November
Microsoft's bet-the-cash-cow move
Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 4:56 PM by Dave Winer.
  • A picture named touchPC.jpgThis piece has an extensive quote from Reed Hastings as a departing Microsoft board member about Microsoft's thinking behind the odd way Windows 8 is organized.
  • They think there's a transition to touch taking place that's analogous to the transition to the mouse in the 80s and 90s. So they're putting the windows part of Windows into a compatibility box, the way they put DOS inside a window on Windows. You can still get to your Windows apps, but they're betting you will prefer to use the touch-based apps. That don't yet exist. But will soon. That's their bet.
  • My opinion: Wow. Why bet the company's user base and cash cow on that when they could just switch to Mac, as I'm sure a lot of them already want to, and get a "traditional" desktop.
  • Apple has been edging up to the same idea, in a much more conservative and rational way, imho. Testing the theory before betting what is not their biggest revenue source (Apple is now a devices company, iPad and iPhones make up most of their revenue). If Apple is being conservative, Ballmer thinks, I'll make the big bet. And hope I'm not wrong.
  • Problem is this -- desktop computers as touch devices is not a new idea. HP's first PC, in 1983, was touch-based. It failed. Not because there was no software, there was. The reason is that it's really painful to hold up your arm and touch the screen as a way of controlling the computer when the screen is vertical, not horizontal. The keyboard won.
  • Touch belongs in a tablet interface, for sure. But desktop computers need a pointing device like a mouse. I think Apple realizes that now, and isn't pushing the Mac in that direction. But this appears to be a bet-the-cash-cow move for Microsoft. Let's hope they have a Plan B ready to go!
  • See also: Jakob Nielsen's report on Windows 8.