Ballmer calls Microsoft a two-trick pony, but real trick is Windows XP to 8 'upgrade'

Steve Ballmer admits making a ton of mistakes during his tenure; but to help XP users avoid mistakes, Microsoft is offering a free Windows 8.1 Deployment Jump Start class.

From the Captain Obvious department: Steve Ballmer admitted that Microsoft made "tons of mistakes" while he was CEO. Speaking at an Oxford University event, Ballmer said Microsoft "could have done better in the last 10 years."

"Devices will continue to change, so do you give up, or do you get ready for the next wave of change?" he asked. "If you really want to bring a vision to market it is helpful to be able to conceive and deliver the hardware and software. And our company's in the position of building new muscle, so that we're not just thinking about building things like tablets."

The former CEO seems to realize that the upcoming Surface Mini tablet or the Surface tablet with LTE connectivity will not be enough to save Microsoft. Although he wishes the company had combined software and hardware development sooner, called it one of his regrets, Ballmer is so excited about the Nokia deal that he called it one of Microsoft's genius moves.

Microsoft is a two-trick pony

"You're pretty genius in our business if you're a one-trick pony," Ballmer said during his talk at Oxford. "In our company, I'm very proud of the fact that we've done at least two tricks. Tricks are worth billions and billions of dollars."

Trick one, according to Ballmer, was Microsoft's "invention of the modern personal computer, with its Windows operating system and Office software." Bringing microprocessor technology into data centers also helped the company. Purchasing Nokia is trick two so Microsoft can expand in the hardware department and compete better in mobile devices' arena.

Whether or not mixing hardware with its software will save Microsoft, it seems highly improbable that Windows 9 will save the Redmond giant. According to IDC's forecast for PCs, the desktop, portable and total PC markets are all predicted to decline through 2018.

There are people who need a desktop or laptop for work purposes, where a tablet simply won't cut it. Yet of the multitudes of people who still have XP on their desktop, many don't need that desktop. Over the years, they've also purchased laptops or tablets. So if you are like me, somehow the default 24/7 tech support person for extended family and even technically challeged friends, then with Microsoft about to end support for XP, you may be the person who has to make the final judgment call.

Microsoft asked tech-savvy people who are stuck in the tech support position for family and friends to help folks get off Windows XP and 'upgrade' to Windows 8.1. Hey man, I don't want those people to get hacked, but I certainly don't enjoy bringing it up, because who do you suppose among those XP folks expect to backup data, wipe the PC and then load Windows 8? I like doing "good deeds," but I don't have that kind of extra time; do you?

So Microsoft decided to offer a free Windows XP data transfer tool, PCmover Express for Windows XP, "which copies your files and settings from your Windows XP PC to a new device running Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1. This tool will copy your files, music, videos, email and user profiles and settings from your old PC to your new device, transferring across your home or work network, and even enables Windows XP users to customize exactly what they want to bring over to their new device."

What it doesn't transfer for free are programs, apps that people still on XP will still want. Not that the software meant for XP will even be compatible with Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. A lot of people still on XP, at least who I know, are senior citizens who don't have a fountain of money; the hardware isn't compatible for Windows 8 and that goes for their old software versions as well. Are you really going to recommend paying for Windows 8, potentially new software and even a new PC? I'm not. Most of the folks who are turning to me have an iPad or Android tablet, or a newer laptop, and I'm not recommending they still need a PC too.

If you are the default family/friend tech support person, even if you didn't warn them recently to get off XP, expect to be called up now that folks will be seeing this death of Windows XP popup warning.

Microsoft offers free virtual Windows 8.1 Deployment Jump Start class

The other group still on Windows XP are enterprises or businesses. Deploying Windows 8.1 can be a time-eater and migraine-inducing nightmare. So Microsoft wants to help IT professionals "avoid deployment pitfalls" and "deploy Windows 8.1 the 'right way'." On March 12, starting at 9 AM PDT, Microsoft Virtual Academy will hold a tutorial Windows 8.1 Deployment Jump Start session. This free four-hour virtual course, currently open for registration, is not a meeting to send your grandma to -- unless she meets the prerequisites and has a "solid understanding on imaging, drivers, applications and deploying Windows in general."

Microsoft says a team of experts will "start with the basics and then dive deep to teach you how to plan, configure, and manage client deployment to Windows-based computers in Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager and the MDT." During the live Q&A, you can "get tips on saving time and money by automating some (if not all) of the process. Why learn the hard way?"

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