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Microsoft names Satya Nadella CEO
February 4, 2014 7:04 AM   Subscribe

Satya Nadella, a 22 year veteran of Microsoft, is the company's new CEO. Founder Bill Gates will step down as Chairman.

(Hacker News discussion)
posted by gwint (64 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Gates will be spending more time helping Nadella, as Re/code had reported several weeks ago, especially in the technology and product area, with the title of “technology advisor,” working full-time several days a week at Microsoft.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:07 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


Huzzah, finally an alum from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee does good.
posted by drezdn at 7:10 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


"As my first act as CEO, we're rolling back everyone to Windows 7 and bundling the full version of Visual Studio with every install."

Well, I can dream...
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:13 AM on February 4 [17 favorites]


"As my first act as CEO, we're rolling back everyone to Windows 7 and bundling the full version of Visual Studio with every install."

No one's taking 8 away from me.
posted by juiceCake at 7:24 AM on February 4


They needed to get rid of Ballmer a decade ago. Good luck to the new guy - though he won't need it - you'd have to work really hard to do as poorly as Ballmer did.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:27 AM on February 4 [6 favorites]


So what's Ballmer up to now?
posted by mazola at 7:27 AM on February 4


"Since it's still on all of your work computers, we will once again be supporting XP."
posted by etc. at 7:27 AM on February 4 [9 favorites]


No one's taking 8 away from me.

People said the same about the Newton.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:41 AM on February 4 [4 favorites]


"Zune Phone ServicePack2 (with Intel inside) will revolutionize the ringtone division!"
posted by mattbucher at 7:45 AM on February 4 [6 favorites]


I'm actually sort of excited about this. It's going to make for some interesting corporate choices in the coming years, especially since Nadella is coming from the Cloud division. Now whether those choices will lead to a spectacular melt-down, a firm insistence on just chugging along, or a surge forward? I don't feel qualified to speculate.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:10 AM on February 4


Marco Arment (formerly of Tumblr and Instapaper and currently of the Accidental Tech Broadcast) recently wrote a brief yet insightful piece on the problem Microsoft is currently facing.

Good luck, Nadella. You're going to need it.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:15 AM on February 4 [5 favorites]


Gates will be spending more time helping Nadella, as Re/code had reported several weeks ago, especially in the technology and product area, with the title of “technology advisor,” working full-time several days a week at Microsoft.

This is a model I've seen work in small companies extremely well. Take the old CEO and give them the "fun stuff" to do like product development and troubleshooting. Let the new CEO, who has much more energy, focus on day to day, sales and marketing. It's a very natural way to transition leadership and continuity. For MS, this could be a very good thing.

One of the faults of Ballmer, in my view, was how hard he pushed Gates out. He wanted to remake the company as his, which didn't work out so well. Clean breaks are much harder to do.
posted by bonehead at 8:15 AM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Conversely, I'm expecting very little to change.

So what's Ballmer up to now?

Oh you know, just being Microsoft's second largest individual shareholder and top five counting institutional holdings. And this year he'll likely surpass Gates to become the top individual shareholder (because Gates is slowly selling shares). He's remaining on the board for the foreseeable future and I don't think he'll relinquish that easily. Something something strike me down, something something more powerful than you could possibly imagine.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:19 AM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Did this Nadella guy play Magnus Carlsen and win or something?
posted by Riton at 8:27 AM on February 4 [1 favorite]


By elevating a cloud specialist to the top role, I wonder if they are skating to where the puck was/is and not where it will be 5-10 years from now.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:29 AM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Can they give me back Windows 7 with the Windows 8 search function? Because that would pretty much do it for the stuff about Windows 8 that I find seriously worthwhile.

I will give this to the couple dev people I know who predicted that it was going to be the guy from Cloud Services, though. Azure has been one of the few things that Microsoft seems to be handling well, in recent years. I would call this a Good Sign as far as a shift towards actually caring about what people want to buy as opposed to just shoving products down people's throats.

But I'm a bit concerned, thinking about this cloud services thing, as I sit on hour 11 of ISP downtime that is preventing me from access most of the internet. (But conveniently not Metafilter. Thank you, Roadrunner, for having priorities.) If this heralds more push for things like Office 365, I am not going to be a happy camper.
posted by Sequence at 8:32 AM on February 4


Good luck, you'll need it.
posted by Artw at 8:38 AM on February 4


"Since it's still on all of your work computers, we will once again be supporting XP."

