March 15, 2013 9:23 PM
Posted by: Onuora Amobi
, Microsoft Surface
It has been said before that Microsoft should consider a Surface phone in order to better compete with the iPhone and Google-endorsed devices like the LG Nexus 4. While Nokia has done a good job gaining some attention for Windows Phone 8, the time for a Surface phone has now certainly come.
What is going on in the mobile world the requires Microsoft to act now? If the rumor mills are churning out real information and not just fairy tales, both Google and Android could be posed for a major attack on the mobile market that could change the scene forever.
What Apple is doing to change the mobile market
You’ve probably already heard that Apple is considering a budget iPhone. It seems more and more likely that this is a go. While we call it a ‘budget’ device, it seems more likely it will be a mid-ranger that aims for a $250-$350 price tag without a contract.
It is also rumored to utilize a new technique that combines plastic with glass fibre, to create a case that is stronger than your typical plastic phone. In other words, they will make plastic seem ‘more premium’ than ever before. The specs are also believed to be pretty solid considering the lower price tag, including the use of a 4-inch screen similar to what you find in the iPhone 5.
This is significant for a number of reasons. First, it means that Apple can now target countries where only a handful of people could previously afford iPhones, such as in China. Up until now, platforms like Windows Phone, Windows Mobile, Symbian and Android have enjoyed success in some of these developing markets largely because iOS couldn’t compete In a big way.
Outside of opening up the market, it also opens up consumer options if the handset comes to major markets like the United States as well.
What Google is doing to change the mobile market
Okay, so you can understand that Apple could be a problem with a new mid-ranger, if the rumors prove true. What about Google?
Google isn’t standing still either, and is hoping to change up the mobile world by releasing the Motorola X Phone. A new rumor claims that the way they are doing this is by creating a customizable cellphone platform through Motorola – which Google happens to own.
What is a customizable cellphone platform? In short, it would allow you to ‘custom order’ your handset by choosing from a range of specifications that fit within your budget. On the low-end, the device would come out to being as cheap as $199 (no contract), but premium features like more internal storage space, more RAM and a faster processor would bring the cost up.
Think of this idea as Google/Motorola doing to the smartphone market what Dell did for the PC market. There are certainly some obstacles to this approach, if it even proves true, but it could very much prove popular.
Remember how quickly the LG Nexus 4 sold out since it sold at low price point and great specs at the same time?
What Microsoft should consider doing
Both Google’s customizable phone hardware platform and Apple’s lower cost iPhone could prove false, I will admit that right away. Still, is Microsoft willing to take that risk?
Now is the time to prep a Surface phone that can arrive sometime around the same timeframe as Google and Apple’s new offerings. In order for this to be a success, it needs to meet a few targets:
1) It needs reasonably higher-end specs.
2) It needs EXCEPTIONAL build quality.
3) It needs to debut with something big, like Windows Phone Blue.
4) It needs to be cost effective. Heck, cheap even.
The last one will be the hardest for Microsoft, but they need to let go of the idea of making money off of hardware or even Windows for the Surface to have any chance at disrupting the market and helping stem off Google and Apple’s latest efforts.
To do this, Microsoft needs to sell at-cost and make up the difference through app sales and the use of its integrated services. Sometimes you have to lose money to make money, just like Microsoft did with the Xbox.
Even if Google and Apple’s ‘rumored’ handsets don’t pan out, or simply don’t prove competitive enough to disrupt anything, that doesn’t mean Microsoft shouldn’t consider such a move. What do you think, would you like to see Microsoft release a high-end Windows Phone 8 device with Nexus 4-like pricing?
March 9, 2013 10:31 PM
Posted by: Onuora Amobi
Microsoft Windows 8 and the Surface might not be selling like hotcakes just yet, but Microsoft has made it clear that their future is in an OS that is universal regardless of whether you use it on a tablet, laptop or desktop. Even the phone and console might someday essentially run just tweaked versions of “Windows”.
Outside of bringing together all their Windows products, another important area of focus for Microsoft continues to be hardware. Microsoft’s Xbox really saw a major expansion into entertainment and multimedia with the Xbox 360, and will likely continue to see an even stronger push in this direction with its successor.
Then we have the Surface. While the Surface isn’t perfect, it is a great starting point. The hardware is extremely attractive and it hasn’t really been plagued with any major problems (unlike the Xbox 360).
