Windows 8 (yet again!)
Now with roughly half a year since Surface RT hit the retail stores and Surface Pro more recently making its presence on the shelves, the discussions around Windows 8 are anything but slowing down and most of the messages that I am hearing are around disappointment of people with it.
That Microsoft was late to enter mobility market is well known. Windows Phone was miles apart from the earlier Windows Embedded Mobile and created lot of initial excitement, but it failed to do much more. There was negligible market penetration. At this time along with smart phones, the world had also gone miles ahead in tablets and Microsoft again was playing the catching up game.
To me it seems that it took much longer for them to realize that the foundation of PC market were finally shaking and tablets had found their play in this space and eventually the worldwide sales figures confirmed that the tablets were definitely selling more than PC.
So we had 3 different devices in the market - PCs or laptops, tablets and smart phones. It is also well known that mostly these devices required different ways to program the applications that run on them, except for tablets and smart phones, which in some cases allowed application sharing, but PCs or laptops were a different league. At this time creating an operating system that would run on all these types of devises and thus allowing same application code to run on all three would have been a great product, and to me that's what Microsoft tried to with Phone 8 and Windows 8.
However, in my opinion it didn't click because
- We were still talking about two different operating systems, Windows 8 and Phone 8. While they were more compatible than ever before, but still there were gaps and application written for one would not run as is on other.
- Windows 8 bridged the gap between PCs /laptops and tablets, but it seemed to have confused the average home user at the same time with its dual UI state.
- While Windows 8 runs on both PCs/laptops and also on tablets, it really isn't sharing the same application as it ended up introducing a new framework called WinRT on which one would write the applications that could be deployed via Windows App Store. So the seemingly single OS still had two faces to it.
- The touch savy modern tile based UI was more amenable to tablets and people using PCs and laptops still preferred the desktop to work. The tiles were more like a forced startup screen that people would want to quickly get past and go to desktop.
I was recently reading this and it seems to state that Surface RT is a good product, but fails only because of lack of sufficient applications for it, given the ARM chipset it is running on. It is however only in time that we should see more ARM based applications. Will that help boost the sales? For Surface RT maybe, as there is no desktop mode to it and users always work with the modern tile based UI.
Enterprise play has been forte of Microsoft and that's where probably Microsoft should focus its energies on. I do think that instead of trying to play in the end consumer space, Microsoft should focus on enterprises more. With AD integration, with Office suite and SharePoint, with Windows to Go (especially in age of BYOD) they have a compelling storyline. They should probably focus on Enterprise App Store, where organizational applications can be quickly deployed and made available for the employees to install. What's your take? Do you agree?
Having been a Microsoft technology loyal all my career, I do feel that Microsoft went overboard with Windows 8. Personally I think that Microsoft should slice Windows 8 into two parts and take the tiled UI to tablets and retain the desktop only look for its PC/Laptop users. What do you think?