB presentation remote and it just worked.

I plugged in a 64GB micro SD card with all my presentations and files and it just worked.

So far, so good. But wait!

I popped out the kickstand and started typing and it just worked.  Well, almost – if there’s one significant compromise in the Surface RT, it’s the kickstand.  You get two and only two positions for the kickstand: open and closed.  There’s no adjustments.  I think the kickstand angle was designed for airplane use by short people, because the screen hardly goes back at all.  It’s probably perfect for Danny DeVito when he puts it on the seat back tray in coach class, but for me on a desk, it’s too steep.

The built-in front-facing camera for Skype is angled so that it’ll work great when the kickstand is open, but again, only for Danny DeVito, or maybe for people who want to show off their chests in Skype.

Microsoft has taken the spec sheet approach to hardware design. Adding a kick stand is good, because you can put it on the spec sheet and that’s another plus point. But it’s basically unusable (unless you’re vertically challenged), which reduces it from a plus point to a meaningless feature.

Fail.

The problem with Surface

Microsoft’s Surface: Less Than A Tablet, Less Than A Notebook PC, Less Than Ideal | TechPinions:

“The only Windows desktop software that the Surface RT runs is Windows Office. That’s it.

There are over 4,000,000 applications that run on Windows. The Surface RT falls 3,999,999 applications short of being an adequate notebook PC. And that’s really short of ideal.”

Much as I’d applaud Microsoft for trying something different, Surface has all the disadvantages of Windows without the advantages of running pretty much every application you’d ever want.

Windows RT tablets aren’t suitable for the enterprise

Windows 8 Tablets and Email: A Disaster in the Making | TechPinions:

“This is an enormous challenge for ARM-based tablets running on Windows RT. because as of now, Metro Mail (sorry, I’m going to call it Metro until Microsoft gives us a real alternative) is the only mail client available for RT.

Unless some third party comes up with a more capable Metro mail client soon, I think RT tablets will effectively be disqualified for enterprise use. Yes, the Metro Mail app is an Exchange client, but it’s a wretched one, far worse than iPad Mail.”

So in other words, Microsoft has hobbled RT for use in enterprises, probably so business users will “upgrade” to the Intel version. Which means their tablet experience is likely to suck, thanks the Intel version’s inferior battery life.

Microsoft really never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Microsoft throws users under the proverbial bus

8 Questions For Windows 8 | TechPinions:

“The ‘re-imagined’ Windows isn’t about what the end user needs, it’s about what Microsoft needs. The end user needs a great user experience. Microsoft needs to have Windows 8 running on every form factor. When the two come into conflict, Microsoft has sacrificed the former in the hopes of achieving the latter.

Achieving a great user experience is hard enough when you’re really, really trying. It’s nigh on impossible to achieve when it is not your primary objective.”

Microsoft has always thrown users under the bus when it suits them – witness Windows Me…

Windows 8: A guide for perplexed Mac users

There’s been a lot of confusion about Windows 8 and all its versions, and particularly about Windows 8 on the ARM architecture. A lot of people seem to think that the ARM version is just the same as its Intel cousin, but in fact, the two are just a little bit more closely related than Mac OS X and iOS: siblings, if you like, rather than cousins.

First, there’s three members of the Windows 8 family: Windows 8; Windows 8 Pro; and Windows RT. The first two, which are identical other than some enterprise-level added extras, run on Intel processors (but not ARM). Windows RT, on the other hand, runs on ARM only. The first two can also be bought as upgrades for existing machines, while RT is only available to OEMs – and not even all of them.

The next thing you need to know is that Windows 8 supports multiple runtimes (a bit like APIs – so in Mac world, Carbon and Cocoa can be thought of as different runtimes). Win32 is the old, familiar runtime which pretty-much all the Windows applications you know and love (or loathe) are written to. WinRT, on the other hand, is new and is how you create applications which use the new Metro interface.

WinRT is the only way you can create applications which run on Windows RT – apps written for Win32 (i.e. everything you know as a Windows app) won’t run on ARM-based Windows RT machines. And, just to make it more like iOS, on Windows RT you can only install apps from the Windows Store. No more just downloading a binary and running it.

So far, so very like iOS and Mac OS X this is. But there’s a twist: while Windows RT machines can’t run Win32 apps, other versions of Windows 8 can run WinRT apps. So if you buy a copy of (say) a game on your Windows RT-running tablet, exactly the same software should also run on your Windows 8 desktop.

It’s basically as if Apple had allowed Macs to run iOS software in addition to their own OS X applications. Windows RT, which (remember) runs only on ARM, is Microsoft’s “answer” to iOS on tablets. Presumably – because it would be insane to do otherwise – one day it may also migrate down to mobile phones. And my gut feeling is that over time, Win32 will fade away and developers will be cajoled towards only writing WinRT apps.

There’s some question marks. For example, Windows RT includes built-in Office. But will this be feature-complete when compared to the Win32 version running on desktop machines? Or will it be more like the versions of iWork you can get for iOS, which are compatible but nowhere near as feature-rich? My gut feeling is the latter, at least if Microsoft wants to have something that actually performs well.

The Windows Store Revenue Split

Daring Fireball on the Windows Store Revenue Split:

Another big difference from Apple. I wonder though, with the various antitrust agreements Microsoft has made around the world, whether they could even consider an Apple-style “if you use our store, all transactions must go through us” policy.

John’s on to something. Although Microsoft isn’t subject to the same kind of heavyweight formal consent decree that IBM once had, it’s experience with going through anti-trust issues in the past means it has to be particularly careful about what it does and how it does it.

Just how good a defence are those Motorola patents, again?

Susan Decker for Bloomberg:

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), the world’s largest software maker, began arguing its U.S. trade case that Android- based smartphones made by Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. use technology derived from Microsoft inventions.

In a trial that began today before the International Trade Commission in Washington, Microsoft accused Motorola Mobility of infringing seven of its patents and requested a halt to imports of certain Motorola phones. The ITC has the power to stop imports of products that violate U.S. patent rights.

Lots of people seem to have missed this in the discussion of why Google bought Motorola: Motorola’s patent pool hasn’t protected it from being sued. There’s no reason to suppose that it will protect Google (or any of its other licensees) now.

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