The revolutionary dogma of Metro is sweeping through the old Windows desktop, too, a new leak of Window 8 confirms. The leaked build, newer than the public release of a fortnight ago, abandons the 3D design elements introduced into Windows in 1990 for a resolutely two-dimensional world. The ‘legacy’ desktop in Windows 8 is denuded of anything that takes advantage of human depth perception, such as window shadows, gradients or sculpted controls.
It’s a flat, flat world.
Continue reading “Windows Metro Maoist cadres reach the desktop, and pound it flat”
By far the most ill-judged design decision I can remember – Andrew
The public preview of Windows 8 has won “rave reviews” according to the Daily Mail, the newspaper that claims to reflect Middle England and is proudly conservative in every sense of the word. The Mail, it’ll have you know, is a feisty opponent of “change for the sake of it”.
So not only do I fear that somebody has spiked the water supply at the Kensington HQ of Associated Newspapers, the Mail’s publisher, I’m puzzled about what it is in Windows 8 that merits a “rave”.
For, apart from an outbreak of violent electromagnetic storms that zap our PCs at random, nothing is going to disrupt ordinary users as much as the design changes Microsoft wants to introduce. So detached from reality has Microsoft become, it touts every one of these disruptions as a virtue.
Continue reading “Windows 8’s Metro means no gain for lots of pain”
Windows Phone might be the most impressive bit of software Microsoft has produced – but it isn’t setting the world on fire. The iPhone and Android go from strength to strength – the latter proliferating so widely even Google doesn’t know how many Android systems are out there. (It can’t count the Chinese forks which don’t use any Google services and don’t phone home.)
This discrepancy puzzles people. Reviewers like WinPho a lot – it’s clean, fast, functional and forward-looking. The social media integration is very clever. Operators have a soft spot for Nokia and WP7 too, because – if for no other reason – they dislike and distrust Google and Apple even more. So what’s the problem?
Three weeks ago I raised the prospect that there may never be a third smartphone ecosystem – something upon which Nokia has bet the company. Many markets only have room for two leading players – and in the technology platform world, many have only one. On the margins the niche players are little islands. No matter how impressive WP is, if the needle doesn’t move, then it too becomes a marginal player. Ecosystems can perish more rapidly than they arise. If Windows Phone is to avoid the same fate as WebOS then the dynamic has to change.
But what might this be?
Continue reading “Five ways to rescue Windows Phone”
There’s a whiff of something – it isn’t desperation, more like earnest exasperation – around Microsoft’s phone business these days
Humiliatingly, Nokia was forced to deny rumours last week that it was planning to break up and sell its crown jewels to Microsoft. Normally a company can remain impervious to Twitter-born gossip, particularly from a known antagonist.
Acknowledging the rumour simply gives it a chauffeured ride around the internet. But not this time: the ‘Microsoft buys Nokia’ story fulfils so many conspiracy theories, thousands of people wanted it to be true.
And the notion of Microsoft buying a hardware company and ripping up its licensing business has become much less outlandish after Google’s acquisition of Motorola’s phone business. Ah, but that was desperation, I hear you say; the Chocolate Factory had miscalculated its IP strategy catastrophically, and it had to grab what patents it could at almost any price.
But there’s a whiff of something – it isn’t desperation, more like earnest exasperation – around Microsoft’s phone business these days. Redmond has got an excellent product, for the first time, and people who have a Windows Phone love using it. But there just aren’t many of those folk around. The phones aren’t shifting. Christmas has come and gone, and while we wait for some reliable channel figures, Nokia’s flagship seems to have made almost no impact on the UK market. It’s the phone that leaves no footprints.
Continue reading “Perhaps there’s no ‘Third Ecosystem’?”
No one will be happier than Microsoft about Google’s vanity venture to market computers with a Google-brand OS. It gives us the illusion of competition without seriously troubling either business, although both will obligingly huff and puff about how serious they are about this new, phoney OS war. Since both of these giants are permanently in trouble with antitrust regulators – they’re at different stages of IBM-style thirty years legal epics – that’s just the ticket for them both.
Google’s failure to dent the Microsoft monopoly will simply notch up another failure for Linux (whose fans are quite happy to work for The Man, as long as it’s not the Man from Redmond) – and it’ll do nothing for consumers. How so? Because the computing problems we’ll have tomorrow will still be the same ones we have today.
…Read more at The Register
An overlooked court case in Seattle has helped restore the reputation of the late computer pioneer Gary Kildall.
