Tag: windows

Windows devs struggle with mobile compatibility

acer-w3Windows app developers are gagging to code for mobile platforms but are finding the cost and complexity associated with the transition a barrier, according to a report.

Dimensional Research asked 1,337 Windows developers around the world for their views on going mobile.

According to the research, there is great demand for development, but delivery itself is challenging, revealing a disconnect between the interest in apps and the tools available to actually make them.

85 percent of the respondents had received requests for mobile apps. The most requested platform by far was for Android support.

Using HTML5 and JavaScript have not proved the way forward. Most respondents understood that native apps are ultimately the best for end users, while three quarters said using HTLM5 and JavaScript caused niggling challenges.

Senior researcher at Dimensional Research, Diane Hagglund, said that Windows developers see the need to bring their experiences to mobile. But “today’s development options either limit the end user or result in costly and complex native development across multiple platforms”.

“These Windows developers clearly need better options,” Hagglund said

MS Surface gets new lease of life

surface-rtMicrosoft’s Surface tablets are refusing to die thanks to a bit of help from another bloated and overvalued mess – the public sector. Phoenix Software reports that it has seen a 40 percent surge in demand for Surface tablets from schools, colleges and the rest of the public sector. We assume asylums are somewhere rank high on the list as well.

The surge came about after Microsoft unleashed Surface tablets on the channel two weeks ago. Phoenix actually had to increase its public sector team by 30 percent to cope with increased demand and it even adopted the Surface itself, through its BYOD policy.

The Surface Pro is fully compatible with Windows-centric networks used in most public sector institutions, and since it ships with Microsoft Office, multiuser support and a physical keyboard, it has an edge over Android tablets and iPads in such an environment. The Surface RT also has a few things going for it, as it replicates the IT suite environment used in many schools, although it lacks compatibility with legacy x86 applications.

It’s good news for Microsoft, which sort of makes us wonder why it didn’t go after known Windows addicts like the public sector in the first place? It seems someone at Microsoft truly thought those colourful TV ads would make civilians buy Surface tablets over the iPad. Could it have been someone who’s about to step down perhaps?

The seven cardinal sins of Steve Ballmer

steve_ballmerNow that Steve Ballmer is on his way out, partners are breathing a collective sigh of relief for a number of reasons, some petty some huge. Over the last 13 years Microsoft has had a fair share of ups and downs. Although Ballmer can and should be blamed for many of them, it is worth taking a step back for a bit of perspective.

He took the helm in the good old days, when work was already underway on XP, one of Redmond’s most successful operating systems, backed by an impressive array of other products and initiatives, such as the Xbox push.

It’s been downhill ever since.

Ballmer described Vista as his biggest regret and who are we to argue. Vista was terrible, but in an ironic twist it did help fuel the need for new, faster hardware. It was just too bloated to run properly on old XP boxes, so people had to upgrade. To fix the mess Windows 7 was a lot more streamlined and it was followed up by the even leaner Windows 8. As a result, most Vista machines are still perfectly capable of running the latest version of Windows and the biggest reason to upgrade a laptop is an unfortunately placed cup of tea coupled with long sleeves.

However, the biggest problem with Windows was and still remains relatively slow development and the reliance on an ancient business model that no longer works. Apple and Google try to keep things interesting with tons of updates and new features, free of charge. Microsoft’s updates are basically fixes and new versions of Windows still cost an arm and a leg, offering very little in return. Windows 8 is proof that Microsoft still doesn’t get it. It was supposed to work on tablets, but there aren’t any, it was supposed to deliver x86 hybrids which are still nowhere to be found and it was supposed to do all that with very little in the way of touch enabled apps. As an added bonus, corporate users hate the new interface, which has failed on both fronts. Windows 8 is not good for tablets, but the tablet tweaks also made it unappealing for desktop users and businesses.

There was no shortage of hardware flops during Ballmer’s tenure, either. Remember the Zune, or better yet the Kin? Neither do we and Microsoft is trying to forget them. In addition to wasting millions on Zune, Microsoft also wasted half a billion on the developer of Sidekick and Kin, which was appropriately named Danger. Microsoft’s hardware curse is still going strong, thanks to the Surface RT.

Investing in Danger wasn’t the only bad call. Six years ago Microsoft also took a $6.2 billion write down for digital marketing outfit aQuantive. Wasteful spending continued with Microsoft’s efforts to take on Google in online services and search. All the efforts failed spectacularly, but cumulatively they cost the company a few more billion. Earlier this year Microsoft took another $900 million hit thanks to the Surface RT.

