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back to article Microsoft partners seriously underwhelmed by Windows 8.1

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer promised a flood of touch-enabled devices to fill the market as he previewed Windows 8.1, but is the technology channel raring to snap them up? Not really, it seems. Redmond's very own bald eagle last night said the "rapid release" upgrade - which comes with a revolutionary Start button - will blend " …

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Windows 7?

Microsoft could let manufacturers pre-load Windows 7, and let retail customers choose between 7 and 8 on the same hardware at the same price. (Yes, I know one can buy systems loaded with Windows 7 that come with a Windows 8 "upgrade" disk - but they cost more). That Microsoft won't let the market decide, suggests Microsoft is now running on ego, not economics.

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Re: Windows 7?

They could, but I suspect that a very small percentage of them would choose to move to Win8, thus preventing Microsoft from getting a Win 8 sale....which, ultimately, is what they're looking for

Much as I would love to wind Eadon up (where is he these days BTW?) and say I like Microsoft (which generally I do) I don't follow them fanboi-style. They've done a lot to turn me away from their products over the last year or so....and when I saw the words "Steve Ballmer said..." I realise why

A company running on ego? Maybe, but I suspect there's some BS in the fuel tank as well.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Windows 7?

Microsoft prefer the bully-boy way. Force adoption of their new OS, rather than what consumers want.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Windows 7?

Time for the Henry Ford quote again: "If I made what my customers wanted, I'd be making faster horses."

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FAIL

Re: Windows 7?

I'm sorry but Windows 8 to Windows 7 is not as a car is to a horse. You fail the IQ test.

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Re: Windows 7?

Time for the Henry Ford quote again: "If I made what my customers wanted, I'd be making faster horses."

so MS gave their customers an asthmatic donkey...with a limp

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Re: Windows 7?

"Time for the Henry Ford quote again: "If I made what my customers wanted, I'd be making faster horses.""

Difference is that HIS customers bought the product

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Coat

Re: Windows 7?

"I'm sorry but Windows 8 to Windows 7 is not as a car is to a horse. You fail the IQ test."

More like a My Little Pony to a Lipizzaner Stallion.

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FAIL

Re: Windows 7?

That quote is as crap as not-Metro.

It doesn't sound like Ford, looking into it people seem to agree "We have no evidence that Ford ever said those words."

It first appears in marketing crap around 2002.

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Re: Windows 7?

Most horse and carts (and donkeys) out on the market are currently controlled by reins. The user sits on the cart and uses reins for direct control.

Microsoft's problem is that it is trying to force users to use the new paradigm where that the rider is located in the cart trying to control the horse by stroking the horse's touch sensitive backside.

It just doesn't work very well in horses and carts where the control is still very much in the reins model.

Perhaps adding the new "kinect for horses" to the horse will make the butt-stroking interface actually fun and less painful to use.

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Re: Windows 7?

Dunno about that Ford quote being genuine, but I remember the tale of Ford stating: "They can order any colour of car, as long as it's black."

Which in a sense represents Microsofts' attitude to all things Win8 better IMO. From what I've read and experienced the OS has been seriously improved under the hood. It's just that the internal Fashionistas insisted that the touch interface was also implemented for the desktop, which was a patently stupid idea then, and still hasn't been fixed in this sort-of-backpedalling-by-reintroducing-the "Start"-button.

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Re: Windows 7?

If only Microsoft didn't keep telling us it's listening to customers (and even remote monitoring them) to give them what they want... and apparently what they wanted was a Fisher Price drag along cart, in bright shiny colours and reduced functionality so they could skive off work better ;)

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Re: Windows 7?

>>It doesn't sound like Ford, looking into it people seem to agree "We have no evidence that Ford ever said those words."

He should have said it, though. Unlike some of the things he did say, it doesn't make him sound like a jerk.

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Anonymous Coward

'Much as I would love to wind Eadon up (where is he these days BTW?)'

Eadon got handed his hat about a week ago. All of his past posts have been purged too. I doubt he can stay away though. He's probably working on another Phoenix like Pseudonym as we speak....