Last week, a Judge dismissed a defamation law suit brought by Tim Paterson, who sold a computer operating system to Microsoft in 1980, against journalist and author Sir Harold Evans and his publisher Little Brown. The software became the basis of Microsoft’s MS-DOS monopoly, and the basis of its dominance of the PC industry.
But history has overlooked the contribution of Kildall, who Evans justifiably described as “the true founder of the personal computer revolution and the father of PC software” in a book published three years ago.
Continue reading “MS-DOS paternity suit settled”
While Bill Gates now holds a lucrative monopoly on digital images, his successors don’t see the same prosperous future for the digital word. Microsoft is withdrawing from the Open Content Alliance digitisation project and will cease to scan books, the company said on Friday. It’s abandoning its Live Book Search venture – a curious decision, since it effectively hands the future of the book to arch-rival Google.
Why? Because the Open Content Alliance is out of money – and Microsoft was by far the biggest financial backer.
Brewster Kahle, whose Internet Archive project is a key OCA member, admitted the financial impact of Microsoft’s withdrawal was “significant” and that the Alliance now needed fresh resources to keep the scanners running. The initial $10m was almost completely exhausted.
Google differs from the impoverished Alliance in that it doesn’t ask for permission from copyright holders; it simply instructs its stormtroopers – the participating libraries – to rev their machines and start copying.
For this, the ad giant has received lawsuits in the US and France from authors and publishers. Google has fought back using sock puppets of its own. Stanford Law School’s anti-copyright centre has been helping out the Google cause – and received a $2m thank you in return.
(Curiously, “anti-corruption campaigner” Professor Lessig omits this relationship in his own, verbose declaration of interests – a taste of things to come, perhaps.)
Yet the policy will be brutally effective, with Google holding a monopoly on the printed word in book form.
Microsoft says it will donate the books digitised by Live Book Search to the copyright holders. Meanwhile, Google will surely never see a monopoly fall into its lap quite so easily. The future of digital books is now entirely in its hands.
(But perhaps not the future of books – given how superior paper technology is to digital. As Simon Jenkins wrote recently, the physical book just looks better all the time.)
One IT Manager, bemoaning his lot to me, recently compared the rise of Web 2.0 enthusiasts to the problem the Police has with Freemasons. The blog and wiki evangelists within are not as secretive, of course, but they’re equally cult-like: speaking their own language, and using the populist rhetoric of “empowerment” for relentless self-advancement.
He couldn’t care less that employees were “wasting” time on Facebook – that was a “problem” for their line managers to deal with, and not an IT issue. (Why should IT be blamed if staff played with Rubik’s Cubes all day?) He had always encouraged people to try new software, so long as it remained within the firewall. The real problem, he thought, was that the Web 2.0 cult is loyal to what’s perceived to be good for the greater “Hive Mind”, not the organisation.
This resulted in staff with conflicting agendas.
Continue reading “How Web 2.0 concentrates power, and makes Microsoft stronger”
For all but three of the past 17 years, Microsoft has been involved in antitrust litigation with government agencies. That’s enough to wear anyone down. But as Europe’s highest appeals court delivered its judgement on Monday, I did notice some ennui – not from dogged old hacks, but from a new generation of pundits.
Take this example from former teenage dot.commer Benjamin Cohen – who was six when FTC first trained its lawyers on Redmond. After taking a pop at the at “anti-Microsoft lobby”, he declared on the Channel 4 News website:
The judgement is based on an old case and in many ways an old world – where Microsoft really was the dominant player in information technology
Stop kicking the kindly old man in the Windows outfit, he said.
It’s hard for it to have too much relevance today.
You’d think from this brilliant piece of insight, that there is hardly anyone left who uses Microsoft Windows or Office. Maybe, like the Acorn Archimedes, it’s a hobbyist system lovingly kept alive by a few, devoted enthusiasts! Benji even sounded slightly resentful at being torn away from Facebook (or Sadville) for a few minutes, to write about this piece of computer history.
But the question of “how we deal with Microsoft” is more relevant than ever for two very important and reasons: the second follows from the first.
Continue reading “Why 'Microsoft vs Mankind' still matters”
Savour this irony.
Last week, we learned that incompatibilities Microsoft hadn’t written into its operating system posed a grave threat to users. Last week, we also learned that genuine incompatibilities Microsoft had deliberately written into its operating system posed no threat at all.
Continue reading “Yes, we have no incompatibilties”