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




Mary Jo Foley

Mary Jo Foley

Best Argument: No

Closing Statements

Throwing everyone under the bus

Jason Perlow

While the Microsoft's new tablets and Windows Phone 8 devices appear -- on the Surface -- to be a huge leap forward in Microsoft's evolution, they are indeed bad news for the end-user.

With Surface, Microsoft seeks to demolish the very same 30-year-old industry that it worked so hard to create with the support of the OEMs and the users who depended on them and provided the company with so much revenue for so many years.

Hurting the OEMs' ability to compete and moving towards a direct manufacturing model hurts the end user because it will reduce choice, and threatens to establish the company as a monopolistic, closed-off ecosystem.

If the OEMs fail because of Surface's success, it will mean the loss of jobs in the manufacturing sector, particularly for OEMs such as Dell and HP that have a strong base of US operations, as well as other companies which support the OEM ecosystem such as resellers and distributors.

If Microsoft chooses a direct sales approach for Surface, retail will also suffer and it will also result in lost jobs. Despite what you might think, not all of this will come at the expense of Asian companies.

Microsoft has also hurt their early adopters and manufacturers of Windows Phone 7 devices by significantly changing the requirements for Windows Phone 8 and making all previous hardware incompatible.

This may sound trivial given the company's pitiful market share in the smartphone space, but displaying such a willingness to abandon customers and orphan products cannot possibly bode well  for the users who were duped into thinking they had a migration path and the manufacturers and carriers which signed on as partners.

To quote my colleague James Kendrick-- Microsoft, it seems, is perfectly content to throw literally everyone under the bus.

The Surface: Where the rubber (or VaporMg) meets the Windows 8 road

Mary Jo Foley

If you had told me a few years ago -- even last year -- that my next PC might be from Microsoft, I would have called you crazy.

But if the Softies can get battery life up and device weight down, I'm seriously contemplating buying a Surface.

Microsoft may have thrown its OEMs under the bus with the Surface, but after years of putting up with bad trackpads, crapware-infested hardware and too many me-too clunkers, I’m not shedding any tears.

I'm not one of those who won't look Microsoft's way if they don't undercut the price of an iPad or ultrabooks that are on the market. I am willing to pay more for a solidly designed, distinctive looking, decent-performing Pablet (PC-tablet). As I noted in our debate this week, Apple users aren't the only ones willing to pay a fair price for a nice machine ( or a nice hotel, apparently).

For me, the hardware that could end up making Windows 8 palatable just might be Microsoft-branded. The touch/type keyboards, the built-in kickstand, the scratch-free VaporMg casing might help me stomach the changes Microsoft is making to its operating system.

Welcome to the weird, new Windows world.

Users could benefit

Lawrence Dignan

Microsoft's big bet on the Surface -- and alienation of the ecosystem -- may have thrown OEMs under a bus, but users could benefit. Jason and Mary Jo debated how Microsoft's moves would impact users. The reality is we don't know. Overall, though, Mary Jo made a more compelling argument. Sometimes you have to rattle your partners if you want to compete.


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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.
    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.
        Reply 14 Votes I'm for Yes
        • Boo

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

          Jesus still believes in you... :)
          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?
          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.
      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)
      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.
    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.
      Reply 4 Votes I'm for Yes