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Windows 8: Microsoft Makes 6 Big Bets

Microsoft revealed more about Windows 8.1 at the Computex and TechEd conferences, clarifying its OS and device strategy. Here's what's next for users.

3. Microsoft Will Pitch Windows 8's Usefulness As An Enterprise Tool.

At TechEd, McCabe predicted Windows 8 enterprise adoption could pick up substantially in 2014, noting that Microsoft's guidance to existing Windows XP customers is to simply "get off XP," and that the company advises Windows 7 customers to investigate Windows 8 "where it makes sense," while keeping touch-equipped models in mind for next year's hardware refreshes.

This viewpoint somewhat re-contextualizes Microsoft's meager enterprise market share. Many companies are far too invested in Windows 7 migrations to consider Windows 8, and most IT administrators wait until a service pack has been issued before deploying a new OS anyway. Moreover, Windows 7's lead over Windows 8 is somewhat inflated because whereas Win7 had the advantage of following the infamously panned Windows Vista, Win8 had to follow what is currently the most popular PC platform in the world. Windows 8 was never going to be an immediate enterprise smash, in other words, which is why so much of Microsoft's early efforts were dedicated to courting consumers.

Even so, Windows 8's enterprise adoption rate is unusually low. And despite the attention Microsoft paid to consumers and BYOD, the OS's overall adoption rate also has been lackluster. Clearly, tricky timing isn't the only reason Win8 has struggled.

Nevertheless, as long as Microsoft has an attractive Windows offering ready by the time enterprises are ready for mass deployments of a new OS, its big share of the enterprise market should remain intact. Google, Apple, Samsung or some other challenger could always release something disruptive, so Microsoft can't wait forever -- but redirecting its Win8 messaging was one of Microsoft's goals at TechEd, where the company made its most substantive pitch yet for Windows 8.1 as a useful tool in the enterprise. At the conference, the company previewed Win8.1 additions that range from automatic VPNs to NFC-enabled wireless printing to user-friendly but powerful cloud connections, and it's likely that other IT-centric tweaks are being withheld until Build.

4. Microsoft Will Push Affordability.

The first touch-equipped Windows 8 devices were off-puttingly expensive, but as Windows CFO/CMO Tami Reller noted at Computex, the next range of devices will span the entire cost spectrum, from entry-level models that will presumably challenge the iPad Mini's price to premium models that will run over $1,000.

At TechEd, the potential impact of lower prices was on full display. Throughout the conference, attendees waited by the hundreds in two-hour lines to buy $99 Surface RTs and $399 Surface Pros, which were discounted by about 80% and 60%, respectively. In stark contrast to the relatively modest crowds that turned out when the Surface RT hit stores last December, the TechEd crowds looked like those that normally queue up for an iPhone launch.

Of course, TechEd might not be the best example of growing enthusiasm for Windows 8 devices. For one thing, it's a Microsoft conference, where the people in attendance are naturally biased toward Microsoft products. For another, it appears that not everyone in that line planned to use the devices they bought. By last Friday, eBay had about 10 times as many Surface listings as it did before the conference.

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Michael Endler
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
6/18/2013 | 4:34:52 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft Makes 6 Big Bets
Judging the worth of an argument based on a three-syllable phrase seems a little suspect to me. It's sort of like dismissing someone purely because he's mistaken "who's" for "whose," but I digress.

If your point is that "Post-PC" is a misnomer because tablets are in fact a kind of PC, then sure, that's reasonable. The article even referenced how tablets challenge "how we define what counts as a computer and what doesn't," which is a pretty similar point.

As for Microsoft inventing the tablet... even if you want to take the point of view that Apple just stood on Microsoft's shoulders, that doesn't negate the iPad's relative dominance of the tablet category. It also doesn't negate the fact that Windows tablets have yet to achieve remotely comparable popularity, among consumers or enterprise users. These facts speak to how Apple executed the products differently than Microsoft, and, given the success of Apple's execution, these facts also diminish the importance of who "invented" the concept.

