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Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

That’s Not A Phone Ringer, It’s The Death Bell For WindowsPhone – IMRAN™

Posted by imrananwar on August 18, 2016

Microsoft Windows smartphone sales collapse. Down 76%!” reports Computerworld.

That’s not a WindowsPhone ringing but death bell of Microsoft’s phone platform strategy that you do not hear, because when was the last time you heard a WindowsPhone ring except for the expensive product placements on TV shows and in movies? 

It was a mere $8-10 BILLION write off which destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of Nokia employees. Please stand by for a similar LinkedIn write off in 3 years for about $30 Billion. They could have cured Cancer or built 1000 hospitals worldwide with that money!

Imagine me, a MacOS lover from Day 1, working at Microsoft (in strategy / cloud / consulting though) for 3 years. Ironically, I was already sick and tired of the 200 years old iOS UI (user interface) that has STILL not changed since it launched, and the UXdesign (user experience getting worse) from Apple in EVERY area. 

So I was actually happy to see Microsoft’s WindowsPhone interface as one of the few things they did not steal from, I mean, copy from Apple, and something actually better. But, the problem was not the technology. It was, and likely still is, the people of Microsoft.

It is a company with MANY smart people who made so many stupid decisions again and again, but never learned. A most senior leader liked some ideas I had to build a WindowsPhone ecosystem. He connected me with an Indian guy (not Satya Nadella) who was the VP responsible for WindowsPhone app and ecosystem development. I wish I remembered his name now. 

On each proposed step I discussed, he laughed and said, “We are Microsoft, We do not need to do that.” And, “Developers are begging us to develop on our platform.”

I wish I could have recorded that conversation for entertainment value alone.

Imran Anwar

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Posted in Apple, Digital, Engineering, Imran, Leadership, Lumia1020, Management, Marketing, Media, Microsoft, Opinion, Revenue, Strategy, Technology, Telecom, User Experience, UX, Windows, WindowsPhone | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

From “It Just Works” To “It May Still Work (After Apple Software Update)”! – IMRAN™

Posted by imrananwar on May 22, 2016

Posted in Apple, Consumers, Customer Experience, Gadgets, Imran, Imran Anwar, Microsoft, Opinion, Quality, Technology, User Experience, Windows | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Questioning Rotten Apple Not Approved In PC (Politically Correct) Fawning Media? – IMRAN™

Posted by imrananwar on November 24, 2014

I have been an Apple user for 30+ years, and a Mac bigot since 1984. Even though my day job is at Microsoft and I use Windows laptops, Surface, Windows Phone Lumia, my personal life’s work is invested (and sort of locked) in the Apple ecosystem.

Even my MS colleagues know, I would often be the only guy at an airport with a PowerBook laptop in a sea of Windows machines, which I was no fan of. But the decline in innovation and quality at Apple has been shocking. I’ve had MacBook laptops that had manufacturing defects that Apple hid and then stopped patching after warranty. I had to replace my iPhone 4S (a great device) three times because of static noise issues.

I cannot even buy an external fingerprint reader for Mac OS that would work while I have it built in my PC laptops. I have no touch on the latest Apple MacOS devices. The gorgeous near perfect keyboards of previous MacBook Pros now have been replaced by plastic types that even PC users match or exceed.

iOS and its boring icons are still brain dead and have not evolved since iPhone started. I barely have to life my WindowsPhone screen and still can see who emailed me, what the weather changed to, what the latest news are, what someone said on FaceBook, see my photos rotate, ALL on the home screen without touching the phone. Yes, the Apple ecosystem still has a million more apps but after my initial craze which led me to have 1100+ apps on iOS, I have been aggressively deleting apps since only a handful are actually used. Of those about 80% are available to me on WindowsPhone too. 

My latest iPhone 6 Plus has a lousy 8MP camera while my year+ old Windows Phone Lumia 1020 has 43MP that runs rings around it. But worse of all is the sheer number of painful experiences I have had and seen people report on Apple’s own boards is mind boggling.

