One day a few weeks ago, my roommate and I were hanging out, watching a video on his computer or something or another. All of a sudden, he starts complaining that his OS had chosen to automatically update his computer. Having read on the blogosphere that Windows was getting more aggressive about its update flows, I told him other people were experience it as well. It’s been getting worse, apparently:
After deciding to try and ruin advertise during the weather by attempting to automatically install midway through a forecast, Windows 10 is starting to wreak havoc with gamers. Ex-professional Counter Strike player turned full-time streamer Erik Flom was rudely interrupted mid-game and live on Twitch by Windows 10 automatically installing on his PC.
This is a huge PR problem that Microsoft absolutely deserve for this behavior. Pro-gamers make their living by streaming, making these upgrade policies costly embarrassments. The core problem that not even Mac users are immune to is that we use software that we don’t, and very often can’t, fully understand, even as a community. I mean this in the sense that these operating systems are closed source, and sometimes they have malicious behaviors like this one. If the code was at least available for auditing or was fully open-source, experts in the community could decry malicious behavior.
I’m not an open-source stalwart, in part because of what I interpret as necessity, but I’m definitely an open-source evangelist. When you can, use GNU/Linux.
Microsoft have been doing a lot of good recently, developing world-class iOS apps, open-sourcing AI frameworks, and giving people a reason to use Twitter. Another project of theirs that’s coming to fruition is their new keyboard for iOS:
Earlier this week, we reported that the previously-revealed Word Flow keyboard for the iPhone was in private beta testing by Microsoft. Now the company has posted a sign-up page for iPhone owners to register their interest in trying out Word Flow.
At the risk of sounding like a grouch: a keyboard that makes network requests? No thank you. A keyboard that can be whatever color you want? No thank you. A keyboard that I can operate with one hand on my massive phone? No tha… Wait that’d be great.
After the Microsoft CEO and founder expressed at best lukewarm support for Apple’ defense of the right to privacy, Bloomberg report that they’re going to stand with Apple on encryption in a big way:
Microsoft Corp. will file an amicus brief next week to support Apple Inc. in its fight with the U.S. government over unlocking a terrorist’s iPhone, President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said at a congressional hearing Thursday to discuss the need for new legislation to govern privacy.
Good for them. This puts them on the right side of history, in my opinion, and I hope it’s enough to sway our government. The US government should be a leader here, because other nations will consider what happens here when making their policy.
And if you’re a JS developer and thought you were safe from Microsoft, they’re coming for you too with TypeScript 1.8!
But before we go thinking that Microsoft is totally cool again, you should know that they’re serving full-screen ads at an OS-level on Windows 10.
Xamarin is a cross-platform development tool that’s built on Microsoft-sponsored technologies, here’s the announcement:
As part of this commitment I am pleased to announce today that Microsoft has signed an agreement to acquire Xamarin, a leading platform provider for mobile app development.
In conjunction with Visual Studio, Xamarin provides a rich mobile development offering that enables developers to build mobile apps using C# and deliver fully native mobile app experiences to all major devices – including iOS, Android, and Windows.
This is a massive power grab from Microsoft, and could be leveraged to put them back on top. Consider that Microsoft have a way for developers to take iOS and Android codebases and ship it on Windows 10 using a compatibility-layer approach. If you look at their offerings on competitor’s platforms, you might think they’ve taken a “if you can’t beat them join them” approach, but it’s becoming more and more “if you can’t beat them become them.”
Microsoft have made a number of acquisitions of popular productivity apps, most recently with the acquisition of Guiness typing word record holding keyboard technology SwiftKey.
Harry Shum, VP of Technology and Research at Microsoft:
This acquisition is a great example of Microsoft’s commitment to bringing its software and services to all platforms. We’ll continue to develop SwiftKey’s market-leading keyboard apps for Android and iOS as well as explore scenarios for the integration of the core technology across the breadth of our product and services portfolio. Moreover, SwiftKey’s predictive technology aligns with Microsoft’s investments and ambition to develop intelligent systems that can work more on the user’s behalf and under their control.
Above all, SwiftKey is good tech for Microsoft. The acquisition gives them access to a large database of typing habits and patterns spanning 100 languages, and it’ll likely help them build text features on desktop and mobile. Long term, it’s hard to predict how Microsoft’s string of mobile app acquisitions will play out, but, right now, it’s clear that Microsoft is buying the best apps around.
This is why tech companies hoard money. Microsoft is now aware of its situation, of the waning popularity of Windows and the declining important of Office. The strategy of incorporating populist products into their admittedly still ubiquitous but stodgy product suite is a good idea, and their iOS apps in particular are arguably better than Apple’s now. Compare this to Apple’s strategy of acquikilling obscure startups for key technologies instead of whole products.
Microsoft want to replace every one of the default applications on your iPhone, they want you using their keyboard with their email client sharing documents from their productivity suite, and to do so their using their considerable cash hoard to fund development. Their in a good spot to do this, because Apple can’t compete with them on Android and Google can’t compete with them on native applications. I think the end game for Microsoft is to hook consumers on their products at home, and have them request support for them at work.
Of course, the other part of the SwiftKey acquihire is their machine learning talent, which is seriously competitive.