Diggin' technology every day

August 22, 2012

Are people really waiting for Windows 8?

Filed under: General — Tags: — Nate @ 11:04 am

UPDATED  – Dell came out with their quarterly results and their PC business wasn’t doing well, down 22% from a year ago.

A common theme I see popping up are people claiming folks are holding off until Windows 8 before buying their systems. Do you think this is true? I can imagine some folks holding off to buy the MS Tablet or something, but I can’t imagine many people (I’d bet it’s a rounding error) waiting for the desktop/laptop version of Windows 8 before buying their new PC.  Especially given apparently 70% of Dells PC sales go to commercial/government with only 30% going to consumer.

UPDATE – HP released their results and their PC shipments were similarly poor with revenues down 10-12%.

They’d rather not admit that a weak economy combined with the rise of tablets not running Microsoft software is probably where most of the blame lies. A market that Linux advocates long hoped to try to capture by being “good enough” to do things like browse the web, read email etc, but for many reasons was never able to really establish any foot hold. I remember my grandfather had such a Linux system, forgot who made it, but it ran entirely off of a CD, with perhaps only a few megs of flash storage (this was about 10-12 years ago). It was slow but it mostly worked, he certainly got far fewer viruses on that then when he eventually went to windows a few years later(Dell had to re-install his system several times a year due to malware infestations – he refused to stop going to dodgy porn sites).

What’s new and good in Windows 8 vs 7 that would have folks want to hold back on a new desktop or laptop? It’s pitched as the biggest product launch since Windows 95 and I believe that, though I don’t see anywhere near the leap in technology from Windows 7 to 8 that happened from Win3.x to 95. (sort of like my feelings on vSphere 3.5->4 vs 4->5).

I suspect it’s just an excuse, time will tell if there is a massive surge in PC buying shortly after Windows 8 launches but I don’t expect there to be. The new Metro (or whatever they are calling it) ecosystem is minuscule compared to the existing windows ecosystem. Hell, all other ecosystems pale in comparison to the current windows ecosystem.

Do you know if people are holding back waiting for Windows 8 on a desktop or laptop style device? If so I’d be curious to hear the reasons.

I fear for Microsoft that Windows 8 will hit the ground with a thud. It’ll sell millions just because there is such a massive install base of Windows folks (Vista sold quite a bit too remember that!).  Unlike some other players (*cough* HP WebOS *cough*), even if it is a thud initially Microsoft won’t give up. I recall similar hype around Windows phone 7 and that hit with a thud as well and has gone nowhere. In short – MS is setting the expectations too high.

Something I did learn recently which I was not aware of before, one of my friends at Microsoft mentioned that the Windows Phone 7 platform was mostly acquired from another company(forgot which), Microsoft then went and gutted it and the result is what we have today. He had long lost all faith in Microsoft, in their ability to execute, stifling projects that have good prospects while promoting others that have none. I suppose that sort of thing is typical for a really big company. I don’t know how he (or others) can put up with it without going crazy. He didn’t have much positive things to say about Windows phone, nor did his girlfriend who also works at Microsoft. It was sort of “meh”.

They’ll keep trying though, Microsoft that is, throw enough money at anything and you’ll eventually get it right, it may cost them a few more billion, and a few more years, but it’s a big important market, so it’s certainly a worthwhile investment.

I do find it funny while Ballmer was out trying to destroy Google, Apple comes out of nowhere and takes the torch and runs with it, and it took Microsoft many years to regroup and try to respond.

I don’t hate Microsoft, haven’t for a while, I do sort of feel sorry for them though, their massive fall from the top of the world to where they are now. They still have tons of cash mind you.. but from pretty much every other angle they aren’t doing so well.


  1. Their going to regret waiting when they see it. I’ve tried 3 times to use it as my primary OS, and have gotten beyond frustrated with it. I think its going to be worse than Vista.

    Comment by Justin — August 22, 2012 @ 1:38 pm

  2. I’ve yet to come across a comment that says something positive about Windows 8 UI on PCs, I’ve heard good things about performance..and that’s about it from what I can recall. Just saw this too –

    Not sure why some people (Microsoft, and the Ubuntu Unity folks at least) seem to think it’s really important to have the same UI on both tablets and PCs (and perhaps phones too). People have been using different UIs for different things forever, it should make sense for whatever kind of device it is on. Did Microsoft deploy Metro, I mean Modern or whatever it’s called to Xbox yet ? If not I think that would be a good place to put it before they (try) to roll it out to more normal folks. I haven’t read or heard anything to indicate they have done this.

