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Microsoft's Sneak Attack On Apple: SkyDrive, Not Surface 150

Posted by timothy
from the as-long-as-it-works-on-my-windows-phone dept.
New submitter curtwoodward writes "Microsoft won't become a hardware company — unless you count mice and keyboards, former Microsoftie Charlie Kindel argues — because that would mean competing with Apple on its terms. But Kindel says Microsoft may be embarking on a totally new business model by seeding its connected software services across all platforms. You saw more evidence this week with the release of SkyDrive for Android. 'For that to work, it can't just be Windows,' he says. 'As a matter of fact, to beat Apple, it has to work really well on Apple devices.'"
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Microsoft's Sneak Attack On Apple: SkyDrive, Not Surface

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  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Thursday August 30, 2012 @03:44PM (#41182179) Homepage Journal
    They really don't think of the Xbox as hardware?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2012 @03:48PM (#41182269)
      Or Surface (Either the old Big-Ass-Table, or new Tablet things). But that's missing the author's point. Those are afterthoughts, ways of getting the software out there.

      Apple is a hardware company that uses software to move their hardware.

      Microsoft is a software company that's now making hardware to move its software.
    • by greeze (985712) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @03:49PM (#41182285)

      I think they think of the Xbox as a platform for which they sell licensing, content, and advertising space. I haven't looked at the numbers, but I'd be surprised if they're making much money on sales of the Xbox hardware alone.

      • by samkass (174571)

        I think they think of the Xbox as a platform for which they sell licensing, content, and advertising space. I haven't looked at the numbers, but I'd be surprised if they're making much money on sales of the Xbox hardware alone.

        In fact, they're still pretty far in the red even if you include everything, according to their accumulated quarterly statements since they created the division.

        • by lilfields (961485)
          Xbox turns profitable a few years ago, but the entertainment division is being drug down by Zune and Windows Phone...but Zune is being merged into Xbox and Windows Phone 8 looks pretty promising.
          • by Spaseboy (185521)

            Turning profitable doesn't magically mean your division still isn't in the red. That was an awfully deep hole dug with the originally Xbox to the point that a Sony exec commented that Microsoft's Xbox could bleed money forever and it wouldn't matter to the company while Sony needed PlayStation to be profitable.

    • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @03:52PM (#41182325)
      I think the distinction lies in where and how the company is making money. Apple, despite taking a cut 30% cut on apps and all its iTunes sales, still makes the vast majority of its profits through physical hardware sales. Microsoft still makes the vast majority of its money through software sales and services. With the Xbox in particular, the opportunity for revenue lies in software and media services, especially as the console is starting to transition into more of a general living room entertainment device rather than a gaming device. Even Microsoft is experimenting with selling the hardware as cheap as possible and subsidizing it with an Xbox live subscription, which hopefully leads to future media purchases.

      And as for the surface, I think it's already done its job. The majority of the tablets revealed over the past week by Asus, Samsung, and Sony are all very Surface-like (in that they all focus on hybrid design for work rather than pure content consumption slates), as opposed to being iPad clones like the earlier Android tablet generation. To me, Surface appears to be Microsoft's attempt to steer the tablet space in a different direction rather than an attempt to claim the tablet space with their own hardware.
      • by hackula (2596247)
        It would be a laugh if Surface turned out to be 100% vaporware just to get the OEMs to actually do something. More like a "design standard" than an actual product.
        • It would be a laugh if Surface turned out to be 100% vaporware just to get the OEMs to actually do something.

          It's called a "queen's duck".

          And you're right, Microsoft marketing loves them. They announce some controversial feature, reap millions of dollars worth of free online discussion, and then get to announce that they listen to their customers when they remove the "feature".

      • And as for the surface, I think it's already done its job. The majority of the tablets revealed over the past week by Asus, Samsung, and Sony are all very Surface-like (in that they all focus on hybrid design for work rather than pure content consumption slates), as opposed to being iPad clones like the earlier Android tablet generation.

        The majority of tablets you're talking about were not actually revealed last week - e.g. all the Asus line-up was announced before Surface, it just used codenames back then (google for Tablet 610 and Tablet 810). Similarly, Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba all had convertible offerings announced before Surface.

        It really doesn't take Surface to understand that the ability to work well on a convertible device like that is the biggest differentiator that Win8 has to offer when compared side-by-side with iOS.

    • by deltaromeo (821761) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:00PM (#41182463)

      They really don't think of the Xbox as hardware?

      No, they were thinking outside of the x box

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      well, people do tend to associate MS as a sw house even when typing things MS keyboards. the hw is seen just as a tack on to sell the sw experience.

    • by allo (1728082)

      the xbox is a "me too" product.