Ugh. Stop using XP, everybody. Please.
posted by kmz at 8:39 AM on February 4 [11 favorites]


From: Satya Nadella
To: All Employees
Date: Feb. 4, 2014
Subject: RE: Satya Nadella – Microsoft’s New CEO

Today is a very humbling day for me. It reminds me of my very first day at Microsoft, 22 years ago. Like you, I had a choice about where to come to work. I came here because I believed Microsoft was the best company in the world. I saw then how clearly we empower people to do magical things with our creations and ultimately make the world a better place. I knew there was no better company to join if I wanted to make a difference. This is the very same inspiration that continues to drive me today.

It is an incredible honor for me to lead and serve this great company of ours. Steve and Bill have taken it from an idea to one of the greatest and most universally admired companies in the world. I’ve been fortunate to work closely with both Bill and Steve in my different roles at Microsoft, and as I step in as CEO, I’ve asked Bill to devote additional time to the company, focused on technology and products. I’m also looking forward to working with John Thompson as our new Chairman of the Board.

While we have seen great success, we are hungry to do more. Our industry does not respect tradition — it only respects innovation. This is a critical time for the industry and for Microsoft. Make no mistake, we are headed for greater places — as technology evolves and we evolve with and ahead of it. Our job is to ensure that Microsoft thrives in a mobile and cloud-first world.

As we start a new phase of our journey together, I wanted to share some background on myself and what inspires and motivates me.

Who am I?

I am 46. I’ve been married for 22 years and we have 3 kids. And like anyone else, a lot of what I do and how I think has been shaped by my family and my overall life experiences. Many who know me say I am also defined by my curiosity and thirst for learning. I buy more books than I can finish. I sign up for more online courses than I can complete. I fundamentally believe that if you are not learning new things, you stop doing great and useful things. So family, curiosity and hunger for knowledge all define me.

Why am I here?

I am here for the same reason I think most people join Microsoft — to change the world through technology that empowers people to do amazing things. I know it can sound hyperbolic — and yet it’s true. We have done it, we’re doing it today, and we are the team that will do it again.

I believe over the next decade computing will become even more ubiquitous and intelligence will become ambient. The coevolution of software and new hardware form factors will intermediate and digitize — many of the things we do and experience in business, life and our world. This will be made possible by an ever-growing network of connected devices, incredible computing capacity from the cloud, insights from big data, and intelligence from machine learning.

This is a software-powered world.

It will better connect us to our friends and families and help us see, express, and share our world in ways never before possible. It will enable businesses to engage customers in more meaningful ways.

I am here because we have unparalleled capability to make an impact.

Why are we here?

In our early history, our mission was about the PC on every desk and home, a goal we have mostly achieved in the developed world. Today we’re focused on a broader range of devices. While the deal is not yet complete, we will welcome to our family Nokia devices and services and the new mobile capabilities they bring us.

As we look forward, we must zero in on what Microsoft can uniquely contribute to the world. The opportunity ahead will require us to reimagine a lot of what we have done in the past for a mobile and cloud-first world, and do new things.

We are the only ones who can harness the power of software and deliver it through devices and services that truly empower every individual and every organization. We are the only company with history and continued focus in building platforms and ecosystems that create broad opportunity.

Qi Lu captured it well in a recent meeting when he said that Microsoft uniquely empowers people to "do more." This doesn’t mean that we need to do more things, but that the work we do empowers the world to do more of what they care about — get stuff done, have fun, communicate and accomplish great things. This is the core of who we are, and driving this core value in all that we do — be it the cloud or device experiences — is why we are here.

What do we do next?

To paraphrase a quote from Oscar Wilde — we need to believe in the impossible and remove the improbable.

This starts with clarity of purpose and sense of mission that will lead us to imagine the impossible and deliver it. We need to prioritize innovation that is centered on our core value of empowering users and organizations to “do more.” We have picked a set of high-value activities as part of our One Microsoft strategy. And with every service and device launch going forward we need to bring more innovation to bear around these scenarios.

