Steve Ballmer's Biggest Regret is Windows Vista, not Surface RT

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dbqfan

Maybe he hasn't had the time to try Win8. If he did he might reconsider his decision.

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ShyLinuxGuy

I would have to agree with Ballmer on this one. Vista was a mess, and although it wasn't all of Microsoft's fault as the OEMs didn't have adequate drivers and/or the proper hardware) Vista was terrible performance-wise.

I'm lucky that I have never used it for my own personal intents and purposes for no more than a couple of hours in total. As with most Windows releases, I downloaded the .iso and gave it a try before I made a decision to buy it or not. My machine back then was a dual-core Athlon 64 with 4GB of memory and a discrete video card (forgot which one, but it wasn't too fancy)...it still sucked. Ubuntu 8.04 (I think is what I had then?) clearly had the upper hand.

Windows 8 is a lot better performance wise. The UI...not so much. But then again I don't care too much for Aero either.

I've never really dealt with Windows ME. Wasn't Windows 98 still available right up until Windows XP for non-commercial use?

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Ghost XFX

Sorry, but I have to disagree with Ballmer, if only because of that GOD FORSAKING, WINDOWS ME!!!!!

That was a nightmare to behold. Buggier than a cobweb full of nats! For all the talk about Vista being "clunky" or a "hog", at least it worked, and by SP2 it was doing just fine, which is why I use it even now.

Vista was heavenly compared to ME and it wasn't even close!

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ohsnaps1104

To be honest I don't like Vista, 7, or 8. I rather liked the UI in Vista, but Vista just felt chunky and getting it to cooperate with you is a hot-mess at times. 7 feels like it's over weight as well, any kind of intensive operations feel so slow to me. I don't like the UI in 7, it feels to me like pure sugar. They ramped up the sugar factor with 8's UI and I went barf! I heard some people say they had zero issues with 8 and some say they could not get any driver or software they needed to work. I really haven't had much experience with 8 myself.

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Volleynova

I work on Windows Vista machines on a daily basis.

It's solid if you

1) Disable System Restore.
2) Disable Windows Search.
3) Run it on a system with a fast hard drive and lots of RAM.

That said, Ballmer presided over Windows 7 which in my opinion is the most solid launch of a Windows Operating System of all time, and one of the best releases of Windows of all time. He did a great job, it is unfortunate for Windows 8 a different path was chosen--I have a feeling Windows 9 will get back on track.

Every other Windows release tends to do that.

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maxeeemum

Sorry but I can't believe anything that comes out of Ballmer's mouth. He's still Microsoft's used car salesman. Plus I'm sure his so called retirement package bans him from bad mouthing the company or telling the actual facts.

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Vano

I take Vista over W8 anytime, thank you very much.

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steven4570

Whats wrong with windows 8 with start is back installed? works just like 7 does except better.

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spokenwordd

Exactly... minus Metro Win8 is a better optimized, more fully featured and faster Win7.

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ApathyCurve

I still run Vista on my gaming box. It's what I installed when I built it in 2008, and I've seen no reason to change it. No problems that I've noticed. Of course, I don't overclock or do any of that other nerdy tech-masturbation stuff, so it may simply be a case of me being satisfied with vanilla ice cream rather than any inherent good qualities of Vista.

That box is getting very long in the tooth though, even with a few recent upgrades. About time for a new one. Hopefully they can unass Win8 before then.

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joeyjr

DITO on that. I see a using vitual machine or multiboot systems being the norm for power users, especially for PC gaming to be able to play some of the older games from Steam.

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jgrimoldy

For the most part, I agree with your stance on Vista. I hate to upgrade just for the sake of upgrading. In the case of Vista vs. Windows 7, I have *always* seen dramatic performance improvements when I reinstall W7 on the same hardware.

Your mileage may vary.

I really don't like W8, though I understand the tough position MS was in. They absolutely HAD to develop a unified OS across all platforms to stay relevant. It's just the PC version is difficuly to navigate for old-school folks...

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maxeeemum

Agreed! I never had much of a problem with Vista! Windows 8 is the worst. I recently installed Windows 8.1 Preview and I'm still tweaking it and doing workarounds. It's just unacceptable!

