Windows losing focus?

118

Just what is happening to Windows, and where exactly is it heading? With Microsoft embracing competitors, going all in on open source and supporting Linux within Win10, Windows purpose in life is sort of bluring – losing it’s focus. MS seem intent on adding every single feature they can think of to Windows. Some work, some don’t, but it’s not slowing MS down. This means Windows is becoming a jack-of-all-trades, but master of none. Stability and reliability are now afterthoughts – and those were Windows core values at one point, back in the day, especially for the Enterprise. Now, it’s all about adding value, user monetization, services, telemetry, feature count and numerous other non-essential items, all at the sacrifice of what Windows use to be about.

People used to laugh at Linux fragmentation, and still joke about Android having the same problem. What about Windows though? How many ‘supported’ versions are now out in the wild, with more due. Every feature update of Win10 is, in essence, a completely new OS build, meaning fragmentation in the Windows world is a growing thing. The fact MS also can’t develop stable builds anymore mean users are either deferring updates for as long as possible, or using other methods to block them altogether, all in the name of wanting something stable and consistent.

By all accounts, inside Microsoft, Windows is now a rudderless ship – passed from team to team as they try to keep momentum going, yet ignoring feedback and pushing on with this relentless and unsustainable dev cycle. The 2018 releases were indications there are big problems, and if 2019’s releases aren’t any better, I can see customers starting to look elsewhere, and once that happens, the flood gates could open. The truth is, for many, Windows is familiar, but not essential. There are alternatives that would work just as well – if not better – but it’s like people still don’t want to look or consider them, but that may change. Maybe companies like Google, Apple, Canonical etc are just waiting for Windows to self implode. It’s not unfeasible.

Comments (118)

118 responses to “Windows losing focus?”

  1. Paul Thurrott

    I keep hoping Microsoft will explain itself here. The silence is alarming.

  2. christian.hvid

    "Maybe companies like Google, Apple, Canonical etc are just waiting for Windows to self implode. It’s not unfeasible."


    One could argue that the implosion has already happened, considering how dramatically smaller the fraction of computing devices running Windows has become over the last decade. Windows is now a niche operating system mainly targeted at running productivity software and some high-end games. That said, it's still the most deeply entrenched OS on the planet and Microsoft needs to screw up a lot worse for Windows to lose its core market. After all, the mess we're seeing around Windows 10 is nothing compared to the bug-infested security nightmare they called Windows twenty years ago.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to christian.hvid:

      You're understating Windows usage. About 90% of those who want to use PCs, desktops or laptops, run Windows. That includes a lot of older people who are used to Windows PCs but not to smartphones. Many of them may also simply want larger screens.

      Thing is, if one doesn't use Office, Adobe software other than Acrobat Reader, Visual Studio, or Windows games, one doesn't really need to use Windows. Some other Win32 software may be so complicated (necessarily so or otherwise) that it can't run under wine. However, most portable Windows software and a considerable amount of Windows 2K era and older software runs reasonably under wine while it can't run at all under Windows 10. For a great deal of applications, there are macOS and Linux versions and/or good alternatives.

      MSFT's huge advantage is that people hate change. A lesson pounded into MSFT's collective head during the Windows 8.x days.

      • skane2600

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Mainstream users have no idea that wine exists. Wine is more of a proof of concept than a reliable way to run Windows programs. After more than 20 years of missing the mark I'm surprised it's still an active project.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to skane2600:

          Re wine, it may still exist because of Crossover. That Crossover still exists may be evidence your assessment of demand for it may be understated.

          I grant that wine would only appeal to those who'd be willing to switch to Linux. However, there are a few categories in which Linux offerings are either skimpy or suboptimal. IMO, that includes simple drawing programs and icon editors, and FWLIW MS-Paint and IcoFX (portable version) run well under wine. As do a number of small, simple games I've collected over the years.

          • skane2600

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            If one is serious about running Windows on another OS, virtual machines are the most reliable way to do it. If it's not that important, one can use hit-or-miss approaches.

            • hrlngrv

              In reply to skane2600:

              If one is serious about running Windows on another OS, virtual machines are the most reliable way to do it. . . .

              Conversely, if one is serious about running Linux on Windows, VMs are most reliable. Yet MSFT has WSL, cygwin still exists, heck even the MKS Toolkit still exists, and on the other side wine and Crossover.

              Sure looks like there are customers seeking convenience rather than reliability.

              • skane2600

                In reply to hrlngrv:

                I didn't realize a lack of reliability was an attribute of convenience. For that matter I don't see why installing a VM is inconvenient relative to installing cygwin, or WSL. Of course running Linux command line tools on Windows is trivial compared to running full Windows programs on Linux or MacOS, so the two scenarios aren't that similar.



                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  In case you're unfamiliar with VMs, they take time to start, usually longer than the guest OS needs when booting as the host OS. Convenience as less time until software is up & running.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  Although I've used VMs many times, I've never timed how long a guest OS takes to load in a VM, but it always seemed to be negligible relative to the time spent using it.

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  There's also system resources. I use MS-Paint under wine more than anything else. For me, it has the ideal feature set for annotating screen shots. I accept that others may find different software more efficient for that, but I'm most productive using MS-Paint. That plus wine uses a helluva lot less RAM than a full Windows VM. And since I don't leave MS-Paint running after I'm done annotating a given screen shot, I don't need wine or a VM just to run MS-Paint running for a long time.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to hrlngrv:

                  With all the Linux-based Paint programs available, it's unfortunate that none of them meet your requirements.

                • hrlngrv

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  Re Linux-based Paint alternatives, InkScape and the Gimp are way too much. Pinta is almost OK, but still more than I need. After that, they're mostly too simple or too weird, e.g., TkPaint.

      • christian.hvid

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        You may have missed my point... if you look a the desktop/laptop submarket in isolation, Windows has dropped from 95% to about 80% over the last decade, mainly due to some moderate competition from macOS. But if you look at the general computing market (including mobile), Windows has dropped from 95% to 35% - which is nothing less than an implosion. And if you include smartspeakers, smartwatches and IoT, the numbers will look even worse. People (including myself) have been predicting for 20 years that Microsoft will lose the PC market, but there is no data to support that. But the PC itself has been much diminished.