Next, every one of us needs to do our best work, lead and help drive cultural change. We sometimes underestimate what we each can do to make things happen and overestimate what others need to do to move us forward. We must change this.

Finally, I truly believe that each of us must find meaning in our work. The best work happens when you know that it's not just work, but something that will improve other people's lives. This is the opportunity that drives each of us at this company.

Many companies aspire to change the world. But very few have all the elements required: talent, resources, and perseverance. Microsoft has proven that it has all three in abundance. And as the new CEO, I can’t ask for a better foundation.

Let’s build on this foundation together.

Satya
posted by furtive at 8:42 AM on February 4 [10 favorites]


By elevating a cloud specialist to the top role, I wonder if they are skating to where the puck was/is and not where it will be 5-10 years from now.

Doubtful. The efficiencies of "the cloud" (i.e. centralized data centers that are running on consistent infrastructure) are such that the traditional model isn't coming back. Even if AWS and Google Compute Engine, etc. fail, the "private cloud" (i.e. servers in data centers running on the same kind of infrastructure) will still present a problem for the current state of Microsoft's enterprise offerings.

Seriously, the "Dev Ops" path versus the Microsoft sysadmin path represents a massive gain of efficiency; using scripts like server create svcbox [git tag] is incredible compared to the "old patterns." They have to fix this or they'll lose a ton of ground. At first blush I think Nadella is a good choice.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:59 AM on February 4 [5 favorites]


This slide recently used by Ballmer to compare the financials of Microsoft with the other big players is worth looking at. They are still a very big beast indeed. And compared to the other names in that table, a much more complicated and diversified beast.
posted by memebake at 9:05 AM on February 4


I just hope Microsoft keeps running Bing and Bing Maps and all the other web services stuff. Snobby folks laugh at Bing but it's a good search engine, and without it there is no meaningful competition for Google in most of the world.

Microsoft Online has lost a lot of money over the years, well over $1B a year. It'd make a lot of financial sense for them to just shut it down, or try to sell it off, and focus instead on the licensed/cloud software business. But then there's only one search engine left.
posted by Nelson at 9:18 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


From: Satya Nadella
To: All Employees
Date: Feb. 4, 2014
Subject: RE: Satya Nadella – Microsoft’s New CEO

Today is a very humbling day for me. It reminds mUNABLE TO READ LOCATION: 0x00000000 AT ADDRESS: 0x5ad45a48
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:39 AM on February 4 [28 favorites]


No mention of security at all... so we're left with the idea of trying to use sacrificial virtual machines with DevOps as a crude replacement for a secure operating system implementing the Bell-LaPadula or Biba model.

In happier news, Genode seems to cranking along at a nice pace, and should be able to bail us out of this mess in about 5 years.
posted by MikeWarot at 9:49 AM on February 4


"But then there's only one search engine left."
posted by furtive at 9:51 AM on February 4


Ha ha, well played quonsar! More like Micro$oft Winblows, right?
posted by gilrain at 9:55 AM on February 4 [12 favorites]


Today we see the birth of a return to our previous, wildly successful corporate strategy of closing all the windows and then opening them again.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:00 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


furtive: DuckDuckGo is a metasearch engine, and by far the biggest source they rely on is Bing. If Bing goes away DuckDuckGo would be in a lot of trouble.
posted by Nelson at 10:12 AM on February 4 [7 favorites]


Today is a very humbling day for me.

This was clearly a second draft of this opening line. The original was probably more like this:

"Today I have become one of the most powerful people in the world. I have been named the CEO of a $300 billion company with vast financial resources and global reach. I was already rich but now I will become super-rich and obtain a new level of influence and power that money cannot buy."
posted by mullacc at 10:14 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


He can crush your heads between his leetle fingers.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:22 AM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Marco Arment (formerly of Tumblr and Instapaper and currently of the Accidental Tech Broadcast) recently wrote a brief yet insightful piece on the problem Microsoft is currently facing.

