My thanks to Tim of OpenBytes – I saw this, and thought he had covered the issues quite nicely, so I asked if I could reprint the article. Tim kindly gave his permission. Thanks Tim!
Posted on August 24, 2011 by openbytes
Microsoft declares there’s still life in the desktop PC…..But then they would say that, wouldn’t they?
When looking at a diverse range of technology topics, it’s very rare that I will write a rebuttal post (of sorts). Its even rarer that the post which forms the foundation of the article is from Microsoft themselves. In Redmond “The land of make-believe” it seems that Microsoft wants to tell us how things are and of course the desktop is not dead, that is of course because its vital to Microsoft that the Desktop PC stuffed with Windows continues on.
The question for today will be “What will be the future form factor of choice for the mainstream home user?”.
Think of the average users in your experience, the mainstream, the following masses. With those people it’s all Facebook, Twitter, Farmville and YouTube. Perhaps the very user Microsoft has ensnared with Windows is now to assist in the downfall because of lack of need in respect of the more “traditional” form factors.
The Frank Shaw, the (Vice President of Microsoft communications) has this to say on a recent article in respect of the desktop PC:
Nothing draws more links and eyeballs than saying something is a foo-“killer” or that foo is “dead.” That’s human nature and part of the way we like our stories, simple and straightforward, black and white. A new thing shows up, kills the old thing, end of story. But in the world of technology, it’s rarely (but not never) that clear cut. ………eReaders, Tablets, Smartphones, Set top boxes, aren’t PC killers, but instead are complementary devices. They are each highly optimized to do a great job on a subset of things any PC can also do……..Does that mean that taken together they do everything a PC can do? Absolutely not. Does it even mean that PCs are the new niche, only needed for special occasions? Absolutely not……….So while it’s fun for the digerati to pronounce things dead, and declare we’re post-PC, we think it’s far more accurate to say that the 30-year-old PC isn’t even middle aged yet, and about to take up snowboarding.
Source: Official Microsoft Blog – Frank X. Shaw – Corporate Vice President, Corporate Communications, Microsoft
Which raises some interesting questions. Firstly though, I would like to ask why a Vice President of communications (of all things) has a double negative in his post – “it’s rarely (but not never) that clear cut.” however that can wait for another day since its one of the many hypocrisies laced within its words.
So what does the average user need a desktop PC for?
It’s a question that I ask myself many times when observing the usage and requirements of the average user who doesn’t have any interest in computing merely considering the PC or microprocessor as a requirement to communicate online. The surge in smart phone sales and emerging popularity of tablets shows that really, a keyboard, mouse and monitor are quickly becoming items of the past as the majority of usage from the average user is “on the move” and on portable devices.
And this is where the problem for Microsoft starts. I think its fair to say that on smart-phones Microsoft is being destroyed by Apple and Google – rightfully so, these popular devices have given users reliability, functionality and maybe more importantly far more choice. One only has to cast our mind back to the Kin, or even Winmob (and the associated miseries) to see that despite claims from Microsoft (and its associated
salespersons MVP’s) people are not interested anymore in the company from Redmond. Disagree? Ask an average user to give their views on Microsoft. I think the answer will come as no surprise.
Now we look at Tablets. Microsoft is yet to make any sort of real contribution in my view to that form factor. Windows 7? Even BBC Click couldn’t find much good to say about that on a tablet when Ballmer danced around the subject challenged by one of its hosts. When Microsoft does get around to a serious offering, I believe they will find themselves in very much the same place they are with Smartphones – competing with mature, established products and trying to sell to a public that is largely uninterested in the claims that Microsoft makes.
Pronouncing things “dead”? – Microsoft hypocrisy.
In Microsoft’s fear of the future (or certainly in Mr Shaw’s case) they/he seems to forget the publicity stunt his own company pulled on release of the laughable Windows Phone 7. Remember the iPhone funeral?
Or how about Steve Ballmers comments on the iPhone? Need reminding? Lets take a look:
There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance
As well as being alleged to have said that he was going to “kill Google”.
Either Microsoft is now just firing blanks in all directions and trying anything to regain its position, or (and maybe more accurately) this highlights the biggest problem with Microsoft – everyone is pulling in a different direction, having lost their grasp on both reality and what the end-user demands.
My view of the future
I think for the average user, the traditional desktop PC is dead. There is just no need. For the millions that are not writing a thesis or in-depth discussions via email, the tablet form factor (coupled with a trendy social networking site) is all that they require. This will be what hits Microsoft hard. There will be no more PC purchases with Windows stuffed onto them and along with them the last traces of belief that in order to do anything you require Microsoft products (Google and Apple already prove that to them).
I’d suggest Ballmer has alot more to sweat about these days. It seems few people are buying into Windows Phone 7, with rumours of Microsoft making more from attacks on Android. And Ballmer hasn’t yet managed to “kill” Google either. What a #failure
Will Microsoft get its tablet act together? Won’t matter, people have moved on. The Microsoft name in my view is mud and I don’t even need to give links to support that theory since you can test it yourself with anyone from your circle of family/friends.
Microsoft though won’t go down without bringing others with it. The Microsoft kiss of death will happen for Skype – Google hangouts will see to that. Since social networking loyalty is transient, Facebook is living on borrowed time and I think any actions Microsoft tries now are too little too late. It can only hope to keep up its Patent shenanigans and the reliance on taking a few bucks for a few more years from enterprise who are maybe nervous to make a switch from their traditional software solutions.
Is Microsoft dead? – No. But I think in 5 years from now it will be a far more humble presence in the tech world. There’s going to be many proclamations from Microsoft over the coming years and I have no doubt that they will be prepared to say just about anything to try to hold onto their position of power in the tech world. Fact is people have moved on, tech has moved on and for those who do require to stay with the traditional desktop, theres Linux. It doesn’t require a spec upgrade every new version and certainly doesn’t place the same restrictions on the end-user as Microsoft.
I’d like to see Microsoft make a buck with Windows when people refuse to upgrade their machines, stick with their old hardware and look towards other form factors such as Tablets to fulfill their computing needs. As for the 360, it’s hardly going to take over the living room, it doesn’t even support Blu-Ray (another short-sighted decision, aggravated in my view by Microsoft arrogance believing that people wouldn’t go with it because Microsoft didn’t want to.) Let history show otherwise. Where is HDdvd by the way?
Its seems rather fitting, I end as I started with the comment of Microsoft “Land of make believe” for which to me, this song sums up perfectly.