Paul's article this morning about advertising in Windows and how dumb it can be (e.g. serving Office 365 ads to people who already subscribe) reminded me of something I've been wishing Microsoft would do: use some of that telemetry and their AI/ML capabilities in the service of helping me be more productive. How about analyzing the apps and services I use (and how I use them) to surface some really deep and helpful tips and tricks? Analyze what I'm already doing and then show me how I can do it better.
-"I see that you use a number of keyboard shortcuts in PowerPoint but always use the mouse to click through the toolbar for XYZ. Did you know you can use ____ keyboard shortcut to complete this action?" Or "I see you've used this Excel tool 100 times in the past month; I've gone ahead and pinned that to your toolbar for easier access. Would you like to keep it there or shall I delete it for you?" Or "I see you get the same question a lot, and you tend to answer it the same way. I've created a smart reply option for you." The list goes on and on. As a long-time user of Office there are probably hundreds of ways I could do things more efficiently but just haven't bothered to learn. It would be nice if Microsoft started doing some of this for me.
If I click through to a user's profile page, I land on their list of Posts. If I click on the Activity tab to see all of their recent comments it comes up empty. I have tested this on several user profiles including my own. In each case the list of Posts comes up fine, but the list of Activities is blank.
Yesterday's The Internet of Things Podcast with Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel features a discussion about Azure Sphere (1:57-6:43) as well as an interview with Microsoft's Galen Hunt (28:50-46:30). Highly recommended if you're interested in this space.
In a comment this morning I was kind of tough on Apple when I heard that the Mac Pro would be a 2019 product, six years after the last (failed) design.
But reading this piece by Matthew Panzarino made me sit up. In it he reveals Apple’s new Pro Workflow Team, which has brought together Apple engineers with actual pro users to optimize the platform from top to bottom.
“And we’ve brought in some pretty incredible talent, really masters of their craft. And so they’re now sitting and building out workflows internally with real content and really looking for what are the bottlenecks. What are the pain points. How can we improve things. And then we take this information where we find it and we go into our architecture team and our performance architects and really drill down and figure out where is the bottleneck. Is it the OS, is it in the drivers, is it in the application, is it in the silicon, and then run it to ground to get it fixed.”
This is the kind of thing that Windows’ professional users (as well as ideally the Surface team’s target market) would love to hear in light of the recent doom and gloom around the “decapitation” and “demotion” (Paul’s words) of Windows.
This level of focus on executing against pro users’ needs should also give Panos and team a kick in the pants. They’ve been enjoying a recent narrative about how Microsoft (and Windows) was stealing some of the Apple mojo and turning heads within the desirable creative professional class, fueled in part by things like Surface Studio and Surface Book 2– but also a wide range of extremely powerful and flexible Windows machines.
Read the article and let is know what you think:
I realize there are very few people using Cortana on iOS or Android, but if there are any of you here can you let me know if location-based reminders are working? This always worked well for me on Android, but since switching to iOS a few months ago I have not had any success with location-based reminders using the Cortana app. I've logged this feedback with Microsoft. I have all of the appropriate location permissions granted, and I have the latest versions of iOS and the app.
I wanted to share a short but interesting post– with data– about input lag, latency and complexity. There’s something here for both young and old users but the tl;dr is that if you seem to recall computers of yore feeling snappier, you’re not crazy– they probably were! It’s the same story for iOS vs, Android.
Excerpted from the original post: “Fancy gaming rigs with unusually high refresh-rate displays are almost competitive with machines from the late 70s and early 80s, but “normal” modern computers can’t compete with thirty to forty year old machines.”
I encourage folks to read the original article and take a look at the latency tables for various devices. https://danluu.com/input-lag/
There's been talk of lower priced memberships and per-article pricing, both of which are ways to potentially increase membership while still doing so profitably and without undercutting current subscribers.
But there is another way to grow the bottom line, and that is by offering even more expensive tiers. It certainly shouldn't be the focus, but Thurrott.com may be leaving money on the table by not at least offering a higher tier. If you look at Kickstarter, Patreon and other subscription-based sites there are often opportunities for people to contribute at a level above the baseline value proposition for different perks. I bet there are readers out there who would pay $100/year, or make a special one-time payment for something special.
Obviously this could devolve into farce (e.g. tandem bike ride with Paul; drop Brad in a dunk tank; have the guys leave you a happy birthday message), but I think the basic premise of giving people a chance to be super-contributors isn't entirely untenable-- especially when you're talking about a niche audience that also likely contains some very passionate fans.
Don't get me wrong; I fully embraced the decision to widen the scope of coverage versus the WinSupersite days. I was fine when we started getting articles about iOS and Android; Microsoft makes a lot of apps for those platforms after all. I was okay with the iPhone reviews-- it is the standard-bearer for mobile devices. I nodded along happily as the Android device reviews started rolling in; okay, lots of former WP users are migrating to Android right alongside Microsoft, and it is the dominant personal computing platform. I even started digging into some of the IOT and smart-speaker coverage-- I mean, ambient computing and voice control are the next wave am I right? I remain a bit skeptical about AR/VR, but I even dip into those; hey, all the big players are in there mixing it up this year, and its a big focus for Windows.
