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Bill Gates Has An Android Phone. Has Microsoft Changed? (neowin.net) 156

Bill Gates uses an Android phone now. "It may not be the most surprising revelation, given profits are sinking faster than a boat without a hull and big-name partners are jumping ship left and right, but the founder of Microsoft has presumably left Windows Mobile," reports Neonwin. Long-time Slashdot reader Billly Gates (no relation) writes: I would assume this is the final nail in the coffin for Windows Phone and the rumored Surface Phone which may never see the light of day. Over the past few months we have seen a change in Microsoft with them being friendly to Linux with stories of porting .NET core over to Linux, helping write a custom Linux kernel, as well as introducing the not-so-popular-on-slashdot WSL Ubuntu for WIndows 10.
Noting the Android emulators in Visual Studio, he's wondering if the company's ambitions go beyond developers, and if they're planning a Microsoft version of Android, "as the tools are in place with Ubuntu, Node.js, Python, Microsoft Code editor, and the Visual Studio 2017 Community Edition."

His original submission points out that 10 years ago these stories would have been unimaginable, but he also asks a second question: has Microsoft really changed? "Could we be seeing a new Microsoft now that the world is moving to mobile and they have no operating system in it?"
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Bill Gates Has An Android Phone. Has Microsoft Changed?

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  • by TheZeitgeist ( 5083373 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @07:49PM (#55285663)

    I'm sure Bill has the worst carrier distro of TouchWiz possible, all full of bloatware, loaded onto something like a Galaxy S3.

    That way it at least feels like Windows on an HP, even kinda makes Billy feel at home.

    • What wrong with the S3? I'm still using mine. It has a replaceable battery that doesn't explode.
  • lots of phones; lots of of people
  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Saturday September 30, 2017 @07:51PM (#55285671)

    Could we be seeing a new Microsoft now that the world is moving to mobile and they have no operating system in it?

    This prattle is not new, and is bandied about every time someone notes whatever the current level of PC sales are. But here's the thing: Yes, the consumer has no need for anything other than their phone. But things are not (strictly speaking) created on the phone. Engineers don't do cad-cam on the phone. Commercial applications are rarely written on the phone. Secretaries do not manage memorandums on the phone. Factory controls (hopefully) are not accessed from the phone by some engineer on a chaise lounge by the pool.

    Phones and phone apps are big. In a consumer way. Otherwise, I do most of my work on a PC running CentOS, though I could get by with Widows. I don't do much work from my phone except to receive communications from my boss who is reclining on a chaise lounge by his pool.

    The world is not moving to mobile, consumers are moving to mobile.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sure, today. Next year and probably the year after that. But it won't be much longer until a business person may be able to use a phone to do basic tasks by connecting it to a keyboard, mouse and monitor.

      How much longer until you can do CAD on a device the size of a phone. 2 years, 5 years, 10?

      Or another possibility Android and iOS become the dominant desktop OS. I wouldn't give Windows that much of an edge anymore. Plenty of business software can be ported and plenty will.

      All I do know is that in 2007

      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        Considering how dead simple it is to hook most Android phones to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse, I'm really surprised that we haven't seen more of a push in that direction. The phones are more than powerful enough for most applications, and if you use them with a large screen, keyboard, and mouse, what really makes them different from a desktop?

        I often feel that the only real reason we don't see more of it is that the phone manufacturers also manufacture either full laptop systems, or parts for them, and do

        • by Anonymous Coward

          No, it's because those "os-es" are actually completely fucking terrible to use as an actual operating system. Seriously - would you *rather* use it than a real OS? For any application ?

          • Exactly! The mobile OSs are very crippled. I'd say intentionally so but I'm not so sure. Anyway, they don't even allow you to be administrator on your own system and at least Android kills processes in the background like there's no tomorrow. They aren't architected as a traditional OS and it shows.
            It's a pity since they're plenty powerful for many tasks.
        • by zilym ( 3470 )

          Indeed. Every Android smart phone and tablet I own from up to 4 or 5 years old has Bluetooth support built-in. All ya gotta do is go buy a wireless bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Boom! Mobile computing is here.

          I don't see much reason to hook up a larger screen. It just wastes electricity. A big screen several feet away from your eyes really isn't all that different than having a tablet screen less than a foot away from your eyes, unless you're trying to play a movie for multiple viewers.

