15
Dec 13

Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Eli Whitney Regarding the Cotton Gin

Jefferson, Thomas
Nov. 16. 1793
Germantown
Eli Whitney
Whitney, Eli
TO ELI WHITNEY J. MSS.

Germantown,
Nov. 16. 1793.

Sir, —
Your favor of Oct. 15. inclosing a drawing of your cotton gin, was received on the 6th inst. The only requisite of the law now uncomplied with is the forwarding a model, which being received your patent may be made out delivered to your order immediately.

As the state of Virginia, of which I am, carries on household manufactures of cotton to a great extent, as I also do myself, and one of our great embarrassments is the clearing the cotton of the seed, I feel a considerable interest in the success of your invention, for family use. Permit me therefore to ask information from you on these points. Has the machine been thoroughly tried in the ginning of cotton, or is it as yet but a machine of theory? What quantity of cotton has it cleaned on an average of several days, worked by hand, by how many hands? What will be the cost of one of them made to be worked by hand? Favorable answers to these questions would induce me to engage one of them to be forwarded to Richmond for me. Wishing to hear from you on the subject I am c.

P.S. Is this the machine advertised the last year by Pearce at the Patterson manufactory?

Thomas Jefferson

Excerpt From The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. 8.


09
Dec 13

Thomas Jefferson on congressional conflict of interest

“I said that the two great complaints were that the national debt was unnecessarily increased, that it had furnished the means of corrupting both branches of the legislature. That he must know everybody knew there was a considerable squadron in both whose votes were devoted to the paper stock-jobbing interest, that the names of a weighty number were known several others suspected on good grounds. That on examining the votes of these men they would be found uniformly for every treasury measure, that as most of these measures had been carried by small majorities they were carried by these very votes. That therefore it was a cause of just uneasiness when we saw a legislature legislating for their own interests in opposition to those of the people”

Excerpt From The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Vol. 1.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.


08
Dec 13

Siri, Topsy, and the Web – Context is everything

Last night, my youngest child and I were talking, and I wound up telling her about the scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey where the HAL 9000 computer, as he is being disassembled, sings the old song Daisy to Dave Bowman. My child loves music, and didn’t see the irony in immediately asking me, “How does the song go?” So I taught her – she hadn’t ever heard it before. At the time I didn’t get the irony in doing that either – not until I woke up this morning.

Think about that line right before Dave tells HAL to sing him the song:

“My instructor was Mr. Langley, and he taught me to sing a song. If you’d like to hear it I can sing it for you.”

Topsy is Siri’s Mr. Langley.

A little over two years ago I wrote about how Siri was the start of Apple escaping the Web, and escaping Google search. In that piece, I discussed how important context was for Siri. Over the last few years, Siri has been improved as Apple has connected it to (often very contextually specific) sources, such as sports and movie information, and demonstrated them at WWDC.

However, Siri had, and continues to have, rather large holes in her knowledge set. What we think of as very simple questions, Siri cannot answer. The child of mine I mentioned earlier is fascinated with technology, and Siri in particular. Periodically, she will come up with random obscure queries and throw them at Siri. While the Siri system often can’t answer them, sometimes it can.

Twitter is amazing because it can provide insight into the zeitgeist (the Web’s short-term memory), but it also has such knowledge of long-term events along a timeline as they happened. In many ways, Twitter is a bit of a knowledge mechanical turk, where Twitter users mine the Web and real-time events and surface their knowledge in discrete snippets of information. Topsy was uniquely situated to surface Twitter’s knowledge in an API-driven way, and is ideally situated for Apple to integrate into Siri (since Siri doesn’t really learn anything, it just connects into other systems.

Many people have said Topsy was acquired to enhance advertising or iTunes content. Both are tangentially right. But ads have never appeared to be a primary focus for Apple – which makes sense, because the customer they build their hardware, software, and services for usually isn’t a fan of ads. That said, the analytics from Topsy Pro could well wind up integrated into iAds. We’ll see in time. As for content discovery? Sure, that’ll happen too, and people will buy content as a result of their searches. But I don’t believe that this is what this acquisition was about.

People expect Siri to be able to answer their queries, and if it can’t, they disengage from the service, and potentially from Apple’s platform, if they don’t find that it just works the way they expect. That’s why I believe Topsy has everything to do with Siri, and that’s where the team will end up, and how we’ll see the technology demonstrated at WWDC next summer.

