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

Tim Brookes 17-01-2013

2013 Is Microsoft's Most Important Year Yet - For All The Wrong Reasons [Opinion] logoMicrosoft 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.

2013 Is Microsoft's Most Important Year Yet - For All The Wrong Reasons [Opinion] Surface1

Windows RT Windows RT - What You Can & Can't Do Windows RT edition was discreetly launched about a month and a half ago with the flagship Microsoft Surface RT tablet device. Though visually indistinguishable from Windows 8, there are some key differences as to what... Read More 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 Microsoft Surface Tablet Review and Giveaway Read More 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.


2013 Is Microsoft's Most Important Year Yet - For All The Wrong Reasons [Opinion] windows rt

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 What Is An Ultrabook & Can It Succeed? [Technology Explained] Remember when the word laptop described virtually every mobile computer on the market? The choices were certainly easier back then (because there was simply less choice available), but today there’s a far wider variety including... Read More like the Asus ZenBook going for a similar price.


2013 Is Microsoft's Most Important Year Yet - For All The Wrong Reasons [Opinion] windows8

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.

2013 Is Microsoft's Most Important Year Yet - For All The Wrong Reasons [Opinion] lumia920


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 3 Underrated Wii U Features [Opinion] Nintendo’s new console is now available across the globe and gamers are weighing in. Most impressions are based of game selection, graphics and the new controller. Gamers, like everyone else, prefer to pay less and... Read More , 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.

2013 Is Microsoft's Most Important Year Yet - For All The Wrong Reasons [Opinion] xbox slim

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 8 Awesome Free Games for Windows 8 There are some superb games available for Windows 8, but most of these aren’t free. So what do you do if you want some no budget gaming – and is it possible to top up... Read More , 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.

2013 Is Microsoft's Most Important Year Yet - For All The Wrong Reasons [Opinion] steambox

Whatever happens with Valve’s so-called “Steambox”, it’s bound to be good news for consumers, with Steam’s famously cheap (and free A Selection Of The Best Free-To-Play Steam Games Content delivery service Steam is a real money-spinner for Valve, prompting publishers like EA to shy away from it in pursuit of their own system. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of free gems... Read More ) 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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  1. Auggie
    December 7, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    I used Microsoft since the beginning. I found out I could take classes from Apple & learn their system (and anything Apple that I wanted to learn). I dumped Microsoft & never looked back. I don't have to hassle with the stupid resource hogging anti-virus programs. Apple does all that seamlessly. Best computing move I ever made.

  2. babu vhora
    January 28, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    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.

  3. Ramesh K
    January 20, 2013 at 1:20 am

    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.

  4. Arron Walker
    January 18, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    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?

  5. Raazan Malla
    January 18, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    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
      May 1, 2013 at 9:57 pm

      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.

  6. Ruslan Fernandez
    January 18, 2013 at 1:14 am

    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 2x2 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 "". Come on is 2013. Make this box more useful. Thank you.

    • Tim Brookes
      January 18, 2013 at 9:45 am

      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 [Broken Link Removed]

  7. Scott Macmillan
    January 17, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    I'm just trying windows 8 and find it to be a great system.It has a learning curve for sure but it isn't as steep as some people claim.

  8. Mihovil Pletikos
    January 17, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    my experience with w8 is great.... it is much faster than w8 (subjectively) and i use it daily in both my work and home computer....

  9. Vipul Jain
    January 17, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    Well all you said makes sense except the Win Phone.
    Pretty soon development will be in full swing and also Nokia is actually still alive because of Lumia, so they'd also make efforts!
    Though i'm due to buy a new phone, and i'll still choose Android :p

  10. Victor Ong
    January 17, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    I honestly think that the reason that windows 8 adoption is slower than vista is because of how much publicity it got. Windows vista was really a "pioneer" in the interface, modernizing the UI by leaps and bounds compared to windows xp (which is still an amazing OS, BTW). Windows 8, however, got so much more media hype and controversy because of its new interface and "compatibility issues" (none of which I have met yet).

