Microsoft says everyone is switching, and no one is believing it

On certain ocassions, lately more often than not, we found clickbait on sites that we respected and trusted. Someone from those sites says something and we should believe it.

The problem is, we shouldn’t.

It’s dissappointing to see that mostly everyone has took the bait with the Microsoft post about its wonderful year with its Surface division:

More people are switching from Macs to Surface than ever before. Our trade-in program for MacBooks was our best ever, and the combination of excitement for the innovation of Surface coupled with the disappointment of the new MacBook Pro – especially among professionals – is leading more and more people to make the switch to Surface, like this. It seems like a new review recommending Surface over MacBook comes out daily. This makes our team so proud, because it means we’re doing good work.

Microsoft, could you please give some actual data? I can’t believe a word you say, and I certainly can’t not understand the scope of that statement if you don’t give me actual numbers. That post would be true if, for example, no one would have ever switched before from a Mac to a Surface, and now there was at least 1 or 2 people doing it.

We need to have context. What are you comparing, in which region, in which data range, and of course the real sale numbers. It’s not enough to insert a link to one switcher’s story.

I want to believe, Microsoft. Except I can’t.

Windows 10 on ARM could (should) be a game changer for Microsoft

Windows RT, the version of Windows with native support for ARM processors, failed miserably due to lack of support by developers. Other recent efforts to conquest the mobile space also came to nothing: Project Islandwood and Astoria (port iOS and Android apps to Windows) didn’t get the interest they requested, and it seemed that every attempt on this space was cursed from the beginning.

This situation could really change with the recent announcement from Qualcomm, who has showed how their ARM processors can finally run Windows 10 and Windows software quite well thanks to emulation.

We’ll have to see if this “quite well” is “really well”, but it seems clear that the latest mobile CPUs are really powerful. In fact, most of us underutilize that hardware, so taking advantage of it by supporting this platform could be specially interesting.

This support opens the gate to future smartphones that can become real PCs thanks to Continuum (the problem with Continuum on the Lumia 950/XL was similar to the one Windows RT had), but there are also a nice set of opportunities for new convertibles: a Surface Pro could last longer and include 4G/LTE connetivity for example.

That poses a real opportunity for Microsoft in the mobile space at last, and a real threat for its rivals, who had the software advantage and now could be competing in equal terms. It’s still too soon to judge the result, but this is one of the most promising things Microsoft has in its sleeve.

Let’s hope it’s not the last one.

Source: Microsoft now has the tools to make the Surface Pro the ultimate mobile computer – The Verge

Yoga Book: Going beyond the tablet

The guys at The Verge have done a fine job by discussing how the new Lenovo Yoga Book came to life. This is a hardware device that, as Nilay Patel has said over at Twitter, is the first fascinating one in a long time.

The new and impressive Instant Halo Keyboard won’t be perfect for many people, but I’m sure the trade-off is worth it. Being able to type, write and draw on the same surface is a great deal, and not many hardware makers would have thought of an option as creative and bold as this.

In fact, there’s one company everyone would think of if asked which could be responsible of that innovation. That company, of course, was Apple.

It hasn’t been that one for some time now. The problem is, this is becoming the new normal.

Apple should have done something like this. Lenovo? Not in a million years.

And here we are.

The Chromebook question

I’m currently on vacation so I’ll write less often. I’ll keep reading what’s going on thanks to Twitter and my smartphone, and yesterday I found an interesting article titled ‘Why I left my new MacBook for a $250 Chromebook. There are a few good arguments there to defend a platform that previously wasn’t that easy to support.

The first one: we spend more and more time working and entertaining ourselves on the cloud. There’s an inherent problem there in my opinion: being too much dependent on those services and their servers is really nice and convenient, but you could find yourself losing everything you had there -so safe, so secure, right?- if you are not careful enough.