A few pundits have also made the association to Siri, but most analysis I’ve seen seems to focus on real-time search, not mentioning the (relative) long-term knowledge that Topsy surfaces from Twitter, and how that can only grow over time. Just as importantly, as I understood it Topsy had created an algorithm that enabled tweets to be sorted geographically. This is invaluable to Apple, as it then gives Siri location-based context, and will let the system help users find resources near you that others are discussing in near real-time through the Twitter firehose. I think the acquisition of Topsy by Apple is good news for Apple and their customers, as well as Twitter itself and Twitter users. I think it’s really bad news for Google.


03
Dec 13

Walter Chrysler on Troubled Companies

“The first thing I do when I start to look into the affairs of a failing company is to study the personnel of the organization and the individuality of the men. I am concerned first of all with executives, because if their principles are not right it is useless to look for results from the men. When I have measured up in my own mind the capacity of the executives, I get out into the operation of the plant and watch the men. I look around to see how many of them are standing still and how many of them are moving around the plant. Highly paid workmen should be busy with accomplishment, not useless motion. If there is a lot of movement I know the plant is being badly operated.

I do not believe in idle machines or idle men. Outside of the idle investment involved, it is bad policy. If a man is working next to an idle machine it not only has a bad effect on him mentally, but he takes less care of his own machine because he thinks he has a ready substitute. I believe in keeping people out of temptation, for many of them cannot resist it.” - Walter Chrysler – Excerpt From Automotive Giants of America (iBooks)

Even though the above advice is almost a century old, I believe it is still quite relevant. Too many companies today waste far too much time on meetings, bureaucracy, and busywork.


02
Dec 13

Jeff Bezos on Disruption

In general, the 60 Minutes interview of Jeff Bezos felt largely like a marketing piece. But what Bezos says at 13:30 is great.

“Companies have short lifespans… And Amazon will be disrupted one day…
I don’t worry about it because I know it is inevitable. Companies come and go. And the companies that are the shiniest and most important of any era, you wait a few decades and they’re gone.” – Jeff Bezos on 60 Minutes, Dec. 1, 2013

 

 


27
Nov 13

Resistance is Futile or: GenTriFicatiOn

The vocal minority. You’ve heard of them, but who are they?

Companies often seek to change their status quo by modifying how they do business. Generally, this is a nice way of saying just they want more. More what, you ask? Traditionally, it would have meant they simply want more money, as in raising the cost of the goods they are selling (or lowering the cost that they will pay to suppliers or partners). These of course are done to increase revenue, or decrease operating expenses, respectively.

In today’s world, personally identifiable information (PII) isn’t just data, but instead is a currency which is invaluable to advertisers. While Google was the first to really succeed in this economy (of sorts), Facebook, Adobe, Microsoft, and anybody else with skin in the Internet advertising or analytics game is in the same position today. For these companies, their ask is an ever increasing cross-section of your identity. In exchange, they offer you “free” services. However, like any other business, they want an ever-increasing amount of your personal information in order to continue delivering that service. We’ve seen it with Facebook and their PII land grabs really beginning in earnest in 2010, and we’re seeing it at the current time with the encroachment of Google+ across Google sites where legacy communities aren’t very welcoming to the G+ GenTriFicatiOn.

Whether you’re talking about raising costs (reducing expenses) or asking for increasingly accurate PII, these price uplifts (or gazumps) are often not greeted warmly. In fact, there’s usually a vocal minority that quite often speak out and fight the change.

On Twitter yesterday, Taylor Buley asked if the uproar due to YouTube’s shift to Google+ could generate enough momentum for a real YouTube competitor.

I responded to Taylor at the time that I didn’t think it could. Back in 2010, when Facebook made their (at that time) largest shift in privacy policy, there was a rather large outcry by people bothered by the changes. The alternative network Diaspora was launched (and failed) out of this outcry.

There comes a certain point where these outcries cause an opinion to turn into a degree of a PR problem. But this PR problem is usually short lived. In the end, only two things can happen:

  1. The change is reversed (unlikely, as it causes a strategic retreat and a tactical reassessment)
  2. The turbulence subsides, the majority of users are retained, and some of the vocal minority are lost.

I consciously chose the term GenTriFicatiOn when I was describing Google+ earlier. Google is trying to build a community of happy PII sharers. But a lot of Google’s legacy community citizens don’t fit that mold. Google’s services are provided “free” in exchange for the price that they (Google) deems adequate. If you don’t want to pay that price, Google seems happy to see you exit the community.

