More stupid tech journalism

Good lord, it just gets worse.

I thought I Had found the stupidest tech writer in the world, but ladies and gentlemen, we have a new contender.

This steaming pile of pseudo-journalistic crap appeared at today:

Can Microsoft Survive If Windows 8 Fails?

Well, gulp. There’s a doom-and-gloom headline for you. Predicting Microsoft’s complete collapse seems to be all the rage among second-rate pundits lately.

But there are a few problems with this one. And by “a few,” I mean the whole fricken thing, which is a mess of misinterpretation and outright confusion from start to finish.

Behold the lede:

Microsoft is betting the farm on the success of Windows 8–its new and radically different operating system.

That at least is the uncompromising view espoused by Steve Ballmer, the company’s chief executive. “Our hardware partners are all in, companies like Verizon and AT&T are all in, there are hundreds of operators and retailers around the world who are all in, developers are all in, and–if anyone wasn’t convinced yet –Microsoft is all in,” he said at the Windows 8 launch event in San Francisco in October.

That’s the way it reads right now. A few hours ago, it read a little differently. Some editor tried to fix the really embarrassing parts (but missed the big picture). Fortunately, because IDG is a big, uncoordinated worldwide network of sites, mistakes like this get immortalized on foreign sites. Like the one in Australia, which has the original text:


But even as “corrected,” that original CIO post is just plain wrong. Stupidly, head-on-desk-smackingly, oh-my-god-where-is-that-bottle-of-Scotch wrong.

That quote is from the Windows Phone 8 launch. (You might have guessed that from the mention of hardware partners Verizon and AT&T.) The Windows 8 desktop launch was in New York City. For a different product that runs on different hardware sold through a completely different channel.

I hate it when web sites arbitrarily “fix” embarrassing and substantive mistakes without acknowledging the correction. It’s journalistically dishonest and a sign of hackery.

But seriously, when YOUR ENTIRE LEDE is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the product you are covering, you deserve to have your peers point and laugh at you. And when your editors try to fix it and still get it wrong, well…

Let’s go on. That paragraph is followed by a note that Windows desktop revenue represents 25% of Microsoft’s total sales, and most of that is from corporations that have enterprise agreements that allow them to use any Windows version. Conclusion?

So however Windows 8 is received, Microsoft will be just fine financially.

That is in the fourth graf. Please compare that sentence to the question posed in the headline, “Can Microsoft Survive If Windows 8 Fails?”

Let me know when you’re through laughing.

And it just gets worse from there.

The author quotes Michael Cherry, a friend and an extremely competent analyst:

“The current Windows code is now 20-years-old, so for Microsoft doing nothing is just as risky as attempting to introduce the new Windows.Michael Cherry, Directions at Microsoft.

God, 20 years old? Who would use 20-year-old-code in a modern operating system?

Oh wait, I just got handed this by my producers:


Yeah. that’s the current version of OS X, which is based on 29-year-old code. BSD UNIX, to be precise. The same code that was at the core of the NEXT machines that Steve Jobs built when he was exiled from Apple.

Here, let Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, who should write more about UNIX and less about Windows, explain:

These machines all ran NeXTStep. NeXTStep ran on top of a multi-threaded, multi-processing microkernel operating system: Mach. On top of this micro-kernel, NeXTStep used BSD Unix. What most users saw was the Workspace Manager. This was an object-oriented GUI. You could take its individual elements, icons, menus and windows, apart and sew them back together to form an interface’s that’s custom tailored for the way you work.

NeXTStep’s Workspace Manager included “shelf” for files and an “application dock” for programs. On NeXTStep’s shelves you could place any frequently accessed programs, directories, or files. Launching programs and working with files is all accomplished by click, drag and drop.

Does this sound familiar? It should. NeXTStep, and its components, are the direct ancestors of today’s Mac OS X. Without NeXTStep, and its Unix foundation, there would be no Mac OS X. A NeXTStep user from 1993 would have little trouble using 2011’s Mac OS X Lion.

1993 – 2013. That’s 20 years, and the BSD UNIX code was well established when Jobs and NEXT were using it.

Linux and Android are no spring chickens either. The original release of the Linux kernel, which is at the heart of Linux and Android, was in 1991. That’s 21 years ago.

So, 20 years old? Meh. That seems to be about how long it takes for the core of an OS to mature.

Anyway, the whole CIO post just goes off into the weeds after that, stringing quotes together with transitions that look like they came out of a Mad Libs book.

If you are a CIO and you read this drivel, please stop.

And if you are the editor at CIO who let this one be published, please consider a new career.

7 thoughts on “More stupid tech journalism

  1. This is beyond ridiculous. If only some of these bandwagon-ed quasi-journalists had elementary knowledge of the topic they were writing about…

    Worst thing? Such articles will be quoted and mostly taken for granted. What kind of an average reader double checks the facts?

  2. MS makes most of it’s money from Office, not the OS. Though for some reason we are still waiting for a cool version of Office for Win 8. I hope it’s a smashing success. For the rest of the writers? Bring your own red flags and plenty of salt.

  3. I don’t expect Microsoft to respond to every silly and uninformed article that appears on a tech blog or business news website, but I do worry that there is a meme being created by the fanboys of some tech sites that Microsoft does need to pay attention to. This developing meme is Surface and Windows 8 are failures already. (See: “Surface reviews are mixed” or “Surface lacks heart” or “Windows doesn’t have 700,000 apps”) Microsoft should have learned its lesson from the Mac/PC ads that you don’t let a competitor define you. In this case it doesn’t appear to be a competitor doing the work directly but those competitors fanboys on tech sites.

  4. I recently commented on an post that linked to a poor All Things D article that had factual errors. I’m not a journalist(my day job isn’t covering these products), and even I can point out these errors. I think some of the folks that cover some of this info either are extremely partisan in their coverage, or really don’t know what’s going on.

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