That's not really a problem, though. When Microsoft lets their customer base dictate what they do, they do really well. Compare Windows 7 and 8 - Windows 7 was basically what every one of their customers would have asked for, either a updated and secure Windows XP or a debugged Windows Vista, and it did pretty well. Windows 8 was basically Windows 7 with incremental updates and some weird interface designed for tablets that you couldn't turn off, and most people hated it, particularly those who liked Windows 7. And it was the 'you couldn't turn it off' aspect that people hated most.

I might have actually tried Metro had it not been forced on people who bought Windows 8 - as it was, I didn't buy it, badmouthed it to everyone I knew, and badly wanted their phones and tablets to die in the core of the sun.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:26 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


I am here for the same reason I think most people join Microsoft — to change the world through technology that empowers people to do amazing things. I know it can sound hyperbolic...

Sigh. This is literally their mission statement, and it's an awful, clunky mission statement. So this email is basically just a PR exercise.

Our mission was about the PC on every desk and home
Previous mission statement.

Harness the power of software and deliver it through devices and services that truly empower every individual and every organization.
Again with the mission statement.

To paraphrase a quote from Oscar Wilde — we need to believe in the impossible and remove the improbable.
And this I don't even understand. Reading this email, I'm significantly more concerned about where Microsoft is going. Probably not where I want to go today.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:27 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


That's not really a problem, though. When Microsoft lets their customer base dictate what they do, they do really well.

Mr. Ford, we want larger, more powerful horses and better buggies. Oh, and implement an automatic poop-scooper to clean up the mess. Don't inflict this new-fangled "automobile" thing on us.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:30 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Mr. and Mrs. America, you will love this new car. Trust us, Ford knows best.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:32 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


RedOrGreen: Mr. Ford, we want larger, more powerful horses and better buggies. Oh, and implement an automatic poop-scooper to clean up the mess. Don't inflict this new-fangled "automobile" thing on us.

Oh, please. The tablet is not a automobile to the desktop's horse and buggy. This is like Ford jumping on producing helicopters and nothing but helicopters the second they were invented because they represent 'the future', despite all of their existing customers not wanting helicopters and people who actually want helicopters avoiding their products.
posted by Mitrovarr at 12:35 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


Mr. Ford, we want larger, more powerful horses and better buggies. Oh, and implement an automatic poop-scooper to clean up the mess. Don't inflict this new-fangled "automobile" thing on us.

Effective user experience isn't about revolutionary technology. It's about continuity, preserving the value of users' "acquired wisdom," and transparency. Touch screens are an important user interface, but you'll note that even Apple hasn't been able to make it worth a damn in terms of business use; even people who carry their tablets around use a bluetooth keyboard to type if they're not just fiddling with the thing. Windows is aimed, primarily, at business use. Taking Windows, throwing out all the users' acquired wisdom, and bolting an okay-ish touch screen interface on top is nuts.

Hell, command lines are still state of the art user interfaces for some purposes; the idea that they could get by with just tossing out their legacy UX and still somehow maintain their marketing position and value proposition is ludicrous. It reminds me of the way Windows 9x [attempted to] ditch the DOS command line, thankfully (eventually) remedied with Windows PowerShell.

Periodically Microsoft says: "Fuck you guys, we got a great idea!" and roll out something that everyone hates. Then they spend the next few years quietly fixing the screw-up.
posted by sonic meat machine at 12:36 PM on February 4 [8 favorites]


Nadella's 14-year-old son counters that his father is a "lamewad", and tells reporters that, under Nadalla's regime, "he never gets to do anything".
posted by thelonius at 1:25 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


The Ford analogy is funny but also tired. There are dozens of successful car companies that do nothing but make good cars for people — no wild innovations needed.

The fetishization of innovation in tech needs to be cut down. Yes innovation is huge and important — tech is a frontier and there's lots of unknowns and new things to explore — but we need companies that build on existing innovation to create good products.

Managing the relationship between new innovation and foundational product work is something Microsoft needs to figure out (and something Apple does really well). Rolling out a huge new UI as the primary interface for the new iteration of your flagship OS was a bad move.
posted by wemayfreeze at 1:54 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Turns out Nadella has a Verified Twitter Account, albeit with only 25 tweets and the last two and a half years ago. But this one tweet is just delicious in its irony.
HTML5 - what fun!
posted by Nelson at 1:55 PM on February 4


you'd have to work really hard to do as poorly as Ballmer did.

