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Microsoft To PC and Tablet Makers: You're Not Our Future

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the remember-when-companies-just-did-one-or-two-things dept.

Microsoft 530

snydeq writes "Microsoft's plan to build its own Windows 8 tablets puts longtime allies in peril — and it may be the right thing to do. 'In announcing the Surface tablets, due to be released this fall, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer cited Apple's advantage (without mentioning Apple) of integrated software and hardware. "Things work better when hardware and software are considered together," he said. "We control it all, we design it all, and we manufacture it all ourselves." ... Like Apple, Microsoft will hire a few PC makers to do the actual production work. But the need for 20 brands of me-too laptops, tablets, and convertibles is low. Manufacturing sophisticated electronics is a skill requiring manufacturing innovation. But all those branded-but-otherwise-undifferentiated PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones just aren't needed in the vision Ballmer sketched out yesterday.'"

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Make sense (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382393)

This maybe the smartest move microsoft made in the last 15 years

Re:Make sense (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382547)

It certainly seems smarter than trusting their fate to likes of HP and Dell as they continue to ride out the death spiral of slapping their branding on cheap ODM crap.

And, best of all... (0, Troll)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382815)

Microsoft will ensure that every tablet is infested by MyCleanPC, straight from the factory!

Re:Make sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382799)

Not that that's a very high bar to clear...

Re:Make sense (4, Funny)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382965)

Yeah, like the Zune.

didn't they bash google... (2)

Therad (2493316) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382399)

Didn't they bash google over this exact thing when they bought motorola mobile?

Re:didn't they bash google... (1)

dhavleak (912889) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382517)

The tech blogger community maybe -- but why would Microsoft comment on that?

Re:didn't they bash google... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382723)

I have a feeling we will be getting those ThinkPads with PowerPC's soon.

What's the future for Nokia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382401)

They just announced their new strategy to be based on producing Windows tablets??

Re:What's the future for Nokia? (1)

Meneth (872868) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382417)

They're down and out, they just don't know it yet.

Re:What's the future for Nokia? (2)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382449)

Nokia has been assimilated.

Re:What's the future for Nokia? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382573)

Resistance is futile.

Facts on the ground. (3, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382641)

What's the future for Nokia?

Look at both of these URLs and you tell me.

http://ompldr.org/vZWQzcw/charting.the.charts.png [ompldr.org]

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-06-15/moodys-downgrades-nokia-to-junk-status [businessweek.com]

--
BMO

Re:Facts on the ground. (3, Interesting)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382717)

Perhaps MS are using Nokia as the OEM - stranger things have happened, but if they're not then Nokia are fucked. If they were intending to release a tablet of their own then good luck trying to sell it when Microsoft have sucked up all the oxygen out of the room.

Re:Facts on the ground. (3, Interesting)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382821)

I imagine Nokia own a fair few patents. Wouldn't surprise me if they hold stock in other businesses.

Sooner or later, the value of that will be far greater than the value of their shares - and when that happens, the asset strippers will move in.

Good news (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382415)

That's good news for the customers, because in order to penetrate the market Microsoft will throw shitloads of money at the development of their new hardware toys and essentially give them away underpriced and possibly at a loss.

All we need to find out is a way to hack them and install Linux on them, and there it is, your super-cheap Linux tablet. :-)

Re:Good news (5, Insightful)

queazocotal (915608) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382467)

If this occurs, then Microsoft has every reason to properly secure the bootloader, so that running other OSs is absolutely impossible.
The golden dream for Microsoft in this is that there are two companies making and selling hardware - Apple and Microsoft.
Two, to avoid anti-trust concerns.

To make a secure device, you need perhaps $1 or $2 extra in hardware, and $100K or so spent on getting it audited by someone with a cryptographic clue.
Microsoft has this money, and the incentive to spend this money.
Your average tabletmaker doesn't care that much.

Re:Good news (2, Interesting)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382819)

No device can ever be "secure", and running your own code can never be "absolutely impossible" so long as it is in the hands of consumers... The most you can hope for is to make it more difficult and time consuming for hackers to get sufficient control of it to run their own code. Or, in the case of microsoft's previous efforts in the mobile space, sell so few of them that noone is interested in cracking it.

Any device that has been interesting for users to get access to has been cracked...

Locked hardware on the other hand is damaging for consumers and the environment.
A relatively open PC can have a fairly long useful life, especially now that hardware has reached the point that even the lowest end kit is fast enough for day to day use... This is also why i tend to buy motherboards that support (for the time) a stupid amount of ram, and then max it out a few years later when the ram is dirt cheap.

On the other hand, locked hardware can often become a brick once the manufacturer stops supporting it... If it requires online activation you might not be able to reinstall it, you will probably be stuck with old software thats full of security holes, if it is locked into any other online services they may no longer be running etc. So most of the hardware just ends up getting thrown away.

When it comes to your average tablet maker, they are selling hardware not software... The more open the hardware, the more uses it has and this will translate to more sales. How many more is irrelevant, spending considerable extra resources for a reduction in sales however small is not a sound business decision.

