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Steve Ballmer: We're a Devices and Services Company

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the not-like-they'll-be-around-in-ten-years dept.

Microsoft 295

Nerval's Lobster writes "According to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's latest shareholder letter (not exactly a gripping read), Microsoft sees itself as a 'devices and services company.' The subsequent 1,200-odd words hammer that point, mentioning software such as Office and Windows 8 largely in the context of tablets and other hardware — and while Ballmer acknowledges the 'vast ecosystem of partners' building a 'broad spectrum of Windows PCs, tablets and phones,' he leaves the door wide open to Microsoft building its own toys in-house. If one takes Ballmer's words at face value, it seems that Surface, the tablet Microsoft's building in-house and promoting as a 'flagship' Windows 8 device, isn't so much a lark but the harbinger of the company's future direction. Whether Microsoft's decision to build its own devices affects its long-term relationship with Dell, Hewlett-Packard and other manufacturing titans remains to be seen. Perhaps Ballmer can take some comfort from Apple, which profited enormously by pursuing the 'we build everything in-house' route. But it's indisputable that a devices-centric approach is new ground for Microsoft."

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What the fuck (4, Insightful)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 2 years ago | (#41608061)

Microsoft is a software development and licensing company.

At least that's where all the money comes from. The Devices and Services aspects are huge money losing hobbies they've started.

I hope this means the end is near.

Re:What the fuck (2)

TWX (665546) | about 2 years ago | (#41608167)

Yeah, I have to really wonder about Ballmer. I've never seen him where he wasn't at least somewhat off his rocker. Sometimes I wonder if they put him where they did as the public face because he's kind of amusing, but where he doesn't have power in the company even if he thinks that he does.

Re:What the fuck (4, Funny)

DogDude (805747) | about 2 years ago | (#41608405)

Yeah, I have to really wonder about Ballmer. I've never seen him where he wasn't at least somewhat off his rocker.

You keep wondering there, armchair quarterback. Let us know when you successfully run the largest software company on the planet.

Re:What the fuck (4, Funny)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | about 2 years ago | (#41608555)

Maybe Gates is testing that his management system is fool proof, and he has found a study case fit for his legacy?

Re:What the fuck (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41608581)

Let us know when you successfully run the largest software company on the planet.

successfully

Let us know when Ballmer does.

Re:What the fuck (4, Funny)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#41608673)

Err, given Ballmer's performance when compared to other CEOs of that level? It doesn't take a super-analyst or a wildly successful peer to see that Ballmer got his job thanks to the luckiest college dorm room assignment in the history of mankind (where he met Mssr. Gates...)

Re:What the fuck (5, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#41608839)

Yeah, I have to really wonder about Ballmer. I've never seen him where he wasn't at least somewhat off his rocker.

You keep wondering there, armchair quarterback. Let us know when you successfully run the largest software company on the planet.

that's the thing.. running it successfully doesn't seem to have been much of a chore - BUT everything he's gotten involved and has grown with dollar spending has lost ms money over the last 10 years. it would be easy to argue that had he done _nothing_ he could have ran it more successfully(nothing includes not firing windows kernel development team - and includes not hiring ui wizs to fuck things up - basically just leaving it on autopilot).

and even your witty reply includes "largest software company on the planet". but he's constantly trying to make it something else and burning billions and bridges in the process, this time a "devices and services" company which is a loss doing stupid business when you compare it to the business of selling sw which costs nothing to duplicate - devices and services have costs - and the turn arounds he has been in the helm for have been catastrophes excluding windows 7(windows8 still unproven, vista made a lot of money but could have brought in a lot more and made 7 unnecessary). zune was a catastrophe, kin was a catastrophe, xbox-franchise is a catastrophe financially, windows phone 7 has been a big fat turd(technically and financially - it's really sad when the wince was more successful in gathering manufacturer interest)... surface was a bomb(the original table, not the yet unproven tablet)..

(written on a MS keyboard. their hw has been pretty good - but not a good business for them.)

Re:What the fuck (2, Interesting)

DJ Jones (997846) | about 2 years ago | (#41608215)

XBox?

Microsoft may fail often but every now and then they hit it out of the park.

Re:What the fuck (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 2 years ago | (#41608239)

Want to guess how much money they've made off the Xboxen?

Re:What the fuck (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41608299)

Up till the last couple of years, the xbox division has been a loss leader. Selling hardware at a loss and not making enough from development fees and xbla fees.

Re:What the fuck (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about 2 years ago | (#41608379)

Also wasn't the original Xbox HW a loss in terms of money?

Re:What the fuck (3)

GoogleShill (2732413) | about 2 years ago | (#41608811)

I can't find the article right now, but I read that even though they are making profits on the 360 now, MS will never recoup the R&D and per-sale losses from the first few years of the 360. The 720 (or whatever they call it) will be released before they can ever catch up, starting them back at square one again. I believe the whole idea of the Xbox is to keep the MS brand a household name.

