It’s a well known fact that I am not the greatest fan of Microsoft and their technologies. I’ve been bitten many a time through the years. And not even them becoming a Platinum Partner in the Linux Foundation can change my attitude towards them. It’s just been too much pain, and scars, and tears, and sweat.
But the way life is, once in a while, I just have to work with or around them. Recently, for example, at work, we’ve done a project that just had to use MS SQL Server and there was no way to get around it. Gladly, I managed to find just the right image on the Amazon AWS Marketplace, and spin a new EC2 instance for testing. The local development was difficult, but at least we had a place to test stuff before sending it off to the customer.
The Azure Cloud Switch (ACS) is our foray into building our own software for running network devices like switches. It is a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on Linux. ACS allows us to debug, fix, and test software bugs much faster. It also allows us the flexibility to scale down the software and develop features that are required for our datacenter and our networking needs.
The distribution is not for sale or download, but purely for use in their Azure cloud infrastructure. The Register looks at this in detail.
I guess, Mahatma Gandhi was right:
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
After the upgrade to Fedora 22 last night, I was looking for a new desktop background image, to change the mood. Surprisingly, one of the top search results pointed me to the Microsoft website, which has a selection of some really good background images. Backyard bonfire works well for me.
Internet Explorer will still exist in some versions of Windows 10 mainly for enterprise compatibility, but the new Project Spartan will be named separately and will be the primary way for Windows 10 users to access the web.
There is no realistic way for Microsoft to kill the MSIE browser. Even if they will completely remove it from all the new installations, there is still a gadzillion computers with it already installed. It doesn’t matter if they “end of life” it or even actively push people to upgrade. It’ll just be dragged around for a few more years.
And what does Microsoft do to help? They introduce yet another browser – Spartan – into the mix. Like we don’t have enough good browsers already. So now web developers will be suffering the pain of not one, but two Microsoft web browsers. And the fun part will be supporting all the old ones, and figuring out all the quirks of the new one.
Thank you very much, dear Microsoft. You’re fun as always.
P.S.: A better solution would be of course to drop their own web browser completely and use one of the existing applications – Firefox, Chromium, Google Chrome, Opera, or anything else. All these options are free, well tested, solid, fast, and secure. Most even have huge communities with extension developers, theme designers, and support forums.
Wired.com is running a good piece on the price of the operating systems. It covers a bit of history and shows how things are now and how it all came a full circle – from free operating systems of the past, all through highly profitable years of Microsoft and Apple, and back to free operating systems of today’s mobile world.
In a way, operating systems are returning to their roots as a kind of loss leader. Before the personal computer revolution of the late 1970s, operating systems were just one piece in a vertically integrated stack of technology, a stack that also included hardware and support services. Operating systems like Unix and VMS were used to sell minicomputers and workstations, and companies made their profits on hardware and support contracts. OSes such as BSD UNIX were completely free, and programmers would pass them around at will. Under the same philosophy, Apple gave away new versions of its Macintosh operating system until the crisis years of the late 1990s, when hardware sales slowed dramatically.
In the rapidly developing smartphone and tablet markets, tightly-coupled stacks are once again dominant, so OS makers can subsidize their operating systems with profit from the products integrated into them. Google, for example, subsidizes its mobile OS by selling online ads, and, in theory at least, by selling Motorola-branded hardware. Apple’s iPhone profits come from hardware and service sales, not the OS.
The article also shows how problematic is this new situation for Microsoft.
Microsoft’s OS sales once generated 47 percent of its revenue, but they contributed just 25 percentlast year on decelerating Windows licensing (and even that figure is inflated by ad revenue from Windows Live). In response, Microsoft is restructuring as a “devices and services” business — meaning a company that sells hardware like the Xbox and web services like Azure. In other words, it’s becoming more like Apple. Apple isn’t really a software company. It makes software and services that run on its own hardware devices.
Yes, even Microsoft is moving towards the vertical stack. It recently acquired phone maker Nokia and sells its own tablets. But this game of cross-subsidizing the operating system will be tougher for Microsoft, since the company is no Apple when it comes to hardware — and no Google when it comes to online services. The company rose to prominence in the horizontal PC era, when Microsoft could play one hardware vendor against another, dictate prices, and keep a computer’s hefty OS markup hidden from consumers. Those were the days.
And more specifically:
So to the average consumer, the 21st Century sea change in OS pricing might not be particularly apparent. But to Microsoft shareholders, it will look very real and very scary. The company must make up that 25 percent somewhere else.
This is a very nice summary of most Microsoft’s problems today, covering falling PC sales, mobile growth, tablet failure, Xbox, Office and Windows 8. Half the value of the article is in the links to external studies and references.
Everyone knows PC sales have started dropping. IDC recently lowered its forecast for 2013 from a decline of 1.3% to negative 7.8%. The mobile market is already larger than PC sales, and IDC now expects tablet sales (excluding smartphones) to surpass PCs in 2015. Because the PC is Microsoft’s “core” market, producing almost all the company’s profitability, declining sales are not a good thing.
Microsoft hoped Windows 8 would reverse the trend. That has not happened. Unfortunately, ever since its launch Windows 8 has underperformed the horrific sales of Vista. Eight months into the new product it is selling at about half the rate Vista did back in 2007, and that was the worst launch in company history. Win8 still has fewer users than Vista, and at 4% share a tenth that of market leaders Windows 7 and XP.