Editorial

Microsoft wants you to have less hardware, more productivity

During the past week at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference, between the sessions and the keynotes, the goals of the company came into a focus a bit more - or at least, one specific objective of these goals.

Microsoft thinks we have too many devices. We often have two phones, one for work, and one for personal. Two PCs, one for work and one for personal use and the same for tablets, if your company deploys them. It was thought that this need for several devices might go away with BYOD (bring your own device) but alas, this shift does not yet appear to have alleviated the need for multiple work and personal devices.

Satya Nadella and others touched on this by saying that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your productivity because the device you are using is not supported by your employer or that your work device can’t access your personal documents. Microsoft has made it clear that they are the company that helps you get things done and with their new initiative of having software on every platform, that reality is coming into focus.

Nadella said that Microsoft will shine in productivity experiences and this means that every platform from Android to Windows will be able to enjoy premium Microsoft experiences. Of course, we expect Microsoft to promote that Windows ecosystem as offering the best experience but those on Android, iOS and Mac will not have a second-class experience either.

But how will Microsoft take these experiences and blend the line between work and play? Well, that is still a work in process but we can start to see these barriers breaking down with Office on the iPad. During WPC, Microsoft showed off how in Excel on the iPad, data can only be pasted into applications that support the rights management for that software. Specifically, they showed how you could not paste company Excel data in to the mail client that ships with iOS, without the proper permissions on your device.

The point of that demo was to show how even on an iPad, Microsoft is able to secure your data. While not a perfect example of one iPad for both personal and business use, you can start to see the foundation of how digital rights management can work to secure corporate data without having to take over the entire iPad.

Per our conversation with Microsoft employees during the week, they know that the path ahead to deliver on this initiative is not an overnight project. It will take years to perfect the model and more importantly, to get consumers and corporations to buy into this model.

Besides, does anyone really like having to carry around multiple devices that are only separated by rights management? The answer to that question is typically ‘no’ and it’s a problem that Microsoft has the capability to fix and is working on the solution. It's not unheard of to see someone having two devices, both from the exact same vendor in their pockets but because one device is for work and can't have personal data on it; it's a silly problem that can be fixed.

Expect to see small nuances that targets this multi-device problem showing up in future products but the biggest challenge is that it’s not simply getting one application to support this model, it’s getting every application by all vendors to support this goal. While that’s not an easy task, it has to start somewhere and Microsoft is pushing ahead with its own products.

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System that supporting all platforms?

It's absolutely OS within the browser of your 'own' device. Windows 365? Cloud based OS.

Get me a Thunderbolt external graphics card with as much power as a Titan, and I'll replace my desktop and laptop with a Surface Pro 3.

It's possible - however, it's not PLAUSIBLE.
External GPUs for portable computers exist - and exist today. Most of them don't require proprietary connections - at either end. Thunderbolt itself is headed into the mainstreram - largely driven by motherboard/workstation motherboard manufacturers (such as ASUS and GIGABYTE) - LGA1150-baassed motherboards with MULTIPLE TB connections are sub-$200USD today. However, where is the demand for it?

At the risk of beating what might be a dead horse...make a UI that is designed and maximized for the hardware device on which the OS is installed. Productivity, as in content creation, is a function of one's applications and OS user interfaces working well together. Ignore one and the other suffers.

That is, indeed, the OLD paradigm - the niche/specialized device. That paradigm dates back to the first mainframes, and has been almost universally despised - except by those wishing to preserve a monopoly/ogliopoly. As much as Microsoft has been accused of such, they have done more as a company to SHRED that paradigm than any other company in all of IT. (No - I'm not kidding.) Specialization may be all well and good - however, who wants to be locked into a cage forever?

Microsoft is talking about a lack of hardware lock-in - as in Windows not being JUST for Intel/AMD any more. Why is that necessarily a bad thing?

PGHammer said,
Microsoft is talking about a lack of hardware lock-in - as in Windows not being JUST for Intel/AMD any more. Why is that necessarily a bad thing?

It's not, and I think this is the direction Microsoft been going, it's just got realistic it may not be able to be the hardware of choice it's based on in the future.

I may be the minority here, but l love having different devices doing different things. I'm not a fan of the one device device fits all campaign.

JHBrown said,
.....

Do you like having duplicate devices for your home/work life?
That's what he's saying.

It's fine to like consumtion on tablet, productivity on laptop, and communications via phone, but not one of each for work/home activities.
So you can keep your three devices and be just more productive because you're not swtiching between six devices.

JHBrown said,
I may be the minority here, but l love having different devices doing different things. I'm not a fan of the one device device fits all campaign.

I like my phone, but could go Nokia for it (if Sprint offered 1xxx series), but for tablet I prefer android. I use full windows PC for non phone app games, and have PS3&4/X1. I use google tv (X1 not good at having my stereo as primary controller of devices, not the cable box or tv at this time).

Not all the function / services are on every device, and so far I don't see any company accomplishing time for a while since each (Amazon, Google, Microsoft, apple) is trying to get you to there closed off garden). Just look at schools trying to implement the same product, ebooks.