          I also don't see the

          • by nasch ( 598556 )

            A big screen several feet away from your eyes really isn't all that different than having a tablet screen less than a foot away from your eyes, unless you're trying to play a movie for multiple viewers.

            If the tablet is less than a foot away, you're either holding it in your hands (so no keyboard and mouse) or you're hunched over your desk (terrible). If your monitor is "several feet" away, you're doing it wrong. I did some rough measurement holding up a ruler, and I could have a tablet 18-24" away, or one or more monitors 30-36" away. A 23" monitor is way better than a tablet. Like, not even close. Is it necessary for all uses? No, but it is far superior.

      • It will be a sad day when our software stagnates to the point where a desktop computer no longer has a productivity and capability advantage. We should be able to keep advancing the power of software in ways that need more computing power and "because physics" the desktop will survive. It's possible that "the cloud" will fill this space, to some extent. Also, if I dock my phone to large display and better input devices, and the OS provides proper support for desktop productivity, then it IS a desktop com

        • by nasch ( 598556 )

          We should be able to keep advancing the power of software in ways that need more computing power and "because physics" the desktop will survive.

          Already most people don't use software that exploits the full capability of a modern desktop computer. I think that trend is more likely to accelerate than reverse.

      • How much longer until you can do CAD on a device the size of a phone. 2 years, 5 years, 10?

        Never, until the non-volatile memory manages to come up with something that combines endurance with density with DDR access latencies, all at a commodity price point.

        Some of these technologies are presently planning to embed a power-hungry FPGA into the NVRAM module to handle bit-error correction. The carbon nanotubes looks great, but at 32 MB per chip, you're not packing 16 GB into anything smaller than the original

    • by lucm ( 889690 )

      I do most of my work on a PC running CentOS

      I can understand not using Ubuntu, but why CentOS, when there's Fedora? That's like choosing Windows Vista over Windows 7.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It's more like using Windows 7 when Windows 8 exists.

        Nice stable base and still able to install the latest packages if required. No experimental wank in the core of the system.

      • I can understand not using Ubuntu, but why CentOS, when there's Fedora?

        Because I don't need "bleeding edge", I need rock solid.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      This prattle is not new, and is bandied about every time someone notes whatever the current level of PC sales are. But here's the thing: Yes, the consumer has no need for anything other than their phone. But things are not (strictly speaking) created on the phone.

      Not yet, but I think mainly because nobody has dared to push the phone as the centerpiece. Take the iPhone X, it has four high performance cores at ~2.5GHz which drives a bigger-than-FullHD 2436x1125 screen, has 3GB of RAM, a very fast NVME SSD and so on. Is anyone in doubt it could be a quite solid desktop if they let it? But Apple has iMac / Mac Pros, Google has Chromebooks so it doesn't seem like they'll seriously try.

      Maybe if Apple does away with Intel and goes ARM on the Mac line too, not many people s

      • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

        They should try to perfect phone OS's and designs that plug into docking stations with bigger screens and/or CPU's. Then phones can start to replace PC "productivity" apps.

      • People who buy Apple's [most] serious desktop machines are doing content creation stuff and they need bandwidth and memory. How much memory bandwidth has that iPhone got, even if you could cram 16+ GB in there so that you could actually work with large files?

        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          People who buy Apple's [most] serious desktop machines are doing content creation stuff and they need bandwidth and memory. How much memory bandwidth has that iPhone got, even if you could cram 16+ GB in there so that you could actually work with large files?

          Workstations obviously don't fit the phone form factor, I was thinking more your average business desktop that has run MS Office well since forever. They'd still have "real" desktop version above the "X" version for tablets, probably with quad-channel RAM... 25GB/s bandwidth for phone, 50GB/s bandwidth for tablet, 100GB/s bandwidth for workstations.

      • Take the iPhone X, it has four high performance cores at ~2.5GHz which drives a bigger-than-FullHD 2436x1125 screen, has 3GB of RAM, a very fast NVME SSD and so on. Is anyone in doubt it could be a quite solid desktop if they let it?

        Even a low end core i3 from 3 years ago can do 3 times that resolution with its onboard GPU and dirt cheap laptops come with 4GB of RAM these days.

