Microsoft and Intel are two companies that everyone loves to hate. This hatred may be sparked by jealously, because of the huge amount of wealth both companies have accumulated, or just disdain for how both companies have been lethal in their dealings with competitors. However, the reason for such animosity doesn’t really matter when one just focuses on the fact that these two formidable opponents have created an insatiable appetite for their products. Of course, with its mounting success, Apple found it needed to increase its momentum by further whetting the consumer’s appetite with an even sweeter offering. This came in the form of the iPad, the most successful tablet ever offered to the public on a national scale. As anyone in the know is aware, the consumer bit and this succulent morsel brought with it an unprecedented desire to own this unique tablet computer, a tablet without a Windows OS, and one that wasn’t powered by an Intel processor.
In order to compete with this new phenomenon, Microsoft attempted to create its own version of a touchscreen operating system for its products. However, even though this technology was introduced in its Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 software, it failed terribly, and the company’s touchscreen support was dismal and disappointing, to say the least. As a result of this failure, Intel’s rivals such as NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments (plus others), that were offering their ARM-based architecture, began to take charge of the tablet market. Then, putting Microsoft further on the hot seat, Amazon released its first tablet computer (Amazon’s Kindle Fire) in December, 2011. For its tablet, Amazon chose to use a variation of the Google Android operating system, along with a CPU from Texas instruments, thus creating yet another new consumer toy — one that has been selling like hot cakes.
So why will Windows 8 disappoint users?
Given the departure from the well-traveled Windows railroad, we as consumers discovered that we could actually live without Windows. Even if this was simply the result of being derailed and finding that Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android OS worked very well for us, it was most likely enough to wake Microsoft up to the realization that consumers are not only fickle, but that most of them couldn’t care less what type of processor their devices use. In fact, it is generally accepted that consumers will be happy just as long as their devices work and function properly.
With even momentary freedom from the Windows train, the consumer further became aware that the Windows logo or Intel Inside label was no longer a quality guarantee. As a result, the masses continued to climb aboard the Apple Express seeing for themselves that a quality, non-Windows and non-Intel product, addressed their basic needs, which included the ability to surf the Internet, send email, and participate with others on social networking sites. However, the cost was prohibitive for some, creating a niche for such tablets as the Amazon Kindle Fire, which appealed to those of us without an unlimited income; it further showed that a non-Windows operating system could work on a small device. For many, this then illustrated that, perhaps, the computer world has moved past the need for a Windows environment to meet its basic computing needs.
The next stop on Microsoft’s journey requires that we take a look at its past operating system history. This alone could be a major problem in convincing consumers and the technology world that Windows 8 is a must-have upgrade. The reason for this skepticism may be seen when we take a walk down memory lane and look at some of the operating systems and how well — or not-so-well — they were accepted:
Windows 95 was OK, but Windows 98 was the upgrade that actually worked.
Windows ME was a disaster, and Windows 2000 was OK, but it wasn’t until Windows XP that users elected to upgrade.
Windows Vista was OK, but Windows 7 was the must-have upgrade to consider.
The question, then: Will Windows 8 be just OK, or will it take Windows 9 to garner our attention since Windows 8 will be the test OS for the tablet computer?
As ZDNet’s Mary-Jo Foley quoted from IDC [December 5, 2011]:
“Windows 8 will be largely irrelevant to the users of traditional PCs, and we expect effectively no upgrade activity from Windows 7 to Windows 8 in that form factor.”
Microsoft is late entering the tablet market, and its developers are still in the process of developing applications for the Metro GUI. Unfortunately for Microsoft, this is occurring at a time when many of us have already spent our allotment of electronic dollars on such popular Apple products as the iPad, iPhone, iPod, and the applications to use on them. This malady also extends to Android users, since their Android phone contracts and their Android tablets as well as their applications may have also exhausted their budget goals. Even us Google Chrome browser users have more applications to sort through. Also to Microsoft’s disadvantage is the introduction of Amazon’s new pile of applications available to purchase for the existing devices that don’t even include the number of books, movies, or music we have already bought.
If Microsoft believes that the people who upgrade or buy a new Windows 8-installed tablet or PC will be enthused about buying more applications, I personally believe that it is in for a rude awakening.
Microsoft seems to think that the buying public is composed of idiots and, just because something says Windows, we will buy it. Windows 8 is nothing more than the Windows Phone interface on top of Windows 7. What the company does not realize is that some, like Gartner, are already projecting the dominance of Apple and Google on the tablet platform up until 2015.
Gartner goes on to project that by the end 0f 2011, the Apple iPad tablet will have sold 47M units and that the Google Andoid tablet will sell an estimated 11M units, for a total of 57M units. That is 57M people or families that will not be buying a Metro-controlled device. Microsoft’s Metro-controlled device is expected to fare even worse by 2015, when Apple is forecast to command an impressive lead of some 148M units with Android at 116M units for a total of approximately 264M units. In comparison, Gartner projects Microsoft’s Windows-based tablet platforms to hit a dismal 36M units total, which is minimal compared to the company’s traditional dominance over the PC.
Price, however, is likely to be the biggest killer of the Windows 8 tablet platform since the masses have learned that they don’t have to pay a premium price to meet their tablet needs. After all, Amazon proved this with its reasoning that if it provides its tablet at near cost, the applications will more than recoup any losses that are experienced in the beginning. Microsoft, unlike Apple and Amazon, doesn’t possess the infrastructure to produce its own hardware or the services to support its own OS. This is going to be a crucial issue. That being said, one can only assume that as more folks learn that a tablet computer meets all of their needs, Windows 8 may already be doomed to the railroad graveyard.
On the other hand, here are five reasons that Windows 8 will impress users.