Monday, April 2, 2018

Microsoft Is Ready for a World Beyond Windows

Tom Warren:

Microsoft announced a new reorganization yesterday. It’s the fourth major shuffle inside the company over the past five years, and the most significant of Nadella’s tenure. Microsoft is splitting Windows across the company, into different parts. Terry Myerson, a 21-year Microsoft veteran, is leaving the company and his role as Windows chief. The core development of Windows is being moved to a cloud and AI team, and a new team will take over the “experiences” Windows 10 users see like apps, the Start menu, and new features. There’s a lot of shuffling going on, but Nadella’s 1,300 word memo leaves little doubt over the company’s true future: cloud and AI.

Ben Thompson:

What is more interesting, though, is the story of Windows’ decline in Redmond, culminating with last week’s reorganization that, for the first time since 1980, left the company without a division devoted to personal computer operating systems (Windows was split, with the core engineering group placed under Azure, and the rest of the organization effectively under Office 365; there will still be Windows releases, but it is no longer a standalone business). Such a move didn’t seem possible a mere five years ago, when, in the context of another reorganization, former-CEO Steve Ballmer wrote a memo insisting that Windows was the future (emphasis mine)[…]


To put it another way, Nadella’s shift to a post-Windows Microsoft is the right one; to have done the same a decade sooner would have been better. It also, though, may have been impossible, simply because Windows was still the biggest part of the business, and it’s not clear the markets would have tolerated an explicit shift before it was painfully obvious it was necessary; without a rising stock price, Nadella’s mission would have been much more challenging if not impossible.

Update (2018-04-02): Maynard Handley:

Did it HAVE to turn out this way?

What if MS had been willing to keep improving Windows instead of just essentially polishing XP?

Of course to do that would have been disruptive (ie would have caused people to complain about changes).

So what do you do?

Accept that you can’t serve BOTH Enterprise (world never changes) and Personal (we want change)?

IMHO MS should have seen this tension years ago and created a separate personal OS. Put in a Windows Blue Box but make it Apple-level clear that that is legacy and goes away. Also make it clear that the new OS is constantly improving -- don’t coddle developers who lag.

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Don't think I agree with Maynard Handley.

I think Windows has kept improving. Windows XP was pretty awful. Better than Vista....maybe, but is there anyone who uses/used Windows 7 and thinks/thought Windows XP was the same system? If so, who and why? What about Windows 8? What about Windows 10? I don't even think Microsoft was resting on their laurels during the Windows XP extended run of tier 1 support. Microsoft attempted to get Longhorn out the door and simply failed. They really did have a plan to move away from XP quicker than what eventually shipped with Vista. To be fair "What if MS had been willing to keep improving Windows instead of just essentially polishing XP?" did actually happen, simply took longer than anticipated.

Shoot, their mobile platform burned bridges from the constant reshuffling of the underlying systems!!!! Windows Mobile transitioned to largely incompatible Windows Phone platform (still based on Windows Mobile) to Windows Phone based on NT that once again shed users on old devices to a newer incompatible Windows Phone based on newer NT update which once again largely dropped support for old devices,to Windows 10 on Mobile which was EOLed pretty rapidly.... Perhaps the development platform became more stable from the standpoint of developers being able to take their apps forward, but the dearth of apps and lack of support for users....hard to say really. Now if you want to discuss Microsoft stagnation, I present Internet Explorer 6 as a chief example.

Furthermore, you can keep improving the system and still cater to enterprise. I run Antergos on most of my personal systems. It's to Arch Linux what Ubuntu was to Debian....little bit of consumer level friendliness to a robust, if technical, underlying system. I don't even do LTS kernel releases, I just keep applying updates as time goes on and things more or less just work. On the flip side, there's people who like a stable build of Debian or Red Hat Enterprise Linux for their servers or workstations. And that's fine too.

The point I'm making, Linux wears multiple hats and even though Microsoft is a single entity directing Windows, no reason Windows can't likewise support "lock releases" for enterprise, with extended support contracts sold for any support longer than 18/24 months or so, while continuing to iterate on Windows for the masses. Red Hat has RHEL, CentOS, and Fedora after all....

As to consumers wanting change? I am not sure if that is true either. Sure, adopt newer codecs, polish interface, adapt to new devices, but the constant reshuffling of features and interfaces....that's simply companies and their marketing departments dictating "experience" to goose sales. I work with regular people all the time and constant change on their phones, tablets, PCs, etc is confusing for them. We all know the average person wants to get in their car and the layout be completely changed for yearly release updates....right? Their kitchens should likewise magically arrange itself every month, right?

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