While Ballmer’s Microsoft was trying to compete with Google online, it was outmanoeuvred by Google on its own turf. Google acquired Android eight years ago for just $50 million, one tenth of what Microsoft paid for Danger. Google is now the biggest mobile OS on the planet, the Kin is just another embarrassing footnote in Microsoft’s history. Google also scooped up YouTube, DoubleClick, AdMob and topped it all off with Motorola Mobility. Google was just a lot better at picking winners than Ballmer and his gang. Microsoft did get Skype, but it paid $8.5 billion for the privilege and it did it only after Skype virtually destroyed its own Messenger.

The Skype deal is indicative of another problem. Mighty Microsoft paid $8.5 billion to buy a competitor, as it apparently couldn’t bring its own services up to speed for what is a huge amount of cash. Google probably could and would, Apple too, but for some reason Microsoft’s culture revolves around throwing cash at problems rather than solving them in-house. It is just a weird and oppressive culture that could work in the nineties, when Microsoft was king of the world and didn’t have much competition to worry about.

But Microsoft’s biggest failure under Ballmer was undoubtedly mobile. Ballmer arrogantly laughed at the iPhone and he clearly failed to recognize the threat posed by iOS and Android. As a result Microsoft’s market share in the smartphone market is virtually non-existent. It also teamed up with Nokia, another outfit that didn’t get it, which was only fitting. If phones weren’t to be, then Microsoft had another big chance in tablets, but it botched that, too. It even decided to cripple its own Windows RT by refusing to integrate Outlook, while at the same time it refused to release Office for iOS and Android, which didn’t help its own products and just allowed competing products to emerge.

The big question now is who will take the helm? We’re not sure anyone was groomed for the job and to be honest we’re not sure many people would want it. We suggest a maid from a Las Vegas hotel. They are used to cleaning up a mess and cleaning up Ballmer’s mess will probably be akin to cleaning Hunter S. Thompson’s hotel room.

Acer wants to grow Chromebook, Android business

acer-logo-ceAcer has committed the ultimate act of Windows heresy – it wants to expand its presence in the Chromebook and Android space. The shift was revealed by Acer president Jim Wang during the company’s latest conference call.

“We are trying to grow our non-Windows business as soon as possible. Android is very popular in smartphones and dominant in tablets…I also see a new market there for Chromebooks,” said Wang.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Wong expects Android and Chromebooks to account for 10 to 12 percent of Acer’s revenue this year. However, that figure could rise to a whopping 30 percent next year. At the moment, Chromebooks account for about three percent of Acer’s shipments.

Yesterday it emerged that Acer suffered a massive drop in EMEA shipments last quarter. It took a 44.7 percent hit compared to Q2 2012. With that in mind, it is abundantly clear why Acer is trying to tap other markets.

Over the past two years most PC makers, including Acer, tried to enter the Android tablet market and they don’t have much to show for it. Windows tablets are still dead in the water and earlier this week Acer slashed the price of its relatively new W3 Windows by 20 percent.

It appears that Chromebooks will be Acer’s next bet, as the Chromebook market is not nearly as saturated as the tablet market. However, Chromebooks also lack the mass consumer appeal of cheap and fun tablets.

Windows 8 market share creeps

samsung-aioAfter failing to save the PC market from its inevitable nosedive, Windows 8 is struggling to gain market share. It is still growing, but at a snail’s pace and the dominant Redmond flavoured operating system remains Windows 7.

New data from Net Applications has revealed that July was a pretty bad month for Windows 8, as it saw a miserable 0.3 percent gain.

Windows 8 ended the month with a share of 5.4 percent, while Windows 7 went up from 44.37 to 44.49 percent. This basically means that some people are still buying Windows 7 gear, or upgrading existing systems to Win 7. It is not good news, since Windows 8 was released last October.

In fact, Windows 8 overtook Vista just a few months ago and Vista still has a 4.24 percent share, although it is declining. Windows XP on the other hand just refuses to die. Its share actually went up from 37.17 percent to 37.19 percent last month. Clearly Redmond seeded XP with a few cockroach genes, but since it will discontinue support for the venerable OS in April next year, the share should plummet over the next few months.

Although Apple is getting a lot of attention, Windows remains the dominant platform worldwide, with a 91.51 percent share, up from 91.51. OS X and Linux were down 0.01 and 0.03 percent respectively.

Windows 8.1 and the imminent demise of XP should fuel more growth for Windows 8.x, but the gains will be limited. Windows 8 will end its first year on the market with a single-digit market share. Given the state of the PC market, this is hardly surprising.

