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How Microsoft Could Dominate Everything With Windows 9

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This isn't a Windows 8 hate post since everyone (including Microsoft) already knows it was a mistake, this is just hope that Windows 9 could complete the cycle of every-other-Windows you sometimes hear people mention. Skipping Windows Vista for the next one was a thing, so Microsoft probably has one more chance to dominate the market like in the days of yore.

This pattern is very clear. A long time ago, even I started to play my cards for other operating systems wondering if the next Windows after Windows Vista was going to be even worse or not any better. My older and first set of Linux Game Programming Tutorials for Windows Programmers was a direct response to this. I don't hate Linux, but it just didn't have that feel Windows XP had. It didn't have that support and frontier variety of programs available for it (almost everything that you could find on Linux you could also get for Windows XP at the time PLUS you had tons of Windows-only software). Windows Vista had all of Microsoft's Live services welded into it, marrying all their services into your one stop Microsoft paradise... Yeah, sound familiar? Was it any wonder why, on a fresh CD install of Windows 7, you were greeted with a barren blank desktop and a start menu with like 8 things in it? And if for some reason you liked all those Microsoft Live services you could go and grab them from the website. Even better, you could pick single programs out of the set (like Windows Movie Maker).

But your average computer/tablet user has no idea about the giant ecosystem of software available for Windows XP and Windows 7. They don't understand how wonderful it is to use big box commercial software and open source software on the same system. You could install whatever you please from wherever you please, rather than Windows 8 where Microsoft is trying for the 80000th time to be the ultimate gatekeeper- to decide what you can and can't use on your PC and to remove software off your machine at their whim. You didn't have to tie it to an online profile thing, with Windows 7 you can type whatever user name and pick a weird little picture and you're ready to go. Your average user these days is used to the machine being in control, recording their every movement and knowing only one place you went for new software (I mean 'apps')... On an Android or iPad.

I am not your average user, I am one of the developers. I care about these things as it has become embedded in my culture. The computer is my means to create whatever I wanted, to connect to whomever I wanted, and to share my work with other developers. We eradicate all the software previously loaded on our laptops and usually build our desktops altogether. We want huge displays, real tactile keyboards, solid mice, and the traditional start menu which is in everything including non-Windows OS (Linux MATE, XFCE, etc. anyone?). Sure Ubuntu drank the same tablet interface Kool-Aid, but you can just swap the window system and go about your merry way- just install XUbuntu or Linux Mint. We have like 50 windows and terminal screens open all at once, we've tiled and snapped them all over the screen, our productivity is second to none. I didn't hate Windows 7 at first, I fell deeply in love since the beta- it was the same start menu and taskbar but improved with options that help developers (you can put almost anything as an icon on the taskbar, you can slam a window to the edge of a screen as a shortcut for side-by-side, you can disable AERO and have a Windows 2000-like style, etc.).

The times have changed, lots of our end users embraced the whole tablet thing. The tools for creating new things for use on tablets exist on enough operating systems that we have a choice. We can create an environment to each of our likings. It's way too easy for you to tell Microsoft where to stick their new operating system and develop new software and actually have a nice sizable market to release to, this wasn't true back in the days of Vista. There is a way for them to come back, it all lies in Ballmer's famous mantra "Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers!".

What if Windows 9 could pass the Mojave test and be configured such that a Windows 7 user would have no idea it isn't 7? It could easily be set to always boot to the desktop environment and for it to really be the desktop environment, start menu and super taskbar intact. I don't trust any 3RD party software that attempts this, and they don't quite offer it anyways. But it would be just as easy to run a program in Windows Metro mode? Imagine if new users of Windows 9 are greeted with only 3 live tiles or no icons and just a few things in the start menu like Windows 7 did. It didn't require you to sign in all the time with a live account or even ask you ever in the first place, if it was moved to the back as an option you have to ask for. If Microsoft could recapture how amazing Windows 7 was for developers, then all the developers would actually use it for work. Then they would consider developing for Windows Tablets because testing for Metro would be ready at hand.

Everything would trickle down from the developers and you would see that Windows 9 market share trend up and take over at 50% or more like Windows 7 had. It sounds a little too hopeful at this point since it was rumored Microsoft would double-down on forcing Windows Metro at you again. The future isn't so dark, Linux has come a long way. This time is different, you will have options even if Microsoft decides you shouldn't.