Google today, like Facebook several years ago, is in the position of the chef with a frog in a pot. Slowly turning the heat up, and actually trying to excommunicate users who aren’t going to be willing participants in the Google of Tomorrow. Facebook most likely flushed the vocal privacy critics several years ago. Consider this Google Trends chart on the query “Facebook privacy”. While there is a regular churn on the topic, high water mark event H aligns nicely with the most contentious (to that date) privacy changes Facebook made, back in 2010.

Facebook_privacy

When Google shut down Google Reader last year, there was a huge outcry. However, Google obviously knew the value that Google Reader users provided in terms of PII sharing before it shut down the site. (Answer? Not much.) As a result? A huge outcry followed by a deafening thud. Google didn’t lose much of what they were after, which is those data sharing, Google loving users. See the Google Trends chart of the Google Reader outcry below. Towards the right we can see the initial outcry, followed most likely by discussion of alternatives/replacements and… resignation.

Google_reader

When these sites increase their PII cost to end users (let’s call these end users producers, not consumers), they’re taking a conscious gamble. The sites are hoping that the number of users who won’t care about their privacy exceeds the number of users who do. In general, they’re likely right, especially if they carefully, consciously execute these steps one by one, and are aware of which ones will be the largest minefields. Of those Google properties remaining to be “Plussed”, Google Voice is likely the most contentious, although YouTube was also pretty likely to generate pushback, as it did. Again, those vocal users not happy with the changes aren’t going to be good Google+ users, so if Google+ is where Google believes their future lies, it’s in their best interest to churn those users out anyway.


22
Nov 13

Mutually Assured Distraction

Have you recently updated an app your computer or your smartphone (or accessed your favorite Web app), and been faced with the arrival of:

  1. New features out of the blue
  2. Changed behavior for existing features
  3. A release that removes or breaks a feature you frequently use
  4. A user interface change that completely modifies the way the app works?

If so, you might be a victim of mutually assured distraction (MAD). MAD can also alternatively be referred to as competitive cheese moving. 

Once upon a time, software companies released software on semi-predictable schedules, with a modicum of cheese moving. User interface elements might have been moved, but users familiar with the application (or sibling applications) could find their way around with some degree of ease.

However, with the arrival of milestone-driven and Web-based software, we increasingly find ourselves facing a world where applications we are comfortable with and used to are rapidly, somewhat inexplicably, shifting on us (quick apps?). Faced with increasing competition and the agile software approaches used by competitors, more and more (and larger and larger) software companies are pushing out software that’s sort of done, sort of usable, and sort of documented.

Mutually assured distraction allows company A to volley out a marketing message when they hit their milestone and release, only to be responded to when company B (and company C, D, ad nauseum) releases it’s own milestone months or weeks later – and the process repeats. With each milestone burp of a release, little nuanced changes in the software arrive, and it is up to the end user of the software to figure out what changed, if the implementation of their favorite checkbox feature from company B works better than the implementation of checkbox feature from company A did a month and a half ago. Or if it’s still even there.

The problem with MAD is the position it puts end users in (not to mention the organizations/employers that still support them, as these applications still often have to be used for collaboration between two or more employees – that is, people have to get work done).

Adding “value” all the time may seem like a boon for the end user. But it really isn’t. It makes understanding the features of the application as it exists today hard enough, and the reality is that no end user has the neurons available (or desire) to keep track of all the changes coming in the application. They just want to get things done and use software and hardware that just works.

It’s one thing when you add a completely new feature that doesn’t really shift the way the app works for end users. It’s something else entirely when you remove or modify functionality that users depend upon and are comfortable using. When you do that, you’re violating a cardinal rule of building software:

Don’t shit on your end user’s desk.

Yes, it seems simple enough. People don’t like surprise. They don’t like it when you move things around just so you can say, “Look! We changed things! We improved it! LOOK AT THE VALUE YOU’RE GETTING!!!”

If you’re going to make your development milestones visible to end users, you darn well better give them some clue about what features you plan to add back (and ideally, some timeframe for when you plan to do so). For me, I think that this increasingly industry-wide move to faster and faster releases of key software applications creates an unsustainable cadence where users can never be fully productive with the application, and anyone responsible for supporting, deploying, or licensing applications for them is in for just as much pain, or more.


04
Nov 13

Plan on profiting off of Windows XP holdouts? There’s no gold left in them thar hills.

