Microsoft: Still a Thing

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Thad
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Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Thad » Wed Jan 21, 2015 4:17 pm

Windows 10 to be a free upgrade if you're running 7 or 8. For the first year after release, anyway. Clearly they're taking a cue from Apple.

Of course, the major difference is that Apple makes its money selling hardware, while (Surface aside) MS doesn't. Course, MS still has Office to sell, and making the OS a loss leader makes sense, because it's the best way to get people to upgrade from Windows 7.

It's not clear from the article how this is going to apply to corporate users, but I wouldn't be surprised if MS offered a free upgrade to them, too -- they're the ones MS MOST needs to convince to upgrade from Win 7, and presumably they'll still be paying for support even if they're not paying for new licenses.

Wonder how the actual upgrade process is going to work. Like, can I install a developer preview now and then just have it switch over to the full version when it's released? I mean, I DO have Windows 7.

That's not clear either. Guess we'll see.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Brentai » Wed Jan 21, 2015 5:35 pm

Apparently it's entirely possible and not a hack or anything to run Windows 10 without a Microsoft account, but it's still grossly buried under the option to create an account.

Ehhh.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Thad » Wed Jan 21, 2015 8:03 pm

Yeah, that sounds about right.

Course, I probably use my Android phone more than my Windows desktop.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Thad » Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:44 pm

Ars sheds some light on IE12/Titan/Spartan/Edge/whatever the fuck it's going to end up being called.

The new engine should also reduce the impact of compatibility features in the future by substantially ditching the "prefix" mechanism. For a time, experimental JavaScript and CSS features were exposed by browsers to developers by using browser-specific prefixes; "-ms" for Internet Explorer, "-webkit" for Safari, and so on and so forth. This has created a significant compatibility headache for browser developers, because sites using those prefixes have become abundant on the Web. This in turn makes it difficult for browser developers to either change those prefixed features (to accommodate updated specifications, for example) or drop those prefixes entirely once features leave the experimental stage.

In Edge, experimental features won't use prefixes. Instead, they'll have to be manually enabled by end-users on a flags screen. This means that Web developers can try out the experimental capabilities and provide feedback on them, but they can no longer leak onto the real Web.


Thank Christ. I know MS has been backing away from that shit for awhile, but it's nice to see a line in the sand and "No, you cannot use proposed standards in the wild." Google's phasing out prefixes too:

Firstly, we won’t be migrating the existing -webkit- prefixed properties to a -chrome- or -blink- prefix, that’d just make extra work for everyone. Secondly, we inherited some existing properties that are prefixed. Some, like -webkit-transform, are standards track and we work with the CSS WG to move ahead those standards while we fix any remaining issues in our implementation and we’ll unprefix them when they’re ready. Others, like -webkit-box-reflect are not standards track and we’ll bring them to standards bodies or responsibly deprecate these on a case-by-case basis. Lastly, we’re not introducing any new CSS properties behind a prefix.


That's the two biggest desktop browsers taken care of. We've still got to deal with fucking mobile Safari (the new IE6), but this is a good big step toward standards compliance.

Granted, nobody's going to be using the new browser if nobody buys the new OS, but nonetheless this means no support for new nonstandard CSS in IE or Chrome. (And presumably also not Firefox, though I haven't looked into what Mozilla's doing about the problem.)

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby zaratustra » Fri Jan 30, 2015 6:09 am

surely this time browsers will work to the same standard

right guys

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Thad » Sat Jan 31, 2015 2:06 pm

Ars has more on Windows 10 licensing, mostly for the enterprise.

It sounds a lot like how things work in the Linux world -- home users have constant rolling upgrades, while enterprise users will have major release milestones. MS is splitting the latter up into two categories -- Current Branch for Business (CBB) and Long-Term Support (LTS). CBB will be more current, LTS will be more stable, and both of them will be more stable and less current than what home users are getting.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Mothra » Tue Feb 03, 2015 12:20 pm

Put Windows 8 on my EP121 tablet, despite Brentai's warnings. Hoping 8.1 is as big a step up as folks are saying.

Pretty nice finally being able to play Civ V with full touch screen capabilities, let me just say.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby beatbandito » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:05 pm

I wish more games had some kind of touchscreen, How hard would it have been to add it to the baldur's gate enhanced editions?
Image

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Thad » Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:40 am

Especially considering they came out on Android and iOS too.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Thad » Sun Mar 15, 2015 5:58 pm

Ars: Windows 10 to support peer-to-peer downloading of apps and updates

Remember a few years back when demand for the Windows 7 developer preview resulted in MS's servers getting DDoS'ed and I pointed out that releasing updates on BitTorrent would avoid that issue? Better late than never.