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Scatter

I don't know, I installed StartIsBack back when I got W8 and it's been great even since. I don't even see the 'App Store'. It boots and shuts down quicker than W7 and it seems to be just as stable. What about W8 do you hate so much?

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Vano

It made for dumb people in mind (ya know, less settings)
It's confusing with half of the settings open "modern" mode
I'm having hard time with startup programs, they simply refuse to start.

It's ugly.

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btdog

Vista is probably the biggest fiasco and not just because of the glitchy OS when it was released.

First, looking back the Microsoft's OS line-up, Longhorn/Vista should have been released in 2003-04, but it was delayed. A LOT. Which leads to...

Second, its release date was constantly being pushed back. This hurt the manufacturers since they had to alter their plans every few months. Worse, it scared a lot of consumers - constant delays usually means problems. Even if Vista had come out 100% perfect, people would still have been skittish (of course, it didn't which only exacerbated the situation).

Finally, when MS was describing Longhorn, it was the "Be All" to end all. When they first started discussing the objectives of the OS, it was quite impressive. The filing/search system was one example of the revolutionary improvements. And as time went on, MS quietly acknowledged it was dropping this feature...then another. By the time it came out, it was half the OS it was promised to be.

Not to mention, Vista ended up being the successor to one of the most solid OSes MS has ever built. Looking back, I think XP will be considered "the" best OS MS has ever produced - better than NT and Win95. 12 years after its release it is the second most used OS. That's impressive.

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0ly1r3m@1ns

Its funny that XP was an unstable turd at its release.

Windows2k is the best OS they ever made, light weight, stable and it worked with everything.

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firefox91

He said Vista was his biggest regret was Vista because there is still money to be made on Surface.

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joeyjr

Vista brought us a retail and OEM version of a 64 bit OS after 5 years of developement. Can't say Vista was the worst but driver support could have been better. I am still using Vista with SP2, after a few black and blue screen crashes and reinstalls from service pack releases it has been very stable for 3 years without any major problems for my medic/gamer PC. Pinnical Studio 14 jammed up and I can't even reinstall it but I have not tried a fresh install of vista to get it to work and Battlefeld 2 stopped working. As one person posted that microsoft has alienated the desktop to promote there newer products should be his regret and the mislead vision of the death of the PC. Technolgy moves at a fast pace allowing more power in smaller devices but that doesnt mean it is the end of the PC because they all are personal computing devices. Windows and the PC is what make MS, but it seems that Balmer forgot that along the way and I emphasize (BALMED).

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LatiosXT

The problem with Vista was that it suffered from a lengthy development period of feature creep and such, plus the fact that Apple was charging head on against it meant that they had to pretty much rush something out.

But then again, this wouldn't be the first time Microsoft did this (Microsoft Word comes to mind)

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gamewizard

I figured he would regret the fact that MS stock went up when he said he was leaving the exact opposite of what usually happens.

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donttasemebro

Vista was the start of something that probably makes Ballmer regret it the most.

If Vista would of went off without a hitch then millions would of had a happy experience quickly adapting to the new OS. Unfortunately that wasn't the case, which led users to realize how well XP ran at the time leading them to stay/revert to XP.

This started something more that changed the future of Windows 7, 8, and whatever is next. Users remember just how badly Vista went and just how well their current OS runs. This results in the MS community to shy away from early adoption of whatever is next.

I'm sure Windows 8 has some great features that aren't included in W7 and if it wasn't for Vista I may have already upgraded...

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Bucket_Monster

I don't know... I'd have to say Windows ME takes the crown. I didn't really have any problems with Vista. Windows 7 is basically an optimized and improved Vista.

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Bureaucromancer

Worse OS sure, but in terms of what it did to the company or it's long term effects? Longhorn/Vista was a truly damaging and very expensive major release cycle that fell apart completely. ME was always a minor, interim release that really couldn't have cost much and was realistically little more than a warmed over third version of Windows 98.

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fung0

Much worse than the disaster of Vista was the abandonment of Longhorn. That was the last time Microsoft actually looked at improving the core of Windows is a major way - and gave up. The proposed WinFS file system, for example, could have opened the way to making Windows a vastly more useful OS. Instead, what we got were largely cosmetic - and counterproductive - changes. A trend that continues with Windows 8 and Office 2013.