    I think when Vista came out Microsoft was “forced” to extend the support dates of XP due to slow uptake, I suspect the same will happen with Windows 8.

    I (somewhat) fondly remember my earlier days running betas of Microsoft OSs, and being so excited to get a new one, same goes for Linux really, not so much anymore, it’s good enough for me now (well assuming the damn thing boots!). I plan to stick to Ubuntu 10.04 on my desktop(s) and laptop(s) for as long as I can, that new Unity stuff really looks just as nasty to me from a Linux perspective as Metro does to many Windows folks.

    thanks for the comment!

    Comment by Nate — August 22, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

  3. Xbox 360 really has the zune interface now, which i guess is similar to the windows mobile, so yes its Metro”esque” It isn’t bad on the Xbox, but i’m not looking to do complicated things with my xbox and i’m comfortable with a limited set of options and the interface supports that, same with the tablet. On the desktop i want to tweak stuff, i find the full screen computing on both the mac and windows 8 to be bothersome and i dislike it being forced down my throat in win8, whereas in Mac i can take it or leave it. I do see the potential on the tablet for this interface… just my desktop will be staying on Windows 7 or Linux for a long time coming.

    Not a huge Unity fan either, but Its at least semi usable and isn’t as jarring an experience as windows 7 vs 8 is.

    Comment by Justin — August 23, 2012 @ 3:48 pm

  4. Hi Nate,

    been too long!

    One of the recent sinkholes of my time, has been investigating so called SIP compliant trader turret systems.

    They always seem to be “compliant” somewhere. Finding where, and how, is more difficult.

    Maybe offline, I will send you my investigations, which send a chill down my spine. Not only NDAs demanded as early as asking basic implementation needs, but a whole attitude built around servicing IBs who can order 10,000 positions, tens of thousands of redundant lines, and pay commensurately.

    It won’t take anyone a minute, who reads here, to discover the likely suspects.

    But ~ and I have “threatened” it before ~ to go DIY. Apart from when you need certain legacy oddities like ring down for hoot’n’holler to someone with older gear, what do you need? Well, some good industrial design never goes amiss. Us Brits have had a resurgence at that on garage scale, lately, something which has gone unnoticed even here. Then that has to work well with the SW UI and so on. But, for the price of one seat of what I am talking about, I could get a prototype made in days even.

    A fast, near real time, predominant touchscreen, but never ignore the psychological intensity of “punching” a line to get to speak, a way to order your voice calls, from maybe global phone book of epic length, to a prospect list suggested by some BI.

    In what I do, and even just because language is tricky about Europe, voice matters a lot more than IM, FB, email, once you are beyond the requirements critical to a deal.

    Now, for all its sins, Win 8 still retains it’s Mach origin kernel, so you can apply near real time priority, CPU affinity, and all sorts which suit rather well ensuring packets are handled efficiently.

    Moreover Win RT seems to be a similar idea to Palm, that UI is easily coded, only you can flip the screen from workstation to another machine like a tablet. I may be getting some things wrong, because until I have some actual hardware to play with, Technet is speaking gobbledygook to me.

    But say you are in a trad desktop app, mining your leads, and viewing your portfolio. How cool would it be to swipe across lists of potential counterparties to a Windows tablet which just has a few augments a trader likes, such as mixable live voice channels, punch buttons to move a call from speaker monitor to headset, top notch voice processing, click to speak handsets (so you don’t shout your pricing to the wrong person!) , a hoot or even hands free. Look at the typical turret and it comes in modules, which do much of this.

    But my thing has been proprietary signalling. I get what I still assume as BS as to proper RT signal tweaks, but try to talk to the turret vi a API, and well, what I have seen is inflexible, handles no real BI or trad scenario generated “leads lists”, has no means to add subtlety to color indicators on your “alpha tagging” of lines, and only tortuous and constructive ways to deal with “UC” if you license an other entire back office worth of Cisco or Avaya. Going through hoops, getting no functionality, another tortuous sales process for a small outfit.

