Linked by Kroc Camen on Thu 31st Dec 2009 14:13 UTC
Microsoft BetaNews writes: "Microsoft executives and product managers -- Chairman Bill Gates, above all of them -- showed great technology vision for the new millennium. The company was right about so many trends to come but, sadly, executed poorly in bringing too many of them to market. Microsoft's stiffness, perhaps a sign of its aging leadership, consistently proved its foible. Then there is arcane organizational structure, which has swelled with needless middle managers, and the system of group competition".
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Office-/XBox360 fan speaking
by kragil on Thu 31st Dec 2009 15:00 UTC
kragil
Member since:
2006-01-04

The Xbox sofar has cost MS billions and is not even close to breaking even the new Office UI is not really welcomed by business.

The only real success MS had in the last decade was Sharepoint PERIOD
It is earning billions, it is new and not fueled by inertia like Windows and Office.

Reply Score: 5

modmans2ndcoming Member since:
2005-11-09

Actually, the new UI is a huge success.

Reply Score: 1

softdrat Member since:
2008-09-17

Regarding Office 2007

>>Actually, the new UI is a huge success.<<

Some may consider it a success, but I could never figure it out. Someone sends me a .pptx file, I have to convert it to a .ppt format then edit in OpenOffice. MS Office 2007 - a giant leap nowhere.

Edited 2010-01-01 01:33 UTC

Reply Score: 4

modmans2ndcoming Member since:
2005-11-09

some people are more flexible than others I guess.

Reply Score: 2

JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Someone sends me a .pptx file, I have to convert it to a .ppt


When someone sends me a .pptx I send it back and ask for a normal version. So far, I had only ONE such incident. Businesses have not yet migrated to the new Office, not will they migrate in the nearest year. That is my experience in the field, with really big companies.

Reply Score: 2

v What about Server 2003/2008?
by nt_jerkface on Thu 31st Dec 2009 16:15 UTC in reply to "Office-/XBox360 fan speaking"
RE: What about Server 2003/2008?
by SlackerJack on Thu 31st Dec 2009 16:31 UTC in reply to "What about Server 2003/2008?"
SlackerJack Member since:
2005-11-12

Profit isn't enough for Microsoft, control is. Microsoft has failed to control such areas and it's actually declining.

Regaining control of what you controlled last year is not a win in my book, but Microsoft will make billions regardless.

Reply Score: 5

nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

They've never controlled the server or console sphere nor do they expect total control. They want to make a profit for shareholders.

I'm actually surprised they've been able to maintain their Office dominance for this long. The fact that they can sell the professional edition for $400 says a lot. If you call that decline then what would failure be for them? Being forced to sell an extremely popular software product with reasonable profit margins?

Reply Score: 3

fretinator Member since:
2005-07-06

I'm actually surprised they've been able to maintain their Office dominance for this long. The fact that they can sell the professional edition for $400 says a lot. If you call that decline then what would failure be for them? Being forced to sell an extremely popular software product with reasonable profit margins?


A little-known fact is that Microsoft essentially does not sell software to the general public. Very few people buy $400 copies of Office, or $300 copies of Windows 7. Instead, the vast majority of Microsoft sales is to OEM's, Businesses, Schools, etc. These are volume licenses that are substantially less than the public price. These public prices might as well be $10,000. They do not matter in the big scheme of things.

Reply Score: 9

bfr99 Member since:
2007-03-15

The same is true for the OS as well. That is, most Windows OS sales are for new machines. Almost by definition those owning older machines lack the money (or desire) to buy new hardware as well as software.

Reply Score: 2

nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

A little-known fact is that Microsoft essentially does not sell software to the general public. Very few people buy $400 copies of Office, or $300 copies of Windows 7.


Heh? MS Office has been a top seller on Amazon for years. SMBs will buy professional at $300 since they write off half of it anyways. As a percentage of employee costs it is peanuts.

Reply Score: 1

RE: What about Server 2003/2008?
by jabbotts on Thu 31st Dec 2009 23:35 UTC in reply to "What about Server 2003/2008?"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

"What was the result of the Vista bashing anyways? They were forced to sell Windows 7 early?"

Your Welcome.

Reply Score: 4

RE: What about Server 2003/2008?
by xaeropower on Fri 1st Jan 2010 01:21 UTC in reply to "What about Server 2003/2008?"
xaeropower Member since:
2005-12-16

Yah I have to agree, MS could take a 10 times bigger failure than vista was and would be np for them.

I just ain't think it's about making quality and generally better software for them anymore but to maintain a company and generate jobs. Srsly why vista was failed is because the public, companies+home users didn't feel the need of it and there is none. You got a better looking workspace with shiny icons and it's slow like f--k. How does this make your business better? It doesn't, it just make you waste up more money on buying new hw for it.

I couldn't even say that gaming is better on vista/win7 cause it isn't and many old games doesn't work on win7, thats why I wiped it down after 2 weeks.

Reply Score: 2

RE: What about Server 2003/2008?
by shotsman on Fri 1st Jan 2010 05:52 UTC in reply to "What about Server 2003/2008?"
shotsman Member since:
2005-07-22

While the XBox 360 has probably made them some money its reliability is very poor.
My Nephew got one for Christmas. By 5pm on the 26th, it was dead. Red Screened.
Apparently all the kids in his class as school loved them but almost everyone had at least one Red Screen. They were even running a league table as to who had 'broken' the most units. The current leader is one Girl who has gone through 5 units in just over a year.
I know kids break toys but to have them break under you is just bad, really bad.
My nephew is back using his Playstation 3. Never had a problem but owning an XBOX with more than one RSOD is kinda cool.

Reply Score: 3

KugelKurt Member since:
2005-07-06

the PS3 doesn't have Left 4 Dead 1/2, instantly rendering it a useless console.

No sane person plays first person shooters with a game pad.

Reply Score: 2

psudobuddha Member since:
2009-11-23

"the PS3 doesn't have Left 4 Dead 1/2, instantly rendering it a useless console.

No sane person plays first person shooters with a game pad.
"

but no human plays games with a keyboard and mouse. when i grow an extra usable arm or devolve to having monkey feet i will give it a shot. till then ill stick to what im comfortable with: the simple, ergonomic shape of a ps1/2/3 controller. really its just a matter of what your comfortable with, and not having 100+ keys closely spaced is a definite plus (i have turrets, so a keyboard is not an option)
ps: the nintendo gamecube had a better controller design in my opinion then the xbox ever thought about having and both were terrible...

Edited 2010-01-02 06:27 UTC

Reply Score: 1

MamiyaOtaru Member since:
2005-11-11

one on mouse and one on KB and one on? why would you need three arms?

Reply Score: 2

jptros Member since:
2005-08-26

My son has had an xbox 360 for 4 years and it still works just as good as the christmas morning he opened it and hooked it up.

Reply Score: 2

MamiyaOtaru Member since:
2005-11-11

hurrah for anecdotes

Reply Score: 2

RE: What about Server 2003/2008?
by KugelKurt on Fri 1st Jan 2010 15:31 UTC in reply to "What about Server 2003/2008?"
KugelKurt Member since:
2005-07-06

The xbox 360 has made a profit for them.

Quarterly profit: Maybe.
Overall profit: No.

Reply Score: 4

RE: What about Server 2003/2008?
by JAlexoid on Fri 1st Jan 2010 16:18 UTC in reply to "What about Server 2003/2008?"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19


Server 2003/2008 have been a success.

Office 07 has been a success.