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to christian.hvid:

          We're close to reaching 2 times as many smartphones and cellular-networking tablets than traditional PCs (desktops and clamshell laptops). A negligible number of phones and tablets run any version of Windows, so Windows PCs were mathematically going to drop to around 1/3 of all computing devices.

          Is that a tragedy for MSFT? Not apparently so financially. MSFT is doing just fine with its B2B offerings, and its business customers are far readier to pay the prices MSFT charges for MSFT software and services than consumers are these days.

          Not so much an implosion as PCs have become a mature business, with declining but nearly flat year-on-year new PC sales but stable total numbers of PCs in use. It seems the world needs about 1.5 billion PCs. Population growth keeps usage around that number, yet, given the capabilities of phones and tablets for leisure uses, no more than that.

          I agree that MSFT has missed more than just the smartphone boat. Until MSFT wants to sell its own MSFT-branded hardware at competitive prices which would slash its overall profit margins (which Surface doesn't because of premium prices and low volume), MSFT may find it difficult to impossible to break into markets for new device types.

          What's happening is that MSFT is keeping the PC market but not being much of a player in consumer hardware markets other than game consoles and keyboards+mice. This seems to be MSFT's choice.

          Finally, FWIW, Netmarketshare shows Windows with 86.23% of Desktop/Laptop for Jan 2019 and over 87% for Feb 2018 to Jan 2019. It was never at 95%, though it was above 90% some years ago.

        • skane2600

          In reply to christian.hvid:

          You're assuming, of course, that it's appropriate to mix these different categories. To be comprehensive, perhaps we should throw all computing devices into one category. Medical devices, microwave ovens, TV sets, industrial controllers, keyboards, mice, joysticks washing machines, dryers, cars, planes etc, etc. Gee, those mobile devices have kind of a small percentage of the general computing market.


          The point is you can play games with how you draw the lines, but the fact is that while PCs and smartphones have some overlap in functionality, they still have unique characteristics where they don't compete. The sale of a smartphone doesn't necessarily imply anything about a PC sale.


          • hrlngrv

            In reply to skane2600:

            . . . microwave ovens . . .

            How many of those use a full-fledged embedded system OS?

            Need to distinguish between devices which can add software to do other things, like play music, from things which will only ever do one thing.

          • christian.hvid

            In reply to skane2600:

            Fair point, although most would agree that the overlap in functionality between smartphones and PCs is approaching 100% - heck, my kid uses her phone for video editing, a thing that any reasonable person would assume requires a PC. I'm not saying that smartphones and PCs are fully interchangable, but they're similar enough to be lumped into the same category.


            The amount of overlap between washing machines and PCs remains modest, thankfully.

            • skane2600

              In reply to christian.hvid:

              My teenagers don't do any productivity tasks on their phones, they use their laptops for that. I don't know which anecdote represents reality among young people more closely, but clearly a PC would be more efficient for video editing in the general case.

            • Tony Barrett

              In reply to christian.hvid:

              Your kid, as part of this generation, will grow up pretty much only knowing mobile. In a few years time, mobile devices will out-perform PC's in functionality - and Windows won't even register, or will be a system 'for old people'. That's one of Microsoft's big problems - the next generation, and the primary reason they're trying to get their services onto all platforms, but as they don't have their own successful mobile infrastructure, there's only a tiny chance of them achieving this. Believe me, whatever MS say, Windows isn't cool.

              • hrlngrv

                In reply to ghostrider:

                . . . mobile devices will out-perform PC's in functionality . . .

                For leisure uses, maybe for lightweight work tasks like CRM entries for on-site customer visits. Not for calculation-intensive tasks.

                OTOH, completely agree: Windows isn't cool, and it never will be again. Hasn't quite reached Geritol and Depends status, but as a brand it's about as desirable as Buick.

              • skane2600

                In reply to ghostrider:

                There's no technological advance possible that can eliminate the form-factor issues that small devices have with respect to productivity tasks. It's absurd to claim that the current generation of kids will grow up "pretty much only knowing mobile". Have you looked in a classroom? You're more likely to find that schools provide Chromebooks, PCs, or Macs than iPads or smartphones.

                • Tony Barrett

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  Just telling you how it is. 7 year olds have mobile devices now, and my kids probably spend about 98% of their time screen time on their phones. If they can take that mobile device, plug it into a monitor/keyboard/mouse and do more 'productive' tasks, that's what they would do. Having to get out our laptop is a chore for them.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to ghostrider:

                  Sounds like a lot of speculation on your part. Do you have a 7 year old child? I think it's safe to assume that few 7 year olds are engaged in productivity tasks.

                • Tony Barrett

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  No, I don't have a 7 year old, but I'm saying that very young kids now have mobile devices, and that device will be used for entertainment, productivity, banking, health etc. MS have lost this generation, and the next one - and that's a big problem for them. Slowly, Windows becomes less and less relevant, and with that, goes MS services and potential revenue. Yes, it will take years - maybe another generation ot two, but it's happening now.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to ghostrider:

                  Yes, some young kids play with mobile devices, but how does that prove that they won't be using a non-mobile device in the future when they wish to perform more sophisticated tasks?

                • Tony Barrett

                  In reply to skane2600:

                  As mobile devices get more and more powerful, they'll reach a point where you can seamlessly be way more productive on them. Maybe wireless connections to monitors and input devices and the like. That one mobile device will achieve a very high percentage of requirements - enough for the majority. As the cloud isn't showing any signs of slowing down, that will play a big part too. For apps that require more processing power still, cloud will handle the load, seamlessly integrating the mobile device, passing compute data back and forth in almost real time. Don't think know, think 5-10 years time, when big boxes running fat Windows will literally be dinosaurs. That's Microsoft's big problem because they don't have that mobile presence, and this generation will only use 'old timer' Windows when they really have to.