The second one: Chrome OS support for Android apps is coming, so suddenly we’ve got something that gives us a truly convergent platform from Google. It may be not Remix OS, but it’t a really good way to way to solve the problem taking advantage of both the virtues of Chrome OS and Android. Google seemed pretty stubborn when asked if Chrome OS and Android would merge eventually, and this kind of support finally answers this question.

Mobile and desktop computing, together at last.

This makes Google the owner of one of the greatest and more powerful software platforms ever developed. Only the App Store could compete here, because Microsoft has fallen behind in a segment it owned for so long.

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The author from that post gave a few examples of some apps from OS X that had pretty good alternatives in Chrome OS thanks to their web application versions, but this is almost anecdotal when now we’ll have access to a software catalog with more than 2 million apps -there’s certainly a lot of useless ones- to solve our needs and never look back again to a pure desktop OS.

That could take some time, of course, but for me that conquest of the desktop from mobile OS is the future. Why not buying a Chromebook yet? The time hasn’t come for me yet, but I’ve recently crowdfunded the Superbook at Kickstarter, a device I find even more interesting on the short term.

Better and faster Chromebooks will come in the Fall with the announcement of the final version of Android N. These machines will of course support Android apps as one of their selling points, and maybe there we’ll start to see where this kind of merger develops. Chrome OS and Android will make sense on desktop machines too, so we¡ll be living interesting times on this front as well.

Windows 10 is the annoying boyfriend nobody wants

Windows 10 is a great operating system. It has great features and it’s an ambitious bet for convergence and platform unification. The problem is that once again Microsoft has had big trouble selling its product.

The message was neither clear nor complete. The user was the girl wanting to be conquered. Windows 10 was the aspiring boyfriend.

But it became a boring boyfriend.

It has been unclear on its privacy policy, but it also has been too persistent on trying to conquer that girl. And girls get pretty tired of annoying boys. Those continuous attempts to make users upgrade from their old Windows 7/8/8.1 systems have been more and more irritating, but this final effort has been too much.

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Most girls will say no to the annoying boyfriend. The problem is, many of them could decide they finally want to give this boy and opportunity. And after July 29th they’ll have to pay.

I wonder how many of them will cry out loud and complaing again. At first it was privacy and annoying messages. Later on they will complain about the boy not being free anymore.

Huawei challenges Android with a backup plan

Amir Efrati on The Information:

And to hedge its bets against Google’s control of Android, Huawei is also secretly developing an alternative mobile operating system, according to three people briefed about the project.

Android forks do exist, but not all companies can offer a compelling alternative. The problem lies in Android Apps and Services: although things like the Play Store are not that important in China -where this backup plan makes more sense-, the store and the rest of Google services linked to the Android operating system make this platform difficult to beat.

Amazon is a good example of a success story here, but only on its niche of Kindle tablets. Cyanogen seemed promising but its presence is now not so prominent, and Microsoft, the only company that could have an interesting fork of Android with its services, prefers not to mess with that -although they did with the Nokia X phones-.

I wonder why Huawei would risk its good relationship with Google -they make the Nexus 6P- with a move that’s not so clear if you look outside of China.

Anyway, the move is entertaining for us, users and media. We’ll see where this leads to.

The Xbox One will focus on games, and that’s a good thing

When Microsoft launched the Xbox One it made it in two different keynotes: one devoted to TV and video content, and the second one devoted to games. This console was meant to conquer our sitting room and be our entertainment hub, but users spoke: they just wanted games, and that’s what ultimately made the PS4 gain a big advantage.

Microsoft didn’t surrender of course, and they announced a DVR capability for the Xbox One that was supposedly coming to the console sometime this year. It won’t finally:

Microsoft is no longer planning to add a TV DVR feature to its Xbox One console. The software giant originally unveiled plans to add TV DVR to the Xbox One back in August, noting that the feature would arrive some time in 2016. “After careful consideration, we’ve decided to put development of DVR for Over-the-Air TV on hold to focus our attention on launching new, higher fan-requested gaming experiences across Xbox One and Windows 10,” revealed a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to The Verge

Users want games? They’ll have games.