As for Windows 8 being a beautiful OS... sure, for some. And I think we've repeatedly made that point on this site. But just because it's useful for some people doesn't mean that iOS or Android or Chrome OS or OS X or whatever can't be more useful for someone else. And just because some people find it "beautiful" doesn't mean that a lot of intelligent, capable users can't find the OS awkward and unintuitive, or that they can't justifiably prefer some other OS for both work and recreation.

That's really the challenge Microsoft faces. It's not that Windows 8 is unworthy. For some needs, it's the best option on the market. But needs are diverse, and for the first time, we have a diverse assortment of operating systems and devices to serve those needs. Personal computing devices had been pretty homogenous for a long time, with Windows OSes accounting for 90% of the market. But now that desktops and laptops aren't the only devices people use for work, it's natural that no single platform will dominate, especially since Microsoft - despite "inventing" the tablet - was so late to embrace mass market mobile devices.
User Rank: Apprentice
6/14/2013 | 8:51:28 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft Makes 6 Big Bets
#1... no, there is no such thing as a ''Post-P.C. era'', that's a myth Steve Jobs used to sell Macintoshes, when Microsoft INVENTED the Tablet it was called a Tablet-P.C., the moment I see someone writing the words ''Post-P.C.'' I can tell they're Crapple-/Scroogle-fanboys who's only characteristic exceeding their fandomship is their hate towards Microsoft.

Windows 8 is a beautiful O.S. designed for ALL P.C.'s (including both desktops and Tablet-P.C.'s).
User Rank: Ninja
6/10/2013 | 5:25:13 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft Makes 6 Big Bets
1. "embrace Post-PC Era", duh. 2. "Commit To Touch", and duh again. 3. "An Enterprise Tool", don't think so unless Win8 is made to work the same way as Win7 for non-touch devices. 4. "Push Affordability", that's a laugh its M$. 5. "Lure Consumers With Office", not at $650 a pop and Office 365 not it. 6. "RT Strategy", stands for Ridiculous Technology from M$.
User Rank: Strategist
6/10/2013 | 5:24:46 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft Makes 6 Big Bets
Don't forget Micro$oft bet number 7: Betcha we don't care whether you like Metro or not! You're going to be exposed to it anyway.

M$ believes (with quite a bit of justification) that we have to have Windows to run legacy apps, and they're trying to leverage that into forcing us all to go with their new UI paradigm. Once we've gotten used to it, we'll all rush out and by WinPhone and WinTablet.

Sorry, M$, I don't respond well to blackmail.
User Rank: Strategist
6/10/2013 | 11:54:02 AM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft Makes 6 Big Bets
It's a weird feeling. A company whose products I use every day and for much of the day, being totally irrelevant to my life.
User Rank: Apprentice
6/10/2013 | 6:49:12 AM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft Makes 6 Big Bets
You wanna know what I want with Windows? How about actual windows that I can size and position? I want dozens of them sprawled all over my three display screens. I want them all live all at the same time... I don't want "snap" or what the heck that thing is where one application takes the whole screen and a second app squeezed into the third side of the screen! And charms...what the hell are those? Do they come with a leprechaun? Hearts, moons, clovers and pink stars! Give me an OS I can use to perform work....not some social reject that is so distracting I can't get anything done. Microsoft seems to have forgotten that their bread and butter is the business user! They have already lost the executive to Apple, and the trench techie to Linux...All they have left is the home user and Citrix...and really, that's not much anymore!
User Rank: Apprentice
6/10/2013 | 6:44:20 AM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft Makes 6 Big Bets
The title should have been: "6 shades of failure: 6 ways MS fools itself to sure disaster"
User Rank: Ninja
6/8/2013 | 4:51:03 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft Makes 6 Big Bets
Pricing is a big aspect, but discounting heavily to a bunch of folks isn't what I'd consider affordability. Making these prices permanent across all markets and selling stand-alone Win8 licenses for 30 bucks THAT would be affordable. People would buy two or three just because they aren't out much even if the hardware or OS sucks.
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