Microsoft’s Ballmer cries into his beer

steve_ballmer Microsoft’s delightfully understated CEO has admitted that everything he has done over the last year has been a cock-up.

According to the Verge, Steve “there’s a kind of hush” Ballmer has publicly admitted that Microsoft  built too many Surface RT tablets, and it’s not selling as many Windows devices as he wants.

The confession came during an internal town hall event last week when Ballmer and COO Kevin Turner both addressed the recent $900 million hit for Surface RT and the sales pace of Windows across various devices.

Ballmer tried to cheer himself up by talking about getting Instagram for Windows Phone, and its plans for the next-generation Surface.

He said that Microsoft had built a few more Surface RT tablets than it could sell.  Either that or they had shipped at a price which was so expensive no reseller could get them off the shelves.

Recently Ballmer cut the price of its Surface RT tablets by 30 percent saying that the price adjustment was necessary to sell Surface RT devices.

Ballmer confirmed new devices are currently being tested with incremental improvements.

But Ballmer was even more gloomy when it came to the performance of Windows 8 which shipped as it Microsoft was trying to flog Android instead of its flagship decktop,

He said that Vole was not selling as many Windows devices as it  wanted  and a lack of devices in retail stores hasn’t helped Windows 8’s initial prospects.

Ballmer said that Microsoft was focusing on the back to school period and the holiday season to ensure Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 devices are available.

 

Industry prays for the death of XP

tombstoneHP executives have been revealing that the maker of expensive printer ink did not think that things would get better until Microsoft pulled the plug on XP.

Hardware makers had been hoping for a boost to their PC bottom lines because of Windows 8’s release. When this happened, initially they blamed Microsoft’s awful interface.

But it turns out that the calmer heads in HP see the problem as a global market thing.

Windows 8 did seem to suck up the usual number of consumer PC sales, but what it did not manage to do was make a big splash in the more important business market.

The business market, particularly in the EU, has been locked down by poor economic factors. Many companies have insisted on using ancient machines running XP, rather than running newer software which requires new hardware.

Microsoft prolonged the agony by extending the life of Windows XP by providing extended support. It did this for the best of motivations. There was a fear that cash strapped companies would not upgrade anyway and just leave their networks open to attacks by running insecure versions.

However, for all Microsoft’s good intentions, it also gave businesses no reason to upgrade their hardware for another couple of years.

Now Microsoft has confirmed that XP’s time really is up now, and businesses are starting to see that their computers which must be getting on to a decade old really do need to be put out to pasture.

HP confirmed that it was starting to get new orders for PCs from upgrading firms who see that the writing is on the wall, and some other resellers who ChannelEye has talked to have confirmed the same things.

The more conservative of them are going for Windows 7 machines, but there is also a move towards Windows 8 from companies who want more future proofing.
It is an interesting potential sales pitch for channel partners who need to find new customers, or to dig up their sales lists from customers who did not return their calls seven or eight years ago.
If HP is right, then this could be the stimulus that the PC market desperately needs to get itself moving.

 

HP taps Google apps and services for SMB boxes

HPHewlett Packard has joined the Google Apps Reseller program and the first products packed with preinstalled Google apps are on the way. The first phase of what HP calls “HP SMB IT in a Box” will feature existing HP hardware, including PCs and printers, but it will also ship with an assortment of Google apps.

The Goog suite includes Google Apps for Business, Google cloud based communication and collaboration tools, or in other words everything from Gmail and Docs, to Google Drive and IM. An HP management software layer will be on top of them to simplify environment and cut operating costs.

“HP recognises the constantly evolving needs of SMB customers in today’s dynamic business environment,” said Ron Coughlin, senior vice president and general manager, Consumer PCs and Solutions, HP. “Together with HP’s channel partners, we will offer our customers an incredible bundle of PCs, printers and Google Apps for Business, enabling business owners to focus on their customers instead of worrying about IT.”

HP says the HP SMB IT in a Box will continue to grow to encompass all the technologies SMBs need. Eventually, the solution will include integrated consoles for resellers, IT administrators and end users, allowing easy access to the entire solution, including Google Apps for Business.

The company was quick to point out that its collaboration with Google already includes Android and Chrome devices. Although it looks like a routine PR line, it could be also viewed as a shot across Microsoft’s bow.

HP SMB IT in a Box will be offered through HP’s network of reseller partners. The initial offering is expected to be available to select resellers in the United States in July followed by broader availability worldwide by the end of the year.