                • skane2600

                  In reply to ghostrider:

                  Processing power really isn't holding mobile devices back even today. That's not where the problem is. The primary problem is the form factor. Yes, you can use schemes that turn a smartphone into a 2nd class desktop machine when tethered to a desk (or tethered to a local wireless link) for only a multiple of what you would pay for a laptop you can use anywhere. A viable laptop replacement has to be fully usable everywhere you can take a laptop.

  3. illuminated

    You could write the same dramatic post about any platform. Where is Android going for example? What about Linux? What about OSX or iOS? Where are they all going exactly?

    I can see significant development only on the cloud side of things. Client side is stagnating. On the other hand I love Ubuntu subsystem on win10. I like this rudderless OS :)


  4. james_b

    A lot of anecdotal nonsense and overly dramatic prognostications being bandied about here. Windows will be with us for a long time yet so not to worry. Time to move on from this tired thread that seems to take new life from the flimsiest of reports.

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to James_B:

      Yes, no one would disagree that Windows won't be around for years to come, but in what form, and are we going to see a gradual but consistent decrease in market share? Window is no longer the #1 Microsoft poster boy - it just serves a purpose for them at this time.

      • skane2600

        In reply to ghostrider:

        IMO Windows actually is still Microsoft's #1 poster boy. Ask the average person what Azure is? Most people would have no idea.

      • gregoryp

        Does it really matter one way or the other? Windows will be with us for the foreseeable future and if and when that changes, we'll all adapt to those changes. I don't see this as a big deal myself. I've made many changes over the years (i.e. haven't used a desk top in over ten years - too restricting, switched browsers many times, bounced back and forth between Windows and iOS and so forth). The point I'm trying to make is that it doesn't really matter that much to most home users and I'm sure that businesses will be given plenty of time to make sweeping changes. My attitude is: bring it on. I don't care one way or the other.


            • Tony Barrett

              In reply to gregoryp:

              No attitude, I assume just realism. The fact you don't care is fine... many who have to use this OS daily, or support it in an Enterprise, are deeply concerned over where Windows is heading. I think we all know really -- to the cloud and subscription based services, and that will be a deciding factor in whether people stay with Windows, or find something else.

              • gregoryp

                It's been a while since I've experienced this degree of hand-wringing. Windows is just fine and it's not going to disappear overnight, particularly for the enterprise. If and when it does disappear for the consumer (again, years off in all probability) we'll adapt. It's no big deal. Geeze, there are far more serious issues confronting us right now than whether MS is looking to focus elsewhere. The thread has run its course. No amount of speculating is going to change anything or resolve anything. I suppose if one doesn't have a life then yeah... this sort of speculating fills in the gaps. But seriously... isn't it time to move on to something else? Will Edge gain market share? Have phone prices peaked and when will they begin to return to reasonable prices? Will the Yankees win the World Series? Will Trump be re-elected? So many more important issues. ;-)


  5. StoneJack

    As we know, by next year or so Apple is going to merge iOS and MacOS (project Marzipan). Since there are almost zero Windows Phones, and there are 2 billion iOS devices shipped (according to CNET), my take is Mac/OS will become one of leading if not a leading computing platform from 2021. After all, Steve Jobs was a genius

    • juan

      From what I read Apple is adding the ability to macOS to run iOS apps.
      They are not merging the two OS's at all.
      This is what UWP SHOULD have been, but wasn't.
      IIn reply to StoneJack:


    • skane2600

      In reply to StoneJack:

      What I read is that Apple was asked a direct question whether they were going to merge iOS and MacOS and they answered "No". Isn't Marzipan just a porting tool?

      • StoneJack

        In reply to skane2600:

        I don't know what it is, other than what we are told. However, with rumors of Intel chips being replaced in few years by Apple ARM chips, project Marzipan is probably not just a porting tool. Intel chips are now very expensive and make macs expensive too - wouldn't Apple want cheaper, faster and more power efficient chips? I think its their dream. As for cries for Intel compatibility, Rosetta and VMs probably will present an option of running Windows - if such need arises, which probability is falling more and more. Imagine a Mac, which runs all Apple software - office suit Pages, Keynote and Numbers, Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, probably a more powerful Photo app, iMovie, iTunes, and ALL of IOS apps on Apple A15X chips with two, three day battery life faster than anything Intel can offer, with Metal graphics on powerful Radeon chip - and all costs 600 dollars less than a comparable Wintel machine- that's quite a feature, and all including graphics, OS, and CPU - is proprietary Apple technology, which Android can't emulate.

        • skane2600

          In reply to StoneJack:

          I'm not sure if high-end ARM processors are all that cheaper than high-end Intel processors. And, of course, Intel could always lower the price if the competition gets tough. Macs have always been expensive, you can't pin that on Intel.


          We can imagine all kinds of scenarios, but the only thing that counts is what is actually delivered. Historically the price/performance of platforms haven't varied all that much regardless of which processor family or OS is used. Low-end Chromebooks, for example, haven't been able to offer significantly better pricing than low-end Windows laptops whether they use Intel chips or ARM chips.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to StoneJack:

      There are maybe 2.8 billion smartphones and 200m tablets using LTE/cellular networking. Android makes up 80% of the former and half of the latter, leaving at most 620m iPhones and iPads in use. Was that 2 billion iOS devices cumulative since 2007 when the iPhone first went onto the market?

  6. blackcomb

    I agree. It's getting to a point where even the LTSC releases are getting bloated as well. Who needs Paint3D? Yet they implemented in the 2019 LTSC.

    • longhorn

      In reply to blackcomb:
      "I agree. It's getting to a point where even the LTSC releases are getting bloated as well. Who needs Paint3D? Yet they implemented in the 2019 LTSC."


      There are no touch (Modern) apps preinstalled (except for the Settings app) in Windows LTSC 2019 (1809 is the actual version number). You get Paint, not Paint 3D. It's a wonderful OS, a successor to Windows 7.