They're putting an engineer in the C-suite. I'll take those odds.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:06 PM on February 4


I welcome the innovation. And it strikes me as funny to see it mocked for its newness. The Desktop GUI model was roughly 40 years old, and the OS people often praise for its innovativeness looks like a phone-based version of Windows 3.1, with its gridded static icons atop of a background image of your choosing. You might not like some of MS's attempt at innovation, but when it comes to user interface, at least they're doing something for a world in which both touch and connectivity are increasingly assumed, rather than added on. It's long overdue.

I think this is a good CEO choice. I was worried about Elop taking the reigns, and wanting to move MS away from a strategy that they've spent years developing. And given how far ahead their cloud options already are in many areas, I'm glad to see them continue to push in that direction.
posted by hank_14 at 2:41 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


> Oh, please. The tablet is not a automobile to the desktop's horse and buggy.
> The fetishization of innovation in tech needs to be cut down.
> Effective user experience isn't about revolutionary technology. It's about continuity, preserving the value of users' "acquired wisdom," and transparency. Touch screens are an important user interface, but you'll note that even Apple hasn't been able to make it worth a damn in terms of business use

Whoa whoa hold on a sec. I'm not saying tablets are the automobile to the desktop horse and buggy - I'm just pointing out that customers might know best what works for them today but that may not be where things go tomorrow.

Apple has done quite well with the Mac and OS X - it's the only part of the PC market that's not in steep decline - and they've done it by retaining their focus: one system for the desktop, a different one for touch, they share some common infrastructure but there's no confusion about which is which. (And as for business use - does usage at conferences count? Because the only thing cutting into the market share of aluminum Macbook Airs at our meetings is the iPad.)

Microsoft, meanwhile, is pushing the horse and buggy with internal combustion assist. Who knows, maybe that's the right thing - but I'd bet against it.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:52 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


our mission was about the PC on every desk and home

I remember when I bought my first house in 1978. I looked up at the roof and I was like "Someday I'm going to have a computer on my home." The neighbors looked at me like I was crazy, but here we are today. Every time I jack in to my online cybercommunity I get to be reminded of that one day in college we all hung out on the rooftop, drinking beers. Where did all the good times go?

They went to Bing Live Social RE (Rooftop Edition). Here is a fun easter egg. Type in "rooftop computer beer" into Bing. Steve Perry will dance across the bottom of your screen while he sings every Journey song you ever remembered.
posted by compartment at 3:53 PM on February 4 [4 favorites]


hank_14: You might not like some of MS's attempt at innovation, but when it comes to user interface, at least they're doing something for a world in which both touch and connectivity are increasingly assumed, rather than added on. It's long overdue.

Windows 8 might assume touch, but what it doesn't assume are the two things nearly every desktop computer has; a full-size monitor and a mouse, both of which the interface is completely unsuited for. Considering their huge market of business users, for whom static computer installations (desktops) are necessary, and for which touchscreens are worse than useless, that was an incredibly stupid mistake.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:10 PM on February 4


My 27" all in one, which I predominantly use with a mouse, disagrees with you. In fact, and especially with 8.1, the UI adapts pretty well to changes in screen size, allowing multiple column snaps and scaling the content within each column to fit the space assigned to it. Mine's a touch screen, btw, but I only ever use it as a touch screen when I'm standing. If I'm sitting at the desk, it's all mouse. Works great. I'd be curious to know why you think the experience is lacking.

That said, touch is definitely better. It's more immersive, and I like that experience - on a tablet. I just don't find the mouse difficult to use, even if I really like the touch experience.
posted by hank_14 at 4:38 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


For those of you who, like me, weren't impressed by Windows 8 (it's the first time I haven't upgraded on release since Win 3.0), this video of the changes in the upcoming 8.1 shows that MS is at least listening to the howls of derision from desktop/mouse/keyboard users, and tweaking things in the right direction.

I'm going to wait for Windows 9 to see if they fix the frankensteinUI properly, but it seems like they're rethinking things, thanks goodness.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:15 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I find it rather damning that after 10 hours this post only has 45 comments. (By my reckoning, most of the posts newer than it already have more comments.) It's an amazingly precipitous loss of mindshare and interest (if not marketshare and profit).
posted by ~ at 5:15 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


You might not like some of MS's attempt at innovation, but when it comes to user interface, at least they're doing something for a world in which both touch and connectivity are increasingly assumed, rather than added on. It's long overdue.