Despite constant bashing from the tech press Vista made a profit for them as well.


Their Windows Server 2003 is a success, 2008(the "new" one) too early to tell. But, if your infra is based on Windows, then you HAVE to use Windows Server 2008... So you can flag is as a success by default.

Office '07 is still not widely adopted. PERIOD. In the most important markets, it has very little adoption.

As for Vista, everyone, including MS, agree that it is a failure. Maybe not in technology, but overall a failure.

And these guys profits are shrinking, fast. People have less and less $$$ for infra upgrades. And old machines are still quite useful. I still have no issues of using my 5 year old laptop. And a lot of people realize that.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Office-/XBox360 fan speaking
by cmost on Thu 31st Dec 2009 19:06 UTC in reply to "Office-/XBox360 fan speaking"
cmost Member since:
2006-07-16

The Xbox sofar has cost MS billions and is not even close to breaking even the new Office UI is not really welcomed by business.

The only real success MS had in the last decade was Sharepoint PERIOD
It is earning billions, it is new and not fueled by inertia like Windows and Office.


SharePoint, Ugh! My company uses SharePoint for everything. Perhaps our IT people failed to implement it properly but most everyone who uses it at work thinks it's horrendous. Finding anything is like searching for a needle in a haystack. It's slow, buggy, and not very intuitive.

Reply Score: 5

modmans2ndcoming Member since:
2005-11-09

Implemented poorly it sounds like.

Maybe they should have sent the server guys to training rather than handing them a book and saying "make it work"

Reply Score: 3

RE: Office-/XBox360 fan speaking
by thecwin on Thu 31st Dec 2009 20:31 UTC in reply to "Office-/XBox360 fan speaking"
thecwin Member since:
2006-01-04

SharePoint is a massive success in business terms. It seems as if they've gotten billions out of a product they've not bothered to spend any money on developing. It's a badly thought out, buggy, ugly and slow monstrosity. The only people who appear to have done any serious work for this product are their marketing division. They appear to be able to sell it to everyone claiming it will solve any problem that they've ever had, and people with purchasing power believe them.

And it is so fuelled by Office inertia. The commercial product is, after all, currently called Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, and Office's built in integration into SharePoint is one of it's most significant selling points.

It's probably a typical story of being released by the managers way before it was ready, and then getting stuck in a cycle of having to support their not fully thought out decisions forever. SharePoint has always had a very interesting and powerful idea behind it, but it's implementation is absolutely horrific. I could go further into the problems that I've personally encountered with it, but it boils down to it being a very immature ~10 year old. None of the problems are due to some design or conceptual problem with it, but it's still one of the most broken pieces of software I've ever had the displeasure of using, administering or developing for.

Also, I do actually like the ribbon, but I don't like the 360. I do own one -- but it's the noisiest appliance I own besides my hoover, or the oven when the door is open ;) .

Reply Score: 6

RE: Office-/XBox360 fan speaking
by 0brad0 on Fri 1st Jan 2010 00:23 UTC in reply to "Office-/XBox360 fan speaking"
0brad0 Member since:
2007-05-05


The only real success MS had in the last decade was Sharepoint PERIOD
It is earning billions, it is new and not fueled by inertia like Windows and Office.


Shows how stupid businesses are (not surprising). Sharepoint is complete and utter garbage.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Office-/XBox360 fan speaking
by rockwell on Sat 2nd Jan 2010 05:20 UTC in reply to "Office-/XBox360 fan speaking"
rockwell Member since:
2005-09-13

Anyone ... ANYONE ... who thinks the "new" (now 2+ years old) Office UI isn't better than before ... is a fscking idiot.

Reply Score: 1

NTFS?
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Thu 31st Dec 2009 15:56 UTC
Bill Shooter of Bul
Member since:
2006-07-14

I don't think their gripe about NTFS made any sense. NTFS was done in the previous decade is a great success, has nothing to do with Cario/WinFS or any cloud based storage. I think they just wanted to point out a field that MS didn't even think of.

Origami is messed up too. The iPhone isn't equivalent to an Origami device. Its more of a pocket pc/ Win mobile device. The Apple tablet is much closer to the Origami vision.

Internet Explorer could have been on the list as well, but maybe most of its failed visions were last decade. Its had some cool ideas baked in, but (with the exception of ajax), were tied to windows servers and windows clients.

Reply Score: 4

RE: NTFS?
by Tuishimi on Fri 1st Jan 2010 00:27 UTC in reply to "NTFS?"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't think their gripe about NTFS made any sense. NTFS was done in the previous decade is a great success, has nothing to do with Cario/WinFS or any cloud based storage. I think they just wanted to point out a field that MS didn't even think of.


I couldn't figure that one out either. NTFS is not a bad file system. Not excellent, but not bad. All I could think was that they were trying to refer to the database file system they talked about for Vista? I don't know.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by joekiser
by joekiser on Thu 31st Dec 2009 16:30 UTC
joekiser
Member since:
2005-06-30

"About six months before Google paid $1.6 billion to buy YouTube, Microsoft passed on about a $500 million acquisition opportunity. Ballmer later said that Microsoft conducted a buy-versus-build analysis and decided it would be more cost-effective to create a video streaming service. Microsoft launched MSN Soapbox, which flopped and later failed. YouTube became one of the hottest properties on the Web and huge driver of Google search traffic. Just for search alone, YouTube would have been an invaluable service for Microsoft."

I doubt this. Microsoft would have found a way to inadvertently kill YouTube. They would have over-designed the new site in shades of blue and green with the MSN logo everywhere, required a Windows Live ID to sign in, Silverlight for the video player, and IE or Firefox on Windows to upload anything. People forget that up until late 2006, Google Videos was a worthy competitor to what Youtube was offering. So Google Videos probably would have taken off instead.

That being said, the decade 2000-2009 I'll remember the original XBox, Windows 2000, Windows 7, Office 2k7, and Visual Studio.net as being successes for Microsoft. My list of failures ("failure" being a relative term considering Microsoft's strong financial standing) would include WinFS, Vista, Windows Live, XBox360, and Zune. My biggest overall impression of Microsoft this decade was that they were "reactionary" instead of proactive in creating new products.

Reply Score: 9

RE: Comment by joekiser
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Thu 31st Dec 2009 16:49 UTC in reply to "Comment by joekiser"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Couple things ...

Google video was not a very credible Youtube competitor. That's why Google bought Youtube, cause it was more successful than their own in house version. But yes, had MS bought youtube, it would have stunk, and google video would have taken some market share away from it.


Xbox 360 does not belong on the same list as zune. I'm not saying it was a tremendous success, but it wasn't a zune like failure.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by joekiser
by modmans2ndcoming on Thu 31st Dec 2009 20:27 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by joekiser"
modmans2ndcoming Member since:
2005-11-09

xbox 360 isn't even a failure and the Zune is not either.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by joekiser
by nt_jerkface on Thu 31st Dec 2009 17:17 UTC in reply to "Comment by joekiser"
nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

I really don't care to use relative definitions based on profit margins but that aside...

The xbox 360 has been a bigger success than the original xbox. It's outsold the PS3 and has returned a profit for them.

As much as Vista was bashed it still had better sales at launch than XP.

Windows Live and Zune have certainly been weak spots for them. Zune HD is a good product, but the ipod touch is a better value because of the app store. They also need to do more to promote Silverlight.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by joekiser
by modmans2ndcoming on Thu 31st Dec 2009 20:28 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by joekiser"
modmans2ndcoming Member since:
2005-11-09

the app store is great for games and crap on the touch, but the music and video experience on the zune beats the touch hands down which is why I am getting one for my son for his birthday. I already have a zune pass subscription* which is fantastic. I get to own 10 songs a month and get to download as much music as I like, for 15 bucks a month. when I get my monthly 10 songs, they are DRM free and a quality level I choose.




