Monday, December 3, 2012

Sorry Paul Thurrott, but Microsoft's Mobile Strategy is Wrong.

On Sunday, Windows pundit, Paul Thurrott wrote an opinion piece Microsoft’s Mobile Strategy is Correct and frankly it annoyed me. I have a great deal of respect for Paul, he is a great source for understanding all things Microsoft, but sometimes he is totally blind to Microsoft's problems.

His lead:
With Windows 8 off to an allegedly “awkward” start, some tech industry bloggers are starting to write Microsoft’s obituary, which requires actively forgetting how diverse this company really is. But rather than focus on the broader company, I’d like to hone in on one area that I think doesn’t get enough attention: Microsoft mobile strategy actually makes sense.
That strategy is: Bring the 1.3 billion Windows users forward to a completely new mobile platform, which is still called Windows, by combining the legacy past (desktop) with the mobile future (Metro), and do so while keeping an eye on what Microsoft calls the next billion customers.
He goes on to criticize various other opinionators for complaining about the dual nature of the Windows 8 interface.

Today, faced with clear evidence that Windows 8 is indeed off to an "awkward" start, Paul blamed OEMs for Windows 8's difficulties.

First, how can it ever be a correct strategy to force your customers to a completely new platform?  Microsoft should attract customers to their new platform.

Second, from a user interface perspective, how can it ever be a good idea to stick two platforms together that work in a very different fashion?  That is quite simply a formula for making it harder to get your work done. Does he really want to argue that is a good strategy?  The strategy might be good for Microsoft, but it is definitely bad for the customers.

Third, Windows 8 has far more problems than the dual nature of the platform:
  • Microsoft has declared the Win32 APIs "legacy", but the new WinRT APIs are missing vast numbers of things necessary to make applications. Microsoft themselves did not manage to make their Office Suite work there. This should not be news to Paul, ISVs complained bitterly about this for a year before Windows 8 launched.
  • Microsoft totally changed the way developers develop and distribute apps. They have a walled garden that is nearly as restrictive as Apple's. And with their UI requirements, it might even be worse than Apple. Developers put up with Apple because they have market share (and will leave quickly when that market share evaporates because Apple is obnoxious). Microsoft is starting out with no market share, is as obnoxious as Apple and doesn't even provide a rich API for product development. What developer wants to do work there? There are plenty of other places to go.
  • Windows 8 phone and Windows 8 RT are two different platforms, while you can reuse some code between them, developers really need to treat them as separate. The stupidity of this is breathtaking.
  • OEMs know developers are unhappy. OEMs know the dual interface is awkward. Microsoft unexpectedly went into competition with the OEMs. OEMs are being gouged by Microsoft for Windows RT on ARM. Microsoft was late delivering Windows 8 to the OEMs and the product is clearly unfinished. How can you blame OEMs for not rushing to provide systems? A combination of Intel's high CPU prices and Microsoft's Windows 8 pricing means that Windows 8 tablet pricing from OEMs simply cannot compete with even the iPad, let alone the Google Nexus 7/10.
Microsoft and Intel are the ones to blame for Windows 8's problems. They have grown fat off their captive OEM market and the OEMs can no longer survive in that climate. Bloatware (OEM's worst sin) was just the OEMs trying to find some way to make a profit in spite of Microsoft/Intel overhead.

Normal consumers are realizing just how silly a $800 laptop is, and are just not going to buy that any more.

What consumer (or even business) needs Microsoft Office when there is LibreOffice and Google Docs? Yet Microsoft is raising Office prices, I'm sure that will work well. :-)

During the same period that NPD said laptop sales were down 24%, the ARM-based Samsung Chromebook ($249) sells out instantly every time a new batch arrives. Android tablets did not seem to have had any difficulty selling (in fact they overwhelmingly led Amazon's top 20) in this same period. Apple stores were seen to be be busy on Black Friday. Apple had a laptop in the top 20 at Amazon through out that whole period, and I suspect Apple Stores sold a few as well. On Black Friday, I saw plenty of Windows 8 systems at the local Best Buy, there were touch screen models too, and Windows 8 hybrids and a touch all-in-one as well. They just were not selling. (People did look, frowned, and then went to the tablets that are not so massively overpriced.)

Face it Paul, consumers just don't need or want Microsoft any more. And if you want to see how that leads to the decline of Microsoft's "diverse" other interests, I suggest you read the articles below:

Finally, it looks like OEMs are starting to fight back:

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