Re:Good news (2)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382915)

If this occurs, then Microsoft has every reason to properly secure the bootloader, so that running other OSs is absolutely impossible. The golden dream for Microsoft in this is that there are two companies making and selling hardware - Apple and Microsoft. Two, to avoid anti-trust concerns.

The challenge they face is if margins are high enough to be attractive, at least one other alternative will emerge in the form of Android. Google would have a strong incentive oto unify the Andriod ecosystem and reduce the fragmentation by creating a standard design that anyone could build but not modify so that apps run on any device using the design. Google runs the app store and content ecosystem and hardware manufacturers supply the gateway to it.

Re:Good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382983)

2 manufacturers may not be enough to avoid anti-trust concerns.

Remember, anti-trust kicks in whenever a company is big enough to distort the market. For example, Intel keeps getting investigated even though it has competition from AMD and VIA. On top of that, governments themselves are some of Microsoft's biggest customers - do you really think they'll like it when none of their vendors are able to supply OS upgrades to their existing infrastructure?

MS will be ok if it limits this to commodity hardware for the consumer market, but it will have to keep a general OS available for third party hardware to keep itself out of hot water. It's not even going to cost them much to maintain that - as most of it will be the same as their locked release. It will just put the onus back on the users of that version to hunt down the drivers, and if there are security problems that crop along the way MS will blame the driver vendors (and use it to help market their locked release).

year of the? (4, Interesting)

samjam (256347) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382423)

So now all the PC manufacturers need a non-MS alternative... this could be the year... sounds good for EFI being able to boot linux after all!

Re:year of the? (5, Interesting)

w.hamra1987 (1193987) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382477)

year of the demise of the desktop...

Re:year of the? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382763)

That's not a bad idea, after all. Why would you need a desktop to listen to music, watch movies, triviality exchange at Facebook and Twiter and play the occasional game? That's what most people do when not at work (and some while at work also) after all.

Maybe the desktop it's going the way of the command line: away from consumers and thriving in professional space.

Re:year of the? (5, Insightful)

MrMickS (568778) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382851)

year of the demise of the desktop...

Absolutely. We have moved into the age of the appliance. For the majority of people this is a good thing. They don't understand, and have no interest in understanding, the complexity of general purpose computers. They want access to the internet, an ability to manipulate digital media, and something to load useful apps and games onto. They want something that is protected from being rooted by malicious hackers. They want to be able to trust their device to not transfer all of their account details to someone able to install a keylogger or similar.

Re:year of the? (2)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382509)

My god, could you imagine what will happen when instead of windows having to conform and support all the various different hardware it has to run on, the manufactures will have to conform to one hardware standard, and windows will become a much simpler piece of software, a much more stable and secure platform.

Re:year of the? (2)

Sique (173459) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382697)

Yes, and new hardware will, if ever, be only slowly be released to Windows, because only Microsoft will be deciding which hardware combinations will be called platform I, II, III etc.pp. A hardware manufacturer with really nifty and novel ideas will have to release to *BSD, Linux or the Linux-son Android.

Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite... (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382741)

My god, could you imagine what will happen when instead of windows having to conform and support all the various different hardware it has to run on, the manufactures will have to conform to one hardware standard, and windows will become a much simpler piece of software, a much more stable and secure platform.

Sounds like a complete rewrite, and I mean complete - starting with the specifications if you want decent security. And that would mean a more-or-less complete rewrite for all those third party applications, too, since their behavior and the APIs they access would necessarily change. Other than some of the FLOSS stuff, only the bigger fish or the specialized ones would survive.

A relevant link [youtube.com] from yesterday's news.

Re:year of the? (2)

Suiggy (1544213) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382647)

Combine this with the fact that Valve is releasing Steam for Linux in August... this year or next, it could really be it!

Re:year of the? (1)

Truedat (2545458) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382823)

Let me get this straight - if even Microsoft think the pc manufacturers are doing a shit job selling wintel, what makes you think they would fare better with Linux?

Re:year of the? (2)

k(wi)r(kipedia) (2648849) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382933)

I'd take the news report with a grain of salt. But if it's anywhere near half true, this has me wondering why MS is at all pushing, even if they've backtracked a bit, for some sort of boot lockdown. Why not just let the OEMs do the hell what they want and concentrate on their own hardware offerings? That way they can point to a faulty Win8 install and say, hey, that's not our hardware, if you want the full Win8 XPerience buy our Surface branded tabputer. The OEMs will be the advertising for the MS hardware in a far more profitable way than some unlicensed whitebox install.

Commodity hardware isn't going anywhere (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382429)

All of the recent commentary about MS rupturing their alliance with OEMs is overblown. Microsoft is stuck with OEMs because they don't have the resources to supply an entire computer market with their own hardware. OEMs are stuck with Microsoft because Apple won't license OS X and most consumers won't want linux for the foreseeable future.

