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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 kleinma on 7/25/2013 3:44:42 PM , Rating: -1
I have a 27" 10 point touch screen desktop machine. So a touchUI is very welcome there.

If anything MS should simply have not forced the start screen front and center, which is something they are fixing in 8.1.

The other issues is that metro is still too isolated from the desktop. They really need a way to have running metro apps appear in the desktop taskbar, or something like that. I don't know what would be the most elegant solution, but they need less segregation between the two top level UI's that you have in Windows 8. Metro apps on the right side bar is not intuitive enough for users. Especially when MS has not put anything into user education on how to use Windows 8.

At home I don't have a touch screen, and run Windows 8, but once I click "desktop", I never find myself back in the start screen, unless I am launching an infrequently used app that isn't pinned to my taskbar.

Bottom line (in my opinion of course) is that Windows 8 is not bad. It needs some polish, even more than 8.1 is bringing, but its not bad, especially if you do happen to use it on both touch and non touch interfaces.

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...

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