Apr 052013

Facebook just had its turn in the fisting Google queue by joining hands with HTC to deliver a lariat to Android. I’ll have some more thoughts about that later, but I just wanted to say a few words about Microsoft’s pissy response to the news. The adorable Frank X. Shaw delivered a predictable “Yea, but we did it first” tantrum via The Official Microsoft Blog, citing the Microsoft’s Window Phone launch event in 2011 as being similar to that of the HTC First. Just like Bill Gates invented the iPad in 2001.

For a moment let’s set aside the premise that its antics in the 90’s should effectively shut Microsoft up about anyone copying from them until the end of time. There are some caterwaul-specific aspects of Shaw’s post I find particularly hilarious. First is that Microsoft was hardly the first OS to “Put People First”: they borrowed that metaphor pretty heavily from WebOS’s Synergy. Second, and perhaps more galling, is the fact that Facebook was pretty much the cornerstone of Microsoft’s strategy. Without Facebook integration, Windows Phone would have weaker legs than it already does.

One bonus bit of hilarity: Shaw’s choice of video to exemplify the fact that Facebook chose the same three words to launch their phone that Microsoft did in 2011 depicts Windows Phone 7.5 – aka “The Road to Nowhere“. Fitting that Shaw would brag about “Putting People First” by linking to a promo for an OS that upgraded buyers of Nokia 900s by making them grab their ankles 3 months after they bought their Windows Phones.

Then again, hasn’t that always been Redmond’s way of “Putting People First”?

Jun 212012

Seems like only a few months ago Microsoft announced the fruits of its partnership with beleaguered Nokia. Actually, it was only a few months ago. Released in April, the Lumia 900 was launched with much fanfare, and promptly fell on its face. It was a big, inexpensive smartphone that brought little else to the table aside from its tiled start screen. The reviews were meh. But it was something to build on.

Or something to burn down and start over from.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced its eagerly anticipated update to Windows Phone 7 in line with the announcement of the Windows 8 Surface tablets and with that announcement, they buried their 3 month old flagship. That’s not entirely true: Windows did announce an upgrade for current WP 7.5 customers. Windows 7.8 will bring many of the Windows 8 features to folks that just bought their 900s. Not only will they get the “re-imagined” Windows 8 Start screen, they’ll be able to resize those tiles (three tile sizes instead of one!). They also get WP 8’s ability to perform updates from the phone. You might ask what the point of the last feature is, given that the road ahead of 7.8 reads “Bridge Out”.

It gets worse. Not only are none of the other features of Windows Phone 8 coming to the WP 7 users, apps written for WP 8 won’t be compatible with 7.8. It’s fair to say between now and this fall, when WP 8 is scheduled for release, you won’t see a ton of development on the side of the tracks with the warehouse buildings and the brothel.

And you thought iOS legacy support was brutal.

Apr 232012

I always enjoy reading the thoughts of (usually former) employees about their experiences in-country. The latest dissident from Microsoft, Max Zachariades, paints a picture of the stagnating dinosaur for TechCrunch, calling the company out to be pretty much how I envision them:

This company is becoming the McDonalds of computing. Cheap, mass products, available everywhere. No nutrients, no ideas, no culture. Windows 8 is a fine example. The new Metro interface displays nonstop, trivial updates from Facebook, Twitter, news sites and stock tickers. Streams of raw noise distract users from the moment they login.

The OP ends up getting fired for emailing his higher-ups about the wastefulness that has come to define Microsoft’s culture. This is a company that will continue to operate on the vig afforded them by their Windows and Office Empires. One by one, as workplace consumers  push their preferences and take their choices back from their IT drones, the company will falter. It may take another decade, but this is a company well on its way to obsolescence.

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Feb 292012

I’ve been running the Windows 8 developer build in VMWare Fusion and while I like some of its more ambitious features, I soon realized what I liked probably won’t appeal to anyone who currently uses Windows in their core setup. What I liked was Metro, with its multitude of gestures and enhanced sharing options. I spent very little time in the true Windows environment which, unfortunately for 90% of future users, is going to be where they will spend their time. Taken as a whole it struck me, as it did several people, as a stapling of a touch UI on top of Windows 7. Now that the Consumer Preview is available and the “first look” reviews are streaming in, the criticism of the Two OSs, One Cup device approach is continuing to stick in craws. From Engadget:

Now, as we creep closer to a likely release near the end of this year, we can’t shake a sense of doubt. Windows 8 still feels like two very different operating systems trying to be one. The potential is hugely alluring — a single OS to rule both the tablet and the desktop — and with each subsequent version we keep hoping this will be the one that ties it all together. Sadly, as of the Consumer Preview, we’re still seeing a lot of loose threads.