A few times over the last year, I’ve had conversations with people about Windows XP holdouts. That is, that as Windows XP’s impending doom rapidly approaches next April, businesses and consumers holding out on Windows XP will readily flock to something new, such as – ideally for Microsoft, Windows 8.1 – or Windows 7.

I’m not so sure.

To start, let’s consider why a business or consumer would still be running Windows XP today. Most likely, it’s a combination of all of the following:

  1. It’s paid for (the OS and hardware)
  2. It runs on the hardware they have
  3. Applications they have won’t run, or aren’t supported, on anything newer
  4. It requires no user retraining
  5. They don’t see  a compelling reason to move beyond XP
  6. They don’t realize the risks of sticking with XP after next April.

You can split those reasons into two categories. Items 1-3 are largely due to financial impediment, while 4-6 are generally due to “static quo” – XP meets their business needs and 8.1 or 7 doesn’t provide the necessary pull to motivate them to move off of XP.

It’s not that 7, 8, or 8.1 did anything wrong, necessarily. I was there when XP shipped, and I’ll tell you I heard many business customers complain about numerous things. They hated the theme and felt it was toy-like. They wanted to be able to take off Movie Maker, Internet Mail & News, or other consumer niblets of the OS, but couldn’t. Frankly, some of them just felt it was a warmed over Windows 2000 (obviously none of those customers had ever tried to undock a hibernated Windows 2000 laptop). For many customers, it took until XP had been effectively re-released as XPSP2 for them to really fall for it. When Vista shipped, reasons 4 & 5 above largely doomed it. Vista had a completely nebulous value proposition for most consumers and almost every business, leading to Windows XP becoming even more deeply engrained into many businesses.

Many people describe Windows 7 as “a better Windows XP”, which I think is actually an insult to both operating systems. But frankly, unless a business understands item number 6 (which Microsoft just grabbed a drum and started beating really hard – albeit very, very late), the rest don’t matter.

I’ve talked to several businesses about Windows XP over the past several years. For better or worse, most of them are happy with the hardware and software investments they made over the last 12 years, and many don’t feel like spending money for new hardware (especially new touch-centric form factors with value that they don’t see clearly yet).

Even more important though, is the number of times we have run into businesses – especially small businesses like dental, medical, or other independent practices – which during the past decade either bought commercial software packages or hired consultants to build them custom software. As a result, many of them hit item number 3 – “Applications they have won’t run, or aren’t supported, on anything newer”. I kid you not, there are a lot of small businesses with a lot of applications that honestly have no path forward. They cannot stay on XP – they cannot be secure. They cannot move off, as they either cannot find a replacement of one or more of their key applications, cannot move that key existing application, or in some cases, simply cannot afford to move to a replacement (in case you haven’t noticed, we’re still not in a great economic climate). They are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Move off of XP and throw away working systems your employees already know for new systems with unknown features or functionality. To boot, any of these new solutions are primarily still targeting Windows 7 (the desktop), not the Windows 8+ “modern UI” – diminishing some of the key value in acquiring tablet or touch-centric devices running 8, if the system is, for the time being (and likely for the foreseeable future) stuck on the desktop. Since Windows 8+ doesn’t include Windows XP Mode, unless a customer has appropriate enterprise licensing with Microsoft, they can’t even run Windows XP in a VM on Windows 8+ (and I have a hard time believing that customers who spend that kind of money are the kind of customers who are holding out).

There are still many organizations that are using XP (and likely Office 2003) and appear to have no exit strategy or plan to leave XP behind. It appears a lot of organizations don’t realize (or don’t care) now porous Windows XP will become after it ceases being patched in April. It isn’t a war-hardened OS, as some customers believe. It’s a U.S.S. Constitution in an era of metal battleships. I hate to sound like a shill, but XP systems will be ripe for an ass-kicking beginning next spring, and they can, and will, be taken advantage of. I also don’t believe Microsoft will do any favors for businesses that stay on XP (and don’t pay the hefty costs for custom support agreements with a locked and loaded exit plan in place).

XP is dying. But I believe lots of organizations are simply unclear about what kind of threat it poses to them. As a result, they’re sitting on the investment they’ve already made.

I also think that a lot of organizations that are still sitting on XP today may even be aware of (some of the) potential risks that XP poses to their organization after April, but simply don’t have the budget to escape in time, even if they had the motivation (which lots of them don’t appear to have). Even if a company pulls the trigger today, if they have any significant number of XP systems and XP dependent applications, they’ll be lucky to be off of XP by April.

