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Microsoft Businesses Handhelds Hardware IT

Microsoft To PC and Tablet Makers: You're Not Our Future 530

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

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  • Make sense (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @05:20AM (#40382393)

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

    • Re:Make sense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @05:48AM (#40382547)
      It certainly seems smarter than trusting their fate to likes of HP and Dell as they continue to ride out the death spiral of slapping their branding on cheap ODM crap.
    • by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @06:56AM (#40382965) Homepage

      Yeah, like the Zune.

      • Re:Make sense (Score:5, Insightful)

        by microbread (2651139) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @07:24AM (#40383129)
        As an owner of a Zune HD, I can attest to it being a great product let down by abysmal marketing and poor support from Microsoft. It was the only real competitor to the iPod Touch and one of a very small number of PMPs that has (had?) 64GB flash memory. If they'd released it properly in the EU and actually paid for advertising it might have fared differently.
        • Re:Make sense (Score:5, Insightful)

          by FearTheDonut (2665569) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @07:57AM (#40383375)
          Maybe this goes towards what you mean about advertising, but Microsoft let everyone else control the conversation about Zune.. Letting it be the butt of everyone's jokes.. At it's prime - it had THE BEST online service: curated rotating themed playlists, "School" for people who wanted to learn more about a specific genre, complete with different "guest professors", and a "Smart DJ" system before Apples.. What good is a product, with awesome features, if not a damn person knows about it, or has the completely wrong idea about it?
          • Re:Make sense (Score:5, Insightful)

            by tbannist (230135) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @08:29AM (#40383625)

            So you're saying the biggest problem with the Zune is that the company that developed it was bought out by Microsoft? Who then proceeded to run it into the ground? I don't know where I've heard that story before...

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by amiga3D (567632)

              Microsoft has never had to compete. They always bullied and now that they are in a market where they can't have things their way they find themselves at a loss for what to do.

        • Re:Make sense (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MightyYar (622222) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @08:22AM (#40383553)

          Well, they also wrote their own obituary with the way they handled the release. The main thing that sticks out is breaking "Plays for Sure", which pretty much told the consumer how much they could trust MS.

        • Re:Make sense (Score:5, Informative)

          by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:20AM (#40384083)
          Marketing wasn't the only problem. The Zune was the best PMP on the market beating the iPod Classic. The problem was that Apple moved the goal posts and the iPod Touch wasn't a PMP. It was a portable computing device that functioned as a PMP, a PDA, internet browser, email application, gaming device, etc. The Zune was always behind Apple on this. If all you wanted was a PMP, the Zune was your best bet. If you wanted more, the iPod Touch was it. And many people wanted an iPhone without the phone part because of the 3rd party applications.
          • Marketing wasn't the only problem. The Zune was the best PMP on the market beating the iPod Classic. The problem was that Apple moved the goal posts and the iPod Touch wasn't a PMP.

            Apple also leveraged the increasingly popular iTunes ecosystem, which is probably more important than the devices themselves. Microsoft didn't have that, though the Zune likely benefited from it.

    • Re:Make sense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by White Flame (1074973) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @07:01AM (#40382991)

      Microsoft is very close to doing what they're poo-pooing: Releasing a me-too clone with a commodity operating system.

      Sure, they would control the supply chain now, but so what? It's still playing wannabe behind Apple and Android in the tablet market at this point, and seems to be a peer to all the other manufacturers who plop Windows or Android on hardware and try to enter the market. Especially in the Android segment, companies already have full hardware & software control (like Amazon), because of the (mostly) open-source nature of Android.

      So no, MS, you're not special, and you're still playing catch-up.

      • Re:Make sense (Score:4, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @08:36AM (#40383679) Homepage Journal

        Microsoft is very close to doing what they're poo-pooing: Releasing a me-too clone with a commodity operating system.

        How do you know they're not planning to really emulate Apple's "success" and move to proprietary hardware/software and tell all of their "partners" to go pound sand? A walled garden would be next.

