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8/18/2011
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Windows 8 And The Truth About Software Wars

As the rhetoric heats up in several software wars, you can count on oversimplification and FUD. But you can also fight it.

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When Microsoft holds its BUILD conference in early September, developers will score an early look at the next version of the Windows OS. Just a few Windows 8 details have trickled out, reports InformationWeek.com's Paul McDougall. Think touch interface, for starters. Watch out, it's Microsoft vs. the world, namely Google Chrome and Apple iOS in OS World War number--wait, what number are we up to now? There's a problem with our near-constant desire to declare technology wars and declare winners, as my InformationWeek.com colleague Thomas Claburn points out in his latest story. "Battle metaphors make compelling headlines but they also oversimplify and misrepresent," says Claburn.

Claburn makes a compelling case that current efforts to name a likely winner in the battle between Web development technologies, like HTML5, and native iOS and Android app development technologies, are inherently flawed. Both app development approaches will persist, even complement each other, Claburn writes.

"Microsoft is making a major commitment to HTML5 development in Windows 8," Claburn points out. "This is a big deal. It doesn't mean an end to Windows applications but it does mean we'll see a lot more Web applications from Microsoft developers." Consider his analysis of where we'll head next.

You will also see oversimplified analysis of Windows 8 vs. Chrome vs. iOS in the next few months. You will see the word "kill" in many headlines. But of course, none of these three players will be killed anytime soon. Many of you are still grappling with Windows 7 decisions and rollouts, some pundits forget.

A harder truth for Microsoft: Many of you don't even think in terms of OS wars anymore. You think device first, OS second. Remember when you cared about chip wars? That was back when you thought chip first, device second.

Google Apps vs. Microsoft Office 365, of course, represents another software war that remains under close examination by users and pundits alike. After all, this conflict involves the kind of decision that can make an IT leader's career, or get him fired. Walking away from the proven tool to the upstart has never been easy. But in today's security climate, it can feel even harder.

FUD doesn't help IT leaders make these tough calls. And a YouTube video about "Gmail man" that's currently making the rounds pushes plenty of FUD, points out InformationWeek.com columnist Jonathan Feldman. The video "lampoons Google for its practice of serving ads based on the content of users' Gmail messages, and suggests Microsoft's Office 365 is a better option," Feldman writes.

There's just one problem, notes Feldman. The video gets its story about Gmail in the enterprise wrong. Feldman, a CIO by day, knows FUD when he sees it. Your CEO may see this video too, so you'd better know how to explain it.

SaaS ERP player Workday has bet big on those of you who like Feldman, prize practicality. In its latest suite upgrade, Workday delivers on a desire business users have voiced for years, InformationWeek.com's Doug Henschen reports. The company's tools now connect customizable business intelligence data to key decision points. That should mean fewer tools and less toggling as users pursue better decisions.

There's no war in that story's headline. But that Workday tool has the kind of ammo plenty of users want in their own battles.

Laurianne McLaughlin is editor-in-chief for InformationWeek.com. Follow her on Twitter at @lmclaughlin.

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