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The technical problems with my PC World blog, Answer Line, have been fixed. You can once again find my advice to readers at http://www.pcworld.com/column/answer-line.
If you’ve been to PC World’s Answer Line page lately, you may notice that the latest post is from December 3. Is this the end of Answer Line?
No. Do to a technical problem (or perhaps a design problem; I’m not sure), it’s no longer possible to assign a new article to the Answer Line column/blog. This will be fixed.
In the meantime, I’m still posting new Answer Line pieces every Monday and Thursday. You can find them all on my PC World author’s page.
Microsoft’s motive behind Windows 8 seems pretty clear to most observers. As the PC market loses ground and mindshare, Redmond desperately needs to turn its flagship OS into an important player in the growing mobile market. But that doesn’t explain why Redmond chose to intentionally cripple the desktop part of the new OS.
They didn’t have to remove the Start menu and make Windows open in the new, touch-friendly user interface–even on touchless PCs. They could have kept their desktop and mobile OSes as separate products, or created a Windows 8 with a fully-functional and equal desktop environment. They chose not to.
Here’s my theory: They want the relatively open Windows environment to die away so that they can make Apple-like profits on their new Store.
Think about it. As of today, anyone who can write a Windows program can make it available on the Web sites of their choice. Microsoft doesn’t get a cut.
When Windows 8 ships, there will be two kinds of Windows software–legacy (the programs anyone can distribute) and something that won’t be called Metro. Microsoft will get a cut out of every piece of not-Metro software not given away for free.
Apple is now the most profitable company in history. Is it any wonder that Microsoft wants to follow Apple’s business model? And Apple’s App Store is a big part of that income stream.
It’s only natural that Microsoft would want to kill off the old Windows. But they can’t do that directly; users would revolt and switch to Macs or Linux. So they’re giving us a hybrid operating system designed to make us prefer the new environment over the old one, so we can eventually give the old, less-profitable one up.
This isn’t the first time Microsoft has copied Apple’s walled garden business model. Remember PlaysForSure? That was Microsoft’s relatively open iPod alternative, available to several hardware manufacturers and online music stores. Redmond abandoned it for an Apple-like vertical business model called Zune. As with the iPad, the company that made the player (in this case, Microsoft) was the only one who could sell you the music, which only played on that company’s player.
Apple can get away with that sort of business model because it has brilliant design (real value) and brilliant marketing (perceived value). Microsoft’s designs, on the other hand, have ranged from brilliant to idiotic and everything in between, while their marketing…well, the whole Metro thing speaks volumes. And the Zune, you may have noticed, is dead.
Microsoft is trying to save Windows by making it more like the Mac. They would have done better by keeping it more like Windows.
I never got around to listing my best work for March, so I’m combining it with April. March was a particularly good month for my Answer Line blog. April, on the other hand, saw a considerable number of Bayflicks posts, thanks to the San Francisco International Film Festival.