Source: Microsoft isn’t adding a TV DVR feature to the Xbox One anymore | The Verge

Microsoft’s ‘mixed reality’ sounds like a confusing plan B

Terry Myerson at Computex 2016:

Today, we announced that Windows Holographic is coming to devices of all shapes and sizes from fully immersive virtual reality to fully untethered holographic computing. Today we invited our OEM, ODM, and hardware partners to build PCs, displays, accessories and mixed reality devices with the Windows Holographic platform.

It’s good to hear that Microsoft opens up its platform and allows others to develop its own devices, but this feels weird. Why would anybody want to invest time and resources in something that hasn’t proved anything?

The same happens with that new ‘mixed reality’ concept that Microsoft has been talking about. Combining VR platforms with AR platforms could be interesting, sure, but Microsoft seems to be the weak one in this battle. HTC and Oculus have the winning hand (or at least a better hand) because they’ve already showed that this platforms can do something that interests certain kind of users.

All Microsoft has given us at this point is nice promo videos.

My PC is good enough

Yesterday I wrote at Incognitosis (in Spanish) about the latest data that Canalys published about the PC segment. The numbers are crude but real: sales are down for all hardware makers, and even Apple is feeling the pressure.

Analysts from that firm suggested -not really a new argument- that the smartphone is guilty for that reality, but there is at least one more reason:

Your PC (or laptop) is good enough.

I made two polls that would be useful to confirm that idea, but the results were not so definitive as I would have thought. The first question, “How many years have you been using the same PC or laptop?” was pretty conclusive: 7 out of 10 users have a machine that is at least 3 years old.

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The second question was more interesting: “Are you thinking of buying a new PC or laptop?“. The answers were pretty different from what I would have assumed:

encuesta2

As you may see there (although the poll is in Spanish) there are many people here who is thinking in buying a new desktop PC (around 40%) or a new laptop/convertible (46%) in the next three years. I think my audience is really tech related -the same happens here- so the poll isn’t that definitive in either case, but I would have thought of much more reduced percentages there.

After analysing the results, there’s an obvious fact: we updated our old PCs because we had to. If we didn’t, we were just missing the future. We wouldn’t have been able to enjoy those exciting features Windows and its apps and games were giving us. We always want more, but in that case we also needed more in order to  avoid falling behind.

That’s not the case anymore. The market is mature and most people feels no need to upgrade or buy a new PC. Their machines are good enough, and Microsoft has made a big mistake with Windows 10, an OS that runs even better than Windows 8 or Windows 7 in old hardware. What happened with minimum requirements? Suddenly the equation didn’t work for us. And that’s a tragedy for Microsoft, Intel, AMD and all the rest of companies that once were successful thanks to that feeling of being compelled to buy a new PC.

Too bad.

Update to Windows 10 now. Pretty please?

Microsoft has applied all kind of tricks -some of them quite dirty- to try to make Windows 10 its most succesful OS ever, but adoption rate quickly slowed down. The numbers are solid –300M active users at the moment- but not great, and this announcement is different from others.

It’s different because you can see Microsoft is actually begging you -at least, that’s the feeling one gets after watching the video– to upgrade to Windows 10. Even the final sentence in the official announcement from Microsoft’s blog reflects that:

If you’ve already upgraded to Windows 10 – thank you. If you haven’t upgraded yet – we hope you’ll consider upgrading today.

That’s not a good sign and reflects a weak position from a software developer that hasn’t been convincing enough on his proposal. What has failed? Difficult to say, but marketing and communication haven’t been what we expected. Nagging users, downloading the OS to your computer without asking or making us worry about privacy issues haven’t helped.

It will be difficult to solve this problem, and the fact that the upgrade won’t be free in two months time makes Windows 10 situation more problematic. So upgrade now.

Pretty please.