4 Comments On This Entry

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22 January 2014 - 08:47 AM
First, I'll state openly that I dislike Windows more than I like any other OS. I probably dislike it more than I like all other operating systems combined, so feel free to call me biased. A big reason for disliking Windows is that Microsoft has never seen the end user as a customer, so they've never made a real effort to learn how to create a decent user experience. Even when they do something right, it's well after others have shown the way. Witness the gui, the browser, mp3 players, and touch screen phones as examples. All MS products in those areas were and are "me too" products produced well after the market was established by true pioneers.

Windows in any flavor has always depended on the ability of IT to lock out other operating systems. That ability - and even the desire to use it - has been in decline for some time. Combined with the rise of the IOS and Android ecosystems in the consumer space and even in the enterprise, it's going to be a hard sell for any new version of Windows unless Microsoft is first to market with something truly new and significant that users (not just developers and IT people) will love. I doubt that's going to happen. I doubt MS is even trying to make it happen. They're still too focused on protecting their enterprise turf.


23 January 2014 - 09:54 AM
True, but developers have to also love it is my main point. Without them, you have no software ecology. iOS and Android have it. Windows failing to cater to developers is not too new a thing (it began with the Windows Phone a while back).

I also agree Microsoft built their business on making monopolized copied products, but I loved that about them. There's this odd misconception that ideas are worth anything at all- it's the money and workhours that implement it which is the real worth. I was a diehard Windows fan ever since Windows XP (probably because it's the first consumer Windows to use the NT Kernel). I used to have the blue dog Windows NT-tan avatar for the longest time.. Though you'll notice I keep talking about the OS and none of their forgotten products (what's a Zune?).

This might be the end though. They could've conquered the new market easily, but this time I feel they already dug themselves an early grave. I seriously doubt I'll get that love-at-first-sight when I run Windows 9 beta like I did Windows 7.


23 January 2014 - 01:16 PM
Yes, developers have to love it, and yes, they love IOS and Android, so if Windows is going to have a chance they also need to love developing for it. That's different from saying that developers loving it will make it successful.

Honestly, I don't understand what you love about them. Yes the details matter, but the details show up in the user experience. It's not nearly enough to be able to get a job done. You need to be able to do it without driving the user crazy. As far as I"m aware and I admit I avoid using it whenever possible no version of Windows has a good user interface. To make matters worse they do really stupid things like dividing the OS into arbitrary "market segments" like "business" and "home" users. These things were actually a help to Windows in the early days, as IT people never felt threatened by Windows. It was so difficult that PC users would always need their help. It's a different world now, and MS keeps demonstrating that they don't see it.

I agree they could have conquered mobile, but they had no imagination and they still thought they could sell boxes to businesses and consumers would blindly follow along. As a result, their mobile OS was laughable. Few noticed at the time, but as soon as the iPhone was announced it was obvious to everyone how far out of date they were. They need to leapfrog everyone else by a wide margin if they want to avoid a long slow spiral into oblivion. I don't think they know how to do that. Even if they did I don't think you can catch Apple or Google flat-footed now.

I admit that part of me thinks it couldn't happen to a more deserving company, but another part feels sad that they've wasted so much power slowing the growth of technology when they could have really driven the technology forward.


29 January 2014 - 01:20 PM
"That's different from saying that developers loving it will make it successful."

This is exactly what I was saying though. You don't write software ON an iPad or Android (you could, but then you could also program with your laptop upside down while singing Chousai Kenbo Sengen and it would still be more enjoyable than developing while in Windows 8). You write software on your more standard machine (other Windows, Macs, PCs, etc.). Even Apple of all companies didn't force you to use their mobile interface on their iMacs- the very company I would expect to pull this kind of shit.

You don't invest and entrench yourself in being The Working Peoples' Operating System and suddenly about face. At least with the GNOME 3 mess, you can shrug your shoulders and replace it with something else. It's the only window toolkit we have on my work machines which is why I try working on my laptop or over SSH instead. I don't avoid GNOME 3 because I couldn't but because I won't. At least in the open source world you can fork and use MATE. The one thing I loved about Windows is the same thing I hate- the monolithic design.

Though if you were never a loyal Windows user/developer, you were never important to them since they never won you over in the first place. Let's reverse it. It was previously difficult to get people to leave Windows for Linux, but it's much easier when Microsoft scares you away.
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