*you can put the music on plays for sure devices... but you have to use WMP to load it on them

Edited 2009-12-31 20:31 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by joekiser
by TechGeek on Fri 1st Jan 2010 00:17 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by joekiser"
TechGeek Member since:
2006-01-14

Vista only had a better launch than XP because XP came out shortly after Windows 2000. It was basically an update. Just like Windows 7 is basically an update to Vista. The real thing that shows that Vista was a flop is that it was so bad that people demanded to be able to down grade to XP when buying a new machine. Many are still ordering XP with their new systems. Vista will also not be in use close to 10 years after it was released. Regardless of my distaste for Windows, XP has had a huge shelf life, and its not over yet.

Reply Score: 8

RE[3]: Comment by joekiser
by Tuishimi on Fri 1st Jan 2010 00:32 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by joekiser"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

It was basically an update. Just like Windows 7 is basically an update to Vista.


People should really stop saying that. Everyone is starting to believe it. A lot of internal work was done on Windows 7, similar to what was done with Snow Leopard. It bothers me when people say it is just an update ... a heck of a lot of re-engineering went into them both.

Sure, it doesn't LOOK a lot different or seemingly behave a lot different, but the foundation it is built on has definitely changed. (Both Windows and Mac OS X). And I think that is step 1 on an interesting path of OS evolution for both (in the sense at least that *I* am interested to see where they are heading in the next few major releases).

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by joekiser
by nt_jerkface on Fri 1st Jan 2010 04:25 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by joekiser"
nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

People should really stop saying that. Everyone is starting to believe it. A lot of internal work was done on Windows 7, similar to what was done with Snow Leopard.


Why not speak in specifics then? Most benchmarks I have seen only show minimal differences compared to Vista. Windows 7 has improvements but after using both it is my opinion that 7 is mostly a p.r. response to all the bad press that Vista received. Vista was fine after sp1 but everyone was having too much fun playing the bash Vista game.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Comment by joekiser
by Tuishimi on Fri 1st Jan 2010 04:50 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by joekiser"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

Yes but often benchmarks don't tell the whole story. I would expect benchmarks to improve with SP1 (or whatever major update is released by MS ... if they even choose to take that route instead of the automated updates).

First reconstruct, then tune. Took Apple 5 years to tune OS X. (Not that it mattered to me the whole time, as I simply loved OS X and used it from its beta release days - then again I love all OSes so I guess I am just too easy to please - but that also allows me to look at the good points of all OSes).

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by joekiser
by TechGeek on Fri 1st Jan 2010 07:22 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by joekiser"
TechGeek Member since:
2006-01-14

Windows 7 uses 90+% the same technology as Vista. Thats why drivers are forward compatible for the most part. Some things changed, but not enough that I would call it a completely new OS. Its not like the difference between win98 and Windows 2000. That was a complete overhaul of the OS.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Comment by joekiser
by Tuishimi on Fri 1st Jan 2010 08:08 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by joekiser"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

True. But strides made to cleave the dependencies will also allow for the separation of old and new. Do you not agree?

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: Comment by joekiser
by rockwell on Sat 2nd Jan 2010 05:24 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by joekiser"
rockwell Member since:
2005-09-13

Um, Windows 98 was a CONSUMER OS. Windows 2000 was completely geared for business. Windows 98 didn't get challenged for consumers until XP Home came out. Learn your history.

Reply Score: 2

psudobuddha Member since:
2009-11-23

first off two words: RED RING!

second off by the time you pay for the proprietary harddrive and a year of xbl you might as well have bought a PS3.

finally it is a second rate piece of hardware that microsoft
actually admits was not intended to compete against the PS3 but against the PS2, a nearly decade old console. Its impossible for it to win either fight. Eventually the xbox will die to the curse of every one of their other products: piracy.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by joekiser
by modmans2ndcoming on Thu 31st Dec 2009 20:26 UTC in reply to "Comment by joekiser"
modmans2ndcoming Member since:
2005-11-09

dude... silverlight for the video player would have been fantastic... only a moron thinks silverlight is crap compared to flash video. Silverlight beats Flash video hands down.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by joekiser
by apoclypse on Thu 31st Dec 2009 20:56 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by joekiser"
apoclypse Member since:
2007-02-17

Well only if you happen to have a Windows PC. What if you use Linux, Or OSX? What incentive would MS have to support these platforms? They don't even support Linux now and only support OSX because they really have no choice, since Flash while crappy still works on OSX. They either support OSX and help Monkey boy and friends on Linux or they loose the battle to Adobe. While flash is the worst thing to happen to the internet Silverlight is not any better. Apple's approach of supporting standards and relying on the browser not a plugin is the right approach. Then anyone can use it, regardless of platform. What needs to be worked out now is DRM. Google is already experimenting with dropping flash for Youtube, though its in an extremely early state at this point.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Comment by joekiser
by BluenoseJake on Thu 31st Dec 2009 22:40 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by joekiser"
BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

Moonlight. It works pretty good, especially version 2.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Comment by joekiser
by Tuishimi on Fri 1st Jan 2010 00:33 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by joekiser"
Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

It really does. Still no Netflix tho'. ;)

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by joekiser
by modmans2ndcoming on Fri 1st Jan 2010 14:36 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by joekiser"
modmans2ndcoming Member since:
2005-11-09

They have silverlight for OS X.... Where the heck have you been?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by joekiser
by jabbotts on Thu 31st Dec 2009 23:50 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by joekiser"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

"Silverlight beats Flash video hands down."

The dentist beats the proctologist hands down; Ideally, one would prefer not to visit either one though.

(Flash, the new <blink>)

Edited 2009-12-31 23:50 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: Comment by joekiser
by OSGuy on Fri 1st Jan 2010 00:46 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by joekiser"
OSGuy Member since:
2006-01-01

In what way?

Edited 2010-01-01 00:53 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by joekiser
by modmans2ndcoming on Fri 1st Jan 2010 14:37 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by joekiser"
modmans2ndcoming Member since:
2005-11-09

Every way possible. Quality, streaming, bitrates, file types.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by joekiser
by Mellin on Sun 3rd Jan 2010 08:30 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by joekiser"
Mellin Member since:
2005-07-06

lock in to windows if you use drm

Edited 2010-01-03 08:33 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by joekiser
by Phloptical on Thu 31st Dec 2009 23:33 UTC in reply to "Comment by joekiser"
Phloptical Member since:
2006-10-10

The original xbox was a success? That console, had it been put out by any other company, would have been seen as a huge money-sucking flop. The only reason why xbox is still around today is because MS had enough money coming in from countless other areas, to offset the failure of v1 while it redesigned v2.

Reply Score: 8

RE[2]: Comment by joekiser
by Delgarde on Fri 1st Jan 2010 10:27 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by joekiser"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

The original xbox was a success? That console, had it been put out by any other company, would have been seen as a huge money-sucking flop. The only reason why xbox is still around today is because MS had enough money coming in from countless other areas, to offset the failure of v1 while it redesigned v2.