There’s a belief that a lot of these customers had budget sitting there, had no app blockers, and might have even wanted to go to 7, 8 or just “something new”, but were just lackadaisical and for some reason will now get a fire lit under them, generating a windfall of sorts for Microsoft, PC OEMs, and partners over the next 5 months. Instead of that easy opportunity, I believe where you run across XP in the majority of organizations at this point, a better analogy is a set of four fully impacted wisdom teeth in a patient with no dental coverage.


03
Nov 13

Jerry Seinfeld on Collaboration

“Let me tell you why my TV series in the ’90’s was so good. Besides an inordinate amount of just pure good fortune.

In most TV series, 50% of the time is spent working on the show. 50% of the time is spent dealing with personality, political, and hierarchical issues of making something.

We spent 99% of our time writing. Me and Larry. The door was closed. Somebody calls? We’re not taking the call. We’re gonna make this scene funny.

That’s why the show was good.

I didn’t want to go from that to, you know, some H.G. Wells contraption machine, of trying to control the weather. That’s what these deals are. That’s what making a movie is. What’s a movie? It’s this giant machine, it’s this giant ship, and everybody gets on it and they shove off and nobody knows where it’s going.” – Jerry Seinfeld on Alec Baldwin’s Here’s the Thing, Oct. 14, 2013 (~29M)

What Jerry said really resonated with me. It reminded me of what was so frustrating at so many of the companies I’ve worked at, and what’s so wonderful about where I work now. When people let personalities get in the way of making great things, versus what kind of magic you can create when everybody is working together towards a common goal.


30
Oct 13

Windows Server on ARM processors? I don’t think so.

It’s hard to believe that almost three years have passed since I wrote my first blog entry discussing Windows running on the ARM processor. Over that time, we’ve seen an increasing onslaught of client devices (tablets and phones) running on ARM, and we’ve watched Windows expand to several Windows RT-based devices, and retract back to the Surface RT and Surface 2 being the only ARM-based Windows tablets, and now with the impending Nokia 2520 being the only non-Microsoft (and the only non-Nvidia) Windows RT tablets – that is, for as long as Nokia isn’t a part of Microsoft.

Before I dive in to the topic of Windows on ARM servers, I think it is important to take a step back and assess Windows RT.

Windows RT 8.1 likely shows the way that Microsoft’s non-x64 tablets will go – with less and less emphasis on the desktop over time, specifically as we see more touch-friendly Office applications in the modern shell. In essence, the strength that Microsoft has been promoting Windows RT upon (Office! The desktop you know!) is also it’s Achilles heel, due to the bifurcated roles of the desktop and modern UIs. But that’s the client – where, if Microsoft succeeds, the desktop becomes less important over time, and the modern interface becomes more important. A completely different direction than servers.

Microsoft will surely tell you that Windows RT, like the Windows Store and Surface, are investments in the long term. They aren’t short-term bets. That said, I think you’d have to really question anybody who tells you “Windows RT is doing really well.” Many partners kicking Windows RT’s tires ahead of launch bolted before the OS arrived, and every other ODM/OEM building or selling Windows RT devices has abandoned the platform in favor of low-cost Intel silicon instead. The Windows Store may be growing in some aspects, but until it is healthy and standing on its own, Windows RT is a second fiddle to Windows 8.x, where the desktop can be available to run “old software”, as much as that may be uninspiring on a tablet.

For some odd reason, people are fascinated with the idea of ARM-based servers. I’ve wound up in several debates/discussions with people on Twitter about Windows on ARM servers. I hope it never happens, and I don’t believe it will. Moreover, if it does, I believe it will fail.

ARM is ideal for a client platform – especially a clean client platform with no legacy baggage (Android, iOS, etc). It is low-power and highly customizable silicon. Certainly, when you look at data centers, the first thing you’ll notice is the energy consumption. Sure, it’d be great if we could conceptually reduce that by using ARM. But I’m really not sure replacing systems running one instruction set with systems running another is really a)viable or b)the most cost effective way to go about making the infrastructure more energy efficient.

Windows RT is, in effect, a power-optimized version of Windows 8, targeted to Nvidia and Qualcomm SoCs. It cannot run (most) troublesome desktop applications, and as a result doesn’t suffer from decades of Win32 development bad habits, with applications constantly pushing, pulling, polling and waiting… Instead, Windows RT is predominantly based around WinRT, a new, tightly marshaled API set intended to (in addition to favoring touch) minimize power consumption of non-foreground applications (you’ll note, the complete opposite of what servers do). Many people contemplating ARM-based Windows servers don’t seem to understand how horribly this model (WinRT) would translate to Windows server.