      If you are like me and think making Windows a hybrid OS was a questionable idea and prefer a mouse/keyboard experience then Windows LTSC 2019 is probably the best desktop OS available today. If you need the touch experience the Store can be installed, albeit without official support. This is a focused and desktop centric release. It's not perfect, but many of the problems that WaaS releases have have been eliminated and feature updates (every second year) aren't mandatory. 10 years of support for every LTSC release.


  7. NoFlames

    Count me as the optimist, I really like the current release of windows 10, and will like the next one even better because of the improvements to WSL. I'm a developer, and all those features you think don't belong, are the only thing that can keep me on the platform. Developers rely on open source and bash, and Mac supports that pretty well out of the box (windows didn't). Windows added WSL to combat the defections to Mac. I love WSL - it is superior to bash on Mac. It is a lifesaver as I have spent many years using a MAC and I do think Windows is much better, even with it's problems.


    While I think Microsoft has made missteps on adding features, WSL was a home run for what was needed.


    • skane2600

      In reply to NoFlames:

      There's been no significant deflections to the Mac in general. It's not as if developer's money is more green than anybody else's. Historically, helping Windows developers to create Windows applications obviously promoted Windows beyond the developer community. How does WSL promote Microsoft products and services in general? I suspect that the preferences of young internal MS developers, having come of age in the anti-Microsoft, Pro-Linux era are the driving force behind WSL rather than any significant business case.

      • NoFlames

        In reply to skane2600:

        Anecdotally engineering departments I have worked in big and small used to be almost 100% windows, now they are more like 10%. Open source is now a part of development, and companies are buying MacBook Pro's for developers. I buck that trend in the company I work at, fortunately they allow me to do that but they want to buy me dual core mid grade windows laptops, while they are willing to buy top end MacBook Pro's if you go with Apple.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to skane2600:

        . . . How does WSL promote Microsoft products and services in general? . . .

        Perhaps WSL is tied more to Azure than Windows and Win32 applications. If Azure is MSFT's main platform for the next decade or two, Linux is a big part of Azure, then WSL may make a lot of sense for MSFT.

        Besides, POSIX tools have more chance of becoming a universal toolbox for all platforms than Powershell does. Windows has now joiined with Macs, Linux PCs, IBM mainframes, and lots of higher end embedded systems in providing the same command line tools to developers and administrators. I figure POSIX (rather than just Linux) won that war more than 2 decades ago with the breadth of choice in POSIX alternatives for Windows: MKS, Hamilton C Shell, U/Win, cygwin, and a few others. Another indicator can be found in USENET newsgroup archives, specifically the disparity in requests to port command line tasks from POSIX tools to NT4/2K/XP/... tools, even Powershell.

        tl;dr -- POSIX won the command line long ago.

        • skane2600

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          Although MS has added Powershell Core to it's list of .NET Core applications that nobody really cares about, Powershell was designed around Windows. POSIX tools remain a niche in the Windows world. As always "universal" tools are less effective that tools that were designed specifically for the environment they are going to be used in.

  8. hrlngrv

    MSFT may not have a choice about embracing FOSS, at least not in some areas. MSFT may have it's own implementation of Python, but it doesn't control Python. Ditto JavaScript. Ditto GNU R. Re GNU R, sift through academic journal articles for statistics, and you may notice that GNU R has effectively replaced all the commercial stats packages of old, with the possible exception of SAS. When FOSS becomes the gold standard in particular fields, what's MSFT to do? Leave those fields to others?

    MSFT has buried Edge functionality so deep into Windows that it can't easily or cheaply pull them out to make Edge a standalone product. If Edge isn't updated/upgraded more than once a year, its user share would almost certainly shrink. Thus, MSFT has to update/upgrade Windows more than once a year too. And that means keeping Edge viable means Windows must be unstable.

    MSFT -- what a company!

    That said, so what that there are umpteen supported versions of Windows at the moment? Don't they all run all Win32 software? And, FWLIW, all UWP software?

  9. Jhambi

    I agree. The only real advantage windows has anymore is gaming, and that may shrink as well. Steam is already available on linux desktops. Same for cloud and hosting, nix offers lower compute costs and arguably better security/reliability.

    • wright_is

      In reply to Jhambi:

      I would say its real advantage is business. Most business software still requires a decent sized screen or multiple screens and for the amount of data that needs to be entered, a decent keyboard with numeric keypad - try replacing a dual 24" screen PC setup in an accounting office with an iPad or an iPhone...

      Some verticals can benefit from tablets or smartphones, but a lot of back-office work needs multiple windows and quick data entry. Neither of which are offered by tablets or phones and ChromeOS can't run the software.

      When you look at software like AMS, DIBAC or SLA ERP-Office, they run only on Windows or Linux and they require a large monitor to be useful. There are touch-based extensions for production lines for easy entry of automated data (scales, Fat-o-Meters, timekeeping, starting and stopping batches, veterinary results etc.) but the back office still relies on viewing lots of information and entering data quickly.

  10. endoftheroad

    Isn’t ironic, don’t you think? Microsoft, arguably the company that did the most to promote PC computing, is backing away from that to a centralized “cloud” model. This seems similar to the mainframe-terminal model of old with the addition of compute power in the terminal. The future is cloudy indeed!

    • wright_is

      In reply to EndoftheRoad:

      This has been tried every few years, since the introduction of the PC. IBM tried it and failed, Sun/Oracle tried it and failed. Microsoft and Citrix have been doing it for over 2 decades, but it is still a niche product.

      With GDPR and other concerns, cloud computing isn't getting much of a foothold in many places. We have Microsoft 365 at work to make licensing easier, but all the cloudy "goodness" is disabled, no Teams, no Sharepoint, no OneDrive, Exchange Online. It is Windows + Office 365 Pro Plus, plus the Microsoft 365 server CALs, lined up with on-prem Exchange, file servers, terminal servers and database servers.

