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Bungled Mobile Bet Will Be Ballmer's Swan Song

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the tablets-tablets-tablets dept.

Microsoft 300

snydeq writes "'If Windows 8 and the Surface tablet flop, you'll see a shareholder revolt that will send Steve Ballmer packing by this time next year,' writes InfoWorld's Bill Snyder. 'First it was the netbook, then it was the Ultrabook. Microsoft, Intel, and the PC makers keep looking for a way to convince buyers they don't need an iPad or Android tablet. Neither initiative gained much traction, so Microsoft bet big on Windows 8 and the Surface. ... Maybe we're wrong, and buyers will decide that the new OS and the Microsoft's first serious venture into hardware are what they want. It would be a huge boost for the industry if it happens, but I'm not optimistic. ... There's been a string of bad quarters, and the stock has been frozen for nine years. At some point — I think we're getting really close — investors are going to demand a shakeup. When they do, it's going to be good-bye, Ballmer."

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I like my netbook. (5, Interesting)

pecosdave (536896) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933353)

It came with Windows 7 Starter though I've never actually used it. I upgraded the 1GB factory RAM to 2 GB. It runs Kubuntu like a dream, I replaced the factory HDD with an SSD and I have it booting Chromium from power button to login prompt in 26 seconds.

Why I really like it?

It fits in a small backpack. It's no problem carrying it when I bike, unlike a larger laptop, it's got awesome battery life and I've had two major bike crashes where I got pretty descent injuries (chainline failures at bad times, both of them) with the thing in my backpack and it's still working perfectly today. Best initial $250 I ever spent on a computer and the upgrades I put in were totally worth it.

I don't use it for much more than web browsing, it's not a work horse, but it does web browsing like a champ, and I have done some very minor Gimp edits and some other things on it too.

Re:I like my netbook. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933417)

Ditto. Netbooks are great if you delete Windows and install a real OS. I'm wondering what I'm going to replace mine with when it dies, if the rush to tablets continues.

Re:I like my netbook. (3, Insightful)

pecosdave (536896) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933557)

I would love to have an Ultrabook also, so I could do serious work on the road. Probably wouldn't use it much since I use surf on the netbook and do my serious work on my desktop, but an Ultrabook has it's place for certain work.

Still - removing Windows would be my first task.

Re:I like my netbook. (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933599)

I have an ultrabook as well, and I have a feeling my next machine will be as well. Tablets are only 'okay' for browsing, laptops are a bit big. An ultrabook is just the right balance of everything. If people start making them with higher resolution displays, I'll be even happier.

Re:I like my netbook. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934281)

http://www.dell.com/us/soho/p/xps-12-l221x/pd [dell.com]

XPS 12 ultrabook has 1920 by 1080 on a 12 inch screen. Screen is also touch and flips for use as a tablet. I was actually looking at it before moving on to something else.

Re:I like my netbook. (1, Interesting)

Patch86 (1465427) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933787)

Agreed. I'm on my second since the form factor really took off, and I'll happily replace it with #3 when this one reaches the end of its life.

And ditto with Linux (my current one is running vanilla Ubuntu- Unity is pretty decent for the form factor. Although considering its heritage as Ubuntu Netbook Remix, that's not a huge surprise).

Tablets just aren't laptops, however hard you squint at them. And big "proper laptops" (desktop replacements, like the one I use for work) just aren't portable enough. For a good, portable, proper laptop, the form factor is exactly what I want.

Re:I like my netbook. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933921)

Hm... That's a pretty interesting article about Linus and Stallman making for a push for a laptop superior to the Lemote that's open in its BIOS and OS from end to end.

Anyway, now to my actual post: I bought a new netbook that came with something called "Kubuntu." I uninstalled it right away (even though I didn't use it) and installed a brand new copy of Windows 8 on it so I could get real work done like websurfing and using Photoshop. My netbook has been in a couple of scrapes but it still performs like a champ.

I hope to someday buy a higher horsepowered laptop (and uninstalling Kubuntu right away to install Windows 8) so I can get more of my desktop-type work done. Did I mention my desktop runs Windows 8 as well?

Re:I like my netbook. (1)

fl!ptop (902193) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934089)

Best initial $250 I ever spent on a computer and the upgrades I put in were totally worth it.

This. For the price, you can't beat 'em. I've had my EeePC for 3 years now and have been picking them up for friends and customers on ebay for up to $200 (new, unused, 1 year old, etc.). My favorites to bid on are the people who get them for free at a convention or whatever but never use it and it just sits in the closet until they realize, "Oh yeah, I can probably sell that."

I can do everything on my EeePC that I can do on my desktop at home and work, running Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. Everything works, webcam, mic, wireless. And I too have beat the crap out of it through rough handling and carelessness and it's still purring along.

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Shareholder Scorned (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933363)

Well, I'm in an odd predicament here ... on the one hand I'd love to see Steve Ballmer leave Microsoft but on the other who would be left for me to write satirical posts about on Slashdot?

The other thing is that I sort of sympathize with Ballmer. Sure, Windows 8 and Surface have flaws. Even when Microsoft does something right like the Kinect, we're upset that those open drivers aren't released on day one. And being a lowly software developer with zero stock in Microsoft (okay, I don't really track my 401k funds down to the stock), I sort of have to ask shareholders a big question: If you want to oust Ballmer over Windows 8 and Surface tablet, why didn't you simply sell all your shares and even short the stock when they debuted? I mean, hindsight is 20/20 and shareholders get to play this game where they read the SEC reports on these things, then they get to sit there watching and then if these products fail they basically go on a litigation witch hunt on whoever made these decisions. But if Windows 8 and the Surface tablet are huge hits? Well, you'll never hear a peep from those shareholders. They likely either quietly cash out or demand more growth (thus delaying pending litigation).