    I think that if people went into windows 8 like they did vista (seen it as a totally new experience and didn't see the "bad" or "controversial" parts), then windows 8 would have taken off AT LEAST as well as windows vista.

    In all fairness, windows 8 is a decent operating system. It's microsoft's first OS geared towards mobile devices, and I think that they've done a splendid job. I have had no compatibility issues whatsoever. Would I spend money on windows surface? No. But windows 8 is not an incredible operating system, yet it's not as terrible as many people think. Give it a try and find out.

    • Tim Brookes
      January 17, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      First up thanks for commenting!

      Second of all I have to ask how was Vista revolutionary? The UI was very similar to XP (which was very similar to 98) in that it used a Start Menu, Taskbar, SysTray, desktop etc... Vista only added a new skin and exaggerated the Start Menu somewhat.

      Control Panel got a few categories, and there was generally more polish but they were virtually the same OS in terms of UI and identical in terms of UX. It was the stability and compatibility problems that gave Vista its bad name, something Microsoft finally fixed with SP2... shortly before it was time for Windows 7 (which is good). Windows 8 is so drastically different from anything that came before it in that the traditional "desktop" experience has been relegated to the background and full-screen touch-friendly apps now live on the foreground.

      For the first time there is no Start Menu. The desktop is no longer the first thing you see when you turn on your PC. A lot of settings have been moved around, and the whole OS constantly reminds you that you now need a Microsoft account to make the most of it. And then there's Windows RT, Windows 8's crippled cousin that features gigabytes of binaries that enable x86 support just for Office, because the Office team rebelled against the idea of a touch-screen do-it-all Windows.

      I'd argue that Windows 8 is every bit as terrible as the reviewers and general populous have made it out to be. For as long as Microsoft ignores this massive divide, it will continue to lose loyal customers who have shown support since the days of DOS.

      Of course we all have our own personal opinions of a product, but it's sales and adoption that really tell the bigger picture and it's no secret that Windows 8 is not exactly flying off the shelves.

      • Victor Ong
        January 17, 2013 at 8:24 pm

        I meant that Vista implemented a search feature and an easier-to-navigate system. Windows vista is like a half-finished windows 7 for sure, but you have to admit that windows HAS to do something about the mobile environment. Windows 8 might not have been the best step, but the one-os-fits-all idea is an appealing idea, if they can perfect it in Windows Blue.

        • Tim Brookes
          January 17, 2013 at 8:36 pm

          I agree that the mobile environment needs to be tackled, sure. I just don't think that one-size fits all operating systems are the way to go about it. I will be very interested to see what Windows Blue turns out like, and with a predicted release date of late 2013, I think that's somewhat of an admission that Windows 8 could have turned out a lot better.

          I still think the point stands about Vista. It absolutely was like an unfinished Windows 7, but it retained the core features that made Windows the OS that it was. Windows 8 is fast and stable, which is awesome. The real problem is that a fast and stable OS is not getting rave reviews, and that's because for a lot of people it's not very nice to use.

        • Victor Ong
          January 17, 2013 at 8:38 pm

          Exactly. It's fast, it's stable, windows 8 works well.

          I'm definitely am NOT a huge fan of the start screen (which I don't really use), but some of the apps (like messenger, people, photos, and some free games from the windows store) are really good, and I would certainly miss them if they were taken out. If only we could have the apps without the screen....

    • devodude
      April 29, 2013 at 9:54 pm

      I always find it amusing to read comments from Windows users saying how much better Windows 3.1, 95, 98, 2000, XP, Vista, Win7, Win8 is over the previous version. This is always said while ignoring the technological advances of the hardware. Windows didn't get "better", the hardware did for the most part. That old, slow laptop you bought only three years ago and is bogged down with Windows spyware and viruses would run just as fast and smooth as today's PCs using any modern, up-to-date Linux distro.