I used to complain about Windows control-alt-delete but with Windows 8 and now Windows 10 coming plus Windows Phone and super cool Live Tiles the user experience is far more innovative than Apple’s. Samsung users tell me even on hardware that company is beating Apple in new features. But the latest shocking defect in Apple hit me today.

You know how Bluetooth connects different vendors products for 15 years but can you believe Apple’s latest MacBook Pro & iPhone 6+ fail to connect to each other even with latest Yosemite and iOS 8.1.1 !

In the old days all media did was predict Apple’s death and I would argue against it. Now I see Apple non-stop defect laden launches but hardly any media express outrage or show coverage over it. I am not hating on Apple because someone at MS wants me to. After all, as I said, I have been invested in the Apple ecosystem and even my most used Mac apps are from Microsoft, including Outlook, Office/Word/PowerPoint/Excel and especially OneNote.

It is a pretty incredible switch of roles that I did not have any mail loss, data loss, issues moving from Windows 7 to Windows 8 and even Windows 10 Preview but I lost days of effort to resolving about a dozen separate known bugs and defects in upgrading the MacBook Pro to Yosemite and the iOS devices to iOS 8. That is definitely not how the yesterday’s gold standard of user experience and quality, Apple, worked. Is anyone a clear winner in that user experience war. Not right away. But at least today Apple’s clear lead in that area is gone. 

That is why the next personal devices I am lusting for are not Apple gadgets but the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, an Xbox One and a Microsoft Band. Hint, hint, if you really love me, and of course you do 🙂 , Christmas is around the corner. Just kidding!

What do you think?

Posted in Apple, Imran, Imran Anwar, Microsoft, Technology, Windows | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Somebody’s Watching Me – IMRAN™

Posted by imrananwar on April 18, 2014

 

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Posted in America, Freedom, History, Imran, Imran Anwar, Life, Manhattan, Microsoft, Pakistan, Photography, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Keep A Finger On The Pulse Of Fingerprint Readers In Gadgets

Posted by imrananwar on September 12, 2013

By now everyone has probably seen the news about Apple‘s recently launched iPhone 5S. Even as an old time iPhone fan, I had stopped buying new ones since the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 5 had not given me any compelling reason to buy one either. Ironically, in that period of time, even as an old time Mac user and past critic of old versions of Windows, I joined Microsoft

I did not immediately get a Windows Phone (even though I was losing out an employee discount) and waited until the phone I really wanted came out….. The Nokia Lumia 1020 WindowsPhone 8, with its 41MP mind-blowing smartphone camera, which I bought without a discount or employee rebate. I still kept and use my iPhone 4S, because of the many apps I had bought over the years, and music that is tied to iTunes/Apple at present.

I was very hopeful for a truly innovative iPhone 5S, because, even though Apple’s phone is now a direct competitor to my employer’s recently acquired smartphone business, I believe innovation at one leading competitor benefits us all, as others have to work hard, invest in innovation and build great devices and services around them.

But, try as I might, despite being eligible for the new iPhone 5 upgrade from AT&T, I did not see any compelling reason to buy this one, at least yet, while my 4S is working fine. The only thing that I found of some interest was the fingerprint reader Apple built in, based on a company it had bought not too long ago.

I have always been a fan of natural interfaces or input devices. 

Ironically, my first fingerprint reader was actually a Microsoft branded one I bought for one of my PCs in the days I was a big time Mac fan.

A few years ago I discovered Authentec‘s USB readers and bought several, especially as they could work on my Macs and my PCs.

Some time later their prices dropped drastically and I found Apple had bought the company. So, predicting that the next generation iPhone would have fingerprint capability was not a leap of genius. 

However, I have to say my experience with the Authentec USB pluggable fob readers was frustrating, to the extent I do not use them anymore. Sometimes it would take half a dozen attempts of aligning the finger, the reader and Jupiter with Saturn before it would accept the print. I found simply typing in my complex password took less time and frustration.

Ironically, now that my current position is with Microsoft, I am happy that the technology is becoming more mainstream even if launched by a competitor. Such wide distribution of technology features leads to a greater pressure on everyone to improve the technology. (Remember how frustrating BlueTooth was early on?).

