Posted by: Onuora Amobi
Google, Microsoft, 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?