Re:What the fuck (3, Interesting)

MrDoh! (71235) | about 2 years ago | (#41608321)

Which, I think, was done out of a fear of Playstations taking over the home computing area (at the time it was going to be a linux box). Now they've been caught wrong footed by phones, and are struggling to catch up that area. MS has lost it's ability to turn on a dime it appears. Good/bad, BillG certainly was able to define a vision on where MS should be going, and get there quickly, throwing the whole company at the new market. Ballmer seems to be waiting...waiting...waiting...any second now...waiting... Oh, lighter mobile OS's are going to be all the rage? waiting...waiting...waiting...

Re:What the fuck (5, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#41608433)

MS has lost it's ability to turn on a dime it appears.

To be fair, only when Microsoft sees itself hurtling towards a cliff does it gain the ability to turn on anything resembling a dime. Even then the results are usually half-assed, with just enough marketing, copying, company-purchasing, and sometimes outright BS to pull it off. See also the late 1990's and Windows TCP/IP stack, IE, et al.

Gates had one other advantage that Ballmer does not: Microsoft was a whole lot more streamlined in 1996 than it is today.

In analogy terms?

Microsoft of 1996 was like turning a commercial fishing vessel: you could see it took effort, but it could turn quickly enough if it had to.

Microsoft of 2012 is like six oil supertankers welded together side by side, with two of them welded on backwards.

too big to fail!? (1)

zlives (2009072) | about 2 years ago | (#41608599)

"six oil supertankers welded together side by side, with two of them welded on backwards"

Re:What the fuck (3, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | about 2 years ago | (#41608571)

It seems Ballmer was tolerated for his ability the maintain windows and office monopoly via many very legally questionable activities and to extract a profit from it. However his manner blunders and his shocking failure with MSN has even Bill calling him Uncle Fester behind his back. MSN should be worth more than Google not wallowing in the background lost and forgotten behind the delusions of 'Live', 'Bing', 'Zune' and even 'XBOX'. M$ seriously blundered when they did not take the opportunity to split the company living windows and office in one group and taking everything else including the cash into another group and putting that group under far more creative management, M$ and MSN, were the logical split.

MSN was such an abortion, it's dalliances with commercial TV networks did nothing but help to develop those commercial TV network internet abilities and create real competitors. Stripping search out of MSN twice, first with Live and then with Bing crippled MSN's identity and weakened it's market presence. The gross mishandling of advertising on MSN with trialling some of the worst and most abusive content destroying and customer annoying advertising methods with delusional spreadsheets about how much money each method would make with literally no regard to how many customers they would drive away.

No company was more single handedly responsible and executive failures more directly tied to the success of 'Google' than M$ and Uncle Fester. Without Uncle Fester stumbling about the internet at the helm of the beast of Redmond, that grand canyon wide gap in the market would not have been left for Google to fill.

Re:What the fuck (0)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#41608333)

XBox?

Still in the red money-wise, and R&D for the XBox 720 will probably drive it back deeper towards the wrong side of ROI.

Microsoft may fail often but every now and then they hit it out of the park.

Approx. $3-5bn in the hole (even after annual profits to date, bringing the total down from ~$7bn) means that the XBox "hit it out of the park" with everyone but the accounting department, the bottom line, and future profitability.

Put it this way - I can make the most badassed and popular widget on the planet, but if it's bleeding my bank account dry (even if slowly), then it isn't a winner in my own book(s).

Re:What the fuck (1)

DogDude (805747) | about 2 years ago | (#41608279)

The Devices and Services aspects are huge money losing hobbies they've started.

You have no idea what you're talking about. They're making plenty of money on their services.

"...they count on our world-class business applications like Microsoft Dynamics, Office, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, and our business intelligence solutions."

Re:What the fuck (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about 2 years ago | (#41608399)

So basically they make money off what was stand alone SW and have since been converted to be services.

Re:What the fuck (1)

zlives (2009072) | about 2 years ago | (#41608627)

"They're making plenty of money on their licensing"
FTFY and ballmer

Writing on the wall (3, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#41608383)

Microsoft is a software development and licensing company. At least that's where all the money comes from. The Devices and Services aspects are huge money losing hobbies they've started.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, their ability to expect to continue making money of software licensing in the future is constrained by other "devices and services" companies (notably, Apple who started as devices and has been ramping up services, and Google who went the other way around) at commoditizing software in the areas on which Microsoft relies, directly and indirectly, for its software licensing revenue. Even Ballmer can read the writing on the wall with Apple passing Microsoft in 2010 to be the biggest tech firm, and Google passing Microsoft this year in the #2 spot. Whether Microsoft can reinvent themselves successfully remains to be seen, but that their past business model may not be viable much longer is pretty evident.

I hope this means the end is near.

I think the end of Microsoft-as-we've-come-to-know-it is quite near; whether the end of Microsoft as an independent major player in the tech industry is near is a different issue, though.