The Future Importance Of Microsoft Hardware
Does it end there though? The signs seem to say no. In fact, Microsoft’s Crag Mundie recently opened up at Microsoft’s TechForum event and indicated that they felt the Surface was needed in order to really take their company in the right direction.
Mundie indicated that Microsoft had taken “flak for the fact we had this highly variable experience” due to the wide range of hardware found with Windows, and had felt that creating a premium flagship was important. Moving further into the hardware business gives Microsoft tighter control of the quality of devices, instead of just providing the software.
It also can hurt relationships with their partners, though. In fact Acer has expressed concern about the Surface more than once, and even Nokia has now stated that a Surface phone could eventually cause them problems. In a recent risk report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Nokia indicated that if Microsoft does release their own hardware in the phone market, it could mean they will focus less on helping their partners become successful and could create future problems.
Is it worth the risk for Microsoft? Mundie seems to think so. When asked specifically about whether or not the Surface tablet line was worth the risk of hurting OEM relations, he said, “absolutely”. Afterwards Mundie also added the following statement:
“One of the big challenges that the company faced in the last couple of years was just the question of, would there be a very high quality physical device that would go up against Apple?”
Considering the fact that many of the Windows 8 tablets out there haven’t been as sexy or as functional as the iPad (or the Surface), I think Microsoft made the right move here. But where does it end?
Beyond the Surface and Xbox
Microsoft is starting to recognize that there is a big world of products out there. Moving into entertainment and gaming with the Xbox has been an important step forward. Ensuring it has a flagship tablet is a good move too. Likely a phone could become a reality as well, but I think ultimately Microsoft sees that for Apple, having more control of the products means it is easier to ensure high quality and it also means they don’t have to share the profit with as many hands (vendors).
Microsoft recently hinted about the idea of a Microsoft smartwatch, though they haven’t said for sure they they will build one. If I had to take a guess? I’d say that Microsoft will continue to evolve towards being a hardware, software and services company, regardless of what its partners think.
Do you think Microsoft is making the right move by focusing on hardware as of late, or could it potentially prove to be a mistake?
February 22, 2013 4:25 PM
Posted by: Onuora Amobi
, Windows 8
Windows 8 and RT have yet to take off in a big way just yet, with many consumers feeling that the dual-UI approach and touch-focused nature of Windows 8 is just too radically different from what they are familiar with.
In an ironic twist of fate, both Canonical and Google have now taken both of these elements and crafted them into their own projects – and yet many people are buzzing about them.
With Canoncial’s Ubuntu vision, you will have a unified look that scales from devices as small as a a phone to a tablet, and then to a PC. They will all look similarly but there will be minor differences between the UI presented for the phone, tablet and traditional non-touch PC in order to provide an optimal experience. They will all run the same applications and programs though, and are all unified at just about every level and aspect.
On the Google front, we have a touch ultrabook-like device called the ChromeBook Pixel, the first piece of hardware directly built by Google themselves. This sleek $1,300 ChromeBook runs on the web-based Chrome OS and has a touchscreen experience that they are touting as more immersive than anything else out there.
Both of these projects seem to borrow HEAVILY from what we’ve already seen with Windows 8. Yet somehow, both projects have been meet with quite a bit enthusiasm and less drama than Windows 8 and even Windows Phone 8.
What’s the Difference Between Microsoft’s Approach and their rivals?
So what’s going on here, why isn’t Windows 8 receiving the same kind of enthusiasm? Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are robust operating systems that share a lot under the hood. Unlike Canonical’s Ubuntu effort though, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 integration feels incomplete.
As mentioned in a past article, Microsoft has yet to unify the Windows Phone and Windows 8 marketplaces under one roof. That also means you can’t run Windows Phone apps on your Windows 8 tablets. With Ubuntu, you can run a tablet app at the same time as a phone app, which can snap to the right side of the tablet display.
Then comes the new Modern UI. It is sleek and solid, but again things like odd placement of the shutdown button make it feel a little clunky.
Next, let’s look at the ChromeBook Pixel. How does it differ from ultrabooks running on Windows 8? Actually, it is better. It has the full power of Windows 8, and that means legacy apps alongside a touch display. A lot of the Pixel’s hype is probably just from Google fans and those that like the idea of a high-end cloud device. Still, $1,300 is rather steep and ultimately Windows 8 ultrabooks will probably have a better overall value.
Should Microsoft feel threatened?
