PCs

Has Microsoft switched from defense back to offense?

Microsoft has been back on its heels playing defense for a decade, since its antitrust trial with the U.S. Department of Justice. However, recent events point to a Microsoft that's ready to start playing offense again. But does the company still have any touchdown passes left?

Microsoft has been back on its heels playing defense for a decade, since its antitrust trial with the U.S. Department of Justice. However, recent events point to a Microsoft that's ready to start playing offense again. But does the company still have any touchdown passes left?

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It's easy to forget that Microsoft started its life making programming languages. The world's largest software company, which was founded in 1975, didn't throw its first touchdown pass until it backed into the contract with IBM to supply the operating system for the first IBM PC in 1981.

Microsoft snatched that opportunity and sprinted with it over the next two decades, building operating systems and applications that powered the majority of the world's personal computers and turned Microsoft into a technology empire that eventually outgrew even IBM itself.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Microsoft may not have built the best products or been the first mover in most of the markets where it built products, but it was the scrappiest and the most tenacious (and sometimes, the most ruthless) competitor in the computer market. And, that's why it succeeded.

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But, when Microsoft was hauled into court by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1998 and charged with monopolistic and anti-competitive practices, the company lost its edge. It became a much less aggressive company.

At that point, Microsoft had also won the operating system war against Apple, it had won the Web browser war with Netscape, and it had won the desktop applications wars with WordPerfect, Lotus, and others. It was no longer a challenger. It was the incumbent champion that everyone else was gunning for. And Microsoft fell into the same trap that ensnares most incumbents. Instead of playing to win, it started playing not-to-lose. The whole company switched from offense to defense.

Even worse, Microsoft was not even playing an aggressive man-to-man defense. They've been laying back in a zone defense. The sports term for this is a "containment defense." And that perfectly sums up Microsoft's strategy for the past decade, as they've allowed smaller, quicker competitors to pick them apart, little-by-little, yard-by-yard.

However, there is mounting evidence that Microsoft is casting itself as the underdog and going back on offense, as Larry Dignan pointed out last week. Here are the five plays that Microsoft has run recently that make me think the company doesn't want to simply defend its turf any longer, but wants to move the ball down the field:

1. Microsoft's new PC ads draw complaints from Apple

Microsoft has been running its popular Laptop Hunters series of ads that show average tech buyers going into computer stores with a certain amount of money, comparing PCs and Macs, and then walking out with a PC with more features that costs several hundred dollars less. This is an effective argument, especially in tough economic times. Microsoft COO Kevin Turner recently revealed that Apple called Microsoft and demanded it to stop running the ads because they were inaccurate - Apple had dropped the price of its machines by $100. Microsoft employees are still high-fiving each other in the hallways over this one.

2. Bing has essentially become the Google alternative

The company recently unveiled its new Bing search engine, which drew praise from tech pundits and even stole a little market share away from Google and Yahoo. I still think Bing was a huge waste of time and money, but Microsoft executed almost perfectly on the launch, delivering a useful product, drawing buzz away from Google in the search market, and overtaking Yahoo for the No. 2 spot in search.

3. Microsoft Office 2010 includes a bold play for the Web

Google Docs and Zoho have stolen much of the thunder in online productivity apps while Microsoft made several half-hearted attempts (like officelive.com). With Office 2010, Microsoft is throwing off the shackles of the past and delivering robust Web versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint (I've been very impressed by the demos I've seen so far). Licensing cost is still a big question mark, but if Microsoft gets that right, it has an excellent chance of solidifying mainstream businesses on the Web versions of its already-familiar office suite and keeping those companies from experimenting with Google Docs or Zoho.

4. Microsoft is planning retail stores next to Apple stores

Not only will Microsoft unveil its retail stores this fall, but the company recently hinted that many of the first stores will be located in close proximity to Apple stores. That's a surprisingly gutsy move, especially since no one expects the Microsoft stores to be as flashy and successful as the Apple stores, but it could be a decent strategy for getting overflow traffic from the average technophiles who stop by the Apple stores (not the Mac fanboys). Also, if Microsoft hires the same people that design its booth at CES every year than the retail stores could be a successful outlet for showing off the best gear in the PC ecosystem.

5. Windows 7 has been radically trimmed down

The most significant part of Windows 7 is not what's going into it, but what's coming out of it. Microsoft is subtracting more than it's adding, and still charging for it (I'll have more on that leading up to the launch on October 22). This streamlining is long overdue and is significant because it will allow Windows 7 to run on low-power devices and provide better performance on high-powered devices. Microsoft will take some heat for this addition-by-subtraction approach, but it will likely result in happier users and extend the reign of the Windows OS.