Not quite dead yet... (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#41608541)

I don't see Microsoft dying off quite yet. They still rake in an obscene amount of money from the enterprise half of the tech world, and that's where all the money is. After all, what's $50/seat for a consumer OS license when they're raking in $5,000 or more for each Enterprise-tagged SKU?

I can however see them losing the consumer side, and hard. That in turn will start creeping into the Enterprise side of things - first as a trickle (iPhones at work, anyone?) then as a flood.

It'll take about 10 years, but by then I think that unless Microsoft does something drastic and effective, they will be reduced to selling Exchange servers/services/licenses, and that's about it (unless GMail takes over even that...)

Re:What the fuck (1)

Peter Simpson (112887) | about 2 years ago | (#41608461)

So Ballmer's saying: "since our software offerings are mediocre at best, we're going to start offering [more] mediocre devices and services"?

Hey, Steve! Here's a clue: why don't you stick with what you [should] know: operating systems and office apps. You [still] have a customer base there. It might be a good idea to work hard and try to keep it (you may be able to claw back some market share on servers from Linux if you hurry). Improve the quality of your software. Skip the annual releases of the new desktop OS with the "all new and exciting" UI, and go back to what your customers want: stability, security and predictability (remember all the fuss about EOL on XP? Wonder why?). Make your money on business and OEM licensing and don't sweat the end user piracy (think of it as a marketing expense, and make your money on support). Become known as the premier provider of a stable and secure OS that everyone knows and depends on.

//fat lot of good all the above will do

Re:What the fuck (2)

gmuslera (3436) | about 2 years ago | (#41608593)

Forgot the patent troll part. And the way they play extortion on android device makers (selling "protection" to avoid lawsuits) should qualify them as criminal organization too.

The game (1)

zlives (2009072) | about 2 years ago | (#41608663)

IMHO you have to play to win... or atleast be in the running.
ballmer is neither smart or dumb in this, just common sense.

Re:What the fuck (2, Interesting)

daem0n1x (748565) | about 2 years ago | (#41608679)

What happened to the Doom-Gates icon? I mean, maybe it was outdated, but Slashdot could have replaced it with something funnier that just the company's lettering!

What's happening to you, Slashdot? Going politically correct? If so, how can you be PC and still be Slashdot? What comes next, no swearing in the comments? Fuck you.

Re:What the fuck (1)

ghjm (8918) | about 2 years ago | (#41608787)

I don't hope this means the end is near. As much as we all like to complain about Microsoft, imagine what Apple would do with a desktop monopoly.

Bumpy times ahead (5, Insightful)

Dupple (1016592) | about 2 years ago | (#41608081)

It's not going to be a smooth ride. Microsoft will have to keep an eye on software updates to existing products as it attempts to shift it's position

Other than Xbox MS is largely unproven on the devices front. Surface could be a winner like Xbox or it could be a complete disaster like the Kin.

Windows 8 OS will either be a success or annoy users completely. It seems there's little to no middle ground. If you're gonna have to learn a new OS why does it have to windows?.

They're probably gonna piss off some OEMs as well. In the short term if they're lucky, long term if they're not.

Ballmer's track record is not great. Ballmer completely missed the way things were going with mobile and search. Sure, MS now has competitive products and services (some yet to launched (Surface), some not finished (updates to Windows after it was RTM)), but its behind Google on search and mobile. MS never misses and opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Now we're supposed to believe that Ballmer knows devices and services as well? They're at least three years behind Apple and Google. If they had been on the ball they could have predicted trends and even set trends, they could have had huge profits like apple and market share like google. There's only one reason they haven't. Ballmer.

Even the board knows it, this years bonus for him was 9% less than last year. That's three years in the trot he hasn't made his maximum bonus. Some of that is due to the economy, some of it is because he's simply missed opportunities to create or expand markets.

Re:Bumpy times ahead (2)

TWX (665546) | about 2 years ago | (#41608193)

Other than Xbox MS is largely unproven on the devices front.

That's not true! I've had a Microsoft mouse for almost 20 years! It's the most reliable product of theirs that I've ever had!

Re:Bumpy times ahead (1)

TWX (665546) | about 2 years ago | (#41608209)

Dammit, messed up the end blockquote tag....

Re:Bumpy times ahead (2)

demonbug (309515) | about 2 years ago | (#41608271)

Dammit, messed up the end blockquote tag....

I bet you're using a Microsoft keyboard, aren't you.

Re:Bumpy times ahead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41608535)

Good thing you didn't say you had a Microsoft Posting Machine.

Re:Bumpy times ahead (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#41608573)

I've had a Microsoft mouse for almost 20 years! It's the most reliable product of theirs that I've ever had!

Given that the mouse is a rebranded Logitech, you could've had the same thing w/o the Microsoft tag on it, and it would have likely lasted just as long...

Re:Bumpy times ahead (1)

PixetaledPikachu (1007305) | about 2 years ago | (#41608807)

I've had a Microsoft mouse for almost 20 years! It's the most reliable product of theirs that I've ever had!

Given that the mouse is a rebranded Logitech, you could've had the same thing w/o the Microsoft tag on it, and it would have likely lasted just as long...