Honestly, I don’t believe so. While Windows 8 isn’t perfect, it is an established product (Windows) and is less limited than either Ubuntu or Chrome OS. It has tons of legacy programs and the Modern UI is very useful once you adjust to the changes.
The other reason for why Microsoft shouldn’t worry too much is that many of the “problems” holding Windows 8 back are fixable. If rumors of Windows Blue are to be believed, we will see Windows Phone and Windows come closer together through a unified marketplace and more, soon enough. We will also seem more customization and improvements to the Modern UI.
Microsoft shouldn’t worry about Ubuntu or the Pixel in their current forms, but they should look at them as warning signs. Now is the time for Microsoft to focus on remedying the aspects of their Windows ecosystem that are holding them back, before Pixel or even Ubuntu – or perhaps even a new competitor – shows Microsoft up and beats them to the punch.
What do you think of the Pixel or of Ubuntu’s new tablet/phone/PC unification? What does it mean for Microsoft’s future, if anything?
February 19, 2013 12:23 PM
Posted by: Onuora Amobi
, Windows 8
, Windows RT
Microsoft’s mobile direction is clearly a bold one. Windows Phone 8 is dramatically different from a typical mobile OS, using a fresh live tile approach instead of a simple icon style that is more similar to a desktop OS.
As for Windows 8, it is equally different, bridging the mobile and desktop world with a unique UI, known as Modern (or Metro in some circles).
Microsoft’s success could lie in thinking differently, but its not always an easy path. Both Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 have come under fire by some in tech and media world for these differences, and this is especially true with Windows 8.
Some of the biggest concerns with Windows 8 have been that it forces uses to learn a new interface, ditching the older start menu and that the new Modern UI still doesn’t feel quite “finished”.
What’s Microsoft’s solution? Further change direction by giving yearly updates that address some of the UI concerns of modern (no, that doesn’t mean you will get the start menu back).
You likely have already heard about Windows Blue, but what exactly is it?
Windows Blue – A Change in the Way Microsoft Updates Work
There have been tons of rumors about Windows Blue, but what do we actually KNOW for sure? Sifting through the rumors, our biggest evidence comes from two recent job postings. The first post is from the Windows Division:
We’re looking for an excellent, experienced SDET to join the Core Experience team in Windows Sustained Engineering (WinSE). The Core Experience features are the centerpiece of the new Windows UI, representing most of what customers touch and see in the OS, including: the start screen; application lifecycle; windowing; and personalization. Windows Blue promises to build and improve upon these aspects of the OS, enhancing ease of use and the overall user experience on devices and PCs worldwide.
The Second is from the Office division, and confirms that Blue doesn’t just affect Windows 8:
As a development lead you will hire and manage a team of top-notch developers, be personally involved in designing and coding features, and work closely with PM and Test counterparts across multiple orgs to help realize the vision of building high quality excel app for Windows Phone Blue. In partnership with the Excel MX, Data Visualization and Excel Web Services team your team will be responsible to develop a common code enabling us to build a mobile app which will (1) allow users to have a consistent experience with spreadsheets across Web, Slate and Phone end while leveraging the power of the cloud (Excel Web Services, Office Client Services, SkyDrive and O365).
Admittedly, these listings don’t exactly clear Blue up, but they start to paint a picture. Windows Blue isn’t a new version of Windows Phone 8 or Windows 8 from the sounds of it, rather it is a compilation of new features and major updates to core Windows apps.
Think of it as a Service Pack on steroids. As you might have noticed from the first listing, the SDET position is even mentioned. People employed in this area tend to usually work on Service Packs.
Although this is technically still speculation, I’d wager that Service Packs are done. There will be no more. Instead, Microsoft is going to go with a yearly update approach, that is somewhat like Apple’s with OSX but more akin to Android or iOS.
Why Yearly Updates?
For the enterprise and home PC world, yearly updates could certainly create extra mess. Unfortunately, it’s part of the struggle that Microsoft has with managing an OS that is attempting to work for both typical PCs and tablets.
If Microsoft were to stick with Windows 8 for two to three years and then unveil Windows 9 as a paid upgrade, they would be a hard sell for tablet users. Why? Android and iOS update every year, and often have minor updates that brings small changes and features several times each year.
Its about keeping up with the Jones. If Microsoft is “greedy” with new features, only giving them out with fully new versions of Windows every few years, they will risk angering and alienating tablet users that are used to more frequent changes.
