What does Windows offer that other platforms can't?

Mark Boykin

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Apr 14, 2014
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I've been wondering about how the platform will mature in the coming years. What it has to become, what it isn't, and the problems of how it is; I'm no expert in these matters, but I figured a thread that asks these questions wouldn't hurt. The difficulty I've come up with is that Windows offers a lot of opportunity for people who want to develop and use applications, but no real compelling qualities for people who want to develop or use apps.

This may sound stupid (I know, functionally the same word) but let me draw the distinction between the two terms: an app is software principally for people who don't care how it works. It's shorthand; you don't need the rest spelled out for you, because that information would just distract you from doing what you really want to do. An application, on the other hand, is software for people who do care about how it works, because they need to know enough to make it work for them, or because they've literally invested millions in the software's performance. When the user wants to look behind the curtain and know the ins and outs of your software, then they're dealing with an application. Apps aren't generally sprawling creations, and applications aren't generally for unspecialized workers/professionals.

If you've listened to the Vergecast recently, you might've heard those dudes talk about how difficult it is to rely upon Google's business solutions when you reach a certain scale; problems that are a cinch to solve when you're on Microsoft's platform are ridiculous on Google's. Microsoft has indeed found success in focusing on making their platform a solid one for applications, even if they're anemic on the equally important app side, and that is a compelling point in favor of the platform. But this isn't always going to be the case.

The main difficulty for Microsoft is that Apple and Google are already fantastic at providing consumers and devs with apps and the tools they need to make them, and they're quickly figuring out compelling reasons for why their respective platforms should accrue applications, too, whereas Microsoft isn't gaining ground on app development. They seem to lack the interest of most above adequate quality app developers. I want to know what Windows 10 as a platform will be able to provide, beyond a bigger target audience via the common code that will enable universal apps. Will the target be bigger than the combined footprint of iOS and OSX? Will it be bigger than Android and Chrome OS? Will it have a greater potential for growth than those paths to the consumer, and will it differentiate in terms of what a developer can do on the platform? I've never seen a Windows/WP Store app that actually impressed me to the point where I thought it wasn't possible on other comparable platforms. Is that going to change, and if so, how?

So tell me: what does Windows offer today that other platforms can't? Or why will it be better in the next year?

Is it just the confluence of services that will take it above and beyond? If so, then I respectfully submit that they've need polishing before they'll reach anything resembling a debonair success. Where the hell is the music locker for Xbox Music? I've been waiting two years for something that's been available from Google and Apple.

Is it going to be the unification of the platform across a myriad of form factors? That won't matter too much if the only things you can build on this expansive platform are effectively what everybody else has already accomplished, on new screen-sizes. The framework that extends across this platform... it has to offer more capabilities than any other for it to succeed like Microsoft needs it to.

What I want to hear is that there's something different that demonstrates how they're gaining ground on the app side of development. I don't want to hear that it's coming post-2015. I want something to look forward to that isn't a vague promise, a reason why I shouldn't start running a Linux distro when I'm back at school, studying CS. Paul Thurrott often says that there are these substantial, compelling reasons for why he personally prefers to use Windows, reasons that extend beyond the fact that he's built a business on analyzing the company that makes the OS and its relatives. And none spring to mind, for me. What is the immediate future of Windows?
 
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AluminiumRims

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At my work I have one Linux machine running Ubuntu and one Windows machine running Windows 7. I much rather prefer using the Windows 7 machine despite it is slower (the computer is slower than the Linux computer) because the UI is so much better than the Ubuntu Unity crap. I've tried different distros and about all of them are worse when it comes to UI. This is why Windows has been so successful at the desktop simply there are no competitors that can match the user experience. Ubuntu Unity is more difficult to navigate and the fonts look horrible.

That said I haven't used Mac so much and it is possible that iOS/OSX has a much better UI than both Windows and Linux.

Also, as Linux is open source standardization is an issue. For Windows a driver will work with several versions but for Linux there are no standards for this. Different distros have their own exotic ways of dealing with packaging so that means that you must distribute packages for several Distros, very inconvenient I think.

Now, Microsoft does not have this advantage in mobile phones as Android and iOS provides with just a good user experience. Also Microsoft lack the zillions useful applications that is available for desktop. Obviously, the solution for Microsoft is to harmonize desktop and mobile application development but as I see it they went the wrong road here and a very limited phone like iOS. Windows users want the ability to tinker the OS to use to its fully potential. Steve Ballmer tried to copy the Apple business model but that business model is not in the Microsoft DNA and will not work.

Microsoft has problems but I think that problem is that it has the manager sickness which means too many managers that tries to have a career overruling their brilliant engineers and what's common sense.
 

EBUK

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So tell me: what does Windows offer today that other platforms can't?
Millions of viruses, malware, mediocre security, easily hijacked browser, unusable Win 8.0 /8.1 UI on dekstops/laptops/non-touch devices, BSOD, dll errors, broken plug and play, driver hell...

All those features that put people off adopting WP as a viable mobile OS. Which is a shame because WP8.1 is everything that desktop Windows isn't.
 

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