My Mobile 4000 mouse and Sidewinder X4 keyboard is definitely not a rebranded logitech

Re:Bumpy times ahead (2)

DogDude (805747) | about 2 years ago | (#41608255)

When you're talking about "missed opportunities", you're only talking about being "first" at something or another. Historically, companies that are "first" at something rarely maintain the market leader position for very long. Pick up a business book or two... you might learn something!

Re:Bumpy times ahead (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 2 years ago | (#41608425)

The poster didn't say first. Microsoft has been last in most of these fields.
Being first does not guarantee success but being last is a rocky road to failure.

Re:Microsoft has been last (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 2 years ago | (#41608617)

That used to be what MS was good at. They were last to enter after the "innovators" made typical "pioneer mistakes", then MS swooped inand cleaned up. But something happened by about 2002 and they can't do that anymore.

in the red (1)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | about 2 years ago | (#41608507)

Surface could be a failure like Xbox or it could be a complete disaster like the Kin.

FTFY. There is no call to try to paint the Xbox as anything other than a money-loser. It has lost money in recent quarters [edge-online.com] to add to the historical losses [itworld.com] . It may be the darling of advertisers and M$ boosters, but was only in the black a short part of its life and has now returned to being in the red.

Moving into hardware is a bold move for M$, but it's an area that the have not proven themselves in. It's also an area where the are as likely to anger partners as not.

Re:Bumpy times ahead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41608789)

This is what Dell said just before it fell off the cliff.

Re:Bumpy times ahead (1)

ghjm (8918) | about 2 years ago | (#41608851)

> If you're gonna have to learn a new OS why does it have to windows?

Because only Windows runs all the applications you depend on. If your business runs on Quickbooks, then it runs on Windows for the foreseeable future. (Though not necessarily Windows 8. Many businesses are still running Windows XP today. You won't be forced to Win8 for several years - and who knows what might happen in the next decade.)

Not selling to Apple Drones. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41608083)

Many PC users will not tolerate the astronomical prices of Apple hardware.

Riiiiing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41608257)

The 90's called they want their meme back.

Re:Riiiiing (2)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 2 years ago | (#41608343)

This is like some kind of awesome recursive meme.

Re:Not selling to Apple Drones. (1)

dimeglio (456244) | about 2 years ago | (#41608449)

BTW, it's iDrones.

Re:Not selling to Apple Drones. (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#41608621)

Many PC users will not tolerate the astronomical prices of Apple hardware.

Old myth. Spec out a *decent* OEM-built PC sometime... the prices are damned close, and the Apple product usually wins when they release their updated models.

Sure, you can save a mountain of cash if you build your own off of Newegg (hell, I do), but when you talk about Joe Sixpack and buying a quality brand, things start getting extremely close, price-wise.

Re:Not selling to Apple Drones. (1)

hsmith (818216) | about 2 years ago | (#41608823)

Please, lets not bring reality into a good old fashioned corporate bashing debate!

Re:Not selling to Apple Drones. (1)

nwf (25607) | about 2 years ago | (#41608881)

Many PC users will not tolerate the astronomical prices of Apple hardware.

Well they have been tolerating the astronomical prices of Microsoft's mediocre software for many years. The rumored prices for the new Surface tablets seem to indicate Apple's produces will cost less.

good (-1, Offtopic)

fwtgwetyer (2749053) | about 2 years ago | (#41608123)

Well,it's very good.I quite agree with your point of view.http://www.bestwatches4uk.com

The good side (5, Interesting)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 2 years ago | (#41608133)

Microsoft's mice and keyboards have always been really good - or a better way to put that would be - the old ones I bought years ago are really good. Still using them! I don't know about modern ones. My point? I like their peripherals so there is a chance the tech they make will be good. Software ... another matter.

good (-1, Offtopic)

fwtgwetyer (2749053) | about 2 years ago | (#41608141)

Well,it's very good.I quite agree with your point of view. http://www.bestwatches4uk.com/ [bestwatches4uk.com]

Uh oh (1)

sycodon (149926) | about 2 years ago | (#41608145)

When a company starts/has to define "what it is", that means trouble is on the horizon.

That means people are starting to ask, "just exactly what is that you do?"

It means the company has started to turn to jello on the inside.

Re:Uh oh (3, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | about 2 years ago | (#41608207)

No, a well managed company does this when it starts, and does it continually throughout the life of the company. It often changes, too. That's all normal, good stuff.

Re:Uh oh (1)

sycodon (149926) | about 2 years ago | (#41608509)

I don't' know.

Could it be the case that the company has started doing things that the customers don't understand?

Like your favorite restaurant starting to change the menus and going from paying at the table to the register. So is it a mom and pop cafe or a chain or wanna be upscale? What?

I guess it's for the MBAs to discuss.

Re:Uh oh (1)

DogDude (805747) | about 2 years ago | (#41608759)

I guess it's for the MBAs to discuss.

