Two Images That Show Off the New Microsoft

Frank Shaw, head of communications at Microsoft, tweeted this:
 

 

I do see that the individual Office apps are running on an Android phone.  This would be an update to the current Office Mobile, and would be the same as iOS and Windows Phone 10 (at launch).

 

…and then when you open the Sunrise app on Android you are greeted with this image:

2015-02-12 05.18.46

 

The Dwindling Force That is Microsoft

In my vast and large Twitter stream today I ran across a link to Reddit that was discussing issues with Microsoft and their apps.  I always take these kind of things with a large grain of salt, but what I read had me interested.  I followed up with someone who I knew would know more about it, and read a few more articles on the subject.  I have been using Microsoft products for a long time, but I never knew just how messed up things were inside the company over a decade ago.  Furthermore, the damage done by some of the decisions below are mind-blowing.
Here is a snippet of a long post on Reddit.

But if you look at Office, it’s a feature mill. Office hasn’t created any new, interesting technology for well over a decade. Every release adds more eye candy, uses more memory, and is slower. That’s because Office is not run by engineers, it’s run by PMs. Office has never, ever figured out how to integrate with the web. They’ve tried, over and over, but every technology that they have tried has been chosen and pushed by PMs, not by engineers or anyone else who understands how people actually want to use Office these days. So, seriously, you could put the absolute best engineers in the world in Office, and you would still get more of the same – more UI “features”, more bloat, more useless stuff.

There have been numerous internal projects which attempted to branch out in new directions. I’ll never forget seeing a demo of “NetDocs”, more than 10 years ago, at a company meeting. Think Google Docs, long before Google was even a household word. An internal group had basically that working, but it was quickly killed. People here joke that the worst thing you can do is to demo a technology at a company-wide meeting, because it guarantees that someone else will get your project killed. It’s not really a joke, it’s just a grim reality.

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I had never heard of NetDocs before, but apparently in 2000 Mary Jo Foley wrote an article about this product.  What killed the project is a window into why Microsoft is having the issues they have today.

The battle between the Netdocs and Office teams has been one of the fiercer ones, according to sources close to the company. The challenge has pitted Microsoft senior vice president of Office Steven Sinofsky and his troops against senior vice president of subscription services Brian MacDonald and his forces.

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Six years later Steven Sinofky was put in charge of the Windows team.  This article was written by Paul Thurrott when this happened.  Turns out Paul might have been on to something.

As expected, Microsoft announced a leadership change in its Windows division late last week. The company moved long-time Microsoft Office executive Steven Sinofsky over to the Windows group and put him in charge of planning post-Vista versions of Windows. Although I’ve never met Mr. Sinofsky and his reputation suggests he’s extremely capable, he’s the wrong person to put in charge of Windows. In fact, this reshuffling simply proves that Microsoft hasn’t learned a thing from the problems its Windows division has faced over the past several years.

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While much of this information is known by many, going back and looking at a single project like Net Docs is a little surreal.  It got me wondering what other great products did Microsoft squash during this time?  Microsoft has been living off the inertia of their user base for over a decade, and it shows everytime they have an earnings report.  Eventually that force starts to dwindle, and what will keep the train moving?  It might be something like Azure, or it might have been one of the many projects that were killed at the company due to mismanagement and hubris.

Lastly the same Paul Thurrott who was correct in 2006 wrote an article last week about the future of Windows and Windows Phone (http://winsupersite.com/windows/its-time-mobile-first-cloud-first-windows-best).  He got a lot of blowback from many who read his site.  The thing is, he was right once again.  If Microsoft won’t feature their own OS and won’t put their OS first, why should anyone else?  They aren’t.

Microsoft the Azure company, Microsoft the Xbox company, Microsoft the services company, but don’t call them Microsoft the Windows company.  That ship is leaving the dock, and it is going to take a lot to turn it back.

 

The Surface Pro 2 Is the Device You’ve Been Waiting For

prod_SurfaceFamily_WebOn Monday morning Microsoft once again took the stage to introduce us to their new lines of Surface.  After a rough year 1 Microsoft showed they are not backing down from what they believe are devices that can work for people.  As a SurfaceRT user for a year, and yes a happy one, I was glad to see the new products coming to life.
Let’s start with the new edition of the SurfaceRT which is now simply called Surface 2.  A year ago I wrote that the SurfaceRT name was a mess, and I am glad that Microsoft has seen the error in their ways.  The new Surface 2 is a nice upgrade from the original model.  It has a faster processor, a 1080p screen, and many new features that are part of WindowsRT 8.1 that will launch on the device.  I actually believe that the biggest upgrade to the original SurfaceRT is not the new hardware of the Surface 2 (which is nice), but the baked in operating system.  One of the biggest features of Surface is that a secure system with long battery life can run the full Office suite which is integral in many people’s personal and business lives.  Last years SurfaceRT launched with Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote.  One huge missing application was Outlook.  That has now changed.  OutlookRT is now shipping with the Surface 2.