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Anonymous Coward

'Let retail customers choose between 7 and 8 on the same hardware at the same price'

Nice idea.... But MS has never been about empowering the consumer with choice. Instead they've always preferred the omnipotent dictator route i.e.: 'You'll take what you're given and be grateful'...

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FAIL

Re: Windows 7?

Microsoft had a winner with Win 7, if only they could produce an updated and improved Win 7 without Metro(Modern) and emphasis on mouse/keyboard rather than touch they could have had another winner. Win 8.1 is a lame attempt to improve a misconceived mess.

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Re: But MS has never been about empowering the consumer with choice

Not entirely true. There was a time when MS gave users and developers a great deal of choice.* But it was at the dawn of computing time. And their actions since then have pretty much blotted it out for anyone in the market today.

*Yes, they did pick on certain vendors like Lotus, but they couldn't pick on everybody because they needed those other developers to fill out the market.

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Re: Windows 7?

"If I made what my customers wanted, I'd be making faster horses.""

Instead he makes a car but only 2% of them have wheels

And the only way to buy a horse is to buy a wheel-less car and then trade it in

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Windows

Re: Windows 7?

Microsoft would have to break their backs before even considering adding any ounce of choice between the newer and older systems at the purchase level.

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Windows

Re: Windows 7?

"Microsoft had a winner with Win 7"

Microsofts problem is more fundamental than whether Windows 8 is better or worse than 7.

Their entire business model is being threatened. The problem they have is threefold.

Firstly, when MS first arrived there were about 5 billion people on the planet and virtually none of them had computers. The arrival of the apple 2 and then the IBM PC ushered in a 20 year sales boom as manufacturers rushed to provide computers to a good proportion of those 5 billiion people.

During this same period, we had an incredibly rapid PC hardware/software upgrade cycle. Things were moving so fast for most of that time that the PC you bought last year was already obsolete before the warranty had expired. Advances in both OS and hardware drove people to buy newer faster PC's on an annual basis (or even less). This was doubly true for PC gaming which was an especially lucrative segment of the market back in the day. Gamers would spend vast sums on ever more powerful rigs to run the latest games which always seemed to need vastly more powerful hardware with each release. And while all this was happening more and more first time buyers were also joining this upgrade treadmill. They were halcyon days for PC makers that will never be seen again.

The third factors is, that during the entire time that this PC buying frenzy was in progress, Microsoft was there, charging the "Microsoft Tax" on every one of the PC's sold. And with effectively, no competition to contend with. They could dictate to the market and dictate they did, with gusto.

These three factors combined led to MS becoming the massive, industry dominating juggernaut that it was until a few years ago and a lot of people made a lot of money on that monopoly joyride.

But being a monopoly also has its downsides. Complacency, inefficency and arrogance come to dominate the corporate culture of all monopolies and Microsoft was not immune.

In 2013 most people who can afford a computer already have one, and those that can't have access to older, second hand options, or bypass the PC altogether. The goldrush of first time buyers in the PC market is over. It's all about replacements these days.

Even when replacing PC's, that only happens when a PC is worn out these days. The Core2 Duo with 2GB of RAM I purchased in 2006 is still perfectly acceptable for most non gaming purposes even now. Speaking of games, that part of the PC market is now a shadow of its former self, having been pretty much destroyed, ironically, by Microsofts own XBox console along with those from Nintendo and Sony.

The growth in computing these days, of course, is mobile. Here again. Microsoft are a victim of their own monopoly induced arrogance and complacency. For years they and their partners slopped out the uninspired and comparitvely user hostile Windows Mobile smartphone platform and for years that market languished in a niche, with the only people showing any interest being large corporate users who used them for boring corporate things while the consumer market remained resolutely attached to Ericsonn & Nokia feature phones.

Microsoft were prepared to leave things like this because, hey, it's not like anybody else is making money out of mobile computing are they? Who cares as long as we are still raking it in with Windows / Office sales right?

That was a big mistake. First Blackberry, then apple and Android would introduce to consumers the option of mobile computing that didn't suck, and was not built around a drab, corporate os with a user interface deriverd from a desktop OS. All of a sudden people were buying thousands of smart phones, and then tablets, and Microsoft were left watching from the sidelines.