MS will make a flagship tablet, which will showcase Windows 8 in the way that they want to show it (without manufacturer bloatware etc). The OEMs will rush in and undercut MS with a range of comparable but slightly cheaper options, and life will go on.

Re:Commodity hardware isn't going anywhere (5, Informative)

Tridus (79566) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382621)

If the stories about WinRT costing $90 per copy for OEMs are true, they're not going to be undercutting anything unless Microsoft charges a ton for Surface. You can't make a cheap tablet when the OS costs that much.

Re:Commodity hardware isn't going anywhere (5, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382739)

Microsoft is stuck with OEMs because they don't have the resources to supply an entire computer market with their own hardware.

This is categorically false.

You have no idea how big the electronics contract manufacturers are or what they are.

They are the people who actually manufacture the devices for the OEMs. Microsoft can surely hire Foxconn or Flextronics to build their tablets. iPads and Surface tablets coming off parallel assembly lines in the same building at Foxconn. Don't think it can't or won't happen.

--
BMO

The Rush for Second Place (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382433)

And yet again, Microsoft ape Apple.

Re:The Rush for Second Place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382757)

Not just that but they're pathologically obsessed with Apple.

Re:The Rush for Second Place (1)

drdaz (994457) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382779)

At least this time it gives them a chance of making a good, well-integrated product.

I've been a Windows hater for a very long time, because it's a shoddy product. That said, I'll easily be able to find respect for MS if they carry on doing interesting, useful things.

What do they have to bring to the table? (3, Insightful)

Zemran (3101) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382437)

The market is already saturated with what people want. Style and pose value from Apple and usefulness and financial value from the Android market. They think that they have a brand to bring to the table but they do not have that. Look at how they do in the Smart Phone world...

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (1)

w.hamra1987 (1193987) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382499)

they still have a large enough fan base, people who will happily buy a new-comer if it holds an MS logo. add to this an MS branded desktop/laptop as suggested in the article, good enough integration between the 2 devices, throw in an xbox to the deal, and you have a very interesting offer.

i shudder at the idea of having MS invading yet another market, but you have to admit, if they play this right, it's a very smart idea.

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382541)

Well, chances are it's just as successful as the zune ...

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (1)

byggareBob (2617153) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382775)

All I want is to run S.M. Alpha Centauri on my tablet for 10 hours during trips. If old Windows games can work on them this will be huge..

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382901)

Don't forget that Apple isn't exactly enterprise-friendly and while Android fares a bit better in that regard, it also isn't as locked down out of the box and has some problems of its own. If their tablet, at least the Pro version, can join domains and be managed by group policies and such, this will be viewed as a major positive by system administrators and smart managers, and something of a blow to the BYOD crowd. I mean, it's just not hip to personally own a "business friendly" device now is it? Yet it's going to be pretty compelling for companies to get them when they can be made to run the normal suite of business software without much trouble. Also, Win8 seems to be as strikingly good on a tablet as it is strikingly sucky on desktops, so maybe if it gets accepted on tablets and not on desktops it will convince Microsoft that on this one thing Apple actually has a point. (I really, really hate saying that, BTW)

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382523)

Maybe .....

OTOH, looking at the prototypes, I see a nice little keyboard. It will run Win 8 - and .NET apps.

See where I'm going here?

AND if they can keep the price competitive to an iPad with the add-on keyboard from Sharper Image (which shouldn't be THAT hard) - I, for one, am on board with it - as long as MS doesn't go all Apple control freaky about installing apps and where to get those apps (i.e. none of this Developer Network and fees horseshit).

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (2)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382625)

AND if they can keep the price competitive to an iPad

They can't. They would have announced pricing if it were good news. And the battery life sucks or they'd have announced that. And they talk about vents, so you know it gets too hot to use as a tablet for very long. In the end, whenever they do finally get some of the problems worked out, it will be mostly a laptop that can kinda act like a tablet, but be less powerful than traditional laptops.

However, I hope I'm wrong. I like my iPad, but it needs real competition to keep Apple on its toes.

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (1)

cbhacking (979169) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382967)

The vents are on the x86 version, not the ARM version. The "competitive with the iPad" model is thin (a hair thinner than an iPad), lightweight (heavier than an iPad by about an ounce), and probably has very comparable battery life (based on the specs revealed so far and a reasonable assumption as to how much battery Microsoft would put in the thing as compared to Apple).

The x86 model vents all around the periphery of the device, and according to the presenter on stage, you can't even feel the venting. He specifically stated that it was intented to avoid the "gets too hot to use" issue. Battery life is more up in the air, but it's using the same CPU as the latest-gen MBA, and actually has slightly more room in the chassis for battery space (since the keyboard is external).

As for pricing, that's much too early to say. Price is a business decision, flexible up until the devices actually ship for the market's first impression (and obviously flexible past that for the lifetime of the product). Considering that there's essentially zero chance of these things hitting the market in less than three months (I'd guestimate closer to four, personally) I'm sure there's lots of time for the businesspeople to make a business decision. Who knows, they might even make the right one (not that I know what that is, though I could come up with my own ideal price list if asked).