I have a fingerprint reader built into the new Lenovo Windows 8 (now. 8.1 🙂 ) laptop I got earlier this year, and it works smoothly, quickly and without trouble (so far!).

So, I am hoping to see more of that technology in other laptops and smartphones. Let the new game begin…. Touch And Go (Innovate!).

 

 

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Why I Would Never Recommend A Lenovo Thinkpad Laptop To Anyone

Posted by imrananwar on September 2, 2013

Even as a then Mac bigot the Lenovo (then IBMThinkPad with a writing pad and touchscreen was one of the few times I had bought a Windows laptop.

Fast forward to 2013 and I was given a brand new Lenovo W530 for work and hate it (though much less than the lousy new HP Ultrabook).

In 2013 a no touchscreen Microsoft Windows 8 laptop is funny enough, but it is designed by a team of truck designers or drivers. They put a 15 inch non-touch screen in a body bigger than most 17″ laptops. And about as elegant.

WARNING: You need to buy a matching Samsonite luggage set for this, not to protect the laptop but to protect other people’s luggage from it.

Get a set of two, one for the boulder-weight laptop and the other for the power adaptor just slightly lighter than a concrete block.

It has the weakest speakers on any laptop I have ever owned, and the world’s most atrocious sandpaper textured trackpad that often requires multiple attempts to register movement.

And what can I say about the Lenovo web site designed by those who were rejected for mail room janitor jobs….

The site asks you for a 4-25 character ID, which it later rejects because you used non-AlphaNumeric characters, like a period in the name. They of course do not state it before you have clicked submit.

You write a short review and THEN the site does not accept it because it has “too much text”… but it does not tell you what the text limit it. This is the last time I will go to their web site….

Though Windows 8 has been rock solid on this and I have not had any crashes at all since I got it, the hardware is the worst ever from a company division that used to be IBM.

I cannot recommend this to anyone…. well, except my worst enemies. 🙂

UPDATE 09/09/2013

——————
As if things could not get worse, or as if to prove some latent tendency to feel pain and anger, I went to the Lenovo web site to look for some updated firmware and drivers. The made-by-Martians-for-Saturnites-living-on-Neptune interface would be funny if it did not make you cry for how you have to (or I had to) click on about a dozen or more links to display the drivers under various areas, and then to click on each of THOSE to see what the issue date was. If the date was later than the purchase date I downloaded it. (I did not download all because some were not relevant to me). When all was said and done, I dutifully and painfully installed each one by one… Until…

One of the update installers completed its work, asked for a reboot, which I allowed and then…

The Lenovo W530 stopped booting. It just stopped going past the Boot Menu, but instead of showing the various USB stick, external disk or even WIndows2Go on USB OS plus the internal drive, it simply showed ZERO boot devices available. In the meantime, the utilities area allowed me to run disk tests on the internal drive and memory etc. All came back 100% but the machine remained unbeatable. So, after spending one day trying to resolve that, I had to go in for a technician to try everything he could, and he had no luck either. FInally, the only way the machine was booted was with LAN startup and formatting and reinstalling the OS. That used up most of today. And now I have to dig for installers of all the files, not to mention the work in progress from the last few days that had not been backed up (since I am not at home in NY).

Word to the wise, Friends Don’t Let Friends Buy Lenovo.

 

[I also posted this product review on Amazon]

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From “Apple Forever” To “Apple? Whatever…”

Posted by imrananwar on April 18, 2013

A contact of mine commented on my light-hearted FaceBook post about it being time to stop using Apple products like iPhone etc. 

She wrote, “Apple til I die”.

That made me think how in 1996Apple was written off for dead, and my web post (before it was called blogging) Imran Anwar’s Opinion on The Future of Apple Computers told Apple users not to give up hope as Apple would survive. Yet now I have no love for Apple now, which acts far more monopolistic than Microsoft was accused of with its Internet Explorer domination back then. 