And if you're not into opening up your computer to share with other computers on the Internet, there's an alternate mode where it will only share with other computers on your LAN -- so that you'll only have to download updates once per household instead of once per (Windows) computer.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby MarsDragon » Wed Mar 18, 2015 1:00 pm

Windows 10 to not have Internet Explorer

It sounds like they're both trying to rebrand and trying to get away from the masses of hacks and compatibility fixes IE needed to have to run all those terrible legacy websites. (prediction: none of those websites will be updated to work with any modern browser) I can see why they're doing it, the IE brand has taken a hell of a beating over the past decade. It's going to be interesting to see if this new browser will be an actual improvement and if it will be able to shake off the IE stigma.

I'm also going to make a wild prediction and say that we'll be cursing Chrome as the new IE6 in another 15 years. Already people are building websites that only work properly in Chrome because we haven't learned shit since 2000. webkit- properties will be bloating our pages for years to come.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Thad » Wed Mar 18, 2015 1:20 pm

Well, as I said above, I think mobile Safari is the biggest contender for The New IE6. Partly because Chrome is more standards-compliant, and partly because all that -webkit- prefix shit is Apple's fault and Google just inherited it when they forked Webkit. The good news is that both MS and Google have said they're going to stop using prefixes -- that doesn't fix the problem of all the sites already using them in the wild, or any new ones that crop up because developers haven't learned any better, but it should at least make it less of a problem in the future.

That said, yes, I DO agree that we're seeing a lot of sites only tested in Chrome, and that problem's likely to get worse in the coming years.


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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Caithness » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:25 pm

What will "stop pirating" even mean in that situation? Buy a non-upgrade Windows 10 license?

How much will that cost, anyway?

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Rico » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:30 pm

Thad wrote:And if you're not into opening up your computer to share with other computers on the Internet, there's an alternate mode where it will only share with other computers on your LAN -- so that you'll only have to download updates once per household instead of once per (Windows) computer.

What is this, "the future"?

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby MarsDragon » Wed Mar 18, 2015 4:46 pm

I imagine the free upgrade is mostly there because of the persistent problems MS had trying to get pirated WinXP (and associated bad rap) out of the wild. Someone ran the cost analysis and determined it was better to give Windows away than having thousands of unupgraded machines running around causing security headaches all over the world. I don't know how much of a problem that is in the US/Europe right now; I'd bet this is mostly aimed straight at Asia.

Thad wrote:Well, as I said above, I think mobile Safari is the biggest contender for The New IE6. Partly because Chrome is more standards-compliant, and partly because all that -webkit- prefix shit is Apple's fault and Google just inherited it when they forked Webkit. The good news is that both MS and Google have said they're going to stop using prefixes -- that doesn't fix the problem of all the sites already using them in the wild, or any new ones that crop up because developers haven't learned any better, but it should at least make it less of a problem in the future.

That said, yes, I DO agree that we're seeing a lot of sites only tested in Chrome, and that problem's likely to get worse in the coming years.


Yeah, it's a good step forward - someone's learned something, at least. It doesn't fix the fundamental problem, but the fundamental problem is lazy developers and that's not going away. One thing that might also help is that corporate/enterprise hasn't officially picked up Chrome to the same degree as IE - that alone takes away a large part of why IE6/8-only pages were so damn persistent.

But lazy developers... Look, I had to support a site with full compatibility all the way back to IE6 in 2012. I have some very strong feelings about sites that only work in one browser. As far as I'm concerned, if your site is aimed at the general user and it wasn't as very least tested and found to work in the latest Firefox and Chrome, the last few major versions of IE, and the most popular mobile browsers, someone else should have your job.

(I also have strong feelings about users that refuse to upgrade, but that's harder to take care of. Even if MS is trying their hardest)

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Thad » Wed Mar 18, 2015 5:59 pm

MarsDragon wrote:I imagine the free upgrade is mostly there because of the persistent problems MS had trying to get pirated WinXP (and associated bad rap) out of the wild.


Worse; IIRC they wouldn't provide security patches for pirated versions of WinXP.

Which, even leaving aside false positives (AND false negatives -- say, a bulk license swiped from work), is a fucking stupid idea, but we were still living with the turn-of-the-century mentality that letting somebody's computer get a malware infection would only affect that single computer.

MarsDragon wrote:Someone ran the cost analysis and determined it was better to give Windows away than having thousands of unupgraded machines running around causing security headaches all over the world.