The billion dollar question

Microsoft could certainly make a lot of money and retain a measure of relevance for years by simply keeping Windows and Microsoft Office on life support. Even if there's a slow bleed siphoning off its revenue drop by drop, Microsoft could still have a very profitable business for a decade. But, Microsoft doesn't want to fade into the background and just cash checks. It wants to be a flag bearer for the tech industry. Otherwise, the company wouldn't be messing around with distractions like a search engine or the Xbox.

The big question is not whether Microsoft can continue to milk the cash cows of Windows and Office. Even if Microsoft maintains its high market share in both categories, the two products are destined to become far less profitable, due to the OS sliding into the background and much stronger Web-based competition in productivity software.

Microsoft's recent scrappy behavior shows that it has embraced the underdog role and decided to play offense again. But does Microsoft have any more touchdown passes left in its arm? That, more than anything else, will tell us whether Microsoft has truly gotten its swagger back.

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About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

66 comments
computers
computers

I couldn't agree more - the prices of Windows 7 look as though they're going to be as high, if not higher than Vista (at least over here in the UK), yet up until recently the word was that the prices wwere going to drop because of critiscism of the pricing structure. this has to be a sign of bullish behaviour, as is the decision to supply European versions of 7 without any Browser as opposed to offering a choice on install (which I think the EU said would be an acceptable option?. I think we all know which browser most people will choose - including the manufacturers!

gregg.judge
gregg.judge

people would choose internet explorer, as well as manufacturers. It's a pain in the butt to do the majority of tasks without internet explorer and theres still popular sites that don't show up right in firefox.

RipVan
RipVan

I thought dummies and helpless lemmings chose this. Now there is some new standard that if you choose IE you now equal smart? Where is this measured?

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

looking about to consider an offence. The PC / Apple ads are still defence ads as they continue to use false information and other FUD to make a point in an area they already have very much tied up. Bing is a bong in my mind, it was so well marketed that no one I know in this area has heard of it. Three thought I was talking about rap singer gold accessories, a couple of dozen thought I was talking about an Australian retail store called Bing Lee, the rest thought of Bing Crosby. not one associated it with computers. MS Office is just non business as usual until they set up to natively open files from all earlier versions of Word, Excel, Access, Power Point etc. without damaging them. Going for web based versions is just another case of following the innovative leader. Opening retail stores near Apple ones is just another case of catch up, as is trying to cut back on the size of Win 7. They need to get off their butts and do something innovative and useful to the clients. They need to concentrate on providing good software, not on maximising profit streams at the expense of the clients. They need a major change in corporate culture and thinking, and it needs to start at the top - not likely unless all the current senior management die at once. Having said all that, MS have a damn huge defence team and a lot of dollars to build brick walls with, so they may be able to out last most of their opponents without having to make a touchdown at all - just wait around for a safety or two to give them the winning points in the game. NB: On a side issue, if you have something you wish to tell us, please say it here as well as Twitter as Twitter may be big in the US but just about everyone here in Australia sees it as a total waste of time, just another time waster like MySpace and FaceBook. I don't Twitter at all and no one I know around here does either. I've a FaceBook account I check every other week, more than often enough because it's full of useless rubbish, and the MySpace account I used to have is now dead but not gone as their recent great upgrades only work fully with MS Windows.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Facebook isn't much different than your job or your life. It's only as useless as the people you network with! I thought it was useless at first, but like I said in another post it is kind of addicting. Particular the mobile version for those oh so brief moments of downtime. Like the last few minutes of lunch if no one is around, or restrooms with no magazines. It is also handy for lodging reviews since I have friends all over the place. I trust their opinion, and it is soooooooo much faster than surfing hundreds of consumer reviews. :) I wouldn't say the laptop hunter ads are total FUD. They are more or less pointing out that to the average consumer walking into Best Buy, you more than likely aren't walking out with an Apple. Granted, Apple lowered the base 13.3" price to $999.99. Even at that price, no way would I recommend to any of my financially challenged friends that they should buy a $1k Apple instead of lest than $600 or $700 laptop running windows. I do however think the Macbook is a better product for a [i]somewhat[/i] competitive price. Given this time of year though, people like myself will think that a $200 or more price savings will buy a pile of school clothes for the kiddies.

