Microsoft’s Future Riding on Windows 8

Windows 8 seems to be a huge deal for Microsoft. They have “reimagined” the role of the desktop and are implementing a new user interface, Metro UI. But, are they really betting the whole company on Windows 8? Is the PC ecosystem really dying in favor of tablets and touchscreen computers? I seriously doubt it. Sure, there will be some people that use their PC for light web browsing, low powered games, email, Facebook, YouTube, etc. that would benefit more from a portable, touchscreen device. But, for those that work in offices, take notes, go to school and do a lot of typing, or those of us in IT, we NEED a desktop computer. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Mac, Linux, Windows or whatever. It needs to be much higher powered than a tablet, it has to have a larger screen, a full physical keyboard, more storage, etc.. There are many other reasons to own a full PC (gaming, development, etc.), but from a day to day normal person, there are reasons to not ditch the PC for a tablet.

Do I think they are betting everything on Windows 8? No. They are putting a lot of resources and confidence in a drastic UI change (among many other enhancements) that may or may not pan out. However, it isn’t the first time they’ve done something like this, nor is it a huge surprise. Several years ago, there were so many people complaining that Windows UI is still based on the 17 year old Windows 95. Sure it is. It was very easy to use, simple. But, now that the PC ecosystem has changed, there are new technologies to use, they have to adapt to these new technologies. To NOT change the UI to take advantage of these would be the biggest gamble. Windows Mobile (while I was a fan of the OS, it wasn’t a very good touchscreen OS – it was Windows OS on a mobile device) to Windows Phone 7 was a gamble that worked excellent. It became a shunned and crappy phone OS to a new very easy to use touchscreen OS.

If Windows 8 is a flop, however, it will increase the pressure on Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. His 12-year reign has been marred by the company’s troubles adapting to an Internet-driven upheaval. As Microsoft has stumbled, faster-innovating companies such as Apple and Google have elbowed their way into a position to steer the direction of computing for the next decade or two.