I can understand shareholders suing over actual gross negligence or actual shady accounting and misreporting to the SEC. But it should be the SEC who decides which company to sue over that. Look, if you've got shares in Microsoft and it's painfully obvious that Windows 8 and the Surface Tablet are gonna flop then what in the hell are you doing holding onto those shares? Microsoft should decide internally if it's Ballmer's time to go, not some shareholder with their eye on the prize and little knowledge of technology. I don't like to defend Ballmer and he very well may have conceived these things himself and pushed them through development and production -- but wouldn't the people on the inside [microsoft.com] know that it's time for him to step down after that?

I'm pretty sure what happened here was Ballmer said, "What's the best thing we got? Okay, we're going with that." If it was Steve Jobs style micromanaging that forced these products through and the board of directors has no clout against Ballmer then the shareholders might have a place here. I just don't see that right now.

Also I feel like there's a lot of potential explanations for this guy's complaints:

But the really telling number was in the Windows Division, with revenue of $3.24 billion, down a frightening 33 percent from the same period last year.

So Microsoft releases the first stable version of Windows 7 on February 22 of 2011 and a year later you're calling a 1/3 drop in Windows sales "frightening"? Perhaps they were just coming down from everyone's move to Windows 7? I mean you (hopefully) only need to buy that once for your machine.

This author claims to be "putting his neck on the line" with this prediction but all I see are a lot of questions that want you to believe what he's saying will happen without him ever actually saying that Microsoft's mobile will flop and Steve Ballmer will then be ousted. To back that up he goes on with further questions surrounding earnings reports. God I've wasted too much time on this post already considering how insipid the original article is.

Re:Hell Hath No Fury Like a Shareholder Scorned (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933505)

No one is going to get sued; a poorly performing CEO will be fired.

Re:Hell Hath No Fury Like a Shareholder Scorned (5, Insightful)

JMJimmy (2036122) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933555)

So Microsoft releases the first stable version of Windows 7 on February 22 of 2011 and a year later you're calling a 1/3 drop in Windows sales "frightening"? Perhaps they were just coming down from everyone's move to Windows 7? I mean you (hopefully) only need to buy that once for your machine.

When revenue in just about all divisions drop to near 2006 levels, you've got a problem.

http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-microsoft-income-by-segment-2012-10 [businessinsider.com]

Re:Hell Hath No Fury Like a Shareholder Scorned (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933739)

When revenue in just about all divisions drop to near 2006 levels, you've got a problem.

http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-microsoft-income-by-segment-2012-10 [businessinsider.com]

That would be the Pre-Post-PC era.

Serious Cherry Picking of Dates There Jimmy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933753)

So Microsoft releases the first stable version of Windows 7 on February 22 of 2011 and a year later you're calling a 1/3 drop in Windows sales "frightening"? Perhaps they were just coming down from everyone's move to Windows 7? I mean you (hopefully) only need to buy that once for your machine.

When revenue in just about all divisions drop to near 2006 levels, you've got a problem.

http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-microsoft-income-by-segment-2012-10 [businessinsider.com]

Uh, we're also at the same levels were were in March of 2010 and March of 2011. Mind explaining why he wasn't ousted then? Or why you skipped those dates and went all the way back to 2006 before the recession? Yeah, everyone was riding high before the recession ... we know ...

Bad Performance? (5, Insightful)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934387)

Where's the bad performance? Anyone looked at the stock market? The tech sector OVERALL is at -22% since 2003 (9 years ago). MS is BEATING THE INDUSTRY, lol. Sure, APPLE is way up, but if you discount that one stock MS is actually pretty much the best performer around. I mean I'm sure you can find smaller plays that are of course MUCH MUCH better, or Apple, but I hardly think that the shareholders at MS have any big reason to complain currently. They MAY feel uneasy about the strategic direction of the company, but the notion that stock performance is going to get Balmer tossed is probably not even close to realistic. Truthfully stock holders don't generally think a lot about strategic considerations either, sadly. If they did a LOT of CEOs would be out of jobs...

Add Windows 8 phone (1)

StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933399)

Another gamble ups the anti.

Re:Add Windows 8 phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933429)

Anti? Anti? Really? At least learn to spell in English.

Re:Add Windows 8 phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933967)

Maybe he's just anti-ante.

Pun parse fail (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933473)

"Ante" means before; "anti" means against. To "up the ante" is to raise the stakes in poker. I take it you were trying to make a pun on "anti", but I'm having trouble piecing it together.

Re:Pun parse fail (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933637)

And "auntie" is his mother's sister.

Re:Pun parse fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933841)

Yes, because his father's sister isn't his auntie.

Re:Pun parse fail (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934097)

I bet you're fun at parties...

Re:Pun parse fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934237)

Probably not as much as someone who spouts tired quips such as "I bet you're fun at parties" to cover for his own idiocy. I'm a little bit too old to attend your frat-boy parties, bro.

Re:Pun parse fail (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933889)

and an ant, he carried a leaf all the way home

Re:Add Windows 8 phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933487)

You mean "ante"; "anti" means "against".