Now we have reached the point that your typical household, who 5 years ago could be expected to have 2,3 or even 4 PC's, all loaded with MS software are now happy to reduce that down to a single PC and a fleet of phones and tablets, and none of them sporting Microsoft software.

This is a disaster for Microsoft. Not only is the PC buying rush well and truly over, the replacement treadmill has slowed to a crawl and even worse, when people do decide to replace a PC, they are just as likely to replace it with a non Microsoft mobile device instead.

This is why Microsoft NEEDS Windows 8 to succeed and simply saying that Windows 7 is good and Microsoft should continue along those lines is to completely misunderstand the true nature of the situation that Microsoft has found itself in.

Not that Windows 8 is the answer of course. Microsoft are suffering the consequences of their own success. I think they should consider the option of downsizing their business and expectations and focus on providing corporate and enterprise products into that market and cede the consumer market to those more able to succeed in it.

Golly I didn't expect to write that much much when I started this post.

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Bronze badge

Re: Windows 7?

Alotta food for thought their...

But, its still not a justification for Metro. Nothing can ever be.

Its to this kind of thinking that Ballmer NEEDS TO GO!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Windows 7?

> It doesn't sound like Ford, looking into it people seem to agree "We have no evidence that Ford ever said those words."

“Misquoting is the bane of the Internet.” – Winston Churchill

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 'Much as I would love to wind Eadon up (where is he these days BTW?)'

> Eadon got handed his hat about a week ago. All of his past posts have been purged too.

While I often don't agree with his hyperbolic posts that seems just wrong.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 'Much as I would love to wind Eadon up (where is he these days BTW?)'

"hyperbolic" wasn't the right word, was it?!

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Happy

Re: 'Much as I would love to wind Eadon up (where is he these days BTW?)'

No, the required word was "hyperbollocks"...

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Windows

Re: Windows 7?

"This was doubly true for PC gaming which was an especially lucrative segment of the market back in the day. Gamers would spend vast sums on ever more powerful rigs to run the latest games which always seemed to need vastly more powerful hardware with each release. And while all this was happening more and more first time buyers were also joining this upgrade treadmill. They were halcyon days for PC makers that will never be seen again."

I believe this is what really drove the evolution in the PC market, your average corporate-targeted desktop could expect a 5-7 year lifespan before being replaced and with PCs being rather expensive in the Windows 95-98 days, I would expect average home users to hang onto theirs for about the same amount of time.

"In 2013 most people who can afford a computer already have one, and those that can't have access to older, second hand options, or bypass the PC altogether. The goldrush of first time buyers in the PC market is over. It's all about replacements these days."

In the 90s PCs were expensive and for those that could afford one there was "the family computer", internet access was (at least outside the US) expensive and slow pay-per-minute dial-up, forget about mobile.

In the early 00s PC prices dropped and laptops started becoming more affordable to the consumer, as was faster internet access and WiFi. Now it became much more convenient to have a smaller and portable laptop that didn't need to be tethered to the nearest telephone socket.

Mobile data services were still expensive, smartphones were geared to the corporate market (Symbian, Blackberry) and consumers by and large found them fiddly and complicated (power users are in a minority), in 2007 Apple launches the iPhone and in spite of the critics and cries from the power-user community about it's lack of features (some still absent) it was a huge hit with consumers.

Now where people would have to wait until they got home to update their Social Networks, look something up online, check their bank balance etc, suddenly they could have the internet in their pocket literally at their fingertips.

Is it really any surprise that the PC market is in decline and more to the point, is anyone really surprised given the direction things have been going up to this point?

"...For years they and their partners slopped out the uninspired and comparitvely [consumer] hostile Windows Mobile smartphone platform... with the only people showing any interest being large corporate [and power] users..."

And personally, I preferred a WinMo 6 device over the iPhone; I liked being able to chop and change things under the hood.

"Now we have reached the point that your typical household, who 5 years ago could be expected to have 2,3 or even 4 [computers], all loaded with MS software are now happy to reduce that down to a single PC and a fleet of phones and tablets, and none of them sporting Microsoft software."

And Apple saw this and acted on it aggressively leaving everyone else to play catch-up.