adakar_sg
adakar_sg

Bing; not crap.. suprisingly good actually.. but to google something is secound nature now, got hotkeys in the browser to google, to much stress :) but i believe bing will grow on the crowd as it is an excelent search engien, not to mention the presentation of search results are excelent, as long as they dont ad it to hell like they did with MSN Messenger it should be fine Ms Office: Open office is suprisingly good.. not quite there yet but they have serious competators, not to mention they are compeating against free.. free is a nice price for every IT guy on a budget. Win 7: No comment, havent heard anything bad against it but then again there is a hype going on so.. wait 6months and see.. All i wanted to say, hope MS makes it, but its good that they have gotten some real competition again :)

j-mart
j-mart

The standard no thinking answer "not quite there yet". Open office easily accomplishes all the basic everyday functions required of an Office Suite easily just as well as MS Office, Open office for some tasks I find is better, writer is much better than word, native pdf file creation should be standard in any half decent Office Application. I have never, on Techrepublic found examples of how MS office is better than Open office. If you think it is please enlighten us with an opinion as to why.

dbecker
dbecker

To your Point, Ernest, I was frankly shocked that M$ left so much garbage in .doc files, but I should have known. After all, what is the purpose of the garbage collector if it just changes a pointer or two and leaves the garbage. But then I suppose that it's expensive to actually cram all the data together without the garbage when you write it out. Sigh.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

isn't garbage, OO has little choice but to decide all data is valid and then leave it up to the user to decide what to toss. The flaw is the system should NOT include garbage at all - you don't get the same problem when you open other breeds of word processing documents in OO, but then, they don't pack the document full of garbage either. The rest come out clean, only MS Word .doc does this.

dbecker
dbecker

I'm neither happy that M$ leaves garbage in Word nor am I particularly pleased that Open Office reads it. I'm equal opportunity when it comes to flaws.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

in MS Word and it loads up the garbage stuff that word loaded into the file that you feel shouldn't be there, and you blame OO for reading the whole file; but not MS Word for putting the garbage in there to begin with. An interesting approach to life.

federico.alcantara
federico.alcantara

I've been using OO for awhile, and I am surprised that many application (including open source) are able to export to excel and word, but not to OO. I think this is influenced by the huge installation base of MS Office in business. If developers start to include OO document generation out-of-the-box, then integration and usability will increase and OO might become a real contender to MS Office.

dbecker
dbecker

For the most part, I agree with you, however... Writer seems to have this penchant for reading in the remnants from the garbage collector left over from Word from .doc files. I had a tough time with it and started over with the M$ version. OO Base, at least for the current version, doesn't seem to have an ODBC yet [I haven't checked this week]. It's great in the context of the rest of Office because all the other products interface so very well with it without so much as a ripple of protest. It is so tightly integrated. Try to use it outside the venue of OO though and you'll find quite a challenge.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

I did some comparison searches on Bing and Google - Google had a lot more search hits, mostly Asian and European (some Aussie) results Bing didn't have. The advanced search engine on Bing is rubbish compared to the Google one, unless they have a better one saved for registered members. No way to adjust the number of hits displayed either. The paid for ads at the top of the hit list in Bing stayed the same for each page of hits, while the Google ones did change. Open Office vs MS Office OO does two things I use a lot that are problems in MS Office. 1. Natively open older MS Word and Excel files without damaging them. 2. One button making of a PDF file for sending to the printer. I recognise other people have different usages and will see things different, but I can only call what I see. edit type O

gregg.judge
gregg.judge

A lot of people you know don't like a lot of people, because a lot of people I know, use twitter, facebook, etc, as well as bing. Trust us the web 2.0 is attractive.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Why should I be interested in them? So some f'ker can make a buck?

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

heard of it. I checked it out and it's mostly US sites info. I ran the same searches on Bing as on Google and got a lot more hits on Google, and nearly all the extra hits were non US sites. Mostly Asia and Europe. As to FaceBook etc - about 90% of what I see people doing on FaceBook is to do with playing those silly games or what they're going to have for dinner - gee, I really need to know that. MySpace was much more of the same until they killed it totally with some script upgrades that don't play nice except with Windows. Both of them started the same way Twitter has, and from what I hear people say about it, it's already going the same way. So why bother. If it's tech related and worth saying, it should be here on TR anyway.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

I do worry that some people seem to be assuming everyone will Twitter and follow them like a twit - all I ask is don't limit the good info to Twitter as not all use it.