Re:Add Windows 8 phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934215)

Maybe he did mean "anti"? As in, "Steve Ballmer will really up against it"? No, maybe not...

Tablets were a response to netbooks (3, Insightful)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933409)

not the other way around.

Re:Tablets were a response to netbooks (3, Interesting)

duplicitious (987818) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933527)

True, but Apple is winning, so they get to rewrite history...

Exactly. (1)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933977)

You win a prize. One week of free access to Google. And Slashdot. Don't bother to thank me.

Re:Tablets were a response to netbooks (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933601)

Er? Tablets existed long before netbooks. Since Bill Gates himself was saying that they were the future in 2001 or so. However, Microsoft had poor execution of the concept. For MS, a tablet was a foldable Windows laptop with a touchscreen thrown in as an afterthought. MS never really embraced touch in the OS. They just replaced a mouse for a stylus and called it done. So the MS tablet was more expensive and more cumbersome and did not do more than a laptop did. It was no wonder it was a flop.

Re:Tablets were a response to netbooks (4, Insightful)

shmlco (594907) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933805)

" So the MS tablet was more expensive and more cumbersome and did not do more than a laptop did. It was no wonder it was a flop."

The tablet failed under MS because they saw it as just another platform for "Windows Everywhere". Because it ran Windows and Windows applications it needed an expensive Intel processor, RAM, storage, fans, and so on. Add it all up, and MS's "vision" of a table was a big, heavy, clunky device with 3 hours of battery life.

Tablet-pc's were not the same as modern tablets (1)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933943)

They were laptops with some touch-screen capability. Completely different beast.

Re:Tablets were a response to netbooks (1)

david.emery (127135) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933707)

Actually, not true. Apple started work on tablets long before there were Netbooks (and before the iPhone.) The MacBook Air is Apple's response to Netbooks.

However, there is certainly a bit of serendipity (at least) about the timing of the iPad introduction with respect to the push by PC hardware makers for NetBooks. What both NetBooks and tablets revealed is substantial consumer discontent with conventional (mostly Windows) laptops for many uses.

On another topic I cited the 'horns effect' - the opposite of the 'halo effect,' saying that Microsoft runs risks with Windows 8 tablets. If Win 8 Tablets (particularly the ARM version that will not run conventional Windows applications) don't meet consumer expectations, the cost to move to another tablet (iPad or Android) is pretty low. And that ill-will could well spread to other Microsoft products, particularly laptops but also phones.

Wrong. Jobs' speech introducing the iPad (3, Informative)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933901)

specifically said that the iPad was introduced to fill a void between the smart phone and the laptop, and that the iPad was created because "the problem is, netbooks aren't better than anything": http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OBhYxj2SvRI# [youtube.com] !

Re:Wrong. Jobs' speech introducing the iPad (1)

david.emery (127135) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934077)

Depends on when you want to start the clock: Product Development or Product Introduction? I see your point from a introduction/marketing perspective, but I also suspect that Apple would have introduced the iPad when it did (because it was ready) even without the "threat" from Netbooks.

You are right about that (3, Interesting)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934187)

However, when I read TFA, Snyder is trying to argue that Netbooks and Ultra Books are MS's and Intel's response to iPads and Android tablets. His premise is clearly absurd, as netbooks were selling by the millions before the first iPad was ever manufactured, and Ultra Books are a response to Macbook Air - not to tablets. MS might end up screwing up big-time with Surface, but it won't have anything to do with Snyder's curious re-working of the history of the netbook.

Good riddance (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933421)

when he eventually goes, it will be the best thing ever to happen to the computer industry.

Re:Good riddance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934317)

You sure about that? I think the best thing to ever happen to the computer industry is when Steve Jobs kicked the bucket. Or perhaps when Larry Ellison dies.

Why the F... don't the bring back the courier? (2)

bernywork (57298) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933467)

They could have sold a few million of those things, everyone was raving about it, and then they killed it stone dead. Even though it had a MS badge on it, I was willing to give it a go.

I have a feeling that Steve Balmer is out of touch, or maybe I am, I don't know.

Re:Why the F... don't the bring back the courier? (1, Offtopic)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933633)

Bill Gates killed the Courier because it had no email ?! "Gates' response by explaining that Microsoft makes billions from Exchange, and so a product with no e-mail is a problem - a machine that doesn't do e-mail isn't going to help shift Exchange licenses."

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2011/11/killing-courier-the-right-decision-maybe-not-the-right-reasons/ [arstechnica.com]
http://news.cnet.com/8301-10805_3-20128013-75/the-inside-story-of-how-microsoft-killed-its-courier-tablet/ [cnet.com]

Microsoft has no vision - they are just another "me too" company and most people don't care. Apple is _perceived_ as being "first", "better", "easier". Mass market sex appeal is what Apple's marketing dept. has learned in spades; Microsoft still struggles to understand this simple concept.

Re:Why the F... don't the bring back the courier? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934019)

Apple *WAS* perceived as being first/better/easier. Welcome to 2013 where Apple takes a nose-dive.

Patent battles, Siri, Google Maps, "Me Too" iPhone 5, "Me Too" 7 inch tablet, etc.

How many Mini's did they sell? Exactly. No one knows. If it was another run-away launch, we'd have exact numbers.

Netbooks (5, Insightful)

romanval (556418) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933477)

Netbooks were started by ASUS and their peers as an 'appliance' laptop- They were Linux based and only cost a few hundred bucks. Microsoft didn't try to get into it until it was posing as a threat to Windows!