"Microsoft are suffering the consequences of their own success. I think they should consider the option of downsizing their business and expectations and focus on providing corporate and enterprise products into that market and cede the consumer market to those more able to succeed in it."

Microsoft don't need to cede the consumer market, there will always be a place for the Windows PC both for die-hard gamers, power users and even Mr Average who just wants to get some serious work done.

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Re: Windows 7?

And thats exactly what it is, a tale. There is no evidence Ford actually said these words either.

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Linux

Re: But MS has never been about empowering the consumer with choice

And just when was that time in the far distant past when Microsoft gave users and developers a great deal of choice. Damned if I can remember when, and I was a participant in the original Windows 1.03 developer's conference. That goes way back, nearly 3 decades. Back then, and in various business dealings with Microsoft since, the expressed attitude is my (Microsoft's) way or the highway. Never room for negotiation. Take it or leave it. I'm sure I'm not alone, either, so there is a huge amount of pent-up ill will against Microsoft. Windows 8 (or 8.1) is the best reason ever for all of us to unleash that ill will.

Windows 7 is OK, though. So is XP.

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Re: 'Much as I would love to wind Eadon up (where is he these days BTW?)'

"hyperbolic" wasn't the right word, was it?!

Oh, I don't know - his posts could be pretty eccentric. Sure, sometimes he could be elliptical, or circular in his reasoning, but he went all the way into hyperbolic territory often enough.

Mine's the one with the conic sections.

(And, yeah, I know I'm replying to a week-old post and no one will ever read this. Look on my posts, ye mighty, and despair.)

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Windows 8? More like Windows Nein

"Businesses are buying Win8 machines but downgrading it to Windows 7" - I'm fairly sure this counts as an upgrade.

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Pint

Re: Windows 8? More like Windows Nein

Yep. I bought four Lenovo i7 T430s for a client recently, then tricked them out with big SSDs and more memory. All came with Windows 7 pre-installed and a set of Windows 8 recovery DVDs, now on my shelf as a souvenir. I'm sure Micro$oft counted these as four Windows 8 sales.

I'll bet that the US National Security Agency can tell us how many Windows 8 computers are actually being used.

Well, there's always ClassicShell if you somehow unwittingly get stuck with a Windows 8 computer... Ben Myers

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Anonymous Coward

Steve

It's all ball(mer)shite

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JDX
Gold badge

On the plus side...

It took years for them to replace Vista with W7, only a few months for 8.1. If there's going to be an 8.2, that might be pretty good!

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Re: On the plus side...

bad analagy, in vista terms this is service pack 1.

vista was version number 6

7 is version number 6.1

8 is version number 6.2

8.1 is effectivly 6.2.1

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Re: 8.1 is effectivly 6.2.1

Not sure I'd even go that far. Maybe 6.2.0.1-a

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Re: On the plus side...

Unfortunately, 7 wasn't a service pack.

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Re: On the plus side...

"Unfortunately, 7 wasn't a service pack."

Unfortunately it was. And it showed MS that they could charge for fixing botched products that they'd already been paid for. Post 8.1, there's clear indications that MS hope to charge for future service packs. Given the lengthy analyses posted above, you can see how this works - MS are simply hoping to extract the last bit of fat from their cash cow.

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The problem...

Is the chair-thrower in chief. He has to go. Over the last few years he's called nearly every shot wrongly:

-Windows 8 to be touch centric when 2% of users can take advantage of it

-The whole touch-based future on desktop, based upon one guy seeing people touching screens at a conference - really?

- Windows 8 leverage to force people to get used to Windows Phone, and then buy that - for that to work people have to buy Windows 8 in the first place

- Windows Phone - too little too late

- X-Box One, and all the issues around that launch

-Office 365 "software as a service" rather than "buy it use it forever"

- Interface redesigns on all the software, users don't want them or need them

I am struggling to find a good decision he's made, but I don't deal with enterprise cloudy stuff so there maybe something there.

He can say "oh it was Sinovski" (sp?) but he, Ballmer, is the boss. He is the man in charge, he is responsible for every decision.

