Mobile
Commentary
11/28/2012
12:50 PM
Kevin Casey
Kevin Casey
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Windows 8: Let's Not Plan The Funeral Yet

Even in tech time, it seems silly to sound the death knell so soon on such a significant overhaul. Did you really expect instant success?

Windows 8: 8 Big Benefits For SMBs
Windows 8: 8 Big Benefits For SMBs
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Microsoft did its best Mark Twain imitation on Tuesday, effectively dismissing rumors of Windows 8's premature death as exaggerated.

Windows exec Tami Reller told the crowd at the Credit Suisse 2012 Annual Technology Conference that Microsoft has already sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses in the first month of general availability. Moreover, upgrades to Windows 8 are moving more rapidly than upgrades to Windows 7 -- the most popular operating system ever -- did in its first month on the market.

I find this news oddly refreshing. When I mentioned to my wife the various rumors and reports that Windows 8 might be DOA, she responded, "Really? Didn't it just come out?"

Yes, it did. But there's a Hollywood box office mentality when it comes to high-profile technology launches -- if people aren't immediately lining up for your latest-and-greatest, then it's a flop. I think that's misguided. Windows customers -- me included -- aren't paying 12 bucks for two hours of entertainment. We're buying software, and in many cases, hardware, too, that we'll rely on for at least a couple of years. (Or, if you're still running XP, many years.) What's the rush?

Especially for smaller businesses, it doesn't usually make much sense to pay the early adoption tax. When I recently laid out my reasons for passing on Windows 8 at launch, I noted that if I did upgrade at some point down the line, the decision would likely be motivated by a hardware purchase. Much of that hardware is still on the assembly line, and what is already out there is relatively expensive. It stands to reason that the hardware -- not to mention the apps and underlying OS -- will improve with time, too.

While I'm just a single user, organizations that upgrade to Windows 8 likewise need to consider a corresponding hardware refresh -- touch PCs and tablets, in particular -- for an optimal deployment. And hardware aside, there's the basic fact that Windows 8's mobile-minded UI requires most users to reset their traditional PC habits.

In other words, if Windows 8 is going to succeed with businesses, consumers, or both, it's going to take a while. The problem isn't necessarily with Windows 8 and the changes it ushers in. The problem is that "it's going to take a while" isn't a popular saying in the technology business, or in any business these days. There's something to be said for urgency -- but not if it's accompanied by myopia.

Perhaps it's naive to chafe at the go-big-or-go-home impatience that's so pervasive in the industry. Shareholders aren't philanthropists, after all. (Even Bill Gates is reputed, perhaps apocryphally, to have once dressed down an executive in a meeting: "Why don't you just give up your options and join the Peace Corps?") But I'd counter that it would be downright unrealistic to have expected Windows 8 to become a massive sensation overnight.

In a sense, 40 million is a small number in Microsoft terms; the company has sold 630 million Windows 7 licenses worldwide. Some of the not-so-rosy analyst reports have no doubt spawned tense meetings in Redmond conference rooms on both the consumer and business fronts. Microsoft still has a lot of catching up to do on mobile devices; Apple and Google have made the most of their head starts. While Microsoft bragged that the Windows Store opened with more apps than any other app marketplace at launch -- and has subsequently doubled the inventory -- it has a long way to go to match what's on offer for iOS or Android devices. That will be a major hindrance with consumers in the short term. Indeed, revered tech reviewer Walt Mossberg just listed a lack of apps as one of two strikes against Nokia's Lumia 920, which runs Windows Phone 8.

Windows 8 faces challenges in the corporate world, too -- a world where Windows has made the cash register ring millions of times over and continues to dominate PC market share. It's certainly plausible that Microsoft will need to issue a "Windows Classic" or Windows 8.5 version to foster significant adoption by businesses, many of whom are still working their way up to Windows 7.