No, it's not. Users have a hard time learning new interfaces, and Windows is not the goal, it's the medium. Real, productive work uses things like Word and Excel, or more sophisticated tools that have nothing to do with touch screens. (Good luck building an SSRS report on a touchscreen.) These tools aren't going to get "touchified" any time soon, so by giving people a UI optimized and designed for tablets, Microsoft basically forced itself into peoples' consciousness.

Marcy Q. Analyst doesn't care which version of Windows she has; she wants it to get out of her way and let her use Crystal Reports in peace.

As I said above, there are applications for which the command line is still the optimal interface. The emergence of touch screens—which I don't dispute are excellent for some applications—hasn't, and won't, change that.
posted by sonic meat machine at 5:36 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


I find it rather damning that after 10 hours this post only has 45 comments.

That reminds me of an executive who announced yesterday he was moving from Adobe to Google. This was part of his explanation:

Merlin Mann once asked me, “What do you want ten times more of?” I knew the answer: Impact.

I had to bite my tongue to stop from snarking back: "What are you willing to give up to get it? I know the answer: Relevance."

But I held my tongue. No sense in snarking. I haven't read his blog in over a year, it's just some irrelevant thing in my RSS feed. I only read the announcement to confirm removing his feed.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:14 PM on February 4


hank_14: Works great. I'd be curious to know why you think the experience is lacking.

The departure from a desktop/taskbar design. I do research and data analysis, so what I do depends on keeping a million windows open and rapidly switching between them. Anything that makes switching applications more difficult causes a lot of slowdown. The best design I've found for this, overwhelmingly, is the Windows taskbar model, with each document kept separate (i.e. not stacked) as in Windows 95/98. This allows you to see everything you have open at the same time without leaving your application, read the names of the documents you have open, and switch applications or documents with a single mouse click.

The windows XP model is pretty good too, but I don't like document stacking (i.e. combining multiple documents open in a single program) because it ruins your ability to see what is open at a glance and switch between them with a single mouse click (you need a click, hover, click). The OSX dock is even worse, because it clutters up the taskbar with all of the programs you aren't actively running, and it doesn't show document names without a mouse hover (instead only doing icons). The Windows 7 quasi-dock is better than OSX, but worse than XP (but it can be quickly configured to not be shit, so it's ok). Metro is the worst of the lot (I think, but I have little experience with it) because it doesn't show anything else while you have a document open, you have to completely leave your document to switch to anything, and it flashes up lots of menus, etc. that all animate, eating your time and requiring mental processing to interpret. Of course, you can sort of use a desktop in Windows 8, but I'm just talking about Metro, not Windows 8 as a whole.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:42 PM on February 4


Mac and OS X - it's the only part of the PC market that's not in steep decline

Not true anymore. 2012 was a good year for Apple desktop sales, but last year was the first year in a long time where Mac sales fell. Mac sales were off about the same as the rest of the PC market, a few percent. The PC market started contracting at least a year before the slowdown happened to Apple, but desktop sales appear to be down for all manufacturers in 2013.

Is 2013 the year the desktop stopped being dominant? Maybe. Perhaps this is just a blip. I think, however, the new MS CEO needs to plan for a post-PC world, as does equally Tim Cook.
posted by bonehead at 10:06 PM on February 4


I think the decline in PC sales is largely due to a slowdown in the rate of improvement in PCs. I built a PC in 2009, and in the intervening time since then I think PCs have only improved in speed about 50% (if that). PCs used to rapidly become obsolete, but the rate of that decline dramatically about five years ago, so old computers are still totally usable in a way they did not use to be. Software has also followed suit, with new software not really requiring dramatically better hardware than the last generation.

So maybe it's not an issue of anything supplanting PCs, but more an issue that PCs no longer become obsolete and people just don't replace them as often.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:19 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


I agree with Mitrovarr. I built my current gaming rig in 2010, and aside from a video card upgrade, it still runs new releases acceptably well that I am not hankering to upgrade.