    • by afgam28 ( 48611 )

      More than any other company, Microsoft showed how control over a platform and the ecosystem around it can be used to build and maintain a monopoly. If you wanted to write software in the 90s, you had to write it for Microsoft's platform, because that's what people were using - consumers and business alike.

      As Microsoft loses control over the web and mobile platforms, their desktop operating system monopoly and the businesses that depend on it are increasingly exposed to competitors. It doesn't matter if it's

      • Why is this bad for Microsoft? They are adapting to that change rather than fighting it and risking becoming irrelevant. Windows has been made more touch-friendly and they even got to the point of creating their own tablet hardware to demonstrate would could be done and Office has gone from being Windows & Mac to being available across the spectrum of consumer computing platforms including Android, ChromeOS, iPhone, iPad and pretty much any device with a web browser through Office365.
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      You miss just one little thing. Virtual reality glasses, not the monstrosities but compact fixed view glasses, no bigger than regular glasses with lenses fitted by an optometrist, ground to suit your vision and with a fabric shroud over the glasses and pulled up to your face to exclude external light sources as an option. So those glasses can effectively put a virtual high resolution 125'' screen right in front of you and you can hook the glasses to a smart phone. So portable hooked to servers can work and

  • "profits are sinking faster than a boat without a hull".

    Today must be Opposite Day. Nice fact checking SD. MSFT is doing just fine.

    • by pthisis ( 27352 )

      The quote is about Windows phone profits, not Microsoft as a whole. Microsoft did see a downturn in overall profits last year when phone revenue tanked, but this year a boom in cloud products has turned that around nicely.

      The article is still wrong, though, because it confuses profits and revenues (Windows phone is not profitable at all, and I don't think it ever was). If you click through far enough the original article doesn't make that mistake:

      https://www.neowin.net/news/ye... [neowin.net]
      During the quarter ending

  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @08:07PM (#55285709)

    He has been out of the company as its head for some time now. Are people really expecting him to clutch to a an unsupported mobile platform like a drowning man in the sea because he's too proud to admit his former company made a bomb? I think he's a little more practical then that. Not being indoctrinated into the Kool-Aid Klub, the choice of where to go is obvious.

    • by pthisis ( 27352 )

      He's no longer the head, but it's not his "former company"; he remained as chairman until 2014 and has been a technology adviser since then. He actually puts in more time at the company now than he did in the chairman years.

      https://www.theverge.com/2014/... [theverge.com]

    • Are people really expecting him to clutch to a an unsupported mobile platform like a drowning man in the sea because he's too proud to admit his former company made a bomb?

      Yes actually. I've noticed that guy on interviews and the like looking dazed and irritated when asked about phones. I think deep down he's haunted by fact that Apple - which had been so vanquished MSFT was loaning Apple money just to keep them afloat in 1998 as a antitrust argument - has turned into a bigger nastier corporate-critter

      • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

        I think deep down he's haunted by fact that Apple - which had been so vanquished MSFT was loaning Apple money just to keep them afloat in 1998 as a antitrust argument...

        This idea Microsoft had to "save" Apple once upon a time is one of the oldest in the book. I've heard some people go as far as to claim that Microsoft bought Apple. They didn't loan Apple any money, as you state. They purchased $150 million in stock, and it was non-voting shares at that. This on a company with a market cap (at that time) or 2.3 billion, to put into perspective the size of this investment really. Also, the share purchase was part of a lawsuit settlement, not Microsoft being nice.

        The stock wa

      • by lucm ( 889690 )

        I think deep down he's haunted by fact that Apple - which had been so vanquished MSFT was loaning Apple money just to keep them afloat in 1998 as a antitrust argument - has turned into a bigger nastier corporate-critter than Microsoft ever was.

        I'd be surprised that he would truly prefer to have built Apple than Microsoft. Apple is swimming in gold at the moment, but it's not sustainable. If you compare the profit history of both companies it's immediately obvious. In another 2-5 years Apple will reach the bottom of the barrel but Microsoft will keep printing money, like they've done since MS-DOS 3.0.

    • He has been out of the company as its head for some time now.

      Understatement. Bill Gates hasn't been CEO for almost 20 years. Thankyou for making me feel really old now.