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382527)

In what way is an Android Tablet more useful than an iPad?

It can't be the app availability.

You're trolling, but you'll get the up vote thanks to the /. hive

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (2, Insightful)

mattcasters (67972) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382601)

Insert a USB stick so you can actually easily use your data (not just family pictures and movies) without having to go through iTunes.
There might be other reasons, but *that* particular one is an iPad deal-breaker for me.

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382669)

Dropbox.

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (3, Insightful)

Dynetrekk (1607735) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382707)

Insert a USB stick so you can actually easily use your data

What? USB stick? Easily? Did we put Wifi and 3G in all these things to fuck around with sneakernet? You, sir, must be living in the past. Have you ever heard of, oh, say, Dropbox? Owncloud? (and probably tons of others.)

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382715)

My mother has an iPhone. Every few weeks she comes to me so I can put more music on it for her. The use of iTunes remains far beyond her technological skill. A USB storage device she can manage, but iTunes? Hah, I'm a professional IT technician and I can't figure out how it works half the time!

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382785)

Itunes is the idevice greatest fault. consider it a gift that keeps on giving from apple.

sort of like IE6 is a gift that gave for many many years from MSFT.

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382929)

It's not a fault, it's a business strategy. Yes, it's awkward to use - but it's also the way that owners of iDevices are pushed towards the iTunes store (rather than, say, piracy - there not being many legitimate competitors around). iTunes turns what would be a one-off payment for a device into a sustainable revenue stream for content purchasing, and from a business perspective goes a long way to explain why Apple is so successful. They don't just sell hardware, but the entire ecosystem to go with it, and take a cut at every step.

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382765)

Be able to replace the keyboard with something custom, like this: http://www.exideas.com/ME/index.php

Sure, 'normal' people don't want this, but that's a key difference between apple/android right there. Something that Just Works vs something tweakable. You can't do the latter with an iPad.

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (0)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382539)

So Android tablets have no style?

You heard it here first, folks. I'm not one to argue.

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382623)

Other than an operating system with de-facto vertical integration with developer mind-share? My guess is that people want certain applications already written for their PC's on a tablet among other things.

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382651)

The market is not saturated. I have an iPad, which never gets used. The reason it never gets used it because I don't use iTunes for anything, and the content on the iPad gets old... quick.

i would love a device where I can remotely control my desktop computer (via Remote Desktop) so that I no longer have to sync content between my tablet and my computer. The Surface device, running on Window 8 - seems like it should do exactly this.

With Surface, the tablet becomes a fully functioning remote computer. I need this.

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382691)

Umm, my iPad does this. How come yours doesn't?

Re:What do they have to bring to the table? (2)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382865)

They think that they have a brand to bring to the table but they do not have that.

(TL:DNR: except the Surface looks like quite a nice tablet...)

The brands they have to bring to the table are Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, Exchange. If they can come up with good implementations of those, well adapted to tablet use, with reliable file interchange, then they'll have something. Many employers will, rightly or wrongly, prefer the idea of employees using "the same" software on tables as is used on desktops - particularly when it comes to connecting to Exchange servers and the like. Of course, Microsoft would never, ever, make undocumented changes to their desktop software to break interoperability, because that would be downright naughty and they're an upright, law-abiding firm.

Also, I give Microsoft some kudos for actually coming up with 'something completely different' with the metro interface rather than just copying Apple*. Most negative comments on Metro relate to the attempt to foist it onto desktop Windows users rather than its utility on phones and tablets.

Looking at the 'surface' the brightly coloured, magnetically-attached cover has rather obvious fruity antecedents, but turning it into a keyboard and trackpad looks like a stroke of genius (I'd have to get my hands on it to be sure, but the big point is that it looks like you can just fold it round the back like an Apple smart cover and use the on-screen keyboard when you're not sitting at a table - whereas if you have a 'keyboard case' you pretty much have to remove the tablet from the case to use it handheld),

(*Look, that doesn't mean that the ideas that Android, Samsung et. al. 'took inspiration from' should be copyrightable or patentable by Apple, or that Apple hasn't sometimes 'taken inspiration from' others, but if you think that Android UI or devices would look anything like they do today if the iPhone hadn't come out when it did, you have a bigger reality distortion field than Apple ever did).

JUST THINK TWENTY MILLION BRATS THE FIRST YEAR !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382445)

Then the next, each of those have two more, and two more each again, from the four, and so on. In 36 months, nothing but BRATS !! in the world, devouring all that comes into contact !!

from Steve Ballmer's memo

The human race is doomed !!

Damn right, on some of it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382469)

The android bit got to me. 7% of android devices are running ICS 7 months after it was released, compared to Apples 80%.

Google needs to start grabbing manufacturers and carriers by the balls like Apple did. Give the manufacturers what they need, but enforce some kind of rollout process. People are pissed, but they can't fight back against an AT&T for being completely feckless. Apple just said, "fuck you carriers, we'll handle the updates so its done right."

