I am on record as being a fan of Windows 8 and I reject many of the criticisms aimed at the new operating system as downright misinformation. It would appear however, that I am a member of an underwhelming minority. It’s no secret that adoption rates for Windows 8 have been slow, very slow. To verify that common perception, one need look no further than the current breakdown of desktop operating system market share as provided by the well respected NetMarketShare.com.
Windows Operating System market share February 28th 2013:
Kinda rams it home, does it not?
As the late and great Julius Sumner Miller would say… ”Why is it so?”. It’s difficult to define exactly why users have not taken to Windows 8 en masse; all the negative talk from certain so called ‘experts’ hasn’t helped, but I don’t believe that would constitute a major deterrent. The old ‘devil you know’ syndrome would also likely be a contributing factor but again, on a somewhat minor scale. Here’s what I think; vast numbers of users are working on the “if it ain’t broke, it don’t need fixing” credo. To a certain extent, Microsoft has shot itself in the foot by making Windows 7 just too darn good! I believe we are witnessing the emergence of a Windows 7 loyalty brigade, in much the same way as diehard XP users are determined to hang on to that old and venerable operating system until it is finally rendered virtually unusable due to lack of support from essential software.
While I am generally a proponent of ‘leaving well enough alone’, there can sometimes be a problem with that approach… it doesn’t always make allowances for progress. Whether we like it or not; mobile devices, cloud computing, and all aspects of this burgeoning technology are undeniably the way of the future. We are heading inexorably toward a take anywhere/access anytime computing paradigm. If one needs further proof of the massive shift in emphasis, one need look no further than the resources Mozilla has invested in its ‘Boot to Gecko’ mobile operating system. Or indeed, the fact that Canonical (developer of the Ubuntu Linux distro) has been, and still is, working hard on Ubuntu for mobile devices; tablets, smartphones and Android.
As far as Microsoft is concerned, the scenario is pretty fundamental; at best, it could be described as fiscally irresponsible to ignore the trend – realistically, doing so could lead the Redmond giant into financial disaster. Sooner or later, the aging desktop fraternity is going to be replaced by the up and coming new generation of mobile users… it’s as inevitable as death and taxes. Moving to a Windows 8/Metro style operating system was (is) imperative for the future survival of the Windows franchise, it’s as simple as that.
Parallels can certainly be drawn between Vista and Windows 8; both represented a radical departure from the norm, both received their fair share of criticism, and neither exactly set the world on fire in terms of early adoption. I am pretty sure Microsoft would be well aware that mistakes have been made, the company didn’t get where it is today by not recognizing its own flaws nor by making silly decisions. However, Redmond would be looking at Windows 8 as merely the first step in the revolution, and if the parallels with Vista are indeed set to continue, we can expect to see a new (or, more accurately, revamped) Windows iteration before the end of this year. And, I fully expect Windows 9 (codenamed “Blue”) will be to Windows 8 what Windows 7 was to Vista.
My prediction: Microsoft’s new direction for Windows will eventually succeed, it’s just a matter of time. How much time, however, is open to conjecture.
A weird and wonderful personal experience with Windows 8 activation
As a postscript to this story, I have a personal anecdote to relate which I believe clearly demonstrates just how desperate Microsoft is to see Windows 8 succeed. Approximately 8 weeks ago I upgraded my lovely wife’s aging Vista system to Windows 8 Pro. In true Murphy’s Law fashion, 6 weeks into Windows 8 and the machine died, requiring new motherboard, CPU, and PSU. Now, we are all well aware of Microsoft’s strict policy regarding OEM, new hardware and activation… in fact, I experienced it first hand in similar circumstances with an XP machine some years back. Microsoft’s response at the time pretty much amounted to… tough bikkies!
So, armed with nothing but the truth and a pessimistic outlook, I contacted Microsoft hoping to re-activate and thus save the cost of purchasing a fresh license. Imagine my surprise then when the very nice Microsoft man simply re-activated the operating system without even asking for any sort of explanation. No mention of the whys or wherefores, just punch in some numbers and voila… activation! Isn’t it great to have a little win every now and then. 🙂