Now onto the device that has me very excited.  That is the Surface Pro 2.  You can call it a tablet, you can call it a laptop, or you can call it an ultrabook.  I don’t care what you call it, I am going to call it the best computing device ever made.  A 10 inch HD display running on the latest Intel Haswell processor with up to a 512GB SSD with 8GB RAM.  This machine is a beast in a small frame.  There are other laptops that have these specs, so why do I think this one is great?  It fits in a tablet frame with accessories available that put it over the top.  You have a choice of three keyboards (which work on both new versions of Surface).  The one that has me the most intrigued is the power keyboard which when connected will give you even greater battery life.  Then you have the docking station that can run all of your peripherals including two HD monitors.   This truly is a powerhouse in an iPad size.  You can run everything from Word to Visual Studio to Photoshop all on this little monster.  Now it will cost you as it starts at $899, but this device is not meant to compete with low end machines.  Microsoft has built a top end ultrabook, and it is priced as such.

When these devices launch in October, go and take a look for yourself.  Just one word of advice until then, if you read someone talking about these products in the same vein as an iPad or a Nexus 7 just assume they are clueless and go find someone who actually knows something.

For all the technical specs, pricing, and more go the Microsoft site.

I will be discussing the big Surface news and more tonight (Wednesday September, 25, 2013) on the Surface Geeks podcast with host David McCabe 9:30 Eastern time. Come watch live and join the chat at surfacegeeks.net.

Surface Or SurfaceRT, Microsoft’s Rebranding is Misleading

Microsoft has put the newly announced Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 in their store for pre-order.  While doing this they subtly changed the name of the original SurfaceRT to just Surface.  They are going to continue to sell the original device under this new name.  I understand that they want to lose the RT part of the name in the new device as it was part of the problem with the original machine.  However, renaming the old device as just Surface gives the false impression that you are in fact not getting a SurfaceRT which is not the case.
Surface or SurfaceRT

The S*it that Passes For Journalism

I expect blogs to spew crap (like mine), but you might expect a site owned by The Wall Street Journal to be a little better.  While the topic of web traffic produced by tablets is not the most exciting thing in the news these days, here is just one example of what journalism has become across the spectrum.
Here is an excerpt from an article from AllThingsD.com:

Microsoft’s Windows RT-powered Surface Tablet has been on sale for a little over a month now, available for purchase exclusively from the Microsoft Store (online and brick-and-mortar). And if early Web traffic from the device is any indication, it hasn’t exactly been flying off the shelves.

Take a look at the latest stats from online ad network and data analytics from Chitika, which found that Microsoft Surface users generate less than one percent of all North American tablet traffic.

Now here is the actual study:

This study was drawn from a date range of November 12th to November 18th 2012, and only includes traffic from the U.S. and Canada. This week was chosen in order to eliminate any Black Friday-related traffic spikes which could skew the results.

So the device goes on sale on October 26th and the study starts November 12 and ends November 18th.  Yet the article clearly implies that the stats cover more than a month of the device being on the market.   How hard would it be to put in your article the actual dates of the study? I don’t think Microsoft would expect their few week old tablet to be competing with the iPad in web traffic surveys, but apparently this guy does.

Microsoft Surface, What’s In A Name?


Microsoft’s new tablet, called “Surface”, went on sale a few weeks ago with some fanfare.  The reviews around the tech world were mixed at best.  Reading these reviews was making me angry.  No journalist owed Microsoft a positive review, but the reviewers totally missed the boat on what the Surface is.  Every review compared it to the iPad.  I am not going to do a review of the Surface, as I will let others make their own opinions.  However, I ask that you look at it in this light.  The iPad is a device made for media consumption, social, gaming, and other personal activities that can be used if need be for some work product.  The Surface is a device that is made for work product that can be used for media consumption, social, gaming, and other personal activities.  The entire basis for each product is inverse to the other.  Therefore just doing a review where you compare the two products is intellectually dishonest.

Now Microsoft has to take some blame here as well.  They have done an awful job explaining the device, and have done an even worse job describing what will run on it.  Everyone by now has seen the new Windows 8 ads showing the next version of Windows.   I think it is safe to say that most people know what Windows is as this point.  However the Surface runs Windows RT.  What in the world is Windows RT? It really is a version of Windows that only runs apps designed for the platform.  However, a lot of people see the word Windows and assume that it will run all of their Windows apps.  This problem could have been solved very easily.  They should never have named the operating system Windows RT.  In fact they should not have put the name Windows in it at all.  They should have called it Surface OS.  Most people would understand that you can only run Surface OS apps on your Surface.  Unlike the iPad which only has Apple making them, Microsoft allows any hardware company to make a Windows RT device.  These devices should have been called “powered by Surface OS”.  This also allows Microsoft another marketing point.  They can advertise to their Windows 8 buyers that their machines run Windows and Surface applications.

At this point I would just tell you to go to your local Microsoft Store or Best Buy to check out these devices.  The Surface is only sold at Microsoft stores, however there are other RT devices being sold elsewhere.  Best Buy has an ACER tablet running Windows RT that is very nice.  The ease with which these devices connect to a keyboard is great, and they will run your native Office applications such as Word and PowerPoint.  Right now there is no Outlook for Windows RT, but you can setup your mail account to use the built in mail, address book, and calendar apps.  I am just happy there is a new player on the block that looks like it will have staying power.  I see Microsoft being able to position itself with its new phones and tablets as the new Blackberry.  Devices you can use for fun, but they are made for work.