Well, the original XBox took Microsoft from being non-existent in the console space to being number two to Sony. It might have cost them a lot of money to do it, but they made a name for themselves, and sold a lot of them. Hardly a flop.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by joekiser
by Phloptical on Fri 1st Jan 2010 16:57 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by joekiser"
Phloptical Member since:
2006-10-10

True, but my point was that coming to market so late in the game with simply a mediocre "me too" product would have been death for any other manufacturer. I give them credit for the 360, as it is a good console.

I like having MS in the marketspace, as it's competition for Sony. Anything that holds Sony's engineers in check, is ultimately a good thing.

Reply Score: 3

The demise of the web desktop
by earksiinni on Thu 31st Dec 2009 16:56 UTC
earksiinni
Member since:
2009-03-27

As horrible as Internet Explorer is, I always felt that Microsoft was most innovative in its vision for the "web desktop", which encompasses everything from Windows and IE integration to the miserable Active Desktop and WebTV.

It's also been one of Microsoft's most long drawn-out failures, and Chrome OS is sounding the death knell. With Google, there is no web and desktop integration (the retarded growth of Mozilla Prism attests to that), it's just simply the web.

On a deeper level, cloud computing's displacement of the web desktop has begun to subvert Bill Gates's goal of "a computer on every desk and in every home". Yes, now we have more PC's than ever, but when Gates originally articulated his vision people were using computers like piggy banks for their data, whereas today we've become more sophisticated and take our data to the bank where it can be stored more securely, be used and transferred more conveniently, etc.

I may be alone with Microsoft in lamenting this transition, because unlike money, whose value is always social and relative, our data has an inherent worth that's always pegged to ourselves. Consider not only your bank statements, insurance records, and the other standard fare of electronic documents, but also the personal data that it might not occur to you to digitize: photos of your grandmother, a journal entry from when you were five; or take something less sentimental like a neighbor's recipe. Now, would you feel more comfortable a) holding on to the recipe with paper, b) keeping it saved on your computer and throwing away the paper copy, or c) uploading it to Google Docs and keeping neither a saved copy on your computer nor a paper one? In the end, one's decision probably has less to do with which of these choices is safest and more with which gives a greater sense of ownership and control.

These cases seem trivial, but only because the true subjective value of digital data is only beginning to be understood. I hope to continue exploring through my blog at http://www.whatdigitalrevolution.com, and I've written more specifically about the Microsoft/Google divide on my blog at http://www.whatdigitalrevolution.com/?p=6.

Edited 2009-12-31 17:01 UTC

Reply Score: 6

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

Very Insightful. I'll have to check out your blog.

Reply Score: 2

earksiinni Member since:
2009-03-27

Thanks for the compliment, and also thanks for your patronage of my blog. I didn't know about St. Isidore being the patron saint of the Internet! That's a bit ironic, actually, since he was the author of the Etymologies, a kind of medieval encyclopedia, whereas the Internet is not a static book of fixed definitions but an ever changing world-animal with its own dynamic internal processes (food for thought next time you go to Wikipedia). With Aquinas, I was really referring to his work on linguistic theory in his various summas, though I didn't make that explicit in the article (the paraphrase of his decision to stop writing comes from an actual account, though).

However, I wish whoever upvoted your reply would also upvote my original post, which has been banished to the no man's land of trolls and fanboys...

Reply Score: 2

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

I think he was declared patron saint of the internet for the Etymologies, and his push for the formation of seminaries. Sure it was static, but given the limitations of the day perfectly understandable.

Reply Score: 2

RE: The demise of the web desktop
by earksiinni on Thu 31st Dec 2009 17:32 UTC in reply to "The demise of the web desktop"
earksiinni Member since:
2009-03-27

Oh, come now, downvoted so quickly?

Reply Score: 1

Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

Apparently, thought-out replies are considered "trolling"
as soon as the word Microsoft is included with a compliment, or the words Apple or Linux are included with a disparaging remark.

Reply Score: 1

RE: The demise of the web desktop
by Lumbergh on Thu 31st Dec 2009 18:53 UTC in reply to "The demise of the web desktop"
Lumbergh Member since:
2005-06-29

Here's the thing for those that remember circa 1997 or so. Explorer 4 was kicking the shit out of Netscape X. Netscape dropped the ball.

Reply Score: 3

fretinator Member since:
2005-07-06

Here's the thing for those that remember circa 1997 or so. Explorer 4 was kicking the shit out of Netscape X. Netscape dropped the ball.


http://www.pcworld.com/article/5395/netscapesquots_aurora_takes_on_...

Reply Score: 2

modmans2ndcoming Member since:
2005-11-09

not sure if Chrome OS is sounding the failure or if it is inspiring the idea.... WinCE would make a great base OS for an arm based netbook with IE (using webkit by then I hope) browser running at the UI.

Reply Score: 2

Shattered Dreams?
by Lumbergh on Thu 31st Dec 2009 18:52 UTC
Lumbergh
Member since:
2005-06-29

Baha, you must be posting directly from Stallman's wet dream.

Can I have a decade of "Shattered Dreams" like Microsoft?

Reply Score: 1

not failures, but ...
by Rugxulo on Thu 31st Dec 2009 19:10 UTC
Rugxulo
Member since:
2007-10-09

I sympathize with XBox360's hardware troubles, but they jumped too early into next gen with it. Also they switched to PPC for no really good reason (IMHO), which broke compatibility. Esp. they could've kept selling XBox1 without problems since it made a profit, and nobody really wanted faster hardware! It was good enough! And now both they and PS3 are way behind Wii, ironically. I don't want any of them, they're probably going to obsolete them all in a year anyways.

Vista sales numbers lie, marketing is always full of crap. Sure it sold because they forced it on everyone. While I wouldn't say it's that bad, it definitely has some bugs and compatibility issues that they'll never fix. They just don't care. I'm not at all convinced that Win7 is better in any way. It's not worth even $10 extra to me, so I stick with Vista. But I do think Windows tv commercials are the biggest waste of time and money ever. Sheesh.

P.S. Why do people here care about market share?? Root beer, last I heard, was only 5% of the soda market, but people still make it and drink it. It's still good. So why do OSes enrage so many when nobody flames ad nauseum over Coke vs. Pepsi (I hope)??

Reply Score: 3

Comment by Drumhellar
by Drumhellar on Thu 31st Dec 2009 20:34 UTC in reply to "not failures, but ..."
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

Microsoft could have included a 700MHz intel chip on the motherboard, and just emulated the graphics. That's what Sony did for the PS2, and what Nintendo has done for all the Game Boys.

However, there were plenty of reasons to use an IBM PPC design over x86.

One was customization. Through IBM, Microsoft was able to get a customized part optimized for the application. Intel is the only company that could have done it with x86, but custom x86 isn't their business, and they aren't organized for that.

When the 360 came out in 2005, multi-core x86 was brand new tech. IBM's 3-core PPC chip (each core also does 2-way SMT) was way better than any x86 single core solution that they would have had to go with.

Also, a decent performing x86 part wouldn't have worked in such a small box. The original Xbox was an enormous system, mainly due to cooling requirements of using a desktop x86 chip.

The only reason for going with x86 in the original Xbox was to speed time-to-market. Microsoft didn't really have time to do the R&D needed for a customized system. They wanted it out before the PS2 became way to entrenched.

EDIT: Also, I will drink Pepsi over Coke 'till the day I die. Nothing against the Coca-Cola company, but one time, I was choking on a piece of bratwurst pretty bad, and a Pepsi delivery driver did the Heimlich maneuver and saved my life.

