Jun 232011

The customer satisfaction mavens over at J.D. Power clobbered Ford’s vehicles in their annual Initial Quality survey, moving them from 5th place last year to 23rd. A major reason? Microsoft’s Sync entertainment and phone interface. According to David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power:

“People were finding several problems with the system in that it would crash, freeze, black out,” said Sargent. “Beyond that, people complained that it was more complex to use than they would like.”

An overly-complicated computing interface that periodically crashes? You can’t make this stuff up people.

 Posted by at 3:51 pm  Tagged with:
Jun 012011

Imagine all the hand-wringing and chair tossing in Redmond since Apple released the iPad in 2010. First the iPhone, now this? We’ve been poking our fat fingers at tablet PC’s for a decade to choruses of laughter and Apple swoops in with another touch-based product? Such embarrassment. Now imagine all that frustration being channeled into the next version of Windows “codenamed” Windows 8 and this video will make more sense to you.

You wanted touch? Windows 8 has touch, goddammit!

I can honestly say that some of the features debuted look like a fresh take on a mobile OS. Some sensible gesturing, a cool way of interacting with 2 apps simultaneously. Here’s the problem: this UI is a response to the iPad. There’s a reason why Apple segregated iOS and OS X. In classic Microsoft “Windows everywhere” fashion, they’re attempting to layer a touch-based interface with yummy buzzwords like “HTML5” and “JavaScript” over the top of a desktop and file system. How will people using a keyboard and mouse interact with this layer? How happy will people be swiping and tablet-typing in Excel?

If this is the trajectory Microsoft is going to continue on, they’re headed for head-on collision between their legacy users and their desperate 3-years-too-late attempt to enter the touch OS market.

May 252011

In a way, you have to feel badly for Steve Ballmer. As svelte technology companies continue to run circles around Microsoft, slowly bleeding it of market presence, Balmy continues to chortle and guffaw at any suggestion that Microsoft is losing relevance. Earlier this week at a developer’s conference in Japan, followers of the company were treated to a little inside information about the next generation of the Windows operating system straight from the horse’s mouth:

“And yet, as we look forward to the next generation of Windows systems, which will come out next year, there’s a whole lot more coming. As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors.”

This transcript comes directly from Microsoft, which is funny, because this morning the company retracted it, saying “It appears there was a misstatement…To date, we have yet to formally announce any timing or naming for the next version of Windows.”

Could you imagine the cacophony of gut-splitting laughter you’d hear across the Internet if Steve Jobs misspoke so fundamentally about one of his products? Could you then imagine Apple coming out the next day and saying, in so many words, “he doesn’t know what he’s talking about”? As CEO, you represent the company; you are the company. How can this clown possibly get so far off script, and how much worse does it look to have your PR flacks negate the words of its leader recorded in its own transcript?

Just another day in the Bizzaro universe of Microsoft.

 Posted by at 10:25 am  Tagged with:
Apr 042011

What do you get when you take the most universally-loathed UI elements from Microsoft Office and combine them with your core OS? If the pics at withinWindows are to be believed, Windows 8. In these “leaked” screenshots, we get several representations of how this scheme might work, each of them feeling like a punch delivered directly to your eyeball.

In the spirit of the Windows Phone 7 “Really” ad campaign, TMA would like to suggest a launch tagline for Windows’ new UI.

Windows 8 Ribbon: Hang Yourself


 Posted by at 8:17 am  Tagged with:
Mar 302011

Paul Allen invented modern computing. All of it. In fact, between Allen and Al Gore, our entire society of connected computing was birthed. You’re welcome. Allen also patented a bunch of it, and he’s in the process of getting people to pay. I wonder how many of Allen’s infamous patent claims will be substantiated by “Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-founder of Microsoft” slated for release April 17. I say “wonder” because I have no intention of buying it. Continue reading

Mar 222011

Poor MG Siegler. He’s a writer for TechCrunch, which is pretty bad in itself. Two words: Mike Arrington. When your site’s founder isn’t hyping a tablet project that ended up getting yoinked by his partner, only to have it launch DOA, its filling its RSS feed with doth-protest-too-much entries about maintaining its journalistic integrity after selling out to AOL. So, you may ask, what’s worse than writing for TechCrunch? Writing the de facto Apple beat and liking the company you’re writing about. Perusing the comment sections of one of his articles is like watching a predator-prey scenario unfold on the Serengeti, except in this case the hyenas are retarded. Continue reading

Mar 142011

Today Microsoft made one of their now-famous “soft announcements” – an evasive answer to a call-out that signals something more significant – regarding their personal media player, the Zune. In response to a leak that there would be no further development of the iPod Me-Too, Redmond issued their standard sleight-of-hand response. From Bloomberg:

“We have nothing to announce about another Zune device — but most recently have introduced Zune HD to Canada via the Zune Originals store and remain committed to supporting our devices in North America,”

Translation: “We’re not making another Zune. We feel the vision of mediocrity for our music players is more compatible with our shitty smartphones. And we hate Canadians.”