Discontinued (2)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933625)

And several companies have since discontinued production of netbooks. So now what's recommended for people who want to run PC applications that aren't very demanding of CPU speed on a device that fits in a messenger bag? Or are there so few people in that situation that they're an edge case not worth serving?

Re:Discontinued (3, Interesting)

jader3rd (2222716) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933905)

So now what's recommended for people who want to run PC applications that aren't very demanding of CPU speed on a device that fits in a messenger bag? Or are there so few people in that situation that they're an edge case not worth serving?

Every time I saw a netbook it was when someone handed it to me, asking me to make it faster. I told them it was a netbook and that it wasn't built to be fast, and that there was little I could do. I then asked them why they got it and they said that they wanted a cheap laptop. So you have a generation of consumers who bought a netbook, realized that they didn't have patience for it, and now will make sure they will get a laptop that they don't need to be patient with.

Re:Discontinued (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934091)

Any company with a stake in the success of app stores is trying very hard to convince the world of the latter. My philosophy is "to hell with them". I'd sooner use a full-size laptop than some crippled touchscreen keyboard-less ARM-encumbered proprietary can't-run-arbitrary-programs piece of junk like an ipad or surface.

Re:Discontinued (2)

romanval (556418) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934357)

Well, Google is rebooting the 'laptop appliance' concept with the ChromeBook (a $250 ARM cpu'd laptop). It'll work well for people who's entire computing world can fit within a web browser.

Re:Netbooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933639)

Yes. Microsoft decide to kill it by publicly proclaiming that Windows XP will not have long term support, and urging users to upgrade to Windows Vista or 7. Windows XP being the most used OS on netbook.

Wrong. (4, Informative)

Qbertino (265505) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934205)

ASUS and their peers copied the idea about 10 years after the first netbook and started a new boom of cheap latop-like mobile computers.

Netbooks were started by ASUS and their peers as an 'appliance' laptop- They were Linux based and only cost a few hundred bucks. Microsoft didn't try to get into it until it was posing as a threat to Windows!

Let me fix that for you:

Netbooks were started by PSION as an 'appliance' laptop- They were EPOC based and only cost a few hundred bucks AND had 40 hrs of battery uptime. Microsoft did get into it with the last Edition WindowsCE, because PSION thought it would be a great Idea to get in bed with MS. PSION standing in the mobile market folded shortly thereafter, just as Nokia is folding now.

A shame actually, the original Netbook [wikipedia.org] was a very good machine with some features we can only dream about even today, 13 years later (like a really awesome keyboard despite the really small size)

EPOC went on to become the awesome Symbian Mobile OS which Nokia dropped after getting in bed with MS. ... What a coincidence.

Who decided it was a flop already? (2)

NuAngel (732572) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933479)

4 million Windows 8 "upgrades" in just the first weekend - doesn't count any of the OEM or retail sales, just the online upgrade portal.

I don't think Windows 8 is the big flop anti-Microsoft folks are hoping it will be. It's different. But so was Windows 95 when the Start Menu was introduced. My Surface RT and I will be here if you need us.

Re:Who decided it was a flop already? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933541)

TFA didn't decide that it was a flop already, so what are you talking about?

Re:Who decided it was a flop already? (4, Informative)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933747)

4 million Windows 8 "upgrades" in just the first weekend - doesn't count any of the OEM or retail sales, just the online upgrade portal.

Is that a lot!? ...seems like a tiny number to me considering the Desktop maketplace is 1.6Billion last time I looked. Android activates 1.3million users daily, and that's a phone OS. I don't see large queues of people like I do for say the iPhone...or like there used to be for say Windows95.

Lets be honest 4million isn't all that many.

Re:Who decided it was a flop already? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934299)

Why the hell would you line up for something that you can order and get online? That's what I never understood. Even with in-store pickup, it should be stupidly fast.

Also, isn't 4 million roughly the same amount of people preordering said phone?

Re:Who decided it was a flop already? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934395)

Windows 8 presales were greater than $800,000,000. Add in another $300,000,000 in presales for just upgrade versions and then four million more copies sold in the first three days of release.

Is this really a market leader? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933537)

Being a Linux/BSD guy, I gave Windows a try. Recently installed Windows 2012 Server.

It can't even show the nice folder view with picture previews. Just look at kde, this works out of the box.
No meaningful shell.
No easy out of the box way to compile software. Need to install DevStudio monstrosity or cygwin, linux environment.
Friends keep complaining that Windows keeps freezing while copying large files over the network.

Ubuntu IMO is way more usable as it is today. But of course Windows is well entrenched with generations seeing nothing but Windows, ever.

Given all these issues with Windows and how Android/iPhone are dominant on mobile market, I would say "No way, Jose!". Possible, but completely improbable.

Re:Is this really a market leader? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933685)

I recently built a Windows PC because I knew I'd have to do it eventually for gaming and I didn't want to be stuck with Windows 8 when I did. Windows 7 is actually a fairly decent operating system, though I wouldn't want to use it every day.

Re:Is this really a market leader? (4, Insightful)

ACalcutt (937737) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933779)

In server 2012 the picture preview is available, its just not installed by default. I am pretty sure its part of the 'desktop experience' feature. My question is, why would you even want that on a server?

Re:Is this really a market leader? (5, Interesting)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933919)

understand that you're coming from a position of ignorance and frankly, it shows!