  • Ohrly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dnaumov (453672) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @03:44PM (#41182195)

    'As a matter of fact, to beat Apple, it has to work really well on Apple devices."

    So what happens when it starts doing "too well" and gets banned from the AppStore for violating it's guidelines?

    • Re:Ohrly? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sinij (911942) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @03:49PM (#41182291) Journal
      Lawsuits and probably retaliatory banning of itunes from all Win devices. MS isn't some shoestring app. developer.
      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        yeah? 5 years later and the court sides with Apple and demands Apple reinstate Office 2012 on their new 2017 range of devices. Apple shrugs its shoulders and reluctantly complies.....

        I can see it being a total lose-lose scenario for Apple...

      • Lawsuits and probably retaliatory banning of itunes from all Win devices. MS isn't some shoestring app. developer.

        How is Windows going to keep me from installing an application - iTunes or not?

        (Disclosure: I don't have iTunes installed anywhere and I'll never install it. But I insist on being able to install even iTunes if I feel like it.)

        • by spongman (182339)

          not now, but down the line, maybe by win9, the non-metro, non-store-requiring 'desktop experience pack' will be only available in the 'pro' versions, or for an addition price.

          developers will take their time to port stuf to metro initially, but they'll be pushed to do this eventually if they want to take advantage of the full windows user-base.

          Apple is doing the same thing with gatekeeper. it's not mandatory, but it's enough of a pain that it encourages developers to use the App store.

          both MS and Apple pushi

        • How is Windows going to keep me from installing an application - iTunes or not?

          That's easy [theregister.co.uk] when you sell a black box.

          If alternatives to the wintel monopoly weren't so strong you'd see that card played much more often. And you will see it if you let MS or Apple or Google own too much of your computing infrastructure.

        • by Spaseboy (185521)

          You can install anything you like but that doesn't mean it will work. Microsoft famously broke QuickTime more than once on purpose because they didn't like that installing QuickTime associated all media files with it. This is why all media applications now request which media files you would like to associate with it--has nothing to do with giving consumers choice.

        • For regular Intel Win32/Win64 apps, yes, Windows isn't going to stop you installing iTunes any time soon.

          However, you cannot run software Microsoft hasn't approved in the Metro environment, or on ARM. So going forward, there are certainly ways in which Microsoft can tighten the noose around any application it doesn't like. At the very least, Microsoft can make running iTunes on Windows tablets a painful experience, and use the death of a thousand API cuts to make running iTunes under Desktop Windows an e

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        Lawsuits and probably retaliatory banning of itunes from all Win devices. MS isn't some shoestring app. developer.

        Whatever caused this to happen would be a good thing, even if it involved the sacrifice of babies and the rule for a thousand generations of the legions of Hell..

        And I think Apple are just rich and cocky enough now to risk it.

    • by mujadaddy (1238164) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @03:57PM (#41182387)
      Microsoft sues for anti-trust.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      it won't get banned. the app simply won't be accepted nor rejected
      it'll instead remain in the forever limbo of "please revise"
      ask any app developer about their fear of this limbo

  • Hotmail for storage? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dan667 (564390) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @03:45PM (#41182201)
    not sure I need that
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Maybe you don't but it's a big market for a lot of players. Either you've been asleep or you're just another knee-jerk troll who screams anytime MS is mentioned.

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by Dan667 (564390)
        based on microsoft's track record I don't think I would trust them with my data, both reliability and privacy. And I am not sold on the new marketing "cloud". Mainframes have their place, but all the problems with them did not go away just, because they renamed then "the cloud". No on cares about your data as much as you do.
        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          >>>based on microsoft's track record I don't think I would trust them with my data, both reliability and privacy.

          But you would trust Google or Apple to keep your stuff private? Hahahahahahahahaahahaha! And let's not forget it was Google who suffered a major crash that lost people's emails, so you can't truth them on reliability either.

          • by Dan667 (564390)
            you need to lookup what a straw man argument is. This is a very nice example.
          • And let's not forget it was Google who suffered a major crash that lost people's emails, so you can't truth them on reliability either.

            The accounts were restored. Don't take my word for it, read the Wall Street Journal [wsj.com].

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm having a hard time figuring out how they could expect people to want or trust their cloud services.
      The concept seems to go against instinct.

      http://gigaom.com/2009/10/10/when-cloud-fails-t-mobile-microsoft-lose-sidekick-customer-data/ [gigaom.com]

      http://www.webmonkey.com/2008/04/microsoft_kills_playsforsure__screws_over_loyal_customers/ [webmonkey.com]

      • by Kalriath (849904)

        The first one was a Microsoft subsidiary (Danger - ironic), and most sane people who aren't looking for knee-jerk reasons to hate the parent company recognise that this does not actually reflect to the same extent on the actions of the parent company. The second is completely fucking irrelevant.

