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The great Windows 8 Debate with +Neowin's news director

This morning Brad Sams of Neowin came by the house to debate with me about Microsoft's future. You can learn more about him at http://www.neowin.net/profile/brad_sams

But why are we debating? I have seen some real shifts in developer and enterprise buying and building behavior and we talk through what Microsoft is really up to here.

Then, a startup walked in (they had no idea we were filming live) and got involved. That's +Vyclone Powered, which after the cameras were off, showed us a really cool new video app for mobile phones that's shipping next week.

Anyway, enjoy. Brad is really bright and someone I trust when it comes to Microsoft (he's been studying Microsoft and its products for years).

What did you learn? Did you change your opinions because of this debate about Microsoft's future? If so, what changed for you?
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Douglas Jenkins's profile photoJerry Schuman's profile photoBrad Sams's profile photoRobert Scoble's profile photo
64 comments
 
Remember me from Neowin Robert? ;) Great debate.
 
I agreed with most of what you said Robert, although I don't think talking about the living room market share in regards to the Xbox is the exact equivalent of the "Nokia Argument." Xbox is a hugely important brand, especially for younger folks and Microsoft could (and should) leverage this platform to compete in mobile. Kids don't have smartphones, but they do have iPods and Xboxes. The onus is on MSFT to indoctrinate these kids into their ecosystem so that when they are older and do get smartphones that Microsoft--and not Apple, Google, Amazon, or Facebook is on the top of their list. Touch challenge, but maybe not impossible.
 
I legitimately thought that the surface was doomed. Now the rumors are going on about the 7.x" iPad and I'm thinking that Apple won't want to have two tablets for consuming. It will attempt to make the 10" ipad better for creating, going head to head with the surface and generating a market for those kind of tablets. I think that's a mistake, but that's the way I see things going.
 
 
Yeah, +Tom Warren I definitely remember you. You guys found out stuff about Windows back when i worked at Microsoft before anyone else. 
 
Robert, thanks for letting me play in your sandbox.  Too bad I had a serious brain fart when it comes to timelines during the discussion... truly embarrassing.  Subtract 10 years from my stated timeline and it's accurate.  After 30 years of being in the industry it all starts to blur.   BTW. still owe you a drink or two next time you're down in LA.
 
"If Windows 8 wins, it's going to win through the tablet" Translation: Windows 8 is not going to win. 
 
Was a lot of fun chatting with Robert, both of us raised a lot of questions that still remained unanswered with Microsoft including how agressive they will be with Surface pricing, that's a big question!
 
I can't get excited about iOS, Windows, or Android. Web-based apps are the future. New standards in JavaScript, CSS, & HTML are lagging native app capabilities. However, they aren't too far behind. The future is not being tied to devices nor architecture nor local file systems.
 
Calvin I don't see it. The Google Glasses won't run on HTML.
 
This is an awesome Windows 8 (and more) video-debate...of transformations/ fundamental shifts! Worth your time. Thanks Robert Brad and all.

Corporate moves toward Apple & custom Apps...tech convergence... the the costs associated with switching platforms...The new ecosystems...the ability to subsidize, supply chain differences.... How aggressive Microsoft needs to be to be successful with W-8... How successful can they be given Apple's growing position/market preferences...

My takeaway --- MS strategic shift will cost a mega boodle, the market will take its merry time to coalesce & beyond the hype people will still want ease...minimal training for transition, and capability.
 
+Robert Scoble Don't confuse hardware interfaces with software APIs. All you need to run a web app turned for the Google Glasses is an JavaScript API to respond to voice recognition events and a gestures API. Both Google and Apple, with Android and iOS (respectively), have been focused on vendor lock-in. Trying to promote their own app stores. Google is closer to shifting and leading the way here with Chrome on all the platforms. Web-based apps can do exactly the same thing as a compiled native app, given a complementary API. Web-based apps have numerous advantages for both developers and users. Users do not like updating apps nor apps taking up local storage nor their startup time.
 
+Robert Scoble Re adobe lock-in on creative suite (~ minute 13 in the video).  Adobe lets you transfer serial numbers from Windows to Mac, free, for current versions of apps, and the upgrade price for the others.  Pretty nice.  I did it for all my Adobe apps recently.
 
