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Poll Results: Driving techies away from Microsoft

Your chance to enlighten: Will Microsoft's current consumer-focused strategy drive techies to Android and Linux?

On February 28, 2012, Debra Littlejohn Shinder wrote a blog post contemplating whether Microsoft's recent concentration on the more consumer-oriented mobile device market would drive techies away. I added a poll to gauge your feelings on this provocative question:

Will Microsoft's current consumer-focused strategy drive techies to Android and Linux?

This was a tough question for me. I have an Android Galaxy S. It works fine, but then I am hardly a power user of mobile devices. I mostly use my cell phone to make phone calls, which makes me almost Luddite in some people's eyes.

I got my Android phone for one reason -- it was free with a 2-year subscription. I have downloaded maybe ten apps; all are of the free variety. I have never seen an app I am willing to pay even 99 cents for. But in many ways, I am in the minority, and I wonder if I am missing out on a learning opportunity.

As a follow-up discussion, I'd like to know how many apps you have downloaded in the past month? Do you use every app you have downloaded regularly, or are you just experimenting? Is the mobile device the new playground for the techie?

Also read:

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

11 comments
Realvdude
Realvdude

I was in the minority on that poll, though what kind of techie is the question about and what kind of techies answered the poll, definitely effects the outcome. Between Mark's comment about his Android usage and some other comments, it seems that there are at least three types of "techies". 1) Technology Junkie/Power User - These are the techies that have all the latest gadgets and/or a lot of them, and may even put them to regular use. I think this is the focus group of Windows 8. 2) Developers of business and consumer "desktop" applications, and power business users. - This group is in the middle for one or more reasons, target audience, alternatives, and usage statistics (mainstream use). They have little choice, without falling behind or bucking the mainstream. 3) Web, service applications, bare metal and niche market developers, and consumers - I would guess that many developers in this category have long past on Windows, if they ever used it as a platform. True consumers have little concern about the OS, beyond it enabling a device to do what they want to do and do it well; and maybe a slight concern of cost.

sysop-dr
sysop-dr like.author.displayName 1 Like

This does at least indicate a possible trend and it's one I have been dealing with for years. Since Microsoft announced the WP7 and that is was using metro because the Pocket PC was "too computery" I have realized that we the computer elite are no longer the focus of the computer/phone makers. We are such a small market compared to the consumer market. I just wish they had kept a 'professional' model though. Now will that make us move away from Windows? hardly. While we may wish for this we all know that we will support whatever pays the bills. And if that is consumer products we will use and support them. And we will always find ways to geek out our consumer devices anyway.

Julie9009
Julie9009

I would class myself as an Android power user. Until recently, I had over 200 apps on my phone, and I would use at least 50 of them very regularly. Mostly utilities and productivity apps, some music making, and a handful of games. I was having some stability problems, so I've temporarily uninstalled about half the apps, until I find what was causing the instability. I'm really missing some of my most useful apps ...

blarman
blarman

... It's the "non-consumer focus". People are telling Microsoft things and they aren't listening. Consumers: Give us an alternative to the ribbon!! Microsoft: You just need to use it until you get used to it. Consumers: Give us easy-to-understand licensing terms! Microsoft Lawyers: That would put us out of business! Consumers: Cut your prices! Microsoft: We'll gladly raise your prices! Consumers: We don't need a new OS every 2-3 years! Microsoft: Yes, you need a new OS every 2-3 years. Consumers: Give us an alternative to the Metro Interface for our desktops! Microsoft: You don't need an alternative desktop. Just buy lots of touchscreen monitors! Consumers: Our existing applications don't work without a keyboard/mouse! Microsoft: Re-write them! Consumers: We're not going to upgrade. Microsoft: You're on your own then and all our other technologies will require the upgrades! Have fun with that! And people wonder why Microsoft is losing market share...

blarman
blarman

- all two of you. If you're going to -1 me, at least have the guts to say why. These are all valid critiques of Microsoft they _could_ listen to and do something about if they chose.

yodi.collins
yodi.collins

Based on your gripes regarding MS' Metro interface and the lack of keyboard/mouse interactivity for existing apps, MS has already arrived where technology is invariably heading. It isn't practical for them to move backward, let alone for the five minutes it will take for technology to catch up. Microsoft isn't the Anti-christ. And as a technology titan, it isn't poised to go away any time soon. Lighten up.

