Another one by Ben Thompson about how Microsoft is seemingly becoming in terms with the new reality:

The cloud, though, changes that. Once you remove the burden of support and maintenance – that’s handled by the service provider – it suddenly doesn’t necessarily make sense to buy from only one vendor simply because they are integrated. There is more freedom to evaluate a particular product on different characteristics, like, say, how easy it is to use, or how well it supports mobile. And it’s here that Microsoft products, particularly the hated SharePoint, were found to be lacking.

Marco Arment writing:

They did everything that the press, analysts, and prevailing wisdom at the time were telling them to do. Everyone was pressuring them to be more like Apple, so they tried.

The problem isn’t that they botched it (although they did, in some ways). The problem is that Microsoft isn’t Apple, and Microsoft’s customers aren’t Apple’s customers. They tried selling a more Apple-like attitude to their customers, most of whom don’t want and won’t tolerate an Apple-like attitude. That’s why they’re not Apple customers.

Ben Thompson writing about Microsoft acquiring Nokia nails it, I think:

I theorize that Nokia was either going to switch to Android or on the verge of going bankrupt. (I suspect the latter: part of the deal included €1.5 billion in financing available to Nokia immediately). And, had Nokia abandoned Windows Phone, then Windows Phone would be dead.

Another great post by Ben Thompson over at stratēchery:

Steve Ballmer restructured Microsoft yesterday as a functional organization. The immensity of this change can not be understated, nor can the risks. Ultimately, I believe the reorganization will paralyze the company and hasten its decline.

Read it.

Michael Mace dissecting PC industry:

The PC companies married themselves to the Microsoft-Intel growth engine years ago. In exchange for riding the Wintel wave, they long ago gave up on independent innovation and market-building. In many ways, they outsourced their product development brains to Microsoft so they could focus on operations and cost control. They trusted Microsoft to grow the market. Microsoft is now failing to deliver on its side of the bargain. Unless there’s a stunning turnaround in Windows 8 demand, I think it’s now looking increasingly likely that we’ll see a sustained year over year drop in PC sales for at least several more quarters.

This is an existential shock for the PC companies. It’s like discovering that your house was built over a vast, crumbling sinkhole.

Via @Asymco

Brent Simmons writing for Macworld:

One of the guys who works on Windows Azure Mobile Services gave me a demo of its support for iOS.

What? Microsoft supporting iOS? What? That isn’t the Microsoft (I thought) I knew.

Once I got over the shock, I expected that I’d have to write code in C# (a Microsoft language), that services would run behind IIS (a Microsoft webserver), and that I’d have to use Visual Studio (a Microsoft developer tool) on Windows, which I don’t have. That would be typical Microsoft, right?

Instead: The code is JavaScript, the webserver is Node.js, and I can write code in any text editor. No Microsoft things. The company even released some related code as open source and put it on GitHub.

(Microsoft? Hello, are you feeling okay?)

In other words, Microsoft noticed the world outside Redmond, and it likes it.

And I like them for liking it. And it doesn’t even hurt.

What I see is Microsoft being scared shitless that they are losing developer minds, that there are now thriving ecosystems that Microsoft does not control and their own attempts of building new fortresses is going nowhere slow. So now they are willing to bend over backwards to look good again. See also all the marketing around IE10 targeted to developers.

I like to see Microsoft doing this, but I don’t view it as “look we are the good ones now”, but as a “look how scared we are”. They have to prove they are actually also good at the new services they offer. We’ll see.

Via Daring Fireball

Horace Dediu brilliant as usual:

Microsoft’s problem is not that it has difficulty offering an operating system for tablets. The problem is that the economics of both systems and application software on tablets is destructive to its margins.

Alertbox, November 19, 2012:

Hidden features, reduced discoverability, cognitive overhead from dual environments, and reduced power from a single-window UI and low information density. Too bad.

Via The Loop

The promise of the Surface was that it could deliver a best-in-class tablet experience, but then transform into the PC you needed when heavier lifting was required. Instead of putting down my tablet and picking up my laptop, I would just snap on my keyboard and get my work done. But that’s not what the Surface offers, at least not in my experience. It does the job of a tablet and the job of a laptop half as well as other devices on the market, and it often makes that job harder, not easier. Instead of being a no-compromise device, it often feels like a more-compromise one.

The Verge

No compromise is bullshit.

This is a great device. It is a new thing, in a new space, and likely to confuse many of Microsoft’s longtime customers. People will have problems with applications — especially when they encounter them online and are given an option by Internet Explorer to run them, only to discover this won’t work. But overall it’s quite good; certainly better than any full-size Android tablet on the market. And once the application ecosystem fleshes out, it’s a viable alternative to the iPad as well.


“Likely to confuse longtime customers”? Even from nerd point of view the Surface is “Yeah, nice, but…”, I think from the point of businesses it will be more of a “Why?” and for home users it could be “What?”.

I doubt that anyone expects the Windows 8 and new Microsoft tablets to be great success rivaling the iPad. I think the success will be if it does not flop.

Anyway, Microsoft is looking in the face of falling profits down the road and the question is what it should do?

Via Daring Fireball

I admire Gates’ approach to phillatrophy, I disagree with his (and Microsoft’s) view, that Surface will be the best of both the desktop PC and tablet – as Microsoft’s repeated many times “no compromises”. You only need to look at the photo of Surface and you already see compromises. Does that look like a comfortable keyboard and trackpad? Does that kickstand work for other use cases than on proping it on the table?

Anyway, 80 % of the interview is focused on the phillantrophy and Gates’ view of other topics, like education, innovation, politics and others.

Go watch the interview on Charlie Rose site. It’s worth it.

John Gruber (Daring Fireball) in one of his best pieces yet.

Microsoft Surface is not fundamentally about Microsoft needing to control the entire integrated product in order to compete with the iPad on design. It’s about Microsoft needing to sell the whole thing to sustain its current profitability.

If I’m right, it’s inevitable now that Microsoft will acquire Nokia.

Trust me, just read it.

I found it interesting that the video is so, shall I say, technology-oriented? The magnesium body is presented as the main feature as we are wathing the dust turn to liquid metal blobs jumping and orbiting one another while the aggressive electro music is playing.

For Microsoft’s sake, I hope this is just the result of them not having been able to show what you can actually do with this thing right now, as the OS is some 5 4 months from releasing.

Source Microsoft Surface

Daring Fireball linked this video accompanying a review of Windows 8 by Michael Mace.

I agree with John and Michael in that the Windows 8 are bigger change than the techies think and therefore it is quite a bet on Microsoft’s part. But as Michael points out:

I think Microsoft feels it must find a way to leverage its waning strength in PCs to make itself relevant in mobile.

This video by Microsoft nicely demonstrates the problem and sets the bar to jump – 1 ms.

Via TechCrunch