Ok, so Satya Nadella would not mind if I were to dump Windows and install Linux. After all, they'll provide me with "premium" software on Linux as well.

Yeah, then port DirectX and Office dekstop version please.

Thank you, I'll wait! :-)

Dot Catrix said,
Ok, so Satya Nadell would not mind if I were to dump Windows and install Linux. After all, they'll provide me with "premium" software on Linux as well.

Yeah, then port DirectX and Office dekstop version please.

Thank you, I'll wait! :-)

You mean say Office 365 on linux chrome browser.

Jason Stillion said,

You mean say Office 365 on linux chrome browser.


I guess cloud versions of DirectX and Visual Studio are in the making. ;-)

In blabber speach, for some productivity only means using Office 365, using Hotmail/Outlook online and playing games from Windows store.

Ok... :-)

Dot Catrix said,
I guess cloud versions of ... Visual Studio are in the making

Yes this is in the pipeline. With the Roslyn compiler being open sourced they showed a demo at that time of Roslyn running on Azure.

deadonthefloor said,

Yes this is in the pipeline. With the Roslyn compiler being open sourced they showed a demo at that time of Roslyn running on Azure.

That's nice.

So, in other words Microsoft is migrating from a desktop-app vendor lock-in strategy, to a Microsoft cloud lock-in strategy. Brilliant business move, I applaud them.

It's clear as the light of the day that for Microsoft cloud means "Microsoft cloud" and not some other vendor's cloud.

We'll see how this develops in the next few years, it's gonna be interesting.

A cloud-based VS actually is in testing right now - and no, I'm not kidding.
If you go to the Visual Studio portal (visualstudio.com), there is an option to use a team/Azure-based option for enterprise/team-based application development.
While Azure is, for now, sold directly by Microsoft, will that always be the case? So far, everything I have seen on Azure - past, present, and future - says otherwise. In other words, just as with everything else, Azure WILL eventually come out from under the Microsoft umbrella, sold by existing service providers (such as Verizon and Comcast, for example).

Dot Catrix said,
.... vendor lock-in ......

AAAAH... There's the 90s era FUD I miss so much.

If it's a superior cloud it's not really lock-in now is it?

PGHammer said,
... sold by existing service providers (such as Verizon and Comcast, for example) ....

Exactly. Microsoft cloud is publicly available as Azure, but they are working to court the (x)aaS market to redesign their datacenters using the Azure framework. They even open sourced the chassis management software to make it more inviting.

deadonthefloor said,

Exactly. Microsoft cloud is publicly available as Azure, but they are working to court the (x)aaS market to redesign their datacenters using the Azure framework. They even open sourced the chassis management software to make it more inviting.


Nothing new. Facebook did this and even open sourced their data center design and server hardware design.

Dot Catrix said,
Ok, so Satya Nadella would not mind if I were to dump Windows and install Linux. After all, they'll provide me with "premium" software on Linux as well.

Yeah, then port DirectX and Office dekstop version please.

Thank you, I'll wait! :-)

Ha ha love your screen name! And yes, you are right. Since when has microsoft played fair?

Dot Catrix said,

That's nice.

So, in other words Microsoft is migrating from a desktop-app vendor lock-in strategy, to a Microsoft cloud lock-in strategy. Brilliant business move, I applaud them.

It's clear as the light of the day that for Microsoft cloud means "Microsoft cloud" and not some other vendor's cloud.

We'll see how this develops in the next few years, it's gonna be interesting.

Yes and no. You can run your own Azure cloud everywhere you want (including in your own datacenter). But yes, other than that you can't run their services on Google App Engine or Rackspace Open Cloud etc...

However, what if you could run Google's AppEngine, or Amazon EC2, or (insert name of NON-Microsoft service) on Azure? Question is - why couldn't you? Be honest here - what roadblocks running non-Microsoft services on Azure today? You can run Salesforce.com on Azure - right now. You can run Linux distributions on Windows Server 2012R2 today - or even UNIX (such as Oracle Solaris); I personally have done so. That is precisely why IBM is sweating bullets - mainframe-quality of service without the mainframe has been the Holy Grail of computing for how many decades?

It will be the end of deduplication of effort - and arguably the greatest computing triumph since ENIAC.

IBM's not worried. Azure is using intel/AMD hardware, which is fraction of the cost and performance of the IBM power series. For very intensive loads, IBM still wins by far.

IBM is worried - why else are they looking at shopping their mainframe business? I'm not talking services, but the construction, sale and support of mainframes - IBM is literally THE Last Company Standing in the traditional mainframe business. (While supercomputers are physically as large as - or even larger than - traditional mainframes; the original TESLA supercomputer, or the Cray 2, EACH swallow more physical space than the largest mainframe IBM ever built (the System/370 Model 195), neither is as much a general computer as that selfsame System370/195. Supercomputers are hyperniche computing - even Seymour Cray understood that; it's why Cray nearly went broke twice. While supercomputing itself is increasing, it's because there are more niches for it - it's not replacing general-purpose mainframe-class computing, and is not designed to. However, compute power services - including Azure, EC2, etc. - are specifically designed TO obviate mainframes, and to do so on general-purpose - basically commodity - hardware. Hence my referring to "mainframe-class compute power without the mainframe".
Mainframe maintenance and operations is not cheap - in terms of people, power, or any other expense - ask any organization that has one. It is an expense that those selfsame organizations have been wanting to shed for DECADES - not merely years.

