Software // Operating Systems
News
2/19/2013
09:39 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated

Windows 8 is one of those good news-bad news Microsoft products. For every sign of success, unanswered questions or signs of flagging momentum appear.

Windows 8: 8 Big Benefits For SMBs
Windows 8: 8 Big Benefits For SMBs
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
To be fair, Microsoft's new platform is making progress. Windows CFO Tami Reller has pointed out, for example, that more than 100 million apps have been downloaded and that more users are visiting the Windows Store. Users are also finding alternatives for some of the top missing apps, like PRadio or Rhapsody in place of Pandora. But developer activity has slowed since the holidays and in December, Google nixed Windows 8 plans altogether, dismissing the OS's user base as too small. The 43,000 apps currently available hardly constitute a flop, but at least one Microsoft exec predicted the store would boast 100,000 apps by now. Neither HP's recent experimentation with Google platforms nor Acer CEO JT Wang's condemning remarks are making it easy for Redmond.

The new Windows ecosystem has underperformed without diminishing its potential, in other words -- and that's where Microsoft Office comes in. Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Holt reportedly estimated in a research note that Redmond could generate an additional $2.5 billion by releasing Office for iOS and Android. IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell similarly said in January that such a move would allow Microsoft to "print money."

[ Are you asking the right questions? Read Microsoft Surface Pro: 7 Questions To Ask. ]

Industry-watchers had expected Microsoft to release iOS and Android-friendly versions in November. Redmond CEO Steve Ballmer has declined to discuss the matter, except to suggest that Microsoft thinks its current lineup is sufficient.

Though negotiations with Apple might be delaying new Office options, IDC analyst O'Donnell suggested another why Microsoft is keeping the product line close to the vest: iOS and Android versions would effectively kill Windows RT. Indeed, a pre-installed, if limited, version of Office is one of the key characteristics separating Surface RT from other tablets. What's more, a multi-platform mobile Office would make millions of iPads and Android tablets that much more equipped for enterprise tasks, meaning that whatever revenue Microsoft gains would have to be weighed against hits to Windows 8's growth prospects.

What to do with Office, then, will be part of Microsoft's shifting strategy as it adjusts to Windows 8's hit-and-miss first quarter. Ongoing Windows Blue rumors, which were fueled most recently by a job posting discovered over the weekend, foreshadow some of the possible changes. Blue is expected to transition Redmond's OS updates to an annual model reminiscent of what Apple uses for OS X. It's also expected to further unite the Windows 8 ecosystem, and to form the basis for future app development across all platforms. It remains to be seen, though, if customer-oriented changes -- such as UI tweaks -- are in the cards.

For the present, Microsoft seems content to let devices catalyze Windows 8's momentum. Surface Pro's dual personality as both a laptop and tablet might allow it break through, and if Redmond's new tablet doesn't soar, buyers will have more options once Intel's new Core processers start shipping. Whatever the case, Microsoft and Windows 8, still lacks an unqualified win, and the longer it takes for one to emerge, the more questions lingering questions will eat at the platform's accomplishments.

Previous
2 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
AustinIT
50%
50%
AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/19/2013 | 7:33:54 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
Would Microsoft like for Windows 8 and the other parts of the related ecosystem to hit it out of the park? Sure. But, the fact is, this new platform is a transition from the old paradigm to the new one. It will take time to make this transition.

MS has a long history of keeping support going for their legacy products. Win8 represents a way to bridge the divide between legacy apps and the new model based on the cloud and mobile. Apple is beginning to find out what that means. Android doesn't care. It's a throw away ecosystem.

Win8RT is a way for those who want to simply start fresh with the new paradigm to get rolling.

As such, I don't expect them to knock Android and iOS off the shelf overnight. And, I fail to see how all of the blustering by the press and the analysts does anyone any favors by trying to convince whoever will listen that MS is failing. Because, they're not... plain and simple.

btw - it would be a tragic mistake for MS to put Office on iOS or Android. Don't do it.
Faye Kane, homeless brain
50%
50%
Faye Kane, homeless brain,
User Rank: Strategist
2/26/2013 | 12:36:27 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
==--
> Win8RT is a way for those who want to simply start fresh with the new paradigm

"New paradigm" = remove even more features from windows.

"New paradigm" = pull the rug out from under the users, arrogantly assuming you can do anything you want to us because of vendor lock-in.

Ballmer = flying your company into the ground, shill. And all your hoo-hah, gung-ho propaganda won't keep the titanic from sinking.