      Saying WIndows 8, 9, 10 etc. runs good now is like saying "hey, they got the bugs out of the Hinderburg, and the zeppelin actually flies now (instead of exploding every now and then). That's what a dirigible is SUPPOSED to do! But it only took Microsoft 20 years to get it "right"? Baloney.

  11. Jay Yang
    January 17, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    MSFT should've left the hardware development for the tablets to hardware manufacturers. I checked out the RT and an Asus VIVO. The Asus VIVO, from a hardware perspective, just makes more sense (ie. no flap to support the tablet and you can actually use the thing in your lap).

    It's not all bad news though. MSFT may have had a rough start playing catch up, there is some room and opportunities for it to get into the game. A recent poll showed that Apple may no longer be considered "cool" among teenagers, and Samsung really may be the next big thing. At times like this, when teens are looking for new and more niche products to define themselves, MSFT has the opportunity to connect with them. This, of course, depends on MSFT's execution in the coming months.

    • Tim Brookes
      January 17, 2013 at 7:17 pm

      I think the Surface RT's software and hardware are on equal footing. The Asus VIVO might apparently not be released in the states due to customer confusion, and to be honest any device running Windows RT is crippled from my standpoint.

      I don't think it matters for Apple if the brand isn't seen as "cool" by teenagers. Teenagers don't earn money, they don't have the buying power. I also debunk any such studies, especially with record numbers of activations over Christmas and the hugely successful launch of the iPad Mini.

      I do agree that Microsoft need to really think about their marketing approach and learn from the disasters they have made over the past 2 years.

      • Jay Yang
        January 17, 2013 at 7:36 pm

        I agree with some of your points. Windows RT is definitely not helping driving the popularity of the surface tablets.

        Your point about the teenagers not earning the money and not having the buying power is very interesting. I'd argue it's precisely because the teens don't have the money to buy the iPhones that Apple may be losing ground. Teens get the iphones sometimes handed down to them from their parents, and it's definitely fair to say that the older crowd loves the iphone. It's getting harder for teens to explain that their new phone was something that their parents were using (another article made this argument first, and i'll post the link if i can find it again). Of course, this can be said about any other brand of phones. But, parents who use smartphones may be using the iPhones more than the samsungs and the WP's. Also, from a psych standpoint, teens may want to find something that is niche to them and not too "massly popular" yet, and that's where WP can come in. Here's the original article on the marketing analysis:

        I agree, from new device app downloads and other data, that there was a huge spike from the Christmas season for the iPhones. But, we don't know how much of that came from teens receiving their new phones. The reason we can't assume this is because there were a lot of sales for iPhones in the US, with some places like Best Buy selling iphone 5's on contract for 50 bucks (after a 100 dollar gift card). So, certainly a lot of people upgraded and bought the iphones, but we don't know if the majority were presents for teens or older adults looking for a new upgrade. The iPad minis, I agree, were probably bought as presents for teens and kids as they are substantially cheaper than the iPads. Unfortunately, MSFT doesn't have an answer for that yet.

        sorry for the long post, but it's a pretty interesting topic and worth keeping an eye on.

  12. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    January 17, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    What's funny is that after constantly in bad predicament, Microsoft continue to shoot themselves at the foot, even go as far as dragging other promising brand with them (poor Nokia). They refuse to see what the market wants, trying to revolutionize the whole system without trying to tell the users what it meant for them (their ads weren't exactly persuasive) leading to resort to shoddy market campaigns which gain them extra bad reputation, then the vicious cycle starts over again. They're basically committing suicide. Such a shame for a company that helps popularizing the usage of computer to common households.

  13. Rana wadood
    January 17, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    windows 8 is much better then 7

  14. Gaurang Kapopara
    January 17, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    windows 8 is much better then 7 it works so faster and smooth....

  15. Chanaka Hettige
    January 17, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    I will remain a Windows 7 user for my PC and Lap will be Windows 8. I totally agree on the failure of Windows 8 although I love it`s features. It has lost the sense of beign a Desktop OS. No I have no money to spare on a Tab ie a Surface.