I'll probably have to upgrade it next year, but we'll see. Anyway, this is the longest Newegg has gone without a big purchase order from me - they're probably wondering if I've shuffled off.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:50 AM on February 5


I dunno, but I've had more than a few conversations in the past couple of years on laptop (which is included in the "desktop" numbers---sorry for that phrasing) vs tablet. At least half the time friends and family are replacing laptops with tablets, mostly as secondary devices to sit on the couch or travel with.

What's interesting to me though are what the next generation will do. A teenager now probably grew up with the family PC, much as kids even in the 80s did. A ten-year-old now, however, many think of them as weird, having used mobile devices from the time they could talk. There's an interesting division between today's high schoolers and primary school kids in how they interact with technology. I'm seeing it with my own nieces and nephews---the older kids often want laptops, the younger ones mostly want tablets/phones, even when offered the choice of device to use.
posted by bonehead at 8:21 AM on February 5


I think, however, the new MS CEO needs to plan for a post-PC world, as does equally Tim Cook.

I'm guessing Cook already has plans in motion, considering he already makes most of his company's money from post-PC devices.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:27 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing Cook already has plans in motion, considering he already makes most of his company's money from post-PC devices.

He does, indeed.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:35 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


I'm seeing it with my own nieces and nephews---the older kids often want laptops, the younger ones mostly want tablets/phones, even when offered the choice of device to use.

Yes, it's going to be interesting to see what these kids (who have generally used technology as consumers, rather than tool-users) do when they hit the point where they need to make career choices. The iPad, as nice as it is for watching videos or reading books, just isn't going to replace a PC in terms of doing data analysis, document preparation, or programming—at least, not any time soon, and not without enough changes that it, essentially, just becomes a laptop.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:47 AM on February 5


I agree with Mitrovarr. I built my current gaming rig in 2010, and aside from a video card upgrade, it still runs new releases acceptably well that I am not hankering to upgrade.

OTOH, some of this was driven by the last generation of consoles being very long-lived. People are still writing the biggest AAA games with target hardware released in 2005-2006. You can pick up an Nvidia 760 card for under $250 and it will benchmark about 30-50 times faster than GPUs more or less equivalent to the ones in the 360 or PS3.

I expect you might see PC game requirements ramping up a lot in the near future as the biggest hardware targets become the X1 and PS4. Not to anything insane, but the dual-core, ATI 4850 machine sitting upstairs that I built in 2007 probably won't cut it for 720p-ish gaming any more.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:57 AM on February 5


Microsoft, Past and Future.

Very insightful - if this thread didn't exist, that would be a worthwhile FPP, especially with links to the 2.5 year old Why Windows 8 Is Fundamentally Flawed as a Response to the iPad (bang on in retrospect), and Brent Simmons' Azure Takes Over. If you're down in the comment weeds here, those are worth a read.
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:11 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


I expect you might see PC game requirements ramping up a lot in the near future as the biggest hardware targets become the X1 and PS4.

I think you're likely correct in that. Many of the new Steam boxes are "just a step above the Xbox One and PlayStation 4". If Valve doesn't know where the PC market is going to be in 3-5 years, no one does.
posted by bonehead at 10:26 AM on February 5


My kids (9 and 6) have access to multiple devices including tablets, but they still prefer to spend a lot of time sitting at a desk with a Mac mini that has a good-sized monitor. Even though everything they do is in a browser, a lot of kids' sites that have content creation (like Kerpoof) work better with a mouse and keyboard. They don't seem to think it's weird.
posted by freecellwizard at 1:27 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Ben Thompson:
Taken together, it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Gates is back, with Nadella on board to handle the non-product and time-consuming aspects of being public-company CEO. It’s positively Jobsian. To be clear, unlike Jobs, Gates has remained involved with Microsoft even after his departure, and Microsoft is in much better shape financially then Apple was in the 90s. In other ways, though, the challenge Gates and Microsoft face today are far more formidable.
posted by frimble at 3:09 AM on February 6


Bing censoring Chinese language search results for users in the US
posted by homunculus at 9:10 PM on February 11


Paul Thurrott (of all people!) comes out and says 'Windows 8 is a disaster in every sense of the word.' Yikes.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:52 PM on February 11


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