Microsoft has stopped making Windows

Well, they're certainly making a product called “Windows”. However, with Windows Microsoft has essentially performed what I call “market betrayal”.

Market betrayal refers to when a producer of some product stops serving the interests of one market in favour of another market. Usually, the second market will be substantially larger, and so the producer will have a motive to make the product appeal to the new, larger market. This may result in changes detrimental to the needs of the original market.

To use an arbitrary example, take The Avengers, a 1960s British spy TV show. The first seasons are in black and white, and later ones in colour. However, the change to colour filming was marked by an expansion to not just British but American audiences, and the increased funding this provided. But colour was not the only change: the show became discernably different, in my view for the worse. In targeting the American market, the show had to mutate itself to appeal to that market.

Which also brings me to the relevant point that it is not necessarily good for a project, especially fiction, to have more money than less. Money talks, and with more money comes an obligation for wider market appeal, which must inevitably impact the work. Less money means more amateurish output, but this must be evaluated in balance against the ability to target smaller markets in the first place. The post-Brosnan James Bond films have this issue; as an arbitrary issue, for example, they tend to include long fight scenes in excess of any realistic depiction of human stamina, or in my view the audience's endurance to process them. Supposedly, however, these scenes are included because they appeal to Asian audiences.

Perhaps the most compelling evidence against Windows 8 (and 10) is that Microsoft is now actually having to compete against its historical self (I suppose this should be a warning for other software monopolies, actually); they are facing a huge number of Windows 7, Vista and even XP holdouts. This demonstrates essentially Microsoft's inability, or perhaps more accurately unwillingness to make an operating system actually superior to their previous versions. They are therefore taking desparate efforts, like offering upgrades to Windows 10 for free, and aggressively pushing upgrades through Windows Update.

Microsoft has seemingly always had a desire to “get into the living room”, something which it has always failed at, with the exception of the Xbox. (Arguably, the substantial focus Microsoft placed on television viewing with the release of the Xbox One demonstrates that this ambition lives on.) Which is to say that more generally they have always chased markets which are not their native turf, probably out of some banal corporate (or corporate-narcissistic) desire for world domination.

In the face of the new, burgeoning smartphone and tablet market, Microsoft finds a new market for it to glue its face to the metaphorical shop window in envy. Apple and Google have their platforms, and Microsoft wants theirs.

So Microsoft performs market betrayal. They take the technology stack they have, Windows, and butcher it in an attempt to appeal to this new market. Much as political parties take their core vote for granted as they move to appeal to the centre and undecided voters, Microsoft betrays Windows users knowing they have nowhere else to go. This leads to the unmitigated UI disaster that was Windows 8, quite separate from my non-UI concerns. “Windows 8: The Animated Evaluation” demonstrates how Windows 8 has rendered itself unusable by trying to be a tablet OS and a desktop OS at the same time. Microsoft has essentially stopped making Windows for the Windows market; as far as I'm concerned, they've stopped making Windows.