20
Jan

Positioning Windows 8 versus Windows 10

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthOn January 20, 2015, the GeekWire website published an article written by Todd Bishop and Blair Hanley Frank, which discusses Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system and a public event (the actual debut of the consumer version of this O/S), which is scheduled to be held on January 21, 2015. The title of the article is Does the world still need Windows? What’s at stake for Microsoft in the Windows 10 consumer preview. Bishop and Frank summarize in this article some statistics coming out of NetApplications, which depict an enterprise computing world largely dominated by Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system (56% market share vs 14% market share for a combination of Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 desktops).

The statistics are included to buttress a portrayal of some of the challenges in front of this new operating system, as Microsoft prepares for its event. The article argues Microsoft faces an imperative, which it must successfully address, via the January 21st event, to ” . . . assure [the public] that Windows 10 won’t cause them to punch their PC. Windows 8’s dual interface, straddling the line between desktop and tablet features, has caused confusion and frustration for many longtime Windows users.” A similar call for urgency can be found in a number of other articles published on the same topic.

Is it possible Microsoft’s public relations team has encouraged the news community to adopt this approach to the event, which I would summarize as “Windows 10 is a radically different operating system from Windows 8.1”? I have no information to indicate whether this is the case, or not, but the similarity in tone between these articles is, perhaps, attributable to a set of “talking points” someone sent out. At least it is fair to say there has been no press from Redmond countering the tone or substance of these articles.

I have been running Windows 10 Preview on a laptop since the start of the preview program (I believe the program kicked off in October, 2014). The laptop, an HP Envy, shipped with Windows 8.0, which I upgraded to Windows 8.1. In my opinion the differences between Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, at least as of Build 9879, are not radical. The real takeaway, for me, from the Windows 10 Preview experience, is a refinement of Windows 8.1, where the user interface is now a consistent experience of apps and other desktop components. Is it necessary to combine both experiences in one operating system? I would answer it is, given the reality of an enterprise computing world where mobile hardware devices are the norm.

Microsoft is not the only vendor of these systems seeking to present consumers with a “unified” computing experience. Both Apple and Google (Android and Chrome) have come around to the same approach, which should be something of a vindication for the original notion powering Windows 8.1. I am looking forward to tomorrow’s event. It might even be fun.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved

23
Oct

It takes more than design components to produce online editorial content likely to attract habitual use from readers

Medium and Tumblr both offer visually strong statements to readers. The editorial content published on both sites, from a visual perspective, can be said to be a consistent combination of very prominent images and text laid out with special fonts and background color. Ostensibly the presentation should drive engagement. But readers are likely to experience difficulty getting to the content they want as the result of less than ideal curation efforts. In the case of Tumblr, less than ideal curation, in this writer’s opinion, will likely lead to lower revenue.

There is no search box on Medium. Perhaps this is intentional. Tumblr has a search box. Running a query for “tech” brought up an enormous page of en vogue “cards” (if readers aren’t acquainted with “cards” they are the now familiar graphical branding for information on most smart phone displays and tablets with browsers trapped in mobile view only). While the presentations may captivate attention, a running list of semantic abstractions — “futurescope”, “thetechgets”,”prostheticknowledge” — are completely opaque, leaving readers with a simple binary choice: either jump in and search around on a hit or miss, or just pass. This writer opted to simply pass. It’s likely a lot of other readers will take the same course of action, if their reason for landing on Tumblr is to find something specific, rather than just searching around.

Missing a likely subtle nuance about the differences in behavior exhibited between business users after some specific information, and folks wandering around a super store, passing down aisle after aisle simply checking things out, is a real reason why, in this writer’s opinion, online promotion opportunities are just not magnetizing interest from any manufacturers of products requiring a considered purchase decision from prospects. Everything is boiling down to an appeal to folks buying toothpaste (and similar absolutely tangible commodities). This is not good, long term, for the health of the online click ad business.

