Category: PC

More innovation from Microsoft…

Cockroach

Amongst Microsoft’s many, many accomplishments, is this lovely little gem:

Rixstep: There is no patch.

There are bugs that Microsoft patch pretty quickly, there are bugs that take a little more testing and take longer, there are bugs that they take ages to patch for some reason.

And now, from your trustworthy business OS supplier comes a first in long history of innovation – a bug that cannot be patched.

At all.

It can’t be fixed.

Why this isn’t more widely reported is beyond me. Microsoft’s solution is to run IE8 in a restricted mode which seems a band-aid solution to me.

Sure, Vista solves this little hiccup, but just about every Windows box that I can see from my happy little Mac studio, is still running XP.

What galls me the most is that this little feature has been present in every version of Windows up until Vista, they’ve only just discovered it as far as I can tell.

A few years from now, will there be another ‘unpatchable’ flaw in Vista, Windows 7, 8, 9 etc that they discover?

Why do people not question them? Why do they just accept this? Why is the news full of Apple releasing another device that everyone fails to understand, because it just happens to do something different, and not full of Microsoft’s unbelievable, amateurish and downright dangerous coding?

No other web browser on the Windows platform is affected. Does that not say something about this company?

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$39.8 Billion…

Via MacDailyNews via Businessweek:

Way back in 1997, Apple was very nearly history.

I remember back then that I seriously thought of getting out of the graphic design business for good, I could not face a career having to use, what was then, Windows 95/NT.

I decided to hold on and hope for the best, but even I never thought that Apple could go this far.

If there’s one thing that defines Apple, since 1997, since Steve Jobs came back, it is that everything they do, and I mean everything they do, MAKES THEM MONEY.

A sh*tload of money.

Profit margins on their hardware that others can only dream of (around 40% for the Mac).

Software – since Steve Jobs returned, Apple makes the best software in their target markets (please Apple, take on Adobe!)

Content – the iTunes store makes profit on music, movies and apps.

Apple Stores – have the best profit per square foot of any retailer.

Next we have the tablet, and with the rumours of more content deals and that huge data centre built for some as yet unannounced reason, we can expect that to rake in even more cash.

But as the MacDailyNews/Businessweek articles states, what is it for?

Apple have spent a little here and there, acquiring one or two businesses that make strategic sense.

But there’s a lot of money left and it’s looking very unlikely that Apple are going to give that money to their shareholders (with a dividend), or it’s users (by reducing that profit margin).

So what’s it for?

Take a look at the graph at the top of the page – I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Teflon Microsoft…

Teflon Microsoft

Courtesy of the ever-incisive Rixstep:

Reinforcing my previous post concerning the apparent invisibility of our friends at Redmond – why does no-one dare to question the insecure system that allowed all this?

China hack into over 30 western companies due to flaws in Microsoft Windows – how much more serious does this have to get?

Why does nothing seem to stick to this company?

The best (for them) days work Microsoft ever did, was to convince everyone that they are blameless for the security holes in their software.

Microsoft’s subtle trick…

The Devil

I remember a Christian once saying to me that the best day’s work that the Devil ever did, was to convince everyone that he didn’t exist.

A similar analogy, is that the socialists have convinced everyone that George Orwell’s book ‘1984’ was about fascism, when actually it’s about the dangers of unrestricted socialism (IngSoc, stands for Engligh Socialism).

These thoughts were piqued when I read a newspaper article in the UK’s DailyMail newspaper, outlining the experience the reporter had when they accidentally clicked on a spammer’s email.

The chaos that ensued, highlighted the dangers of clicking on these sorts of emails, and the article well worth a skim:

Courtesy of the UK’s DailyMail newspaper:

I always like to read articles like this because they show the computer experiences of your average Windows user; and I mean the really average Windows user.

The average Windows user makes up the majority of Microsoft customer base, and this article perfectly illustrates the clever trick that Microsoft has played upon them.

The article in question is basically about someone who received an email that asked for all sorts of personal information. This email was a spam email, but the user dumbly accepted it as legitimate, and duly got conned – malware was installed and all sorts of chaos ensued.