  11. cadrethree

    Microsoft hasn't lost it's focus, Nadella has been crystal clear the future is Azure, always connected, SaaS, and every device . Maybe we are in the starving Windows faze? It's hard to know until they drop more info about Microsoft 365 and Windows Lite this year. A Windows Chrome OS "like" product always connected and fed from Azure, totally locked down is the inevitable dream for Microsoft and Windows I'm sure. There is some twisted logic to Azuze becoming Windows and Windows becoming Azure. Meaning, Windows and legacy software have to go. Or maybe Microsoft is trolling us by throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks cause they have no idea what to do.

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to cadrethree:

      Windows is no longer Micrsoft's focus though - it's just a means to an end. If Azure and services are everything to Nadella, then that will spell inevitable doom for Windows, because Windows won't actually be needed anymore by the majority. No more expensive kit, no patching, no instabilities... people will be able to do everything from devices like Chromebooks or mobile phones. Game over.

      • cadrethree

        In reply to ghostrider:



        No doubt Windows is not a focus for Microsoft going forward. I have my doubts Microsoft has the chops to tackle Android, and Chromebook. Was reading the other day about their new guy leading part of the Google Cloud division. They are getting more serious about this division and spending 13 billion this year in new data farms in the US. I believe that's what they were saying and uppping their reach into 24 states.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to cadrethree:

      Re always connected and Azure, perhaps that is the end goal: physical devices become little more than terminals for running fully featured applications with light-weight mobile versions for viewing and modest editing while disconnected.

      If remote servers are doing most of the real computing, and local hardware only needs to provide modest functionality while disconnected, who'd need Windows or any other comprehensive OS?

      Tangent: I have to figure that MSFT now DEEPLY REGRETS Win32 software being as valuable as it is for Windows PC users. Yes, that mountain range of application software which led to Windows's preeminence as microcomputer OS now means MSFT can't make the radical changes it wants to make to maintain growth in PC software. MSFT would really prefer that PC software were like buying the same music albums as LPs, 8-track, cassette, CD, low-res digital files, high-res digital files, and as many future formats as possible. Instead, with Windows XP (if not 95 and NT4) through Windows 10 all able to run 32-bit software from a decade or two ago, too damn few PC users need the next new thing.

      MSFT may see little benefit for MSFT developing great new Windows features because PC users won't adopt them if it'd mean no longer being able to run XYZ-99. If users only want to run legacy applications, who can blame MSFT for providing only legacy Windows?

      • wright_is

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Although Windows 7, 8 and 10 can't run a lot of that legacy Win32 software. We still have some XP machines or Windows 7 with XP Mode VMs kicking around, because the legacy software is still needed to control industrial hardware with a life expectancy of 20+ years, yet the manufacturer never wrote their software to work with anything newer than Windows 98 or Windows 2000 and it "sort of" runs on XP.

        Replacing 6 or seven figure hardware, just because the control software doesn't work on newer PCs isn't a realistic consideration. The PCs just get isolated onto non-exposed network segments (or disconnected completely).

        • hrlngrv

          In reply to wright_is:

          . . . control industrial hardware with a life expectancy of 20+ years . . .

          Which raises the question whether it was a mistake to have used Windows in the first place as the software foundation for industrial hardware controllers.

          Gotta wonder how that controller software would run under wine under Linux. I have some 20+ year old software which runs better under wine than under Windows 7 (and presumably can't run at all under Windows 10), but the software I'm running is standard application software, not controlling external hardware.

          Gotta wonder what sort of software bad practices were used that require XP or prior. Later Windows versions can't write directly to specified I/O ports? Too much latency in later Windows versions? Promiscuous use of the HKLM registry hive and/or C:\Windows or C:\Program Files for volatile file storage?

          • wright_is

            In reply to hrlngrv:

            Linux won't make much difference either, CentOS, RedHat and SUSE don't have any longer maintenance times than Windows for their enterprise versions and the consumer versions get around a year to 18 months of support.

            If you wrote software for Linux at the turn of the century, you face the same problems you do with ancient Windows software, you can't put it on new hardware, because you need a current Linux version to get the drivers and for that you will need to modify and re-compile the software, just like the Windows software.

            I worked at a company providing a Linux based ERP system. In 2015 they were still using a version of SUSE from 2000 on the servers they shipped to customers, it hadn't had any security updates since 2003, but, hey, don't worry, its Linux! It was only when the new hardware - specifically the SCSI RAID controller - couldn't be used with the old version of Linux that they were forced to change - although they first tried virtualizing the old Linux in order to not have to invest in getting it updated, but eventually they had to go with the times and they switched to a 2 - 3 year old version of CentOS, which involved over 5 man years of effort to get the software moved over to the new version. One of the biggest problems they had were some ancient proprietary libraries that didn't have anything newer than 1998 and no source code.

            • hrlngrv

              In reply to wright_is:

              Linux won't make much difference either . . .

              Linux itself, maybe not, though there are some now rather ancient application titles like xman which haven't been updated for at least a decade which still run in current distributions, maybe because they're statically linked so don't depend on any shared libraries, just assume an X server which works like X servers from 10-20 years ago.

              Re your ERP system example, if there were binary development libraries, they could be statically linked in the final executable. No more need for source code than there was 30 years ago for various 3rd party libraries for MS-DOS C compilers.

              Then there's wine, which in my experience is far more customizable than Windows XP and later.

              • wright_is

                In reply to hrlngrv:

                The problem isn't static linking to those libraries, but that those libraries won't run on any modern Kernel and the company that produced them went bankrupt at the turn of the Century.

                As to WINE, you can then run into compliance issues. But it is certainly a possibility for ancient Windows software.

        • Chris_Kez

          In reply to wright_is:

          Great point about the discrepancy between hardware and software life expectancy. I wonder what the cost would be to rewrite the software in cases like that. Paul has mentioned that Microsoft has a program where they'll work with companies who have software that won't run on Windows 10; but perhaps it only applies to 7 and not XP.

          • wright_is

            In reply to Chris_Kez:

            Many companies aren't interested, they'd rather sell their customers a new piece of hardware for $500,000 rather than spend a few hundred thousand redeveloping the old software to run on a new platform.

            • Chris_Kez

              In reply to wright_is:

              I was thinking more about the company using the hardware or perhaps a third party developer, not the hardware manufacturer; agree there's little incentive for the latter.