HTML5 and Javascript can be used to build  Metro apps for Windows 8, so won't this help Windows 8 pick up speed in terms of application development?  Now that Javascript is in Windows Runtime the hurdle for developers with no experience building for Windows has been significantly lowered. It should also make it easier for existing web application developers to custom tailor their existing products and services for Windows 8 now that they have access to metadata and Windows functionality through WinRT.

This system level change in Windows 8 will probably effect the decision of up and coming developers or a team that wants to build a new product or service from the ground up.  If they want to build something that will run across as many desktop and mobile platforms as possible,  HTML5 and Javascript let's them maximize their potential for penetration.
 
If the OS on my Windows 7.5 phone is any preview, it'll be easy for me to make the transition, and help others, as well.
 
+Calvin Prewitt OK, but not for things that need local CPU or physical devices, and net-dependence is a minus. +Brett Nordquist Right, MS is foolishly dumping their huge lead in strong systems and playing the mobile game. +Barbara Robinson You're tuned into the real issue too. MS is foolish to play the other guys' game instead of laying back and waiting for people to discover that the mainframe & terminals architecture is, again, not the answer to all.

My input:
* OS X is for people (pretty)
* Linux is for servers (lean, mean, but UI hell)
* Windows is for systems, it kicks a** with its OS and tools

MS is stupid to throw their lead in systems away with a faux mobile OS that you can escape out of.
 
+Bob Denny Yes and No on the local CPU in JS. I'm doing complex computational geometry calculations that replace CAD software. Out performs. Calculations are finished in the web browser implementation before the CAD software finishes loading. JS is pretty darn quick these days on x86. Given it is not C++. However, it seems much, much faster than running native Python. Yes, APIs are lacking to native hardware. BTW, I'm not a JS fan at all. Just impressed.
 
Although not in the industry, I have been using computers now for almost 30 years. Only in ten of those years did I use Windows (started with 1.03), and have never dabbled with Apple. So I guess that has enabled me to find systems which better match me, than take what is spoon-fed to most people.
I think most people do not like change, and +Robert Scoble I think you are correct that the great change coming with win8 will unsettle many. The problem is, most will not know where else to go, or will be reticent to purchase into Apple because of the higher price. It will come down to Microsoft's ability to counsel and tutor its minions if it wishes to keep them. Although many like +Bob Denny think Linux's only strength is at the server level, I have used Linux since 2001, and as solo os since 2006. There are friendly and familiar UI's working, now.
As to Surface. The Pro may be the powerful-do-it-all, but as a tablet, we don't know the heat it will put out, the length of battery life. The Pro as a "laptop," well, that is a laugh! One can't work the Pro in your lap as it stands (pun intended.) You will be stuck at some kind of hard surface. +Robert Scoble hits the final nail on the head, the pricing will really be the key. Even Ballmer isn't expecting more than a few million being sold.
 
The iphone and ipad won the minds of everyone because of their simplicity. Metro seems very confusing to me personaly but the biggest problem is the fragmentation Microsoft is deliberatly creating with the RT version of Wndows. It cloud be a bigger nightmare than Android. 
 
Absolutely brilliant discussion. Much food for thought has been served my friends, thank you for sharing. Good luck in all of your endeavors! 
 
Thank you Robert and Brad !
This is really fresh and stimulating, & full of food for thought.
You know, what you are talking about. Thanks again !
 
This is a good discussion. 
 
I love my Verizon Nexus, I'm not a tablet guy at all. The PC's that will replace my XP desktop and netbook will most likely will be Windows 7 or 8. No Apple, since something else always seems better priced or more capable.
 
I have started to use Windows 7m after long period of resistance, since XP was quite fine for a number of years. I am against just being treated as a consumer, while tablets and lot of other devices are being planned as we were supposed just to buy something. I use RIM Blackberry Torch, but reading and participating in there discussions and hangouts, I feel the era of smartphones is gradually moving to era of tablets, or something in between...
 
Many corporate users didn't even upgrade to Win7. They still use Windows XP. There will be millions of companies upgrading to Windows7 before even thinking about Win8.
Such decisions are not made as quickly as we know from ordinary users.
Corporate users have much higher demands to an operating system like software and driver support, hardware support, stability and so on... which means that they do not want to take any risks when upgrading their OS ecosystem.
This is the reason why WinXP has been used for so long.
If one day Windows8 gets  to that point where XP and 7 have been in terms of support base and stability and usability then corporate users will think about change otherwise they will stick with 7.
 