Of course the choice and variety in android devices makes that approach impossible, but they've got to do something. Because otherwise it's in Samsung and att's best interest to leave everyone twisting in the wind. It makes android look like a shitty, orphaned option in mobile.

Re:Damn right, on some of it... (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382611)

I smell a rat in those figures.

80% of the iOS devices ever sold? Or 80% of those that are both still in support and deemed 'compatible' by Apple?
These are very different figures.

Though I agree, it would be a big win for the consumer if Google took some sort sort of action to encourage device vendors to release with modern OS versions and a streamlined, fast, update program. Even Samsung, the poster-child for Android success, is still releasing devices (Galaxy Advance) with 2.x

Re:Damn right, on some of it... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382833)

For shipping devices.

Apple releases iOS 6. within 3 months it will be nearly impossible to BUY a NEW device without iOS 6 already on it. I am not talking about already sold but NEW.

Google released ICS how long ago, most companies will start converting to it next YEAR.

That is what is frustrating the lead developers(HTC, etc) are 6-9 months behind google's release and compatible hardware may never get the updates. Only the really popular lines seem to be getting regular updates. however since Android developers are taking the shotgun approach and shipping 50 medicore products a year and hoping one or two stick it is really hurting the overall marketplace.

instead they should ship 5 maybe 10 devices a year and make them better. It will lower their production costs too as you can buy in bulk.

Re:Damn right, on some of it... (5, Funny)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382793)

7% of android devices are running ICS 7 months after it was released, compared to Apples 80%.

Can you substantiate your claim that 80% of Apple's devices are running ICS? I thought it would take a lot longer than 7 months for that to happen...

Re:Damn right, on some of it... (2)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382853)

Google needs to start grabbing manufacturers and carriers by the balls like Apple did. Give the manufacturers what they need, but enforce some kind of rollout process. People are pissed, but they can't fight back against an AT&T for being completely feckless. Apple just said, "fuck you carriers, we'll handle the updates so its done right."

Very difficult for the great majority of handset manufacturers. They're following a strict waterfall model - phone hardware gets developed, released, marketed and retired. The software on the phone is developed in the early stages of that process and basically ignored for the rest of it because the development team has moved onto the next thing.

At any given point in time, they could easily have 5 or ten different handsets on the market.

The problem is, when you've got a whacking great business with thousands of staff worldwide, it's fantastically difficult to radically change how it works.

Nokia need to do this, as do RIM. Look how well they're getting on so far.

Me too (1)

GuldKalle (1065310) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382491)

But the need for 20 brands of me-too laptops, tablets, and convertibles is low.

Yet MS insists on making a tablet?

Re:Me too (1)

dhavleak (912889) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382575)

But the need for 20 brands of me-too laptops, tablets, and convertibles is low.

Yet MS insists on making a tablet?

That's just some guys' twitter feed -- it's not like that quote represents some sort of fact, and that Microsoft is indeed misguided in doing this. If anything the hardware seems to have been very well received. In what I've seen so far I'd say it looks better than any laptop or tablet the OEMs have produced to date, including both Windows and Android devices. Slashdot just seems to appreciate innovation from everyone, unless it's from Microsoft. Competition is good, unless it comes from Microsoft. Tsk tsk...

Not a threat, a counter offer (1)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382507)

Microsoft wont throw the OEMs under the bus, it just wont happen.

The Surface is Microsoft's attempt to quickly capture a chunk of the tablet market by producing a top end tablet running Windows 8 - I expect the price to be highly competitive in order to drive high sales, the end goal being to encourage OEMs like Samsung to move their investment from Android to Windows 8.

If they launched Windows 8 cold, the OEMs will probably be hesitant to make a major investment when there is no proof of the demand for a Win8 tablet - Microsoft are manufacturing that proof in the form of the Surface.

Re:Not a threat, a counter offer (4, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382553)

Or it could have the opposite effect...
If the windows tablet bombs, then that will drive OEMs away faster than ever.
If it succeeds, then it will be a competitor to the OEMs which may also discourage them, especially since MS will have an inherent advantage due to being able to get the software for free whereas other OEMs will have to negotiate a price, giving them thinner margins on otherwise comparable devices.

Re:Not a threat, a counter offer (1)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382583)

Absolutely!

This could blow up in Microsoft's face, but I doubt it will, Windows 8 should, in theory be the perfect cross device OS. Being able to run the same apps on your phone, tablet and PC is an awesome feature. For anyone owning a PC running Windows 8, it will make sense to pick mobile devices that also run Windows 8.

I'm not sure even Microsoft could screw this up.

Re:Not a threat, a counter offer (3, Insightful)

ongelovigehond (2522526) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382705)

Being able to run the same apps on your phone, tablet and PC is an awesome feature

Not really. Microsoft's biggest fault is that they don't recognize that the phone, tablet and PC have different purposes, and different modes of usage. In some cases, there's some applications, such as e-mailing or browsing that are done on all devices, but even then there's no need to have exactly the same app. The apps just need to be compatible, and be capable of sharing the files, but apart from that, they should be optimized for the platform and typical use.

