Will Windows 8 Succeed Or Fail? [Opinion]

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will windows 8 failMicrosoft is trying to make Windows 8 be all things to all people. Or at least all operating systems to all devices. A risky strategy that has rarely, if ever, worked. This is Microsoft reaching for the future with one hand, while trying to drag the old-school stylings of its Windows operating system from the past along for the ride. Can this possibly work, or will Windows 8 fail?

Love it or hate it, Apple has changed the whole tech industry. The genie cannot ever be put back in the bottle. Is Microsoft doing enough to catch up? Or is it, alternatively, doing too much, trying to change the operating system which remains its main source of revenue when millions of people are happy with their non-touch way of working and non-tiled user interface?

Windows 8

will windows 8 fail

Windows 8 is going to arrive some time during 2012. It’s just a matter of which quarter Microsoft decides to launch it. It’ll ship around three years after Windows 7. Three years during which Apple and Google have both affected the way we interact with our devices on a fundamental level.

Consider for a moment the world in 2009, when the iPad was still being forged at Apple under Steve Jobs’ controlling eye and Android 2.0 had just been released. At that time Windows did everything required of it, offering an accessible way of using computers with a keyboard and mouse. The iPad changed that, with its dismissal of all external inputs other than your fingers, and Android then exacerbated the trend. Windows was suddenly looking like a dinosaur waiting for the end of the world to arrive.

Microsoft knew it had to do something radical, and the company’s answer was to port the Metro UI from Windows Phone 7 over to Windows 8.

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Metro UI

Microsoft faced a huge dilemma when it came to developing Windows 8. Windows 7 enjoyed a near-perfect launch, managing to move the operating system on from the Vista debacle in the minds of all but the most vehement Windows haters. Windows was set to carry on unhindered and unchanged for many years to come. And then the iPad arrived, and everything changed.

Microsoft itself was the architect of the push to get us all using tablet devices. But its efforts at the turn of the century (dubbed TabletPC) failed to move from being a niche to a mainstream product. Apple got it right first time, producing a truly great product which has eaten into the PC market ever since, and virtually wiped out netbooks as a form factor.

The Metro UI is Microsoft looking to the future, to the post-PC era that Apple is developing. It’s far from perfect, and it has been argued Microsoft has erred by trying to mutate it to its main OS. You can see for yourself by trying it in VirtualBox, with Windows 8 Beta Simulator, or with Instant Beautiful Browsing.

Windows 7 With a Glossy New Front-End?

The basic structure of Windows 8 is built on top of the current iteration of Windows, Windows 7. As has been true of all versions of Windows that have gone before. As with most operating systems, Windows is in constant evolutionary flux, with each new version meant to improve the UI while providing the tools needed for the present time.

To be fair to Microsoft, Windows 8 is the biggest evolutionary step up since Windows 95. But at least back then it was a battle being fought in just one, rather than multiple, arena(s).

The problem is that the whole computer industry is now changing at a rate of knots. Not in terms of hardware, as was the case for the whole of the 1990s, but in terms of how we relate to the technology and use it merely to access the Internet and all the services it provides. In some respects then, operating systems are becoming irrelevant. Or at the very least not as necessary to impress as was once the case.

Do People Still Want Windows?

The big question is whether people still want Windows. It has spent decades as the first choice operating system for the majority of people, but times are changing, and fast. As mentioned previously we’re now entering into the post-PC era, where mobile devices are becoming the default choice for most people, and capable of doing everything a notebook or desktop can do.

In this scenario, Windows in its present form looks set to lose much of its appeal. If Microsoft doesn’t alter Windows in a radical way then it risks becoming a niche product used by enterprise customers and professionals, but not by the mainstream. It cannot afford to let this happen or it faces a bleak future. With the exception of Office and Xbox, Microsoft hasn’t got much else beyond Windows to fall back on. Unless Windows Phone can grow beyond the expectations of most analysts.

The question then is whether Microsoft has done too much, too little, or just about the right amount of tinkering in building Windows 8 to go another round.

Looking To The Future

will windows 8 fail

Will Windows 8 fail or succeed? I think we need a third option of “do mildly well but will hardly set the world alight.” Because that’s my honest assessment of how Windows 8 will perform.

Microsoft has done just about enough to stop Windows from becoming completely irrelevant by trying to please everyone, all of the time, but the two-tier way Windows 8 operates risks pleasing no one, none of the time. To stop the rot Microsoft is going to need to exhibit a willingness to change and be fluid in its approach to developing future versions of its key products. In other words, take a leaf out of Apple’s book.

Do you think Windows 8 will be a huge success? Or a massive failure? Or, like me, do you feel Windows 8 is just about good enough to keep Microsoft in the game while the industry changes around it? Personally I’m already looking towards Windows 9.