I do agree, Dusan,
While my corporate time of my life we all have used XP. This resistance is easy to understand, since corporations do not experiment on a living organism. they have to act in an efficient way, but obviously sooner or later this process will begin. When ? I don't have a clue
 
No, nothing about my current position changed at all. I used to be a PC user/ believer. The price point of PC related products kept me there buying and using them. All the while I would kind of wonder about Apple: I was always perplexed that their products would cost so much more than everybody else's and why they were so secretive about.......everything.

All of that changed when the iPhone 3G came out and I realized that I could get one for almost exactly the same amount of money that I would have to plunk down for one of the other smart phones at the time (2008). Thanks to the carrier subsidy of the iPhone I actually chose to get one.
Once that device was in my hands and I was using it everyday, then I UNDERSTOOD. "Oh,.......THIS is why people will fork out the extra dough for this company's hardware!! Because this stuff is insanely great.....really great.

I never sought out to become an 'Apple fanboy'-- the User Experience of these products has Made Me This Way. Period. End of Story.

Fast forward to 2012. My house has Apple this and Apple that and All this stuff works so well together and is such a literal Pleasure to use that it still amazes me...and I use it all everyday.

Do I think that Microsoft still has a chance with their break into the mobile device/touch screen UI and Market? No, not really. Not if Apple keeps innovating and taking those creative risks and leaps into the future (and maybe , just maybe Microsoft's slow attempt at 'catch up' will help keep them doing just that. :)). Truth be told Microsoft, I think it's too little, too late. A Brand is just that,....a brand. Brands morph and change with time, although memories die hard...And just because 'Free bird' was, once upon a time, a good song that was contemporary and relevant for it's time, doesn't mean that just because a few people still call out for it's reprise from the audience that it's still the song to be sung in this day and age.

Microsoft is just now figuring out that a great software company needs to be a great hardware company too, and the two need to flow together like water gliding over smooth slabs of stone. Can they still make relevant use of the epiphany? We'll see. It would certainly do the Market (read: consumer) good.

 
No one will Upgrade to Windows 8, people will find it on their new PC's
 
still think I'm going to hold out till windows 9.
 
Hi Robert:

Great discussion. Very good points were made by all.  The remaining shelf-life of Windows 7 really has enabled MS to get on an entirely new "rail" with Metro, which ultimately will allow them to effectively compete with Apple using a delivery facilitating easier movement across devices for end users and developers.

After hearing so much pontification and self-serving commentary elsewhere, I must say I love the non-pretentious way everyone just talks about the topics.  I also very much appreciate the fact that unlike other "analysts" out there, you seem to speak your mind without fear of pissing the wrong people off. Do you ever embellish your praise or lesson your criticism of solutions based on the potential impact to your company and ultimately yourself?  Like others, I know you must at times feel some pressure. Your candid response is appreciated.

BTW: is that a bed in your office?

Keep up the good work.

Thanks, Chuck 
 
+Chuck Van Court I always remember I'm representing 4,000 employees of +Rackspace Hosting in public, but I also try to remain true to myself. This means I sometimes piss off other people and that's part of the risks of what I do. Luckily I work for an extraordinarily cool company.

The bed is due to fact that this is my son's bedroom and also my home office. 

Thanks for the compliments!
 
+Sean Casey now you understand what I've been through. Six years ago I was a Microsoft employee and fan (although I knew that their product pipeline was empty and that Ballmer wasn't taking Apple seriously enough). Today it's going to be very hard to get me off of the Apple train, but I do keep trying everything just to see if it has a chance. I always want to use the best. Period. Right now that's still Apple by a long shot.
 
+Robert Scoble :  I always want to use the best. Period :)
Now that is a statement worth its value more than Gold.

Best is what should be pursued and bought. As long as its affordable of course. ;) :)
 
+Arvind Kumar +Robert Scoble It's great when 'best' is affordable--I am a supporter of that!! But what about when it is not? Shouldn't 'best' still be best just for the sake of being the best? There aren't many companies that will actually pursue being the best IF it will hurt their adoption rates and bottom lines!
I think Apple has been an exception to that historically, thanks to Steve Jobs' Fanaticism with design, perfection, and the customer experience. That alma mater, although great in and of itself, didn't really pay off in revenue for Apple until the iPod started to gain traction. It's nice to see great products get rewarded with Real Consumer Traction-AND thanks to Apple's Very High Bar of Product Standards and Excellence- that if some other company emerges with a spectacular product/concept, it's going to have to be Really revolutionary and not simply playing around with the idea whether it be MS or whoever. Playing 'Catch Up' is not going to cut it.