Edited 2009-12-31 20:37 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by Drumhellar
by modmans2ndcoming on Thu 31st Dec 2009 20:38 UTC in reply to "Comment by Drumhellar"
modmans2ndcoming Member since:
2005-11-09

prediction.... the next X Box will run a quad core atom proc and an Ion chipset. then you get small, light use of power and have an easier time with cooling (a dual core atom with Ion can run with a fanless Heat Sink!!)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by Drumhellar
by apoclypse on Thu 31st Dec 2009 21:21 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by Drumhellar"
apoclypse Member since:
2007-02-17

Hmm. Sounds interesting but I think that MS will most likely focus on AMD's next gen parts since they usually perform better (I'm talking GPU not CPU). Sony was most likely looking at Larabee pretty hard as that could have been a great transition to an x86 system for them while still keeping the power they like to have.

MS values ease of development and raw gpu power over cpu power. That's because they usually follow the traditional PC way of development where the CPU is used to do some computation and the bulk of the graphics processing is done on the GPU.

Sony values computational power over texture memory. Its has been the same story since the PSX. The PSX had very little memory (compared to the Saturn) and know 2d coprocessor (like the Saturn) but its raw polygonal performance even outmatched the N64 in pure theoretical throughput. The PS2 was more of the same and PS3 is also about the same. Usually this scales better because as the console ages it can still put out pretty good results later in its life as Sony usually likes to think about these things long-term rather than shorterm. They still sell the PS2 and at pretty decent number too. Most of the really impressive games came out later in the life of the console (God of War 1,2, FF12, etc.).

My question is now that Cell is discontinued what will Sony go with? Will they change their hardware designs to go with something easier to deal with or will they stick with the same formula. The main brains behind the PSX, PS2, PS3, is no longer there (Ken Kutagari). The next person in line may value development ease over raw power. Who knows. Will MS now focus on build quality and long-term goals rather than short term returns at the cost of quality and console life span? Focusing on the short-term and not sticking it out is what essentially put Sega in the grave and almost had Nintendo with one foot in one as well. Building your console and thinking about 7,8, even 10 years down the line and sticking with it is what Sony does very well.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by Drumhellar
by computeruser on Thu 31st Dec 2009 20:48 UTC in reply to "Comment by Drumhellar"
computeruser Member since:
2009-07-21

The Xbox 360's cooling is much more complex than the Xbox, and the Xbox 360 apparently consumes much more power. The Xbox was so large in part because it used a 3.5" IDE hard disk and had an internal power supply, whereas the Xbox 360 has an (optional) 2.5" SATA disk, more powerful fans, and an external power supply.

The Intel Yonah (original Core Duo, based on Pentium M) only came out two months after the Xbox 360, and probably would have worked well in a gaming system - its TDP is only 31 W. (But it probably would have been too expensive.) A PC with a Core Duo and a good video card would have probably resulted in better graphics than the Xbox 360, while using less power.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by Drumhellar
by nt_jerkface on Fri 1st Jan 2010 01:01 UTC in reply to "Comment by Drumhellar"
nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

There's also the issue of cost.

RISC chips are simpler and cheaper to produce, especially if you own the die and plan on making millions of them. If they went with Intel it would have taken longer for the chips to get cheap. With the original xbox they felt like Intel was keeping most of the savings from lower production costs.

However I wouldn't be surprised if they go back to x64 next gen with quad core cpus being so cheap.

Reply Score: 2

RE: not failures, but ...
by modmans2ndcoming on Thu 31st Dec 2009 20:35 UTC in reply to "not failures, but ..."
modmans2ndcoming Member since:
2005-11-09

windows 7 is much better on resources. 90% of the OS is the same as vista, but the UI improvements and the resource usage improvements make it worth it to me.

Reply Score: 1

RE: not failures, but ...
by thecwin on Thu 31st Dec 2009 20:44 UTC in reply to "not failures, but ..."
thecwin Member since:
2006-01-04

I think the ideal would be where OSes only had small market share each. It'd certainly be safer. Unfortunately, computers aren't the same as soft drinks, at least not when Windows is involved.

Me and you could be having coke and pepsi respectively, but be drinking them in the same kind of glasses, using the same kind of ice cubes and storing the cans in the same fridge. They are directly compatible.

On the other hand, people using Windows means I, using Linux, am unable to read documents they can produce and they are unable to read documents that I can produce. It also means I can't run video games because they're not compatible with my OS. It's in my interest to try and push up the Linux market share because it might force producers to pay some attention to it. Of course we could just ensure we all use the cross platform subset of available software, but since most people wouldn't even know what 'cross-platform' means, that's pretty much out.

It'd be better if OSes were API-compatible and people could use the environment they prefer and still run the applications they like. .NET and Java potentially allow this but it never seems to take off. POSIX compatibility between various *NIX OSes and OS X is often pretty good though, even if POSIX is rather old fashioned. Web apps are also good in this respect if people stopped using IE ;)

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: not failures, but ...
by nt_jerkface on Fri 1st Jan 2010 01:20 UTC in reply to "RE: not failures, but ..."
nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

Linux has problems beyond market share.

For one it isn't a single platform that developers can target. It's a bunch of similar yet independent operating systems that can't even agree on a standard sound api.

The other problem is that all the distros have software distribution systems designed around open source. Expecting game companies to open their million dollar game engines is unrealistic, especially when most of those companies are leasing proprietary engines from other companies.

Linux is a clusterf--k for proprietary companies. Every popular distro is built with the assumption that all software is open source. When you step outside this expectation you run into trouble.

For a lot of game companies OSX isn't worth the effort even though it is a single system so you should probably forget about gaming in Linux and buy a console.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: not failures, but ...
by thecwin on Sun 3rd Jan 2010 20:02 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: not failures, but ..."
thecwin Member since:
2006-01-04

Sound APIs are pretty much available as standard, and if you want to target some obscure API that isn't supported in a distribution, you just mark it as a dependency or bundle it with the program you're distributing, as you would in Windows. Generally speaking though, if you're targeting Linux, you target ALSA or a higher level API like GStreamer (which is also compatible with Win/Mac). I find that in Linux development, picking an API is very easy and certainly not the most difficult part of any kind of development.

If you just pick one distribution (Ubuntu, Debian and variations) it's just as easy to bundle a proprietary app into a deb as it is to bundle an open source app. Of course, unless you want to release your source, you can't get it built for many architectures to the latest dependencies, and distributed for free in all the package repository mirrors.... but you don't get that service in any other OS either. The fact is that debs aren't too different to an msi or pkg. I find myself missing apt-get and dpkg when developing proprietary stuff on Windows. The challenging bit is that there are distributions that contain different software or use different packaging formats. Generally speaking, if you roll a deb and an rpm targeting a standard LSB system, you *know* you'll be safe. If your user is on a system that doesn't use rpms, debs or isn't LSB compatible, they'll probably know how to get it running without your help.

It is not ideal, and there are things being done to make this easier. The problem with just opening package installation up to people who don't understand it is that users will install stupid things to their system to get free screen savers. Until there is a good way of distributing signed proprietary packages, I think most distribution maintainers want to avoid the problem entirely. Linux distributions are, after all, not a democracy. If people don't like the gods of Ubuntu making it difficult to install things not built by Canonical, they can freely use another distribution or operating system until Ubuntu does it right. Everything open source is by definition possible to interoperate with ;)

Reply Score: 2

v RE: not failures, but ...
by Tuishimi on Fri 1st Jan 2010 00:39 UTC in reply to "not failures, but ..."
RE: not failures, but ...
by KugelKurt on Fri 1st Jan 2010 15:34 UTC in reply to "not failures, but ..."
KugelKurt Member since:
2005-07-06

they could've kept selling XBox1 without problems since it made a profit

The first Xbox was never profitable.