Right -- how much do home-user OS upgrades actually account for in MS's business? I'm sure it's significant, but I'm also confident it's a comparatively small slice. Anecdotally, the vast majority of end users just keep the OS that came with their computer, and don't upgrade until they buy a new one; buying an upgrade is strictly power-user territory.

MarsDragon wrote:I don't know how much of a problem that is in the US/Europe right now; I'd bet this is mostly aimed straight at Asia.


Sure wouldn't surprise me.

MarsDragon wrote:Yeah, it's a good step forward - someone's learned something, at least. It doesn't fix the fundamental problem, but the fundamental problem is lazy developers and that's not going away. One thing that might also help is that corporate/enterprise hasn't officially picked up Chrome to the same degree as IE - that alone takes away a large part of why IE6/8-only pages were so damn persistent.


The other thing is automatic updates. Why is it that IE8 is (finally) hovering below 4% market share, IE9 below 3%, and IE10 lower still? Because if you had any one of those browsers on a computer connected to broadband Internet, it's probably been automatically updated to IE11.

The only way to get most users to update is to do it for them. MS has picked up on that.

MarsDragon wrote:But lazy developers... Look, I had to support a site with full compatibility all the way back to IE6 in 2012. I have some very strong feelings about sites that only work in one browser. As far as I'm concerned, if your site is aimed at the general user and it wasn't as very least tested and found to work in the latest Firefox and Chrome, the last few major versions of IE, and the most popular mobile browsers, someone else should have your job.


I still have a pretty strong mad-on for people who can't conform to standards and best practices, but after my last two jobs I'm a bit more sympathetic to people not testing their sites across all browsers and platforms. Because when you've got a target to update 16 sites a day, and if you don't do that you're going to be hearing about it from your boss, who does not understand that an 8-hour day of half-hour updates does not actually come out to 16 sites once you factor in two 15-minute breaks, a 15-minute meeting, and QA work on other teammates' sites, you're put in a position where you have to choose between cutting corners and getting chewed out for going under quota. I usually opted for the latter, but I sympathize with the guys who chose the former. And I'll admit I didn't test every site in every browser -- instead I worked out a system that worked pretty well in a majority of cases:

I WOULD test in every browser (desktop IE, Firefox, and Chrome to the past 2-3 versions, mobile Safari for iOS and Chrome for Android) for any site that was built to be responsive.

For sites that weren't, I just built in Chrome, and most of the time that's all I tested in. This worked out in most cases because everybody else on the team used Firefox. So typically when I'd build a site in Chrome a teammate would QA it in Firefox, and vice-versa, which caught most compatibility issues. (The most consistent oversight with IE -- once I got management to agree to quit supporting IE8 -- was forgetting to add

Code: Select all

a img { border: none; }
because IE is the only major browser that still automatically puts a border on images that are links. Which I have pretty mixed feelings about; I think it's a good idea from a discoverability perspective, but it sure is butt-ugly and nobody designs sites that way anymore.)

tl;dr while a lot of devs ARE lazy and/or incompetent, a lot of managers encourage that behavior.

(And that's without getting into users demanding that you do stupid shit -- hullo, text rendering directly on a photo background -- and refuse to hear your suggestions that it be done another way. Anecdotally again, if a user has a bunch of links that say "click here", there is a strong likelihood that they've made it impossible to visually identify links. Say, links don't have underlines and are the same color as surrounding text, or close enough that you can't easily tell the difference. Or they used the same color for links as for headers. It does not help that probably 90% of GoDaddy's base themes did that shit and a builder had to consciously change it to avoid that issue.)

MarsDragon wrote:(I also have strong feelings about users that refuse to upgrade, but that's harder to take care of. Even if MS is trying their hardest)


There's an old adage that the reason we keep adding safety features to cars is that it is far easier to make cars safer than to make drivers safer. While it would be great if we could count on users to, say, know the difference between a URL and a Google search, or the difference between Windows and Office, or to quit using fucking Comic Sans, that's easier said than done. If I knew how to make users smarter, I'd be doing that.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Brentai » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:11 am

Microsoft is trying to sell razor blades and having trouble getting people to pick up the razor. Remember that this same OS is totes gratis for people who own a certain $35 computer.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Caithness » Thu Mar 19, 2015 1:43 am

What's the $35 computer? I've never heard of anything like that. Or is that what Windows Phones are going for?

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Thad » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:04 am

Windows 10 will be free on Raspberry Pi.

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