              • wright_is

                In reply to Chris_Kez:

                You have copyright problems, you can't reverse engineer the software and redeveloping it from scratch for a new platform and working out the proprietary protocols is going to cost a lot of money for the customer.

                It is just easier to keep the PC separated from the network.

                I know an IT manager at a manufacturing company, their CNC device is slaved to a Windows XP PC. This is air-gapped. When they need support, the manufacturer tells them to start TeamViewer on the PC, she explains that it isn't network connected, they tell her to connect it to the network, she tells them, when they give her software that runs on a compliant OS and now get on with providing me the support I'm paying for goddammit!

      • cadrethree

        In reply to hrlngrv:


        The weird thing about this increase update cadence is who are they pitching it too? Windows 10 is the culmination of 20 years work to get their customers here. No more major boxed numbered releases like a Windows 11, just a evolution of Windows 10 for the next few decades. The goal being switching everyone over to SaaS.


        Normal users maybe want a major update every 2-3 years, and business just want bug and security updates. Businesses don't want major feature updates and would be happy to never get any, at least in the shops with IT departments I've been in. They finally get people switched to Win10 and start hammering users with more updates and branches then in their entire history. Do they want business to switch? They should actually be going to less updating over a 3 year span cause that's what business want. It takes too much time and money to deploy major updates. And most normal users don't care about Windows or updates anymore. It's not 1995, anymore.


        Consumers aren't demanding the increased cadence, and businesses already pay their licensing fee's. It's like the dog with two bones analogy. Microsoft coug'd it.

        • wright_is

          In reply to cadrethree:

          As a software enthusiast and an administrator, I agree. On the private side, I like the new features, but would prefer they come at most once a year. At work, we want stability, the new features don't offer anything new for our users, at most it confuses them and doesn't provide any new abilities to do their work faster - usually they have the ERP software on one screen and Outlook on the other and that is the extent of their "Windows" experience. Maybe generating the odd PDF or writing the odd document in Word. Bookkeeping and shift leaders will add Excel into the mix.

  12. james_b

    I'm sure that Windows will outlive its pallbearers.

  13. Bats

    Still joke about Android fragmentation? Dude,....about 99.9% of the world doesn't even know what that is (lol). All they know is that when they turn on their Android smartphone, that it just works. Seriously.....I dare you to go to the mall and find someone with an Android phone and ask that person if he or she knows what fragmentation means? LOL....I DARE YOU! (That is a tired argument)


    Windows is not "LOSING" focus. Rather, it's losing purpose. Windows can't do SH*T anymore. It's not 80's, 90's, or even 2000's.


    A few hours ago, I just came back from Sam's Club. I ended up needing to two carts to bring the stuff that I bought back to my SUV. Do you know how long I waited in line to pay for my stuff? Take a guess..................................................................zero (0) minutes. I could even be more specific than that. Zero (0) seconds. That's because Sam's Club allows the customer to put all the items he/she wants to buy in the cart and then.....THEN.....pay it through their smartphone, thus skipping the lines. LOL.....that's not going to happen with a Windows PC, ............ever!


    The world of computing is changing. Desktop computing is a thing of the past, where it was once the only tool to do things with. Now it's not. One can do anything and everything in a smartphone, than one can do on a Windows PC. To further prove my point, I just started doing my taxes online via H&R Block Online and completed about 25% of the process. LOL...the next 60% of the process, I completed on my smartphone. The app is called H&R Block Tax Prep.


    The point being is this......there is really nothing more Windows can do. Google, Apple, etc....are not waiting for Windows to implode. Those companies (more Google) are moving the computer industry forward with AI and the cloud. Microsoft is trying to do the same exact thing, because they know Windows has no future. Stationary desktop computing has no future, unless it has a specific professional purpose. Other than that.......Stationary Windows OS computing is done.

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to Bats:

      That I will agree with. Android may have fragmentation issues, but it actually makes zero difference to most users. Running Android 6 - your apps still work. Android 7, 8, 9 etc. All the apps work without problem. I have a first gen Nexus 7 (from 2012) running Android 4.4. Everything I try on it runs without a hitch - and that's pretty impressive.

  14. jules_wombat

    Windows as a Client platform is diminishing. Its obvious in a cloud and mobile (aka Android) centric world. Satya is pivoting Microsoft to the future, where Microsoft delivers SaaS, onto (Android/iOS) based clients. Its only tedious old hacks and Microsoft fanboys that prattle on so much about the future of Windows.

    • Greg Green

      In reply to Jules_Wombat:

      Right, because the business world hardly ever uses windows.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to Greg Green:

        At some point it may become cheaper for the business world to run in-house application servers running full-featured software on those servers and merely using client machines for I/O, like with Citrix Receiver. At which point those client machines may not need to run Windows, or at least full Windows.

        • Greg Green

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          It’ll be interesting to see if a company steps forward as the Windows situation gets worse. It’s an ideal opportunity for Apple but they’re not interested in discounting their hardware.


          I’m thinking primarily about small businesses, the ones who only have a dozen PCs or so. They’re the ones without any good options.

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to Greg Green:

            My kids are all grown now, but their pediatrician (last visited 9 years ago) used a Linux medical office suite. I figure there are a few vertical niches which don't need Windows. FWLIW, if Big O Tires is still running Windows 2K or older (and it sure looked like they were last time I had tires changed), they might find it easier to move to Linux than Windows 10.

        • wright_is

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          There are already a bunch of surveys that came out during the last 18 months that show switching to the cloud is often more expensive than running on premises servers - especially if the work you have does a lot of processing, which costs real money on a cloud hosted server.

          If you are reliant on the servers to perform your job, a lot of companies still want to be in control. If they will have to book 6 or 7 figure losses per hour for system downtime, they'd rather it be for their own fault, than because their service provider did some maintenance during peak working time and the whole thing crumbled, because somebody entered the wrong parameters into an edge router, for example.