I talked earlier this year about the fork in the road ahead of Windows Server and the Windows client. I feel that it is very important to understand this fork, as Windows Server and client are headed in totally different directions in terms of how you interact with them and how they fulfill their expected role:

  • Windows client shell is Start screen/modern/Explorer first. Focuses on low-power, foreground-led applications, ARM and x86/x64, predominantly emphasizing WinRT.
  • Windows Server shell is increasingly PowerShell first. Focuses on virtualization, storage, and networking, efficient use of background processes, x64 only, predominantly emphasizing .NET and ASP.NET.

For years, Microsoft fought Linux tooth and nail to be the OS of choice for hosters. There’s really not much money to be made at that low end when you’re fighting against free and can’t charge for client access licenses, where Microsoft loves to make bread and butter. Microsoft offered low-end variants of Windows Server to try and break into this market. Cheaper prices mixed with hamstrung feature capabilities, etc. In time the custom edition was dropped in favor of less restrictive licensing of the regular editions of Windows Server 2012. But this isn’t a licensing piece, so I digress.

It is my sincere hope that there are enough people left at Microsoft who can still remember the Itanium. We’ll never know how much money ($MM? $BB?) was wasted on trying to make Windows Server and a few other workloads successful on the Itanium processor. Microsoft spent considerable time and money getting Windows (initially client and server, eventually just server) and select server applications/workloads ported to Itanium. Not much in terms of software ever actually made it over. Now it is dead – like every other architecture Windows NT has been ported to other than x64 (technically a port, but quite different) and, for now, ARM.

That in mind, I invite you to ponder what it would take to get a Windows Server ecosystem running on ARM processors, doing the things servers need to do. You’d need:

  1. 64-bit ARM processors from Nvidia or Qualcomm (SoCs already supported by Windows, but in 64-bit forms)
  2. Server hardware built around these processors – likely blade servers
  3. Server workloads for Windows built around these processors – likely IIS and a select other range of roles such as a Hadoop node, etc.
  4. .NET framework and other third-party/dev dependencies (many of these in place due to Windows RT, but are likely 32-bit, not 64-bit)
  5. Your code, running on ARM. Many things might just work, lots of things just won’t.

That’s just the technical side. It isn’t to say you couldn’t do it – or that part of it might not already be done within Microsoft already, but otherwise it would be a fairly large amount of work with likely a very, very low payoff for Microsoft, which leads us, briefly, to the licensing side. You think ARM-based clients are scraping the bottom of the pricing barrel? I don’t think Microsoft could charge nearly the price they do for Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard on an ARM-based server and have it be commercially viable (when going up against free operating systems). Charge less than Windows Server on x64, and you’re cannibalizing your own platform – something Microsoft doesn’t like to do.

Of course, the biggest argument against Windows Server on ARM processors is this: www.windowsazure.com. Any role that you would likely find an ARM server well-suited for, Microsoft would be happy to sublet you time on Windows Azure to accomplish the same task. Web hosting, Web application, task node, Hadoop node, etc. Sure, it isn’t on-premises, but if your primary consideration is cost, using Azure instead of building out a new ARM-based data center is probably a more financially viable direction, and is what Microsoft would much rather see going forward. The energy efficiency is explicit – you likely pay fractions of what you might for the same fixed hardware workload on premises running on x64 Windows, and you pay “nothing” when the workload is off in Azure – you can also expand or contract your scale as you need to, without investing in more hardware (but you run the same code you would on-premises – not the same as ARM would need). Microsoft, being a Devices and Services company now, would much rather sell you a steady supply of Windows Azure-based services instead of Windows Server licenses that might never be updated again.

Certainly, anything is possible. We could see Windows Server on ARM processors. We could even see Microsoft-branded server hardware (please no, Microsoft). But I don’t believe Microsoft sees either of those as a path forward. For on-premises, the future of energy efficiency with Windows Server lies in virtualization and consolidation on top of Hyper-V and Windows Server 2012+. For off-premises, the future of energy efficiency with Windows Server appears rather Azure. I certainly don’t expect to see an ARM-based Windows Server anytime soon. If I do, I’d really like to see the economic model that justifies it, and what the OS would sell for.