Drown,

-faye
AustinIT
50%
50%
AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/27/2013 | 5:24:04 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
Yeah, sure, whatever, fail.
ePractical
50%
50%
ePractical,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/19/2013 | 7:38:32 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
Thanks, Good Article.

I think that the elephant in the room though is that Microsoft is getting little or NO Upgrade licenses because Windows 8 not only offers no benefit to regular Keyboard and Mice type computers with no touch capability, but is actually it is a detriment (or plainly said a pain in the butt) for regular clam shells and Desktops. Windows 7 when introduced got plenty of upgrade business.

I am in the Technology Services business and I am getting startlingly more and more people wanting to revert back to Windows 7. I am able to persuade many to keep Windows 8 by installing "Start 8" which restores the Desktop Start button, nested programs and immediate Global Search, and sane shut down.

Also I am perhaps a great example of the Microsoft Win 8 license problem. I have 5 promos for Windows 8 upgrade Licenses at $14.95 since I bought 5 computers during the promo. I bought one and installed it sucessfully on a T61 Lenovo. I don't want the rest. Microsoft keeps sending emails saying "Windows 8 is here - What are you waiting for? Silly them -- you can't simply reply to these emails. If I could, I'd tell them -- I don't want Windows 8 for my clamshell notebooks and Desktops - Windows 7 interface is FAR BETTER for most computers out there now!

If Microsoft wants to sell A LOT of UPGRADEs - quit playing around and UN-HIDE the Star Menu on the Desktop. The faster boot, if nothing else, would be worth the upgrade.
DDURBIN1
50%
50%
DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
2/19/2013 | 8:28:03 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
Office for Android is not going to happen for at least another year or longer. Once Office runs on Android, why buy a Win8 device? Eventually Microsoft's greed will win out and be released.

Android apps immulated on Win8 will push even more customers away from Win8Phones because of the poor performance and glitches.

Comparing MS's advantage over BlackBerry is like comparing JCP's advantage over Sears, its one looser over another looser.

Win8 Phones are actually quite good phones but the problem is the past 10 WinPhone products that were total disasters. MS has used up all its good will.

If MS put the start button back in the Win8 Desktop, upgrades would fly off the shelvies but expect Ballmer's hard headedness to continue as the point of removing it to begin with is to constantly force metro with the Window Store into every user's face.

Tech-e
50%
50%
Tech-e,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/18/2013 | 4:38:13 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
It may be a simple fix, but what does it say for our society that placing the Start button (which is less efficient than Win8's global search) would cause upgrades to "fly off the shelves"...
Mark532010
50%
50%
Mark532010,
User Rank: Strategist
2/19/2013 | 10:31:54 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
I struggle with this. I really like Windows, I think its better than the alternatives. I personally don't have too much trouble with the start screen, and I think it could be a boon if there were more options for it...some kind of management ability. Case in point, when I recently installed a desktop utility, it added 17 tiles to my start-screen - readme's, faq's, uninstallers, safe-modes, etc. and the one tile I wanted. You might argue that is the apps fault, but you can't fix everything else, you can only fix your own product. A well managed start screen can be useful for novice users and experts but the amount of effort to keep it up is currently more work than it is worth.

The biggest problem with win8 that I see is the lack of decent metro apps. I am confident Microsoft has had over a year to work on them and who knows how long they have been working with their partners and there isn't one must-have app that would make people switch. The mail app is poor, the video app is poor, the blog posting app is poor, the music app is poor, the printer app is...nonexistent, etc. Even the 3rd party apps like Netflix have poor metro versions. (try to see your dvd queue in the metro version.) If Microsoft and key partners had come out with a suite of killer apps things might have been different, but highlighting things like "fruit ninja" and "cut the rope" during rollout just tells me the new environment is for toys and casual users and anyone wanting to do any serious work should stick to win7 and the desktop.

I keep telling myself that start-screen/metro is a 1.0 release and things will get better but I hope Microsoft doesn't lose sight of people who want to get something done in their race for an integrated ecosystem.
KitechSang
50%
50%
KitechSang,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2013 | 3:58:07 AM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
Microsoft is killing the PC industry, most folks simply not buying new PCs because MS made upgrading Windows cheap! In the past you buy $500 PC or laptop that comes with Windows because it cost $150+ for Windows upgrade. Now Windows upgrade is $30-70 only!! So many people just buy the upgrade and re-use that PC that came with Windows XP.