That’s not to say that paid updates for Windows are done and over with. Microsoft relies on these big updates for a good part of their income. Instead, expect Windows 9 to be pushed out to at least 3 years (maybe longer) and these color-named packs to fill in gaps between now and then.
It remains unclear what Blue will be called when it hits, though. It could easily become Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8.1, or they could go with Windows 8 Blue and Windows Phone 8 Blue. My guess is that the later will be used, but it is hard to say for sure.
Is Windows Blue a good idea? That’s a good question. I think if it isn’t handled right it could be a total nightmare for enterprise users. For everyday consumers, it could be awesome (as long as they are free).
Only time will tell for sure. What do you think?
February 15, 2013 9:01 PM
Posted by: Onuora Amobi
, Microsoft Surface
, Windows 8
, Windows RT
There have been many mixed opinions about Windows 8 out there both in the enterprise and regular consumer market.
While slow desktop and laptop sales could simply be a result of an extended PC lifespan as tablets continue to dominate the scenes, what about Windows 8 and RT tablets? Why aren’t consumers jumping at the chance to get a platform that combines the mobility of a tablet with the power of Windows?
There are many reasons why this could be happening, but honestly it might just come down to price. No, Microsoft Surface and other Windows RT/8 tablets aren’t necessarily overpriced for what they are giving you, but its about perceived value.
Apple and Google have established mobile ecosystems. They have 750,000+ apps and consumers understand how to use them at this point with minimal learning curve involved. Windows 8 and RT tablets have less than 50,000 apps, require a learning curve over traditional Windows and have very little “killer” features that they can’t find on an Android or iOS tablet – except for x86 legacy app compatibility.
Honestly though, many consumers don’t care about that. The want a device that is either established, or at the very least has less cost-risk. This is why both myself and my peers at Windows 8 Update and Enterprise have talked about the idea of 7-inch Windows tablets that can help bring the price down and “introduce” consumers to Windows on a tablet without having to pay $500+ pricing to do it.
What about the Enterprise world though, what’s holding it back from adopting Windows 8 tablets in a big way?
Marketing could be part of the problem. Or, there may be no problem here at all. Businesses are often slow to move, carefully considering the pros and cons before jumping in.
In fact, Avanade is reporting that many major businesses are now considering Windows 8 tablets for their needs, particularly the Microsoft Surface Pro. For those that are unaware, Avanade is a company that was jointly formed by Accenture and Microsoft and focues on helping companies adopt, use and manage Microsoft technology in the enterprise world.
According to Avanade, while businesses aren’t seeing any crucial reason to adopt Windows 8 on their existing laptops and desktops, they are interested in a mixed ecosystem that brings touch PC tablets to specific employees and parts of their business. Particularly sales people, field service staff, health care professionals and financial advisers have reason to strongly consider Windows 8 tablets.
In fact, many of these businesses are considering ditching the iPad in favor of the Surface and other Windows 8/RT devices. The biggest reason is that Windows 8 tablets fit easily into existing the Windows 8 infrastructure. They work well with existing Windows-based security solutions, Windows legacy business apps and reduce IT headaches.
Several of the businesses Avanade is working with are still in the “consideration” stage before making the leap. One company that isn’t shy about making the change is BMW, though. BMW has now started adopting Windows 8 tablets (the Surface Pro) for use in showrooms. They find it gives their staff a way to show customers features and customization options quickly without having to go back to the office.
Enterprise growth could be key to Windows 8′s success
While Microsoft might eventually make a play at the 7-inch market and find other ways to entice everyday consumers into switching to Windows 8 for both PCs and tablets, the key is to first win over the enterprise world.
Enterprise customers don’t care as much about the shear number of mobile apps, as long as they fit within the company’s specific plans. Again, many of the 750,000+ apps found on Android or iOS are of an entertainment variety and of little use to many types of businesses.
Enterprise customers take their time before jumping in, but are also more willing to spend top dollar on new technology, even if it isn’t necessarily proven quite yet.
Ultimately though, if you win the enterprise, you could win the everyday consumer, too. As business workers use Windows 8 tablets on a daily basis, a lot of the perceived problems with Windows 8 will start to fade away. They will start getting used to the new OS and are more likely to buy such devices for their home as well – or at least that’s the general idea.
What do you think, does Microsoft’s biggest chances for success with Windows 8 lie in the enterprise?