Finally, as for IBM POWER, that was a self-serving exercise; POWER is a straight-up repurpose of the FAILED IBM PowerPC RISC CPU - yes, the SAME CPU that was, at various points, running NT and even was found in several models of Apple Macs. That project began when IBM was told (by Microsoft) that NT/PPC was going to be killed off - the chop was called with Windows 2000. IBM had sunk quite a bit into the development of the PowerPC CPU - Apple didn't foot even half the bill. Bill Trammel (remember him?) told the rest of IBM to find a new purpose for the CPU after getting the Bad News from Microsoft about NT/PPC.

And now IBM's POWER is behind a lot of supercomputers... It might have failed in desktop computing, that doesn't mean it's a failure.

And I never said otherwise. However, the failure (and resurrection) of POWER is an example of how fast change comes to IT. And that change had to happen to save POWER. Still, look at the the "poor mainframe". (Yes - I'm being deliberately sarcastic; after all, traditional mainframes, such as IBM's own midsized 43xx of the 1980s, still occupy a quarter of a good-sized room and still costs hundreds of thousands of dollars - and that's just out-the-door costs; throw in people, power, and other costs, and you're still looking at five hundred thousand dollars US per year. That is over and above that out-the-door price.) That is the why behind compute power as a service - including, if not especially, EC2 and Azure. EC2 simply targeted the cost end - EC2 was not planned to be available to everyone - not even every business. Azure was planned to be more ambitious - FAR more ambitious. Azure isn't just bending the cost curve, it (and Windows Server) are bending the availability curve. Because it's a plug-in - a software plug-in - for any SKU of Windows Server 2012 - Azure becomes available to any Thomas, Richard, and Harriet that can afford the server software. Mainframe-class compute power, seamlessly available, for eventually the planet at large. Tell me - what are the pluses for business AND government, along with enterprising individuals, of that? Also, what are the casualties? (Yes - there WILL be casualties; mainframes will simply be the most obvious.) Businesses and governments that either don't keep up with, or fail to plan adequately FOR change, will drown in that failure and go OUT of business. Sticking only to short-term thinking is, unfortunately, a perfect example of that - how many times was IBM caught napping during the last two decades of the twentieth century alone? If you expect to be around for the long term, plan for it - AND have backups just in case you need them.

If they could have a new keyboard accessory for the Surface, not a type "cover" but one that actually makes it a laptop so you don't need to use the built-in kickstand, and for a good price, then that'd be great for it, it'd make it a true laptop when you need it to be one and then a tablet/hybrid with a type cover for those times when you don't need to type much etc.

I don't think it'd be that hard to make such a thing but I could see it taking away from the touch and type cover, sales wise, probably.

dbam987 said,

I already have one of those from Samsung, it's ok but it's hardware isn't anything great really. I'm thinking about MS doing something like that for the Surface which at least has enough hardware inside to give you a good experience compared to my Samsung with it's Atom and 1GB of ram.

George P said,
If they could have a new keyboard accessory for the Surface, not a type "cover" but one that actually makes it a laptop so you don't need to use the built-in kickstand, and for a good price, then that'd be great for it, it'd make it a true laptop when you need it to be one and then a tablet/hybrid with a type cover for those times when you don't need to type much etc.

I don't think it'd be that hard to make such a thing but I could see it taking away from the touch and type cover, sales wise, probably.


that kind of convertibles are always available from other OEM's

x.iso said,

that kind of convertibles are always available from other OEM's

Yes, but nothing wrong from having one for the Surface, maybe with extra battery inside like the new power cover. The problem other OEMs have, still do, is that in order to price so low they give you subpar hardware inside.

While I agree the Surface prices could be lower, i'd say $200 less to start, you do get great build quality, solid support (monthly firmware updates) and good hardware, i3/i5/i7 etc. While the other OEMs are, in most cases, trying to flog whatever the newest intel Atom CPU is, or these Celerons, which are still not close to a i3.

George P said,

I already have one of those from Samsung, it's ok but it's hardware isn't anything great really. I'm thinking about MS doing something like that for the Surface which at least has enough hardware inside to give you a good experience compared to my Samsung with it's Atom and 1GB of ram.

You may want to have a look at the Dell Venue Pro 11 . It has a docking station, a hard keyboard that effectively turns the tablet into a netbook plus the hard keyboard is an additional battery and the processor options range from Atom's to Core i5.

Problem for MS, 90% of the world is unproductive and doesn't want to be productive and just consumes what the 10% produce. Evidence: iPad sales numbers, $80 Android tablet sales numbers, the rise of Chromebooks, the success of the Kardashians. But hey that .1% of consumers that really wants to surf for porn on their work computer is going to be really excited about the new Microsoft strategy.