Not necessarily MBA's, but maybe for people who know how to run a company properly. You comment is like saying, "Everybody knows that in programming, you should never, ever close a variable when you're done using it.".

Re:Uh oh (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#41608827)

No, a well managed company does this when it starts, and does it continually throughout the life of the company. It often changes, too. That's all normal, good stuff.

Yes and no.

If you're re-evaluating your vision and direction over time, keeping an eye on what's coming and how to best take advantage of that, then yeah - good stuff, and very necessary. If your changes are what's driving the market, even better.

If OTOH you're reacting to market changes and/or to your competition with 'me too!' or 'OMG I have to wrestle that back!' seismic company mission changes, then it ain't good stuff at all.

Microsoft seems more and more to be the latter, where they were once the former, yanno?

Read between the lines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41608147)

"Services" is a code word for "Windows 9 will require monthly payments."

After the anti-trust suit, they resume (4, Insightful)

concealment (2447304) | about 2 years ago | (#41608157)

Microsoft seemed to be heading in this direction, with Microsoft keyboards and mice on the shelves and rumors of a "Microsoft PC," when they were rudely interrupted by the anti-trust suit (which lore attributes to federal judges really detesting IE4).

Now they have resumed this path.

It might work for Apple; will it work for Microsoft? Possibly, especially if their model is licensing their OS and software as a precursor to hooking us up with smart homes and persistent, cloud-based data (or buzzwords of the day).

The signal here is that Microsoft may no longer see the OS as a huge moneymaker, as people shift away from PCs to tablets and the like, and they may also have doubts that people outside business will keep buying Office and other software. I'm skeptical on this; I don't think tablets will replace PCs or that people will stop buying software (usually for the support contracts).

One thing that history seems to make clear: the bigger a company is, the more likely it is that it will become unresponsive to market forces, and drop like Goliath with a head wound.

If you're going to copy Apple again, go all in (3, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | about 2 years ago | (#41608173)

Ok Microsoft, so you're Hardware and Services now, just like Apple. Now go and price your OS upgrades the same way Apple prices theirs. I can guarantee that you'll see much quicker uptake on new OSes if they're $20 and one purchase covers every device in your house.

Re:If you're going to copy Apple again, go all in (-1)

DogDude (805747) | about 2 years ago | (#41608313)

And when it's time for a new OS, you have to buy all new hardware... just like Apple. MS isn't that stupid. They're the biggest and the best because they're hardware neutral. They're not going to do the lock-in thing like Apple. The people running MS aren't that stupid.

Re:If you're going to copy Apple again, go all in (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41608587)

Are you stupid? Even the iPhone 3GS from 2009 runs iOS6. Macs sold in 2007 can run Mountain Lion. Who told you that you need to buy new hardware when Apple releases a new OS?

Re:If you're going to copy Apple again, go all in (1)

theskipper (461997) | about 2 years ago | (#41608687)

They're the biggest and the best, The people running MS aren't that stupid.

-1 Troll and +1 Funny

How exactly does this work, do the points cancel out meaning that your post never existed? Is it like a tree falling in the woods, the ghostbusters crossing beams, or alternate universes? Whatever it is, it seems dangerous.

Re:If you're going to copy Apple again, go all in (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#41608481)

Only if the OSes are backwards compatible.

Re:If you're going to copy Apple again, go all in (1)

UltraZelda64 (2309504) | about 2 years ago | (#41608695)

They already seem to be starting. Just look at their pricing and features for Microsoft Office as a service vs. under the traditional licenses. The traditional licenses are a joke like they've always been, and the pricing and functionality is much different. I would even say it's decent, actually. Too bad you have to pay for it like a service to get the benefits in features and price. That's something I'm not willing to do; when I pay for software, I expect the damn thing to just work and not have a self-destruct timer embedded. Having to pay monthly or annually kind of kills pricing advantage over a one-time payment, because you're then stuck in an endless cycle paying every month and every year just to be able to use the thing. Maybe tolerable for the short term, but not good for long-term savings.

Services and Devices Company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41608187)

SAD Company.

I suppose... (1, Funny)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 2 years ago | (#41608195)

A chair counts as a device. They should start making them. Then as an added service they can make them fly.

Ballmer's autobiography? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41608199)

Everything I needed to know to run Microsoft, I learned from Apple

Re:Ballmer's autobiography? (1)

nomadic (141991) | about 2 years ago | (#41608437)

So if they're going to run it like Apple they need to first start failing miserably for the next 15 years, then bring back their narcissistic founder (lucky they have one too)?

Re:Ballmer's autobiography? (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 2 years ago | (#41608489)

That would be interesting to watch. I hope this happens.

Devices (1)

The Evil Atheist (2484676) | about 2 years ago | (#41608201)

Devices! Devices! Devices!

Boy did Nokia bet on the wrong "partner" (1)

sasparillascott (1267058) | about 2 years ago | (#41608203)

Nokia, if I was you, I'd be making sure I had working Android ROM's for all those Lumia phones (and new faceplate designs) as it looks like the Surface Phone is turning out to be true....Microsoft doesn't have your back (when has MS ever been satisfied with just a little bit of a market).