Re:Not a threat, a counter offer (1)

Orcris (2652275) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382751)

Being able to run the same apps on your phone, tablet and PC is an awesome feature

Not really. Microsoft's biggest fault is that they don't recognize that the phone, tablet and PC have different purposes, and different modes of usage.

You're thinking of this from a power user's point of view. Every average user I showed Win8 photos to loved it.

Re:Not a threat, a counter offer (1, Troll)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382727)

Except you can't, quite. You can run *metro* applications on phone, tablet or PC (Subject to some slight modifications for the different versions), but not the windows software of today. Eventually users are going to figure out that there is a difference, but until that happens there will be a lot of angry users who just spent hundreds of dollars on a tablet only to find that all the software they have purchased over the last few years is no use on it and they'll have to buy it all over again, or as close as they can manage in a not-yet-mature store.

Re:Not a threat, a counter offer (1)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382781)

x86 tablets will be able to run Windows software (from my understanding). It'll be more expensive, but business users will pay the premium.

Re:Not a threat, a counter offer (3, Informative)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382753)

Being able to run the same apps on your phone, tablet and PC is an awesome feature.

Lets hope no one buys the WinRT version then.

Re:Not a threat, a counter offer (1)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382797)

true - I should have added that caveat.

Re:Not a threat, a counter offer (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382909)

Android already has the capability to run regular Linux software... Similarly windows tablets have been around for quite some time, and haven't sold well.

The problem being is that most desktop software is difficult to use on a touchscreen interface, it's simply not designed that way and people quickly get sick of it... At the very least you would need to build a new UI for the software, eg look at firefox and chrome.

Also you have the ARM version of windows, branding it as windows will create an impression it can run the same apps... When users find out they can't they will be angry, not a good first impression of the platform.

Re:Not a threat, a counter offer (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382607)

> the end goal being to encourage OEMs like Samsung to move their investment from Android to Windows 8.

They should move from an open source, that is ownable and forkable OS, to one whom they have no control of?
And to achieve what? compete with a table which will likely be sold at a loss like it was done for the xbox?

Samsung probably wishes that the MS tablet tanks and makes MS depart from a ton of money.

Other OEMs? Well it was fun and games until MS entered the hardware market. Welcome to the long list of MS partners who got screwed in the end. Better remove the - mostly artificial - barriers to the proper running of linux, or prepare to be a second class windows adopters.

Re:Not a threat, a counter offer (2)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382655)

Samsung will go where the demand is. They couldn't care less about open source or closed source - they only care about selling their products and if Microsoft produce a system that people want, Samsung will build devices to run it. End of story.

If what you are saying was true, Windows would have died 15 years ago and the world would be running on Linux.

Re:Not a threat, a counter offer (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382903)

Samsung is a hardware manufacturer. They care about one thing, making money from their hardware. They could not give a rats turd whether they make that money from Android devices, Windows Devices or selling their products as parts for Apple products. OS/Closed source are irrelevent footnotes to a company like Samsung who will happily go wherever the consumer demands take them (as it should be).

Fondleslabs... (4, Interesting)

Virtucon (127420) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382525)

To be honest, I have 4 tablets in my house. One I use constantly for travel and three others for the wife/kids. Do they use them? sometimes but for me I have a Laptop, a Desktop and other systems to use. The tablet form factor is nice and it does provide a needed distraction from the obnoxious guy sitting behind me in 10A on the flights. I've also seen people now diligently taking their tablets everywhere, as if they're so much jewelry. Today I went to lunch and next to where I was, there was a young couple. Both with tablets, both watching stuff, exchanging e-mail and not really talking to each other. So why go to lunch together if you're not going to be part of the actual experience. Yes, it could be laptops, eepcs etc. but it's simply amazing the tools we now have that actually discourage face to face communications. Oh yeah, I can Skype too but that's beside the point.

Microsoft for jumping into this with a "Me Too" approach seems to be too little, too late. Much like their phones. Maybe they'll sell a few but right now I think the market is saturated by Apple and all of the Android based models out there. This move will also alienate them from a lot of their tried-and-true supporters, the Toshibas, the HPs and the ASUSs for example.

Well, let's wait and see in two years to see if it makes sense or if Ballmer will do his Monkey Boy Dance again!

Re:Fondleslabs... (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382783)

I use mine in a watertight plastic bag to read in the bath.

Re:Fondleslabs... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382899)

Especially when it wont release for a while, if the environment is bad for them now imagine in a few years from now.

More of a warning message, I think... (4, Insightful)

Aryeh Goretsky (129230) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382531)

Hello,

I do not see this so much as an ultimatum by Microsoft to its partners as a warning.

