How big is Microsoft gambling with Windows 8?
Analysts try to parse the risk Microsoft's taking by blending touch with the desktop in one OS
Computerworld - Analysts parsing what Microsoft revealed of Windows 8 earlier this week are split today on how big the company's gambling with its operating system cash cow, some saying the bet was for the farm, while others said it was the best move Microsoft could make.
"They're betting the farm on this one," said Wes Miller, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft who worked in the Windows team from 2000 to 2004. "This is a bigger jump for Microsoft than .Net," he added, talking about the software framework Microsoft debuted in early 2002.
Earlier this week, Microsoft showed off parts of Windows 8 -- company executives stressed that the name was not official, but what it was being called for now -- at the All Things Digital technology conference, and at a computer trade show in Taiwan.
Windows 8 will feature a "touch-first" interface to help it compete in the fast-growing tablet market, but underneath that will offer a more traditional Windows-style desktop. In demonstrations, Microsoft showed the touch-style start screen for Windows 8, and how users could switch to a more familiar icon-based interface.
Calling Windows 8 a "reimagining" of the decades-old OS, Microsoft said the all-in-one OS will respond to both touch and keyboard-and-mouse navigation, and run on a wide range of devices and form factors, from small tablets to large desktop systems and screens.
That strategy got both kudos and criticism from Microsoft experts -- sometimes both from the same analyst -- with the critics wondering how the company's biggest customers will react to an upgrade that so aggressively pushes touch.
"Microsoft's problem is how do they keep the existing customer base with Windows while addressing touch," said Miller, all without alienating the enterprise customers that drive Windows revenues. "Some will look at this and think of the old Saturday Night Live skit.... 'It's a floor wax and a dessert topping,'" Miller added.
"The gamble is that by dragging legacy Windows to the tablet, Microsoft runs the risk of damaging its traditional desktop Windows business," said Al Gillen, an analyst with IDC. "Windows 8 is all about the tablet. I think it's dead on arrival for business customers."
Others said much the same, calling Windows 8 a "consumer" release that offers little or nothing for business.
"Yeah, there's a gamble here," said Michael Silver of Gartner. "This will be more likely to be taken up by consumers than businesses."
"Honestly, Windows 8 is all consumer," agreed Miller. "It's all about 'How do we deal with this iPad problem?'"
Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. "Organizations will have a hard time with Windows 8, but then they're tired from their Windows 7 deployments," Silver said.
Silver argued that enterprises will skip Windows 8, just as most did with Windows Vista, and instead stick to Windows 7, a tactic that Microsoft itself endorsed when it recommended that businesses now deploying Windows 7 stick with their plans.
But even Silver acknowledged that Windows 8 is a smart move by Microsoft.
"Microsoft needs a more modular approach to Windows, one that lets it put different components on different devices," he said, echoing recommendations he made in 2008 when he warned Windows was "collapsing" under its own weight. At the time, Silver said that unless Microsoft made radical changes, including putting Windows on a diet and making it modular, the OS risked becoming unsustainable.
- Perspective: Microsoft risks security reputation ruin by retiring XP
- Microsoft plans to patch critical under-attack IE bug next week
- Microsoft reaches RTM milestone for Windows 8.1 update
- OS upgrades: Cheap is better than pricey, free is better than cheap
- No special treatment for China on XP, patches end April 8 in the PRC, too
- Microsoft ships Office 2013 SP1 the old-fashioned way
- Microsoft's 'go-low' play puts Windows revenue on the line
- Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols: Windows 7 lives!
- Users mock Microsoft for asking their help on XP-to-Windows 8.1 upgrades
- Microsoft concedes Windows 8.1 needs more for mouse, keyboard customers
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Taking Windows Mobile on Any Device Taking Windows applications mobile has many advantages, but the process of identifying a solution is complex. Learn how to solve this complex problem...
Red Hat Enterprise Linux - The Original Cloud Operating System
Linux adoption is growing against a number of measures, such as the
number of supercomputers that run Linux and the size of the contributing...
- OpenStack Hype vs. Reality: CIO Quick Pulse Open-source architecture can enable IT departments to build infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) clouds running on standard hardware.
- Building a Bridge to the Next Generation Data Center Selecting a widely adopted operating system is a foundational component of a standardization strategy.
- Webinar: Building a Big Data solution that's production-ready Big data solutions are no longer just a nice-to-have.
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well... All Windows White Papers | Webcasts