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  (Source: AP)
But Ballmer says improvements, including a new Surface and a new Metro Start Button, will win customers back

At a quarterly all-hands type meeting, Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) boisterous and ebullient CEO Steve Ballmer was more sedate than usual.  While he raved about the upcoming next generation Surface tablet -- which was garnering rave reviews internally -- he also reportedly owned up to an unpleasant fact that Windows 8 isn't selling well.

The news -- which was pretty much a known fact to analysts and tech enthusiasts already -- came shortly after Microsoft's major leadership shakeup, in which it put the people in charge of Windows 8 (Julie Larson-Green, Tami Reller) in charge of key leadership positions over the entire company.

Revenue for the Windows unit dropped 55 percent (-$1.3B USD) in the second calendar quarter of the year (Microsoft's fiscal Q4 2013).  After beating street expectations the previous quarter, Microsoft saw its efforts unravel badly with sales of both Windows and the embattled first generation Surface sinking to Vista-like levels of market apathy.

Steve Ballmer
Windows 8 is turning into a nightmare for CEO Steve Ballmer. [Image Source: AP]

Microsoft and Mr. Ballmer came under fire from some of their major partners.  Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) blamed Microsoft for drooping PC (and by proxy semiconductor component) sales.  Jun Dong-soo, head of the memory chip unit who sells DRAM and NAND to PC makers, called Windows 8 "less competitive" and complained, "[It is] no better than the previous Windows Vista platform."

Those are pretty harsh words coming from a major partner.

At the meeting Mr. Ballmer tried to convince employees that the free Windows 8.1 update would make up for the flop of its predecessor.  He pointed to the return of a "Start Button" (although it's not the Start Button you used to know) and the use of telemetry data to improve weak spots in Windows 8 as critical keys to the turnaround.  He also discussed increasing spending on professional services (consulting), although the leaks from the meeting made it unclear whether Microsoft is looking to recruit outside consultation for itself or make money off providing it to others.

Windows 8.1 Preview
Ballmer thinks a new Metro Start Button will thrill Windows fans back to the ranks.
 
In the second calendar quarter Google Inc. (GOOG) ChromeBooks gained major ground on Windows PCs, establishing a beachhead of approximately 4-5 percent of total personal computer sales, and a quarter of <$300 USD personal computer sales.  Some OEMs such as Samsung and Acer, Inc. (TPE:2357) (another prominent critics of Windows 8) have turned to Chromebook offerings, and may be eyeing dumping Microsoft entirely, shoudl consumers continue embracing Google's offerings and rejecting Microsoft's.

Microsoft can take some solace in that Apple, Inc. (AAPL) saw sales of its Mac computers miss expectations, leaving Google the only clear winner in the PC market for the quarter.

Source: NeoWin



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RE: MS just doesn't get it...
By Reclaimer77 on 7/25/2013 3:33:45 PM , Rating: 3
Exactly.

Microsoft was so clearly on the right path with Windows 7. It was the most dominating OS they've ever had. Almost flawless in what people want and need in a desktop OS. For personal use AND work.

Microsoft is a company and as such, I see nothing wrong with trying to make more profits. But Windows 8 was such a horrible attempt to monetize an OS Apple-style, that there's no way it should have been released as-is.

Touch UI's and App Stores and what-not are all fine and good. But they don't belong on a desktop Windows OS. There's a reason why the iPhone runs iOS and not OSX, or visa versa.


RE: MS just doesn't get it...
By Riusaki on 7/25/13, Rating: 0
RE: MS just doesn't get it...
By NAVAIR on 7/26/2013 12:42:27 PM , Rating: 2
iOS and OSX are a GUI on Darwin on Unix much like KDE and Gnome on Linux. The guts are still the same.


RE: MS just doesn't get it...
By kleinma on 7/25/13, Rating: -1
RE: MS just doesn't get it...
By inighthawki on 7/25/2013 4:09:15 PM , Rating: 2
I want to see metro apps behave just like desktop apps. There should be nothing special about the window that each is displayed in except metro apps should be "capable" of going fullscreen, as opposed to "always" being fullscreen.

The other change I would love to see is for the new UI interface code to allow resource themes other than metro. The composition and graphics available in metro apps is far beyond what is available in GDI on the desktop, but even in a window, these apps would look odd and out of place with their metroish theme. The user should be able to add user controls such as buttons, check boxes, and lists that appear indistinguishable from desktop controls, but all run on top of the new and improved code.

I should be able to make an GUI based app entirely in win32 and one based on XAML and have the two appear identical side by side.


RE: MS just doesn't get it...
By domboy on 7/26/2013 8:28:38 AM , Rating: 2
I agree... my biggest problem with modern ui is that not everything should be a full screen app. It's even more apparent the larger the screen. Snap might be an ok way to have two apps running on a small screen, but again, it's not a good replacement for windows. Update WinRT to be able to run on the desktop. Make more tweaks or options to make the desktop more touch friendly or perhaps a create touch mode you can toggle like they do with Office 2013/RT.

While we're at it, unlock the desktop on ARM devices. That is such a backwards and frustrating decision. As nice a device as the Surface RT is, I won't recommend it to anyone just because of this.