What amazes me most is that on each failed decision the Internet At Large was busy yelling "this is the wrong way to do it. We hate it. We won't buy it." but he ignored it every time.

He saw the outcry against EA over "always on", against Adobe for the Software as a Service model

He must have heard the feedback on the W8 previews saying it's too jarring, too different, and nobody uses touch on the desktop where most of your sales will be.

Surely he was aware that when the iPhone came out he needed to match it and quickly. Even if not at launch then a couple of months later. Instead he laughed at it and tried to keep with WinCE. Windows Phone is too little too late, sure it's a good system by most accounts, but it is far too late to market because he called the key decision wrongly.

He failed to grasp the tablet idea, even though MS had tablet type things for years.

Instead he has it in his head that by making all things Windows people will buy all things Windows. No, there has to be a compelling reason to do that.

What is his strategy to deal with BYOD? He can't rely on the old model ("nobody ever got sacked for buying MS/IBM") in that space, he has to make a case for MS software/hardware to stand on its own.

MS' board/stockholders have to bite the bullet, and sack Ballmer sooner rather than later, and put in his place someone who can read the future rather than believing they can just bully customers to buy his stuff because they did last time.

That would send a clear "we are listening" to MS' partners. Adding a start button FFS, it's barely a start.

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Re: The problem...

I agree with it being a good idea to replace the Monkey-Dancer-In-Chief, but who is the natural replacement? So much of the good, long-serving talent from within MS has jumped ship during Ballmer's reign.

From what I've heard/read from him, I would like to have seen Nathan Myhrvold at the helm, but I can't see that happening now

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Re: The problem...

TMH - this is the problem, I cannot see a natural successor. Gabe Newall, possibly, but still to MS. I would be inclined to look outside MS and get some fresh thinking unencumbered by the ghosts of MS past, but my shortlist is so short as to be empty.

Apple has the same issue, its just that at the moment Cook has had insufficient time to demonstrate it properly, but he is showing the same signs of keeping the status quo, exactly what Jobs didn't do.

The same will happen to Google as and when Larry/Sergy step down too.

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Facepalm

Re: The problem...

"He failed to grasp the tablet idea, even though MS had tablet type things for years."

I wish they'd done something with their Courier concept instead of trying to shoehorn the same interface onto everything.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nathan Myhrvold

In tomorrow's news: "Nathan Myhrvold has just resigned to spend more time with his family."

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Re: called nearly every shot wrongly

Truth be told, the same is true of Gates (Bob, internet is a fad, etc). The difference is Gates got one right (partnered with IBM to release DOS) that left him off the hook for all the rest of them. And you'll note that I'm not saying DOS per se, but partnering with IBM on the initial sales.

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Re: who is the natural replacement?

There isn't one. They need a new idea and that requires new blood. Somebody who can think outside the box without destroying the box. And that means somebody from outside the company.

If for no other reason than the fun factor of seeing what he'd do with a company that big and that employs so many incompetent programmers, I nominate Torvalds.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The problem...

"I agree with it being a good idea to replace the Monkey-Dancer-In-Chief, but who is the natural replacement?"

Why should he be replaced at all. Let that damn company go to hell this time. They destroyed all those other good systems (Amiga, Atari, RISC OS). Let THEM ROT for once!

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Re: The problem...

I agree with most of what you are saying.  Adding a bit.

- the touch UI aspect of win8 is flawed because of hidden buttons and functions with no visual clues. The start button was always there, but being a hidden pixel in a corner was plain stupid.  Making metro apps run on full screen was stupid.  Keep in mind a metro app for win8 isn't the same one as for winRT or wp8.  So developers have to makem3 versions to debug, etc.  also making win8 desktop ugly isn't cool.    MS is so stupid, they make IE10 for win7 using win8 skin!

- the touch UI fails when MS promotes win8 keyboards with special HOT keys for basic functions.

- I've liked the metro UI on wp7 back when it first came out, I ran a launcher on my android phone,MIT was great.  I was planning on buying a WP8 phone... And the metro launcher for the desktop seemed like a good idea to me since most people use a few apps at the same time.

