I might as well start with a general question that goes: "What is Microsoft's role in the future?" Formerly, their cash machine was enterprises and corporate customers, while gathering some from the consumers. However, given their strategy change to Services & Devices type company, it looks like they are going the Apple route to the consumers. The ground work for the taken route is more and more visible with more seamless integration of MS Store and social media integration to the UI.
As a corporate user, though, I don't like this one bit. I don't want Skype, Twitter or FaceBook feeds on my desktop (or OS keeping the services running, taking my precious free CPU cycles). This is why I'm saying Microsoft should tread carefully on what they are about to do.
Now, on what it comes to genius of Microsoft being a competitor in their own ecosystem, the whole thing is not about what is today. It's about what it likely becomes. And there you get the risk of getting undercut by MS if you start to play that game. Given that yesteryear's GoPro could do 4K video in much smaller package than a laptop, I don't see the connection that MS boosted current laptops to be better. It's more reasonable to think that 4K processing power was coming along nevertheless.
The thing here is that MS decided to go to the upper tier stuff where their OEMs never HAD problems to compete with Apple. It's also happens to be their OEMs most profitable segment per manufactured device. You are comparing the consumer level stuff to Apple high-end laptops, but the reality is, Dell, Lenovo and HP all have had high quality laptops offered before Microsoft even tried to enter the area, and they did not have that much difficulties to compete with Apple.
Additional question is, why is the cheap consumer level stuff then staying at "low quality", and the market never gave it a kick to improve? The answer is, there's a market for cheap devices despite their limitations. This doesn't concern the upper tier so much, but when somebody wanted an upper tier laptop [~2000-3000 €], the customer was not typically a consumer, but an enterprise. Enterprises then could get bulk discounts. Well, at least here.
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...
Great. Tell optical designer to get a bigger screen! Ever seen how many graphs are useful to keep a look on when doing optical design? They take quite a bit of screen estate... And the only functional way to use Office is to use it full screen, as I did when my attention was paid to those chevrons. The point was, this is nothing but a revamped menu-structure with same amount of hoops as before, but less amount of customization. And the reason I'm angry about this, that's called loss of productivity.
Office STILL hasn't a functional equation editor (Open Office did this years ago), still no useful greek alphabet shortcuts like ALT GR+M for micro, and STILL worse image positioning options than in 2006 version of OpenOffice. For the good sides of Office 2010, it did add better graphics presentation options and streamlined doing graphs. Those were good changes and I liked them a lot - and got frustrated by not being able to use them to maximum extend due to UI.
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...
Making a value judgment of somebody's culture is definitely a way to make friends in international business. Sarcasm aside, if you don't know why something is in place, it usually pays to check the circumstances why that is so before doing anything else. Case in point: the privacy requirements do NOT stem from the EU governance, but from the citizens and enterprises themselves. For the question why WE THE PEOPLE in EU are sensitive with respect to that sort of stuff, I think it's better you figure it out yourself.
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.
Nobody in the corporate world that I know of uses the listed Amazon's or Microsoft's corporate cloud services in EU, or in Japan as far as my experience goes. I believe it works for the US as the companies are subject to the same federal law, forming a general framework around them. Since there is no general groundwork law, you're simply stupid to upload data somewhere that you cannot fully control - again, here. The only reason I had to start using Hangout is because I happen to work also with US companies, and that is the best option for them. Is it my preferred venue of remote conferencing? Not by a long shot.
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).
Understandably Valve wants to avoid giving cuts from Steam ecosystem. But that's the point: there's other developers that feel the same. Are you seriously trying to downplay the 30 % increase in costs? It's not a small margin and I would expect to get something for the money. Of course, if this is for low cost apps (and I mean the small ones) you may have a point.
However, the future is more disturbing, as it is likely MS is going and try to extend their cut to EVERY SOFTWARE running in their ecosystem, leading to 30 % increase of costs for all softwares - even those that do not benefit from Cloud integration. And unlike with Apple, this surely wasn't part of the deal before, which is why I see developers being rather wary about moves to that direction.
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.
Re-read what I said.
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.
= Because Microsoft's strategy is going towards Devices and Services, several things can be predicted straight from that. And I don't like what I'm seeing (and that's just me). Coincidentally, because Microsoft keeps on shuffling the UI, requiring me to constantly learn it again, I might make a bigger jump and learn a completely different OS. They never made it easier as UI re-learning is nevertheless ahead. This applies to both home and work.