  16. Arxadius Stark
    January 17, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    The "Steambox" will be the death for all consoles. c:

    • Tim Brookes
      January 17, 2013 at 1:22 pm

      I'm not so sure about that one. I really think that Xbox is a very strong brand, and dare I say it I think it might be difficult for even Microsoft to mess it up. They're already starting to dilute the brand with things like Xbox Live for Windows and Xbox Music on Windows, but at the end of the day there is a dedicated community (Xbox Live) and a number of very popular first-party and exclusive titles that will help float the next console.

      All Microsoft needs to do is carry on with the same formula with better hardware and more competitive pricing. If they start changing the game too much without innovating or improving the prices found for retail games on XBL then they will fall behind. Steam will hopefully help force the prices down and recapture the audience that once loved PC gaming without the hassle that's become synonymous with hardware, drivers and performance.

  17. Henk van Setten
    January 17, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Well, imho 2013 will become a disastrous year for MS - unless they quickly recognize that their basic Win8 philosophy (the idea that a touch-based interface that works well on a consumption-oriented tablet or phone, should also work for a productivity-oriented desktop computer) is a colossal mistake.
    My hopes are not high, because the past has shown that it often takes a couple of years before MS accepts its own blunders graciously enough to actually start correcting them. In today's perspective, waiting two years before introducing a desktop-optimized Win7+ may be simply too long.

    • Tim Brookes
      January 17, 2013 at 11:24 am

      Reading your comment all I could think of was "Internet Explorer". You're right, it takes them a long time to see past their own strategies to what consumers actually think about their products. I totally agree with you also, but the fact of the matter is that desktop software is now labeled as "legacy", a term reserved for outdated software that "still runs" and Microsoft want everything to go through the Windows Store.

      Will the next release ditch "legacy" software altogether in favour of full screen apps and a closed ecosystem? I don't even see Apple doing that, despite Gatekeeper and the Mac App store.

      • Victor Ong
        January 17, 2013 at 7:25 pm

        Actually, with IE 9 and 10 microsoft made things MUCH better and MUCH faster. It's my browser of choice for my netbook.

        • Tim Brookes
          January 17, 2013 at 7:52 pm

          Yeah I'm sure they did, but the problem is from IE3 onwards through 4, 5, 6, 7 and even to a point 8 they let their browser stagnate, ignored web standards and created innumerable headaches for web developers. They've finally got it right with IE9 and 10 but they lost the browser war long ago.

        • devodude
          April 29, 2013 at 9:42 pm

          The only reason IE was/is the dominant browser was because it came with their O/S by default. That's why they forced MS to provide a screen that gave the end-user the option of browsers upon first start-up of Windows. Keeping users ignorant of any alternate O/S or browser is the only thing keeping them afloat. I've been able to convert many family and friends away from Microsoft and onto Linux. They all thank me for it too. :-)

  18. allthings awesome
    January 17, 2013 at 10:43 am

    I used to be a windows user when about 2 years ago i switched to ubuntu and have never looked back since. Microsoft has been more commercially centered than user centered. With the disappointing windows 8 and the future availability of a non microsoft based cheap gaming console which i think the gaming community will definitely support, i think the end is near for microsoft.

  19. Junil Maharjan
    January 17, 2013 at 4:15 am

    Windows 8 is a great OS, I've been using it for almost two months and it is faster and safer. it does lack the charm (not the bar) of the windows 7 or the user-friendliness of xp, but this is a different direction they have taken and i appreciate that. Yes, they are not doing that great on the hardware. They should focus on xbox more, which gives them great profit.

  20. Scott Reyes
    January 17, 2013 at 2:25 am

    From what I see, The only way microsoft will ever get an edge on technology likw they used to, would be to either go into a new market with brand new devices that have never been made before, or revise their operating system from scratch.