    The historical and complacent model is that if you need a turret, you are usually direct line patched to whomever you deal with, in a major outfit. To give you an idea, in the mid 90s, a single sales trader cost just shy of $1MM PA to support . .

    That is not what is happening, broadly, now, with all but the few trading floors who do broker only a closed group of clients.

    That is not what is happening, when a sales-trader wants to pick up on atmosphere from related companies, or just plain call and do research, or cold call.

    I know guys in serious commodity boutiques who use and need Skype to patch in to the immensely diverse Asian markets, who have it lucky with good internet, or unlucky they have terrible local telcos.

    I might b in a minority who thought MSFT buying Skype was cool. But buying that online ad firm, well, i think that was the first time they walked into a rigged market, blind.

    I know customers who would like their Skype ID to spring up on my desk to a dedicated line I can punch up, or use as a hoot to pass market color feedback or just the usual banter, friendly insults and jokes. Such rubbish talk leads to all manner of positive directions. But NO, I do not want to take my hands of my keyboard whn writing something in R to suss how we can do a deal. The *button* must be there.

    This is way too many interfaces, even before we add in something like Reuters 3000 or Bloomberg, let alone what my “middle office” app is saying to me what I might need to think about shifting, or what my collateral app or credit app is saying about a certain deal.

    I recently took on a Nokia Lumia 900.

    (Buggers at O2 (UK) killed my real cheap intl direct dialing, but weirdly gave me a awesome deal for when I am roaming in Europe, 80 cents a call, in or out, the rest deducted from my unlimited plan, sweet . )

    IIRC MS and Nokia did a patent swap. This Lumia 900 has a incredibly responsive touch interface.

    (Sounds unlikely, but this might be a better phone for my 80yr old mother to use, because the tile interface really works how you expect it to. Some tweaks might help, but big, clear, generic “I want to do x” tile touch buttons are not half bad at all.)

    Yet I remain unhappy how thin is the documentation, and the possibility I may be forced to us Lync 2013 or Office 365 (who seem as if they do not exist in the brain space of their supposed specialists, try “I am sorry, but there is no way to restore a password for admin on Office 365 Enterprise!) just to synch. Or mybe I am missing the way to synch from Outlook, which more neatly works with my outsourced non MS email boys . . .

    However, if the Lumia 900 is a indicator how well Microsoft’s own hardware can feel, I shall be more than tempted, I shall start writing for Win8.

    Phone / telecoms UI has been close to my heart enough I have spilled 10k word emails to C suite guys in the trader turret game. Just this week. Demoralizing stuff. Not only do I think they can’t sell their way out of a wet paper bag, but they cannot even imagine how much broader is the multi line control market in telephony. In their world, $10K USD per seat is nothing. In mine, well I know what features can create real commercial difference to justify that, but I’d rather spend to develop a product. I know of mny markets which would take to this like duck to water. I even have a brand and t’mark ready to go. (plus a fair bit of relevant experience, well and a phonebook full of jaundiced developers who quit that field.)

    It might be possible to see how this is on topic, when you look at what Lync 2013 (in test on technet etc) is trying to do. It is trying to be absolutely agnostic.

    In another way, with some quirks, Microsoft is trying to be agnostic with what you can drag from your main desktop to your tablet or slate device.

    . . .

    I certainly can see the argument that the new Win8 UI is a cognitive burden.

    I shall be getting some spare boxes to run it asap, but the thing I wait for is if they can do touch as well as this Lumia 900. So that waits on hardware. I have never been so impressed – quirkiness and all – with a phone. Put that on a 12″ (no not 10″, twelve please, or larger, my eyesight has me using 42” screens now!) slate, and let me treat it like a second monitor, with (obviously lighter weight) apps seamlessly licking up from where i left off, and I know what our desks will look like next year. Warts, bugs, Tuesday patches, and all.

    I am still trying to get a answer as to whether Office 365 Enterprise (most of which is locally hosted with you) is effectively a web style CDN for the apps. Be nice to forgo Citrix etc.

    I am working with guys who would stand on their head for that kind of scenario, Lync to back to Skype, and let us us a pure SIP backend, agnostically, to fail back to. Inbound new customers will not be part of our AD, but they should be able to benefit from high bandwidth voice, secure comms (they are sensitive people, after all!) and their name come up clear and loud on the screens we use to handle their wants and needs, by voice, around the world.