          All of the companies I've worked at in the last 20 years have had some form of either Windows Terminal Server or Citrix solution, with the client running on a normal PC. Email and word processing, excel etc. is done locally, with the files stored on file servers, with, for example, the ERP solution running on the terminal server.

          One company had always used thin clients, until they switched from ISDN to a VOIP telephone system, that had a Windows soft client (no desktop telephones) and, whilst it could run on the terminal server, it had to also run locally to provide the audio capabilities and not lag, so they dumped the Igel thin clients for Dell Optiplex with Pentium Gold processors - the one-off upgrade price was expensive, but the actual cost per workplace was in fact cheaper than using a dedicated thin client.

          • Tony Barrett

            In reply to wright_is:

            Now that IS the truth. The cloud is sold as something that can save Enterprises money - the provider will say dump your datacenter and sack your hard-working IT staff. I think it's safe to say moving to the cloud rarely saves money, and in some respects ends up costing more. This risks are far greater, security becomes a major issue, ongoing - and increasing - year-on-year subscription costs have to be factored in and the potential of losing your internet connection for whatever reason where an inconvenience before now becomes business critical. This is excluding the obvious unreliability of cloud services and the high amounts of downtime. Where are the SLA's and compensation?

            Don't fall for the hype, don't sign everything away. When the sh*t hits the fan, your IT staff won't be around anymore, and you'll just get dumb silence from the cloud provider!

      • jules_wombat

        In reply to Greg Green:

        Because Business is moving on. More business users are adopting Office 365 services from any web browser, hosted on the thinner clients of their choice. Zero Clients and Android based clients for Browsers are sufficient for the majority of business Apps, with most instances moving into the cloud. Hell I can even run legacy Windows XP VMs there if I wanted. There will be soon more instances of (legacy) Windows Clients running in the Cloud than on dedicated fat old hardware PCs.

        Keep sticking your head in the sand, cos the rest of world is moving on without you. There really is no future for Windows.

        • Greg Green

          In reply to Jules_Wombat:

          I agree that the future for Windows is dim, especially with the current plan. I just don’t think most small businesses are going to want to get ensnared in server software and hardware subscriptions. A small realty office really doesn’t have that as an option for their dozen computers do they?

        • locust infested orchard inc

          In reply to Jules_Wombat:

          When one has lost connectivity, or the cellular provider has problems, or the SaaS provider is down, the guys using the so-called "dedicated fat old hardware PCs" continue to be productive, whilst the "thinner clients" cannot work thus resorting to them "sticking their head in the sand" whilst they await for resumption of service.


          History has shown thin clients come and go, but fat clients are here to stay.

          • hrlngrv

            In reply to locust infested orchard inc:

            I work for a large financial services company. One particular application in my division is available only through Citrix. IT used to try to make it available locally, but that proved to be a nightmare and apparently more costly than hosting it through Citrix. Indeed, when the network goes down, there's no way to use that application (which is needed for nearly all deals), so work effectively stops. Another application is intranet browser-based, so same story with respect to the network down.

            Dunno about other industries, but financial services requires network connections to do most things these days. Fat Windows clients are only slightly more usable than thin clients when there's no network connection.

  15. minke

    One thing to keep in mind is that the vast majority of businesses are small ones--very small--and that's where the vast majority of business computers live. Office 365 and Windows are still the dominate systems found at these small businesses, but mainly because of inertia. These tiny companies need systems that are easy to keep operational with limited or no IT support staff. Maybe all the profit is in big enterprise, but the volume is in small business and consumers. A one-size-fits-all Windows no longer fits all because the small guys just don't have the in-house expertise to keep everything working, which is why Office 365, G Suite, and other cloud systems are potentially great for the small ones. Unfortunately, these services are also trying to appeal to enterprise too, larding on the complication that inherently creates unreliability and expense for the small guy.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to Minke:

      I suspect really small businesses, especially outside OECD countries, are using Windows 7 and Office 2010, so not Office 365. TBH, unless one's business is making custom Office document templates, Office 2010 is more than sufficient. To the extent that such businesses average no more than 2 new PCs per decade, I figure MSFT really doesn't care any more about them than about noncommercial users.

      • minke

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        Whatever they are using, Windows remains the dominant business system with 88% of market share. My point is that it is very hard to create a one-size-fits-all operating system that can fill so many very different needs. A lack of "focus" is understandable, when you are creating a system that can run software for everything from governments to multinational corporations to the corner store to random people commenting on the Internet.

        • Tony Barrett

          In reply to Minke:

          Windows just used to be a very reliable application launcher. Yes, it's got inherent design and security issues, and it always will do - inc Win10, but it just used to be something you booted, and run your 3rd party apps on. Now, I just don't know, it's trying to be and do so much more, almost all of it irrelevant and pointless. This is what I mean by losing focus. What are the priorities for Windows now? The Cloud is Microsoft's focus, and as I see it, Win10 is just a portal to those services, slowly and subjectively nudging users in it's direction.

          • Greg Green

            In reply to ghostrider:

            Someone in another post quoted Jobs saying Focus is about saying no.


            There’s so so much about Win 10 that someone should’ve said No to. It was at its best when it was a program launcher and file finder, with a few programs like a browser and notepad thrown in.

  16. StoneJack

    PC and Windows are not going anywhere, they are just becoming smaller and smaller subset of computing, which now includes huge mobile segment. As such, the desktop remain important (though for ever decreasing business and PC gaming segments), while the overall trend is towards mobile, smartphones and tablets. As for gaming, I noticed that smartphones and tablets are gradually becoming also powerful enough to play more and more modern games.

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to StoneJack:

      If the desktop PC is an 'ever decreasing' thing, where does that leave Windows in 10 years, or even 5? Mobile is where it's at, and even that's at saturation in some markets. Microsoft have no mobile presence, there are no Windows tablets (I exclude Surface - very much a niche). Whatever 'Windows Lite' turns out to be is no guarantee of success - MS have failed time and again with efforts like this. The populous want Android and iOS - anything else is just a waste of time and effort, yet MS STILL think they have enough market clout to take yet another brand new version of Windows and make it work on mobile!