MikeG3b
MikeG3b

I don't Twitter or Facebook or whatever, but my wife does, and she gets a big kick from her involvement. I'm on Plaxo and LinkedIn, and don't spend excessive amounts of time on either site, but it's nice to see what old acquaintences are up to. I think Gregg's point is that, if social networking works for you, use it. No one is forcing you onto social network sites if you're not interested. But to simply dismiss things like Bing & Facebook as "rubbish" because they don't fit your lifestyle or workflow is unwarrented. There are plenty of people who use these things without spending excessive amounts of time and effort for the benefits they receive.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I find that I have to make myself stop rejecting SOME new tech from time to time. Since I work on the network security side of things, IM and products like Skype seem inherently evil. Yet I find other solutions and lock them down securely. I remember when IM?s were for kids, yet now with our Cisco solution in place it is very beneficial to be able to talk with my teammates down the hall or in another building when I?m in a time crunch. I thought Facebook was just plain silly and useless at first. Now I actually pick up many things from it. I?ve got friends that work for red hat and Microsoft and we?re always taking cheap shots at each other. Then one day I downloaded facebook mobile. It is actually addictive when you have nothing better to do?like let?s say for instance that your company?s pooper doesn?t have a magazine rack. :)

Rastor9
Rastor9

This argument of new stuff being useless reminds me of my School Tech Admin days. Schools banning cell phones because of classroom disruptions: Today, schools "download" assignments and "to do" lists to student cell phones automatically, making the "toy" the kids can't do without into a "responsibility tool" they now have no excuse to claim "I didn't know the work was due". Schools banning "MySpace" because of sexual predators and "excessive" bandwidth use, and now teachers using the service to keep in touch with each class member. Schools banning "Facebook" because it is a waste of time, and now I see teachers using a lot of the "free content" as classroom aids and additional MultiMedia content for the class. Banning "Rock and Roll" because it ruin their soul's. Back to this argument, it sounds more like someone who doesn't want to "keep up" with the younger crowd, and just because "he" doesn't see advertisements on "his" re-run channels should equal a "fact" that "no one" uses the service that he knows about. The claims, and statements sound like an older "techie" who doesn't want to learn anything new anymore, and because of that "claims" that these services are useless and time wasters..... I am pretty old for a techie myself (Graduated HS when Apple and MS were still in garages and daddie's back yard), and fell into that mold while working for the "aged" teachers and staff of public schools. I don't text, but know how to support the people that do, I don't have a MySpace page but know how to show kids to be safe with it. I don't like Twitter, but can see exactly why it works....Just because I don't like or use, doesn't mean the process is stupid or useless--it is by all accounts still VERY profitable to keep up on new stuff. Keep an open mind, or else you (we, me, us etc) might become irrelevant in the tech world.

gregg.judge
gregg.judge

The issue sounds like it resides in your social networking skills. I've read a lot of information about Microsoft, and game releases through twitter hours before the blogosphere got ahold of them. As with facebook and myspace a lot of it can be trivial but you choose who you view much like twitter, you can have many friends on there that you don't get "alerts" from. Myspace I primarily use for music, and a lot of artists release blogs or even music to myspace before anywhere else, and sometimes thats the only reliable source of complete concert dates. As for bing, I haven't seen any blatant downsides since I've been using the search, but I gain great joy from saying "bing it" instead of google it, even if a chunk of the time I get a odd response back. Now with Microsoft, they'll kill ass when needed and pull punches when needed so eventually when their main cash cow is obsolete they'll have back ups, and back ups, and back ups.

tim.hayes
tim.hayes

As an ISV methinks it is about time that Microsoft came out of its corner and started punching back at Google. Many of Google's recent product releases - culminating in the announcement of Chrome OS are wonderful for lightweight (mainly consumer) use but miss the mark entirely when addressing the business community and the 300,000 developer business community that supports the Windos OS. I posted here a year or two back on why Linux Desktop will never make it. It lacks Windows "COM" architecture which so many software products rely upon. Google seem to miss that fundamental point. OK it is convenient to offer Word Processing etc. in a browser, but that does not address corporate business system needs. Bing is almost the complete answer to Google. If MS grow this market share significantly it will reduce Google's revenues and threaten to push Google into obscurity. Of course, if that happens, MS will face anti-trust legislation again! Tim Hayes

