What it is: For all the technical talent Microsoft hires, they ignore it by poor executive decisions.
The other day I got a chance to use a Windows 8 tablet. From a technical point of view, Windows 8 on a tablet is actually a marvel. Everything can be controlled completely through the touch screen whether it’s moving windows, closing windows, or typing text. To make Windows 8 and all Windows programs touch compatible in such a short time is truly an amazing technological feat.
The trouble is making Windows work on tablets is like building the best suspension bridge in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. What’s the point?
It’s easy to second guess Microsoft’s intentions. When Apple introduced the iPad and killed the entire Tablet PC market, Microsoft had a choice. They could either develop a new tablet operating system from scratch or they could force Windows to work as a tablet operating system.
Creating a new tablet operating system would take too long, especially when Microsoft copied the iPhone with Windows Phone and didn’t plan for making Windows Phone expand to a tablet form. So rather than redesign Windows Phone to work on tablets, Microsoft chose to create Windows RT for tablets and Windows 8 also for tablets.
So now Microsoft wound up creating three separate operating systems:
- Windows Phone for smartphones
- Windows RT for tablets
- Windows 8 for desktops and tablets
If you created a Windows Phone app, it wouldn’t run on Windows RT or Windows 8. If you created a Windows RT app, it wouldn’t run on Windows Phone or Windows 8. If you created a Windows 8 program, it wouldn’t run on Windows Phone or Windows RT.
So developers had to choose which operating system to support, which meant dividing their time and resources. Is it no surprise that Microsoft’s operating systems lack apps?
Initially Microsoft wanted developers to use Silverlight to create Windows Phone apps. the theory was that Silverlight was originally an Adobe Flash clone, but when plug-ins like Flash started to fade from popularity, Microsoft decided to make Silverlight the main programming tool for Windows Phone apps.
Then Microsoft released Windows Phone 8, which wasn’t completely compatible with Windows Phone 7. Even worse, creating Windows Phone 8 apps meant learning a whole new programming framework and dumping any Silverlight projects you might have created.
Now Microsoft’s latest decision is to shove Windows 10 on smartphones, tablets, and PCs. If you were a Windows Phone developer, your original code for Windows Phone 7 or Windows Phone 8 won’t easily port to Windows 10. By constantly changing programming tools, Microsoft insures that Windows Phone developers can’t provide apps for Windows smartphones.
Now going back to Windows 8 on a tablet. It’s an amazing technological feat to make Windows touch compatible, but the big question is that you now have a desktop operating system that works on tablets, but the user interface of most Windows programs aren’t designed for tablets and touch gestures.
Theoretically you can run AutoCAD or Quark XPress on a tablet. Realistically the user interface isn’t optimized for touch gestures so it’s a frustrating and clumsy experience. As a result, Windows on tablets basically becomes too frustrating to use, defeating the whole point of using Windows in the first place.
Imagine making a horse and buggy capable of being both a carriage and an RV. You can’t help but have compromises. That’s the huge problem with Windows on tablets and smartphones. Take a typical Windows desktop program like Adobe Premiere and see how much fun it is to use on the tinier screen of a smartphone or tablet that you control solely through touch gestures. you can do it, but it’s not easy, which means you probably won’t do it.
The advantage of having every possible Windows program available to run on tablets and smartphones thus becomes moot if it’s not optimized for touch screen control.
Basically Microsoft wasted their time trying to shove Windows 10 into smartphones and tablets and PCs. While it’s possible to use a Windows 10 smartphone as your sole PC by plugging it into a separate monitor, keyboard, and mouse at your desk, do people really want that?
It’s so much easier to carry a smartphone around and then use a laptop or PC at a desk rather than try to force a smartphone into working as both a smartphone and a PC. Windows 10 running on all devices is another technological marvel like Windows 8 running on tablets, but like Windows 8 on tablets, it’s solving a problem that creates a less than optimal solution. Because it’s solving a problem that no one really cares about, it doesn’t matter how technologically advanced it may be if nobody cares about it.
Technology should solve problems and simplify them. Technology shouldn’t solve technological problems first and then try to find a way to make them useful afterwards.
Apple understands that you need to solve people problems first and use technology to do it. Microsoft focuses on solving technological problems first and then tries to figure out how to get people to use that technological solution to a problem nobody cares about.
Guess which company is going to be more successful in the long run?