Do I want 'Greatness' to be 'cheap' or 'government subsidized'? Sure, that would be great, but it's not going to happen. As it stands Apple's products are pretty economical for What you get in return.

It's $$ and Creative Genius together in the Right Place at the Right Time doing the right thing that makes excellent products. Accident, Happenstance,...whatever. That magical combination has to be present.


 
+Dan Genova 'capable' is a word that can have many definitions here. I also we think that we should introduce the concept 'usable'. There are a few devices that are more 'capable' than Apple's tablet in terms of ports, etc. but when it comes down to 'usability'--that is a different qualifier and I think that it has to be considered in today's new mobile computing market. 'Usable' in the old sense is not the same as 'Usable' in today's computing market.

Take cloud-computing for example. That one addition to today's mobile computing scenario redefines concepts such as 'capability' and 'usability' that did not even enter into the discussion as little as 5 years ago. :)

Times are changing and so are the methods, ways, and avenues that we get the 'computing' job done.



 
+Robert Scoble I don't know whether Microsoft is going to win with Windows 8/RT or not. But after seeing the technical shift they're making with Windows Phone 8, I think they may have a chance. What I can see is that Microsoft is planning to offer an "experience of seamless continuity" This experience is something that Apple is not offering currently and Google is not able to offer. More details of this idea of "seamless continuity" is at http://estrategypro.com/is-developing-for-windows-phone-worthwhile/
 
+Terence Kam +Robert Scoble This concept that you are presenting is exactly what Apple offers. The reason the consumer wants this is because Apple has brought the whole idea forward into the Market. Sorry, but you obviously haven't spent much time with OS X Lion or you wouldn't be saying these things. Microsoft would be trying to bring something that already exists. The only thing that's essentially a 'new delivery system' in this scenario would be the SD Card slot. Windows would use the SD Card to provide this continuity, but Apple is already providing this continuity through iCloud. I think we're talking oranges and tangerines here. The thing is, they're both citrus fruits. This is still just another rendition of what Apple is already doing. Apple is leading (at this point) and Microsoft is bringing up the rear. Old Times.
 
+Sean Casey What about the continuity in terms of apps? iOS apps and Mac applications aren't exactly 'continuous' right?
 
+Sean Casey I mean if I purchase an iOS app to do something, I need to purchase a separate application in Mac OS X to achieve that 'continuity'.

What if the the app that I purchase can be used throughout my smartphone, tablet and PC, with the same look and feel and possibly even the same functionality, features and capabilities?
 
+Sean Casey Also, consider that the user interface between iOS and Mac OS X are different (although Apple is trying to bridge that gap in Mountain Lion).

It's some form of 'discontinuity' isn't it?
 
true….yet very similar. and yes, also true that Mountain Lion is an even further move towards a seamless user experience.

I just have a hard time looking past the beauty of Apple's UI. So nice to use. A true pleasure.

 
+Terence Kam 'discontinuity'? No, I wouldn''t say that per sé. I would say that they are refining even more the excellent thing that they have going.

If Metro takes off system wide with MS and the Surface, etc. then we may have a different discussion that could be had, but at this point, I really don't see it and even if it were to go that way this point would be very premature to be asserting now, no?
 
+Sean Casey I agree that the 'continuity' idea is not a reality yet and may flop ultimately. I'm just speculating on what might be possible.
 
+Sean Casey : ofcourse best should be given its place. :)
For me, Apple products are not affordable. ;)
Apple's first entry to a market with a somewhat refined product gives it a huge advantage. :) And it refines the products over the years. 

But I'm interested to see the battle of Nexus 7, Kindle Fire 2 and iPad Mini. :)
 
+Arvind Kumar Me too! Competition is always good for the market! To be honest, I have not tried any of those products. I know about them because I try to stay pretty informed of the industry, but I have not had any hands-on time with any of them. I am a very satisfied Apple customer and for me, the experience is such that I have not looked elsewhere. I have not wanted or cared to. When something is really good I tend to be loyal to a fault. 
 