Microsoft has invested a great deal of R&D into making Windows fast and reliable, only to find those efforts wasted by computer manufacturers who load up trial or otherwise limited versions of third-party programs which slow down the boot process and system performance overall, use up memory and disk space and introduce incompatibilities with other operating system components and third-party software, all in the pursuit of pumping up profits by turning the computer that you buy from them into a billboard, with those programs being the advertisements. Software companies have to pay for pre-loading the trial version onto a computer, and also have to pay a commission when a license is sold from that preloaded version.

The fact that whole taxonomies of software have been created (bloatware, crapware, shovelware to name a few), and that an ecosystem of programs like CCleaner (formerly Crap Cleaner) and PC Decrapifier (formerly Dell Decrapifier) have sprung up to solve the problem indicates how badly Microsoft's partners have abused their position.

In the case of the whole OEM software preload business, I think Microsoft has largely been the victim. They put strict branding requirements into Windows 95 for the desktop because they wanted end users to have the best experience possible. Manufacturers saw it as a way to make more money ("sell advertising space") and that's what pretty much started the initial antitrust investigation into Microsoft by the US DoJ. Yes, Microsoft has done plenty of horrible things, but they've also paid the price for those past misdeeds, not just in terms of fines, but in the distraction of having to deal with lawyers instead of being able to focus on delivering products and competing with companies like Apple.

Microsoft's partners cannot have ignored what Microsoft is doing with Windows Phone, Windows RT, the Microsoft Store, the Signature PC program and so forth. The writing has pretty much been on the wall for a while; this is just the latest paragraph: We have worked very hard to provide you with the tools to provide customers with a great Windows experience. If you do not choose to execute on that, we will.

As usual and for the record, all of this is my own opinion and commentary derived by observation and other public sources and neither reflects the opinions of Microsoft or my employer (who actually competes with them), although they'd both be fools to disagree with me. :)

Regards,

Aryeh Goretsky

Re:More of a warning message, I think... (0)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382729)

If you were correct, at any point Microsoft could have inserted a clause in the vastly different EULA's that evolve with every product release to disallow such bundling. It would be easy to insert and word properly, easy to enforce (and legally fair) and would cause less fuss than "we don't need you"-type announcements. If you're going to bundle Windows and sell Windows, we require nothing else but Windows to be installed (or all things to be optional on first boot so people can choose from a "install the crap or not" menu).

But they don't. This announcement isn't about bundlers. This is about another revenue stream. And it's at the expense of MS's largest customers (the OEM system builders). I have a feeling this may be hastily backtracked on, or cause a lot of hurt.

Re:More of a warning message, I think... (1)

sirlark (1676276) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382877)

There are to problems here here.

If you're going to bundle Windows and sell Windows, we require nothing else but Windows to be installed (or all things to be optional on first boot so people can choose from a "install the crap or not" menu).

This sort of behaviour is the very definition of antitrust.

Also, recall that a fresh windows installation is pretty useless (or at least was back in the days of 95/XP.) You practically needed additional utilities to just have a useful operating environment. Winzip, Nero, and all those dozens of little utilities you had to install, never mind actual software packages like Office, Photoshop, etc. The OEM's should be allowed to install additional software, so as to present the end user with a 'functional user experience'. They install complete crap though, no arguments there. That was wrong. But the idea of allowing it in principle isn't. These days with Win 7, less so; at least you can burn a CD and get into zip files.

Re:More of a warning message, I think... (1)

sirlark (1676276) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382913)

s/are to/are two/ ... need caffeine

Re:More of a warning message, I think... (1)

sirlark (1676276) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382923)

s/here here/here .... aaah fuck it, I give up

Re:More of a warning message, I think... (2)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382737)

Honestly I think it was a flaw to encorage and allow manufacturers to pre-load software from the beginning. Instead of making sure everything was pre-loaded, they should have put that effort into simplifying the windows install. That viewpoint could also have greatly assisted in preventing the existance of worms etc... (IE if the password were set at the install, by the user, instead of 90% of systems being a factory default pre-installed system). The bottom line is the hardware makers should never have been in charge of pre-installing the software of their choice. They should have been able to offer disks, include a drivers disk (Which also should more or less have been ultra simplified down to a "click here to load all drivers", etc... Making the software configuration a choice of the hardware vendors, and retailers is what permitted the crapware infestation.

Re:More of a warning message, I think... (2)

bazorg (911295) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382831)

Hi,

While your suggestion that Windows has been crapified by margin-deprived OEMs has its merits, I believe that the key motivation here is closer to what Google does with the flagship phone/tablet it releases now and then. By launching their own product they will promote the merits of their tablet, while at the same time they license the software to OEMs to make their own hardware.

All players need the volume, but the market is still in high growth stage, so it makes little sense to stop the OEMs from doing their thing. By having the "reference product", MS (and Google btw) show that if some random chinese OEM makes a crappy tablet with bad screens, poor wifi, slow SSDs, weird custom UI, bloatware, etc., they will be in a position to state that those are characteristics of that OEM's product and not a problem inherent to Windows tablets.

I hardly believe that MS would block the OEMs from this market and play the game like Apple does. These products are years behind iPad and iPhone, the catching up will be quicker if there's more respectable brands working on it.

