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simon collis

musings of an omnivorous biped

A while ago I did a post of news about Microsoft. I’ve been collecting things that catch my eye ever since, and they do worry me about my career as a Microsoft developer. Like many developers in the Microsoft ecosystem, I need Microsoft to be strong and take the fight to the opposition. Unfortunately, right now, that ain’t happening. Here’s more news. For me, it’s grim reading.

  1. Apple’s iPad Mini makes up 60% of iOS sales – and next year iOS is predicted to outsell ALL versions of Windows
  2. Intel are recommending PC manufacturers make Android laptops – that’s right. Not Windows ones.
  3. Microsoft’s stock slides after dismal PC shipment reports
  4. Windows 8 blamed as PC sales slide 20%
  5. while Apple keeps on growing
  6. Goldman rates Microsoft’s stock as a sell
  7. Netflix drops Silverlight – although to be fair, Silverlight has been moribund for ages
  8. Microsoft now supports Linux on its cloud services – another Rubicon crossed
  9. Apple makes 5 times more profit than the 5 biggest Windows PC makers combined
  10. Even Microsoft’s chum Intel is suffering as profits drop 25 percent
  11. Google predicts there will be 1,000,000,000 Android phones out there by the end of the year
  12. Popular (with shareholders) CFO Peter Klein left after the Q3 results (why? what does he know that we don’t?)
  13. while Google’s revenues are up a massive 31%
  14. Apple’s lead in tablet usage stakes is brutal
  15. Microsoft is bringing back the Start button – an unexpected (if welcome) u-turn
  16. After good numbers for Q3, they’re bracing themselves for bad news from Windows
  17. although those good numbers are a bit of smoke and mirrors
  18. Another one bites the dust: IBM’s trying to sell its x86 server business – and that’s a good move, according to IBM resellers
  19. Analysts say Windows on ARM is as good as dead – leaving Microsoft’s only hope as Intel
  20. Blackberry sales are resurgent
  21. Microsoft won’t be buying Nokia
  22. while Huawei could well be (and they’d probably ditch Windows Phone if they did)
  23. IDC says Windows 8 has put the world’s PC market to sleep
  24. There’s STILL no Instagram for Windows Phone
  25. Microsoft whistleblower suggests Windows losing to Linux
  26. Yes another one bites the dust as Samsung leaves the PC biz

I haven’t even listed half the articles I’ve collected since last time. I haven’t mentioned the Xbox One DRM fiasco either. Or how EU governments are banning US based cloud services over PRISM.

It’s getting worse.

Where did I put that book on iOS development? Time to fire up my copy of XCode…

Dishonesty, Dishonestly

Posted by simon on 2013/06/12
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It’s funny how all the disclosures about the NSA’s PRISM spying programme have mentioned specific things that companies don’t do, such as handing user content over to the US Government, but don’t mention what they were accused of: sending communications metadata in bulk. Read the disclaimers: Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook… they all say much the same thing.

Of course, it’s easy to deny something you’ve never been accused of in the first place. But also failing to deny the thing you were accused of – that looks suspicious.

Another reason to be more careful online. Personally, I use StartPage as my search engine because IxQuick that runs it is based in the EU, not subject to US law and doesn’t provide information to the US government.

Now it looks like more reasons to use other systems too.

How long will cloud services from Microsoft and others survive? I’m sure EU governments are already considering a move, and it’s likely they’ll impose the same standards on their providers. It’s not enough to close these services, but it doesn’t help.

These disclaimers though… thou canst not equivocate to heaven.

PS: apologies to My First Tooth for blatantly misquoting one of their song titles. I couldn’t find it on YouTube either, so here’s the video for “Past Broadcasts“:

Many of the press are reporting that the immediate departure of Steven Sinofsky, head of the Windows division, is a bad thing. Wall Street isn’t happy, they report. And yet, I can’t help thinking that this is a really good thing for Microsoft.

To be honest, the Surface has had modest sales. It’s not been the success many people were hoping for. The fairly pleasing early sales of Windows 8 might well be down to a huge discount (as low as $19.99, depending on when you buy it, or bought your PC) for downloadable upgrades. Many corporates, however, will be content to wait for Windows 9 – and many of those are still upgrading from XP, of course.

But this is a sea change – a complete change of focus to make Windows more relevant in the new touch tablet era. So why is the departure of the man who made it happen such a good thing?

If Windows 8 failed, the argument ran, the targets on the backs of both Steve Baller and Steven Sinofsky would be obvious to Wall Street. With Sinofsky gone, Ballmer now has the freedom to restructure. More importantly, he has someone to blame. Windows was one of Microsoft’s biggest cash cows – any blip in it can easily be attributed to its previous manager’s missteps, and corrected.