        They did OK with the XBOX going that route.

        Remember, Microsoft is a goddamn corporation. They would gladly drown your grandmother for a nickel's bump in share price. Drowning an entire industrial ecosystem of hardware and software manufacturers (and users who like being able to make choices) would just be a day at the office for them.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by RazorSharp (1418697)

          Remember, Microsoft is a goddamn corporation. They would gladly drown your grandmother for a nickel's bump in share price.

          An absurd statement if I ever heard one. To claim that there is something inherently evil about corporations is just silly. It's one thing to criticize the political or economic system that allows corporations to conduct business in an unethical manner, but to make the claim that any group of individuals that forms an organization funded by public stockholders for the sake of operating a profitable business are inherently evil is inherently dumb.

          Believe it or not, but there actually are corporations run by

          • Re:Make sense (Score:4, Informative)

            by Zenin (266666) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:01PM (#40387813) Homepage

            For-profit corporations as a rule do have a singular motivation; Make more profit for their shareholders.

            It's not just a motivation it's a legal requirement to maximize shareholder financial value in every (legal) way possible. They can do something else as well, but if it interferes with maximizing returns the board can be held legally liable.

            So corporations are not intrinsically evil, no. What they do have is an obligation to not allow the intrinsic goodness or evilness of an action prevent them from choosing it if it maximizes value for their shareholders. And lets face it, evil choices are on the whole much more profitable then good choices, making corporate leaders legally obligated to take evil actions even if they nor their company are evil or have evil motives.

            So the question is which defines a person as evil: Their actions or their motivations?

        • Re:Make sense (Score:5, Interesting)

          by DangerFace (1315417) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:30AM (#40384189) Journal

          How do you know they're not planning to really emulate Apple's "success" and move to proprietary hardware/software and tell all of their "partners" to go pound sand? A walled garden would be next.

          They could, but that would be insane. Those "partners" would still be pumping out craploads of hardware and need something that would run on it, finally bringing about the Year of Linux on The Desktop, just as the Mayans predicted. When billion dollar businesses are told to fuck off by their trusted partners they don't just go quietly into the night, they do (possibly spiteful, crazy and dickish) things to try to stay afloat.

    • by epp_b (944299)

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

      ...for Microsoft, perhaps. But, for everyone else, it's quite possibly one of the worst.

      What made Microsoft so successful was its willingness to accept hardware clones. Apple would have no part in it, which is why they're a distant 2nd with their suffocating monoculture of devices. Now that Microsoft has a solid hold on the market, they probably think it's at their mercy (and they may be right)

      Hopefully, the future of desktop computi

      • by Deorus (811828)

        I see absolutely no future in desktop computing for anything other than content creation (the land of the Mac Pro and other platforms alike). The desktop general-purpose computer as you know it is bound to die a slow death; it is being made irrelevant by increasingly more powerful laptops, all-in-ones (though I don't see much of future in these either when you can just connect a MacBook Pro to a Thunderbolt Display and achieve the same results), and game consoles.

        • Re:Make sense (Score:5, Insightful)

          by lightknight (213164) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @11:14AM (#40385587) Homepage

          Oh, please. I have a new laptop, and despite the SSD and extra memory I shoved into it, it still can't hold a candle to my desktop.

          The people crying that the end of the desktop is nigh are those people who never needed a desktop to begin with, and would be happy with an iPhone for all their 'computing' needs.

          • Re:Make sense (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Dynedain (141758) <[moc.nilcmynohtna] [ta] [2todhsals]> on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @12:53PM (#40386983) Homepage

            There's a lot of stuff that used to need a desktop that no longer does.

            The desktop is going to become niche product, just like high-performance SGI or Sun workstations used to be a niche product compared to the ubiquitous PC.