Microsoft’s consumer electronics are faceplanting with the frequency of an X-Games highlight reel, and are just about as fun to watch.

Feb 222011

Microsoft has been stamping their wares on silicon longer than the Gizmodo editorial board has been alive, which is to say that they should know what they’re doing. Windows Phone 7 is Microsoft’s way-late entry into an already-crowded smartphone arena, so you’d figure the seamless execution of its first software update would be the company’s top priority. Unfortunately for Redmond, despite the centuries of experience and the pressure to get everything right for any shot at a foothold in a market dominated by Apple and Google, Microsoft fucked up their first update – bigtime. How big? According to Ars Technica:

“For lucky individuals, the process merely hangs on step seven (out of ten); rebooting the phone resurrects it, albeit without the upgrade. For a minority of unlucky users, the process fails at step six, and corrupts the phone’s firmware. What’s worse is that for some of them it appears to be bricking the phone completely, rendering it useless.”

I also found this bit about how to find out if your smartphone is going to implode when updating entertaining:

“Figuring out which firmware version you have is a somewhat awkward procedure. From the phone’s dialer, type ##634#, then press the call button. This will start up Samsung’s Diagnosis application.

In the Diagnosis application, type *#1234#. This will show a screen of detailed version information. It’s the first three version numbers (for “PDA”, “Phone”, and “CSC”) that are relevant here. If the firmware versions are older (JIx, JJx) then the update probably won’t work; if they’re newer (JKx) it probably will.”

Sounds a lot like a troubleshooting procedure for a certain desktop OS. To all you IT dickheads who stood by your man and sold this bag of turds as the enterprise solution to your company, please commence sucking it.

In a way, I wish Microsoft would throttle back on the cock-ups, lest parties concerned about the direction of the company become alerted and attempt to seize control. To date, it appears that investors and the all-star board of directors are content to watch this flaming car wreck unfold in slow-motion frame by hilarious frame.

Feb 102011

A while back, I wrote about a sad panda Steve Ballmer who, months after poking an HP/Windows conflagration called “Slate” at CES 2010, had HP announce they were yanking the device from production in favor of developing their own OS via their Palm acquisition. Whereas in the past, this kind of betrayal would have led to scorched earth in 5 mile radius around HP’s Palo Alto headquarters, in 2010 all Microsoft could do was tear up quiver-lipped and choke on the new normal: that Microsoft was no longer a player and can’t afford to burn any of its partners, no matter how overtly or spectacularly they embarrass the company. In a huff, Microsoft spitefully fired Robbie Bach, grabbed a couple of pints of Ben and Jerry’s and passed out on the couch during a “Drop Dead Diva” marathon. So I hear.

It looks like HP is making good on its emasculation: enter the HP TouchPad, a 9.7” tablet (*yawn*) running a jumbo version of Palm’s WebOS. It will be available this summer, meaning like every Palm product, it will be competing with the newly-minted version of Apple’s product – in this case the iPad2 – which means it’ll bomb.

But I appreciate HP taking one for the team to make Ballmer look like a bigger douche. Not that he needed any help.

 Posted by at 10:15 am  Tagged with: ,
Feb 022011

TMA and Microsoft have their differences. Hell, it’s the biggest tag on this site – and it’s not close. But even Redmond is wise to Google’s nonsensical move to yank support for H.264 as an HTML5 standard. In a blog post, Internet Explorer’s chief Dean Hachamovitch, a man whose last name is a microcosm of IE’s usability, weighed in on Google’s beneficence, calling it “a red herring; a tactic in their war with Apple”. TMA said “Anyone who thinks Google’s announcement to ditch H.264 is about the “Open Web” and not about making a power play against Apple’s mobile devices has their head up their ass.”

Even Microsoft is calling bullshit.

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