Why Windows 8 will be successful despite the buzz and criticism

irritated at the new Windows 8 logo, the fact that the start menu was taken away and angry that Microsoft chose to bundle both the Metro (yes I call it Metro – still) interface and the traditional desktop together in the same OS. My criticism has irritated my own readers to the point where they think i am an Apple fan. Having said that, I think that the Windows 8 platform is far more likely to succeed than it is to fail. Remember, I was a BIG critic. I am just looking at this objectively.

Windows 8 is NOT Windows Vista

It has been amusing to watch critics pile on about how bad Windows 8 is and how businesses will not adopt this. Recently, there has even been a resurrection of the dreaded V word – Vista. This is utter nonsense. I remember Windows Vista well. It had problems. It was slow and had lots of bugs/driver conflicts etc. It was a big problem because by the time it got to the consumer, both of those issues were still apparent. Windows 8 simply does not have those issues. The notion that it does or it might is just silly. Is there controversy about Windows 8 right now? Yes. This is because people are afraid of what they initially do not understand. It would be weird if people weren’t take aback by such a massive change. It would actually be counter intuitive.

Gartner kinda have it wrong – (newsflash – shocking)

Gartner have said that enterprises will not adopt Windows 8 and the truth of the matter is that is 50% true and 50% nonsense. The 50% that is true – Dell and others will tell you that companies are still going through the Windows 7 refresh cycle (from XP), this is not a great time to talk to executives about upgrading yet again. Not rocket science, it’s common sense. The 50% that is nonsense – A lot of businesses will take a long look at Windows 8 and weigh some of it’s benefits against their needs and requirements. BYOD, performance, application development, security, encryption, system management, Windows To Go etc are all better in this new release. Some of those businesses will move to Windows 8 slowly, some will move aggressively and some will not want to move at all. It’s absolutely impossible for Gartner to know and therefore give us percentages – especially right now.

Will businesses use Windows 8?

Here’s the shocking truth – businesses have been looking for Windows 8 for quite a while, they just didn’t know they were. As someone who has deployed ERP HR products, I could write chapters on the benefits of Windows To Go alone. Over the next year, every reputable hardware vendor on earth will be focused on selling tablets, phones,desktops, servers and laptops to businesses. A lot of these will be devices that can probably be managed with their existing staff, developed for with existing resources and supported by existing resources and Microsoft. Oh and Microsoft will be in a position where they bend over backwards to make those installs go smoothly. Do you think Microsoft will be aggressive with Windows 8 business pricing? I’m pretty sure they will. It’s a great soundbite to say businesses will not be interested but you have to remember, Microsoft have been selling into enterprises for DECADES. There are many discounts, waived fees and free support levers that can be tweaked and pulled as needed.

Hardware OEM’s have to adapt or die

Dell, HP, Samsung, Lenovo, Acer, Asus….the list goes on. These are all names that are depending almost entirely on Windows 8 to make their numbers next year. It becomes an existential imperative for a lot of these companies to do WHATEVER they have to do in order to get buyers for their Windows 8 devices. It means making sleek and sexy hardware that consumers want to buy. It means innovating – something that a lot of these lazy bastards simply haven’t had to do in years. Let’s be honest – the sad truth is that Windows 7 sold itself and for a while, that was enough. Now consumers will have lots of choices to pick from. Some will look like Apple. Some will be BETTER looking than Apple products. These OEM’s will be awake and aggressive over the next year or they’ll lose lots of money, it’s that simple. Capitalism 101.

A lot of people are tired of Apple’s premium pricing

All good things do in fact come to an end. Apple have had the sexy device category to themselves for years. That is coming to an end next year. The truth is, for the past couple of years if you walked into a computer store, the only laptops worth drooling over had an Apple logo. Netbooks came and went and Ultrabooks are still a mixed bag. OEM’s will be forced to rectify this situation and innovate. This will lead to competition for Apple. I’ll make you all a prediction – $2000 for a MacBook Pro worked last year and this year because there was a lack of good, competing hardware. It won’t fly this coming year. Not if people can get a sexy HP Ultrabook with a touchscreen and detachable tablet for $899. It simply won’t make sense at that point. I for one have a brand new MacBook Pro which will be history as soon as PC OEM’s get their act together. I am guessing I am not alone.