Of course, that’s a high risk strategy for Ballmer, but there are plenty of corporates who will sit on their hands and just pay the Select Agreement fees, thus fending off the end of the franchise for another dozen years yet. Windows doesn’t need to be relevant, except in the corporate world, if Microsoft don’t feel they want it to be. Other than the perpetually money-losing Xbox division, Microsoft’s not in consumer-land to a great extent (Zune? Bob? Encarta?) so it’s not such great shakes if Windows doesn’t enter the consumer market that much.

But the main issue, of course, is Ballmer’s beloved “developers, developers, developers“. With the confusion over .Net, the way that Windows Store is based around Windows RT, and that Windows 8 pretty much deprecates .Net, throwing away ten years of hard work building up the ecosystem around the very successful .Net / Visual Studio platform, many developers have been feeling that Microsoft just wants to make their life harder, not easier – as though MS doesn’t want a nice populated app store (the fact that they have two of them – one for Windows 8, one for Windows Phone – is a facepalm of catastrophic magnitude, but that’s an aside).

The truth is, in my view, the departure of Sinofsky is one of the best things that could have happened to Microsoft in years – before he did much more damage.

Citizen Khan

Posted by simon on 2012/08/30
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It’s quite rare that I blog about something that’s been on television (well, at least, that’s been on television more recently than twenty years ago, anyway), but with the controversy surrounding the BBC’s new show Citizen Khan. Apparently, the BBC have had over 200 complaints that it’s “disrespectful to Islam”, and may be investigated by OfCom. So I thought I’d take a look myself. Read more

The results are in, and it’s a massive win for Apple against Samsung. At least, for now.

First off, there will be appeals, of course – there always are. It’s highly unlikely Apple will see the full damages – and they’ve annoyed a major supplier into the bargain.

But before Apple fans get too excited, this little tiff could have some serious downsides for Apple. Read more

All Surface, No Feeling?

Posted by simon on 2012/07/16
Posted in NewsTechnology  | Tagged With: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Microsoft just took a huge gamble. A mega big one. And I’m not sure if they’ve already lost.

Let me start with the background. A few months ago, they announced Microsoft Surface, a shiny Lumia blue tablet thing (apparently it’s hit production problems already – who’dathunkit?)

Today, they announced that Windows on ARM – you know, WinRT – would “include” Microsoft Office. What does “include” mean? Is it included in the price, is it ad supported, like Office 2010 Starter? Or will it require an Office 365 subscription in order to use it? Read more

Reading this article makes me realise how much like a terrorist I actually look…

  1. Use Google Maps to find your way around a strange city.
    If your sense of direction is as good as mine, every city’s a strange city. Even the one you were born in. (Yes, I have used Google Maps to get round York, thanks for asking…)
  2. Use Google Maps to view photos of sports stadiums.
    Given that I have never worked in one, I’ve never actually had reason to go to one. I once went to a meeting at Newbury racecource, but that was before the days of Google Maps – does the “AA Book Of The Road” count?
  3. Install online privacy protection software on your personal computer.
    So if they confiscate your laptop at airport security and find it riddled with viruses, then you’re A-OK. Apart from the fact that cyberscammers have all your money, so you can’t afford to fly in the first place. Hmm, I think I see a flaw in this somewhere… Read more

Cameron’s Big Brother u-turn

Posted by simon on 2012/02/20
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One of the big promises Cameron’s Tories made during election campaigning was that they would “roll back the surveillance state”. Unfortunately, the u-turn has arrived – the ConDem coalition has resurrected the much-reviled previous government plan to monitor every phone call, tweet, email, Facebook post and make that information available to “law enforcement” at any time, presumably for any purpose (after all, isn’t this what usually happens with these sort of things – scope creep?)

Of course, the big u-turn hasn’t been announced yet, and they’ve already got their scumbag answer to privacy and civil rights campaigners ready: “if you are not in support of the new law, you love terrorists and paedophiles”. After all, the Canadian government are already using the same idea in support of their own draconian laws. Read more

BAFTAs 2012

Posted by simon on 2012/02/12
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Just waiting for the BAFTAs for this year to come on, and it makes me think a bit. The last 12 months have seen a really strong line up: The Artist, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Help, My Week With Marilyn, Submarine, Tyrannosaur, The Iron Lady, Senna

I just can’t think of any other year, since 1939, where we’ve had such an embarrassment of riches…

ACTA must be destroyed

Posted by simon on 2012/02/11
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As Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing points out, today is the day to kill ACTA. The UK branch of the Pirate Party is holding demonstrations across the UK against it, and I’m sure many other international Pirate Parties are too.

However bad ACTA is right now, it can only get worse. Article 6.4 creates an “ACTA committee”, a sort of undemocratic, unelected committee to “propose amendments” to ACTA, essentially bypassing any democratic process. And that’s an extremely worrying provision. Read more