As Ballmer departs, Microsoft needs to remember that it's never been a "devices and services" company, and realize that it never will be successful competing in devices or services, against experts like Apple, Samsung, Google and Amazon. Microsoft is a software company. (MicroSOFT - get it, Steve?)

As it happens, software is where the most work remains to be done. But under Ballmer, software innovation has been a very low priority for the company that once led the field. The fact that Windows 8 runs (slightly) faster than Windows 7 on existing hardware is just another way of saying it takes even LESS advantage of current hardware. Astounding that Microsoft would claim this as an advantage! It's really a perfect measure of the company's failure - of Ballmer's failure - to advance the software in step with continuing Moore's Law advancements in hardware.

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Ian Miller

Vista's Code name is longhorn

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Cleaver

"The fact that Windows 8 runs (slightly) faster than Windows 7 on existing hardware is just another way of saying it takes even LESS advantage of current hardware."

So, if Windows 8 is running faster, that means it's using less processing power? That's bad.... somehow? I don't follow.

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fung0

There's nothing wrong with efficiency. What's amazing is that anyone might feel it was a substitute for innovation. Efficiency is good news in a service pack. In a full 'integer' release, it's an admission of failure.

After a decade in which hardware has continued to evolve at Moore's Law rates, I'd expect a LOT of software innovation. And yet, Windows 8 is basically Windows 2000 with some relatively minor tweaks. It does nothing to exploit today's hardware that Windows 2000 couldn't do almost as well.

You could say - as Microsoft has - that there's just no more software innovation to be had. But there are lots of counter-examples, even on a purely technical level. WinFS is one. There's no good reason Windows 8 shouldn't have a vastly better file system than it does. There's no reason Explorer shouldn't offer multiple views on my data repositories, or allow me to add storage seamlessly, as you could on the (original) Windows Home Server. There's no reason the UI should ignore my GPU, when Windows 7 managed to exploit it (at least slightly). And so on. Even a cursory list of 'missing features' would be too long for this page.

I certainly won't buy Windows 9 if its big selling point is that it ignores EVEN MORE of my system's hardware capability. What exactly are we saving those CPU cycles FOR?

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Orlbuckeye

long ago. Their focus is on better built in graphics. cooler and economic power usage. That's why the 4th generation processor does little for the desktop. Yes the clock speed has improved a bit but Intel is focusing on more mobile devices. Intel is also interested in taking on the arm in tablets and looking into running Android and Windows. If you notice the first round on laptops that came out with the 4th generation i7 processor were gaming rigs. They are the big screen systems with non-touch screens. Basically 90% of the touch screens are under 15". Gaming machines are getting the newer technology components but they are a different breed. The mainstream laptop isn't as powerful as the previous generation Look at all the under 15" systems with the U processors. The world is moving to thin client applications rather then the fat client application of the desktop OS's.

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Renegade Knight

The Job of the OS is to let other programs run and get out of the way. Efficiency should always be a priority. Never secondary. It's not a problem. Nor is it a sign of a lack of innovation. For that matter a bloated festering resource hog of a program isn't a sign of innovation either.

That all said, your examples of innovation MS could do are good ones.

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praetor_alpha

Those CPU cycles are being saved for things that make a computer really useful. Things that the OS does not do or provide, like edit video, Photoshop, browse the web in better browsers, play games, word process, write code, run virtual machines, and on. I don't care if my OS uses the latest hardware capabilities (hardware outgrew the needs of OSes a long time ago), I only want it to let other apps access those capabilities.

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kixofmyg0t

So basically what you're saying is...if it runs slower it's "better".

You want the "Crysis" of Operating Systems. Horribly inefficient and poorly optimized. That's somehow better in your world. Because if it's faster it "ignores EVEN MORE of my system's hardware capability".

You can always underclock your processor. That'll make everything run slower, which is "better" according to you.

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Ian Miller

what he is saying is other programs and Apps besides the OS need the CPU cycles.... if the OS is maxing out the CPU and/or GPU how are Programs that need CPU/GPU/Ram such as Video editing software

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fung0

The OS should not be 'leaving resources on the table.' If my CPU is running at less than 5% capacity (as it is at this moment, with Word, Firefox, two pieces of graphics software and foobar2000 all on the go), the other 95% is simply wasted.