Windows may not be as good as the alternatives in many respects, but its not totally useless. It has a very capable shell - Powershell, you can install all manner of IDEs without the monstrosity that is visual studio (yeah, it has bloated a lot), but there's code:blocks, eclipse, qt's suite, intel's compiler even. It can display folders with preview pictures - in many different styles, like Large icons, medium or small icons, or tiles etc.

So... if you're going to give it a go, you have to give it a proper chance. Your post is like a Windows user installing Linux and complaining there's no way to map network drive letters.

I'm not so sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933545)

As we all heard on a near-daily basis during the recent Presidential election, "you can't beat somebody with nobody". There just isn't a lot of senior executive talent out there who would give board members the confidence that they could run Microsoft. It would have to be a CEO, not a techie, but that CEO would have to have deep understanding and appreciation (!) of several very different technical markets, and of Microsoft's offerings in these areas. Just getting a senior manager from Oracle or Google probably wouldn't make a lot of sense. I think it would be probably an SVP within Microsoft (but can they run the whole ship?), or perhaps an ex-Softie like Paul Maritz.

I am convinced (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933575)

I don't need any sort of tablet or pad, thank you very much. While everyone with low-mileage brains sits around playing 'Angry Birds In The Fourth Dimension' or whatever game is popular now, I am writing books.

But as far as Windows vs OSX vs Linux vs Unix vs iOS vs ?, I have no interest in that. Just so long as it has a text editor I am fine.

Re:I am convinced (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934105)

I love how you say you're writing books as if you're somehow doing something inherently compelling and useful to society, while for all we know you could be crafting 10,000 page tomes dedicated to the secret relationship Riker and Picard have during away missions or, even worse, writing a 3-novel "cycle" about Newton, Leibniz and royal society of the 1600s.

Too late... (5, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933617)

Mr. Ballmer should have been sent packing after the Vista debacle. He should have been sent packing after the iPod/iPhone/iPad cleaned Microsoft's clock in the mobile world while Microsoft just sat on its collective monopoly-enhanced fat ass.

.
At this point, I doubt if Microsoft's Board of Directors (who are chartered with looking out for shareholder interests) are any less to blame than Mr. Ballmer.

Maybe the shareholders should demand significant fresh blood in Microsoft's Board of Directors, since the BoD has allowed to continue, even fostered, the Ballmer problem far longer than they should have.

Re:Too late... (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933725)

MS has been too slow to react. J. Allard reviewed MS' answer to the iPod in 2003 and he concluded it was a terrible product. 3 years later the Zune came out but it was so far behind and the market was shifting to smart phones and not MP3 players as the next hot thing.

Gamble? (2, Interesting)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933641)

The risk if they fail isn't actually that high. A lot of companies and institutions have just finished/started phasing out XP for 7. So I don't think MS planned to sell a lot of licenses to those. The real clever thing is the fusion of laptop and notebook that is yet to come(Windows RT will propably be a distant third; people are propably already locked in Google Play and iTunes) and that is a smart move.

The next gen laptop will resemle the Transformer line of Asus. iPad 3 owners look up whenever I unpack my Prime. Imagining this with a 13" screen and an I7 actually makes me happy in the pants.

I wonder how long those go on one charge. The Prime lasts for a day(if you include a humon sleep cycle and the keyboard/battery thing).

Funfact: hoking up a tablet to an LCD projector and controlling the presentation with a PS3 DualShock controller does turn a couple of heads. Especially when "accidently" activating Sonic in the down-time. Everybody likes Sonic.

I think an OS that is also controllable on a touch screen is a smart move. But I won't use that particular feature on my desktop. My arms aren't that long and watching Star Trek does require very little interaction. And there always are the perils of Cat Interference.

Re:Gamble? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934273)

I personally have a cheapo laptop with good external USB keyboard as I have to type a lot. What I would need is some type of "slate" which is mostly sitting on my desk (most of the "mobiles" are desktops anyway) just to reduce the Z-axis (distance to screen). It is unbelievable how the keyboard quality has decreased in 10 years.

maybe they'll "pull a Jobs?" (3, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933655)

out with the Ballmer, in with the "interim CEO" bill gates? would be interesting to see what he does with the company now that he's become more of a philanthropist. Worked for Apple, and we know how MS loves to ... innovate.

Re:maybe they'll "pull a Jobs?" (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933855)

Gates doesn't want any part of that I'd imagine. He seems to have embraced philanthropy pretty strongly, and he's be walking into a possibly unwinnable war.

Re:maybe they'll "pull a Jobs?" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934331)

I don't know; all through Gates' biography are bits and pieces hinting (with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the face) that he also loves a challenge, even seemingly insurmountable ones.

I do find myself laughing at the idea of MS doing a 'Coke 2' switch, even if it isn't planned. Gates...one of the most hated men in technology at the time...steps out for a few years, lets Ballmer screw it up to the point where him coming back is met with angelic choruses and doves and bottomless praise.

Surface = Zune XL (1, Interesting)

KrazyDave (2559307) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933667)

Interesting product, but like the Zune it will not connect with enough consumers, corporate or otherwise. That, plus W8 is awful. MS should have spent resources making 7 viable instead of scrapping everything for the "tiles." Ugh.

Re:Surface = Zune XL (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933893)

MS should have spent resources making 7 viable

That's what W8 is. Tablets require a better development stack to abstract out different hardwares, a touch-friendly interface (you're much-hated tiles), and stripped down internals. Isn't that basically what W8 is?

Re:Surface = Zune XL (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934167)

I'm much hated tiles...?