Well played Microsoft!
moarsauce123
50%
50%
moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
2/20/2013 | 12:56:34 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
150% increase when 1 is the base is not that impressive in the end. Rather than reporting meaningless percentages we need hard numbers, meaning copies or phones sold to end-users, not licenses created or items placed on order by manufacturers.
Anyone can claim a 10,000% increase over last year where they sold nothing and still sell nothing.
pbug
50%
50%
pbug,
User Rank: Strategist
2/21/2013 | 4:15:51 AM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
I imagine that their sales numbers are based on wholesale sales - not end user sales.
pbug
50%
50%
pbug,
User Rank: Strategist
2/21/2013 | 4:14:53 AM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
I have a friend who bought a new Win 8 PC from Dell by phone. The sales person neglected to tell him (and he didn't know) that the new GUI is next to useless with a touch screen, and completely useless without one. Unlike me he's no geek, and he is struggling to use the PC after many years of Win 95, 98, XP and Win 7 (note no mention of Win ME or Vista). I've tested it fairly heavily; sure, you can install fixes to make it usable, but it is the worst GUI I've ever seen short of the more recent UBUNTU gui's. On top of that, no professional in their right mind would push a business to migrate to it.

IF, and ONLY IF, MS backs off and adds an easy to access setting to let people default to the Win 7 style GUI, I'd upgrade overnight, because the underlying OS does have improvements. However, last summer, I heard from MS (possibly from a now departed exec) that MS planned to block any attempts by users to install things like Start 8 or Classic Shell. Hopefully they've backed off, and who knows, maybe sanity may reign again.
Faye Kane, homeless brain
50%
50%
Faye Kane, homeless brain,
User Rank: Strategist
2/26/2013 | 12:46:51 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
==--
Sanity?

Ain't happnin' until Gates wakes up and lets the board fire his buddy.

Frankly, I hope he never does. This is a car-wreck kind of spectacle. For once, an arrogant, incompetent manager is going down in flame 'n shame and I like watching it unfold.
Mike Owens
50%
50%
Mike Owens,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/21/2013 | 8:19:24 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
Many comment on the difficulty or worthlessness of the new Windows 8 GUI. These are most likely the same people that would have cried foul when Microsoft introduced Windows 95 which was a vast improvement over Windows 3.1. Windows XP further updated the GUI, but the majority of changes were elsewhere, as with Windows 7. Microsoft has advanced the OS each time both in terms of GUI as well as underlying ability and security. Each time users have had to learn something new. And with each there have been annoyances, both minor and major, depending on any particular users tastes.

Further, most people making comments base their views on their own preferences. While this is natural it doesn't necessarily prove anything, other than the poster believes something or doesn't. This is especially obvious when facts are either misrepresented or simply blatantly wrong. For example, KitechSang's point of MS killing the PC is based on inexpensive upgrades which Microsoft ended on January 31. Low price upgrades for several months is hardly worth saying that Microsoft is killing the PC industry. Microsoft is in fact doing everything they can think of to keep the PC industry alive, not that it's really going anywhere any time soon. It's not even in decline, per se, as the article mentions the "floundering PC industry". It's GROWTH is in decline, but that's not the same thing. Yes, global sales are a small percentage less than the previous year (3-6% depending on the source) which does point out a fundamental shift in the end use of devices. But it doesn't require overly dramatic descriptions to convey this.

Personally I really like Windows 8 as well as Windows Phone 8. I've used Windows Phone since it first came out in 2010. I now have my desktop and two laptops running Windows 8. The uselessness of the touch screen is highly debatable. I have a Logitech T650 touchpad for my desktop, which I find I rarely even need to use. Keyboard and trackball more than suffice, even when dealing in the interface formerly officially known as Metro but which will probably keep that moniker due to media usage. The Metro UI can very effectively replace the start screen, and it's actually faster to find and run apps if you're not afraid of using the keyboard. If you have a touch screen then with a little learning that is also really easy to use. I can only wonder if those that complain just don't take the time to learn or simply don't wish to.

Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.I truly like the Windows "ecosystem", which I believe is hardly an "Apple-like" ecosystem. And while this article does make some valid points, overall I believe it takes the short term progress instead of looking at the long term, which is undoubtedly what Microsoft is doing. I'm sure Microsoft would be totally ecstatic if all sales of Windows 8 and Windows 8 devices blew past everyone's expectations. But simply put, that's not necessary. Microsoft is creating an environment that simply doesn't exist anywhere else. Time will tell if they're right, but I think they're headed in the right direction.
Faye Kane, homeless brain
50%
50%
Faye Kane, homeless brain,
User Rank: Strategist
2/26/2013 | 12:49:50 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
"I've used Windows Phone since it first came out in 2010. I now have my desktop and two laptops running Windows 8."