            Tablets and smartphones will replace laptops for most casual use, and laptops will replace the desktop for most daily use. Of course if you have need for cutting-edge space, memory, processing, or video requirements, you'll need a machine that isn't encumbered by form factor. But that will become the specialized workstation, not the norm.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      They can stop selling to other OEMs and attempt to lock the market.

      I hope they try to pull an Apple. PLEASE! :-)

      LOTT (Linux On The Tablet) would be easy if a serious OEM got behind it, and Ubuntu wants to be a tablet OS anyway.

    • by ag.restringere (2659217) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @08:51AM (#40383789)
      Dell Launches Laptops Pre-Loaded with Ubuntu Linux in 850 Stores Across India: http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/Dell-to-bring-Ubuntu-laptops-to-850-retail-stores-in-India-1620657.html [h-online.com] This was announced on the SAME day that Microsoft announced the Surface RT and Surface Pro. It seems that the OEM industry is secretly betting that Linux Desktop will overtake Windows in the huge Asian market. This is interesting considering that Valve is releasing Steam for Linux and that EA and other game companies are interested as well. They are predicting that Linux will be a big win and replacement for Windows in the long term. earlier... Dell Launches Laptops Pre-Loaded with Ubuntu Linux in China: http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/Canonical-Dell-bring-Ubuntu-laptops-to-220-Chinese-retail-stores-1368347.html [h-online.com] The OEM's are the BIGGEST CLOWNS for not jumping on Linux earlier to counter the Microsoft threat to their eco-system.
  • Good news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @05:25AM (#40382415)

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

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

    • Re:Good news (Score:5, Insightful)

      by queazocotal (915608) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @05:33AM (#40382467)

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

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

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bert64 (520050)

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

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

        Locked hardware on

        • Re:Good news (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @07:28AM (#40383155) Homepage

          No device can ever be "secure", and running your own code can never be "absolutely impossible" so long as it is in the hands of consumers...

          It can easily be secure enough to require a hardware modification to get another OS to run on it. For the mass market that's probably secure enough.

          The intersection between people who want to use Linux and the people who'll buy a Microsoft tablet to do it on instead of an Android tablet which doesn't require any soldering is small enough for it not to be a problem. Besides, Microsoft already made money on the tablet even if you do use it for Linux so it's still a profit for them.

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

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

        • by Joce640k (829181)

          If Android has proved one thing it's that "cheaper hardware" doesn't win the war against Apple in the developed world.

          Being $100 cheaper isn't enough to persuade people to buy an Android tablet instead of an iPad, to swing the deal you have to be $200 cheaper. Trimming $200-worth of hardware off and still having a nice-enough product hasn't worked out (so far).

      • by Mabhatter (126906)

        Apple doesn't lock the boot loader on macs. There's no point to stop the HARDWARE being reused... If that is your goal you are doing something hugely wrong in your business.

      • by f8l_0e (775982)
        Yoda was right. "Always two, there are. No more, no less. A master, and an apprentice." Darth Bane would approve.
    • Re:Good news (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DaveGod (703167) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:15AM (#40384013)

      That's good news for the customers,

      Er, go have a look how much an office PC costs then go look how much a Mac is.

      And that's despite Apple using mainly off the shelf components and thus benefiting from the highly competitive hardware market that exists for Windows PCs.

      If MS goes closes the hardware it's pretty much game over for anyone who doesn't get a contract with MS or Apple, and the competitive hardware market disappears.

      It's unclear whether this would be a net win or lose for MS. On the one hand the hardware industry becomes generally less competitive, but on the other hand the relative scale economics of MS becomes much more substantial. They get to realise their advantage over competitors. One thing's for sure though, the consumer is going to lose. Badly.