As it stands, Windows 8 is a considerably better tablet operating system than any previous version has managed to be. However, it’s still a clumsier desktop OS than Windows 7. That’s a problem Microsoft must fix before release.

Microsoft needs to enter the world of touch-enabled devices. Microsoft is due for a refresh of its desktop operating system. For the company to provide the same answer to two different questions is not the approach that Apple is taking, and I don’t think it will bode well for either endeavor.

Feb 172012

Maybe something representative of the user experience. Maybe something that depicts how the user will feel once they realize they’re essentially running iWindows OS on top of Windows 7 for no good reason. Let’s show people what that would look like against all of our previous logos to give them a sense of how it evolved.

Hmmm…needs more fire.

Jan 122012

The Corporate Vice President for Corporate Communications at Microsoft (Redundancy Division), Frank X. Shaw, may well be the anti-Christ, but man I love it when he gets in Google’s shit. Remember when the Chief Shyster at Google started whining about the nature of patents and claimed that Redmond was “out to get” Android by teaming up with Apple, RIM, Sony and others to swipe the Nortel patents out from under them? Remember when Shaw tweeted the actual email that Google sent to Microsoft about a potential partnership that said “thanks, but no thanks“? Shaw may bear the mark of the beast, but he’s fucking hilarious.

Shaw’s latest dig refers to all the scratch Microsoft is making off of Android’s OEMs through the license agreements that all of the big manufacturers have been signing:


Redmond tipped the 70% point after signing up LG for the “extended we won’t sue your ass warranty”. The only major manufacturer not paying out to Microsoft? Hint: they duped Google into overpaying for them. Motorola gets to hide under Larry’s skirt while everyone else pays their tithe. That deal just gets better and better.

It’s a shame we don’t know how much these manufacturers are ponying up for the privilege of having Microsoft do nothing for them, but for the companies making Google’s kit, it’s as free as it is open. It has to be especially tough for suckers like HTC, which just announced that their October-to-December profits fell 41%.

So shine on, Frank X Shaw, you crazy diamond. The enemy of my enemy is…well…still my enemy. But Apple is stomping your hapless corpse in PC growth and in every category of consumer electronics where you two compete, so it’s easy to laugh at your tweets.

Sep 282011

I remember reading that Microsoft made more money from licensing agreements related to Android than it did from its own Windows Phone 7. Now another shrimp is grilling on the barbie. Samsung, the largest maker of Android phones, is now the 7th manufacturer to agree to some sort of license deal with Microsoft, leaving soon-to-be-acquired Motorola as the only major player still in Redmond’s sights. As FOSS Patent’s Florian Mueller points out, this makes it pretty clear that Samsung doesn’t have faith that Googlerola is the answer to its prayers, while also making the likelihood of Google having to ante up to Microsoft for its blushing bride a certainty.

I guess “Google’s deep commitment to defending Android, its partners, and the ecosystem” doesn’t reflect Samsung’s deep commitment to sit around and wait for it to happen.

Sep 272011

The Mini-Microsoft blog is intended to be an “insider” view of Redmond operations from the perspective of the average employee. If you compare the anonymous writer’s rant about the Kin debacle (to which I thoroughly enjoyed linking) to his rosy summation of the Microsoft annual all-hands meeting on Friday, you’d think they were written by two different people (a theory actually put forth in the comments).

And speaking of comments: holy shit. If this is the way Microsoft employees feel about their products and their leadership, they’re worse off than I hoped imagined.  I tried to find a single positive offering, but had to give up once my scrolling fingers (Trackpad, natch) cramped. I’d chalk up the comments to trolling, but these guys’ lingo is very company-specific. If some of them are to be believed, people actually got up and walked out of the event when Ballmer took the stage. I don’t know where you work, but if I pulled that shit, I’d be tazed in the balls and wake up coasting down Broadway duct-taped to an office chair with my personal effects in my lap.

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Jul 132011

To put it another way, Apple’s retail sales for the first quarter of 2011 accounted for 1/5 of all retail growth. In the pool of every dollar gained by all publicly-traded retailers year-over-year, Apple accounted for 20%. That is unbelievable. USA Today has the scoop.

Applying the same logic they used with the Zune and Windows Phone 7, Microsoft heard there were huge margins to be made in retail, so they’ve committing to building another 75 Microsoft stores within the next 2-3 years.

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