As for Surface...Microsoft's future is dependent upon the entire Microsoft ecosystem being directly competitive with Apple products, specifically. To be quite blunt, Microsoft's hardware partners SUCK ASS. They NEEDED a big, fat, PAINFUL kick in the rear end to knock some sense into them. The mobile windows hardware market has been failing for years...products have gotten cheaper and cheaper, and the quality of those products has tanked right along with price and profit margin.
Well, if that's the way you see it. I see it a bit differently - Microsoft reduced the profitability of these companies up to the point their R&D became mainly small incremental upgrades and now enters the same market, able to out price their hardware due to software licensing costs. Actually, because of this threat, Linux got considerably better video card support from AMD just last year due to Microsoft's actions, and that's just from the top of my head. And what it comes to products getting cheaper, that's probably true. What I don't agree with is quality.
Comparing something to Apple stuff doesn't really impress, it's a company that can't even get their OFFICIAL chargers working (=cutting corners with electrical safety to reduce size of the charger). If we had the same legislation before entering EU, it would not have been even possible to sell the OFFICIAL Apple chargers here due to safety regulation violations.
Generally in Europe, it's considered a bad move to jump to enter the same area as your customers - it is guaranteed to create ill-will, so you really shouldn't be surprised because of this. Funny thing is, this is exactly the recent stuff why Microsoft is not liked, but you're downplaying this example by saying it's a genius move. Well, I don't know, it could be strategical genius at play, but the chances are, you're also taking a risk of alienating your OEMs. It doesn't happen in a second, though, and Microsoft has cash to play. See where I'm getting at?
There is what is "considered", and there is what's actually happening. In terms of what's actually happening, Microsoft's entry into the tablet market has forced their competitors to become competitive. It was a stagnant market. The "cheap" products from Microsoft partners kept getting cheaper and cheaper, shoddier and shoddier, with price points down to a few hundred bucks. There was no quality, because the third-party product manufacturers had built their reputations on cheap and replaceable instead. That wasn't Microsoft's doing.
With Surface now a competitor, and Microsoft primarily competing with the higher end Apple, vs. the ultra low end crap that used to be standard fare for Windows-based products, Microsoft is forcing their PARTNERS to step up their game, enter a higher quality realm that also brings with it the potential for higher profits (as clearly demonstrated by Apple's high profit margins with high quality parts.) Consumers expect, and demand, QUALITY products now...the Windows ecosystem was dying because Microsoft partners designed it to be a CHEAP products venue. Something had to be done about that, otherwise the Windows platform WOULD have died, probably a silent death that no one noticed because there was nothing worth buying.
BTW, Microsoft is NOT price undercutting their other competitors in the windows ecosystem...Microsoft's Surface line is actually fairly expensive, and price cuts have only been because they were NECESSARY in order to increase sales...for comparable hardware, there are many cheaper options than Microsoft's products. There are also even higher quality products from others, like Dell, that rival the value and cost of Apple products.
Is Microsoft's move into the market as a direct hardware player liked by their partners-become-competitors? No, surely not. However that doesn't change the fact that it was necessary. Without Microsoft FORCING their partners-become-competitors to actually BE COMPETITIVE, the entire market would have died. It was RACING towards death already, and racing towards it not really because Microsoft products suck...they don't...it was racing towards death because NONE of the Microsoft/Windows ecosystem products were even remotely competitive with THEIR PRIMARY COMPETITOR: Apple!
I don't deny that Microsoft's move is unpopular and disliked. That doesn't change that it was utterly essential for Microsoft to FORCE their partners to step up their game, and drag themselves out of the muck of the ultra-cheap, ultra-low-quality crapware products they were making, into the higher level game that Apple plays. Apple is the focal point of the mobile computing industry, there is no question about that. Whether they deserve the reputation and respect they have or not, people do adore them and their products. Apple is the baseline...everything else has to be judged by that. A year ago, things still looked pretty bleak for the Windows ecosystem. Today? I just purchased a Dell XPS 15 that tops the specs of a MacBook Pro and Air combined, for less than two grand. It's a SOLIDLY built device that is just as beautiful as any Apple product, well built, blazing fast, fully touch capable. It's a wonderful product. And I HONESTLY do not believe it would have ever come into existence if Microsoft hadn't become a competitor in their own ecosystem.
Sometimes popularity isn't what saves a company...sometimes making the toughest decision possible to spur competition and innovation, even when it's incredibly unpopular, is the right decision. (Just ask Ichan...
The ribbon was a DIRECT response to years of customer feedback on the Office UI. People hated having to dig multiple levels deep within menu systems to find features in Word and Excel primarily. Microsoft designed the ribbon in an effort to solve that exact problem, based on explicit CUSTOMER feedback about the problems with their old Office design. Ribbon was a success in that it brought everything right to the surface, one level deep in a series of tabs.
I know the background of the Ribbon. I've to F______ use it every F______ day. Including Paint (seriously, what the hell Microsoft?) and ZEMAX, whose latest update incorporated it, despite the CUSTOMER FEEDBACK not to go there. Luckily, with professional software, they have to implement menu structure - and I've seen no-one using the Ribbon in CAD software in our house. What it comes to the Office, I agree that user feedback triggered the change, but the change itself is still botched.
You are saying that Ribbon put everything on the surface, right? Take a look on the attached PNG. What is the circled button that I see there? You know, the one that EXPANDS the options in Ribbon? The thing that should NOT exist based on the design criteria? This is basically a RE-VAMPED menu structure for you, with the exception that this is actually WORSE. The expansion button is so small that it's harder to hit than the older text based menu. I actually couldn't find the button first time I needed it!