Now you can comment on the ineptness of the user, but this article isn’t about their stupidity, it’s about the person that they ultimately blamed.

It’s a big, long article that goes into great detail about what happened to them, but nowhere and I mean nowhere in the article is the word ‘Windows’ or the word ‘Microsoft’ mentioned. Not once.

Ultimately the person who they blamed was – Yahoo. They blamed the email service for failing to filter out the email.

Not themselves for being so inept, not Microsoft for selling them an OS with security holes, but Yahoo. Poor Yahoo.

From the article:

Finally on Monday, three days later, smooth-sounding Jessica from ‘the Yahoo concierge service’ called to help me get back into my account and reassure me that Yahoo took such violations very seriously.
She would not be drawn on who might be responsible at Yahoo for stopping hackers. I wanted to know why Yahoo’s own filter system hadn’t spotted a bogus email sent in their name and taken it out before I opened it.

And here lies the biggest trick that Microsoft has made – they’ve made themselves invisible.

They’ve subtly altered people’s perception of computing so that they are blameless.
They’ve convinced the average Windows user that security holes are a way of life, and it’s not their fault, but it’s the fault of:
  1. You for not constantly being on your guard to make up for the fact that an email link can allow remote software to be installed.
  2. The ‘bad guys’ who send out these emails and take advantage of the security holes in Microsoft software
  3. The email provider for not filtering out the ‘bad guy’s’ emails.
All this is very depressing, but even more depressing are the 30 or so comments to this article from more ‘average Windows users’.
They all comment on the dangers of email, how they had spam before, and how they ultimately accept it as a way of computing life.
To add insult to injury, a drone from Sophos gives 3 golden rules for online safety – not one of them states to give up Microsoft software and choose Linux or Apple.
I’m fully aware that phishing emails are a malware-vehicle that could be used on these platforms as well, but the security hole that this email exploited was for Windows – as most, if not all of them are.

Microsoft, please carry on…

Courtesy of Rixstep:

Spontaneous Shoplifting @ MSFT Store

Words don’t often fail me, but the sight of a dozen minor-geeks, awkwardly clapping and trying to dance, under the guise of spontaneity… well I don’t know what to say or where to begin.

Microsoft, you’re making a complete fool of yourself. You really don’t know what (hopefully) irreparable damage you are doing to your brand (such that it is) and your public image.

Years from now, when Microsoft are long, long gone, people will look back at the YouTube video and say that this was one of the 10 or so key moments where severe blows were dealt that added to this company’s downfall.

The reason why Microsoft have survived and prospered this far, is because of the army of Windows IT Professionals that have propped up this loose assortment of sloppy hacks and ass-backwards ‘me-too’ and ‘just good enough’ coding.

They have survived because of the mass-ignorance of your average PC-buyer, who needed their hand held whilst buying their computer.

But now things have changed. Apple, Google, Twitter, Facebook and dozens of others have caught up whilst Microsoft were sleeping, and Microsoft’s customer has changed – they are armed with geek-knowledge and they know how to use it.

Ballmer, like the captain on the Titanic, tried to ignore it, but now, with market-share and mind-share slipping he has to do something.

He calls on his troops, but more and more of these troops are bringing in laptops with Apple logos on them. They have iPods, and iPhones, they use Google instead of Bing, and Office is the last thing on their mind with free alternatives readily available.

So he does something – Vista. A total failure that would have finished most companies – but Microsoft isn’t ‘most’ companies.

He tries ‘new’ and ‘different’ advertising campaigns. They are met with derision, confusion and worst of all – laughter, the ‘at’ kind, not the ‘with’ kind.

Plan B. If you can’t beat them – join them. Or copy them. Copy them in exactly the same way you’ve copied them before, back when that ‘computer for the rest of us’ was first released.

Copy it backwards and upside down. In such a way that although all the pieces are there, they just don’t quite fit together.

What you are seeing in this poor, poor, sad video above, is Microsoft in the raw. When the support from all the IT professionals has gone.

They have to compete. On their own. This is who they really are.

I’ve often thought Microsoft were indestructible and I would be writing this blog to the end of my days with them always there, always copying, always getting it totally wrong.

You know I’m beginning to see, at last, the end of this once never great company.