Re:Boy did Nokia bet on the wrong "partner" (1)

sir-gold (949031) | about 2 years ago | (#41608577)

There have been articles recently about Apple possibly buying Nokia, both for the phone hardware and patents, and for the navteq mapping company that nokia owns.

http://www.tnl.net/blog/2012/10/06/why-apple-should-acquire-nokia/ [tnl.net]

Even if apple didn't buy Nokia outright, it would still make more sense for the next iphone to be made by someone other than their current ally/enemy Samsung, and apple could license the Navteq maps like the stand-alone GPS makers already do.

Nobody Panic (1, Troll)

scorp1us (235526) | about 2 years ago | (#41608249)

Every time Microsoft copies another company, they fail. The only notable exception is XBOX which they sustained losses for a while in order to develop market share.

Look at the rest of MS copycat products/services:
Hotmail (worst web email experience ever)
Zune (worst brand-name MP3 player ever)
Windows phone 0-7.5/7.8 Worst smart phone OS ever (No multitasking)
Silverlight (worst copy of Flash)
Virtual PC (worst VM, at least QEMU can host multiple architectures)
MS Windows (worst OS2 clone ever)

The problem is that me-too mentality just does;t translate into ground breaking products. They only get as far as "good enough".
Some things I left off the list are Word and Excel. However these happened early enough on that they were clones of DOS programs (WP and Lotus 123) that when they went graphical MS took "proper" ownership of them.

Re:Nobody Panic (2, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | about 2 years ago | (#41608339)

Nice troll! Did you write that from your parents' basement?

Re:Nobody Panic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41608441)

Don't worry about him, worry about your M$ Fleshlight chinese knock off you've been using.

Re:Nobody Panic (0)

scorp1us (235526) | about 2 years ago | (#41608493)

No, from your mom's bed.

Hah, trolling the troll.

Re:Nobody Panic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41608767)

Microsoft failed with the XBOX also, they have yet recover from their warranty costs (Red Ring of Death)

Re:Nobody Panic (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 2 years ago | (#41608825)

Every time Microsoft copies another company, they fail. The only notable exception is XBOX which they sustained losses for a while in order to develop market share.

Look at the rest of MS copycat products/services: Hotmail (worst web email experience ever) Zune (worst brand-name MP3 player ever) Windows phone 0-7.5/7.8 Worst smart phone OS ever (No multitasking) Silverlight (worst copy of Flash) Virtual PC (worst VM, at least QEMU can host multiple architectures) MS Windows (worst OS2 clone ever)

The problem is that me-too mentality just does;t translate into ground breaking products. They only get as far as "good enough". Some things I left off the list are Word and Excel. However these happened early enough on that they were clones of DOS programs (WP and Lotus 123) that when they went graphical MS took "proper" ownership of them.

I can't say I ever used Hotmail, but I sure knew/know a lot of people who have Hotmail accounts.

Never even looked at a Zune. Was it the hardware that sucked? Or the music service that went with it? I honestly don't know. But I agree, it was a pretty big failure.

My last phone was Windows Mobile 6.5. I thought it worked well. But I used it for email, surfing the web, watching video, etc. I added very few apps. I'd probably still be using it if the hardware hadn't starting having problems. I could have switched to WinMo 7, but from what I read they removed most of the customizability, so I passed. I have an Android phone now, and for teh most part I like it better. But there are still some features that I miss from my old phone. Obviously I'm in the minority on this though.

So are you saying that Windows as an OS is bad in general? Or that it's a failure as a OS2 clone? If it's the clone thing, then who gives a shit. What would be a better option for an OS2 clone? Why not just use OS2 if that's what you are looking for? I was pretty happy with Win 2K and only grudgingly upgraded to XP years later. XP is 2K with a bunch of window dressing and DRM, but it's not bad. I'm pretty happy with Win 7 as well. 95, ME, and Vista were atrocities. Regardless, I'd say they've done pretty well for themselves over the year with their OS, at least financially. That trend may be coming to an end though. We'll have to wait to see.

AFAIK, the Xbox is still in the red if you look at it's entire history.

It's official... (1)

milbournosphere (1273186) | about 2 years ago | (#41608269)

Microsoft has gone full Apple. I'm curious to see whether this will end up taking an Android like approach, with Microsoft producing 'flagship' devices for 3rd parties to aspire to, resulting in wide price ranges, or if they'll end up catering to and designing for their own (expensively priced) hardware only (ala Apple). The latter could be very bad for Microsoft's bottom line (all those licensing fees) in the immediate future; stockholders would have to prepare for quite the rollercoaster...

Re:It's official... (1)

DogDude (805747) | about 2 years ago | (#41608359)

WTF are you talking about? Did you even read the letter?

RIP Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41608275)

It wasn't nice knowing you.