Reply Score: 4

Add Windows Mobile to the List
by RGCook on Thu 31st Dec 2009 20:49 UTC
RGCook
Member since:
2005-07-12

I can't help but append Joe's list with Windows Mobile. I've had an iTouch for two years and my wife has the iPhone but my work really pushed me to get an htc Pure. I figured it must be good because it is showcased over at MS's Windows Mobile home page.

Suffice it to say, I can't believe how hideous this device is compared to the iPhone, in almost every regard. It's as if MS tried to force the Windows operating system itself on this device's tiny screen. The UI, the convolution of setting and apps, the haphazard arrangement and disorganization, the inconsistencies in various screen's. It astounds me how bad it is.

Apple has shown true innovation. MS is still riding on the back of the monopoly created in the decades prior to the last, so I think the article, while true is beside the point. They are trying to turn the Titanic, Windows 7 is slight evidence of that, but I'm pulling for an Apple upset. I've just had it with MS and their ill conceived stuff.

Reply Score: 4

Tuishimi Member since:
2005-07-06

The iPhone/iPod Touch really is well thought out. I can't stand non-standard size keyboards, but for some reason I can do well with my wife's iPhone. I got it for her thinking I would never really use the capabilities in the iPhone, now I am starting to reconsider. That thing does everything. We can even use it to log and search for geo-caches while on the road. Love it.

Reply Score: 2

Good ideas, bad implementations
by marcp on Fri 1st Jan 2010 00:17 UTC
marcp
Member since:
2007-11-23

Microsoft has some really interresting ideas like MS Surface or MS Natal. I hope it will become more popular in gaming segment and other folks [like opensource crew] will take some of these ideas and implement it - as usual - in a right and consistent way.

As of the other MS products [as a matter of fact - sadly - their flagship products]: Windows is still a really poor experience, even with Windows 7. It has - like Vista had - unintuitive interface [now it's even worse] and unneeded crap which is turned on by default [look at all of these services]. On the other hand it's obviously better than Vista was: it is faster and snappier, but that doesn't change the fact that it's still worse than XP or even win2k.
MS Office? my god ... such a huge waste of time. It isn't even compatible with itself, its previous versions [i.e docs and file formats] and the standards of the open file formats. However, the worst thing in MSO is its terrible, ugly, really bad and unfunctional interface with its forcibly pushed *ribbon*. Many people can't use it with without swearing, and for many of them OpenOffice or 'its better clone' - Lotus Symphony - is sufficient.

Anyway: some good ideas and very bad implementations ...

Reply Score: 2

RE: Good ideas, bad implementations
by Bryan on Fri 1st Jan 2010 03:45 UTC in reply to "Good ideas, bad implementations"
Bryan Member since:
2005-07-11

Honestly, I think you're just pulling out canned criticisms and hurling them without any attempt at cogent thought.

Microsoft's done a lot of work to reduce the impact of background processes in Windows 7. In some cases, this means multiple background tasks have been merged into a single processes. More extensively, they leveraged Event Tracing for Windows (ETW) to implement services triggers, so that background processes can be started and stopped dynamically in response to system events rather than have to load on startup and poll continuously. The processes that remain are there for a reason--it's not just "bloat". Keeping a system trim on resource usage is important, but you have to make sure you don't lose sight of the difference between fat and muscle.

As for Office, the old binary formats open just fine in the public Office 2010 beta, and Microsoft released a compatibility pack years ago that will allow any version of Office all the way back to Office 2000 to open up the new XML formats. While it's not completely seamless--older versions can edit all the features of the newer formats--it's been pretty smooth considering the logistical and engineering challenges involved.

I'd also take a moment to rant againt the idea that the ribbon interface is inferior to the combination of menus and toolbars it replaced. Far from it: the ribbon is a more effective interface. And I don't mean that in a subjective way, but rather an objective way backed by usability studies and hard data. To understand the thought that went into the evolution of the ribbon, I would recommend you spend some time browsing Jesen Harris's blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh).

Briefly, the previous interface had become to cumbersome and complicated to support the number of commands available in applications as such as Word and Excel. To find a command, you'd have to search through menus and submenus, toggle toolbars on and off, and make sure all of their commands weren't getting trimmed. With the ribbon, in contrast, you can scan through each tab and quickly get a pretty good idea on what an application is capable of. That doesn't mean you'll know about everything (some commands, such as image tools, only show up in contextual tabs), or even that you'll instantly know how to use each one effectively, but you won't get lost like you would in previous versions. In effect, the ribbon takes a superset of the commands that were previously available and makes them more accessible than ever by minimizing what you might call the "cognitive surface area" of the user interface.

Add to that other enhancements that came at the same time--better tooltips, live preview, contextual help, and far better keyboard navigability for all commands--and the experience presented in Office 2007 and onwards is emphatically better than its predecessors--or its competitors, for that matter. If you want to suggest that these enhancements aren't worth the premium Office costs over its free competitors, you can certainly make a legitimate argument there, but there's no question Office's interface is better at this time. What's more, the team at OpenOffice is understands this, and has taken early steps to evolve their interface in a similar direction--as can be seen in a prototype screenshot here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Impress_Prototype.png. "Intuitive" is an ambiguous term at best when applied to user interfaces. Actually, Microsoft has shared data points showing that customers using Office 2007 use the Undo command far less often than those using older versions, which indicates they're having an easier time gaining mastery of the new UI and getting the results they want.

The only real disadvantage the ribbon has is lack of familiarity. If this has been developed at Xerox PARC along with so many other interface elements we take for granted today, no one would bat an eye. When you take a step back, the ribbon really isn't that big of a departure from what we're used to--it's basically an amalgam of a menubar and toolbars--but still a clear break from an interface people had grown accustomed to over the decades of Office's history. People are frustrated because it's disorienting, but that doesn't mean the new interface isn't effective once you take the time to learn it. It's similar to the problem you often see in OS debates: "When I want to do Task A in Windows, I do X, but in Ubuntu I have to do Y; therefore, Ubuntu is inferior." Familiarity doesn't not equal usability! You have to take the time to understand the tradeoffs between different design choices. Mindless zealotry get you no where.

Reply Score: 5

"Ribbon"
by fossil on Fri 1st Jan 2010 15:30 UTC in reply to "RE: Good ideas, bad implementations"
fossil Member since:
2009-05-29

What many have found most objectionable is that the "Ribbon" has been crammed down their throats, "You will do things the One Microsoft Way!" Had there been an option to use menus, there would have been 99% LESS bitching. Of course Microsoft has such a locked-in monopoly, they simply don't have to care. There's been a lot of lost productivity in my office due to ... the "Ribbon" ... long time users hate it. I've been lucky enough to escape it thus far. I find it interesting that you consider the blog of a Ribbon developer hosted on a Microsoft site an objective source of data on the efficacy of the "Ribbon." Can you cite any neutral sources?

Reply Score: 1

RE: "Ribbon"
by Bryan on Fri 1st Jan 2010 22:36 UTC in reply to ""Ribbon""
Bryan Member since:
2005-07-11

Ultimately, I think they made the right call by not supporting a classic UI mode. From an engineering perspective, a compatibility mode would have entailed having to essentially maintain two separate interfaces, which isn't something they wanted to commit to doing, especially over the long term--it would be expensive, complicate testing, and not add any value to the product. Even if they just implemented the "there but hidden" menus like they do in IE, it would still have to be maintained as functionality was added and would create conflicts when mapping keyboard shortcuts to ribbon tabs and commands.