February 13, 2013 4:39 PM
Posted by: Onuora Amobi
, Windows 8
When Microsoft announced that Windows Phone 8 was ditching CE and moving to NT, it opened a world of possibilities. The idea of a unified architecture that meant making apps for Windows 8′s Modern UI and Windows Phone 8 would be basically the same experience, allowing apps that worked with one platform to work with the other.
The idea of NT on Windows Phone also opened up the idea of running more powerful utilities on a Windows Phone handset. Heck, even the idea of hooking up your Windows Phone handset to a big screen where it would have access to the full version of Microsoft Office and much more.
While Windows Phone 8 continues to gain traction and IS much easier to develop for than Windows Phone 7, it still isn’t quite were it needs to be. And where is that? It needs to be fully unified with Windows 8.
Imagine Windows Phone as an SKU
Right now, Windows Phone 8 is still considered a different OS that shares a similar root in Windows NT technology. They have different marketplaces, app coding is different (though porting back and forth is actually not too hard) and so on.
What if Microsoft eventually just makes “Phone” another SKU of Windows. In this kind of scenario, Windows Phone would run on the same marketplace as Windows 8, the Windows Store. Both would have access to the exact same apps and so-on. This would make life easier for programmers, and would likely make Windows Phone more attractive for business users and everyday consumers as well.
The good news is that this might be happening. We recently reported that a rumor has popped up that a unification is in progress, at least on the storefront side of things. This is only the beginning. While a full desktop experience on a phone might not be practical, having the full power of Windows 8′s Modern does make sense.
Having a few special utilities that work outside of the typical modern UI might possibly make sense too, though I have a feeling that Microsoft wants to rely completely on the new UI as much as possible going forward.
Could Blue be the answer?
Windows Blue was once believed to be an update to Windows 8 that would add new features and functionality. Now there are insider sources indicating that Blue is much more than that. It is believed to be a series of upgrades across Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Microsoft service apps like Skype and even Windows Server.
Considering that the unification and recent Blue rumors both popped up at the same time, you have to wonder: Is Windows Blue going to see the end of Windows Phone Store? I certainly hope so. Considering that the groundwork (NT) is already there for Windows Phone 8, I don’t think this would have to be a major change.
Ideally, Windows Phone Store apps would simply roll into the Windows Store. Some Windows 8 apps would be upgraded to work with the little screen, and some Windows Store apps would be reworked to play nicely on the high-res Windows 8 screens. This isn’t too different than what we see with the Apple AppStore.
Windows Phone 8 has captured the attention of many more folks than Windows Phone 7 did, but ultimately the path forward is to bring both Windows Phone and Windows together. Combining the marketplace is as good of a starting place as any I would wager.
What do you think, should Microsoft merge the marketplaces? Do you think that this could be happening with Windows Blue?
February 12, 2013 8:11 PM
Posted by: Onuora Amobi
, Windows 8
, Windows RT
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking of late about Microsoft and its current operating systems, as well as their new Surface tablet line. There is a lot to like about Windows 8, RT and the Surface.
With Windows 8 tablets you get legacy support for applications while still having access to Windows Store apps, and even many Android apps through the use of programs like BlueStacks, which has now been optimized for Windows 8 and the Surface Pro.
There are many reasons to like Windows 8 and the Surface, and less reasons to dislike it (the new screen is “different”) but why isn’t more popular yet? I’ve mentioned before that part of the reason is that it is a new ecosystem that needs to develop.
I still feel this way but I’m started to lean towards another main reason for slow adoption of Windows 8 and related products: marketing and deployment. This weekend saw a pretty huge fail on Microsoft’s part when it came to the launch of the Surface Pro.
Many consumers found that they were having trouble buying the Surface Pro online, at Microsoft Stores and at partner locations. Although it seems to have sold reasonably well, there are also strong indications that supply was limited to begin with. Microsoft even ended up selling reserved units by mistake.
WHY? It seems that every Windows 8, RT and Windows Phone 8 product has had this problem. While the Nokia Lumia 920 and the rest of the Windows Phone handsets have actually seen a fair amount of success (certainly stronger than Windows 8), WP8 has also seen supply issues globally.
I understand that it is much easier to criticize and lay blame than to manage a huge company like Microsoft, but you think by the time the Surface Pro had rolled around, they would have supply and demand under control.