But 40 million signals that it might be a bit soon to start digging a plot for Windows 8 alongside Vista in the technology graveyard. So Windows 8 wasn't an instant blockbuster. So what? It could still be a success story. It just might take a while.

Upgrading isn't the easy decision that Win 7 was. We take a close look at Server 2012, changes to mobility and security, and more in the new Here Comes Windows 8 issue of InformationWeek. Also in this issue: Why you should have the difficult conversations about the value of OS and PC upgrades before discussing Windows 8. (Free registration required.)

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
stevew928
50%
50%
stevew928,
User Rank: Strategist
12/29/2012 | 8:40:56 PM
re: Windows 8: Let's Not Plan The Funeral Yet
But seriously, I strongly agree with the article, especially about business expectations today. I loved, "There's something to be said for urgency -- but not if it's accompanied by myopia." Modern business is myopic for the most part. I'm a big Apple fan, and Apple faces similar problems from being in the public market. Many are crying for novelty remakes of the OS. Others are worried because Apple hasn't released the next 'market changer' this quarter. The list goes on.

The biggest challenge I see for Microsoft in moving forward, is that they are pretty much starting over, name recognition aside. They have invested so heavily (both in technical efforts and mental marketing image) in backward compatibility being the big selling point. Now, they are dumping that, essentially making themselves the 'new guy' in a market with a few years of maturity on them. They have hard work ahead for sure, and aren't a company known for market changing innovation. They seem to be betting a lot on the strategy of combining the desktop and mobile device at the OS level. I disagree with this strategy, but it is an interesting move. We'll have to wait and see.
stevew928
50%
50%
stevew928,
User Rank: Strategist
12/29/2012 | 8:25:45 PM
re: Windows 8: Let's Not Plan The Funeral Yet
Remember Microsoft holding that mock funeral for the iPhone? While it's probably a bit early yea, I agree, maybe they should have saved that coffin for a few of their products. :)
wht
50%
50%
wht,
User Rank: Strategist
12/4/2012 | 12:47:00 AM
re: Windows 8: Let's Not Plan The Funeral Yet
There are bluetooth or usb keyboards if you need to do serious production data entry.
wht
50%
50%
wht,
User Rank: Strategist
12/4/2012 | 12:45:00 AM
re: Windows 8: Let's Not Plan The Funeral Yet
Most sales reps are computer illiterate. Don't expect valid advice from them, they don't know the product or the dorrect answers. There are exceptions, a store manager at our local Staples knew her stuff on Windows 8 launch day! I was impressed. She had received training prior to launch.
wht
50%
50%
wht,
User Rank: Strategist
12/4/2012 | 12:42:26 AM
re: Windows 8: Let's Not Plan The Funeral Yet
Your suggest price points are for toys and vendor sponsored devices, like the Borders and Amazon devices, not an Apple iPad or a Windows Surface. Windows Surface is not going to appeal to consumers, it is a requirement for Business users who need network access through VPN, encryption, security, etc. Prices will be similar to a business class netbook or Ultrabook, depending on configuration. MS Office Software is not cheap either, something you don't get on the Droid or iPad devices, at least not yet.
stahmasebi9211
50%
50%
stahmasebi9211,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/4/2012 | 12:15:08 AM
re: Windows 8: Let's Not Plan The Funeral Yet
If it weren't for my job I'd never use Windows again.
Sue Penick
50%
50%
Sue Penick,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2012 | 8:02:45 PM
re: Windows 8: Let's Not Plan The Funeral Yet
for ERP if ERP vendors would make transactions like Work Order Completions, Manual Issues, Receipts and Adjustments where you tap in a field and a numeric keypad comes up on the screen, they could tap in the quantities - this would work great. So I can see Touch for the shop floor, distribution channels, etc.... just not the heads down order entry or accounting people
ANON1237925156805
50%
50%
ANON1237925156805,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2012 | 6:23:14 PM
re: Windows 8: Let's Not Plan The Funeral Yet
Apple markets hardware to consumers and niche markets in the enterprise. There sales counts mean something, as indeed they do for Android devices.