Re:Surface = Zune XL (1)

Barlo_Mung_42 (411228) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934145)

Zune was nice hardware and a great service that was just too late to the market. Surface is great hardware that works really well with Win8. It's not yet too late as tablets will be around for quite a while. So the analogy to Zune just doesn't work.

Apple failing in Mobile, Google not mentioned. (2, Insightful)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933683)

I sure there are a whole host of reasons why Ballmer should go, but they are not covered in this irrelevant Apple vs Microsoft pissing contest. Here is the thing Google is winning mobile, yet is mentioned nowhere in the article. Apple are losing there grip on mobile as we speak...the numbers quoted in the article sound impressive, but there market share is shrinking 23.1% to 14.9% for smartphones...and the iPad only occupies 50.4% of the tablet market. Its in trouble, and in context of this article its share price is dropping because of its poor results, ironically the same results quoted in the article. Microsoft do need a compelling mobile offering, but nothing in the article says anything about what is happening in the current Mobile market place.

Re:Apple failing in Mobile, Google not mentioned. (0, Flamebait)

shmlco (594907) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933957)

Umm... did you see that Apple's stock price is back up after their announcement with China Telecom?

Incidentally, "Google" isn't winning there. Half of the "Android" tablets are Kindles, where Amazon has forked Android, slapped on a new interface, and stripped it of all of Google's apps and Play access. And get back to me after Christmas regarding tablet sales. Speaking of which...

"Asked if they'd rather receive a PC or a tablet as a holiday gift, 59% of respondents in a PriceGrabber survey opted for the tablet, the price comparison shopping site said."

"When asked which tablet or tablets they wanted, 63% of respondents said they want an iPad 3 or an iPad 4, while 24% said they're hoping for an iPad mini. However, it's not all about Apple. Twenty-two percent of those surveyed said they would like a Samsung Galaxy Note Tab while 20% said they are hoping for an Amazon Kindle Fire HD, according to PriceGrabber."

Re:Apple failing in Mobile, Google not mentioned. (2)

multi io (640409) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934171)

Umm... did you see that Apple's stock price is back up after their announcement with China Telecom?

Incidentally, "Google" isn't winning there. Half of the "Android" tablets are Kindles, where Amazon has forked Android, slapped on a new interface, and stripped it of all of Google's apps and Play access.

Well, they can run the same Android apps, which makes the platform as a whole more attractive to developers. So the Kindle Fire's success isn't all bad news for Google.

Re:Apple failing in Mobile, Google not mentioned. (1)

kenorland (2691677) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934213)

Umm... did you see that Apple's stock price is back up after their announcement with China Telecom?

Well, and next you're going to tell us that high real estate prices mean that homes are a great value. I think we saw how well that worked out.

Re:Apple failing in Mobile, Google not mentioned. (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934233)

Umm... did you see that Apple's stock price is back up after their announcement with China Telecom?

No I have seen Apples market share drop from a high of 700 to 550 in less than two months. Ironically in the context of this Article Apple have been forced out of China smartphone top 5 Yulong.

Think about it Yulong.

Re:Apple failing in Mobile, Google not mentioned. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933987)

Why does anyone think 1 company can supply a whole market with devices?? It's a physically impossible task!
Apple market share in any market will always be lower because they make actual machines not software. Sony never had 90% of the television market, FORD never 90% of the car market. Monopolies are unnatural! Yet google and MS run around like this is the most natural position for a company.

It's all skewered. People think apple is the "one off" company but in reality it's Microsoft and Google. They have unnatural monopolistic control of their industries and people go in like this is normal. It's healthy for 1 company to have 10% of the market Nd not 70% ! Monopolistic control is bad for consumers, bad for innovation and ultimately kills companies who grow fat off the
Profits and never optimise and prepare for the future.

The world really is back to front nowadays.. Nuts

Which mobile bungle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933727)

Do you mean the Kin? The product that was launched with a huge advertising push and was killed weeks later? If I were to define "bungle" that would be up there.
Of course the Kin was killed to make way for winphone7.. Which has only managed to crack a few percent in the market. Sure sounds like a bungle to me!

Why don't we count windows mobile too? At one point it was the number one smartphone platform! Pretty much the only game in town. I had an HTC wizard and I loved it (rebanded cingular one actually). Microsoft let that platform stagnate and die. The original iphone replaced my wizard.

So here we are on the cusp of winphone8/winrt/surface. I don't have a whole lot of optimism.

So Many Mis-Steps (1, Interesting)

NormHome (99305) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933731)

The fact is Ballmer is a sales guy, plain and simple and there have so many things that Microsoft has done wrong it's hard to list them all and I have to wonder if he's just the wrong person to be running things.

For example, starting with Office 2007 came the dreaded "tool ribbon" which to this day 9 out of 10 end users hate with a passion. For example one of my neighbors is a well regarded author with at least six books that have gotten some kind of award and she is fairly active in the community of authors; she's still using office 2003 and will not switch to a newer version because she just can't tolerate the tool ribbon and she says most authors whom she knows feel the same way. Remember back in the day, when Quattro Pro had selectable user interface and all those Lotus 1-2-3 users could switch without any effort? How about something like that (for Office and Windows) rather than MS jamming their idea of what the UI should be down the end users throats!

Another glaring example, starting with Window's Vista we the technician's lost the ability to do a repair of the operating system. In many cases where something went seriously wrong with XP (virus damage etc) you could almost count on a repair install to get the system working again but not with Vista or Windows 7 where the only choice you have is to backup your data and do a complete re-installation; what a waste of time.