And then... I saw Mehedi's tweet this afternoon about the first Snapchat article on Thurrott.com. [record scratch] Sure enough there it was. I didn't click on it. I won't even open it just to comment. I don't want to give it the page view. No, this is where I say "enough". A man has to draw the line somewhere, and for me Snapchat is it.
Thurrott Team, I want you to look at your collective self in the mirror and say out loud "I write about Snapchat." I can't imagine that feels good. What's next, E-Sports? YouTube celebrity profiles? Animoji karaoke? Where does it end? Please, if nothing else think of the children. Thoughts and prayers.
User C comments on User B's reply to User A. Is there a way I can reply to User C's comment and also tag Users A and B so that all three get notified about my reply?
Paul, Brad- I'd be interested to hear your thoughts (as well as George's and Tina's and Tim's) about Year 1 of the Premium program. What worked; what didn't; what surprised you; what would like to do more (or less); etc. Anniversaries are a good time to step back and reflect. How about a tag-team post or a special edition of FRD with the team? Thanks to all of you for a great first year!
Poor Intel, these guys just can't keep it together; what a mess.
From DigiTimes: "Intel has reportedly rescheduled the release of its next-generation Cannon Lake-based processors to the end of 2018, which has already affected notebook brand vendors' new projects and their suppliers, according to sources from the upstream supply chain."
Saw this post on Medium that presents a fictionalized look back from a near future where Google has collapsed as a result of several trends that are in fact visible right now. Taken together it seems improbable, but a guy can hope can't he?
I imagine it was a lot of work to get notifications working in the first place, and I appreciate that, but is there a plan to improve them? What would really be helpful is to actually see the content/text of new replies, in addition to the title of the post/thread. I liked how Disqus did this, with a Notifications page where you would see the title, then your comment, then someone's reply, and you could either "reply" right there or "view in discussion" and jump to that section of the comments.
Every day on this site I see dozens of comments from people who are aghast at the direction Microsoft is going (e.g. UWP, Windows Store, W10S, etc,). Can you please explain in detail what exactly you think Microsoft should do instead?
Who should Microsoft focus on? How big is that segment or segments? Are those segments growing or shrinking, and at what rate?
What should Microsoft offer them? What needs is Microsoft satisfying, and who else is competing to meet those needs?
How should Microsoft monetize its efforts? What is wrong with their current monetization efforts, and how does your suggestion improve upon it?
Based on your suggestions what does success look like for Microsoft in 5 years or 10 years? Based on what you think they should do, will they be larger, smaller or about the same size? Will they be more or less profitable?
What obstacles are there internally and externally that Microsoft would have to overcome in order to enact your plan? How do they overcome those and "sell" this plan to employees and shareholders?
Can we please have an update on notifications? I'd really love to get an alert when someone replies to one of my forum posts or article comments.
After reading through hundreds of comments here and other sites following the Surface Laptop and Windows 10 S event, I am struck by the number of people who either can't understand (or refuse to acknowledge) the fundamental nature of Surface and the point of Windows 10 S.
With regards to Surface, first-- and most clearly-- Surface is premium. From Merriam Webster: "a sum in advance of or in addition to the nominal value of something". In other words it costs more than it should; you are paying an extra amount over and above what you would expect to. Surface is not just expensive. No; a Dell or Lenovo business laptop with i7/16GB/256GB is expensive; a gaming laptop is expensive. Surface is priced at a premium; whether it's for the screen or the design or the Microsoft name-- it doesn't really matter since it probably can't actually be justified rationally. So forget about Surface Laptop being priced reasonably, and certainly not starting at $600 or $700 or $800 as I've seen some comments suggest.
Second, and most importantly, Surface is complementary, not competitive. Microsoft is not looking to build the best all-around device, or the best bang-for-your-buck, or the best selling PC of 2017. No, they want all of those devices to come from PC vendors. You want Surface Laptop to not only support touch and pen, but also have USB C/TB3 and a flip around screen for tablet/tent mode? And maybe offer all of that with i7/8GB/256GB for less than $1500? Well you're now squeezing the HP Spectre x360, Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and Lenovo Yoga 910- key products from your three largest partners. Even if you price it at a premium to satisfy the "why can't you at least give us the option?" crowd, the very presence of such a product from Microsoft that seemingly does everything places pressure on their partners.
I think Microsoft, like Apple, is very carefully picking and choosing exactly which features to have on which Surface devices in order balance their own sales and profitability vs. their partners' success. Unfortunately those goals do not necessarily align with enthusiasts who just want Microsoft to make the best device possible at the best price possible.
