Posted by: Onuora Amobi
Microsoft, 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?