But really, they could have easily optimized their company around both worlds. Instead, they are ditching a whole section of the market for casual users. (ironically, the most profitable side of the damn business)
Their new OSes are downright insulting to a power user, as is their new Office packages in recent times.
Ribbon? Sorry, I'm not blind and I am not using a tablet, I have fine vision and I am using a pixel-precise mouse.

This is hilariously stupid. They can't just copy the Apple idea, nobody (sane) likes Microsoft, nor will they even if they produce some shiny new gadgets.
Apple has some stupid levels of love for them because of a really good but late marketer.
They have no advantage in hardware or software, not any more. They lost that years ago when the core squeeze hit and major changes had to be done to x86 to go any further before multicore. IBM stagnated. Apple switched and lost that advantage.
The only thing they have going for them now is a legacy and image. That will absolutely no doubt fade with time.
And it already is now with all the pointless mass-lawsuits against others.

It, I know people say this a lot, but it might actually be close to The Days Of Desktop Linux.
I seriously hope Microsoft actually do piss off their other partners, I really do. If it pushes more people to Linux, all the better.
So long as RMS doesn't cry his ass off that non-free non-open software are used on Linux, things will get better, driver support will come with install-numbers, everyone will be happy.
Please be this future.

Why Don't OEMs Get Together and Invest In Linux? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41608285)

I often wonder why the likes of Dell, HP, Samsung, ASUS, Acer etc don't band together to produce and market a Linux distribution. This would allow them to increase their margins or lower their costs because the would no longer have to include Windows with each computer. It would also reduce the reliance on Microsoft, so their sales don't collapse whenever Microsoft releases an operating system like Vista or Windows 8.

The main reason Linux fails is because of a lack of driver and application support and a lack of advertising. If the major PC makers started pushing Linux that would solve both these problems.

They've let Microsoft push them around for long enough, and now that Microsoft what to start competing directly with them switching to an alternative operating system seems essential. If they continue to do nothing they'll find themselves increasingly marginalised.

Re:Why Don't OEMs Get Together and Invest In Linux (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 2 years ago | (#41608397)

I wish to god they'd get into bed with Canonical.

I'm using the beta version of Ubuntu 12.10 and it's insanely great (to borrow a phrase). It's easy to use, has great hardware support (which would only be better with OEM involvement), big name software vendors are supporting it (Valve with Steam for Linux, etc).

Re:Why Don't OEMs Get Together and Invest In Linux (1)

nomadic (141991) | about 2 years ago | (#41608483)

No need, eventually desktop android will be released and the manufacturers will be able to jump on that bandwagon.

Re:Why Don't OEMs Get Together and Invest In Linux (1)

ciggieposeur (715798) | about 2 years ago | (#41608565)

A-fuckin-men. Seriously an HP/Asus/Acer/Dell that shipped with a decent Linux distro - ANY distro - would be awesome. Get good 3D graphics drivers, wifi, sound, etc., pay Microsoft $0, maybe even allow some limited crapware if they needed those subsidies too. Invest more in Wine for Windows app support.

Alternatively, fund ReactOS to get to API parity with Server 2003 and sell direct to corporates.

At this point any hardware company that isn't looking at a non-Microsoft offering is just asking for a knife in the back.

Re:Why Don't OEMs Get Together and Invest In Linux (2)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 2 years ago | (#41608671)

I think the key is creating/using a brand that isn't "Linux."

"Linux" is great but isn't a great name for a commercial product.

As nomadic suggested, Android is already widely accepted by consumers (and developers) and has fantastic brand awareness. That may be the key route to ending the Microsoft monopoly with an open source replacement.

And it's still Linux on the desktop! :)

Microsoft is a great at apps development (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#41608293)

I'm not sure why they haven't focused more on that side of the business.

Re:Microsoft is a great at apps development (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#41608783)

Becuase the only apps that couint right now are cell phone apps, and Microsoft doesn't get cell phones. Even after the 7th iteration of their own phone product.

They want to be (like) apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41608319)

and so they're trying to lock down and keep the keys to hardware you thought you owned. They're doing it with windows 8 and they're managing it even though the hardware is sold through third parties (even if with redmond tax). That signed boot thing isn't about software security but about control. Control they're not going to give Joe R. User. Certainly not to you.

They've even started to redefine "malware" to include anything they don't like, such as key generators. Cleaner programs are hard to find: You might input some numbers, and out comes a licence key that some other program hopefully will accept as valid. This they don't like. I can get that. But it's not "malware". So they're redefining "malware" to include "anything we don't like". That's not good for Joe R. User. And it makes them look even more like manipulative idiots. Then again, they're marketeers. Not really a software company, never have been. It's always been about control ("every device in the world will run windows!") and that is the essence the GNU crowd go to war against.

This latest turd is but the public re-spin of what they're up to. Pay close attention, though. Before you know it, they've found something else to take control away from you with or from.

Just a year or two ago... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41608401)

wasn't Ballmer claiming tablets and smartphones were just a fad?

