Last week Microsoft made a test version of Windows 8 available to the public. Windows 8 is a dramatic change and you’ll see many articles which will evaluate changes and predict it’s success or failure. The new interface is called “Metro”.
I’ve been playing with Windows 8 but even I won’t make a prediction on the how Metro will eventually do. If you read the entire article you’ll be able to decide Microsoft’s future yourself. Based on Microsoft history, developers often joke that the first and 2nd versions won’t be accepted but the third major release will be a hit. This was true with DOS 3.x, Windows 3.x and other Microsoft products except of course Microsoft Bob.
One of the funniest and ironic situations I’ve experienced with Microsoft is how they market new versions of Windows. To encourage folks to upgrade to new versions of Windows, Microsoft will acknowledge how bad their current version is.
I’ve been at many new launches including one in New York City for the launch of Windows XP. On stage, Bill Gates actually demonstrated the Blue Screen of Death as a reason to upgrade to Windows XP. We all shook our heads in disbelief but there was no real competition to compare too.
I do give Bill Gates credit for having the launch in New York City at the request of the mayor. It was soon after the 9/11 tragedy and this event was designed to show the world that NYC was a safe place to visit and have events. It really did help.
I’ve read many reviews that dismiss Windows 8’s new “Metro” because they say “people don’t like change”. While this is true, the real issue is that people really like Windows 7. After the Vista disaster, Windows 7 came along and saved the day. It was designed to work fast especially with popular multi-core processors and without major changes it was easy to use.
To convince people to upgrade, Microsoft will need to give them a reason to leave Windows 7 behind. That may not be an easy task, yet is critical to Microsoft’s future. Most of us who planned an upgrade to Windows 7 have already done so causing sales to flatten.
While we all pick at and debate the new Windows 8 Metro interface many folks are missing the real game changer. The most significant cash cow for MSFT is Microsoft Office. If PC sales eventually drop off so will the revenue from Microsoft Office which is the costliest and most required component of any new PC.
If you’re interested in the future of Microsoft, keep your eyes and ears open for what’s new from the Microsoft Office group. What will the Metro version eventually look like? How about an iPad or Droid version? The only thing certain is you should expect your data to be saved in an Azure cloud. Ultimately, my prediction is, I’ll be very happy when version 3 is released.