Today, Apple is steadily losing people like me. I’ve been a Mac user since Apple created them, and have been a loyal user ever since. There was also a certain exclusivity to Apple products, the same market share as Mercedes Benz and BMW was not a bad thing to have with a company that was still profitable and made really cool stuff. But, even before I joined Microsoft, I had been getting fed up with Apple.

In the interest of full disclosure, since last year I have been working with Microsoft, on a strategy consulting project at the Department of Defense. But, my frustration with Apple, which began a few years ago, and has reached total disgust levels, is easily seen from my posts (many even deleted by the criticism-rejecting-content-Nazis at Apple’s discussion boards) on the Apple customer fora. 

More and more often flakier and flakier services (including being ripped off by the class-action lawsuit worthy Music Match that never worked, and the promised refund that was never delivered), major bugs Apple idiotically tried to ignore (antenna gate, the known but never acknowledge static noise bug in iPhone 4S), stupid ugly apps (like GameCenter, PassBook, etc. that you cannot delete and can’t even push to end of apps lists off the phone screen, Apple deliberately shoves them to front screen on reboots), the Maps app that various police departments have called LIFE-THREATENING-TO-USE, Apple’s total lack of variety in phone models, making iPhone 5 a bit longer and with no truly desirable new features, … the list goes on.. would be enough. But even the air of exclusivity is gone… on top of the actual ability to deliver major innovation.

I am not a fan of Android at all, but, I have to give credit to Samsung for really shaking things up in more and more categories, while Apple is playing defense even in segments it made commercially successful.

So, I am not dumping my dozen old Macs and MacBook Pros, iMacs and tens of thousands of dollars in Mac OS based software I bought. But even as an Apple tech (not company) fan, I did not buy the iPhone 5, I did not buy the iPad mini, I did not buy the MacBook Pro Retina, etc. {Though I apparently will need to spend money because the 2010 MacBook Pro I use is apparently one that has a known manufacturing defect. Apple will quietly replace the logic board on it — if you can afford to part with your machine for nearly a week — but I can’t do that as I had since then upgraded to a larger hard drive and do not know where my original drive is). 

I am not the only one from the core Mac loving Apple customers who find the company is due to be kicked off its high horse, that has been limping even more noticeably since Steve Jobs’ passing.

What are your thoughts? Do you think Apple will right itself, go back to innovation, and actually building quality products again?

PS Note, these are my personal opinions. I do not even work on any products or software for Microsoft but do strategy consulting for one of its clients.

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Why Email Is Here To Stay, Whatever The Platform Or Interface

Posted by imrananwar on August 10, 2012

It is ironic, and a sign of the times, that the two most interesting discussions in my office email (with many colleagues far smarter than me!) AND on my personal FaceBook page (with many friends even more opinionated than me!) are both about Email, and whether its time has come and gone.

My prediction: Email is here to stay.  Here is why.

Everything has a time and place (and audience). Face to face, telephone, old fashioned hand-written letter, email, post, tweet, all have their uses and none of them really replace any of the others.  As a matter of fact, they complement each other. They enable us to build deeper relationships leveraging these micro-contacts even when we are time-constrained and distance challenged.

I am all for social media. I love interacting with many among the nearly 10,000 people following me on Twitter (http://twitter.com/imrananwar if you’d like to connect), and nearly 10,000 more on FaceBook and Flickr. But it would be highly impractical to pull all of them  into my “real” Address Book or inundate my EMAIL Inbox.  The ones who become important to me on social networks are “upgraded” (or as they become real friends, colleagues, associates) to communicate with me via my “real email.”

BUT, here is something I like to point out to people who wonder if Social Media somehow will be a replacement for EMAIL? No!

What they are talking about is simply exchanging emails in much less robust, far less searchable, far less open, and far less secure, proprietary platforms of social media firms than traditional email systems.

Here is what that means….

We do not hold discussions with clients (or even personal family members) in newsgroups or mailing lists. We interact with them usually in one-to-one exchanges of messages sent in “electronic” “mail” called “EMAIL”.