And I've heard (maybe this is just a rumor) that the next version of Windows server is not going to have a GUI interface and will be completely command line driven; what sysadmin wants to sit there typing command after command into a Dos prompt.

These are just the things that came to mind, if I actually sat here for a while I'm sure I could think of a bunch more.

- Norm

Re:So Many Mis-Steps (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934177)

For example one of my neighbors is a well regarded author ... she's still using office 2003 and will not switch to a newer version because she just can't tolerate the tool ribbon and she says most authors whom she knows feel the same way

this is my problem with Office and the whole Microsoft monoculture... not that she refuses to upgrade - frankly, progress happens, UIs change, whatever. No, my problem is that she's using Word at all as if there were no other word processors in existence.

For an author, I'd recommend Scrivener. Its a word processor type program but with a lot more features geared toward managing a very large document, whereas Word is really a pretty poor system for writing shitty business reports.

Re:So Many Mis-Steps (1)

preaction (1526109) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934253)

Everyone I have talked to who has been forced to use the ribbon has eventually concluded that it is indeed a better interface than the old toolbar/menu combo. The only ones I know who still complain about the ribbon are the ones who never gave it a real chance. Also, 9 out of 10 statistics are made up on the spot.

The repair install went away because it frequently broke programs. Every time I tried to do a repair install I just wasted my time when a full reinstall would have actually left me with a working system. This was just one more thing that pushed me away from Windows entirely.

What sysadmin wants to type commands? Every professional non-Windows sysadmin ever. I refused to admin windows systems because I couldn't script basic, repetitive tasks (which I hear PowerShell is working to fix, but why do I need Windows servers with expensive licenses when I have OpenBSD, FreeBSD, and Debian?).

Oh god, did I just feed the troll? If one eats troll food does one become a troll?

It comes from the anal in analyst (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933759)

What does Microsoft have to do with netbooks or ultrabooks? Netbooks were Intel's initiative to create a secondary computer for consumption only that would be too weak to run Windows (Vista at the time). The fact that almost all of them ended up running Windows was bonus for Microsoft, and Intel's loss. Tablets (iPad and Android) are intended for the same purpose. Ultrabooks are Intel's initiative to reduce their dependency on Apple for the high-end laptop market. Neither of these was started by Microsoft, although Microsoft has clearly benefitted from both. So I don't know where he's coming from with this.

He's on better ground with the claim that if Windows 8 and Surface fail Balmer will be in trouble. At least these are both clearly Microsoft's doing. But how could Window 8 fail? It's pretty much guaranteed at least Vista levels of success, which is to say a marketing failure but a sales success. And considering that most enterprises are currently moving to Windows 7 and Windows 8 won't be in their normal upgrade cycle a lack of enterprise sales won't be considered failure by itself. It's pretty much impossible for Balmer to get serious pain from a single release of Windows. Surface is easier to measure failure on. Microsoft has clearly invested lots of money in designing and producing it, so if there are very few sales there will be a substantial loss. Still, the sales projections aren't huge, so it seems likely that they will be met. Surface has limited distribution, likely due to limited production. If sales are really bad then production will slow down and distribution will increase, which would help to minimize losses. And I'm ignoring the fact that reviews for both have been generally positive. Outside of places like Slashdot the reception has been mixed, but more positive than negative. Which makes complete failure seem unlikely. Unless people stop buying PCs and buy iPads instead Balmer seems pretty secure in his position for now.

Re:It comes from the anal in analyst (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934193)

+1 informative.

Netbooks originally ran Linux. Putting Windows on them came later when people saw that they were selling but people wanted Windows.

Needed: $229-$399 TOUCH Win8 Laptops (1)

theodp (442580) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933763)

The Windows 8 touchscreen laptops are cool - check one out hands-on if you haven't - but are way overpriced (like Ultrabooks), making it a no-brainer for most to turn to the cheaper tablets. Add touchscreens to those $229-$399 Win 8 laptops, and people will IMHO think twice about going with a less-functional tablet! Selling crippled hardware is what did in the Netbooks - hopefully MS won't repeat this mistake with Win8.

Odd, I am enjoying Win 8 myself ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933783)

And most people I know are itching to ditch their iPads for a Surface device.

Re:Odd, I am enjoying Win 8 myself ... (2)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934147)

And most people I know are itching to ditch their iPads for a Surface device.

No they are not. People are pretty happy with their android tablets. The surface is an expensive netbook replacement.

Re:Odd, I am enjoying Win 8 myself ... (1)

Cinder6 (894572) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934255)

I like Windows 8, but I don't know anyone who's ever heard of a Surface tablet, much less wants to ditch their iPad for one.

Not likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933785)

Since Microsoft is making money hand over fist it would be surprising if they got rid of Ballmer. When companies are making near record profits that's usually when you want to keep the CEO, not toss him. I think it's just plain silly that every time MS releases a new product armchair managers claim it is a huge gamble and, if it doesn't work, heads will roll. Yet it never happens. MS is huge and their experiments with tablets and Windows 8 are small drops in the bucket.

Balmer is the problem at MS ... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41933795)

Steve Balmer is the Rahm Emanuel of High Tech: He has no respect for the people who put him and his company where they are.