OBVIOUSLY, the OS should step aside when an application does need 100% of my hardware resources. Windows 7 does that very politely, about twice a week, when I run Arma 3. But MOST of the time, Windows should be putting the hardware to work for my benefit. Instead, Windows 8 actually brags about doing LESS. That might make sense if hardware resources were scarce (say, on a tablet). But when the hardware is sitting bone-idle most of the time (as on even the feeblest recent PC), it's a failure of design, and a failure of imagination.

This logic is not my own - it's Microsoft's. Remember that whole fad of 'memory managers' that increased your free memory in Windows? Microsoft's very reasonable response: Windows fills all of your RAM, all of the time, because 'free' RAM is wasted RAM. I agree, and I add: a Core i7 spending its life at 5% capacity might as well be a 486.

Why should I be grateful to Microsoft for FAILING to find a use for my PC's immense capacity? It used to Microsoft's JOB to find ways of exploiting the latest hardware - to make me want an even more powerful PC. Now, they brag about how little they're taxing my hardware, and expect me to be impressed. I'm not. I'm just more convinced than ever, that they've totally lost the plot.

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warptek2010

You're analysis is counter intuitive and couched in many logical fallacies. The first being the role of the computer which, by the way, is not a static role... it's a constantly changing DYNAMIC role. The second logical fallacy being that if the OS of the computer is using 95-99% of the processing power it is somehow good. How exactly is that good? To me, that would indicate a major problem, and one to solve quick. We don't build our computers to run an operating system that maxes out our cpu, gpu, memory resources, bus etc... we build our computers intentionally choosing hardware that meets or exceeds our goals to run any program we want... but to put it more specifically, we want as much headroom in our rigs as possible. If Windows is using only 5% resources... you should congratulate yourself. That is actually more than good... it's great.
Also, what you describe an OS should be doing is indicative of either massive bloatware or a badly coded kernel.

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severnia

do you drive down the highway in 3rd gear so your engine has more to do by running at a higher RPM? do you tow 10,000 lbs around behind a truck all the time so you use every horse-power availiable? Do you run your furnace at full tilt in the winter with your doors and windows open so your getting full use out of it? do you open all the fire hydrants in town so your towns water supply is pumping maximum GPM? I dont think the money sitting in your bank account is getting maximum use, give it to me.

"Why should I be grateful to Microsoft for FAILING to find a use for my PC's immense capacity?", have you tried Linux or a Mac? they dont either. you confuse efficiency with waste. when your PC is at idle, it has plenty of room to do what you want when you want. It scales back clock speed, turns circuits off, and saves power, waiting for something to do. Even many modern vehicles do things like this now, they will shut off some cylinders while cruising under light loads to save fuel, or do you consider that waste?

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vrmlbasic

What would you propose Windows do with the 95% of the CPU that is going unused in your current scenario?

What do other OS do in similar scenarios?

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fung0

I'll try saying this one last way, and then give up. An operating system is what Operates the System. A big part of that job is allocating software work to hardware resources. If my hardware resources are 95% idle, it's because the OS has failed to find work for them to do. That's not an achievement. It's a design FAIL... and a tip-off that Microsoft has totally run out of ideas for moving PCs to the next level.

This has nothing to do with how responsive the system is, or how fast it runs apps. Those are issues of multitasking. YES, the OS needs to free up resources when an application requests them. But NO, there's no benefit in having those resources sit idle, when no application is asking for them. (Other than saving power... the PC is welcome to sleep when I'm not sitting in front of it.)

There's lots of work that hardware could be doing. It could be providing me with a 'richer' UI, to use Microsoft's terminology. Aero Glass and the 3D Win-Tab window manager are trivial examples... there's no reason the whole UI couldn't be giving me Minority-Report levels of interaction. Voice/gesture recognition. Predictive keyboard input. A smarter file system. Better management of storage devices. WAY better video decoding. All without using even a significant fraction of that 95% idle CPU/GPU capacity.