I may want to get an iPad Mini. And I'm interested in setting up a hackintosh running on a virtual machine!
 
+Terence Kam Sorry Terence. I somehow missed the comment you made further up in the stream....

'Continuity'??

iOS Apps and OS X Apps:
I would have to say that it depends a lot on the specific app that you might be considering. A simple example might be Facebook or Twitter. These apps on OS X have their free counterparts to their popular iOS renditions. So, mostly, it's not all that noticeable, meaning the UI on Mac and iOS are Very similar in many ways. For example, Most All of the trackpad gestures in OS X line up with the screen gestures in iOS-- THAT was Very Smart on someone's part! You don't even have to 'click' anymore on the trackpad on the Mac. You can if you want to, But it's all touch sensitive now. So when you go from iOS to OS X it's All Touch. ...and that, in and of itself is a nice touch. :)
Also,
• iOS has iMessage, OS X Lion has Message
• iOS has Face Time, OS X Lion has Face Time
• All your personal data is kept current automatically across all iOS devices and OS X Macs through iCloud.
• You have 'LaunchPad' on OS X which mimics the app layout of the iOS Homescreen.
•Your pictures are automatically on all iOS devices and OS X Macs through iCloud.
• Your Docs (through iWork) are automatically on all iOS devices and OS X Macs through iCloud.
• iTunes Match enables your whole music library to be available to you on all your iOS devices and Macs, anytime, anywhere through iCloud. ...These are just to name a few of the ways in which the Apple platform has very well anchored continuity across devices. There are many more that are revealed as you use the machines. These engineers are worth their salt!!

It seems pretty smooth and synchronous across the whole of Apple hardware and software, I have to say.

Yes, there are examples of having to buy a Mac app for something that you may already own on iOS, but for me it doesn't seem all that frequent and many times there is a free version of that app that's also available.
The experience of iOS and OS X feel very complimentary and smooth. Lion has A Lot of iOS kinship built into it, and I am excited to see what Mountain Lion feels like. It looks promising and.....ahem!.....is dissolving the lines between iOS and OS X even further..
.
Continuity? Yes, definitely.

 
+Sean Casey Looks like Microsoft's version of the iCloud will be the Windows Live.

Now that Windows Phone 8 is running the same NT code, apps and drivers can be shared across smart phones, tablets and PC. It'll be interesting to see if Microsoft can successfully pull off the 'one app/peripheral device, run anywhere' feat.
 
+Sean Casey I see that from the end user's perspective, it is 'continuity' (eg Facebook, Twitter apps). But for developers, they are not 'continuity' because they have to maintain 2 sets of code for 2 different OS.

Microsoft's approach is different as they're aiming for 'continuity' from the developers' perspective as well. If their vision becomes reality, we can see Windows Phone apps working and looking almost identically with their tablet and PC counterparts.
 
+Sean Casey It will be interesting to see whether third-party peripheral devices (eg printers) will be able to work across Windows Phone, tablets and PC with one single driver. That'll be fun!
 
+Terence Kam Gotcha. :) Being kind to developers is always a good move, for sure.
 
+Terence Kam I can see how MS is trying to re-energize their shrinking PC consumer base as well as attract developers AND appeal to masses with their mobile devices with this 'continuity' move. It's smart, but I'm not sure that it'll be enough. We'll see..
 
+Sean Casey We shall see. We need Microsoft to compete in order to make Apple not rest on their laurels.
 
+Terence Kam Innovation and competition is key to keeping the market active and alive!
 
I agree the corp world will reject this due to the older generation rejecting tech.  On the other hand as the younger generation starts to take over you wont need the training your talking about.  The old way of doing things is not efficient and kills productivity in the long run and the sooner Microsoft, Apple, and Google force companies to make the switch by not supporting these obsolete programs the better off the companies can operate.  
 
+Sean Casey : Being Loyal to the best is nice. ;) :) :)
But you haven't played around with any of the tablets? Do you own a iPad?
 
+Sean Casey : I think you should also try out Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire 2.  Just to get a feel of them.
You own ipad3?
 
This is a great discussion. Thanks for sharing.
I do believe that Enterprise will eventually embrace Windows 8, but it will take a minimum of 2 to 3 years before that happens.
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