blarman
blarman

I'm asking them to address flaws in what they already have that would make their product more valuable. It's called consumer feedback. "MS has already arrived where technology is invariably heading." Wow. What a tremendously arrogant assumption. First you credit Microsoft with being the first to use a touch interface. I believe that credit goes to Xerox-PARC and their work with the first stylus, which has been around for 30+ years. And Microsoft wasn't even the first to put out a touchscreen-based, handheld device. That distinction would probably best be given to Palm. Microsoft didn't even pioneer the current iteration of touchscreen-based devices - that would be Apple, who holds patents on several gestures used commonly on touchscreen devices. Microsoft doesn't define the future, no matter how badly they'd like to. Their entire history as a company has been filled with copies of others' pioneering attempts, at which they have been enormously successful. I don't begrudge them that. I obviously USE their products, I just see opportunities for improvement in them that would be valuable to me. I'm also looking at things from a practical aspect: I spend my days coding, and there isn't a touchscreen or voice-activated device that can do that. Period. Thus my need for keyboard and mouse isn't driven by being backwards, it is driven by necessity. And I don't really see that changing just because Microsoft puts out a new operating system. I like to call it the segregation of the market into content creators and content consumers. For the content consumers, a touch-based device is probably going to be great for what they do. But I've tried writing a document on one of those virtual keyboards and it was so inefficient as to be laughable. I was getting about 10-15 WPM when normally I'm sitting between 60-75. That's a 5x productivity hit. That isn't the "wave of the future" that's the definition of regression. You are welcome to love the new interface. Just don't tell me I have to when it means taking 5x as long to get something done. New != better, it just means new. Better means more valuable to the consumer, and as a content creator, losing keyboard and mouse is most definitively NOT a value-creating proposition in my eyes.

guy
guy

I've had my Acer A501 (Android 3.2) for about 2 months now. I have downloaded about 20 apps, all free, of which I use at least 10 regularly. I browse through available apps at least once a week, in addition to TR's suggestions, to keep an eye out for anything useful.

dcolbert
dcolbert

In spite of all of this... Microsoft is still in pretty good shape - wildly dominant on the desktop, the leader in gaming consoles, with a viable smart-phone alternative and the funds to stay in the race despite being a dark-horse. They've got to circle their wagons and get back on track, and that might be hard as mature as they are as an organization, but it seems really premature to count them out, to me. As for Smart-Phones, I'm a junkie, and I do most of my personal techie and even personal productivity on mobile platforms at this point. I've broken Microsoft's lock-in with Win/Office and I do most of my work on a Mac Mini and an Android tablet - with a lot of it taking place in cloud-based or web apps. But I don't see much of a professional threat from these platforms in the coming 5 to 10 years. Instead, I see a slow erosion of platform dominance - and I think that is good for the industry. I download 2 to 6 apps a month, and I generally end up using a couple of those on a regular basis for awhile, until they fade. Those are usually entertainment and leisure apps. Others I use depending on situation. For example, during summer when I travel more, I use Office Suite Pro 5 more on my tablet to write documents off-line when I'm away from an Internet connection - but I haven't used it to write anything in months. Sometimes I'll go on a Google+ or Facebook or Twitter kick. Then I'll back off for days, weeks or even months. If I get a good console game, I'm dead to the world. Or if I get into a HBO or Showtime series. There are a lot of technologies competing for my attention and only so many hours in the day. I go through cycles. I think it is a NEW techie playground - but that doesn't mean I've left the other techie playgrounds behind. I recently bought a wireless camera with infrared night vision from a "closeout sale.com" type site. It is RCA out. I've got an old Power Mac Quadra with RCA AV in - so I've busted that out, thinking I'll hook that up and set up some software to capture the feed from the camera. I want to put it on my woods or pond and see what kind of animals visit during the night. Just a little geek-project. But also part of my "techie playground".

dcolbert
dcolbert like.author.displayName 1 Like

Starting with Windows Genuine Assurance. The reduction Microsoft saw in piracy drove users who would have pirated Windows to buy Macs or to install Linux. Look at side-by-side graphs, when Microsoft's numbers began to dip and when OS X and Linux began to climb, and when Microsoft started aggressively enforcing WGA on Windows, and you'll see the correlation. They may have won that battle, but it might cost them the war. Letting Apple get so far ahead with digital mobile entertainment devices. Microsoft went all in for Windows CE, and went to great lengths to make it an Enterprise tool for business executives - and simply ignored any potential consumer market. They were also completely fractured in their consumer and enterprise platforms by this point. You had your desktop OS platforms built on NT technology (XP, Media Center, W2kX, etc) - your mobile platform built on WinCE platforms, your consumer platforms built on XBox and Zune - and cross compatibility was all a kludge if it was addressed at all. In the meantime, Apple had a far less complex set of platforms and consumer devices, focused on leisure and entertainment, with sufficient enterprise application - and Microsoft got serious about trying to bring that kind of platform consistency far too late. At the same time, Google was able to leverage Microsoft's weakened position to further their goal of replacing the OS with the browser. iOS and Android both really made their mark on delivering native app versions that repackage a web-app experience in most cases. The biggest apps on either platform are social media and other cloud-based apps (Everynote, Dropbox, etc...) My humble opinion, anyhow.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

How many apps you have downloaded in the past month? Do you use every app you have downloaded regularly, or are you just experimenting? Is the mobile device the new playground for the techie?