bkmcnaught
bkmcnaught

If microsoft try making use of bing a mandetory part of using their operating system. If they use their privileged position as the builder of an operating system of choice, to ensure that other search engines won't loads properly ( as in placing undocumented code into their release candidates that specifically looks for elements of competing products, and then refuses to run with them. If they license legitimate code specifically to gain access to confidential technology, and then attempt to reverse engineer it using that privileged information. (and when once released their effort embarasses them into distributing the original product, outside the terms of their license and claim it was their own corrected version, failing to acknowledging it: they were infact hijacking someone elses product. They purgered themselves, and were caught in the act. Just for money) These actions have ruined good companies and put a lot of talented people out of good paying jobs so that Bill would have a few more millions to sit on and do nothing with. In the creation of his empire he has used microsoft to make us all weaker. If his demonstrated standard of personal ethics weren't so low, perhaps there wouldn't be so many who are prepared to attack/embarass the company. We need protection from a company that has demonstrated such a feeble grip on a concept like business ethics. The biggest difference between Microsoft and Enron was that those in charge were just a little more devious. I guess they had better legal advise. Microsoft on the defensive is a good thing. Keeps them more honest, and I like it that way.

mattohare
mattohare

Pardon the rugby metaphor, but you did get some good distance with the American football.... MS can put out some good products that look great on the spec sheets and brochures. That's where they can make some spectacular tries. Great sales and all. I think we see this with the products coming out. Going for the conversion, however, is their weakness. Look at Vista. It was meant to be the best in so many categories. The only thing we can really agree it did well was to alienate almost everyone in some way or another. MSN was that way so many times over. I think it was '99 that I lost count on how many times they re-made it. And, Access 2007 cut off a lot of developers and analysts from some of the most productive parts of the tool. I hope this move to the offence means they get some good kickers to get the conversion.

michaels.perry
michaels.perry

I think that the spelling should be 'offence' as many of its recent activities and its plans for W7 are very suspect. Despite what US law may permit, some of the actions being built into W7 are illegal in Europe and maybe other countries too. They even plan to prevent a simple upgrade path to W7 in Europe, you have to have a 'clean' system (i.e. no OS on it!), and will leave out any web browser! No IE7 nor IE8! So you have to separately install one without being able to go on the web. Plus you can't authenticate your version of W7 until you can get on the web using an IE-like browser! Not good for its customers outside the US. Many are planning on NOT taking W7 at all.

mattohare
mattohare

I hear more complaints, I think, about the European Parliament than I did about Congress in the States. The EU was going to insist that MS put competing browsers on the installation disk. That's a bit over the top, if you ask me. And, I suspect you still drink pints there, not half litres?

adakar_sg
adakar_sg

What i wonder is when MS have to include chrome in their install CD... are MS responsible for errors chrome might contain as MS delivered it? I'm so glad Norway voted no in the EU election! EU seem to want to micromanage far more than they should..

Super_sonix
Super_sonix

But remember guantanamo? a month surely looks a breeze compared to this! and yes our email / SMS might be stored by the network providers for years, but not ONLY for goverment usage. and you forgot to mention the most watched people in the WORLD!. more CCTV here per mile than anywhere else! But answer me one question? where would you rather live? in the uk? or the us? nuff said!

mattohare
mattohare

I hope you don't think living in the UK isolates you from such 'patriot'/terrorism acts?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Bureaucratic nightmare, endemic corruption, money pit that it is. It's our only chance of competing.

Super_sonix
Super_sonix

is it really eurocrats over regullating? or is it freedom, and democracy, and being able to choose what and who and when i want to be spyed on? keep your patriotic acts and your Manufactured in spyware thanks, i am happy with relative freedom here in europe!

mattohare
mattohare

That's why most country don't put it to a popular vote. And even those that do vote yes do it because there is slightly more gained by overregulation than lost by all appearances.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Which products or markets would the touchdowns most likely come from? Original post: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/?p=2199

Colinza
Colinza

They need to keep it simple and get back to basics. They revolutionised the OS and they should continue to leverage off that intellectual capital that made them great and continue to streamline; optimise and strengthen that bedrock on which all IT exists. With continuing integration of modules the lines are blurred and that is as it should be but it is still a vital layer. On top of that they should continue providing the basic (there?s that word again) business tools which can drive the operations of specialist companies to project their niche offerings. They shouldn?t try and be Oracle as an example, they should strengthen ties and alliances and make it easier and more practical for all to do business on the Microsoft platform. That does mean updating connectivity technologies; database relationship co-existence and modernising the user experience but keep in mind one thing. IT only succeeds if the business sees value and if the business gets to drive the wheel. Data management and enterprise servicing must be the target for Microsoft when designing these platforms for the corporate world and single users.

