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Breakfast Briefing: Windows 8 sales revisited, Google takes over servers, Motorola patents useless

Breakfast Briefing

Posted on 3 Dec 2012 at 08:55

Today we take another look at Windows 8 sales figures, how Google and Amazon are changing the server market, how a new Boeing e-weapon spells doom for the Western superpowers, Google's patent problems and Twitter censorship.

Windows 8 – cheap but not cheerful

There have been mixed reactions to the success or otherwise of the Windows 8 launch, with 40 million licences sold in the the OS's first month. Windows IT Pro has a look behind the numbers and suggests the initial figures are not as impressive as they might seem. A lack of devices with touch is hampering sales, but the bigger question remains why, when it is relatively very cheap compared to predecessors, few people have made the move.

Server makers face threat to income

Wired has an interesting piece on the changing face of the server market (no, really) and the way companies such as Google and Amazon are changing the way big data is handled, with more money going into cheap white box devices than traditional server manufacturer machines.

The scale of the shift is highlighted by the fact that eight server makers now contribute 75% of Intel’s server chip revenues — and one of those is Google. Just four years ago, only three companies made up that 75%, those being Dell, HP, and IBM.

As Amazon's Chris Pinkham points out: "It will be interesting to see, over the next ten years or so, how successful the traditional server vendors will be competing against that kind of server capacity," Pinkham says. "Once developers realise they can use this much cheaper, homogenous infrastructure, the power may shift toward the folks who build the cheapest, simplest hardware."

Boeing tests electronic meltdown weapon

The Daily Mail reports how scientists at Boeing have developed a microwave weapon designed to take out a city's computer hardware without injuring people on the ground.

We're not sure if the graphic showing the "how sinister new weapon wipes out entire networks" was supposed to be ironic, but it looks like a refugee from the clipping room floor of Scooby Doo. There's even a mad scientist villain at the helm.

Google's Motorola patents deal looking more expensive

ArsTechnica reports that Google will not be able to use the patents it snapped up when it bought Motorola for $12.5bn to fight in a patent battle with Microsoft. The ruling by a US judge undermines Google's tactics of using Motorola patents bought up as weaponry for a battle against allegations of patent infringement brought by Microsoft.

"Judge Robart's ruling is bad news for all Google and all Android makers who want to use standards-based patents to defend themselves from patent attacks by competitors," Ars declared. "In both the bench trial and this order, Robart has shown he believes sharp limits should be placed on the use of these patents, which have been the weapon of choice for Android phone makers."

Twitter's blocking dilemmas

Twitter was given much credit for the way it helped protesters during the Arab Spring, allowing the public to communicate and organise themselves, but The New York Times highlights the ethical issues facing the social network. The paper reports how several US politicians are calling for a Twitter block on organisations such as Hamas and Hezbollah because they are on a US terror list.

"Failure to block access arms them with the ability to freely spread their violent propaganda and mobilise in their war on Israel," said one Republican lawmaker. "The FBI and Twitter must recognise sooner rather than later that social media is a tool for the terrorists."

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User comments

Why poor sales of Win8?

In a word, "Metro".

The non-desktop interface is a bullet in their own foot. A Start-button patch to make the somewhat intrusive and less than integrated bolt-on, would probably help.
Windows 8 is great, but Metro is a stumbling block on non-touch devices (i.e. most Windows machines) so word of mouth is not encouraging.
You also have the minor issue, that Windows 7 is very good, so most people think "Why change?" more than a few have said to me "I'll wait until SP1, when Metro is patched out".

By cheysuli on 3 Dec 2012

For me at least, it is as simple as cheysuli puts it.

I've heard that W8 is more efficient, faster running than W7, so I'm tempted. At the upgrade price I would even go for it.

BUT - I have no plans to replace my monitor, I sit too far back to touch it anyway (I suspect increasingly the case since monitor sizes have grown so much recently), and even if I could touch it I wouldn't as I hate fingerprints on the screen. And lastly, it would be ergonimic hell, arm extended and raised constantly.

So, unless there is a friendly non-touch solution, I'm not interested. I will not use an OS which constantly nags me to use touch on my desktop.

By martindaler on 3 Dec 2012

The dreaded metro

I could live with W8 if it wasn't for Metro.

Yes I know you can install start menu software and you can choose to try and ignore metro - though it does have a habit of popping up when you least expect it!

Why didn't Microsoft just give desktop users a choice when installing between "Classic Interface" ( i.e. Windows 7 and the new Metro interface?

Areo was optional. Active Desktop ( anyone remember that ) was optional.

So why is Metro compulsory?

I suspect its simply MS fear desktop users will hate it - so force it on us.

