Friday, September 27, 2013

Productivity Operating System vs. Media Consumption OS

Microsoft has great potential to weather their current difficulties.  The trick will be to market what they have effectively.

Microsoft is a good example of a large incumbent being hit by destructive (or at least disruptive innovation).  Clayton Christensen published a good book on this theme, The Innovator's Dilemma.  His thesis is how disruptive innovation brings down large incumbents.  Examples are everywhere, from the pharmaceutical company making obsolete cancer drugs to Kodak, the company who invented digital photography, who went bankrupt when no one wanted to purchase film.  Putting the theory succinctly, incumbents have too much invested in infrastructure to be able to change as an organization when they are faced with disruptive change.  In the case of Microsoft, tablets using ARM processors are breaking up the Duopoly of Windows and Intel.  Desktops are no longer king.

Microsoft is doing some things right. is being touted as a mail service where the postmaster doesn't read your mail.  The X-Box gaming system is a fine example of contract fabrication, and an example of millions gaming together via the Internet.  The Surface, after a rocky start, looks as though the second version will be a really good piece of hardware, even though it has Windows 8 on board.  I think the jury is still out on the Microsoft Windows phones.  I almost bought one from Verizon, but balked when Verizon wanted two years of commitment plus $30 per phone.  (We went to Sprint and have been very satisfied with our HTC 4g LTE phones that hooked up for free not to mention unlimited data)  The specs on the Windows phone were superior to other phones offered by Verizon, and the camera was to die for.  I think the Windows Phones will have a lot of life once they get going, although now they look like Microsoft is trying in vain to keep up with Apple. Bing coupled with Yahoo! advertising is a good service, and I like to reach the other 20% of Internet searchers.  All in all, Microsoft's businesses outside Windows seem to be doing well.

So what happened with Windows 8?  I'm not understanding the causes until I look at an abstract representation, almost a black box approach to what the operating system does.  Windows 8 is a great tactile way to interact with computers.  The little windows are meant to be touched with one's finger leading to the operation of the software.  I think this is a futuristic way to begin the process of displaying computer screen on clear glass the way they did in Minority Report.  At the same time, though, Windows 8 is only geared to one way of using computers, that of media consumption.

Media consumption is what we do with tablets and phones.  Until voice recognition gets better, we will not create.  Creating media for consumption takes a different type of computer, the desktop or laptop.  This opens up the box of market segmented operating systems.  I think the Surface will work to produce content if purchased with the optional $110 keyboard. 

Lets get honest, Windows 8 is a beautiful operating system for those who just want to see the latest Facebook post, or surf the web.  Windows 8 should have a touch screen to use the tactile input abilities.  However, if a person wants to produce media, then their needs are different.  I like Windows 7 because it is modern, and works well.  I can get to any place I need to be with fewer clicks than Windows 8.  This is important when I sit down to write my exams, or a feasibility report, or some other production effort I need to get into the computer fast, and get producing quickly. I want to produce, not to be always clicking away to get to some place else.

I'm calling on Microsoft to start marketing their Operating Systems differently.  Windows 7 should be for professionals engaged in production, and Windows 8 should be for media consumption, entertainment, and home uses.  Lets keep both Operating Systems going and recognize they each have a different application.  Microsoft tends to want to push the market, and in the case of Windows 8, neither the hardware nor the users are ready to use this system.  Lets go back to the days of Windows 98 for homes and small businesses and Windows 2000 or NT for business production uses. Lets not sell Windows 8 on anything that doesn't mount a touch screen, and when a new user turns on a computer for the first time, how about a choice in Operating Systems?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Windowws 8 Review

My wife brought Windows 8 home on a new piece of hardware.  She bought from a friend.  The hardware is very nice.  HP i5 w/ 12 GB RAM, 2 TB HD, and believe it or not, Beats sound.  I like Beats.  Really good sound quality and from an unexpected source.  I never knew Dr. Dre appreciated sound quality.  I wrote him off because he performs rap.  Unfairly as it turns out.

At any rate, I had to examine her stray.  My first impulse was to put it out of its misery and install Windows 7.  But my wife had other plans.  She wanted to use the programs her friend pre-installed. Makes sense, so I start up the wounded beast of a desk top.  Sure enough, I can't get the keyboard to work.  I check everywhere.  I think I've never seen a Microsoft operating system with no key board and the mouse only able to put blue boxes around stuff. 

I'm very good with computers, and I was cursing at the computer within 30 seconds.  Took five or six days, but I finally figured out if you hit ESC two times, a box appears asking if you would like to shut down Narrator.  I shut it down, and then the keyboard worked.  I went into Narrator on the control panel and discovered I could tell it not to run when Windows starts.  How nice, now we have a computer that works.  Oh, and by the way, the previous owner complained about how her key board was broken.  No coincidence there, she must not have known Narrator was running.  Some of the options included run Narrator minimized with no sign of the program operating.

With Narrator out of the way, I decided to check out Windows 8.  My first impression is that my wife won't last with this wounded beast.  When you think about it, Windows 8 is the only Operating System bad enough to be protected with UEFI protected boot.  Means you can't change it easily.  You have to go into the BIOS to tell the computer to run differently.  The screen seem to look more like my Android phone than Windows.

All the tiles seem evocative of Android, and then I noticed that when I added user accounts, the machine asked me for my e-mail, my phone number, and my alternate e-mail.  As soon as they wanted the phone number, my impression was that they were handing all my info over to the NSA.  Actually I think they wanted the phone number to send your password to you when you forget.  Still, though, a phone is registered to a unique user that is validated by a phone company that knows who pays for the account.  What better way to get a verified digital ID for any commercial and espionage purpose.  What can I do? I add in the information, hoping my wife's wounded beast won't give away too much of my identity.  And, oh, by the way, if you use a Microsoft e-mail like or to log into Windows 8, you get special privileges.  I passed on those, and the sign up sheet asked me if Microsoft could use my information to send me targeted ads.  Shades of Google again.  I said NO.  Then Microsoft wanted to send me junk e-mails, so I said NO to that too. I noticed a shopping bag in the icons, and sure enough, Microsoft has an app store just like Apple and Google Play do.

Windows 8 is a cheap hack copy of Android OS and Apple OS.  Microsoft wants to make more money on advertising with their Bing/Yahoo service, and Microsoft wants to know exactly who you are so they can give your digital identity to the NSA and make money on your likes and dislikes and track your every move on the Internet. 

When are we, as consumers, going to say ENOUGH?