You also have to look at it from a holistic product design perspective. Microsoft *wants* users to be as efficient and productive in Office as possible. The ribbon, in concert with all the other features introduced, was designed to enable that kind of an experience. If they had added a compatibility mode, most users (or their admins) would have simply ticked that checkbox rather than deal with a new interface, effectively erasing much of that work. This would have left users comfortable, but still frustrated by the deficiencies the menu/toolbar interface. So Microsoft made a bet on the ribbon, not as a capricious exercise of monopoly power, but on the conviction that the long term benefits would outweigh the short term inconveniences. Indeed, I think part of the reason they made this bet is that they realized they couldn't take their market dominance for granted. In an era that insists on open formats, users and businesses have unprecedented ability to choose the most appropriate tool for their needs. The ribbon UI, to the extent it meets its goals, is currently a significant differentiator that none of Office's competitors have yet matched.

That isn't to suggest the change comes without any pain. Power users who have built up over a decade of muscle memory around the old interface have had a particularly hard time adjusting. But Microsoft's research indicated only a small percentage of users were able to achieve that kind of mastery; again, the new UI makes that level of achievement more accessible inasmuch as you now longer have to wade through dozens of menus, toolbars, and task panes. If you make the investment to learn how to leverage the new interface, you will ultimately be more productive than you were in the old one. Provided Microsoft doesn't make a habit of these kinds of significant redesigns, I don't think that's an unfair tradeoff. (And my own anecdotal experience suggests that even this transition isn't as hard for most people as you might think. The most common question I've gotten: "Where's the file menu?")

As for neutral sources, I have none. Jensen Harris's blog (or the presentation Kroc links to below) details the impetus, principles, evolution, and design of the ribbon UI within the Office team. There simply isn't anyone who could provide that level of insight without having worked for Microsoft or been closely affiliated with them during the design process. I'm sure if you want to wait long enough, an objective third party will come along, do a study, and spoon-feed you exactly what you're supposed to think, but genuinely neutral sources are pretty hard to come by in any but the most trivial subjects these days. We are each the result of our experiences and prejudices, which are reflected in our ideas. Ultimately, the onus is on us to apply our faculties of reason to take those biases as a given, understand an argument, and rationally think it through from its assumptions to its conclusions, questioning each piece. You can simply dismiss the blog I pointed to if you so choose, but ad hominems, kneejerk reactions, and willful selective ignorance in no way make you any more correct.

Based on my own experience, both in attempting to understand the how and why of the new interface, and actually using it since Office 2007's public beta in 2006, I believe the ribbon is a definite improvement over what it replaced--not necessarily ideal mind you, but a substantial and measurable improvement. I'm willing to change my mind, but only in the face of convincing evidence.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: "Ribbon"
by MysterMask on Sat 2nd Jan 2010 08:36 UTC in reply to "RE: "Ribbon""
MysterMask Member since:
2005-07-12

From an engineering perspective, a compatibility mode would have entailed having to essentially maintain two separate interfaces, which isn't something they wanted to commit to doing, especially over the long term


*shudder*

The engineering perspective should never be of any considerations when it comes to users experience. Users shouldn't have to care how much money it will cost to maintain a "backward compatible UI".


Microsoft *wants* users to be as efficient and productive in Office as possible.


*Yak*

Microsoft *wants* $$$ (and nothing else).
(or is there any reason to change file formats ever so often forcing everybody to update as soon as some i***s starts sending emails with the all new MS product file formats around?)


.. was designed to enable that kind of an experience.


So where other UI nightmares from MS office like hiding not often used menu entries (what idiocy!)


conviction that the long term benefits would outweigh the short term inconveniences


Agreed. Long term benefits of migrate to another office suite outweigh
any short term inconvenience.

era that insists on open formats


Funny. I don't see businesses insisting that MS should implement their own bought "standard" OOXML (upping the sum of implementations to a splendid number of 1).


new UI makes that level of achievement more accessible inasmuch as you now longer have to wade through dozens of menus, toolbars, and task panes


.. which is not a problem of menus, toolbars and task panes but they way they were used in MSO.

There is no such thing as a single superior UI that rules them all. E. g. in the era of GUI, there are still users that are way faster and more productive with something like vi. And I don't particularly car what *your* experience was or how much effort it was for *you* to learn the new interface.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: "Ribbon"
by Bryan on Sun 3rd Jan 2010 06:35 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: "Ribbon""
Bryan Member since:
2005-07-11

Hmm. There's a part of me that says "just walk away at this point", but why not...

First off, I agree: users shouldn't ever have to worry about the engineering considerations behind a product. In fact, a software product can be considered successful largely to the extent that technical considerations are able to fade into the background, allowing the user only to focus on whatever he or she wants to accomplish. That being said, in practice, that point of view ends up being more of an aspirational ideal than an achievable reality. Inevitably, the context in which a product was designed, as well as many design decisions themselves, will be telegraphed to users once it is delivered.

For example, consider the process-per-tab architecture adopted by Chrome/IE8. Should users care about the differences between threads and processes? Of course not, but as the web moves from static pages to rich applications which are more prone to crash, they will appreciate the resiliency offered by the process model, even if they never understand the details behind it. Design decisions matter to users even when they don't care.

Likewise, any software engineering project takes place within limitations of time, budget, and technical skill. The choices made on these and other variables will greatly affect the resulting product in terms of what is delivered and when. While it may be convenient to think of Microsoft as a company having virtually unlimited resources, it isn't very realistic. The Office team has try to work to deliver functionality within a given time and budget. Given that the ribbon was meant to rectify the limitations of the old interface, it simply didn't make sense expend further effort on something that was no longer serving its purpose. Resources that would be allocated to that effort would be better served elsewhere on the product--areas that would deliver tangible value to users.

Second, I am under no illusion that Microsoft is a benevolent charity that wants nothing but the happiness of its customers. They're a publicly traded company, and therefore legally obligated to increase profit over time. However, it is naive and cynical to the point of small mindedness to assume Microsoft doesn't care about customer satisfaction at all. To reiterate: Microsoft wants users to be as effective and productive in Office as possible--even if only because satisfied users are less likey to consider alternatives if they're getting sufficient value. And even if you insist that the company as a whole is too dysfunctional to be capable of that kind of rational thought, there's no reason to believe that the individual engineers don't take pride in their work and desire to build a product that reflects that.

Your point about constantly changing formats seems a bit out of the blue. The move to XML formats was a one-time thing, and the binary formats have been stable since Office 97. There was a lot of churn throughout the '90s, for reasons both technical and (sadly) competitive, but that doesn't seem relevant at this point.

Concerning the "smart" autohide menus, you're right, but you seem to make the unreasonable leap of implying that any attempt they make at improving the experience is doomed to similar failure. Microsoft understands why that feature worked so badly, and the lessons they gleamed were applied in the design of the new interface. The presentation Kroc linked to is a great resource: Harris covers much of the evolution and reasoning behind the ribbon. If you were to watch that (or browse the blog I linked to earlier), you'll have a good grounding for understanding what Microsoft was working towards with the design. If you want to argue that the ribbon is a failure as an interface, you need to have something less vague and less limp than cries of "it's not what we're used to".