By cyberindie on 3 Dec 2012

The Start Menu

I can't see what all the fuss is about with the start menu. What's easier? To navigate down to a little start button in the corner of a large monitor and then navigate through a number of menus? Or to hit the windows start key and move the mouse to a large button?
I have unified the colour scheme across the start menu and the desktop so the change isn't jarring and created some groups on the start menu with all my frequently used programs arranged under the appropriate group. Touch doesn't come in to it. And for programs which I don't use frequently I just hit Start and begin typing the program name. It's much quicker than using the start button!

By jgwilliams on 3 Dec 2012

I don't like the look of the screen

Window H8 screen: it looks like junior Lego bricks, as used by pre-school infants. 'Nuff said

By BornOnTheCusp on 3 Dec 2012

Nothing wrong with the Metro start screen ...

In my opinion it is a big step forward. The problem is the keystrokes or gestures you have to learn to access it. Microsoft should have put a fixed button on the left end of the taskbar (were the start button used to be) to bring up the metro interface.

The gesture interface just does not work well with a mouse or if you have tiled monitors.

By JohnAHind on 3 Dec 2012


Maybe you should try actually using Windows 8, instead of just listening to doom merchants.

I have it on my non-touch laptop and desktop and it is great. I don't need to go into the Start Screen very often, about as often as I used the Start Menu, which is probably about once a day on average. My pinned applications from Windows 7 are still pinned in Windows 8.

I agree, that a lot of Metro Apps don't make a lot of sense on a big screen - no more sense than having Word or a web browser maximised in Windows 7...

I generally work with 4 or 5 open windows and that still works fine and will carry on that way, as long as normal applications are still available.

OneNote is a great example, there is the normal desktop application for typing up notes from OneNote into a document and there is a touch-orientated version for tablets, for taking notes on the go.

IF that trend continues, Windows 8 is a great move forward. If that doesn't continue and either only desktop applications are made or only Metro Apps are made, we will be going backwardss.

By big_D on 3 Dec 2012

Boeing meltdown weapon

I reckon that the failure of the hardware shown in the Mail photo was probably just down to old age!

By adamgashead on 3 Dec 2012

Boeing meltdown weapon

I reckon that the failure of the hardware shown in the Mail photo was probably just down to old age!

By adamgashead on 3 Dec 2012

Win8 Upgrade very worthwhile, just ignore Metro!

Win8 is worth the very cheap upgrade over Win7 for the performance improvements, and the desktop Improvments. My non-touch PC is much more enjoyable to use with it, as is my non-touch laptop.

The new design of start menu – aka Metro – is a trivial matter, easy to overlook or just ignore.

I think the press coverage has been very lop-sided and unfair.

By roblightbody on 3 Dec 2012


I remember this concept being discussed on the News and Tomorrows World as a kid, back in the 70s...

By big_D on 3 Dec 2012

"I agree, that a lot of Metro Apps don't make a lot of sense on a big screen - no more sense than having Word or a web browser maximised in Windows 7..."

Not sure this is related to Win 7. It is a symptom that for many uses our monitors would be better off portrait rather than landscape.

By halsteadk on 3 Dec 2012


thanks for your input and alternative view. Possibly you are right, and if I tried it I would like it and not actually be bothered by the touch-based idiosyncracies and lack of start button/homescreen desktop default option.

But it's catch 22, and there's the rub. I need to be tempted and comforted enough to try it in the first place. So MS could catalyse the process by throwing me a bone. Maybe I would end up not chewing the bone after all? That is the thing with catalysts.

By martindaler on 3 Dec 2012

Do all you people who say the new Metro interface is way, way better on a desktop than the "terrible" Start menu we've been "putting up with" since 1995 work for Microsoft?

And what's wrong with freedom of choice? MS could easily have let users choose between Classic with Start menu and new modern Metro interface when installing on the desktop.

What is so wrong with that?

By cyberindie on 4 Dec 2012


1. No, I don't. I'm a programmer working for a firm of surveyors

2. If you really want a start button I understand there are ways of putting it back. But why don't you give it a go for a while.

By jgwilliams on 4 Dec 2012


I did. I hate it. I still have to keep it installed on a spare computer for support reasons.

Obviously for you the old Start Menu was not working and the new Metro interface just what you wanted.

You may think I'm alone but if you check out the review on Windows 8 on Amazon you'll see there's plenty of people who prefer the "old" way.

Given its getting harder and harder to buy a PC without having Windows 8 its bound to be a success if only because there's no choice for new computers.

So Metro is the future and there will be no avoiding it eventually...

By cyberindie on 5 Dec 2012

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