No such thing as bad PR?

sale_now_on

Windows 7 doth approach, and Microsoft, in it’s wisdom have organised ‘Windows 7 parties’ to encourage the poor deluded majority to bet, once again, that this version of Windows is the one they will actually enjoy using.

The one that will at last, be intuitive, won’t crash much, will be free from viruses and malware, just like those other computers that they don’t like to mention very much.

The general reception that the Windows 7 party idea has had is predictably consistent; it’s an awful, cheesy, cliche and pain-inducing idea that only reinforces the idea that Microsoft are so totally uncool and unhip, that it’s a wonder their bums don’t fall off (to quote Zaphod Beeblebrox).

However one excuse for all the fallout has been, ‘there’s no such thing as bad PR.’ Meaning that it doesn’t matter that the idea is awful, it doesn’t matter that everyone is laughing at Microsoft, the number of column inches it generates is worth all the bad press.

However I do not agree.

Many years ago I worked alongside a person who I had great respect from in the creative and advertising industry. Our team was tasked with creating a straightforward campaign for a large supermarket chain to advertise a sale.

This advertising took many forms, but one part was bus-shelter posters.

Now being trained graphic designers we new that the thought process for the consumer was thus:

You hook in the consumer with a gimmick, an offer or an angle.

You then hold there attention with an attractive, easy to ‘consume’, flowing, logical design.

You then let them go, away from your adverts influence, with a thought, or memory of your offer.

The last part is the most important. The consumer will spend infinitely more time away from your ads influence, than being exposed to it. You don’t have long to get your message across and that message has to hit home first time, and it must stay with them when you ad is long gone.

This period is the time where your influence has to be positive so that the consumer can pass your message along to another person.

This is why ‘viral marketing’ is a difficult and dangerous approach. You have to get your message and every possible interpretation of that message absolutely right.

Anyway I digress a little- back to the supermarket’s ad.

We created what we thought best fulfilled those 3 critera, to hook, to hold & give right memory. However the client didn’t see it that way.

They wanted something much more direct, simple and gaudy. Put simply they wanted their ad on a dayglo green or orange background, so that it ‘stood out’ and shouted their message.

It certainly would hook & hold, but the memory? My colleague commented that, “We’ve hooked them in, the ad will be noticed most certainly, they will even read the ad, but what memory are they left with? a cheap and nasty one.”

The client, whose product was most certainly not cheap and nasty, finally relented, but this experience made me think about the Windows 7 party.

It’s getting the column inches, and we’re certainly hooked and held, but what’s the memory we are left with? What are we saying to others about this approach?

Microsoft seems to think that any news is good news… I don’t think so.

Microsoft’s retail stab in the dark…

microsoft-retail-store

Upon thinking about Microsoft entry into the retail space, a few thoughts occur.

Microsoft have a really deep seated envy of everything that Apple does. Now, they’ve always had this from the very first meeting about Windows 1.0, and in the past they could get away with it.

After all, despite all Apple’s efforts, they were not a mainstream company. Microsoft and their partners dominated and no-one outside Apple’s niche had ever heard of them.

All the great unwashed saw was ever greater ‘innovation’ coming from Redmond. They did not know that this innovation was a photocopied, me-too agenda based upon what Apple did.

This approach works fine, as long as Apple remains a niche.

Can you really say that Apple Inc. is at this current moment ‘a niche player’?

Group together everything that Apple does, the Mac, iPod, iPhone etc, and their approaching 10% market share (and even greater mind-share), I think not.

Why does this make a difference? Well, Microsoft can keep up the pretense of being an ‘innovator’ as long as no-one (or at least the majority) knows that Apple exists.

This is all the more difficult, and one very good reason this is getting harder, is because of those pesky Apple Retail Stores.

People used to listen to their ‘geeky friend’ on what computer to purchase, which was usually, if not always Windows.

That’s not the case now, they see an Apple Store, go in, and more often than not, purchase. I don’t know what their footfall conversion rate is (the % of customer who enter a store and either do or do not purchase something), but according to Apple 50% of those purchases are to Windows users.

So what is Microsoft to do? Well there’s only one thing to do, fight fire with fire.