      • blackcomb

        In reply to ghostrider:


        Unless the new Windows Lite is Win32 only with no dumbed down mobile apps, it's dead on arrival.

        • Tony Barrett

          In reply to blackcomb:

          It's highly likely Windows Lite will totally dump the win32 subsystem - MS may not even call it Windows. It will be store apps only, or maybe win32 apps emulated in the cloud (win32 as a service?). To get the footprint and memory usage of Windows down, MS are going to have to prune a LOT of stuff.

          • skane2600

            In reply to ghostrider:

            If you're right about dumping Win32, than blackcomb is right, it will be DOA. How many times will this Metro/Modern/UWP strategy have to fail before Microsoft gets a clue? The concern of memory usage is a topic that would have been more appropriate 10 or more years ago. These days electronic devices are awash with resources at a cheap price.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to ghostrider:

        . . . Mobile is where it's at . . .

        For many outside work, sure. For some older people (myself included) and at work, not really. Maybe salespeople, sales reps, and customer site service techs can get by with mobile devices only (though I doubt it for service techs). OTOH, anyone whose job involves lots of calculations isn't going to want to have just a phone and maybe also a tablet.

        Tangent: are there any public figures for the % if Surface and other Windows tablets using LTE networking rather than just wifi?

        Odder tangent: I'm glad to see there are now Chrome OS tablets on the market. If they can also run Android apps along with PSAs and actual Chrome apps while also providing enough window management to handle multiple overlapping windows, that could be a lot better than pure Android tablets (though those are still useful for restricted use as, say, media devices on airplanes or restaurant menus).

  17. bill_russell

    Piling on colored flipping tiles and Candy Crush is scaring away serious business from upgrading to Win10 while consumers who never actually cared about PCs have long since moved to smartphones and couldn't give a hoot about windows. These were the people who only used PCs because they were the only "device" to get online to communicate and be social. Its amazing MS seems unaware or unable to accept this by now, even under Nadella.



    • wright_is

      In reply to Bill_Russell:

      We don't care about tiles or candy crush - we remove all tiles and set the start menu width to the width of the list and we have an auto-script that runs during imaging that removes all the detritus.

      What is of concern is the lack of compatibiltiy with some legacy software. A majortiy of our back office users are already on Windows 10, but production has a mish-mash of Access 2003 databases, Windows XP compatible production tracking software and a few other curiosities that won't work on Windows 8 or Windows 10.

  18. yaddamaster

    I recently switched to a MacBook Pro as part of my regular dev box refresh where I work. They'd either buy me a crappy Windows dev laptop or a really expensive MacBook Pro. Bizarre.


    Anyhow, the experience reminded me (I used a Mac years ago) of just how superior the Windows experience is compared to OSX. Window management is superior, keyboard shortcuts are superior and more consistent. As maligned as Windows Explorer is it's still superior to the total dog that is Finder. Of course - all of this is just subjective. :-)


    At the end of the day I look forward to being back on my Surface Pro.

    • red.radar

      In reply to yaddamaster:

      My MacOS experiment lasted 5 months. The window management and dual monitor experience just frustrated me to no end. Not to mention I still had applications that were better on Windows than Macosx. There were things I did like on MacOS though..but this dog is getting old and apparently I can't learn new tricks...


      i just had to suck it up and roll with the change. My philosophy is to use the controls to my advantage to delay updates. If a version sucks then skip. I take solice that Microsoft is monitoring customer feedback and metrics. Also Windows has a good version in there amongst the bad ones. I had to tell myself to take a deep breath and stop over reacting to all the tech gossip. If it sucks just skip it and move on.




    • NoFlames

      In reply to yaddamaster: I have had the same experience at my company, they will by top of the line MacBook Pro with Quad core if you want, or a mid grade dual core windows laptop that costs 1/3 as much. The IT department seems to think because you can buy a cheaper windows laptop you should. My needs at work are no different than those that use the MacBook but the bias against windows causes my choices to be less than acceptable. Next upgrade I will insist on getting quality and performance on par with whatever they are willing to spend on a MacBook.


  19. maethorechannen

    I think the problem Windows has is that it has to stand on its own - Apple's software supports Apple's hardware and Google's software supports Google's services (the ad service in particular). Windows supports nothing and these days of Office being available more or less everywhere nothing supports Windows.


    It has to be a Jack of all trades just to stay afloat.

  20. Tony Barrett

    I'd say these days, the only thing keeping Windows afloat is the Enterprise - that's it. Gamers may hang onto Windows, but there are alternatives (excluding consoles). Windows is just not essential anymore to the average user, but to MS, it still plays a part in their overall strategy of pushing everything to their cloud. Once in the cloud, MS have complete control, and can push their subscription plans to the n'th level. People who hang onto Windows are hanging onto something only because it's familiar and comfortable. MS knows this, because they're leeching off the back of other OS's to keep their services front and center.

    • PeterC

      In reply to ghostrider:

      Totally spot on. Great comment. We’re rapidly moving to a place where you choose your “consumer services provider” your “productivity services provider“ and your “games service provider” you utilise/access these on whatever hardware product your purse can stretch to.


      The divisive topic of data security and privacy looks set to be the differentiator that the big players will fight over to win hearts and minds and obviously market share.


      Once we transit to this type of market place I’m not sure how we can ever turn back. That worries me - not in a paranoid “good old days way” but in the future opportunity for creativity in business, as to succeed in business will require one of the big platform companies as a strategic partner/shareholder/financier and of course their input towards their strategic goals. That worries me.

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to ghostrider:

      Some of us use Office at home in order to work from home. Likewise for various Adobe packages. I should also add Visual Studio. However, that's about all there is that requires Windows these days. FWIW, most of the other Win32 software I use either also comes in Linux versions (most especially GNU R and RStudio and Python) or runs adequately under wine under Linux (MS Paint, which for me has the right combination of features for annotating screenshots, which is about all the image editing I ever do).

      IOW, add those of us with white collar office jobs who also work from home on our own PCs to enterprises and SMBs as the MSFT customers who continue to need Windows.

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