      There's already a duopoly on the software, which while significant is still just a fraction of the overall cost of a PC, of which the remainder of the cost is the highly competitive hardware. Now we'd have a duopoly over the entire PC.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        I highly doubt Microsoft will close Windows 8 completely. The entire industry would be up in arms. If there was a better way to alienate every IT department and every tech company in existence, that would be it. Nobody wants to be locked in to Microsoft. They tolerate it because of the 3rd party software, OEM, and other industries where Windows is the only supported OS. If Microsoft locked down their software to their own hardware, people would be jumping ship to Linux and Android left and right.

        It would be

  • year of the? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by samjam (256347) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @05:27AM (#40382423) Homepage Journal

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

    • Re:year of the? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by w.hamra1987 (1193987) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @05:34AM (#40382477) Homepage

      year of the demise of the desktop...

      • Re:year of the? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MrMickS (568778) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @06:37AM (#40382851) Homepage Journal

        year of the demise of the desktop...

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

        • Re:year of the? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by epyT-R (613989) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @07:30AM (#40383163)

          We're moving from a culture that encourages individual learning/mastery/understanding of the things used in life, to one of apathetic dependence on convenient 'service'. This is intellectually stunting, which causes all kinds of other problems.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Kjella (173770)

          If a smartphone or a tablet is an appliance, then so is most business PCs where you don't have administrative privileges. A traditional gaming console you could probably say is an appliance, it mainly does one thing but the current multi-devices? Is a rooted Android phone a general purpose computer and an unrooted phone an appliance? To me it sounds ridiculous to say that something that runs thousands of apps for all sorts of different things is anything but a general purpose computer, though possibly in ch

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

      • by Sique (173459)

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

    • by Suiggy (1544213)

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

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @05:28AM (#40382429)

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

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

    • by Tridus (79566) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @05:57AM (#40382621) Homepage

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

    • by bmo (77928) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @06:20AM (#40382739)

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

      This is categorically false.

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

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

      --
      BMO

      • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:11AM (#40383969)

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

        Yes they can, but it's not like this will guarantee them any success against Apple. Foxconn and Flextronics make the devices. Their relationships with OEMs may not include things like sourcing and designing the devices. Supply chain logistics is a boring but necessary part of making theses devices. Apple's advantage in the last decade is slowly becoming known in that they have been able to master the supply chain. Palm found this out trying to build WebOS devices. Many times when they sourced a part like a camera, they found out that the part wasn't available for six months because Apple bought the entire supply of the same part for their devices.

        OEMs who have been doing this for decades are have a hard time competing with Apple. MS who have little experience on this magnitude will have to become this company which they have not done before. The Zune never reached the scale of tens of millions per quarter. The Xbox has sold in this order however, the design only changes every few years and not in significant ways. MS will have to do what it do with the Xbox but with at new design every year at the least.

    • ...and most consumers won't want linux...

      No no no no...they just want to stick with Windows because of the "I know how this works and I don't want to learn something new!" attitude (which will be utter bullshit after 8 anyway). That's a difference.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @05:29AM (#40382433)

    And yet again, Microsoft ape Apple.

  • by Zemran (3101) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @05:29AM (#40382437) Homepage Journal

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

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

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

    • by itsdapead (734413)

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

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

      The brands they have to bring to the table are Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, Exchange. If they can come up with good implementations of those, well adapted to tablet use, with reliable file interchange, then they'll have something. Many employers will, rightly or wrongly, prefer the idea of employees using "the same" software on tables as is used on desktops - particularly when it comes to connecting to Exchange servers and the like. Of cou

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

    Yet MS insists on making a tablet?