  • by Man On Pink Corner ( 1089867 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @08:07PM (#55285711)

    .... that Microsoft probably makes more money on Android device sales than anyone else including Google themselves, due to patent royalties?

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      I'm VERY surprised that Google doesn't just stop paying the royalties and calls Microsoft's bluff.

  • in a few years, (as soon as win-10 starts getting old) MS_Linux under the hood with their own desktop environment and icons & themes, maybe their own office suite too, unless they give that up too and go with libre/open office
    • Kind of makes sense now that you mention it.
  • by Kaenneth ( 82978 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @08:27PM (#55285773) Homepage Journal

    https://slashdot.org/comments.... [slashdot.org]

    from 2006

    "even if Windows dies, nothing (from a legal standpoint) could stop 'Microsoft Linux' (Optimized for Office, with IE, etc.)"

  • How many times will Microsoft try (and fail) to make a successful phone before they give up and admit that they suck at making phones?

    They've had about 10 different phone projects in the last few years and they've ALL failed miserably.

    • by lucm ( 889690 )

      How many times will Microsoft try (and fail) to make a successful phone before they give up and admit that they suck at making phones?

      They've had about 10 different phone projects in the last few years and they've ALL failed miserably.

      i don't agree. It wasn't a commercial success but I've used a Windows Phone for a while about 5 years ago and it was great. The Metro thing that sucks on desktops was working really well on a phone. Looked sharp too.

      The big problem is that they kept messing around with the SDK, always releasing half-baked versions too late, and antagonizing developers will all kinds of limitations and fees. It was almost like sabotage. It's too bad because native apps using html5/js would have opened the door to a huge mark

      • The Windows Phone hardware and the built-in OS was pretty nice. It was certainly better maintained and updated than Android on the equivalent hardware (mine was an under $100 Nokia on Virgin Mobile).

        But the Windows Phone App Store was a disaster. Hardly any worthwhile apps at all, lots of really really terrible third-world shovelware. At the time I was using it, there were dozens and dozens of Flappy Bird copies and clones.

      • i don't agree. It wasn't a commercial success but I've used a Windows Phone for a while about 5 years ago and it was great.

        If it was so great, it should have been at least a modest commercial success. None of the Windows phones have gotten any traction in the marketplace, and I think that speaks volumes about the Windows phone. (And yes, the MS "app store" was a miserable joke. It was like inventing the automobile and forgetting about the need to provide gas.)

    • Re:How many times (Score:5, Insightful)

      by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Saturday September 30, 2017 @10:02PM (#55286069)

      Agree 100%.

      Considering Microsoft had a 17 year head start (they have been doing phones since 2000 with Windows Mobile [wikipedia.org] or if you WinCE 1996) -- in all that they time they STILL can't produce a phone that wasn't crap.

      Give it up Microsoft -- because you SUCK at phones.

      • So, uh, how much time did *you* spend in the WinMo6 ecosystem a decade ago? Because in ~'08, Android (aka the TMobile G1) was a kooky developer toy without any real mainstream acceptance, iPhones had horrifying teething issues in enterprise, and if you wanted to do actual, grown-up business, you either used a Blackberry because you were technologically illiterate, or you used WinMo because ActiveSync.

        RIP Touch Pro/2, and the granddaddy of you all, the HTC PocketPC!

      • Windows Phones were great. They just had fewer users so they got fewer apps so they had fewer apps so they go fewer apps so they had fewer users... etc.

        Windows Phone will be back because phone/pc/laptop/ar is an arbitrary distinction. In 5 years you'll have a computing device and augmented reality vision which creates your screen. The same people who mock Microsoft's mobile ambitions also mocked their Surface product line... which is now a multi billion dollar business. Windows Phone will be the same.

    • How many times will Microsoft try (and fail) to make a successful phone before they give up and admit that they suck at making phones?

      They've had about 10 different phone projects in the last few years and they've ALL failed miserably.

      Yet they still get $5+ for every cell phone sold https://www.howtogeek.com/1837... [howtogeek.com]

  • Hell fucking no they haven't changed and never will. Period!!!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They have though. Quite a bit. First you have the linux layer in Win 10. Yes I know, "embrace and extinguish", except the linux dev community isn't interested in working around MS specific bugs, and none of the uninformed are going to be turning that layer on, which is what embrace and extinguish requires.