Yes, but you got an employee discount.
Andrew Hornback
50%
50%
Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/27/2013 | 2:13:27 AM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
So, I took it upon myself to "bite the bullet" and try out Windows 8 on my primary workstation at home (dual quad core Xeon, 12 GB of RAM, SAS RAID array with 15k drives). Been running it a few days now and I can say that I'm not thrilled with it to the point that I can't come up with a possible business case where anyone in an enterprise should upgrade to it, period.

This system flat out flew with even a munged up installation of Windows 7 Ultimate. Now, with Windows 8, I feel like my Android tablet has better responsiveness when compared to the Metro UI. Sure, there are neat features - the Windows 8 app store, having Live Tiles on the main screen, etc. But, these neat features really don't improve anything with regards to my personal home use case.

As far as the GUI goes - absolutely, it makes your PC as easy to use as your tablet. That's great, if you want a uniform GUI between your PC and your tablet and have a Microsoft tablet. Again, I'm somewhat of a dinosaur as I believe the pinnacle of GUI design was IRIX or OpenLook, back when compute cycles cost more and the idea of using those cycles just to render the console was seen as a waste.

@ePractical - Windows 7 got a lot of upgrade licenses when it launched because of just how bad of a failure that Vista was. People wanted to get out of Vista or get around the landmine that Vista was by going straight from XP to 7. I've done my share of those migrations (XP to 7) - even as late as last year and I know of organizations that are still relying on XP as their primary desktop because they haven't migrated to 7 yet. Honestly, I don't see a compelling reason for them to go to 8 over 7 at this point.

Quite frankly, I'm going back to Windows 7 on this system... 8 cores and 12 GB should run ANY modern OS with little to no application load in a pretty snappy fashion.

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
Palpatine
50%
50%
Palpatine,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/1/2013 | 11:07:44 AM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
Windows GUI was great and sold well for two decades.
Zune-like tiles GUI s*cks bad and failed everywhere.
Now they glued tiles before windows, and Windows 8 is falling like a brick.
Even this month, with the release of Office 2013 and Surface Pro, the market share increase was just 0.4%, even an epic fail like Vista increased 1-2%/month at launch!
WinRT/Metro is a content delivery environment, just like iPad and Android ecosystems: MS with W8 plainly said: I surrender, I'm no longer willing to provide you a platform where OEMs and developers can be independent in distribution and make money, I'm just going to clone Apple's and Google's business plan... 5 years late!
Hoping to make money in a now mature market like Apple and Google did 5 years ago when the market was exploding! Totally crazy.
It is the worst business plan I've ever seen, and it's quickly killing Microsoft, see real users adoption figures!
Palpatine
50%
50%
Palpatine,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/5/2013 | 2:12:46 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
On a related note, as W8 web traffic grew a meager 0,4% of the total, ChromeOS web traffic exploded 7 fold...
Mike_Acker
50%
50%
Mike_Acker,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/21/2013 | 11:19:35 AM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
my first experience with windows/8

my sister in law bought one, stating no one would sell her a windows/7 unit

she was at a total loss as to how to work it . i could have sat her down in front of my Linux/Ubuntu unit and she would have come up to speed more quickly

Mike_Acker
50%
50%
Mike_Acker,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/22/2013 | 11:48:02 AM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
msft is fighting a Classic Battle against Open Source: them against the General Computer Community . it's a guaranteed loss unless you can monopolize the market. erosion is well under way and will accelerate now that they are attempting to push w8 into the market .

the old "their stuff don't work with our stuff therefore their stuff is defective" only works while you hold a monopoly position . Open Standards like ISO will soon put the lie to the claim but there will still remain a lot of market inertia .

except that w8 can very easily help energize the revolt -- as if the security problem were not enough by itself
droden212
50%
50%
droden212,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/27/2013 | 4:41:58 PM
re: Windows 8: Microsoft's Progress Debated
The consumer PC market is shrinking and the business case for Windows 8 is very weak, especially for firms that have already moved to Windows 7. No matter if you like Windows 8 or not, sales figures can't help but be disappointing when compared to Windows 7. For the first time in a long time, there is legitimate competition - not in a traditional OS vs. OS or app vs. app, but platform vs. platform. It's reminiscent of the early days of the PC, when glasshoused mainframers scoffed at the PC. Microsoft has tried to overcome this - by creating an OS that manages to alienate the old guard desktop users and at the same time doesn't measure up to the current tablet competition. Microsoft continues to act as if it can do whatever it likes and users will just accept it. Well, mainframes are still around too,they're just not the market force they once were.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest September 23, 2014
Intrigued by the concept of a converged infrastructure but worry you lack the expertise to DIY? Dell, HP, IBM, VMware, and other vendors want to help.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored 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.