Not trillion dollar company (1)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#41608419)

I think MS is looking at companies like Google, whose market cap is the same as MS, and then Apple, whose market cap is over twice that of either, and asking why, as the granddaddy of the PC, is not approaching a the trillion dollar market cap. The answer, once again, is to copy Apple. I think this is a mistake. MS makes good products that run on generic machines, and there are many other firms who are willing to make slivers of profits to deliver those generic machines. If MS makes as good software as it says it does, them make software. Competing with those that already make almost no profit is likely not a good long term plan.

Here is why. MS can't make hardware. Sure they have a mouse and a keyboard, but who does not. They make a crap xBox 360 and their response to bad quality is just to replace all the bad machines. Hardware is not software where you can sell an release candidate to the public and fix it later. That is not how you make a profit and profit is what MS lacks.

The resellers are willing to put up with crap profit because MS is taking the risks and fronting the cash. But if MS becomes a competitor, and has the ability to undersell then what is the motive to continue to use MS products. Can you imagine what would happen if Dell, HP, Lenova all got together a funded a uniform XP like *nix desktop and a Wine like compatibility layer? XP is still widely used, and no one is going to be moving in hordes to Windows 8, In a year they could have machines that run MS software but not MS WIndows. What will happen to MS then? MS is counting that they resellers can't leave, and will have to deal with MS as a competitor, and in the short term I think they are correct. In the long term there are not going to be any big PC makes for MS machines, and most mobile is going to run Android.

Devices and Services? (1)

edibobb (113989) | about 2 years ago | (#41608451)

Maybe that explains why Microsoft upgrades are consistently more cumbersome, restrictive, and difficult to use. I think I liked them better as a software company.

RIM (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41608499)

Maybe they should get some advice from the former CEOs of RIM.

Companies always mimic the wrong parts of Apple (3, Insightful)

Andrio (2580551) | about 2 years ago | (#41608521)

MS (and others) always mimic the wrong parts of Apple. Apple products are successful for two reasons (in this order): (1) They provide social status and (2) they provide a good user experience.

People buy Apple products, initially, because of the marketing and the fact that owning such a device elevates their social status. When they're waiting in line at a grocery store, they like the feeling of holding that lovely, shiny device in their hands, knowing others are looking at it, evnious. You absolutely don't get that feeling with a dumbphone, or even most other smartphones. Pretty much the only the phone that will trigger that feeling is a probably Galaxy S3.

The user experience only comes after that fact. It's what keeps customers; that's its only real purpose, business wise. Without both the ability to attract customers, and keep them, Apple products (or any products) won't be very successful.

That's all that there really is to it to Apple's success. They make people want a product, and then they make them want to keep it. Things like "Apple makes their own hardware, so we will too!" or "Apple is a walled garden, so we will be one too!" never work if you don't concentrate on those two things. Everything else is, at most, just a means to an end.

Cheat Sheet (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41608545)

Microsoft is a monopolistic public utility that sells Windows and Office the way Consolidated Edison sells electricity. Everybody buys it, but nobody particularly likes it.

IBM is not a technology company; it's a multilevel sales organization.

Apple is not a hardware company; it's a software company that bundles its software with large, sleek, phone-shaped license-enforcement dongles.

Google is not an Internet services company; it's an advertising and market research company. So is Facebook.

HP is a printer ink company that's desperately trying to be something else. Anything else.

Oracle is not actually a company; it's actually a newly discovered type of supermassive singularity with a gravitational pull that only affects corporate accounts.

Maybe they should rename then. (1)

ledow (319597) | about 2 years ago | (#41608647)

Microhard.
Microserve. (that one would almost work phonetically too if you went for "Microserved").

Re:Maybe they should rename then. (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about 2 years ago | (#41608821)

Microhard sounds like a clone of Halfpenies to me.

Micohard hapPCness? (haptic PC-ness?)

I love my Microsoft keyboard (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | about 2 years ago | (#41608659)

I have a fairly cheap Microsoft Comfort Curve keyboard. The keys are gently bent in an arc, so you have some of the benefits of an ergo keyboard, but without the weird split, and it takes little adaptation to continue touch typing just like any other qwerty keyboard. It's cheap, although not that durable, and it is a joy to type on.

If that's the direction Microsoft wants to take their products, I'm not sure that's a bad thing.

MS Mouse (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 2 years ago | (#41608707)

The only excellent product MS ever made is the Microsoft Mouse. I have used many different rodents, but my MS Mouse is perfect and it works beautifully on my Fedora Linux laptop computer.

Microsoft is a buggy whip company (1)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about 2 years ago | (#41608809)

So long, it's been fun. Hope Google and Facebook aren't too far behind you.

More detail (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#41608835)

Its been reported that Ballmer is now reporting this descision to the shareholders after a late night with the remaining frat boys and microsoft insiders playing a charades-like game where they tossed out key technology words and whatever sounded good stuck. "We're a technology company." "No, too general, we're a services company!" "Cloud! We're now into the cloud!!" "B2B, we're a B2B company!!!!" and so on...
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