Microsoft’s most recognizable consumer brand – Windows – has become increasingly irrelevant in the brave new tech world. Windows is dying in the world where traditional, somewhat bulky, and general purpose computers have been supplanted increasingly by slick non-Windows-based devices such as iPhones, iPads, and the Playbook (amen, RIM). The world where the power and features of the technology ecosystem and cloud infrastructure matter as much as the power and features of the computers themselves. (That, in a nutshell, is why RIM’s Blackberry devices will continue to circle the drain until further notice.)
Post-PC or PC-Plus? It doesn’t really matter. Because at the current rate, Windows-based machines could soon be products that consumers/enterprises only buy because they need to, not because they want to. (Read: Very bad for Microsoft and PC makers.)
From a strategic standpoint, Windows 8 on x86/64 and on ARM is supposed to change the computing device market momentum and give Microsoft one of its last chances to regain relevancy in this brave new tech world. And guess what? Unlike many, I happen to believe that Windows 8 could actually help Microsoft to regain relevancy in the tech world and reestablish Microsoft as a technology leader in the eyes of consumers, developers, enterprises, and tech pundits, etc. Oh, a Windows comeback!
So for Microsoft, 2012 is shaping up to be the biggest year since 1995 (when Windows 95 launched… back in the days when news reported excited consumers lined up to buy it.). This is the year where Microsoft will begin
killing deemphasizing Win32 and promoting WinRT in earnest, which should greatly boost the stability and security of Windows 8. This is the year where Microsoft will begin testing the market acceptance of its “three screens and a cloud” vision and consolidating its brands and look and feel. To recap, here are some of the latest news and rumours:
Xbox goes “Metro” – http://www.engadget.com/2011/12/05/xbox-360-dashboard-update-fall-2011-review/
Windows Phone 8 rumours – http://pocketnow.com/windows-phone/exclusive-windows-phone-8-detailed
Windows 8 and Skydrive integration – http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/02/20/connecting-your-apps_2c00_-files_2c00_-pcs-and-devices-to-the-cloud-with-skydrive-and-windows-8.aspx
Emergence of a single account/ID – http://www.theverge.com/2012/2/24/2821601/microsoft-your-account-billing-portal
These are all – and hopefully many more to come – smart moves to ensure that there is as much consistency as possible, where consumer confusion and/or friction within the Microsoft ecosystem is reduced to the minimum and Windows 8 becomes the star of the show. (For Microsoft watchers, when was the last time the company chose focus and subtraction instead of expansion and addition?)
Yes, understandably, PC users are freaking out over the amount of changes that Microsoft is planning for the latest version of Windows, especially with respect to the Metro Start Screen. Yes, many of them are also predicting massive consumer rejection of Windows 8. But hey! Why not give it a chance? The Windows 8 Consumer Preview version should be available in about a week. I am eager to test it out. I will also post some of my thoughts after I have a chance to use it. Hmm… perhaps I will be renaming my blog from Win8Back to Win8Death!
Windows is dead. Long live Windows.