But Microsoft has a problem, and it’s a problem that cannot be got around. The PC model is proprietary OS on open hardware. Apple’s model is open OS (sort, parts of etc), on proprietary hardware.

Now I don’t care what people say, Apple’s model gives us more reliable computers, Microsoft’s model gives problems – lot of them, with more chances to go wrong.

Apple’s model is naturally fits the retail environment. People enter Apple Stores for an experience. Yes, they take their computers in to be fixed, and Apple manages that quite well, as their model keeps those fixes down to an acceptable level.

Microsoft? Their model invites problems, how the hell are they going to manage all those PC users with viruses, spam, malware and faulty hardware because their ‘geeky friend’ made their computer?

This should be interesting to watch…

Microsoft to open retail stores?…

6-8-08-angry-at-pc

This is going to be fun to watch…

Imagine the scene: Microsoft opens it’s store, hoping that people will walk through the door and fully grasp that Microsoft software can help their digital life and will be wowed by everything they have to offer and they won’t go to that funny fruit store down the street.

However what will happen is that Joe Sixpack will walk through the door walk up to the counter and say, “Ug! Computer not work, you fix!” (Along with the 20 people behind them with similar complaints).

The patient (and butt-ugly) Microsoft genius with say, “I’m very sorry sir, but your issue is a hardware issue and I’m afraid Microsoft only deal with software, I can give you the number of the Dell support-line?”

Mr Sixpack will then say, “Ug! Dellman say your software got virus, you fix!”

The Genius eyes will then light up and say, “Aaaah, yes sir then we can help you, we sell virus killing software starting at $59.95 per month for our basic package.” He then hands him a leaflet.

Mr Sixpack numbly hands over his credit card, “just make computer work – me want pr0n!”

At the end of the month Microsoft will say that their software stores are a great success, having sold millions of software packages that help their customer get more from their computer purchase.

If anything, this will force more consumers into Apple stores because for the first time, Microsoft will meet the great-unwashed PC buying public – and their problems. I really don’t think Microsoft realise that aspect at all – they really are that arrogant and full of themselves.

The will not be able to cope – it will be a PR disaster. All Apple needs to do is air a well-timed Mac vs PC add that targets this sh*t storm, and watch them come through the doors.

Microsoft, please, please, please – carry on.

Reaction to Microsoft’s answer to ‘GetaMac’

I’ve not published for a while as I have been knee-deep in the negotiations to convert my company’s website from a standard informational website in to a fully-fledged ecommerce site.

So I’ve let pass the current effort by Microsoft to counter the resurgence of the Mac with their own set of advertising, costing $300 million no less.

Being very busy, I don’t have the time to look into the metaphorical reasoning behind the Seinfield ads, but I assure you I will sooner or later.

I’m a marketing guy and I deal with peddling bullshit to consumers on a daily basis, and at first glance these ads seem amateurish at best.

In addition, I’m too late – they’ve been pulled already.

Microsoft have continued the assault on Apple with the ‘I’m a PC’ ads. Again however, the ads seem poorly thought out and clumsy in their execution.

But I’m not going to go into detail, but one thing I’ve noticed is the reception that any advertising effort by Redmond seems to generate in the media. It seems that the press is resoundingly negative in their judgement.

Why is this? Surely something can be said of these adverts that would give Microsoft some hope? Even myself at my most impartial, could, if pushed, muster some sort of positive morsel.

It seems to me that the tables have been turned.

Back in the 80’s & 90’s, the main motivating factor, the thing, above all that would sway someone’s opinion on whether to choose an IBM PC or a Macintosh, was their friendly (or not so friendly) neighbourhood geek.

The spotty nerd at work, the weirdo that fixed the computers, the clumsy nobby-no-mates that bored you senseless with talk of RAM, memory, DOS & hard disks.

And his recommendation was (you guessed it), the DOS (and Windows) PC. He scoffed at the Mac, calling it a toy, lacking in software, no powerful and something that nobody used.

And his recommendation stuck. For years. And years. We’ve been at the brunt-end of that decision ever since. The entire IT industry is geared towards pushing us to Windows and the PC.