From the appearance of content as published on Medium, in this writer’s opinion, Evan Williams and Biz Stone (both played a part in the original Twitter effort) wanted to represent a clique on line. Information is certainly not easy to find on the site. This is a shame. There is a lot of very useful content on Medium. It’s just hard to get at it.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

15
Nov

On the Risks of Building Applications Entirely for Cloud Computing

As I write this post I’m traveliing to a client engagement via air, and have no access to the Internet. On a flight like this one (I’ll be aloft for 5+ hours), I can get a lot of the writing I need completed, so my attention can be fully focused on my client’s needs once I arrive at the engagement (a Developer conference). But Microsoft’s OneNote product is not helping me to get my work done.

While I’m very enthused about Microsoft’s newly reorganized business model, and the widespread use of its SharePoint collaboration/enterprise document management/Intranet computing solution, I’m not keen, at all, on OneNote. I need to mention the opinion of one of my clients, who is very enthused about the product. But my client used to be a software developer and, evidently, is more adept at making his way through the features of OneNote. On the other hand, I can’t find out how to use the product, despite watching the Office video tutorial. What’s even worse is what I take to be the contagion represented by the original Windows 8 operating system and its much publicized summary dismissal of the “Start Button”, which was no where to be found in the first version of this new O/S.

The OneNote 2013 version of this disease is a complete absence of a “Save” button. I couldn’t save my work. After all, I’m aloft with no access to the Internet. While I can be sympathetic with the Microsoft developers who, striving to build a “nothing but cloud” application, assumed users would be “always on” the Internet, or, perhaps, something else, I’ve got to say the lack of a “Save” button makes no sense at all and should be fixed right away.

When I tried to add a new notebook, the new notebook I added was somehow disconnected from my work space, so I couldn’t save my work to it. All of this is not good new. I’ll take my client’s word on the great value represented by OneNote, but I can’t personally attest to it. I simply can’t figure it out, at all.

I’m concerned with this kind of over zealous attention to a new direction, on the part of Microsoft. While the problems, with regard to OneNote may be laughable, the same approach with regards to bigger ticket products like SQL Server, SharePoint, or Lync can, inadvertently, produce a disaster. In fact, wasn’t this the problem with the original launch of Windows 8?

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

16
Oct

Cloud Computing Options may not be Attractive to Enterprise End Users

In our opinion, enterprise IT end users will have to make a substantial adjustment to successfully deliver on daily computing requirements through cloud options. For example, we, ourselves, make considerable use of both Salesforce.com and MS Dynamics CRM. In our experience with Salesforce.com, we find it necessary to open new browser tabs, almost endlessly. The lack of nested windows, for us, is quite inconvenient. We find ourselves losing our place within the interface. In order to re-orient ourselves, we end up wasting considerable time flipping from browser tab to browser tab.

While Dynamics CRM (with Internet Explorer 9.0 as the browser) does a much better job of nesting windows (clicking on any hotlink within a records view will spawn a new window), we still get lost. In contrast, with desktop applications like MS Outlook 2010, it is much easier to maintain one’s place as sub windows are kept to a smaller size. Further these sub windows are truly nested, which makes it much easier for us to see where we are in an operation.

We think average end users will be challenged by this type of computing. Therefore, we recommend that enterprise organizations planning to migrate core applications to cloud alternatives should plan on educating their communities of end users about the new computing realities well in advance of planned migrations. Further, we think that enterprise IT ISVs will have to do a better job of designing user interfaces. In fact, we think it is highly likely that user interfaces will be substantially modified over the next near term as ISVs and their customers collaborate on the design of a truly useful end user computing interface.

Of course, there is a substantial need for end user training as a means of facilitating a “softer landing” for end users within a new computing interface for cloud options. We have direct first hand experience speaking with enteprise organizations about end user training as one of our clients, Rehmani Consulting, Inc, offers unique training content for Microsoft SharePoint as well as a complete help system for SharePoint, VisualSP.

We have spoken with hundreds of enterprises on the topic of end user training for SharePoint. Many understand the imperative, but a nearly equal number do not understand the value of training. We think this reality will prove to be true, and consistent, as enterprise organizations more broadly migrate over to cloud computing offers. Of course, we are very comfortable that the organizations most likely to benefit from these migrations will be those with the foresight to plan on end user training well in advance of actual migration dates to ensure the smoothest possible transition for end users.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved