May 30, 2013, 5:22 PM —
Photo by All Things D
Ever wish you could ask the guy in charge of Windows 8, the Surface, and all of Microsoft's recent future-facing moves what, in short, was the deal with that?
Steven Sinofsky, the recent former head of Microsoft's Windows division, gave the hosts of the D11: All Things Digital conference that opportunity today. But if you were hoping for a complete, honest, and fact-filled debriefing on all things flat design and tablet-y at Microsoft, well, you're going to have to read between a whole lot of lines.
It feels like Steven Sinofsky is schooling the D11 audience in answer evasion.
— Tom Merritt (@acedtect) May 30, 2013
So, let's parse exactly what Sinofsky said, and what you might read from it, based on the official live text report from his interview. Sinofsky's quotes are in italics, and my attempts to understand them are beneath them, in plain text.
On leaving Microsoft:
It’s always hard to decide when to change things up.
“You have to pick a time, so I picked a time.”
The time he supposedly picked was one month after the launch of both Windows 8 and the Surface, both rather key products to Microsoft's standing and future.
Walt asks what went into the decision to write a tablet operating system and not restrict it to tablets ...
Sinofsky: One of the things we tried really hard to do during the development process was be extremely open and transparent about the rationale. Those decisions we made as a team. ... Microsoft is now figuring out how to take that forward
Officer: "You want to tell me why you were going 85 in a 55 zone?"
Driver: "One of the things I tried really hard to do while driving was let everyone on the road know why I was going this fast. Everyone in the car understood I was going really fast ... and now they're trying to figure out how they feel about that."
Kara: We’ve seen this train coming for a while. Why didn’t Microsoft shift faster?
Sinofsky: ... Microsoft did make a few big transitions, he notes, reacting and changing with the Internet, the shift to cloud computing, etc. “It’s essentially just a management challenge. It’s very rarely a shortage of ideas.”
It's true. My friends who transitioned to MacBooks long ago have tons of ideas about how Microsoft could have changed. They just don't work in management at Microsoft.
Walt: How much friction was there in getting Microsoft to do this?
Sinofsky: What you are seeing in the industry overall is everybody is sort of in everybody’s business. That co-opetition is now much broader than anybody thought it would become.
Companies give away what other companies charge for and that creates disruption. Everybody that makes parts is looking at which parts to deliver.
"You want me to talk about meetings where they told me that making our own hardware would strangle our relationships with hardware partners? How about, instead of that, I explain how much the industry is in flux right now? That way, no details are given, and nobody is responsible."
Kara: Can you assess the broader landscape? Who is doing it right?
How do you look at a Google or an Apple?
Sinofsky: The whole tech industry is delivering a ton of innovation, he said, something we all lose sight of.
Okay, Walt and Kara say. Having said all that, what do you make of Google and Apple?
Sinofsky: He holds up an HTC One — we are all HTC One users these days. There are positive and negative challenges at Google and Apple.
Tom: Mr. Griffin. Your opening statement please.
Peter: I'm Peter Griffin. Vote for me.
Tom: Is that it?
Peter: Ah, no, this is it. This is life, the one you get so go and have a ball, because the world don't move, to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you, may not be right for some. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have my opening statement..sit ubu sit. Good dog.
Windows 8 had a lot of disruption in it. Do you think Microsoft could have done more to make that transition easier?
Sinofsky: “Any time you change a product you introduce that challenge if you have any installed base at all.” ... “That’s a balance you face in anything you do.” ... After a product comes out you can do more or less based on reaction