The irony is that the “one on one” communications that takes place on Social Media (FaceBook, Flickr, you name it) is in one-to-one exchanges of messages just like traditional web-based email, that are exchanged out of the public eye, not on the Wall, not in the Timeline, not on a stream, but in specific areas, e.g. called Messages. And with far less flexibility, accessibility, security, or manageability. 

In other words, using  social media to “replace” Email simply means sending private “messages” on their platforms, simply email by another name!

Social media firms know email is, and likely will, remain the most used mechanism for one-to-one exchanges…. with the flexibility of multimedia multimodal multiple-use that even telephone calls do not offer.  

FaceBook is even more obvious in showing its recognition of this fact, by forcibly inserting  YourName@facebook.com as your default EMAIL address in the About > Contact Info page, until there was a huge outcry about it. Trust them to go back on their word… Even today they have NOT “fixed” the problem as they promised and most people’s pages still show FaceBook.com addresses.

Even worse, for those of you daring enough to place their entire (email) stock in a social network, think about this…

You post something that FaceBook deems inappropriate, or if you send out 20 invitations to people and 10 are not accepted, the clerical-gods of FaceBook (and other networks too) may strike you with e-Lightning and cancel your account. If that happens, good luck recovering your email, or any of your content, from there.

With traditional email providers, even if, say, Yahoo shuts down one day (sorry, Marissa!), Hotmail migrates to Outlook.com, Gmail spying gets too intrusive, you can still easily drag your emails onto another provider/server/account/computer/device. You still “own” or have far greater control over your emails/messages in these “legacy” email approaches than you do, or likely will, in the social media sites’ Messages boxes.

The tragedy of “regular” email is that many great discussions like the ones I mention above, including those with actual knowledge transfers from smart people answering questions, are lost in email folders’ deep recesses forever. Mail apps and operating systems like Windows and OS X are getting better at helping us “spotlight” what we need to find, but it can still be a pain, especially in corporate mailboxes. Sometimes you can have 200+ email messages with the same keywords mentioned and poorly written subject lines (a pet peeve of mine) making it next to impossible to find THE particular email you are looking for with the answer to that complex question someone had answered 3 months ago.

In my humble opinion, detailed technical topics, with specific questions asked and many valuable replies sent (that are the majority of traffic on most companies internal email discussions) would be so much more effective, less intrusive, and more useful to others later, if they were held on suitably tailored Microsoft SharePoint or Wiki type collaboration platforms. So, yes, for that email is not the right tool. And the unnecessary traffic (plus resultant bloated mailboxes with each reply-all containing the last dozens of emails in each discussion, in every instance of each message, in all of our mailboxes!) give rise to the type of very discussion my Enterprise Architect colleagues are having. 

When, over time, we are able to influence people to use collaboration tools where appropriate, social/mobile media (Yammer/Twitter/Lync/SMS) as practical or needed, somehow overcome a propensity to hit Reply-All on almost every email (another pet peeve 😉 ), get in the habit of writing better Subject lines (PLEASE, You can do better Subject lines than “Doc attached” or “Here it is” or the dreaded “RE:” !!), learn to judiciously delete previous body text not relevant or required, many of the reasons we complain about email would be reduced. 

So, yes, it may shift platforms, take on new interfaces, become more “intelligent”, but Email is here to stay, regardless of what platform we exchange it on…..

What do you think? Email me! 

 

Imran Anwar is a New York based Pakistani-American entrepreneur, Internet pioneer, inventor, writer and TV personality. His day job is with the world’s best software company, but these opinions are his and his alone. He can be reached through his web site http://imran.com . You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/imrananwar


Posted in Apple, Business, Imran, Imran Anwar, Internet, Microsoft, Strategy, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Product Review: Eikon To Go USB Fingerprint Reader With Apple Mac + Windows Software

Posted by imrananwar on July 23, 2012

I have always believed in the convenience of biometric devices. They have been hard to come by on Macs, but for many years I have used and appreciated a fingerprint scanner (infrared pad to USB) from Microsoft, that only worked on Windows, though sadly now does not work in Windows 7.

This Eikon fingerprint scanner is a USB plug in type for the Mac and comes with Windows software also. I tested and use it on both platforms, after buying from Amazon.

