Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”
– Mark Twain’s Own Autobiography: The Chapters from the North American Review
There I was, going about my morning reading my blog feeds in Google Reader (Google please do kill this), when I came upon a post titled Microsoft’s lack of common sense written by Patrick Smacchia (of NDepend fame). In this post he tries to make valid points by using stats he made up. He even admits he made them up. You would think that someone with a math and science degree would know that making up data to prove a point hurts your credibility.
So I decided to have a little fun and make up data of my own. Here is the comment that I left on his post
I tend to agree with Boris ‘my own statistics’ really. I can play that game too. 95% of the people around me love the tiles and they aren’t using touch screens. They are running Windows 8 as their primary OS on Macs (better hardware). As a consultant 80% of the large enterprise that I work with are will be migrating to Windows 8 within the next year. They are also planning to deploy internal Windows 8 applications.
I personally like the fact there is new functionality for Visual Studio released every quarter. Now I don’t have to wait three years. Yes there are still organizations that running earlier versions of VS..but who cares. Those older versions still work and satisfy their needs. Should MS be sitting around waiting for those organizations to say they are ready for an upgrade, ready for new innovations?
What I am encouraged by is that they are acting on user feedback. In the case of Xbox One they are doing it prior to releasing the product. We will have to see how these changes will affect the sales of Windows 8.1 and Xbox. I wish people would stop saying that the decline of PC sales is because of Windows 8. They were on the decline before Windows 8 most people I know don’t need a PC, tablet provide all the functionality they need. I have a feeling (more of ‘my own statistics’) most people feel this way which doesn’t bode well for PC makers. They need to adjust their business model.
Finally my last bit of ‘my own statistics’ 100% of the people I asked would never use NDepend because they see is as a waste of time, not worth the effort, and provides 0 value . So no ne your 4000 paying clients are in my statistics. See I too can play make believe with numbers. This was fun thanks for the post.
As you can see I decided to make up my own numbers *. Don’t try to find this comment because he decided to censor it and not approve it. I find this funny since right above the comment box where I entered my comment it stated “they don’t moderate comments”. Here is the response I got from Patrick:
I won’t publish your comment.
This is not because I provide publicly my position on MS decisions that you should mention something un-nice about my own product.
Don’t shoot the messenger.
If you wish to rewrite your comment by staying focus on the debate of MS decisions, I’ll be glad to publish it and answer it.
That’s ok Patrick because I have my own blog. First I am not shooting the messenger. I am shooting the messenger’s credibility in using made up facts to prove a point. BTW I am not the one who brought NDepend in the mix…you did. I just gave you some stats I have floating around in my head **. He has since added an addendum to his post which I will address in a minute. First let me “focus on the debate of MS decisions”:
Windows 8 tiles and suppression of Start menu
You used your NDepend telemetry to prove a point. Supposedly Microsoft used it telemetry to determine that people weren’t clicking the on screen start button. I think the bigger reaction is to the changes Microsoft made in general. People hate change. You see it every time Facebook makes one to the news feed. I like the tiles. But I don’t even notice them when I on my laptop. I launch apps by hitting the Windows Key and typing the app name. They would be more useful if I could keep them visible on a second monitor.
I think Microsoft did a poor job with their messaging and training. It seems to me Microsoft is trying to unify the experience across devices. In the long run this may help users when they move from their phone to their computing device (tablet and/or PC) and their entertainment device, and are greeted with a common interface.
The Decline of PC Sales
I love when people equate the decline of PC sales to release of Windows 8. I find this laughable. PC sales were in decline long before Windows 8 came out though Windows 8 did not inspire people to rush out and get a new PC. Here is my thoughts on why the decline:
- Why get a PC when a tablet would do. Most casual users can probably get by with a device that connects to the internet, reads emails, plays games, and occasionally light office work (documents, spreadsheets, and presentations). Most tablets available today can handle that and are cheaper than a decent PC.
- PC vendors have not made extraordinary leaps in hardware to compel users to upgrade every year. So the computer I bought three years ago still satisfies my needs. The average consumer rides a PC until it dies, which could be 3…4…5 years. When it does die they may opt for a tablet (see my previous point).
- The major PC vendors are just now catching on that people want lighter, faster devices that last all day (tablets) and are releasing tablets (Android and Windows) to compete with the iPad.
In my opinion, tablets and phones are personal computing devices. In that case PC sales are not declining they are skyrocketing. Obviously the form factors are changing but the premise of personal computing is alive and well.
XBoxOne waste, even before the release
Let me preface this by saying I very rarely play games on my Xbox. I use my Xbox as a media center so their initial decision to require a connection did not bother me but I can see how it would piss off hardcore gamers. At work, we are having an internal debate on this issue and here is what one of my co-worker, Oren, had to say:
Do you really want to keep putting discs in the system to change games? Why do I need a disc at all?
The other half of this is that the internet requirements open up a whole new set of options, like trading in digital downloads and sharing a game amongst your family.
What Microsoft did was screw up the PR and message badly.
At the very least it should have been opt-out/in where disconnected users could use their disc but then lose out on the new benefits
Visual Studio release schedule
I can’t believe that people would be upset at getting an updated version software more often than every 3 years. I like the fact that they are adding functionality every quarter. My original premise in the comments still hold true “Should MS be sitting around waiting for those organizations to say they are ready for an upgrade, ready for new innovations?” Just because NDepend’s clients aren’t ready to upgrade doesn’t mean others aren’t. The beauty of these later versions of Visual Studio is that the can exist side-by-side fairly nicely. Deployment can then be done as the need arises.
I am encouraged by the fact that Microsoft is iterating fast on their products. I think that Microsoft can do a better job communicating the timeline (what features when) and provide a little more transparency as to how they choose feature for a specific release.
As I stated before Patrick added an Addendum to his original post (which I think he did because of me). He starts out be saying “Sadly, I receive comments that ‘shoot the messenger’” It is hard to take you seriously when your statistics are as real as the purple dragon at Epcot. It is ok to be critical of Microsoft and to be worried since you (as well as I) make our livings on the Microsoft platform.
I, personally, am excited to see what they have coming. There were definitely short comings in Windows 8, especially with desktops/laptops and multi-screens. It nice to see Microsoft listening to user feedback and incorporating that feedback into the products they deliver (sometimes even before they are released). It is hard to please every one all the time but they do need to do a better job communicating with their consumers.
As the landscape of personal computing is changing, companies and developers need to be prepared to change as well. Bigger the company the harder it is to change. Microsoft has had missteps in the past. Hopefully they have learned from them and by adopting a more agile approach they can address those missteps a lot quicker.
* All numbers used in my response are made up and do not reflect any actual client data.
** I don’t use, nor have I ever used NDepend (for all I know it could be a good product). I asked the voices in my head which is where I got my numbers. These numbers can’t be verified by an independent source and should be taken with a grain of salt or pepper if you wish.
*** This post is my opinion and do not reflect the view of anyone but me (as far as I know).