“Hello, Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me.Is there anyone at home?…..” – Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb
I had some calls this week from people wondering about all the recent news concerning Microsoft. Warmed the cockles of my heart to find that a few, albeit a very scant few, actually pay attention to tech related news, even if they don’t understand a damn thing they’ve just read. In their (your) defense, I’m also at times confused by the techno-babble spewed forth in some articles, but I do my best to ultimately comprehend and then translate into non-techno-babble for anyone who wants, or needs, to listen.
So, without further ado, allow me to breakdown the recent news concerning Microsoft, and how it will eventually impact a lot of us. Or, as I like to call it, the latest Microsoft Follies.
News Date July 10, 2014: Satya Nadella, who was appointed CEO of Microsoft in February 2014, announced a “new course for Microsoft, which will focus on interconnectivity and productivity”. Huh?
Is Nadella saying that we, as consumers, haven’t really experienced “productivity” to this point? Have our PCs, and as an extension, our use of Microsoft Office and any number of cloud based storage systems failed us thus far? I don’t think so. What I take away from Nadella’s wordy, major announcement is that Microsoft doesn’t make squat on their Windows operating systems, has lost a ton of money with the Windows 8/8.1 mess and will now focus on their Office suite, and the ability of run that software across different platforms (tablets, phones, Apple products) and the cloud services provided. Why, because they can make more money doing so. Much more. But what of us poor slobs who have worked tirelessly to maintain a stable PC working environment with some variation of their Windows OS? Stay tuned for that announcement, but first, let’s see what else is new.
News Date July 11, 2014: Due to anticipated 2014 2nd quarter losses, Microsoft expects to lay off 5 to 10% of their workforce. Uh-oh.
Would those be employees primarily responsible for the Windows 8/8.1 fiasco? At a time when a majority of users are unhappy with their current OS, will Microsoft further limit the amount of available support and/or implementation of a more stable Windows 9? Given the steady decline of PC sales in lieu of smartphones and tablets, Microsoft may be seeing the writing on the wall. But, what if a lot of that decrease in PC purchasing is attributable to their lousy Win 8 OS? They may be cutting their own throats.
News Date July 12, 2014: (And here’s where, in my humble opinion, they begin to cut their own throats) – “Free mainstream support for all versions of Windows 7, will end on January 13th, 2015.” WTF?
Before total panic sets in, as it did with the end of support for XP, let’s first define “mainstream support”. That is typically the 5-year period when Microsoft provides free patches & fixes, including but not limited to security updates, for its products. After a product exits the mainstream support phase, Microsoft continues to provide a period (also often 5 years) of extended support, which means users get free security fixes but all other types of updates are paid and require specific licensing deals. Extended support for all versions of Windows 7 is expected to end in January of 2020, when Microsoft will push it out the door the same way they did Windows XP. Obviously, Microsoft has a policy in place for such things. But, given that Windows XP, and now Windows 7, have been their most reliable, stable and most used operating systems they’ve ever produced, it should be a no-brainer to maybe bend that policy a tad. For us? Nope. Besides, has anyone ever heard of an End of Service date for Vista, their 2nd worst OS?
When Windows 8 came along, the days of easily setting up a PC right out-of-the-box went right-out-of-the-window. Now seemingly everything done with Microsoft products requires a Microsoft account. Their Office packages no longer come in CD form. You pay big bucks for a card. Then, like a lottery ticket, you scratch off a super secret code, go to a web site, enter the code, and after you create an account, get the super-super secret product key to validate your Office stuff. Microsoft will tell you that the process was changed due to the large number of laptop PCs being sold that no longer have CD/DVD drives. I call bullshit. Their entire business model has evolved to the point where non-computer/tech savvy users either have to seek help, go on using antiquated hardware/software, or give up entirely. Nadella, out of the blocks, had an opportunity to reestablish a user friendly computing experience.
It appears he’s blowing it.