Build 2014: Microsoft is back on track

By on April 3, 2014 4:08:24 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

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Build is Microsoft’s annual developer’s conference.  It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to one of these.

2014-04-02 12.26.10 HDR

This year, for the first time in some years, I feel like Microsoft is back to their old selves.  It’s like they were in an incompetent funk for a very long time.

Consider the idiocy that has flowed from Redmond in recent years:

  1. Creation of Silverlight and subsequent abandonment (Silverlight was awesome)
  2. Windows Presentation Foundation and its abandonment (WPF was awesome)
  3. The Windows Sidebar and its abandonment (this was just a dumb idea)
  4. Windows Phone 7
  5. Games for Windows Live (good idea, horribly executed)
  6. Microsoft Live’s abandonment (great idea, well executed, abandoned)
  7. Zune
  8. Windows 8 in its entirety (this would be a long list of incompetence)
  9. Windows Phone 7.5 (took like 30 years to get this update out)
  10. Calling the new XBox the XBox One (Seriously, who named this?)
  11. The first iteration of “Windows Store” (You can’t find anything)
  12. Windows RT vs. WinRT (One is the Arm version of the Windows OS, the other is an API designed for making “Modern” apps
  13. Surface RT’s condition when it shipped

As a long time Microsoft watcher, especially as someone whose formative tech years were spent watching the Microsoft of the Bill Gates era behaving with a  combination of ruthlessness and competence (Windows 95, NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, SQL Server, ASP.NET, Win32, .NET, DirectX, the NT kernel, etc.) it has been painful watching Microsoft decline into sheer ineptitude.

But with their new CEO, it seems like it’s a brand new day at Microsoft. In talking, off the record, with many tech leads and managers here at Build, it’s pretty clear that the best and brightest at Microsoft were being held back.

Let’s look at Build 2014 and the sudden coherence of what Microsoft is doing:

  1. They announced WinU, a single API that will work on XBox One, Windows Phone, and Windows allowing developers to use their favorite language (C#, C++, etc.) to make Windows apps that can be recompiled for different platforms.
  2. A new version of Visual Studio that integrates these features into it.
  3. An admission of the foolishness of Windows 8 by bringing back desktop functionality like the Start menu and letting Windows store apps run in a window on the desktop.
  4. The unveiling of Cortana, a developer friendly personal assistant that is leveraged by Microsoft’s vast and varied cloud services (and make no mistake, Microsoft Azure is, by far, the best cloud tech out there)
  5. DirectX 12 which is being designed not just for games but as a platform for creating high performance graphics apps that will work on XBox One, PC, and Windows Phone.
  6. Microsoft services and products being introduced across multiple platforms. This means Office for iPad and the unveiling of Office for Metro.

These 6 steps demonstrate that Microsoft is back in the game.  It’s a brand new day for Microsoft.

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April 3, 2014 5:25:59 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Nice, thanks for the update.  #1 on the second list is pretty intriguing.

 

And I agree on the XBox One bit, horrible branding.

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April 3, 2014 10:55:29 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

'Back on track'....ah, but so much of the journey is just to return from the detour...

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April 3, 2014 11:27:11 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

In addition..........I like what I'm hearing about the Windows Phone 8.1 update which is due to be finished and released soon.

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April 3, 2014 11:49:27 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

I just had a gut feeling that Microsoft would emerge from the tenure of Steve Ballmer to become a force to be reckoned with again, and that Satya Nadella would bring about a fresh wind of change.  Hopefully this is the dawn of a bright new era for MS, under bright new management and with a revitalised team, because Ballmer was never the right man for the job... period! 

For mine, Ballmer lacked the X-factor and the vision that makes a great CEO, and as you pointed out, some rather atrocious decisions were made under his watch.  I dunno, just the look of the man suggested 'dull and boring' to me, like he had no personality or anything else to instill any confidence in the company he worked for.

Having said that, I do like using Windows 8/8.1 and believe it to be the best OS Microsoft has produced to date.  I use it exactly as I did Win 7 and enjoy better speeds and utilisation of my hardware, so I have no complaints [except for the retirement of Aero] plus there's the addition of the Modern Interface and apps should I need to use them.   It's just a shame that its lead engineer, Steve Sinofsky, was made the scapegoat for some very bad decisions made higher up the food chain.... he was one of the best and brightest and he didn't deserve to be crucified like that.

Quoting Jafo,

'Back on track'....ah, but so much of the journey is just to return from the detour...

It won't take them long to be ship-shape again!  The new CEO does instill confidence in the company, and he will bring back innovation and a better direction for the future, I'm sure.

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April 4, 2014 12:57:12 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Great read.  Although one item took me by surprise, "#2 Windows Presentation Foundation and its abandonment". How do you figure this?

 

I hope you see this as I really like your insight.

thanks

 

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April 4, 2014 5:58:04 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Ah, Leo, snuck this in while I wasn't looking...

Quoting Leo the Lion,

In addition..........I like what I'm hearing about the Windows Phone 8.1 update which is due to be finished and released soon.

Me too, I have a Nokia Lumia 820 and am looking forward to receiving this update... and I don't care what anyone says, W8 is the best smartphone OS there is and I luvs it.

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April 5, 2014 11:22:17 AM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Yep, Starkers.........My iPhone gave out on me and I swopped it out for a Lumia...........Best move I've made. I like the WP8 set-up and it won't take much time for Microsoft to catch up with Apple on phones 

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April 5, 2014 2:31:06 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

I'm going to have to disagree Starkers. W8 phones have a lot to be desired. Like the app store. Android has many, many more apps than Windows.

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April 5, 2014 3:49:38 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Quoting kona0197,

I'm going to have to disagree Starkers. W8 phones have a lot to be desired. Like the app store. Android has many, many more apps than Windows.

Honestly, apps are not the be all and end all when it comes to mobile phones.  There are other considerations, such as the UI and ease of use, etc, and for mine [not to mention millions of other W8 users] the Windows phone beats IOS and Android hands down.  So what if Apple and Google offerings have more apps - and how many of those are duplicates/triplicates of others? - apps for the Windows platform are growing all the time and just about everything one could need is available.

I certainly find no shortage of apps, and have no need for many that are on offer, so the Windows Store has more than enough apps for me.  However, I did not purchase the phone based on app preferences and which platform has the most.  My purchase was based on how I felt about the phone itself, whether I liked the UI or not, whether it was easy to use or not, how good is the hardware, and the W8 phone beat the iPhone and Android offerings I'd tried while in-store.

Oh yeah, and  just think about this bit for a moment "W8 phones have a lot to be desired"  Yup, that's what I've been saying all along... that the W8 phone has so, so much to be desired for.

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April 5, 2014 5:11:08 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Actually, I find the Windows UI to be annoying. The Android UI is much easier to use. But that's just my preference.

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April 5, 2014 7:26:25 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums
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April 5, 2014 10:37:21 PM from WinCustomize Forums WinCustomize Forums

Quoting Leo the Lion,

Interesting read on the upcoming WP8.1 update...........

http://www.citeworld.com/article/2139784/mobile-byod/hands-on-windows-phone-8-1-nokia-lumia.html

 

Yes, there seems to be some major additions coming our way.  I like the idea of Cortana and how it remembers user preferences and can tailor make search results based on them, etc.... and how it can issue voice reminders at appropriate times.  All in all, this update looks quite appealing and I can't wait.

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