To suggest that the issue was simply that Microsoft did a bad job leveraging the existing UI mechanisms in their products betrays a poor understanding of the problem. Each of the applications in Office has hundreds of commands--a few have over a thousand. Such a broad spectrum of functionality stretched the use of menus and toolbars beyond their limit. The interface would often end of sprawling along each edge of the window, and creating meaningful 32x32 pixel icons of hundreds of commands is a challenge to say the least. Many of the top feature requests for Office were for things that were already in the product, but simply couldn't be found by users.

In contrast, the ribbon consolidates most of the interface along the top edge of the window, revealing additional functionality for various objects (tables, images, equations, &c.) in a consistent and predicable way. Not only are many of the icons larger, allowing them to communicate more information, but the vast majority are all clearly labeled--most of the exceptions are font and paragraph formatting commands, which are pretty much universally understood at this point. Moreover, if you hover over a command, you'll get a tooltip providing any keyboard shortcuts and a short description. And for more complicated commands, such as Excel's conditional formatting, you can hit F1 and be taken directly to the full help entry. A large part of what makes the ribbon such a success over the previous interface is that users spend less time trying to understand the interface and more time exploring how features can be leveraged.

As for OOXML, that's a whole different sh_tstorm, but I'll take a brief stab at it. First, the politics involved were deplorable, but I will point out this was something both sides contributed to. But the end result is that the default formats for Office documents are open standards that can be implemented by anyone, and I think that's better than the alternative. Really, the biggest advantage of OOXML over ODF is that it enables the older binary formats to be reliably converted to an XML format with full fidelity; ODF wasn't designed with those formats in mind, so conversion may have been problematic in many cases. ODF may well end up becoming the de facto standard in the long run, but in the meantime, OOXML is an important transitional format if nothing more.

Finally, your point that there is no one right answer for UI design is well taken. However, just because there may be more than one right answer doesn't mean there isn't at least one wrong answer. For an application as broad as the ones in Office, the evidence seems to strongly suggest that menus and toolbars are no longer the right answer--or at least no longer the most correct answer among those that have been tried. That was less true 10 years ago, and completely false 20 years ago, but today I think that's true. It is also true that some people can be incredibly productive in programs such as vi and Emacs, but Office is targeted towards a broad audience and needs to be optimized for enhancing the productivity for as many of them as possible. For Office, the ribbon has proven to be a far better mechanism for doing that than the system of menus and toolbars it replaced. I base my opinion not simply on *my* personal experience, but on a deliberate effort to understand and compare the merits of each approach. (The ribbon was introduced when I was writing a senior thesis on user interface design, so it caught my attention.) This isn't a matter of individual preferences as it is cognitive and perceptual limits that are fairly consistent across the population.

...Christ. I swear, I'm pretty reserved in person. :-)

Reply Score: 1

JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

Microsoft has shared data points showing that customers using Office 2007 use the Undo command far less often than those using older versions, which indicates they're having an easier time gaining mastery of the new UI and getting the results they want.


I would like to see the scientific reasoning behind that conclusion. Because it sounds, that they got a bunch of data, and the one that was more convenient, was chosen.

Reply Score: 2

Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

And you are the one to speak for an entire team of intelligent, experienced engineers who spent three years designing and user-testing a product using literally billions of data collected from real users across the globe? When it comes to showing the reasoning they’ve got the upper hand over your comment. You should watch this to get an idea of quite just how much they did to get to the new UI http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/2008/03/12/the-story-of-the-r...

Reply Score: 1

marcp Member since:
2007-11-23

Well, you are certainly right about one thing: there is something about services management - it works better. The problem is that it won't be even noticed by a regular user. Also - it doesn't change the fact, that most of these services are really obsolete. Just take a look at them and you'll probobly see what I mean.

MSO interface ... honestly? it's very subjective. I obviously said what I think about it, but I'm sure that some users like this new look. There's only one more thing to say - and it was already said - Microsoft doesn't give you a simple choice. You can't just turn off this feature: you are forced to use it. Moreover - you can't do much about it [you can't change the code]. Why do I have to suffer and pay for this kind of suffering? fortunately I don't have to, and I hope I never will [again].
MS isn't choosing the best option. It chooses the most profitable option. There's no reason, or logic behind their choices, really. There's *only* money that make them do what they do.
Now - there's nothing wrong about earning money in a clean and honest way. The problem starts right behind that line

You were alsa talking about zealotry ... I just put out my own thoughts. It's no zealotry, no "I want you to think like me", so there was really no reason for you to call it a *zalotry*.

Reply Score: 1

Wrong dates
by cefarix on Fri 1st Jan 2010 20:51 UTC
cefarix
Member since:
2006-03-18

The decade ends in 2010, not 2009. The decade is from 2001 to 2010. Same reason why this millennium began in 2001 and not 2000, and why there wasn't a year 0.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Wrong dates
by joekiser on Sat 2nd Jan 2010 19:33 UTC in reply to "Wrong dates"
joekiser Member since:
2005-06-30

The period from 1 Jan 2000 to 1 Jan 2010 is ten years.

The reason the second millennium didn't start until 2001 was because there was no year 0. But there was a year 2000, and it makes more sense to go 2000-2009 than it does to go 2001-2010.

Reply Score: 2

axilmar
Member since:
2006-03-20

Microsoft failed to deliver any real innovation in this decade. They just improved the same old technology that was based on processes/files/windows.

I expected from Microsoft to recognize that what is needed is a sort of 'data revolution'. As we speak, for example, it is impossible to find "all pictures sent to me from 1/1/2000 to 1/1/2010 by my friend Jimmy by email". The computer has no knowledge of what a picture is, what a date is, how a picture was sent, what is an email. Specific programs do have this knowledge though, but they can't be combined in arbitrary ways by the user.

In other words, we are still locked in a monolithic development model. I expected from Microsoft that they would have recognized this and fixed it by the year 2010, but they haven't.

Reply Score: 3

What's past is past...
by mrhasbean on Fri 1st Jan 2010 22:48 UTC
mrhasbean
Member since:
2006-04-03

...and we need to be looking at where we / they are now and what the future holds.

I expected from Microsoft that they would have recognized this and fixed it by the year 2010, but they haven't.


I don't think this is just Microsoft's responsibility and it applies to everyone out there building OSes really. I think part of the issue is that all of these companies - Microsoft included - have to spend too much time fighting fires because things weren't done properly the first time to be making any real advancements. It's also very much an economic game. There are likely technologies available within Microsoft, Apple and yes even the Linux community to do exactly these types of things, but it makes more financial sense for these companies to trickle feed new technologies into the world because they simply make more money from it.

Being honest I think Microsoft and many other companies have made significant gains in technology over the past 9 years - as someone else pointed out strictly speaking we have another year before the end of the decade - and it would be more productive to focus on where Microsoft (and others) are now, the base they have to build on going forward, and how we can put more pressure on them all to bring technologies they have in-house to market quicker.

Reply Score: 2

RE: What's past is past...
by axilmar on Sat 2nd Jan 2010 00:42 UTC in reply to "What's past is past..."
axilmar Member since:
2006-03-20

Microsoft could easily develop a truly advanced O/S in parallel with XP/Vista/7 and present it now. It could have taken them 15 years, but it would advance the start of the art. And they could have made the new O/S capable of running the old software in a VM.

Reply Score: 2

Decade theory
by reez on Sun 3rd Jan 2010 23:53 UTC
reez
Member since:
2006-06-28

At least in theory a decade is from 1-10 an therefore the decade isn't over yet and MS has still chance to allow even more dreams to shatter ;)

Reply Score: 1