  • Memo to Microsoft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sparticus789 (2625955) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @03:45PM (#41182205) Journal
    "As a matter of fact, to beat Apple, it has to work really well on Apple devices."

    Yes, please. Try fixing MS Office and Outlook for Mac before embarking on a SkyDrive project.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Someone let Apple know, that Itunes on windows is garbage.

      • by Pieroxy (222434)

        Someone let Apple know, that Itunes on windows is garbage.

        Is barely worse than iTunes on Mac OS.

        • by jfengel (409917)

          That's depressing. Apple usually puts so much effort into its software. iTunes is a key user interface, not just for the music store but also for the iPhone, its big money-maker.

          I knew the Windows version sucked. I thought it was because they didn't want to put too much effort into porting it. But it's weird to think that such a crucial piece of software isn't better on its home turf.

          • Is there a better piece of software to hold up as an example?

            Make sure it does *everything* iTunes does.

            • by jfengel (409917)

              I'm not sure if there really is an alternative for *everything* iTunes does. It exists to support a particular proprietary device. But that doesn't mean that the application can be slow, unresponsive, and clunky, as it is in Windows.

              I assumed that "slow" and "unresponsive" were due to a mismatch in the threading model, and that "clunky" was just "unfamiliar to a Windows user". (For a long time it was also crash-prone, though that's been fixed, at least for the ways I use it.) But I've heard from multiple M

            • by SQLGuru (980662)

              The current (soon to be dead [sadly]?) Zune software does a good job. Plenty of reviews (even by sites that favor Apple product) have said as much. And it has parallel features to almost every feature in iTunes (I don't use iTunes, so there may be some obscure ones that it can't match -- but the major features are covered).

            • by not flu (1169973)

              Doing everything that iTunes does is part of the problem. Why would you want that?

              Not that iTunes's bloat and suck can be attributed just to having too many features.

              • So your solution is what? To have 7 apps?

                1. Music player/manager/recommendation system
                2. Video player/manager/recommendation system
                3. Device manager
                4. App manager
                5. Music purchase
                6. Video purchase
                7. App purchase

                What would you cut out while still keeping it simple for *everyone* to manage their devices/music/video/apps/etc.

          • by Kalriath (849904)

            You should see Safari. On OS X, you have a 50/50 chance of it simply vanishing when you open a new tab. Most unstable piece of shit I've encountered on the Mac. It doesn't hang as often as iTunes though.

            • by not flu (1169973)
              Safari 5.1.7 is rock solid on OS X 10.6.8 in my experience. Not that I use it as the default browser anyways, maybe I should...
              • by sqrt(2) (786011)

                It's too bad that Apple has stopped supporting 10.6, and that Safari on it will not be getting further updates. That version of Safari is outdated and contains over a hundred security holes. It is not a safe browser to be using. You can get infected simply by opening a malicious site.

              • by Kalriath (849904)

                Yeah. this is 10.8 Mountain Lion. Almost regret that upgrade.

          • by tehcyder (746570)
            Don't forget that Apple's not really a software company (if they were they would have gone out of business approximately 300 years ago).

            Now that iPhones/Pods/Pads don't need to use iTunes to set themselves up, I'm sure Apple will soon abandon the whole hideous piece of bit-vomit as soon as they legally can.
      • by BLToday (1777712)

        They already know, it's part of the plan.

      • Someone let Apple know, that Itunes on windows is garbage.

        iTunes seems to work fine for me on windows as well as OS X. Maybe you are doing something wrong. Are you trying to run it on a machine with less than 4GB of memory on Windows 7? Two GB of ram is the bare minimum for Windows 7 let alone running other applications. Even with 2 GB or ram, it runs reasonably well in windows with a fairly large library.

      • by lilfields (961485)
        Microsoft should just bite the bullet and license the ability to sync iPhones and iPods on their Xbox Music service...if that's possible anymore, I know for the longest time you could sync music with Winamp, etc. The Zune program is stellar though, such a good media player.
        • by gl4ss (559668)

          the only reason you could sync ipods with winamp was that the protocol was reverse engineered/hacked. apple never wanted people to use anything else than itunes, because they want you to buy your shit with itunes.

    • "As a matter of fact, to beat Apple, it has to work really well on Apple devices."

      Seriously. Microsoft should concentrate on the "work really well" part, and then after that work on the "Apple devices" part.

    • Can't Microsoft just wait Apple out. Seriously, the iPhone and iPad are out of steam and new tricks they can do. Android has caught up. Surface + Windows RT/8 will completely end the Bring Your Own Toy problem in the corporate world, and probably knock it out of the park with consumers.