With regards to Windows 10 S... I mean, sweet Jesus, the appeal of simpler/safer/more easily managed computing has been explained over and over and over. Yes, education is one market; but so is a chunk of the enterprise market and the consumer market. Allow me to digress with just one example of my own:
I work at one of the largest marketing analytics companies in the world. Last year we moved from Office 365 to Google Suite. My team and thousands of other people in similar roles still use Excel and PowerPoint on the desktop because they offer capabilities that are not available in Sheets/Slides. However, there are thousands more at our company who have moved their entire workflow to the web. I've seen lots of requests for Chromebooks. I've seen a few more people occasionally leave their laptop at home in favor of an iPad when they're going into the city for meetings; sure, this was possible before the switch but most people were tied to Outlook on the desktop. Breaking that bind and moving to a web/app-based workflow has made it easier. These people are doing "actual work", every day, and they don't need full Windows.
Anyone who follows this site and others like it, has already read countless anecdotes like this. So at some level, they already know what the point of W10S is. Paul himself has explained it multiple times. So if they can't see this, or refuse to acknowledge this, then they are either really not paying attention or they're being myopic (or perhaps just obstinate).
If someone simply wants to protest that this does not work for him then just say that; one's opinion will be duly noted. If someone wants to bring some hard usage numbers and offered some kind of detailed analysis and raise some interesting or thought provoking questions, then by all means do so.
I just don't know how Paul deals with all of the hyperbolic and pointless "why would anyone..." comments.
And by “gap”, I mean the extra spaces that people keep inserting between lines and paragraphs. What is going on with this? Some comments have double line breaks between every paragraph and it makes it a royal PITA to scroll through comments.
Any chance we could get a dark theme on the site? That would greatly enhance nighttime reading.
I'm not suggesting any kind of equivalence, and don't kill me for saying so, but conceptually, Thurrott Now actually reminds me of Daring Fireball-- both offer a handful of lightly contextualized snippets from around the tech web every day.
What's amazing is that while DF is the entirety of John Gruber's writing, these little snippets on Thurrott Now are just the errata that catch Paul's eye as he is writing his full-length posts for the main site. Throw in all of the podcasting work, and I think Paul might be hardest working man in tech journalism. It also makes me wonder how John Gruber makes a go of it writing a few hundred words a day.
You click into Thurrott Now, read through the posts, then you need to scroll back up to the top and find the tiny little calendar icon and select a specific day to see additional posts. Why is there a date picker in a micro blog? Just have a continuous scroll or else some kind of obvious navigation tool when you reach the bottom (e.g. “Older Posts”). If you really want the date picker, how about giving it a little color and making it persistent so you can at least hit it without scrolling back up.
Also, is there no way to just have the comments hide/expand? If you want to read or add comments you need to click through to a separate page, then click back to the feed. Honestly that’s a lot of extra clicking when each post is so short.
Have you considered adding a field to user profiles for pronunciation? Some of the user names are inscrutable. I feel bad for Paul and Brad trying to say them during podcasts.
We really need to if/when people respond to our forum posts or article comments. I want to spend more time engaging and less time revisiting old threads/articles just to see if something has happened.
Good day fellow Alpha Members, and Happy New Year! I know we'll never have peace and unity, but can I gently request that we all be more thoughtful participants here and across the web in 2017?
Rather than dismissing something as "useless", how about just stating the ways in which it falls short for you? Perhaps you can really go above and beyond by considering the ways in which it might in fact be useful for others.
Now go forth and comment. Cheers!
A few suggestions for the podcast.
My first suggestion would be guests. The shorter length, daily schedule, and perhaps less formal atmosphere seems like it would lend itself to having "friends of the podcast" pop in. Podcasts like Cordkillers, Night Attack (nee NSFW) and The Incomparable use this to great effect. It needn't be an "expert" to come on and talk about a specific news item within his or her area of expertise; just someone smart and engaging to shoot the breeze with you guys. If I can make a suggestion, please get the Lowdermilk brothers on ASAP.
Second, how about a segment--maybe once a week-- where you revisit a recent post (maybe from the last few weeks) that generated a lot of comments/discussion? You could take a few minutes to address the comments or provide additional thoughts/feedback. I know you guys will periodically jump in and reply to a few comments, but there is often a lot of good stuff that develops in there over the course of a week and you obviously can't reply to all of it individually. But maybe if you're just picking one article a week to revisit, you could read through all the comments (or at least all the Premium comments), pull out a few facts or questions that readers have shared, then address them.
A third, related suggestion would be a shout-out to particularly good comments. Maybe a "comment of the day", or the "comments of the week". It could be something really insightful; or something that provides great details or facts that would have otherwise been overlooked; or maybe a question or explanation that makes you say "hmmm, I wish I thought of that"; or maybe it's just a really funny comment. It could even be something really terrible or bone-headed; the kind of thing where you're just like "wait, we need to put a stop to this kind of crap". Ideally, it would be a mix of all of the above. Hopefully this would inspire commenters to step up their game. It would also be another way to connect you guys and your supporters.
Finally, don't be afraid to mix it up. Try stuff and see what works. I've followed several podcasts from their "alpha" episodes through multi-year anniversaries, and even the best ones took a while to find their footing.