dbecker
dbecker

"Data management and enterprise servicing must be the target for Microsoft when designing these platforms for the corporate world" IBM.

larrytessari
larrytessari

If you have the 64 bit version of Windows and have been downloading all the upgrades, youj probably know that Micfosoft has tightened up the "driver signature enforcement." This is nothing but a glorified attempt to extort money from hardware suppliers. I have three devices (Optimus mini 3, a USB floppy drive, and a West Mountain Radio ham radio interface) as well as two software packages (Quicken and Starry Nights) that quit running after I installed SP2. Two of these use WORL signed drivers and still refuse to work. I think the government needs to investigate this situation and stop this racket from continuing. Maybe if the Department of Justice decided to take over driver signing it would help

bratwizard
bratwizard

>>"think the government needs to investigate this situation and stop this racket from continuing." HAHAHA! What a funny comment! They DID investigate them, several governments in fact, and not only that-- CONVICTED THEM-- and yet the US Govt-- and the U.S. Justice Dept most especially (talk about IRONY)-- has been buying MS crap to the near exclusion of anything else. If you only knew how pervasive it is you'd be shocked and terrified.

dbecker
dbecker

"Maybe if the Department of Justice decided to take over driver signing it would help" Let's find out how the feds do on taking over health care first, eh?

bratwizard
bratwizard

"Maybe if the Department of Justice decided to take over driver signing it would help" Why on earth would they do that? The Justice Dept has already drunk the coolaid. The whole jug if you ask me.

larrytessari
larrytessari

Look how they are destroying the domestic auto industry, Anybody who buys a car from GM, now "Government Motors," is helping promote socialism in this country,

waltrutka
waltrutka

the touchdown was reported around 1995 gates walked by os2 and it locked up now are you telling me everything is working?

SFNative
SFNative

I don't think that Microsoft had any to begin with. To keep the sports analogy going, throwing a pass, missing the receiver but getting him to throw his hands up in the air and pretend to catch it, run into the end zone, spike an air ball and do a little dance where he throws chairs around is not a touchdown. Not even if you get the ref, the crowd in the stands, the various TV and radio announcers and the fans at home to believe it. Microsoft has put out garbage software for years and knuckleheads have been paying good money for it. Not a touchdown. A thrown game, maybe but no touchdown.

bratwizard
bratwizard

And worse than that, your Uncle Sam has been signing on to MS crap like its going out of style. I would say that's a national security problem myself.

tsrman
tsrman

I was hoping to see what the blogger's speculation was on potential 'touchdown passes'!

TechRepublic
TechRepublic

The thing that is driving me away from MS is the licensing and troubles with activation of products. If they cut cost, drop the activation requirements and provide REAL technological advancements instead of new paint I'd stay loyal. The loss of screen-estate in Office07 makes me retreat everytime. The incentive value just isn't there anymore for me. NOTE:Personal opinion here.

mckinnej
mckinnej

How many people out there actually WANT to BUY Windows 7? Seriously, do you know anyone that is actually excited about laying their hard-earned cash to buy something they don't really need? I think this is a fact that has whooshed right over M$'s head. There are two parts to this. The obvious one is the economy. Joe Homeuser is cash strapped now as are most small businesses. OS upgrades are probably only going to happen with hardware, which could get pushed very far to the right. Now here's the second part that I think M$ is ignoring or just plain oblivious to. I can't find a single person that is excited about the release of Windows 7. Remember when Win95, Win98, and even WinXP came out? People were excited. There was a buzz. Each of them represented a major leap forward in just about every aspect of an OS. As a result, people WANTED to BUY those products. The retail boxed versions flew off the shelves. People were even buying new PCs just because they had the new version of Windows. None of this is happening or likely to happen with Win7. The quandary M$ has gotten themselves into is something I'll call the "Perfect Product Paradox". It's basically what happens to a company when they improve a product to the point where additional improvements become inane, trivial, or simply not improvements at all. The product has become so utilitarian it is ignored by the user. Think of it like a hair dryer. Once a hair dryer meets the minimum standards expected by the consumer (wattage, speeds, heat settings, etc.), the market will become essentially flat. Sales will not increase significantly just because the manufacturer makes it in more colors or gives it chrome plating. From this point on sales are essentially in maintenance mode. For hair dryers this means everyone that needs one has already bought one and they won't buy a new one until the old one wears out. Since software doesn't wear out, this means M$ has to depend on sales of new PCs to drive their own sales. To add insult to injury, M$ is likely to price it so high that not only will customers not seek it out, many will outright avoid it. It looks like Joe Homeuser and small businesses are not alone in this situation either. Recent surveys (reported here on TR I believe) indicate the vast majority of large companies have no plans move to Windows 7 anytime soon. So, now let's see that show of hands. How many of you are actually excited about M$'s new hair dryer?