I gave Microsoft control over those CPU cycles so they could find a use for them. They've let me down. Hardware power continues to escalate at a geometric (Moore's Law) rate, but Microsoft is still using it to run basically the same old Windows and Office of the 1990s - exploiting more and more powerful PCs less and less efficiently.

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kixofmyg0t

You're retarded.

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Orlbuckeye

ways to conserve power to add battery life. So do you want load balancing built into the OS? Do you want 1.5 hours of battery life of the p4's. How is the OS going to know to that software is requesting resources when that software is written by a 3rd party. MS or AMD doesn't want to give the 3rd party application that much control of the OS. There is a benefit for those resources being IDLE and that's called battery life and cooler temps. In the long run it's hard for MS to go against Intel when there goal is a more efficient PC then a more powerful pc.

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Refuge88

I think you are sniffing paint.

The way you bring your invalid point across...

Its not MS that has failed, its you, You built an amazing computer and you aren't giving it anything to do.

If you are going to treat it soo poorly by all means mail it to me. I'll put that thing to work for you.

- Also great many thanks to those that TRIED to explain things to this poor man, but your attempts appear to be in vain. -

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limitbreaker

In some ways I agree with him, what I want is a OS that is very efficient but does more also. I want there to be an option for a resource hog UI with full 3d. I want to use an Oculus Rift to access my desktop and to need xyz hovering mouse to control the ui. Who needs screens anyways, that's so 21st century! I want my minority report pc now!

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whitneymr

If you want your PC running 100% 24-7 go back to the forums and check out Folding at Home. It WILL keep your PC very busy and do the world some good. All I have say Bye.

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wolfing

I can't really blame him for missing the market for tablets, after all, I also thought at the time that it wouldn't take off, I mean, a device that is less powerful, does less things and costs more than a laptop? We were both wrong.

He also drove the company through the dangerous waters of the antitrust case, where many thought Microsoft would have to be divided in smaller companies, it kept together maybe in big part because of him.

I only wish he hadn't decided to alienate desktop users by following the very awesome Windows 7 with a Lolly-pop OS interface (and forcing everyone into it).

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Orlbuckeye

is alienating the desktop users. Touch, battery life and more efficient control of components (all things that laptops need) Read the writeup's on the Haswell. The OEM's are coming out with All in Ones for mainstream and desktop for business and gaming. Business's aren't ready for Windows 8 at least big business with powerful ERP systems that run their HR, Payroll and financials.

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fung0

Handhelds was a market that Microsoft once owned. Ballmer presided over the abandonment of Windows Mobile (a very good OS, even by today's standards), and Microsoft's subsequent re-invention of the mobile wheel, long after everyone ceased to care. Microsoft was also first in tablets, but failed to evolve them to lighter form factors. Not many people could manage to be so wrong, so often, in the same market.

As for the Microsoft breakup... in hindsight, it would have been the best thing for them and everyone else. The applications side would have offered Office on GNU/Linux, and forced the Windows side to be truly competitive. Which in turn would almost certainly have prevented the release of disastrous products like the "Lolly-pop OS interface" you mention.

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aca20031

To be fair with regards to form factor, Microsoft had never been involved with the hardware (at that time). They made the software, and it was the OEM's failure if form factor was to blame.

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fung0

A valid point. Although if Microsoft had, for example, promoted Windows Mobile for slightly larger devices, they could have ended up with something rather better than an iPad, probably sooner than Apple. And certainly a lot sooner than Google.

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Renegade Knight

I think there is a lot of truth there. I was a Windows Mobile user. Love the power of that OS. Disliked the way you installed programs. The interface was both good and bad. The OS however was fully capable and the modern fat finger OS that WinPhone, Android, and iOS are haven't yet replaced the sheer ability of Windows Mobile.

However the evolution of the Win Mo phones seemed to be to smaller and smaller screens. I ended up replacing my 2.5" Resistive touch screen Win Mo phone with a 4.5" Android screen and taking a hit on a fair sized software investment.

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fung0

The UI was a bit clunky, for sure... but you could easily tweak it with toolbars and other utilities. Also, the OS had full multitasking and a true file system, which are lacking in WinPhone.

Ironically, where WinCE and WM really fell short was PC connectivity. Microsoft's sync software was intrusive and flaky. There's never been any reason a mobile device couldn't simply plug and play via USB.