Fast forward to the last few years. After years of crashes, viruses, trojans, malware and ever cheap computers, that seem to last little more than 18 months, the consumer who relied of their geeky friends recommendation just doesn’t believe them anymore.

So who do they believe? Well who’s left?

Their not going to listen to a Mac user either, because we get lumped together with those geeky weirdoes.

The only thing left is the media. They are listening to the media, the ad-men, all those artists who use Macs in all the creative departments up and down the land, all those PR agencies and marketing people who use predominantly the Mac.

The Mac’s time has come – for years the IT geeks recommended the PC to anybody who would listen, well those days are gone. Now that the consumer’s ear is turning towards the media, we will recommend nothing but the Mac.

Poetic justice for all the years of misery they’ve put us all through.

My god, these people still exist..?

Live with it: Mac is not the greatest

Oh dear, I thought we’d already discussed this a million times on every forum in the known universe.

The public has spoken, and they want Mac’s, not PC’s – live with it.

I thought that people like this would just, y’know, go back to their server rooms or something, but it seems that every now and again, between chocolate bars, squeezing spots and the hosing down and reinstallation of Windows, they post flame-bait like this.

They can say anything they like, because they are journalists with a PC-bias, and we are just Mac-users who just want to tell everyone that there’s a better way.

We can’t say anything in retaliation because if we dare to speak up, we’re pigeonholed as blind cult followers.

All those stories you hear about Windows users switching to Mac and then wondering why they didn’t do it years ago, well that’s just lies put about by these ‘weird’ Mac people.

But you can’t win with situations like this, so I suggest to everyone that please, please, please when the next Windows-spod pokes his head from around the server-room door, and tries to convince you that all these Macs are a waste of time and you ought to be on Windows, just ignore him.

Please don’t reply to his article, even if it’s well meaning – he’ll just use it as ammunition against us.

If you want to post a retort, then start your own blog if you have to so you don’t give him the traffic that he most sorely needs.

In another few years these people will quieten down, after the people they work for/with start bringing in iPhones, and telling everyone they’ve just bought a Mac as well, and that they’d wished they’d done it years ago.

Microsoft innovate at last!

Link from Mac Daily News…

Here’s a interesting quote from Microsoft to their ‘mobile partners’.

“It’s now my honor and privilege to announce a milestone that our partnership HAS ACCOMPLISHED. This fiscal year we WILL SELL nearly 20 million Windows Mobile smartphone licenses, making Windows Mobile one of the most widely used smartphone software platforms in the world.”

Emphasis is mine.

Is this now Microsoft’s approach? Instead of celebrating when they have reached a target, they celebrate in the past, BEFORE that target is reached (demonstrating breathtaking arrogance and taking their customer for a ride granted)?

Their innovation now knows no bounds – apparently as well as a ‘big ass table’, they’ve also developed a ‘big ass time machine’.

Humour aside, the hidden meaning of this missive, shows, unglazed how frightened Microsoft actually are.

Their ‘partners’ will survive, as Apple does not want to completely, unfairly dominate industries (like Microsoft do), but Microsoft is another matter – it has suddenly realised how vulnerable it really is.

Carpet bombing flaw in Safari is not a problem because…

 

Link from Slashdot to arcticle at The Register

So let me get this straight, a flaw in Safari, could allow a malicious attacker to download files (1, 2 or thousands) to your Windows desktop without your perrmission.

But the flaw doesn’t allow execution.

Because Apple’s not that stupid.

You know, to allow just ‘any’ file to just execute without permission.

So what’s the problem? Other than it being a ‘design’ flaw? It’s certainly not a security flaw is it? the files cannot be executed and therefore cause untold damage can they?

Ah, right but those files can…

By a flaw in Windows.

Not Safari, then.

So it’s Microsoft’s problem then is it?

That’s right it is.

And when will Microsoft fix this flaw?

No word on that. Yet.

I’m sure they’ll get round to fixing it asap, once they’ve blamed Apple for drawing attention to their SECURITY flaw, by a DESIGN flaw that Apple, quite rightly, didn’t really think would cause too much of a problem, because no company is stupid to allow files to execute by themselves.

Except Microsoft. Again.