bratwizard
bratwizard

>>The quandary M$ has gotten themselves into is something I'll call the "Perfect Product Paradox". Windows is _anything_ but perfect. The paradox I believe you're referring to is the "I'd like something better but I'm so tired of dealing with Microsoft's crappy operating system, its draconian installation and licensing practices, its constant phoning home and incessant 'new upgrades' that I just am not going to bother since XP works well enough I can run my games and balance my checkbook Paradox".

Lazarus439
Lazarus439

Is EVERY other OS really all that great or are you just unwilling to simply say you don't like Microsoft products and be done with them? Isn't OS/X on it's 5th or 6th revision? For which Apple will insist on collecting money before handing over? How many of these revisions - since they are somehow qualitatively different from "incessant 'new upgrades'" have there been since Windows XP, or even Vista, came out? Exactly how is REQUIRING one to buy Apple hardware in order to run the Apple OS any less "draconian" a licensing practice than Microsoft's? Windows will install on any compatible hardware, regardless of who makes it? Linux is indeed a different animal - no argument. However, it still doesn't meet the KEY criteria for an OS - people can't run the programs they want to or need to because, for the most part, those programs don't exist for Linux. It's not Linux' fault, but it is reality and will likely remain so for a good while yet.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

beta with XP, he likes Win 7 but has several issues, some of his games and things which he can run on XP will not run on Win 7, even in the XP VM, and some of his peripherals won't work on Win 7 as they don't have Win 7 drivers - these are all devices that plug-n-play with with the various Linux installs around the house and he has XP drivers for them too. At this time his answer is "It looks nice, but it doesn't do all I want. XP and Simply Mepis both do all I want." So my guess is we won't be buying it at all.

Derteufel
Derteufel

Im totally impressed with Windows 7.

Slvrknght
Slvrknght

After trying the beta for a while, I was rather impressed by Windows 7. A lot of my issues seemed to have been dealt with. I'm still not enthusiastic about the "Let GUI interface handle everything" but I'm warming up to it a little.

---TK---
---TK---

For a number of reasons.. Its boots faster than Vista and XP, its just as stable as XP and Vista, and I have no issues with learning a new OS. Speaking from experience, I have loaded Win7 beta on my laptop and it seriously spanks Vista as far as performance goes, it picks up all the drivers out of the gates (except for the AMD co-processor driver, easy solution, load the vista driver...solved). The only issue I have is that Daemon tools and a few other virutal drive emulators will BSOD the OS... but what really can you expect? Its still in beta... As far as older systems, I even installed Win7 on a AMD socket A, with 1 Gig of RAM, and a 9550 ATI card, and it was just as fast as XP. Now it was more CPU intensive, but its not exactly designed to run on a 9 year old system. You ask "How many people out there actually WANT to BUY Windows 7?" Me and all of my other friends!

mdarr
mdarr

I'm looking forward to Win 7. My XP system has some issues with new applications, and I'm pretty sure Win 7 will fix that. Less bloatware (which Vista was jammed with) makes Win 7 attractive to me.

bmcmenamy
bmcmenamy

I am very excited to get my hands on Windows 7. I have been testing it and it is very stable, much faster than Vista and has all of the new Aero glass look and feel and capabilities. Windows XP will have its death. It will no longer get updates and more holes will be taken advantage of that will not be patched. Coming from a system administration point of view you can not run an office on outdated and antiquated equipment and OSs. Software will stop supporting Windows XP just like they do with Windows 95, 98 and 2000. Not only will hardware drive the updating to Windows 7 but software will eventually come out and only be supported on Vista or Win7. As far as your buzz concept with Windows XP and everybody wanting to have it. I remember it being quiet the contrary. People hated it and didnt' want anything to do with it because you had to ACTIVATE your copy and the software could just stop working with your hardware if you did not comply. People didnt' want to touch it with a 10 foot pole, but as time went on and people realized that it was stable and provided capabilities that you used to have to purchase seperately such as incorporated cd burning, new improved GIU that was more intuitive, and improved remote administration and group policy capabilities. There is one thing that I do agree with and that is that the majority of companies do not have plans to move to Windows 7 imediately but as hardware is surplused every 4 or 5 years the new equipment will come in with Windows 7 already loaded (OEM). So in 4 to 5 years we will see entire shops running Windows 7 and XP will R.I.P.

sbanford@dimellashaffer.com
sbanford@dimellashaffer.com

Our company is actually looking forward to migrating our workstation OS's to Windows 7. We have been testing the RC for about the last two months. What we have found is that our major CAD and rendering applications run about 40% faster which translates into significant dollar savings. One of the major contributing factors to this increase is the large amount of memory that Windows 7 will take advantage of.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

will not allow drivers not digitally signed by MS to run at all. So there will be limited drivers for a while.

gavin142
gavin142

yes, but finding drivers for 64bit versions of xp can be difficult to impossible at times.

FXEF
FXEF

Windows 7 in itself will not increase large amounts of memory use. It is 64 bit architecture that gives that increase in memory use. XP 64 bit will also recognize more memory than a 32 bit version.

blarman
blarman

Completely agree. While I wouldn't go so far as to call Windows a "perfect" product, there are relatively few avenues for feature addition, and these don't add much. If you wanted to compare Windows to a car (and yes, if you haven't read GM's rebuttal to Microsoft's "If cars were like Operating Systems" you really should) MS is adding fancy decals and hood ornaments, asking if you want the upholstery in vinyl or suede, and moving around the instrumentation, but that's about it. No substantial changes and therefore no hype/excitement. What Microsoft needs to do is now overhaul each one of its components and re-engineer it so the engine is faster (a good start: rip out the RIAA-induced content-checker). Windows 7 sounds like they are starting in that direction, but I want results. I would also point out that MS is charging a premium for the new decals. $350 for an OS license? Give me a break.

bratwizard
bratwizard

>>"This is a big difference from Win95 and Win98 when BSODs, application faults, and errors galore used to be part of everyone's daily routine. WinXP is now mostly stable and secure." You're just bound and determined to step in it aren't you? :) Why not just say that XP doesn't BSOD as often and leave it at that?

Lazarus439
Lazarus439

...corporate buyers will. The great majority of home users run the OS that came on the machine and they'll continue to do so until the machine is replaced. The only major opening W7 has in this market is that the home users have had Vista for the past 2? or three years. If W7 is good enough, maybe there will be some upgrade market. Corporate is another story. Although most corporate machines also die with the same OS they had at birth, the big question is how long corporate buyers will demand "Windows 7 with the Windows XP Downgrade". If the corporate world takes to W7, it will be a winner. If not, it will be just a better Vista - fainter praise I cannot imagine.

gavin142
gavin142

they'll probably sell a decent amount of these, I think. 1: In my testing, it's got the same speed that XP had (in some ways it's faster) 2: it's got the "idiot proofing" automated system maintenance that vista so poorly employed, but it does it better and with less system impact. 3: it supports equipment that simply can't be run under xp (usually due to lack of driver support, as in my case) 4: that Stupid UAC is actually controllable with a set of logical throttle settings. 5: like me, I'm sure there are many users who are sick of having to wait on their stupid vista systems. I've been using it throughout the beta and RC stages, and I can honestly say that Win7 is what Vista SHOULD HAVE BEEN, and probably what it would have been had they not been stupid and bowed to marketing pressure.

mckinnej
mckinnej

Your point about Windows not being perfect is spot on. I can't even believe I said that! :) The more correct term would be "good enough", which certainly applies to WinXP. It's not the prettiest, fastest, or cheapest OS, but it is what most users have and it gets the job done day in and day out. This is a big difference from Win95 and Win98 when BSODs, application faults, and errors galore used to be part of everyone's daily routine. WinXP is now mostly stable and secure. I understand the dilemma they've got themselves into, but one would think a company as smart as M$ could foresee this situation and plan for it. Unfortunately it appears the only plan is to try and figure out new ways to keep users chained to the upgrade treadmill. That's not going to be easy. What is sad in this is by all reports, Win7 is a good OS, maybe the best M$ has ever built, but trying to sell it to users that are happy with WinXP is going to be nearly impossible. (Better prices would definitely help...)