But after using win8 preview for 20 mins, I knew it was crap.  I and others warned MS the problems.  With MS stupidly, why would I trust them with anything else?    I got an android 4 type phone and love it.  I hate metro and windows 8 and been driven to LinuxMint... Which made far more sense than windows8.

My family is going with playstation4 like many others.

I think many of us have NO CONFIDENCE in Microsoft.  Everything has been a FAIL since 2012.  And we no longer need them.  Windows 8 has only hurt the PC far more than if it never came out

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Re: The problem...

Your post is typical. Its sad to see El Reg comments descend to Slashdot and Engadget levels of immaturity.

Worsened by the fact you got 25 of your little pals to uptick you.

Why would MS sack Ballmer? MS have just had one of their most profitable quarters.

BYOD is severely overhyped, in a way for the channel to flog many people VDi licenses who don't need it.

One of the largest companies in the UK who sell gas just realised this and shelved BYOD as their primary play.

365 versus on premise? Sure, pay once own forever. But you will keep paying over and over again or your storage, your support people, your upgrades. You clearly aren't anything more than probably a desktop analyst who knows diddly squat about how the world actually works.

Anyway, run along home. Hack another ROM onto you Android phone, get cracking with todays Steam deal and leave the IT analysis to the grow ups.

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Devil

Re: The problem... @ Belardi

"I think many of us have NO CONFIDENCE in Microsoft. Everything has been a FAIL since 2012. "

I thought somebody earlier said you'd been handed your hat?

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Re: The problem...

==--

> Its sad to see El Reg comments descend to Slashdot and Engadget levels of immaturity.

What's immature about this discussion? You must be a new hire over there in the Microsoft marketing department. Yes, "you're being childish" is on the list of talking points your boss gave you, but you're only supposed to use it when the anti-MS thread can credibly be called "childish".

> Worsened by the fact you got 25 of your little pals to uptick you.

It's up to 29. With NO downticks.

That really should tell you something.

"The users are all wrong!" is the Redmond mantra. A well-run company would examine each negative comment to find out why people don't like their product. They would actively SEEK criticism. But not Microsoft! Instead, we get this transparent thrashing:

> run along home. Hack another ROM onto your Android phone, get cracking with today's Steam deal and leave the IT analysis to the grownups.

Do you really think *anyone* says that besides poorly-trained marketing shills? Everyone here is an IT analyst. That's who this site is for. (All together now, fellows...)

"AND WE ALL HATE WINDOWS 8!"

You redmond people still don;t get it, do you? You can't bully, ridicule, arm-twist, threaten, force, and fool people to buy your bug-infested, WAY overpriced software anymore.

If you want your faux-outraged propaganda to be taken seriously, you have to talk like REAL people talk. You can't come across as sputtering, red-faced furious at the inexplicable sentiment that Win8 isn't very well designed. Even people who like Win8 (if there are any) won't become aggressive and hostile and abusive when someone disagrees with them about an O/S interface. It makes you sound like a psychotic buffoon even though you're not psychotic.

Son, you aren't in the marketing-majors' frat house anymore. My advice is to get a REAL job, like throwing burgers at the Redmond McDonald's. Because when the layoffs start in the fall, you new hires will be the first to be unceremoniously thrown overboard by Ballmer.

If he doesn't give a dam about his customers, he certainly doesn't care about YOU.

♥,

--faye kane ♀ girl brain

sexiest astrophysicist you'll ever see naked

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Re: The problem...

==--

> Why should he be replaced at all. Let that damn company go to hell this time.

I completely agree! I went from "dump Ballmer NOW" to "the best thing for the users is for Microsoft to have to eat shh it until it learns not to be arrogant." Let the incompetent, Peter-unprincipled, furniture aerodynamicist monkey dancer run MS into the ground and wallow in the mud for awhile.

Only then do I want Gates to intervene and fire Ballmer.

Only then will it be obvious to every exec in Redmond why MS failed.

Only THEN will whoever replaces him not make the arrogance mistake.

The biggest problem with Microsoft is not that they do what's best for them instead of what's best for the customers; the problem with Microsoft is that they think there's a difference.

-- faye kane ♀ homeless brain

sexiest astrophysicist you'll ever see naked

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