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

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

    If they launched Windows 8 cold, the OEMs will probably be hesitant to make a major investment when there is no proof of the demand f
    • by Bert64 (520050) <bert@@@slashdot...firenzee...com> on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @05:49AM (#40382553) Homepage

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

  • Fondleslabs... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Virtucon (127420) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @05:43AM (#40382525)

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

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

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

  • by Aryeh Goretsky (129230) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @05:44AM (#40382531) Homepage

    Hello,

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Regards,

    Aryeh Goretsky

    • Honestly I think it was a flaw to encorage and allow manufacturers to pre-load software from the beginning. Instead of making sure everything was pre-loaded, they should have put that effort into simplifying the windows install. That viewpoint could also have greatly assisted in preventing the existance of worms etc... (IE if the password were set at the install, by the user, instead of 90% of systems being a factory default pre-installed system). The bottom line is the hardware makers should never have bee
    • by bazorg (911295)

      Hi,

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

      All players need the volume, but the market is still in high growth stage, so it makes little sense to stop the OEMs from doing

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

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

  • by gelfling (6534) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @07:06AM (#40383011) Homepage Journal

    MS is selling tablets in order to sell Win-8. That's it, that's the only reason. They're hedging their bets that Win-8 won't catch on so they're going to sell devices that have to run it. When after a few years they discover the error of their ways and realize that Win-8 is a niche product and that tablets haven't taken over the world, they'll drop Metro and they'll drop tablets.

  • Remember when... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Zobeid (314469) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @08:22AM (#40383555)

    Remember when Microsoft ruled the world because they left the dirty, competitive, low-profit-margin work of making actual hardware to other companies? Remember when "beleaguered Apple" was going broke because they still foolishly insisted on making computers instead of licensing their OS to cloners? Remember when mighty IBM fled from the PC business because they just couldn't make it pay?

    I'm puzzled over how and why everything now tilts the other way. What changed in the world around us?

  • by Grayhand (2610049) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @08:42AM (#40383727)
    The smaller makers may have two choices, throw in the towel or embrace Linux. If Microsoft is throwing the hundreds of smaller makers under the bus then they have to focus another OS. They may unintentially create a third OS option for the average person.The software support has been slow in coming but more game engines like Unity are supporting it and all it would take is a truly user friendly version and maybe a portable version to support the indy tablet makers. Create a Linux app store that works like iTunes and provide a good retail option for movies and music and people could flock to it. Look at it this way, Apple can't hog the retina displays forever and what are the odds of Microsoft not shooting itself in the foot? Apple is closed source and Microsoft tends to be on the twitchy side when it comes to hardware and security. Linux could provide an open platform for development without all the jumping through hoops of Apple. I want something a little more like the early days where you could store any kind of files on portables. Also I want more storage which Apple has been loath to do. Imagine a 256 gig iPad that had a full desktop OS and allowed you to store and transport files and sold for $1,000 to $1,200. A bigger screen and 2560X1440 support would be ideal. The point is a desktop replacement that is completely portable and not in the way a notebook is but think, light and instant on. Something that you could walk out to the living room and stream a movie to the big screen or even stream a movie at a friends house to their TV. Bundle in a DVR so you can record your cable programs and have it completely portable. There's no technical reason you couldn't bundle in a TV tuner and an HDMI and tap into TV that way. Don't compete with the iPad make it something else that is more of a media and desktop Swiss Army Knife. Make a tablet that has everyone saying why doesn't iPad do all this and with the security and stability of Linux. Come up with an accessory Blu-ray player that was the size of a Walkman and I could get rid of more than half my electronics and replace them with something I could hold in one hand.
  • by goodmanj (234846) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @08:48AM (#40383765)

    Dear hardware manufacturers: You are now utterly dependent on your biggest competitor to supply you with the software you need to run your product. If MS thinks you have a better product at a better price than theirs? Oops, sorry, our Windows OEM licensing system is having technical difficulties. Oh, wait, it's working again, but we had to double the price. You can only build what Microsoft allows you to build.

    Unless you want to become a de facto division of Microsoft, you have only two choices: write your own operating system, or use one that's free.

  • by rgbatduke (1231380) <rgb.phy@duke@edu> on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @08:55AM (#40383835) Homepage
    ...right down to the bottom of the sea.

