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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.

5. Microsoft Hopes To Lure Consumers With Office.

At Computex, Microsoft announced it will bundle Office software with certain x86-based Windows 8 tablets and include a version of Outlook on future Windows RT models. Given that the company is refusing, despite the promise of billions in additional revenue, to extend Office to iOS or Android, the writing is on the wall: if Win8's Modern UI can't draw buyers, theability to run Office on a low-cost, ultraportable tablet might do the trick.

Slates that run Office, the crème de la crème of all legacy apps, fill an undeniable market need. Given that Microsoft is positioning Windows 8 as the only platform that can fill that need, it's clear the company expects pre-installed versions of Office to drive adoption, especially since the software will arrive primarily on devices with lower, consumer-friendly price points.

6. Microsoft's RT Strategy? Still Nonexistent.

Windows RT has struggled so much that it actually makes Windows 8's slow adoption look like a rousing success.

Part of the problem is that Microsoft has failed to explain the appeal of the light version of the OS, which features the new Modern UI but can't run x86 apps. When Surface RT was released, it included versions of several Microsoft Office products but was otherwise confined to Windows Store apps, which were lacking in both quantity and quality at the time.

Even without addressing consumers' divisive reaction to the Modern UI, it's easy to see why Win RT sales were so poor; at almost twice the cost of the base iPad Mini, the Surface RT's unique features didn't justify its huge price premium. Since then, most OEMs have ramped down or terminated their plans for RT models.

Future RT devices will be less expensive, but so will tablets that run the full Windows 8 OS, including Atom-based models that could fall in the $300-$400 range. Unless the next round of Windows RT devices are incredibly cheap -- less than $250, say -- there's no reason why buyers shouldn't skip RT and go straight to devices with the full OS.

Parker, in his conversation with PC World, didn't help matters. On one hand, he defended RT's struggles as "the incremental growth of a new platform." On the other, he admitted Microsoft "could maybe have inspired people a bit more with some of the RT devices and some of our marketing," although he didn't elaborate. Recent rumors suggest a new RT-based Surface model could appear later this month at Build, so time will tell if Microsoft, after essentially striking out at its first at-bat, manages to inspire consumers with its newest attempt.

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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.
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: 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: 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: 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$, I don't respond well to blackmail.
User Rank: Ninja
6/10/2013 | 5:25:13 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft Makes 6 Big Bets
1. "embrace Post-PC Era", duh. 2. "Commit To Touch", and duh again. 3. "An Enterprise Tool", don't think so unless Win8 is made to work the same way as Win7 for non-touch devices. 4. "Push Affordability", that's a laugh its M$. 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: 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).
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.
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