The product itself gets 3 stars, but the 4th star is for the fact that they made the effort to develop it for Mac, and even more so for how absolutely wonderful both the seller (reseller) and the manufacturer were to my emails about the bugs and frustrations I encountered.

It is finicky, it often takes 2-3 slides of the finger(s) or one slow very accurate swipe for it to work. Often I wonder if the 2-3 attempts are worth the hassle of using the device. On the other hand (no pun intended) it does log me in quickly when I do it “right”. Using it regularly and getting used to it provide the benefit that you can ( I did) make the password far more complex/long than when just typing it in my hand. E.g. &*mYpa$$word&*43!! Instead of just &*mYpas$$ etc.

The worst thing about the design is that it is useless to plug in to a typical MacBook Pro (i5 15″ for this case) when anything else is plugged in. It is too wide. So, it comes with a maybe 6″ USB extension, but then it makes it even less attractive, in visual and usage sense.

Now you have loose hanging thing twisted upside down or sideways sitting on the side of your laptop (as the cables often have an inherent ‘twist’ torque in them that flip the device on its side), and it is now even less usable as you almost have to grab is with one, hold it up firmly enough so you can swipe a finger from the other hand through it.

Since I use external USB keyboards with my MacBook Pros, I tried to plug it into the USB built in to Apple keyboards. No joy, as the device will not fit there and even if it did, it would be under the keyboard body and not usable. Hanging it by the USB tail extension I can use it but it will always move around, still requiring the 2 hand use, unless I scotch tape it. Then, it makes the laptop a little less mobile if I have to remove it every time I travel.

I am also disappointed that despite taking far more repetitions to learn a fingerprint than a 10 year old Microsoft infrared fingerprint reader (sadly not compatible with Mac or even Windows 7 now), it still needs the finger swipe to be so specifically accurate. But, it i doable, and when you get used to it, it does save time.

A plus is that I have it working on an office provided Windows 7 laptop. A disappointment is that it does not store finger prints on the device for MAC users. It does store the fingerprints for the Windows software! So, technically I think I can carry it to different Windows desktops/laptops without having to save fingerprints x 10 x 5 repetitions per finger on each machine, but for each Mac I would have to go through that process.

Based on just how cooperative the seller and the manufacturer have been, and the price, and overall tolerable usability, I am considering getting another unit so I can leave one taped to the desk and one to carry with me or use on the other laptop(s). Or, of course, I will be happy to buy the next great biometric device that comes out for my preferred platforms. 

But please be aware of the shortcomings (and advantages) before you order this or similar devices.

Imran Anwar

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Simonyi’s INTENTIONAL Software History Revision?

Posted by imrananwar on June 25, 2008

I am shocked that InformationWeek would allow the publication of an interview with someone without questioning some wild claims, or possible untruths, the person made in a High Five interview with J. Nicholas Hoover on August 20, 2007.

It’s bad enough that Microsoft still cannot even successfully COPY others’ products (anyone know how to spell ZUNE), still has its vision coming from people who thought 640KB RAM was enough for everyone and the Internet was a fad, and is a company that continues to blatantly practice anti-competitive behavior as showed by the recent court findings against it in many places.

But, Charles Simonyi, now of Intentional Software, and an ex-Microsoft executive, is either delusional or intentionally revising history of the tech industry. In his HIGH FIVE Interview in InformationWeek recently, he makes the laughable claim that Microsoft was working on the GUI (graphical user interface) and trying to sell computer mice way before Apple.

If only I could dig up an old letter from Microsoft to me, in response to the offer I made to license them a mouse I had invented for disabled computer users in the 1980’s. Microsoft’s management had clearly stated to me in writing and a follow up conversation, that Microsoft had no desire or intention of ever selling hardware or computer mice as they did not see a fit with their business!

Mr. Simonyi has the money to buy a trip to space, but is either now spaced out, or just high, or just not “intentionally” truthful in his claims in the InformationWeek High Five interview. The InformationWeek writer should have dug deeper on that question but seems to have let it slide.

Imran

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