Add on top the fact that the Ribbon icon size is sort of fixed (I only need the text part, not the graphic icon to begin with - deciphering icons is harder than text). I would like to place much more buttons there, but can't! Because of that, I still can't orient the Ribbon vertically to take advantage of the nowadays wide display aspect ratios. And I've made my opinion known on the Microsoft side.
The little chevron your talking about only appears when the screen size or window size is too small to display the entire ribbon. It's an adaptive thing. There is a LOT of functionality in Microsoft products. Microsoft's options are either to drop functionality, which is 100% guaranteed to cause an uproar...or...find some way of making all the necessary tools available even on screens that are too small to display it all at once.
Try using office maximized on a larger screen. That little chevron your bitching about? It'll disappear...and the entire contents of the entire ribbon will show up on the screen.
Sorry, but I find your complaints about the ribbon just an angry dude finding a reason to be angry about something...
Now your just speculating about Microsoft forcing anything on it's customers. You can still, and will always be able to, buy Office stand-alone. I did. I own a couple stand alone copies. I opted for that, instead of the much cheaper $99/yr Office Cloud standard edition. I prefer to store my data locally...but not everyone does. Some people, some corporations and smaller businesses, much prefer to offload the once-necessary costs and complexities of managing their own computer networks and systems onto a larger business entity that has more talented and effective resources for managing such things.
It could be. And I thought I made it clear this is speculation (though based on several snippets of facts). Getting back there, there's no similar legislation in place for data storage as there is for example book-keeping that small enterprises typically favor too, and data storage is actually much more sensitive area. In Europe, I don't think this would fly - you're simply considered stupid if you do this, until the legal standing is clear. Also add on top that Cloud servers that stay on US soil are suspect for US government actions at any second. This is not to say that your average worker cannot upload anything to Cloud, but he's responsible for the brunt if data loss happens.
I'm very glad I don't live in Europe. The EU has demonstrated for decades that it has a fairly anti-business stance, and the penalties they have levied on large corporations are rather extreme at times. It's a punitive system, constantly punishing, punishing, punishing. I'm not really surprised you hold the opinions you do...I guess the actions of the EU make a lot more sense now...
Cloud is Microsoft's strength. Their biggest competitor there is actually Amazon, and they are making headway, helping spur a competitive market in the cloud services business.
This doesn't make any sense. You're saying Microsoft's cloud is for the enterprise, but as far as I know, Amazon is for consumers. Which is it?
You HAVE heard of the Amazon Cloud Services, right? Amazon is the world's largest online retailer. They couldn't be that if they hadn't developed the technology to support that kind of infrastucture. It was many years ago that Amazon started offering web services to access some of the technological infrastructure they had built, and today, they are the largest provider of core cloud services (i.e. big data, compute cycles, virtualized hosting, etc.) of anyone. Those services are used by enterprise businesses to host...pretty much anything. Even NetFlix is hosted on Amazon's cloud servers.
Microsoft Azure directly competes with Amazon Cloud Services. Microsoft's Cloud Services (i.e. Office in the Cloud) directly competes with Google's web apps. Overall, Microsoft's cloud initiatives are gaining a lot of ground against their competitors.
The way app stores are run isn't really a Microsoft thing. Apple started that trend, and in many ways, it is essential to the protection of consumers. Just look into how many problems and security issues can and have occurred on the Android platform, with it's open app store, vs. how many of those kinds of issues occur on Apple or Microsoft devices. There needs to be some level of buffer, some small barrier to entry, to help weed out the apps that are designed by data and identity thieves for the purposes of data and identity theft, fraud, etc.
I agree with store safety with Android. But, you're saying app store isn't a Microsoft thing. I think here you'll need to look into the future and not in the past as you so readily advised me. Apple is the most profitable high-tech (HAH!) company on Earth, and it stands for a good reason Microsoft has an incentive to go the same way - and this includes orientation towards the consumer. So, the software companies building on Windows ecosystem can also predict that in the future their profit margin drops due to the Microsoft taking a larger share in the Microsoft Store. Which is fine, Microsoft can do whatever they want with their ecosystem and I suppose you get something back for the price, but I'm saying there will be consequences and market share erosion as not everybody will find the properties worth their money. As you are already seeing with the case of Valve. And I never said this had anything to do with Windows 8, but general Microsoft strategy.
Valve was pissed that Microsoft wanted to take a small cut of all in-app sales. Again, that isn't a strategy that Microsoft pioneered...Apple already does that. Valve would have the same problem if they tried to create an app in the Apple store.
As for cost, Microsoft takes the same amount as Apple. They always have. As a matter of fact, Microsoft often gives discounts for app developers, as an incentive, to get them onto the platform. Fundamentally, though, app developers on both platforms pay $99/yr to develop apps, and get 70% of the revenue from the sales. Both companies take 30%, which is then used to cover credit card transaction fees, infrastructural support fees, and the companies cut (which is less than 20% for both companies).
FYI, I was actually supporting Windows against Linux when 7 was released. It's only now that 8 is released and Microsoft's strategy is clear, and it seems consistent UI changes are the norm, I'm considering switching to Linux in next computer update. Microsoft actually never made the jump easier.
I'm not sure what is "consistent" about UI changes. The only two things that changed between 7 and 8 was the start menu...which became a start screen, and the use of ribbons in the core desktop apps (i.e. Explorer). People on Windows have been using ribbon for years now, so it isn't something new. I haven't heard much about that being a sticking point with potential upgraders, either...the biggest complaints are the start screen. But as you can see from other participants in this thread, the vast majority of the complaints about the start screen are entirely unfounded.
Not to mention, if you really want a start menu...you can have it. There are free and cheap utilities to bring it back if that's something you REALLY REALLY want. It isn't enough to avoid upgrading, because everything else about Windows 8 has been improved over Windows 7.