Bad title, Bad assumptions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382537)

SoulSkill you could have chosen a better more honest title, instead of your own bias. Did you post a similar post when Google made a phone or bought Motorola? Nothing changed for Android OEM. Similarly this changes nothing since MSFT mentioned that they wont undercut pricing so OEM can build competitive products. In fact, they would and they would profit.

Re:Bad title, Bad assumptions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382687)

Nothing changed for Android OEM. Similarly this changes nothing since MSFT mentioned that they wont undercut pricing so OEM can build competitive products. In fact, they would and they would profit.

Android is free. OEMs will have to pay a significant amount to Microsoft. They can't possibly compete. And if they really believe Microsoft would not undercut them if it served their purposes, then they don't know Microsoft's history. They have screwed over more "partners" than Carter's got pills.

The Compuserve model, Microsoft Edition. (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382549)

Choice is so bad that we're going to get rid of this thing called freedom. This time around, there will be no pesky DOJ, or even an IBM to stop us. That, and we've bought out the last folks who opened up the WP7 platform - cant have users doing what they want with their devices! /s

Someone needs to remind Microsoft and Apple that hardware and software work better when there are more choices to come together - where all layers are in control by the user. Not the other way around.

Re:The Compuserve model, Microsoft Edition. (1)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382635)

If that was the case, Android would have a monopoly in the tablet and smartphone space. They don't.

Choice breeds complexity. What Microsoft will have with the Surface is a device capable of demonstrating what Windows 8 is capable of when it is run on good hardware without a load of preloaded crap. The OEMs will then have a benchmark they will have to live up to. the competition will still be there, Microsoft are just raising the level.

Re:The Compuserve model, Microsoft Edition. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382881)

Full point. COmpetition now will not be "be a little cheaper or better than all the other junk" but "be a little better or cheaper than the Microsoft Reference Model".

All tablets will be compared. Better Screen? Higher Resolutoin? More Battery - great. Slower, worse manufacturing, higher price - sorry, does not live to reference.

A line is drawn in the sand and it is about time. I am tired of being envious on apple hardware because no tablet comes close to the production quality of an IPad.

Now, Manufacturers, please give me a reason NOT to buy the MS solution. ARM is good, but give me the stylus, more ram and a higher resolution screen there than MS. Make it better, more flexible, but do NOT fuck up the software side. And make good drivers, integrate it all. Otherwise I go with the reference.

Opportunity (0)

AdmV0rl0n (98366) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382597)

Its the greatest oppotunity that alternative OS's and Open source will ever be presented with. Ever. And it will only be presented on this scale, this one time.

Acquisitions has to come (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40382609)

If the assumption that integrated hardware and software is the way forward for MSFT, then they have an obvious need to acquire skills and capabilities that they do not have today. I guess they are already looking at Dell, to mention one potential target. MSFT has more than enough cash and revenue stream to make the investment.

This would be similar to the strategy followed by Oracle in acquiring Sun Microsystems.

I'm all for this (1)

pointyhat (2649443) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382649)

I'm all for this. Hopefully Microsoft will provide non-crapware infested machines like the ones you get from Acer, Dell and Sony. It's bad when you have to spend the first hour of owning a new computer re-installing windows without all the vendor crap.

...and he's right. (1)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382657)

Apple's tight integration of hardware and software gives them a significantly greater advantage when it comes to releasing hardware that people actually want with software that further fuels their excitement. It's not like the established players (Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung) will go broke or lose Microsoft's partnership overnight; the former three will probably, as hinted by the article, concentrate more on their enterprise products (as they should, as they are very good in that space and invest truck-lodes of their R&D budget there anyway) and Samsung will probably be used as the key hardware manufacturer for executing Microsoft's vision (which allows them the opportunity, if it's successful, to exit the direct-to-consumer business completely).

I think MS is very much on the right track. Despite some idiosyncrasies, it is pretty easy to see the amount of effort they've invested in making Windows 8 friendly for content consumption *and* creation. If the hardware is right (i.e. comparable to iPad) and comes with Office and a tight screen for drawing and writing on, I'm hard-pressed to believe that these won't sell.

Re:...and he's right. (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382731)

Apple's tight integration of hardware and software gives them a significantly greater advantage when it comes to releasing hardware that people actually want

Absolutely not. They release hardware that a lot of people like. Like Henry Ford said: "The customer can have any color he likes, as long as it's black". What people really want is irrelevant. Some people would want rugged devices (they exist with Windows and run Linux as well, but I never saw a rugged Apple device), others would want "business devices" with better specifications and less "fun" options. In the general computing market, all these devices exist. In the Apple market, they don't.

Really? (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382813)

This is a bold move. I didn't think Microsoft, especially with Ballmer and the current echelon at the top (and the organization, ingrained modes of operation etc.), had it in them to make such a huge leap.

I will wait and see whether they'll really do this.

More walled gardens and even less customisation (2)

Quakeulf (2650167) | more than 2 years ago | (#40382839)

This cannot end well.
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