Thursday, May 9, 2013

Windows 8: Time to Eat Crow or Wait?

I have been mulling for some time whether it is time to eat crow over my previous post on how Windows 8 could potentially outrun the incumbent iPad, as the mobile device of choice. As I had noted in the post, I felt that the the Microsoft was attempted to ride the consumerization of IT wave and get the users up to speed on their "modern user interface" (Microsoft does not like the term "Metro" which tech journalist still use because that was its original code-name). Recent sales figures put Windows 8 roughly at the same level as Windows 7, when comparing the first 6 months of their sales. One may speculate that this was not the run away hit that Redmond was hoping for - this is based on the fact that they did not release the Windows 8 sales data during the Q3 earnings call. Reuters also points out that the average sales of Windows 8 is actually below Windows 7 and this could be due to the massive incentives that Microsoft was offering for people to upgrade their systems (e.g. buying a Windows 7 PC in the months before Windows 8's release an upgrade cost $15, in the few months after Windows 8's one could upgrade to Windows 8 for $40).

As I had noted in my post that there was tremendous room for Microsoft to shoot itself in the foot.  My analysis focused around the possibility of the Microsoft releasing Office on the iPad and Android mobile operating systems. However, the issue had to do with Microsoft's gamble that by forcing users to adopt the Metro interface (take that Microsoft!) they can move users away from the interface that they had got accustomed to years. John C Dovorak, a veteran journalist in the tech industry, noted in this PC Mag article (and many times on TWIT) that people like the simplicity of the desktop and there is no real compelling reason to leave this behind for the Metro interface. But to be fair, this is a hard call for Microsoft who did try to give the users the best of both worlds by giving the users the option to get to the desktop from the Metro interface.

One of the possible issues was Steven Sinofsky's approach to leadership (he was not known to be a nice guy), which may have prevented user feedback from being incorporated. Now that he's gone it appears that the next version of Windows, known as Windows 8.1 or Windows Blue will be bringing some features to "address customer feedback". Examples of such rumoured features include boot to desktop and bringing back the start button.

Although this may be good in terms of corralling the Windows faithful, the hope was that Windows 8 would give the iPad a run for its money.

Although a long shot, there is a possibility that Microsoft could still make this happen:  Amazon leaked this on their website: a $380 8.1 inch Windows 8 Tablet - that runs the full Windows 8 (i.e. not the more tablet oriented Windows RT) operating system. Although it does not come with MS Office 365, if you've bought for one machine you can share it with this tablet (and three other machines as noted in this previous post).

Although not likely a large factor in the overall success of Windows 8, the Washington giant did actually release a bizarre set of videos to advertise this OS (the Mashable links go to another YouTuber, but this one actually goes back to the official Windows 8 channel!):

As for me, I just ordered a Windows 7 laptop to replace the machine I am currently using. However, I am in the market for a tablet. If these tablet come in around the $300 to $400 range then I am definitely thinking of trying these machines out. In other words, I think I will wait before I eat crow.

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