Are they the only company to have this kind of problem with new products? No, of course not. A good example of another botched launch was with Google’s Nexus 4 (built by LG), where supply constraints still haunt the device months after its launch.
The problem is that low supply is only half the issue.
I mentioned marketing of Windows 8 in yesterday’s article “Turning Around Slow Windows 8 Sales” but felt there was certainly more to discuss here. Yesterday’s piece was more about the costs of touch PCs and the drastic changes to Windows 8, not about how marketing has completely confused consumers.
I want to reiterate that I actually like Microsoft’s direction and I actually do think that Steve Ballmer has done a relatively good job as CEO. That said, marketing has been a huge problem for Microsoft of late.
That’s not to say there isn’t a huge amount of ads. Microsoft hasn’t been light with its wallet when it comes to advertising for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. The problem is that their marketing leaves much to be desired when it comes to explaining its products (what is the core differences between Windows 8 and RT, and WHY would I want to buy an RT device over Windows 8 when they are similarly priced to ATOM tablets?).
Another example of a marketing problem is that there have been reports of real customers bringing their machines into PC repair shops because they downloaded Windows 8 on their non-touch laptops and wanted to know why the touch-features weren’t working in the new Start UI, yes really.
Even the Modern UI issues could have been EASILY handled. The truth is that Windows 8′s new UI doesn’t limit or hinder productivity in any way, but the ‘restrictive’ nature and the forced start of the UI is what seems to bother folks. While allowing consumers to choose between the new UI and a start menu is not the right move, allowing consumers to directly boot into desktop at startup would have made a lot of sense. As for the power button, why could the start screen have a button near the Start UI’s top left corner (right by the words START)? Why couldn’t the desktop have a power button next to the clock or some place like that? This would have been easy fixes but were somehow ignored.
I believe that Windows 8 will ultimately turn out to be a reasonably accepted product, but I truly believe that marketing and deployment have been a huge part of the slow-going start for Windows 8 and its related products.
What about you, do you agree or not?
February 11, 2013 8:12 PM
Posted by: Onuora Amobi
, Windows 8
There are a lot of opinions out there on why Windows 8 is seeing slow sales. Although Microsoft has sold over 60 million licenses, many of these have been to PC vendors and OEMs, who still have these machines sitting around.
So what exactly is the root of the so-called problem? This has been discussed at length many times, but here are just three reasons why Windows 8 isn’t flying off the shelves. Each of these problems is curable with time, meaning that Windows 8′s fate is still far from decided.
Swinging From A Traditional OS to a Touch-Intitutive Interface
Windows 8 is a big change from Windows 7, this has been mentioned many times before. The point though is that going from a more traditional OS to a touch-oriented OS should be a gradual process. With Apple, we have yet to see a touch PC despite how great their iPad and iPhone lines seem to be doing.
Instead, we’ve seen a continued push towards touchpads that have advanced gestures in OS X. Some of these exists in Windows 7, but not nearly as advanced as has been seen with Mac OS X. With Apple, it seems that the company is slowly moving the UI to a full touch experience version by version (adding things like the launcher and improved gestures along the way). Eventually the touch PCs will come, but by then people will be totally ready for them.
Windows 7 was nearly useless for gesture and touch commands. Windows 8 is all in. This is a night and day transition.
The High Costs of a Touch PC
Escalating the problem is the fact that touch computers are generally $800-$1000 and higher. Let’s face it, consumers have been spoiled when it comes to pricing in recent years. With netbooks that were in the sub-$300 range and tablets that are now getting into the sub-$200, most consumers don’t want to pay for high-end computers with touch.
While it is entirely possible to throw an atom processor into a thin-and-light design and give it a touch screen for the price of $450-$600 dollars, we really haven’t seen it yet. The bottom-line is that until pricing comes down, touch computers aren’t going to take off all that much.
The solution? Budget touch laptops and a continued push towards touchpads for laptops that have more advanced gestures for Windows 8 built right in.
Today’s Computers are Handling Current Needs Just Fine
Another big reason for slow growth for Windows 8 is that many PC owners are just fine with their Windows 7 (or even earlier) devices. While Windows 8 IS an improvement from Windows 7, it isn’t a significant enough one to justify throwing out your computer in favor of a brand new one, unless you are going all in with a higher costing touch device or simply like to have the latest software on the market.