His customers have long since noticed. They are forced to use MS products because there are no other practical choices in the marketplace, and Balmer disrespects them even while he takes their money. This has now become a serious problem for Microsoft -- as a company it enjoys no good will from its customers. Without customer good will, MS products don't get the attention and consideration they might deserve, from customers, who have been forced to use MS Windows and MS Office and pay unrealistic prices for the dubious privilege.

Balmer also has no respect for his employees. He plays projects, managers and products off against each other until his best employees leave. This creates stress, consumes time, costs money and consistently produces compromised, mediocre products that are often outdated on their FCS date. MS talent drain has always been unmanageable, even when employment conditions favored MS.

Without happy customers, without happy employees, and without the sense to correct these two negative business issues, MS is pretty much doomed.

Re:Balmer is the problem at MS ... (1)

Transfinite (1684592) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933909)

"They are forced to use MS products because there are no other practical choices in the marketplace"

Oh come on there are plenty. Dozens of perfectly practical choices in the Linux market and OS X. So that statement is entirely false.

Re:Balmer is the problem at MS ... (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934121)

Oh come on there are plenty. Dozens of perfectly practical choices in the Linux market and OS X. So that statement is entirely false.

People have felt locked into Microsoft products, and Apple products. You have to look at the years of arguments going on why Linux is failing to gain massive market-share. The answer was always the same...Microsoft. We have seen Linux succeed in the Mobile market place because Microsoft don't have a grip in that market.

Calling Apple a viable Alternative is false. It was never in the game, and always danced to a different [and profitable] tune, but viable for the majority never.

Windows 8 is SOOOOOOOOO good. (4, Funny)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | about a year and a half ago | (#41933955)

Windows 8 is very nice. The only problem is how underdeveloped and closed, the currently developed apps are, including microsofts own. Windows 8 Apps need to be full featured and well thought out. Right now, the app store isnt even good.

There is work to do still, but the OS is incredibly good. All that is needed is for Microsoft to comit to good idea it has, and work on the apps and app store to show people how good it can be.

Right now, its not even a competitor to Apple. The apps are bad mostly, the store is a joke compared to itunes very well organized store. The store itself lacks features.

Microsoft has R&D'd great ideas over the years and never got behind them fully. I hope this isnt just another microsoft zune. This is a great idea, with a great OS behind it. IF MS lets this slip away into boring like the media player, zune, etc... well MS will find itself with a new leader, as it should.

It's clear that MS has great programmers and tech... they just need the direction of say a Steve Jobs....

Re:Windows 8 is SOOOOOOOOO good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934139)

I'm curious if you're using Windows 8 with a touchscreen monitor or on a tablet?

I tried a touchscreen laptop with Windows 8 and it was actually... fun. Surprising to me as an iOS fan. But when I tried using it with only the touchpad and keyboard, it was annoying. I kept wanting to just use the screen.

Re:Windows 8 is SOOOOOOOOO good. (4, Insightful)

kenorland (2691677) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934175)

Windows 8 is a pretty mixed bag. Parts of it are good, parts of it are mediocre, and parts of it are lousy. The problem with this is that it doesn't average out; it's the parts that users get stuck on again and again that determine the overall experience. Consistently mediocre would be better than this.

Part of what makes it such a mixed bag is the way in which old software constantly rears its ugly (and I mean ugly!) head, when you least expect it. That's really confusing.

Microsoft's bad karma, meticulously built over decades, also comes back to haunt them: developers just expect getting screwed again. Maybe Microsoft will copy their wildly successful product, Maybe Microsoft will just drop some important API or technology leaving their product stranded. Maybe Microsoft will just decide next year to give up on Surface altogether and clone Google Glass instead. No matter what, developers pretty much know they are going to get screwed.

50% great tech just isn't enough.

"...but I'm not pessimistic." (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934009)

FTFY

Clint Eastwood says... (2)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934027)

[Points to empty chair and addresses Ballmer] "When somebody doesn't do the job, you've got to let them go... hey, hey what are you doing with my chair monkey boy?"

In corporate America ... the chair throws you! ;-) (1)

D4C5CE (578304) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934101)

No Soviet Russia to see here, please move along.

Shakeup? (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934235)

Don't count on it. There's a reason Microsoft chose NASDAQ and stayed off NYSE many years ago. Differing requirements for shareholder rights as a condition of listing was one of them. Insider control is very strong at MSFT.

Ummm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934295)

"Microsoft's first serious venture into hardware"

Unless you count all those Xboxes, maybe?

"First it was the netbook, then it was the Ultrabook. Microsoft, Intel, and the PC makers keep looking for a way to convince buyers they don't need an iPad or Android tablet."

Netbooks became big because ultraportables were stupid expensive and all the affordable consumer laptops were garbage boxes with huge form factors. In 2008. Pretty sure it was not invented as an excuse by Microsoft to keep you away from tablets, especially because MS had to keep licensing XP against its will because it was the only Windows that would run on the device.

People who don't know computer history should not be paid to write computer-related articles.

surface is quite refreshing actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41934367)

Posting from my new surface RT. Very nice so far. Windows8 takes a bit of getting used to- ie there is a learning curve, but after that its very nice. Yes I have apple devices. Yes I have Linux boxen in my basement. I still like the surface.

Ballmer is invincible (2)

Sembiance (124190) | about a year and a half ago | (#41934393)

Ballmer is near invincible, so long as the MSFT stock continues to not-decline.I don't think anyone has the guts to actually show him the door when the stock isn't plummeting. Sure, maybe the stock will plummet if Surface flops, but somehow I doubt it.

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