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Windows 8 - Microsoft's Big Gamble

What is the main proposition of Windows 8?

You may be thinking how a failure can be a game changer. Yes, it's easy to understand that if Windows 8 succeeds, then the tablet and smartphone computing would be changed forever, but how can it change the game by failing?

Well – if Windows 8 fails then it would be an official endorsement of the end of an era – the era of the supremacy of the personal computer.

Some of you would argue that the era has already ended and the failure of Windows 8 is already a foregone conclusion. But, you will probably be in the minority.

Others may argue that every alternate version of Windows release has been a failure and even if Windows 8 fail (like Vista), we will still have Windows 9 which will be a success (like Windows 7). However, I think the situation is different now.

What is the main proposition of Windows 8?
Actually, there are two propositions.

  1. User will prefer to interact with all computing device irrespective of the screen size and method of interaction in a consistent manner
  2. Metro UI Tiles is a better way to interact than the traditional Icon based interface

Microsoft had tried using the PC interface on tablet and smartphone and it has consistently failed. Now Microsoft is attempting the reverse. It is obvious that Metro UI is primarily designed for touch screen and Microsoft is attempting to use it for traditional PC & Laptop.

I think the underlying assumption is that most screens of the future will be touch enabled. There is also an assumption that the gap between a Laptop and a tablet will narrow or even disappear.

For once Microsoft is not copying Apple
Yes, the Metro UI is innovative and the credit goes completely to Microsoft. It is distinctly different from what Apple has to offer.

Users may accept the Metro UI or users may reject it but the credit or the blame will rest solely on Microsoft’s shoulder.

What happens if Windows 8 succeeds?
Obviously, Microsoft would definitely have reestablished its supremacy on the OS market. Nokia, Dell, HP, Intel and many others will heave a sigh of relief.

Metro UI would have been accepted by users as a better way of interacting with touch screens. Apple and Google would need to come up with a response.

People who claim that the future belongs to Apple, Google and Amazon will need to revise their opinion – and yes, it would be game changer.

What happens if it succeeds only on Tablet and fails on PC?
It would be an official endorsement of the end that PC and Tablet are different. All those who depend on PC and Laptop sales will need to reinvent themselves or perish.

Metro UI would have established itself as an alternate way of interacting with touch screen. There will be serious competition to Apple and Google.

You will have a new kid in the block, the Metro UI, who will get all the attention of the developers and UI design would be altered forever – a game changer on its own right.

What happens if it fails?
Then it would definitely be the end of the PC era – and a game changer.

PC and Laptop will not die overnight but it would slowly loose its significance and along with it many big names of today will find themselves in a similar boat.

What is the time frame to judge the success or failure?
One year is too short a time and five years is too long. I think 3 years is the right timeframe to pass the judgment.

If by end of 2015, Windows 8 (or 9) has not become the de facto standard, or at least become a strong alternative we can consider the game to be over for Windows.

More Stories By Udayan Banerjee

Udayan Banerjee is CTO at NIIT Technologies Ltd, an IT industry veteran with more than 30 years' experience. He blogs at http://setandbma.wordpress.com.
The blog focuses on emerging technologies like cloud computing, mobile computing, social media aka web 2.0 etc. It also contains stuff about agile methodology and trends in architecture. It is a world view seen through the lens of a software service provider based out of Bangalore and serving clients across the world. The focus is mostly on...

  • Keep the hype out and project a realistic picture
  • Uncover trends not very apparent
  • Draw conclusion from real life experience
  • Point out fallacy & discrepancy when I see them
  • Talk about trends which I find interesting
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