Really, Microsoft — really? The latest in Steve Ballmer’s Big Fun Aventures in Failure is that Office won’t be going anywhere mobile (other than Microsoft’s own unloved Surface tablets) until 2014 at the earliest:
An alleged road map for Microsoft’s coming Gemini wave of Office updates, if accurate, indicates Microsoft’s Office for iOS and Android — as well as Outlook for Windows RT — might not happen as soon as many had hoped for and expected.
Making things worse, Outlook — the one Office suite I might want to use — will wait an additional six months after Word, Excel, etc. are released.
The real problem here is the massive inventory of Windows applications that need Windows on which to run. Legacy apps, whatever, their numbers and capabilities dwarf anything in the Apple or Android app stores. Why would a full Windows machine need an "app store" when tens of millions of apps are already in existence and ready to run on that platform?
It's easy to bash Ballmer – and I'd be the last guy to say that his regime has been a perfect one for Microsoft – but giant companies have to keep in mind the progression of technology. As we see (and who under normal circumstances would have predicted it?) desktop PCs are going away for all but specialized applications and users.
I was talking with a Mickeysoft rep at Best Buy a couple of days ago, and I told him I didn't see a future for WindowsRT, the flavor of Windows8 designed to run on the ARM processor, given that there was no path to full Windows legacy compatability with it. He said, "Yeah, but that won't matter, because Windows8 apps will run across all platforms that run Win8 itself. In the meantime, ARM chips offer great value, light weight, need less cooling, and will be greatly improved in speed as well."
Good point – unless one of your go-to apps never gets ported to Win8.
And speaking of Win8 – a real problem with it is that it is designed for a touch-screen interface. If you don't have that, then you're going to be mousing and clicking your way around a GUI that is not really optimized for that. Another trend is to "dumb down" apps – either remove or hide "complicated" features or capabilities from the average user so as to "simplify the computing experience."
This leads to frustration – Win8 Internet Explorer, for instance, is much easier to use with tabs and dropdown menus readily available, rather than touch-scrolled through dozens, or hundreds, of "tiles," each one representing a single "favorite." (And no way to organize them that I can see). Sure, you can keystroke a search entry for the favorite you're looking for – assuming that you remember an appropriate key word – but instead of a mouse click or two from accessing the site you want, you have to let go of the mouse, use either an onscreen or attached keyboard, type several keystrokes, and so on. That's hardly what I call an improvement in ease and efficiency. Now multiply that approach by every Win8 "optimised" app you own.
Eventually, voice recognition with start to mitigate these issues – and I expect Google Glass to be the game changer there – but the single biggest characteristic of today's technology is rapid change. Ballmer – and Apple, Intel, and all the rest – are trying to plot medium term strategies – say ten years out – for a future that, not so long ago, would have needed a hundred years to make the same advances. In other words, they are all flying blind.
And we are all getting the results of that.
Update(drach-Bill I was able to edit to get the page to display but was unable to get the image)