As for upgrading? While technical users might be inclined to do so, most consumers simply replace their PC every 3-5 years and get a new version of Windows that way. With more households having supplemental computing devices like smartphones and tablets, the average consumer doesn’t use their PC as much as they once did, so it is hard to justify upgrading unless they absolutely have to. This is why PC life is extending from a more traditional 2-3 years to a longer 3-5 (or longer) lifespan.
So what is the solution?
Honestly, many of Microsoft’s problems will work themselves out with time. As Windows 7, Vista and XP machines continue to age, consumers will want a more advanced PC for their household.
As for the touch PC issue? That too will work itself out as gesture mouses and trackpads become more common to make Windows 8 devices easier to use. Additionally, touchscreen costs will continue to drop over the next few years making it more possible to make a sub-$500 touch laptop.
Really though, Microsoft could speed things along through stronger marketing. While Microsoft has spent quite a bit of money on advertising the new UI, they haven’t really marketed solid reasons why consumers should ditch their old-school computers in favor of Windows 8. They also haven’t provided a solid enough reason (pricing, apps, etc) for users to justify spending $500+ on Windows 8 tablets when they can get entry devices for much cheaper than that and even the highly popular and established iPad for around the same price as a Windows 8 tablet with a less established ecosystem.
Will Windows 8 be another Vista? I don’t think it will be another Windows 7 when it comes to popularity, but it isn’t Vista either. There is little reason to downgrade to Windows 7 or older like people did with Vista. Windows Vista’s flaws were deep speed and performance issues early on. Windows 8′s only fault is that it is unfamilar, which can be remedied by either adjusting to the changes over time or simply getting a cheap start menu replacement.
February 7, 2013 8:05 PM
Posted by: Onuora Amobi
, Microsoft Office
There continues to be talk about Microsoft releasing a version of Office specifically for Android and iOS devices. There are quite a few opinions about this move, though Microsoft itself has never actually confirmed that they are releasing Office outside of Windows.
In reality though, is this a wise move for Microsoft to tap into the iOS and Android market with Office? While Windows 8 and Windows RT devices aren’t runaway successes just yet, Office and easy integration with an existing Windows enterprise environment are two of the biggest things going for Microsoft. In short, releasing Office for iOS and Android would be like shooting yourself in the foot.
Microsoft’s best position for the Surface PRO and other Windows 8 (and even RT) devices is in the enterprise market, or even more specifically in the BYOD sector. For those that work at companies that have BYOD policies in place, there is a lot to like about Windows 8 tablets.
These Windows 8 tablets run Office, all your legacy apps, and also have a mobile side through the new Start UI and the Windows Store. There are even programs like BlueStacks that allow you to run select Android apps. Additionally Windows 8 tablets can not only work great as your primary work tablet and computer, they can also work wonderfully at home.
Taking Office out of the equation certainly changes things. If you can get an Android tablet or iPad and throw Office into the mix, why invest in a new OS with an unestablished ecosystem?
Alright, but Microsoft needs Office for iOS to tap into the HUGE iPad user base, right? Actually no.
Microsoft Office for iOS is Bad News All Around
While many business users are still faithful to Office, there is a growing number of students, light business users and home users that have learned to love Office alternatives on iOS, including Apple’s own iWorks apps.
Most of those that have already switched to iPad over the years have found an office solution that meets their needs. Releasing Office now isn’t likely to impress them or even get them to switch. They don’t care that Office is a superior solution, they just want something that “works” for their limited needs.
Meanwhile, there are still many PC users that haven’t jumped on the tablet bandwagon but are seriously considering it. These users come from a world where Microsoft Office is King. Knowing that Windows 8 is the only source for Office could persuade this group to stick with Microsoft and get a tablet running Windows 8.
But it works in the Mac world, right?
Microsoft Office for Mac has been around forever, but it hasn’t disrupted any real balance. Why should releasing it for iOS make any difference? Pretty simple, the Mac’s marketshare isn’t a concern for Microsoft.
Microsoft isn’t just starting to establish itself in the PC world, they were already the biggest player. If Apple was the PC market giant and Microsoft was the minor OS, believe me, things would probably be quite different. Additionally, Microsoft sees the writing on the wall. The PC market is the shrinking, mobile is the future. Losing a few users to a Mac computer isn’t a big deal. Losing all their potential Windows 8 tablet market to iPad and Android is.
Bottom-line, Microsoft releasing Office for cross-platform on mobile competitors is a move that has plenty of risk and only limited potential gains.