Software // Operating Systems
Commentary
12/20/2012
08:48 AM
Paul McDougall
Paul McDougall
Commentary
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Microsoft's Big Hits And Misses Of 2012

The past year saw some big wins, and big setbacks, for Microsoft. And then there's the special case of Windows 8.

Windows: Goofs And Gaffes
Windows: Goofs And Gaffes
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)

1. Windows 8
Windows 8 is a hit, but it's also a miss? Yep, because right now, Windows 8 is all about potential. But that will be lost if Microsoft doesn't clean up a few things. For starters, the company needs to unify the user experience across Windows 8's dual (and dueling) Metro and desktop interfaces. For example, Internet Explorer 10 in Metro relies on a host of commands and touch gestures that don't function in the desktop version. That's just going to breed user frustration and confusion.

Microsoft also needs to give users the option to bypass Metro and boot to the more familiar Windows Explorer desktop if they like. No need to strong-arm users into Metro if that's not what they prefer.

2. Surface RT
Similarly, Microsoft's decision to get into hardware should be a hit long term, but its execution in the short term has been poor. By all accounts, Surface is not selling well -- and with good reason. With a starting price of $499, it's $200 more expensive than Amazon's Kindle Fire HD and priced on par with the new iPad.

[ Will Microsoft introduce more hardware products beyond Surface? CEO Steve Ballmer suggests it's likely. ]

Microsoft needs to bite the bullet on price to establish Surface in the market. $399 would have been a good starting price, and we may yet see that. Microsoft also erred by withholding Surface Pro until after the holidays. Buyers who want a fully functioning Windows 8 tablet in time for Christmas can opt for one from Dell, Acer or a number of other OEMs. That's good for the PC makers, but it doesn't help the Surface franchise.

3. Windows Phone 8
Like Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 is technically impressive. It supports quad-core processors, and features scaled down and more customizable Live Tiles. But unlike Windows 8, it doesn't have a 400-million user installed base of previous-generation software on which to ride. It's out there on its own.

As a result, Windows Phone, including Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8, holds a market share less than 3.2%, according to ComScore. Unless those numbers pick up soon, the Windows Phone experiment will have to be considered a flop.

4. Bing Taste Test
In September, Microsoft stood up a website through which users could take a blind test to rank search results from Bing and Google. Microsoft claimed that users, who didn't know which results were from which search engine, preferred Bing almost 60%. InformationWeek invited readers to take the test and report back to us. The numbers weren't even close to Microsoft's claim. InformationWeek readers preferred Google's results by a ratio of almost 2 to 1. Sorry Bing.

What do you think were Microsoft's biggest hits and misses of 2012? Let me know in the comments section below.

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AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/13/2013 | 11:10:07 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Hits And Misses Of 2012
Some of my clients have Philips CT scanners with SGI (IRIX) workstations under the hood. Still working like a charm.
Andrew Hornback
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Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/28/2012 | 2:12:29 AM
re: Microsoft's Big Hits And Misses Of 2012
And some of us are still running IRIX...
sabakhan
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sabakhan,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/24/2012 | 5:21:32 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Hits And Misses Of 2012
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/21/2012 | 11:49:56 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Hits And Misses Of 2012
That probably is the "one" thing that MS did wrong here (and would be well advised to change in a fairly quick update). Give the user a choice on which UI to run on startup.

Once folks get used to the new UI on phone WP8, Surface, etc. then they can enable it on their laptops, desktops, and even Server OSs. The transition would go much smoother.
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/21/2012 | 11:44:50 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Hits And Misses Of 2012
Unfortunately, everyone does (and still continues) to miss the point of Windows 8 and the whole "Metro" thing. It is to unify the platforms and user experience across all Windows devices (phone, tablet, laptop, desktop, and server). Developer coding is unified and end users working with the software see the same UI (or a close facsimile).

Is it perfect? No, not yet. But, in the long run it will be a much better experience for everyone.

I get it. People don't like change and therefore want to compare (or denigrate in this case) something radically new with what they are used to.

Solution? Don't upgrade if you can't get over the change hurdle. There are still those holdouts running DOS and other legacy MS products...
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
12/21/2012 | 7:49:44 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Hits And Misses Of 2012
I agree, Windows 8 Live Tiles is an innovation, a worthy one, and not a me-too approach. But Microsoft's is trying to force too much on the user all at once. When you have the Windows franchise and huge installed base, you don't have to do that. It should have staged the introduction of the new interface as an option and let it grow within the customer base.
majenkins
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majenkins,
User Rank: Ninja
12/21/2012 | 6:26:45 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Hits And Misses Of 2012
On a desktop given the choices I prefer Windows to the other OSs that I have worked with. This includes Ubuntu, and Solaris, OS x isn't even an option AppleG«÷s walled garden is more than I can take. On the servers I work with HP-UX, and more Solaris, I still prefer the Windows servers. Do I love Windows, no but I also don't hate it. It is a tool and as far as I am concerned the best tool available right now. Will that still be true when it is a choice between Windows 8 and some of the others; well that jury is still out. But right now Windows 7 versus the others, Windows 7 wins.
Mordock
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Mordock,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/21/2012 | 6:10:36 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Hits And Misses Of 2012
You missed the biggest failure on Windows 8. And also the stupidest. No Start Button!
Nokuchikushi
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Nokuchikushi,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/21/2012 | 7:13:51 AM
re: Microsoft's Big Hits And Misses Of 2012
I don't know anyone who craves Windows. Ballmer and Gates think people love Windows. The truth is most people tolerate it because they don't have a choice. They don't leave their mundane job where they have to work on a Windows computer all day and think, "Boy, I need to get me some more Windows." It just doesn't happen. People don't crave Windows, Ballmer. They just don't.
virshu
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virshu,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/20/2012 | 7:46:22 PM
re: Microsoft's Big Hits And Misses Of 2012
No question, Windows 8 is a major release. Like OS/2 was. Technically superior, developer friendly, and like OS/2 had Windows compatibility mode, it has Desktop Interface.

Sarcasm aside, I think Win8 is built on the wrong premise - that users need consistent interface between mobile and desktop. Apple obviously didn't think so - Mac and iPhone have very different interface. What this premise misses is that the activities on mobile are different from desktop. Starting with the ratio between reading and entering data. And Metro clearly isn't designed to be input-friendly
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