Did Microsoft throw users under the bus?

Moderated by Lawrence Dignan | June 25, 2012 -- 07:00 GMT (00:00 PDT)

Summary: Who are the victims of last week's Surface and Windows Phone 8 announcements?

Jason Perlow

Jason Perlow

Yes

or

No

Mary Jo Foley

Mary Jo Foley

Best Argument: No

The moderator has delivered a final verdict.

Opening Statements

A step back

Jason Perlow: Last week, Microsoft announced its Surface Windows 8 Tablet, breaking its 30-year tradition of being strictly a software company.

While the Surface itself appears to be a solid and innovative piece of hardware, its release will have negative repercussions for the entire PC industry.

In essence, by pre-announcing this device, it has created an "Osborne Effect" for the PC OEMs currently working on similar spec-ed tablets and Ultrabooks who must not only license Windows 8 from Microsoft but also leverage the same ODM component and manufacturing channel, putting them at a serious disadvantage on pricing for many models currently planned for the Fall 2012 and Winter 2013 release timeframe.

While my opponent will surely claim victory for end-users which will now have access to a high-quality Windows device directly from the source, the reality is that in the long term, this will have a negative impact on consumers. The first being vendor and device choice, which has always been one of the primary advantages of being a Windows user and a prime differentiator from using Apple products.

If the Surface succeeds, and Microsoft transitions to being the primary source of Windows PC hardware (and possibly even smartphones), the OEM ecosystem will be irreparably damaged. Second, it puts
Microsoft back in the position of monopolist.

All things considered, a transition towards the Surface and other Microsoft-branded hardware would be a step backwards for the consumer, not forwards. And it damages Microsoft as well, because they would be competing in a very low-margin business against a company that is far more skilled at vertical integration than they are -- Apple.
 

Essential transitions

Mary Jo Foley:  I often am critical of Microsoft's product plans and strategies, but last week, I found myself upbeat about how the Softies are trying to right the ship in Redmond.

The coming Microsoft-designed Surface devices (PCs? Tablets? Pablets? TCs?) combine tablet and PC form factors into single systems running Windows RT (Windows on ARM) or Windows 8 (on Intel). Some are whining that Microsoft's decision to sell Microsoft-branded PCs will hurt existing PC partners.  My take: Microsoft is raising the design bar and finally telling its partners it's time to jump over instead of limbo under it. Yay!

On the Windows Phone front, Microsoft acknowledged the feature-rich Apollo OS update is not coming to existing Windows Phones – the 3% of us who jumped onboard early. To those who say they're surprised that many hardware-dependent (multicore, NFC) features won't be available on existing phones, you shouldn't be. This was strongly rumored for months. Yes, Apollo is a platform reset, but one that’s needed to keep Windows Phone competitive.

If you want a viable third alternative to Apple and Google/Android devices in the future, you’re going to have to endure some sharp strategic turns. It's going to be a bumpy ride for a while, but without these transitions, Microsoft's long-term viability was in serious question.

Talkback

170 comments
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  • No.

    No, they didn't throw users under the bus.

    Maybe they threw OEMs under the bus, but not users.

    But yea, with all of the hate and controversy in ZDNet, this certainly had to be the next great debate.

    And frankly, I am [b]SURPRISED[/b] how much hatred ZDNet had for this announcement right away. Many authors didn't even stop to think about it - the hate started flowing right away! And I'm not talking about the Talkbacks (instant hate in Talkbacks is understandable) - I'm talking about the blog roll itself. Frankly, with this quick and clearly not thoughtful visceral reaction from ZDNet, I'm rethinking whether I want to use ZDNet as a source of news at all.

    This kind of immediate reaction is not professional. I do not want to be supporting a magazine that has this kind of instant hate.
    CobraA1
    Reply 11 Votes I'm for No
    • The only entity that he has not claimed was thrown under the bus by MS

      is Jesus Christ himself.

      Though he may be waiting for the Catholic Church to release a statement on that...
      John Zern
      Reply 9 Votes I'm for No
      • I don't believe in Jesus.

        But the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Lord Cthulu are very cross.
        jperlow
        Reply 14 Votes I'm for Yes
        • Boo

          Stay on point, Jason. You're going to throw people off the ship this way.
          lelandhendrix@...
          Reply 5 Votes I'm Undecided
        • Thats OK

          Jesus still believes in you... :)
          TigerGlider
          Reply 4 Votes I'm Undecided
        • Ramen!

          However, Jason, I am with Mary Jo on this one. I have to measure in years, maybe a decade, since I felt that a product running a Microsoft operating system was exciting. I thought Ubuntu was going to work out well for me as a boring OS to do the basics, but I don't want to spend so much effort avoiding command line typos everytime I update and have to reinstall printer drivers. I have yet to get an Android device to function as a text editor without aggravation. The new Windows pricing looks fair. I felt that I would be a fool to upgrade the OS for half the price of a new Windows box.... which is what we call the boring generic Windows computers that have become commodity items.
          The Surface running Windows 8 looks cool. When's the last time anyone said that about a Microsoft product?
          rp518
          Reply 2 Votes I'm Undecided
    • Perhaps some maturity from these bloggers

      would be much appreciated. ZDNet and other tech sites earned my respect initially because of the insight the bloggers provided. However, I sorely miss that aspect these days. How are these so called veterans and experts any different from an average customer if they are going to judge everything by their covers? How can you write off something that's not been released and you haven't had a chance to experience? Bloggers, you might have your own opinions and you are entitled for one, but please don't preach.

      P.S.:Sorry MJ, I have great respect for you but I generalized all bloggers here because you are just an exception.
      TechPry
      Reply 7 Votes I'm for No
    • What drugs are you on?

      Just as Google released their device FIRST, then other manufacturers also launched theirs and it made NO difference to the channel, in fact it enhances it as people have a clear product to START from then compare to competitors like Samsung, HP, etc...

      I can't believe I even responded to this stupid useless 'comment' zdnet wrote (it's not journalism thats for sure - shock jock rubbish)
      dawesi
      Reply 3 Votes I'm Undecided
  • Of course they didnt

    No they didn't.
    The other oems have to step and they have showed nothing to show they are.

    On the WP8 front it makes sense for WP7 devices to not be able to get all the WP* due to hardware limitations. WHere they went wrong was not just calling the update WP8 for existing devices like Apple does and just leaving out the features that cant be supported. heck even new Android handsets don't all come with the newest version and some still haven't got it after a year. Nokia has pledged continuing support for the Lumias and have said that everything that wasn't hardware dependent they would get on the Lumia. We are still looking at months before the first WP8 handset and we don't even know what the 7.8 update will consist of.
    rfann@...
    Reply 6 Votes I'm for No
    • No Windows Tabs until surface - Blame MS

      The OEM's would not announce tabs months before WinRT

      Rubbish Windows tabs until now, due to resource requirments of Windows X86 - CPU, memory, hard disk, rest of reference HW gubbins.

      Could have easily been WP7 based tabs 18 months ago at WP7 launch, but MS said no.
      neil.postlethwaite
      Reply 4 Votes I'm for Yes