The most anticipated feature of Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 10, set for release on Wednesday, isn’t some new application. It’s the return of the traditional Start screen, which Microsoft ditched in August 2012, with Windows 8.
For that reason, Windows 10 is a lot like Coca-Cola Classic.
Let me explain.
Microsoft is marketing Windows 10 as “familiar, yet better than ever.”
Hubris in a mature market leader sometimes has a uncomfortable reward. I don’t think it is too late for Microsoft to recover and hopefully Satya Nadella realizes the right way to mine gold from a mature market. Unlike Steve Ballmer.
Tim Culpan and Dina Bass from Bloomberg have got a scoop – Microsoft Said to Cut Windows Price 70% to Counter Rivals:
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is cutting the price of Windows 8.1 by 70 percent for makers of low-cost computers and tablets as they try to fend off cheaper rivals like Google Inc. (GOOG)’s Chromebooks, people familiar with the program said.
Manufacturers will be charged $15 to license Windows 8.1 and preinstall it on devices that retail for less than $250, instead of the usual fee of $50, said the people, who asked not to be named because the details aren’t public. The discount will apply to any products that meet the price limit, with no restrictions on the size or type of device, the people said.
It won’t require products that use the cheaper licensing to complete logo certification, a process that verifies hardware compatibility, one of the people said. Devices aren’t required to be touch-screen compatible, they said.
While the regular Windows list price was $50, some of the largest global computer makers paid closer to $30 after incentives such as marketing funds provided by Microsoft, the people said. Products that receive discounted license fees won’t be eligible for such marketing support and incentives, one of the people said.
Free always beats fee as long as the free product is good enough and Chromebooks are evidently good enough for a lot of folks. Microsoft could try to appeal to the carriage trade like Apple but are way behind on both low end apps and cachet. I don’t really think a price cut is going to give Microsoft much more traction.
The European Union Commission has fined Microsoft Corp. €561 million ($733 million) for breaking the terms of an earlier agreement to offer users a choice of internet browser.
The penalty is a first for Brussels — no company has ever failed to keep its end of a bargain with EU authorities before.
The commission’s top regulator, Joaquin Almunia, said at a press conference in Brussels, Belgium Wednesday that negotiated settlements are vital for enforcement to be carried out quickly. But he warned that the whole point would be undermined if companies then don’t abide by the terms of the settlement.
"They must do what they committed to do, or face the consequences," he said.
Almunia added that the large fine took into account the size and length of time the company violated the terms of its agreement, as well as the need to defer other companies from backsliding on their promises to competition authorities. He said the fine was less than it might have been because Microsoft had co-operated with the investigation.
Quite a profitable racket they have there.
David Pogue at the New York Times: Windows, Revamped and Split in 2:
I mean the two different worlds within Windows 8 alone, one designed primarily for touch screens, the other for mouse and keyboard. Individually, they are excellent — but you can’t use them individually. Microsoft has combined them into a superimposed, muddled mishmash called Windows 8, which goes on sale Friday at prices ranging from $15 to $40, depending on the offer and version.
You can easily imagine how Microsoft got here. “PC sales have slowed,” some executive must have said. “This is a new age of touch screens! We need a fresh approach, a new Windows. Something bold, fluid and finger-friendly.”
“Well, hold on,” someone must have countered. “We can’t forget the 600 million regular mouse-driven PCs. We also need to update Windows 7 for them!”
And then things went terribly wrong.
“Hey, I know!” somebody piped in. “Let’s combine those two Windows versions into one. One OS for all machines. Everybody’s happy!”
Hey, what could go wrong?
Unfortunately, in Windows 8, you can’t live exclusively in one world or the other.
Even if all your programs live in TileWorld, you’ll still have to use Desktop Windows to work with files or disks, connect to networked folders or open the Control Panel. And even if all of your programs live in Desktop Windows, your PC still starts up in TileWorld, and you still have to use TileWorld to perform tasks like searching and address-book lookups.
The free program Pokki helps a lot. It restores the Start menu to the desktop, and can even take you straight there at start-up.
Even so, two worlds means insane, productivity-killing schizophrenia. The Windows 8 learning curve resembles Mount Everest.
When users have to rely on someone else’s free program to make your UI work for them, you have a problem. Pokki isn’t the only one who noticed this either. PC makers like Lenovo and Samsung have their own Start menu programs as do other 3rd party software vendors.