      Apple's decline will start in earnest in a little over 12 months. Stock price will begin to nosedive a couple quarters after that. There are not any new tech fields they can push into either to get themselves out of this

      • Steve, is that you? What did I tell you about posting on /.? Get back into your cage before Mongo gets the cattle prod...

  • Apple's new internal motto: Mac OS X isn't done until SkyDrive won't run.
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Apple's new internal motto: Mac OS X isn't done until SkyDrive won't run.

      Given Microsoft's long and storied history of writing software for platforms that aren't theirs .. they may do that on their own.

      Other than Office for the Mac, which last I heard is largely neglected and not well maintained, I'm not sure I can think of a single application Microsoft ever wrote from scratch with the intent of supporting operating systems other than their own. And definitely not multiple platforms with the same thing.

      I'

      • The problem with Office for Mac is that, even if it's neglected and not maintained, it works better than Office for Windows. More stable, follows OS user interface guidelines better than Office for Windows (or, in fact, most Apple software). Better file compatibility between versions and systems. Faster. Less crashing.

        Weird.

        • by mbkennel (97636)

          At least some time ago, that may have been become Office for Mac developers were in California with the rest of the company in Washington. So they may have been less affected by the stench of strange practices and ideology.

      • by Kalriath (849904)

        What are you even talking about? Microsoft's Mac Business Unit is largely recognised as the largest third party Mac developer in the world. Where you get "hasn't made a practice of writing code for other environments" I'll never understand.

  • They need to embrace non-windows platforms cause that's where the action is right now.

    Once they've destroyed all semblance of competition, THEN they can tighten the noose and force everyone onto Windows.

  • So I take this as a threat by Microsoft to make something that "works really well"? How about getting the "works really well" part first, then maybe the "all devices" part.
    • by lilfields (961485)
      I'm fairly sure Microsoft has a skydrive surprise in store around their Xbox music launch.
  • by falcon5768 (629591) <Falcon5768@@@comcast...net> on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:07PM (#41182555) Journal
    Google beat them to the punch with Google Drive. Likewise with reports that after the Samsung spat Google and Apple are talking about sharing their IPs with each other, I dont think Apple has anything to fear with Redmond anymore.
  • > by seeding its connected software services across all platforms

    Cloud needs mist.

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:27PM (#41182815)

    The fundamental problem is that if Microsoft "[moves] away from its licensed operating system business model", it is throwing away its primary competitive edge – the whole multi-billion-dollar Windows ecosystem – in favor of other markets where competition is fiercer, profit margins are lower, and (most importantly) Microsoft doesn't have a massive legacy advantage. Businesses pay billions of dollars collectively for licenses to Windows and Office because: (1) they need them to run legacy programs and read legacy documents; (2) all their employees already know how to use them; and (3) everyone *else* is using them, so they need to do the same thing for interoperability. Steve Ballmer doesn't seem to understand these basic facts, so he is undercutting the core business of Microsoft to chase after newer, sexier markets.

    • Nah. It's just a new generation of embrace, extend, extinguish.

      They're only at embrace right now.

  • As a matter of fact, to beat Apple, it has to work really well on Apple devices.

    Of course, if you flip it around and look at how amazingly bad iTunes is on the PC, you'll notice how that statement is complete BS. In fact, anyone anywhere knows that Apple became popular by creating the fake image that if you buy an Apple device, you can show off and tell your friends you're better than them. Now that too many people have Apple products, that fell apart so they've resorted to lying about being better at gr

    • by LDAPMAN (930041)

      You seem to be unaware that iOs devices work great with Bluetooth keyboards...just like the Surface keyboard. Anybody that wants one is free to use one.

  • Windows couldn't make Windows Live Mesh run on their own platform. What makes you think they can make Windows SkyDrive work on someone else's?
    • What makes you think they can make Windows SkyDrive work on someone else's?

      The fact that it already does? iOS app has been there for several months now.

  • I've been hearing for years that Microsoft is moving to a subscription model for all its software products. I'm still not buying that this is the heart of any strategy.

    Perhaps I can see a complete subscription model working in the Enterprise segment, but the consumer segment? I don't see it. I don't doubt that MS plans on building out services that they hope to attract subscription revenue. They have XBox Live and it's working pretty well. After that, what else is there? They have Office 365 which is compet

    • They have Office 365 which is competitive but I'm sure it doesn't make up for the revenue lost on traditional Office licenses. Windows? Forget it.

      Don't forget that Office ships free with Windows RT.

  • 'As a matter of fact, to beat Apple, it has to work really well on Apple devices.'" ?

    Seems to me it has to be killer apps the do NOT work on apple at all.

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