Microsoft to bundle Office with Win 8.1

windowscomputexSoftware giant Microsoft said at Computex today that when Windows 8.1 launches towards the end of this year, it will bundle Office with the operating system.

It also said that Windows 8.1 will support smaller form factor tablets and it will vary its licensing model to reflect that change.

Nick Parker, OEM VP at Microsoft, said: “We’re increasing our investment by providing Office in the box. That gives OEMs and their channel partners a premium sale, rather than an aftersale.”

But he seemed to imply that other than these changes, there will be no other licence changes.

Despite analysts reporting that there is a widespread fall in PC sales, Parker refused to be drawn on how that had affected sales of Windows 8. Nor did he accept the view of some analysts that disappointment about the original rev of Windows 8 had itself affected sales.

“We’re an industry going through transformation,” Parker said. “If you look at the categories where we have growth. it is up to us in the PC industry to be more agile”.

Microsoft will also bundle Office with RT, when the time comes.

Notebook shipments in Q2 to remain weak

notebooksIncreasing demand for tablets, coupled with weak demand from China, is expected to hit notebook shipments in the second quarter.

According to Barclays Capital, global shipments will tumble 17 per cent from Q4 2012, traditionally the strongest quarter for notebook shipments. Notebook sales in Q2 usually grow by about 6 per cent, but Barclays believes shipments will grow only 4 per cent this year. Yang attributed the decline in demand from China to the ever increasing demand for tablets.

Barclays analyst Kirk Yang believes the weaker than expected growth also reflects delays in the introduction of new models. Both Intel and AMD are about to introduce new mobile processors and a new generation of touch enabled Ultrabooks is also on the way.

Taipei Times reports that Quanta, the world’s leading notebook ODM, is simply not receiving many orders. International brands are reluctant to place large orders, as better gear is just around the corner.

The really bad news is that things will not pick up anytime soon. Weak demand will plague the market well into the fourth quarter of 2013.

There are some technical challenges as well. Next generation hybrids and convertibles aren’t making much of an impact on the market yet. A shortage of touchscreen panels means that the production of touch enabled notebooks won’t pick up until later this year, which will roughly coincide with the rollout of new Intel mobile chips. SSDs remain prohibitively expensive for some market segments and they are still reserved for quite pricey SKUs. The same goes for high definition 1080p screens in sub 14-inch market.

In other words, consumers who don’t opt for high end devices really don’t have much of an incentive to upgrade.

On Monday, just a year before XP goes

framedwindowsThis coming Monday will mark just one year until Microsoft ends extended support for Windows XP. Vista was a joke – but Windows 7 is quite good, and companies are being urged to upgrade their OS before exposing themselves to unnecessary risk.

Microsoft has itself advised companies to upgrade to 7 or 8, but according to a report from 1E, under a quarter of surveyed companies had migration in place. Just under half said they were in the process of upgrading – meaning headaches for IT departments if they do not get their upgrades guaranteed in time. 1E warns that with just a year left to complete that migration, it won’t be long before budgets are complicated by costly extended IT support.

In a statement, Sumir Karayi, CEO of 1E, said businesses will be under threat of security risk unless they upgrade their IT systems in time – and the migration should be done with as little disruption to the business as possible.

“Organisations that are not yet off the starting blocks or only a little way down the track are highly unlikely to complete before the Microsoft deadline,” Karayi said. “Whether the delay is because they misunderstood the sheer scale of the project, or that they are coming across technical hurdles, it means they cannot confidently predict when they will finish or how much it will cost them”. The prospects, Karayi warns, are a little grim – “few IT teams will have ever experienced such a complex migration,” he said.

Karayi said 1E leans toward fully automating the process on as many as machines as possible instead of partiallyautomating the process for every machine, because it can lead to 80 to 90 percent less desk visits. Using a totally automated approach “means organisations can deploy literally thousands of machines per day,” which is the “only way to get migrated within the available time”.

Camwood, a migration services company ‘s CEO Adrian Foxall said IT knows full well that the end of Windows XP is around the corner, but business isn’t paying as much attention.

“In these tough economic times, it is not surprising that business leaders do not want to invest a substantial amount of money in something that essentially isn’t broken, as is the case with Windows XP today,” Foxall said. “But with an estimated 40 percent of business desktops still running Windows XP and with the clock ticking, IT and the board need to join forces and work together to migrate to a new OS that will support their organisation now and into the future”.

If they don’t, companies will be putting themselves “in jeopardy”.