    But try looking at the so called “unified communications” systems that my company has wanted for ever and a day, but which simply cause us depression. I am not very much joking about the depression, it has been thoroughly unhealthy exposure to what I can only describe as incoherent degenerative cohorts of suppliers to closed shopsand ill-educated buyers.

    Yes, it is nice, being bought great steak, restaurant of my own choosing, by one of the big names, but they think that they each have clear differentiators. If both money was no object *and* the feature set as programmable as we’d like, that steak would have tasted so much sweeter.

    My clear differentiators, I mean they talk about things like non blocking simultaneous calls (but never enough per turret to excite us) and all kinds of hardware and software to maintain low jitter and low latency which anyone who reads Nate’s blog can undoubtedly engineer for themselves.

    Yes, I have been talking to CxO guys, and yes we are a tiny shop by head count. So even attracting any attention has been both a chore, and mildly satisfying. But I foresee weeks of more of the same people, engineering or wherever, unable to answer our questions, because we have simply thought through our “problem” area for many years. It may help open a market notorious for eating up some of the biggest names.

    With my apologies to who tuned in, and who may feel this is entirely off topic, I time to time ramble here to offer a differing experience, because since this blog started, I have found no simpler, saner or more lucid place to orient myself as to where networking actually works. Just call me a fan.

    . . .

    So, we’re in a big exploration of how VOIP can work, in a very trying environment, lock step around the world clock. I’m angry enough, or rather disappointed enough, to start really thinking to build the hardware and software I want for voice. (we’d not be starting cold, either)

    The platform I would choose for this, is likely Win8, because what I have gleaned so far, I can make it work across desktop and slate / tablet and we’d be in a world of new (not new to our thoughts, in fact so much of it looks like sketches of mine from the early 90s, but sufficiently different for no conflict) user interface, and if you knew just how much business is really concluded via voice, well, I might manage to shock you more in person! In so many walks of life, and absent language homogeneity, trading with someone, you simply need to hear their inflexions, but I think my company has given up looking randomly for the holy grail, amongst white papers, product sheets and demos, and may be about to put out code where our mouth is, so to speak.

    Coming out of this, Nate, allow a couple of months thereabouts, may be a proper write up of what we are able to do with OpenFlow. OpenFlow may turn out to be our “secret weapon” handling tons of VOIP worldwide, and also even a way around the strong rumor that Win8 will play funny with things like hosts files. I may be depressed, not for the first time by telco style Luddite thought, but I may have a adventure to write in.

    . . .

    For record for the increasing numbers of people following this blog, I founded my company some 18 years ago with a very clear – but then ill defined – mission to eliminate gross inefficiency in just one market, not trendy since the 50s ~ print advertising. Sadly we are not as cool as the way they dress in “Mad Men” but at least when I started out, there were certainly more girls than in engineering or coding, and I am working on my wardrobe asap 🙂

    My best to all,

    I did not think I could provide a convincing case for Win8, but I thought I could at least explain why one little shop is intrigued by the new new thing, and either find something there for us, or even a market facilitated by in fact what people seem to be moaning abut. I hope you enjoyed my perspective, and maybe I will be allowed to report as we dig deeper,


    ~ john

    Comment by John (other John) — August 26, 2012 @ 6:17 pm

  5. For Justin,

    Zune, on the Lumia 900 from Nokia, is excellent. I have not played with it enough, my coworkers here who are truly into music, and I am talking someone not IT skilled, he needs a little help to use Win7 even basically, (he is old school, draws, decorates, is contractor to get our building prettified, and darned fine at that) just loves it. I need to try it more, but it looks more like a little and simple DJ deck, and when Tom had installed it all, ( a breeze ) it was a world apart from what I had played with the Nokia N8 or iPhones that are the prevalent devices with us. Yup. I did say he is decorator, no shabby one by any means, we intend to keep him around, and as a non savvy person with computers, heck, I was impressed how he took to it. I had to politely remind him to pass back my handset, so I know there is attraction here for the non IT market.

    Not enough to make me think to buy MSFT stock again, but a nice story.

    I have a saying, I cannot claim it, but i use it plenty enough when designing products, that if you make a product people who are not thieves want to”steal”, then you have something good going on.

    Comment by John (other John) — August 26, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

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