      Then there's TFS, Microsoft's attempt at a software project management system. They wrote their own version control system for it. It's a centralized VCS that is painful to use at best. And then they added

    • He's more the same than ever.

  • I'd be curious and maybe pretty quickly it would become one of the best distributions around?

    With some locked down/in content? Maybe the rest of the community would had tried to fight back with GPL everywhere?

    • by green1 ( 322787 )

      They might make a distro, it may even be the most popular around. But I'd be shocked if it was one of the "best" by any sane measurement. Their history with software in general isn't that good. (though in general MS hardware is kinda nice)

    • MS software isn't quite the track record of "best, most useful" software. More to the point, they sometimes have really great ideas and can be quite visionary, but from conception to execution, far too many idiots get to meddle with it, demand "compatibility" and "oh, we could add THIS to it" that it becomes an unusable mess. Example: Registry. By itself a great idea, storing all configurations in a single database, easy to manage, easy to secure, easy to maintain... until suddenly EVERYTHING had to be incl

  • Bill Gates is using Android publicly, but, secretly, is using an iPhone.
  • Yes, he selected his user name by pure coincidence, and is not obsessed with digging up "dirt" (or at least what he thinks is dirt) on Microsoft.

    Newsflash: Bill Gates no longer runs Microsoft.

    I bet he even has a PS3 in his home entertainment center, and maybe even an iPod in his junk drawer. Maybe he's running Linux in his Roku! What a shocker!

    Seriously, this has to be one of the dumbest anti-Microsoft posts yet here at Slashdot.

  • I'm not sure why anyone would start speculating based on what Bill Gates uses. Just the other day we learned about Windows Core OS [windowscentral.com] and we also know that Microsoft has been working with Qualcomm on x86 Windows for ARM. So it's obvious the Microsoft does continue to think about a mobile response. But yes, Microsoft has also realised that a lot of the market is elsewhere, and it would help keep more devs on Windows by allowing them to easily develop for Android and Linux. Windows 10 Mobile did have Android
  • I mean it has been 17 years since he retired as CEO and 3 years ago he even stopped being chairman of the board.

    He could be using all the Linuxses at once in a virtual machine running on his Macbook pro and it wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference to Microsoft.

  • Gates isn't a spokesman of MS, not the leader of MS and have used products from other companies before. So what?

  • I can't get over the performance problems. Take a look at Super Mario Run for example, it runs so much smoother and faster on iOS. The Android version on a T-Mobile Galaxy S7 Edge which is more powerful hardware wise than iPhone, lags, hangs, slows, skips frames, and runs at a lower frame rate than the iPhone version. just clicking the game icon and it takes many more extra seconds to load, and transition from screen to screen.

    it's something i'm getting tired of. every new android phone and version is the e

    • by strstr ( 539330 )

      meant that iOS web browsers only load the Mobile version of a site, preventing access to the desktop version of the site.*

      by default on Android I literally only browse the desktop version of the sites.

  • What has changed is the fact the MS is not the 800 lbs gorilla it used to be. Today is little more than another player, but as foul and obnoxious as it has always been. If it is not wreaking havoc that's because it can't any more. But, don't be deceived: it still extorts millions upon millions on licensing fees from Android, and it still has a program to undermine free software whenever and wherever it can, as long as that effort does not clash with its own interests. Trust Microsoft and prepared to be kil
  • That's one of Microsoft's classic strategies. They did that with the web, gaining them many years of browser dominance.

    Also Microsoft is changing. They want to go from software to services.

  • Microsoft is still the evil, avoid-at-all-costs, company that will screw you over any chance it gets.

    On the bright side, Bill Gates now uses Linux! Hell may have just cooled down a few degrees.

  • I remember how seamlessly Windows Phone worked with Windows XP. Then, suddenly, all support was dropped and a Windows Phone quit synchronizing with Windows. And people wonder why a Windows 10 phone was viewed as a toxic proposition. Useful items orphaned leaving consumers with a WTF moment.

    Windows Phone
    Windows Mobile 5 (PDA OS)
    Windows Reader
    Streaming to Xbox360
    Native video codecs in Windows 7
    Windows Media Player (Under Win8, you had to pay extra to get it only to have it removed by the free Win10 upgrad

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