Microsoft markets software licenses directed mainly at the enterprise (often via OEM's). There things are more complex, particularly for an OS upgrade. The technical press should get this but if they don't, up to Microsoft to make the case that short term sales counts are not a key metric.

Alas they haven't figured out what their message should be on any level because they didn't have a clear vision and a long term strategy for implementing it. In trying to be all things to all people they have not quite nailed the user experience and they have certainly thumbed their noses at the enterprise when they could least afford to.

Even if numbers look OK in a couple of months, we won't really be able to score this until we can look back in a few years, when likely we'll have a true BYOD environment, to see how many of those D's are running a Microsoft OS.
ANON1237925156805
50%
50%
ANON1237925156805,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/3/2012 | 6:07:58 PM
re: Windows 8: Let's Not Plan The Funeral Yet
Well stated. I agree 100%. Give Microsoft huge marks for what's under the hood sand for the orginality and elegance of the Metro interface. They are working hard to get apps in to their marketplace. Kinect lurks intriguingly in the background. But they seem to have completely missed two key pieces of the puzzle, i.e., continuity of user experience and ease of upgrade.

Microsoft is right to recognize the need for a converged universe and of PC, cloud, mobile, work, leisure. But for many reasons Microsoft they can't follow Apple's script to get there, as they seem to be doing. Apple led from its market strength which was at the time a mobile ecosystem: iOS, iPhone, iPod, iTunes, etc. Microsoft must lead from its strength, which is in fact the desktop and the back end.

Yes, mobile and desktop cross-sell one another once everything clicks, but to get their chain reaction going in time to matter, Microsoft must drive early adoption of Win 8 in the enterprise. I agree with every one of your points on how they should have gone about this.

Instead you land in Metro, it's not intuitive how to get to the standard Windows desktop and when you do get there 50% of what you know in Win 7 does not apply. The excellent security features aren't being advertised as they should and to get them you have to endure the expense and headache of a full upgrade to an alien system that in the end may not be that much more useful in the enterprise than what you've already got.

Small surprise that after testing we've concluded that we'll stand pat for now. We'll eventually follow the hardware, knowing that in the meantime users will be more familiar with the new interface from home purchases. In other words we're a couple of years away at best.

Will we support Win 8 mobile devices? Yes if the demand is there. But iPhones and iPads are the new normal, we're looking at Google and we have a large installed base of Blackberry users who will be allowed to upgrade as it looks now. So they are swimming against the tide.

Absolutely too soon to dig a grave for Windows 8, but these mis-steps are serious.
Murnende
50%
50%
Murnende,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/2/2012 | 8:31:19 AM
re: Windows 8: Let's Not Plan The Funeral Yet
"In a sense, 40 million is a small number in Microsoft terms; the company has sold 630 million Windows 7 licenses worldwide."

To further your point, 630/37 (months that Win 7 has been on the market) = 17 million copies per month. Now obviously, Win 8 cannot keep up the 40 million per month rate, but it's not a terrible number--heck, if MS can avoid significant drop off in adoption rates (impossible, I know), they'll be able to hit their 400 million in a year prediction.

Windows 8 has some serious public perception issues at the moment, with many of the complaints about usability being simply inaccurate. I think Microsoft's marketing has to cut back on the dance numbers and start advertising the ease of use of Windows 8 in order to overcome some of these misconceptions.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
InformationWeek Elite 100
InformationWeek Elite 100
Our data shows these innovators using digital technology in two key areas: providing better products and cutting costs. Almost half of them expect to introduce a new IT-led product this year, and 46% are using technology to make business processes more efficient.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join InformationWeek’s Lorna Garey and Mike Healey, president of Yeoman Technology Group, an engineering and research firm focused on maximizing technology investments, to discuss the right way to go digital.
Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.