RE: MS just doesn't get it...
By piroroadkill on 7/26/2013 10:24:10 AM , Rating: 2
What you want is Stardock's ModernMix.

It exists. Microsoft can give you the product you and everyone else wants.

Stardock already did it, with Start8 and ModernMix.

However, Microsoft simply doesn't give a single shit. They're trying to be Apple, which was always "my way or the highway".


RE: MS just doesn't get it...
By acer905 on 7/26/2013 12:48:07 PM , Rating: 2
One system I can see would be to have a gesture-like method to scale the "size" of the metro app. A two-finger pinch zooms in and out on the app, why not have a three-finger pinch stretch the size of the app. Then just use the Win7 system of remembering the size of an app the last time it was closed so that it opens the same size. And, let the same gesture control Win32 programs as well.


RE: MS just doesn't get it...
By robinthakur on 7/29/2013 6:47:45 AM , Rating: 2
I think that (one of) the big problem with Windows 8 is that you have apps which behave differently on desktop, compared to the modern interface. Having two versions of IE, Lync etc is really dumb and difficult to explain to end users, what the difference is and why it matters. iPad doesn't have two versions of Safari. If I have my full screen MS Lync running at the same time as my desktop app Lync, the results aren't pretty.

There are also apps which could never hope to run as full screen full touch apps, like Visual Studio, and I do think that touch screen apps need to be considered differently in terms of their design, so hmm, Microsoft have pushed themselves down a very tricky road here...When I'm using a touch screen Windows 8 tablet and am in desktop mode, its all a bit painful to use: the keyboard doesn't pop up whenever you need to use it, and some webpages and apps just don't work correctly (like Chrome).

I don't see why it is isn't possible to just have profiles saying what sort of device you are using, like in Media Centre setup and Windows just gets customised for your install. That would be a one size fits all approach which works and would seem to keep a lot of people happy! Windows 8 contains lots of cool technology like Hyper-V on the desktop and the improved copying, global search etc. so it is a real shame that it is the Modern UI which has sunk the ship and stopped people appreciating the hard work which has obviously gone into it!

On a slightly selfish note, I hope MS does not go down because my business is SharePoint, and there is the risk that people will start to turn away from Microsoft entirely. I already find that what would have been laughable options 5 years ago such as Google enterprise apps and OSX/iOS in the workplace are taken seriously now, simply because MS have shown such poor judgement of late in some of their most highly publicised products, and people had managed for so long in an increasingly mobile device-centric business world without access to MS Office or Windows, that it has got them thinking. On the server end, MS is clearly moving towards the Cloud services model for most of its products rather than on premise, and there, MS Azure is having to complete heavily with Google and Amazon. It's going to be interesting...


RE: MS just doesn't get it...
By JPForums on 7/26/2013 8:00:04 AM , Rating: 2
It is funny how many posts I've read that criticize Microsoft for trying to be like Apple, and then go on to use Apple as an example of the way it should be done. At least your points make some sense.

I do disagree on one account, though. While Windows 7 was and still is the best desktop OS for both personal and professional use, there is an increasing number of people leaning towards convergence devices that Windows 7 is ill suited to handle. Many people who buy a tablet start questioning their need for a desktop/laptop computer. I've even seen a few dump their desktop/laptop only to buy another several months down the road, when they realize that traditional tablets aren't well suited for productive use. While I don't think everyone will end up there, I do think convergence devices will occupy a not-so-insignificant portion of the market once they are executed well enough.

I still think an auto mode switcher that gives you a traditional desktop environment while docked and a tablet environment while on the go would be ideal. Obviously, I'd want access to either at any given time, but the ability to choose which interface I default to in any given situation would make things much simpler.

Also, I see no reason why applications should be divided by metro and non-metro. This is an arbitrary distinction that only serves to get in the way of the seamless crossover that a convergence device is trying to accomplish.

In short, Windows 7 is great for today's computing environment, but not necessarily for tomorrow's. Windows 8 is a forward looking OS, but still leaves some things to be desired, especially in today's computing environment.


RE: MS just doesn't get it...
By Moishe on 7/26/2013 5:04:29 PM , Rating: 2
You're right.

on the other hand, new profit streams usually come from risk... so it makes sense that they'd try something new.

They should have made a new mobile OS that would be good for tablets, and a new desktop OS that had all of the underlying performance improvements of Win 8 but still had the basic usability in the Win 7 design.

I hate to say it, but it seems a bit like flailing. Apple seems to really think things through before making a move. Apple seems to focus on one or two areas and then try to blow everyone else out of the water in those areas. I usually don't agree with Apple's concept of what is the most important, but at least they usually execute pretty well.

Microsoft needs to understand what makes Windows the dominant OS and enhance the whole experience without breaking the core reasons people use it. MS needs to stop and understand what they own and think about how to blow everyone else out of the water in a particular area. Maybe they did this with Win8.. but if they did, they're idiots because as well as metro works on a tablet, it blows on a desktop. They've made one set of customers happy at the expense of another set. That's just stupid.


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