Linked by Howard Fosdick on Tue 2nd Jul 2013 21:04 UTC
Editorial Like many of you, I've been watching the big changes in user interfaces over the past few years, trying to make sense of them all. Is there a common explanation for the controversies surrounding the Windows 8 UI and Unity? Where do GNOME 3, KDE, Cinnamon, and MATE fit in? This article offers one view.
Permalink for comment 566054
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
RE: No puzzle
by hhas on Wed 3rd Jul 2013 00:21 UTC in reply to "No puzzle"
Member since:

To expand...

The nearest MS came to a dedicated mobile platform was with Courier, and Ballmer canceled that because he didn't understand it at the time. Had MS got in early with its own dedicated mobile OS, they might have established a commanding presence in the mobile sector as well. However, two decades of impregnable Windows supremacy made them lazy and complacent, and so were caught napping when iOS followed by Android suddenly pulled their audacious end run right around them.

Still, credit where due: at least MS did finally wake to the tsunami now bearing down on them; unlike the likes of Kodak who stayed firmly head in sand right to the bitter end. However, MS are now coming at it from way at the back of the field and need to play every advantage they have if they've even to have a hope of catching up.

iOS succeeded in mobile because it was first (the trendsetter). Android succeeded because it went everywhere (the new 'Windows 95'). The only asset MS has available is its large, established customer base in Windows. And the only things they can do with that lumpen resource is either sit and watch as it slowly erodes under them, or else attempt to use it to bootstrap their entire mobile presence. Offering two different OSes for desktop and mobile is a complete waste of time for MS: like I said, that option already exists: traditional Windows desktop and modern Android mobile - and it's that already-entrenched combination which MS now has to beat.

Offering a single unified OS that stretches across both desktop and mobile is really the only logical choice left: the goal being to persuade existing Windows users that one OS and ecosystem that looks and works exactly the same across all of their devices is a far better choice than a disjointed clutter of disparate OSes and incompatible ecosystems. In theory, it could be a fantastic Unique Selling Point for MS: something that none of the other vendors could ever hope to match.

In practice, well, it is a more risky strategy than Apple's or Google's since it requires disrupting the lazy and complacent Windows desktop and its comfortably entrenched user base, and as we've seen neither much likes dealing with change and tends to create an enormous amount of noise over even minor alteration. But that can't be helped: those folks are already buying Android devices, and as their Android use increases their Windows use will decrease and in a lot of cases eventually fizzle out altogether as Android takes on ever more tasks they once would've had to use Windows for.

It's an aspect of human nature MS will now unfortunately just have to tough out: the vast majority of people plain hate change. Once users have mastered a particular tool, they would rather continue using that tool in exactly the same way right up until the day they finally toss it away in favor of something completely new. For them, once they clear the initial learning curve that becomes's a sunk cost; everything they do thereafter is about maximizing return on that original investment. For them, it's often cheaper and easier just to work that tool to destruction and then replace it outright, rather than constantly revise and upgrade that existing tool with all the recurring periods of obsoleted skills, reduced productivity and required relearning that entails.

This is why MS are basically right not to listen to the users that want to retain their beloved Win7 experience as-is and do not want to see it subsumed by the hated Metro8. Sure, they say now that they'll love it forever, and never, ever leave. But ten or fifteen years from now, when their other, ever more vigorous-looking amour, Android, has expanded onto every single device around them (including mainstream 2025 'desktops', i.e. PCs-on-sticks plugged into keyboards and monitors with huge honking network servers to back them up), and meanwhile that homely Win7-esque box is looking ever more aged and flabby with liver spots and crows feet now showing, what do you think's really going to happen? Those beraters claim MS is betraying their undying loyalty and love for no reason at all, but truth is MS is just getting the boot in first. ;p

So, MS are effectively burning their existing product platform in order to fuel their bootstrapping of their new one. Simple on paper, and if they do pull it off then eventually all the pain and stroppery will be forgiven and forgotten, and MS will once more rule supreme and unchallenged over all others. Though as Kodak (inventor of the digital camera), Adam Osborne (inventor of the Osborne Effect), Stephen Elop ("Osborne What?"), and many, many others have proven across the years, there's no end of original and exciting ways in which to balls up. So we shall see.

Reply Parent Score: 4