Image Credits: mynetx, Ceo1O17, backofthenapkin, Esparta, Titanas

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Comments (90)
  • Andro

    Personally I think Windows 8 will thrive in the tablet and portable market, or where ever a touchscreen will be. From what I’ve seen it seem to be targeted to the touch screen format instead of the mouse and keyboard. But as far as a non touchscreen computer and just a regular desktop with an LCD monitor I don’t think it will do that well. Just my personal opinion.

  • Maxi3w

    This isn’t an intelligent comment….The Win8 Metro whatever it is, is just so ugly and seriously off-putting. Plus whether it will succeed or fail – part of me thinks it will win out in the end, just a gut feeling.

  • chichi

    Windows XP is still the best, we also still use it in our office. Vista, Seven, and Eight should respect the Big Brother XP. ^_^

  • Shehan Nirmal

    1 point to Windows 8 fail:
    – Needs good hardware to work effectively

    But I think Windows 8 will succeed…!!!

  • Hamranhansenhansen

    When they added the Metro interface to Zune, sales went down. When they added the Metro interface to their phone, sales went down.

    I think iPad is too far ahead. Microsoft has not even shipped an ARM PC yet, and Apple is on the 5th version of OS X on ARM. Apple designs their own SoC’s, so they put PC-sized GPU’s in iPad, whereas Windows tablets will have generic off-the-shelf phone SoC’s with tiny phone GPU’s. iPad has 11 points of touch, while Windows 8 has 4. If Windows 8 tablets do really well, maybe in 5 years Microsoft would be where Apple is today as far as maturity of the platform, ease of use, apps, hardware support.

    People don’t want Windows. Everyone who bought Windows over the past 5 years bought it because it was half the price of a Mac. Now, there is something better than Windows for half the price of a Mac.

    The “consumerization of I-T” is all about bringing an iPod level of ease of use, functionality, low price, and super low administrative overhead to all computing. Microsoft was not even able to match iPods at playing standard MP3/MP4 files. How is Microsoft going to match iPads at the 100,000 more sophisticated things that they do?

    From my experience, I know a lot of people who had Macs before iPad shipped, and those people now have both iPads and Macs, working together. But the people who had Windows when iPad shipped? So many of them have iPads and that is it, now. Especially the ones who were still on XP. They just walked away from XP and did not look back. For them, it is like time traveling from 2001 to 2010 in an instant and they won’t go back.

    The thing is, an iPad can run 10 hours per day on batteries, and is so mobile you carry it with you, and many people can end up using it for a full 10 hours every day. That is so much time, you HAVE to love using iPad to do it. And it replaces so many other items (maps, books, PC’s) that you again would have to love using it or it would be a chore to replace these other items. Microsoft has never made anything people low to use. You couldn’t pay me to use Microsoft 10 hours per day, let alone get me to pay you, and there is no way I’m giving up my iPad for BSOD and viruses and a EULA that absolves Microsoft of all warranties. (You get warranties with OS X because it is covered by the hardware warranty. When Windows fails, it is YOUR responsibility. When OS X fails, it is Apple’s. Why would people go back to the Microsoft way?

    I was not amazed that iPad did well, but I was amazed at how many business users jumped on it. I don’t see them going back. Same as nobody wants a landline. For 90% of humanity, a mobile phone and mobile PC is all they need. No need for landlines or notebooks or desktops at all.

    • sixela elad

      What a load of Apple fan boy garbage. I just couldn’t let Hamranhansenhansen’s post be the last on this page of otherwise interesting comments.

      A desktop or laptop can do anything a tablet can do but better. Tablets are toys and marketing gimmicks. I will not be giving up my desktop any time soon as no mobile platform comes close to its performance, storage capabilities or physical comfort to use. I don’t want a touch screen because it is not a comfortable or accurate method of control compared to a mouse.

      I recently tried a desktop touchscreen with Win 8 – my arm started aching after a few minutes from holding it out horizontally to touch the screen. I can use a mouse for hours without experiencing pain. Accuracy was also very poor in comparison.

      Personally if Windows 8 was released in it’s current form (Consumer Preview) I would not upgrade from Win 7. I think MS have it all wrong… Tablets will not replace laptops and desktops. I don’t want an iPad because it offers me nothing over a laptop. In fact I would lose the keyboard, something which is vital to me if typing more than a few words (this post for example).

      If MS want to try to break into the tablet market then good luck to them! All I ask is that they remember to give the desktop user the option of trying out their new UI, or switching it off completely. If the choice is taken away from the end user then I suspect retail and commercial sales will be low.

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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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