View Full Version : Windows 8 Is Too Big to Fail

11-04-2012, 08:31 PM
Unlike your typical Apple event, there are very rarely surprises at a Microsoft product launch. Everyone suspected Apple would release a new iPad mini on Tuesday, but the new MacBook, iMac, and Mac mini were surprises.

Compare that to Microsoft's Windows 8 announcement yesterday: the OS had been available for free download for almost a year and reviews of the systems had been online for weeks. This was the first time most of the world got to see a working Surface tablet, but the rest of the Windows 8 launch seemed predictable. My only surprise was that I came away from the event predicting Windows 8's inevitable success.

There are two reasons for that assertion. First, although Apple's market share is growing, it still only has about 13 percent of the U.S. market. It is an incredibly lucrative 13 percent, with nearly all of the $1,000-plus units sales, but it is still a minority player. That means Microsoft will continue to dominate the laptop and desktop space. This traditional "PC" market is declining, but people still buy a lot of laptops and desktops.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said yesterday that there are now "670 million Windows PCs just waiting to be upgraded to Windows 8," while analysts are predicting sales of another 400 million new PCs in the next year. Most of those new PCs "will run Windows 8," Ballmer said.

And he is right. Windows 8 is the new standard, starting today. Businesses may take a while to jump on board, but Windows is too deeply ingrained in corporate infrastructure to be avoided. (Though I do think that Microsoft may have to seriously rethink how it prices and licenses both its OS and applications.)

Given its dominance of the laptop and desktop segment, it is impossible for Windows 8 not to attract many millions of users in the next year. As one Microsoft executive dryly understated, "It is going to sell a few copies next year."

Of course, that won't be enough for Microsoft to grow and innovate. The laptop and desktop market are in decline, while the mobile segment is ballooning. And this is where Microsoft has been in freefall. In 2008, Windows was running on 70 percent of all personal computing devices, according to Forrester Research. In 2012, after the smartphone and tablet revolution, Windows is on just 30 percent of devices.

Windows 8 was designed to solve this problem. It wasn't designed for laptops and desktops, it was designed for phones and tablets. The Metro, Modern, or whatever you want to called the active tiled interface, was taken directly from the Windows Phone. Windows 8 wasn't made for your current laptop; it was designed for the weird hybrid thing that you are going to buy next.

Microsoft is soft-selling this transition because it doesn't want to spook conventional users. Indeed, executives will tell you this was all by design. "With Windows 8, we have brought together the best of all worlds, the PC and the tablet, your work and your life," Ballmer said at the New York debut. This simply isn't true.

Tradeoffs have to be made. "Having the best of both worlds" is something a salesperson will tell you, but an engineer will tell you it is impossible. When you are designing a computing interface, you are faced with multiple choices. Some options will work better with a touch interface, others will work better with a mouse and keyboard. When Microsoft hit those crossroads in Windows 8, it chose touch, and given the way things are headed, can you blame it?

App Gap
The big sore spot for Microsoft at this point is its paucity of apps. Google Play now has 675,000 and Apple's App Store has 700,000. Microsoft may, at best, have 10K when the store opens up today. It clearly has some catching up to do.

But this is entirely normal. Apps are typically the last thing to fall into place for a new platform. Until there are users, there is no incentive for developers to build apps. Since no one on earth has bought a Windows 8 system yet, the only users developers could reach were tech journalists and the handful of early adopters who downloaded the preview code. (And we are a pretty broke lot.)

As Steve Sinofsky put it, "the Windows Store has more apps than any competing app store had at its opening."

There is no doubt that Microsoft is late to the mobile game, but there is just as little doubt it won the PC game. That comes with all sorts of advantages. Windows generated $18 billion in revenue last year and made $11.5 billion of pure profit. It also has an install base of 1.5 billion users. Granted, a billion isn't what it used to be, but it is certainly nice to have when you are playing catch up. Even if Microsoft doesn't quite catch Apple and Google, surely this is enough to make it a strong No. 3 player.

Microsoft has some real challenges ahead of it. Truth is, people are going to be confused by Windows 8 and Windows RT. Windows 8 is a little awkward with a mouse and keyboard and the touch interface will require users to learn a whole new way of interacting with their devices. This isn't going to be pretty.

Put aside what you think about a PC today and try to imagine what it might look like tomorrow. What do you see? Touch-based, low-power, actively streaming information, and compatible with thousands of peripherals.

It might look a lot like Windows 8.

Article Source: PCMAG.com

11-05-2012, 11:13 PM
There is plenty of interesting info in that article, some of which I've already noticed myself, the "downsizing" of computers. By that, I don't mean monitors, they should continue to do well, after using these portables all day for work/school, many wants to relax in front of the 22" to 24" (or larger) screen. And today's portables has the HDMI ports to make it happen.

The real "downsizing" that I'm seeing is the CPU's themselves. Amazing, just early last year, an i5 equipped notebook ran on 2.4 to 2.66GHz, now some are at 1.5GHz. That's a dramatic drop in computing power. But the good news is, Windows 8 gave the chip makers plenty of room to spare, the OS runs as fast as some Linux ones does, & certainly lighter than any previous version of Windows. And it's most likely for most, the "missing" GHz's won't be noticed, that is, except for hard core gamers/other power users.

In order to compete with Apple, battery life had to improve, by making the OS lighter, yet very responsive on low power, by nature, that will happen. The recent plunge in SSD prices will also help in this regard, far less power is required to run a SSD than a platter drive, as well as less heat generated. Speaking of which, to make heat, power is required, it's not just a side effect of mechanical HDD's.

The landscape of computing is changing before our very eyes with Windows 8, & I don't see the trend to reverse. Many computer users, though not all, needs portable devices, I mean, this is 2012, many users are portable themselves. Working on the East Coast this month, come 6 months, who knows where their job will take them. One thing for sure, it's a PITA to setup a full desktop twice a year. Although powerful "desktop replacement" notebooks have served some, they're too bulky for many.

MS may be late in the mobile game, but don't count them out. They can gain a larger slice of the pie, they've done it before & will again. Some of us were around (as adults) around 1984, when MS was fighting like hell for just a slice of the OS pie. Back then, MS was simply a thorn in IBM's side, but Gates & Company (& yes, Steve Ballmer was there) fought & clawed their way into the majority of homes & businesses worldwide.

MS blew some opportunities in recent years, but they will recover. Apple is backpedaling, shuffling the top dogs around after no shareholder gains, & kicking some to the curb. They are more in a state of disarray than MS is, & worse yet, no Steve Jobs to call back to his old job. This will play into MS's hands, Apple on the defense, obviously in damage control mode.

Windows will end up with a huge share of the new portable market, & as far as their desktop customers goes, they're going nowhere. Because Windows 8, contrary to popular belief, is BOTH a portable (tablet/notebook) & desktop OS. There are also more users than ever building their own desktops, & Windows 8 will run on them just as good (or better) than store/online bought ones. No crapware, the user has total control over their build.

Windows will prevail. For the long term user of the brand, there is no alternative. I know, because I've looked & looked. Yes, Linux is free, but in life, we get what we pay for. Some of those OS's are fine for those who simply wants a browser, but really, who wants to return to the dark ages & run the command line to do anything? Not me, nor hundreds of millions of other Windows/MS Office users.