But developers won’t develop for Windows 8

There have been those who have been vocal critics of Windows 8 because they are scared of the Windows Store. A new paradigm of certification, oversight and taxation has pissed off a bunch of game development houses. This is to be expected. I haven’t paid too much attention because this seems silly to me. Of course they are upset, they may have to share some of their revenue with Microsoft going forward if they use the Windows Store. Once again, I would be surprised if they weren’t upset. There are also those who say that Windows 8 only has 2500 applications and that’s a disaster….. even though it’s not even released yet. The stupidity of that is obvious. But seriously, the Windows Store will be successful for one reason and one reason alone. Capitalism. While there will be the occasional high profile development shop angry about the Windows Store, the real question will be whether the average developer or development house feels the same way. I don’t think they do. As former President Bill Clinton says “It’s arithmetic”. A new global marketplace is opening up where hundreds of millions of eyeballs may find and want to buy new products. If you’re a developer, you could write the next Angry Birds. That’s a powerful carrot to dangle. Of course as a talented developer, you could  always go to the other app stores down the street where they already have hundreds of thousands of apps. But that would make less business sense.
  • Windows Store -> Guaranteed huge global audience, less competing apps.
  • Apple + Android -> Smaller audiences, way more competing apps.
It’s not rocket science. Appreciating that is not being a Windows fanboy, it’s being a business person who understands supply and demand.

Then there’s Microsoft…

Microsoft have bet the farm on this product and they need this to work…but here’s the interesting thing, they don’t need it to work right now. Tami Reller said it best when she told a global audience – Microsoft is cool with businesses and consumers taking some time – ” Windows 7 today, Windows 8 tomorrow”. I think that Windows 8 is Microsoft’s long term game. When you play for the long term, you brace for the criticism and you ride through it. I remember that a lot of people (myself included) initially thought the iPad made no sense. Apple stayed the course. When you have billions in the bank and are playing for the long term, you watch price points carefully and adjust accordingly. You decide if and when it makes sense for certain products to be loss leaders. I expect over the next year Microsoft will be fine tuning hardware and software pricing and (behind the scenes) infuencing strategic partners in not so subtle ways. In addition, for the first time ever, Microsoft are excercising the option to actually build their own hardware. They can build tablets, phones, desktops and laptops if they wish – they have those options and I suspect they will use them if Surface is successful. As I have said before, it would be malpractice not to. Microsoft have made a bold play for the future of PC computing – they need to stick with it. There can be no plan B. This will be a marathon and not a sprint and it seems to me that Microsoft understand that.

So how will Windows 8 affect my choices?

In light of all this, here’s the bottom line for me. Would I rush out and buy Windows 8 today for a desktop? No because my desktop is fast and has 8 gigs of ram. For now, Windows 7 runs just fine but that’s not the whole story. The real questions are:
  • If my desktop stopped working and I had to buy a new one, would I buy or install Windows 7 again? The answer is NO. I would happily move to Windows 8 for my next desktop PC. It’s faster, more secure and has more benefits.
  • If I had to buy a new tablet, would I buy a Windows 8 tablet as opposed to an iPad? The answer is MAYBE – depends on what Microsoft and the OEM’s do this holiday season and next year.
  • If I had to buy a new laptop or my Macbook Pro broke down, would I buy a Windows 8 hybrid/Ultrabook? YES, YES, YES. My MacBook Pro will be on Craigslist the second I see a Windows 8 laptop/notebook/hybrid that is sleek, sexy and detachable.
Apple have had a lot of the sleek and sexy market to themselves for a while. That changes in a few weeks. Are there challenges ahead for Microsoft? Yes. Will the waters be very bumpy? Absolutely. Having said that, for all the reasons above, this one time, I wouldn’t bet against Redmond. That’s my take. What do you think? Use the comments below and let me know…]]>

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