    Let's count the problems with this model. Suppose I'm a maker of tablets or laptops or PCs. So far I've put Windows on them to market them because frankly, I have little choice -- it's that or Linux and besides, in order to remain price competitive I have to get the price breaks that come from Microsoft for using Windows exclusively as a pre-installed OS. However, I have taken comfort in the fact that all of the other manufacturers are in the same boat -- we all have the same product, within hardware choices and tweaks, we all run the same OS preinstalled for pretty much the same price, that OS breaks on our hardware about the same fraction of time and we get enough help fixing it that we can usually release a semi-stable product and not piss off our consumer base.

    But now Microsoft is going to play! It will design its own hardware, and will apply its own team of umpty-gazillion semi-unemployed programmers to ensure that its OS works perfectly on that hardware, both optimized and with absolutely functional device drivers. OTOH, Microsoft will have absolutely no incentive to help out third party hardware manufacturers like me. Indeed, they will have a disincentive! If my hardware has a constant list of creeping minor problems, then Microsoft's huge team of sales reps will be able to convince many buyers that my hardware just isn't reliable, where theirs is!

    It's not like we haven't seen this before, after all. It is precisely how Microsoft became the monopoly that they are today -- Microsoft branded software always worked when a new version of its OS was released, where non-Microsoft software was usually subtly broken for six months afterwards. This problem was so prevalent and reproducible that the term "FUD" was coined to describe the predictable response of the Microsoft reps in that six month window, while they gradually took over the world from the likes of Lotus, Corel, Borland, all of whom owned a serious piece of the PC software business before Microsoft decided it wanted it all, not just the OS and maybe a reference compiler or two.

    So now Microsoft has decided to go one step further and become Apple, even though they at one point took Apple to within coup-de-grace range of bankruptcy and refrained from wiping it out entirely only because they were already in trouble with anti-trust suits and needed a viable competitor to convince the courts that they didn't, actually, need to be broken up. Apple, of course, has succeeded largely recently because they have a certain amount of genuine innovation (on top of a fair bit of righteous anti-innovation, adopting Unix as their basic OS and "inheriting" an enormous base of free/open source software that nevertheless becomes part of their overall offering). So Microsoft is thus committed to out-Jobbing the now deceased Steve Jobs, in spite of the fact that as a corporation it has stolen -- well, "hijacked" is a better term -- almost all of its best ideas using the dual weapon of cloning by the world's largest closed shop of programmers who control both software and OS, and FUD. Worked great with corporations and corporate tools, but how will it play with consumers? How will it play with the vast ocean of hardware makers?

    The latter is fairly predictable. The minute Microsoft becomes Apple, and adopts hardware that it either makes itself or outsources from just one specific manufacturer, the incentives that have long given them dominance on the desktop disappear. True, they are already getting hammered by e.g. Android and can read the writing on this particular wall, but it may well be that their only alternative at this point is one form or another of elegant suicide. When all of the hardware manufacturers realize that they are competing with Microsoft as well as Apple, with very likely no room left in between, what alternatives do they have for survival? Anti-trust suits, sure. And support for any viable alte
    • by RazorSharp (1418697) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @09:46AM (#40384357)

      It's really too bad that Google Chrome (the OS) had to have this radical dependence on remote storage, because I image hardware manufacturers like HP and Dell would really buy into it now that they're competing with Microsoft on the hardware front and that means they're going to have to support Android. If they're going to support Linux they might as well go all in.

      Really, companies like Canonical should be setting up meetings with hardware manufacturers pronto. Imagine "Ubuntu Dell Edition" -- a version that includes drivers that will support all Dell hardware configurations from 2012+ (but leaves out the unnecessary ones). Ubuntu HP Edition, etc. The biggest problem with Linux is the same problem Windows has - it has to support so much freaking hardware that support becomes a nightmare. The advantage Windows has is that most of this is setup for the user when they purchase the computer. All these hardware manufacturers will probably now realize that their dependence on Microsoft these past couple decades has put them in an extremely vulnerable position. They should have realized it when the XBox came out.

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