2013 Is Microsoft’s Most Important Year Yet – For All The Wrong Reasons [Opinion]

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Microsoft has a lot of work to do to come out of 2013 with a spring in its step. 2012 was not Redmond’s year and demand for Windows 8 can be described as lukewarm, with the uptake rate recently slipping behind Vista – a release many Windows users remember for all the wrong reasons.

Windows RT and the Surface hang in the balance, as modest demand for the company’s first ever PC struggles to make it in the real world. That’s before considering the plight of Windows Phone and success enjoyed by Apple, Google and Android manufacturers this festive season.

Here’s why 2013 means so much to Redmond, Ballmer, and the PC collective.

All Surface No Feeling

I’ve already waxed lyrical about the Surface and its botched operating system making it onto this year’s list of shame, and after what has been described as “modest” demand for the tablet over the festive period, Redmond’s “Ballmer boys” have it all to do over the next few months.

Windows RT faces an uncertain future, with a distinct lack of manufacturers and quality products designed to make use of Microsoft’s Windows-for-ARM OS, leaving the Surface RT out in the cold from the rest of the bunch. Apps for RT are still lacking, and this is sure to stay the same way for the foreseeable future while Android and iOS continue to set records and rake in cash.

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The Surface RT also has an unexpected competitor in the Surface Pro, the x86/64-friendly Surface unit. It runs full-fat Windows 8, which means compatibility with proper desktop applications and games. Microsoft is surely hoping that the poor demand seen for the Surface RT is due to potential customers waiting out for the Pro.

Surface Pro & Windows 8

Still relatively little is known about the Surface Pro, aside from the fact that it will be a Windows 8-powered fully-capable machine in a tablet enclosure. It works with both Type and Touch covers, has the same kickstand, the same aspect ratio and an expected price tag of more than $1000 .

Once released the Surface Pro will be as expensive as a laptop with a higher resolution screen, proper keyboard and better internals so the reasons for buying one are not immediately clear. A quick glance at the competition shows already proven machines like the MacBook Air and Intel Ultrabooks like the Asus ZenBook going for a similar price.

Microsoft has already announced its next major release codenamed Windows Blue, the follow-up to Windows 8 expected sometime toward the end of 2013. The proximity of the next release date makes Windows 8 an easy one to miss this time round if Windows 7 is still your desktop OS of choice. So far Windows 8 hasn’t gelled with consumers, with the uptake of the new OS slower than the ill-fated Vista.

The Windows Phone Flop

Despite a promising UI when it first debuted (which has now made it into nearly all Microsoft products) and the recent passing of 75,000 apps in the store (of which you’ll find the best here), Windows Phone is still suffering from poor adoption. Nokia’s latest line of smartphones were supposed to transform the fortunes of the hardware and software manufacturers, but this has yet to happen.

Windows Phone is the most mature of the Metro-toting products, and it’s a marginally better looking situation for Microsoft until you look at the full picture. iOS and Android devices continue to sell by the truckload, with Google’s OS out in front in terms of numbers while Apple enjoys strong performance in both software and hardware sales. The maturity of both iOS and Android is not to be underestimated at this stage which means Windows Phone still has it all to do after a muted start.

Xbox in 2013

Nintendo has already released their next generation console, Sony is apparently readying their developer units which means 2013 is Microsoft’s year to perform with a new Xbox console due out toward the end of the year. The Xbox brand has enjoyed massive success with the release of the 360 and more recently Kinect, and as we near the end of this generation it’s time for Microsoft’s next offering to take center-stage.

While the Xbox brand is easily one of Microsoft’s strongest, 2013 is the year that Valve are set to release their fabled living room PC. Valve told attendees at this year’s Ubuntu Developer Summit that Linux was a more viable platform than Windows 8 for gaming, and has since made its plans to take over the living room public.

So what does this mean for Microsoft? Windows is the current platform of choice for desktop gamers, with more full price titles making it into Mac App Store and a select few titles available through Steam for Linux. A Steam console would simplify PC gaming for those of us who already enjoy mashing D-Pads in front of the TV, but can’t be bothered with the hassles of building a PC. If Valve decides to go for a non-Windows base, it could affect the PC market hugely and dent the industry’s reliance on the Microsoft Windows platform.

Whatever happens with Valve’s so-called “Steambox”, it’s bound to be good news for consumers, with Steam’s famously cheap (and free) games and monster sales helping bring the price of downloads down, something Microsoft doesn’t seem to want to do for this generation.

What do you think will happen to Microsoft in 2013? Will you be sticking to Windows? Is the Surface on your shopping list? Let us know what you think of Microsoft’s current predicament in the comments, below.

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Comments (33)
  • babu vhora

    i am using windows 8 and windows 7 dual in my single pc and i realize that windows 8 get all marks but in internet use its speed is low.

  • Ramesh K

    I have upgraded my old touch computer to windows 8. It is really fast and smooth. I really love the new UI. I was taken aback initially but now after using it for two months, I am loving it. I am in the desktop for work and I am in the metro for entertainment.
    I had no issues upgrading to windows 8. I hear there is some kind of upgrade assistant to help you make this decision. Windows 7 login times were far better than XP. Windows 8 login times are way better than windows 7. I have to make a decision. I am very happy with windows 8. Should I upgrade all my laptops to windows 8 or should I buy newer touch enabled hybrids? Or Should I wait for few more months for better hardware? People are saying Haswell chips will give more battery life.

    PS: I hated Vista.

  • Arron Walker

    When Microsoft Correct themselves, e.g. Win7 over Vista, they tend to get it right, and learn from their mistakes. A lot of the time however, e.g. how long it took for IE9, the first decent IE since ever, it’s too little too late. With the amount people have invested in MS, via experience, not everyone is going to be willing to ditch windows, no matter how different it is. I reckon enough people will stick to windows this generation for them to stay afloat, but the next one needs be good. I think this is the last time MS will be able to release a sub par OS (following the old good rubbish good rubbish we’ve come to expect, with a few exceptions). The only question is will the service pack come fast enough to recoup some of the people they’ve lost?

  • Raazan Malla

    Windows 8 is faster in booting and use. At first it was little uncomfortable but now I’m okay with it. The only thing I miss is taskbar while using applications. Is there any third party software available for showing the taskbar while using applications?

    • devodude

      Use a stopwatch now and time how fast it boots. Come back in a year, and do the same thing. Betcha a million bucks it’s as slow as molasses. Every version of “Windoze” always gets worse month by month until you’re ready for Windows 9, 10, 11, etc.

  • Ruslan Fernandez

    MS should FIX the xbox360. It make no sense that MS a computer company still makes you buy two consoles and two games so you can play two team in two individual monitors. Dual monitors are doable on pc and this can be done by MS. If you could only use 1 xbox 2 monitors and do a 2×2 multiplayer game it would change the way many see the xbox and MS. I get that they want to get more money but at least add multi display support to the xbox even through a 3rd party hardware as “http://www.matrox.com”. Come on is 2013. Make this box more useful. Thank you.

    • Tim Brookes

      This is one of my most wanted features from the Xbox brand. I would happily buy another TV/wheel another TV into the living room to play proper two player games on separate screens. I thoroughly agree with you.

      They have started to fix the 360 in the sense that they removed all the social Facebook/Twitter rubbish and brought games to the forefront of the system once again, but it’s not perfect.

      I wrote an article about that particular update here, if you’re interested: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/xbox-360-big-dashboard-update-good/

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
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