Microsoft Has A Chance to Compete With Windows 8

by Ben Bajarin   |   June 6th, 2011

It’s way to early to count Microsoft out. Just look at history. Microsoft has a fighting chance with Windows 8 because they are Microsoft. We can argue and debate whether they understand the consumer. Or whether the market has passed them or not but the simple truth is they are still a force in the computing landscape.

Is it Too Late?
Of course not. Several years ago one of the key slides we started our industry presentations off with stated that the technology journey is a 50 year journey, at least. If the journey got started in the early 80′s as PC went from hobbyist to platform, then we are in the middle of this 50 year journey. So to say any one company is out of any computing race we are in is significantly premature.

How can it be too late for a market that is just in the early stages of growth? Tablets and Smart Phones are growth categories, meaning they are maturing and are not yet mature. In a market that is maturing consumers are still searching for what exactly they want based on their needs and wants. Because of that these consumer are fair game for any company who positions themselves accordingly to be in a position to compete.

Microsoft will, if for no other reason than consumers are familiar with them, be in a position to compete with smart phones and tablets in particular. Much of what we have seen from Windows 8 so far, appears to be highly targeted at this highly mobile and touch based platform of tablets and smart phones.

That Being Said
If Microsoft does not nail Windows 8 and does not deliver a product that gains some traction in the consumer space, then at that point I will be concerned. I’m not sure the market will wait for Microsoft to get it right with Windows 9.

Another question is what the desktop or PC experience will be with Windows 8? So far everything we have seen looks focused on a touch environment which lends itself to certain devices like tablets and smart phones. Yet Microsoft is still in a strong position with desktop and notebook PC’s.

Because of that Microsoft needs to continue to deliver on their strengths. They still own a significant share of PC operating system market and I have to imagine there will be a significant portion of the market who will be willing to upgrade their operating system if the product is compelling enough.

Microsoft has their work cut out from them however in this arena. All though they do still own a significant portion of the desktop and notebook operating system market, Apple is not slowing down on features or on price.

Just this week at their annual developers conference Apple showed off a number of very compelling features. Including one very significant one that will help Windows consumer migrate from Windows to the Mac platform with easy to use tools and software.

Not to stop there, Apple announced that the next major version of their latest operating system named OS X Lion will be available for the low price of $29.99. If Microsoft comes out and prices Windows 8 too high it could continue to fuel the fire of consumer interest in switching to the Mac.

As I stated in my article on Apple retail, that with 71.1 million visitors annually and growing to Apple retail stores, massive numbers of new consumers are considering the Mac.

When you add all that up it means that Microsoft, all though not out, needs to continue to push the envelope in innovation and continue to position themselves as a viable force to compete for consumer mind share.

If they do this, I do believe consumers will reward them with at least the consideration to purchase. That is at least half the battle.

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research. He is a husband, father, gadget enthusiast, trend spotter, early adopter and hobby farmer. Full Bio
  • http://nailtothedoor.blogspot.com Dan Martin

    I don’t know when they’re going to do anything serious with it, but what do you think of Microsoft’s Surface Computing initiative as part of a serious future development path?

    • Anonymous

      It looks like much of what they learned with Surface will take shape with Windows 8. I worked on a project for the surface group for 6 month’s all related on how to bring that technology to the masses.

      From what i’ve seen of the touch UI and methodology with Windows 8, it looks the same.

  • Anonymous

    Windows PCs and laptops are still cheaper than Apple’s and even if a Windows OS license is more expensive than Apple’s, people who already have a PC/Laptop will find that its cheaper to get a Windows upgrade rather than buy a new Apple.

    Secondly, the majority of businesses worldwide are not going to switch to Apple because of the costs involved in re-training, re-deploying, and re-programming.

    Where Windows will lose market share is in people buying new devices. This is where they need to have a compelling product, one that is not too dissimilar to what people have been used to for 2 decades. I would say that Apple, not Microsoft, has a long way to go.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G6VVWF2ONHKQ6S26IQUWWTOMWA Wolfgang Mozart

      You need to update your FUD. Can you buy a PC for less than a Mac? Sure, but it’s not going to compare to the Mac at all, even on a purely HARDWARE level. I’ve seen on NUMEROUS occasions, similarly configured PCs that cost MORE than Macs. This is if you ignore the fact that OS X has it all over Windows. That’s why so many PC users are buying Apple gear, the Mac marketshare is doubling every 18 months, and that’s also why the marketshare for PCs is has been dwindling or stagnant (no growth) since about the year 2000. It really started once the original iMac got popular.

      Netbooks were the only segment propping up PC sales for many years. That’s been decimated, by iPad, but the iPad’s effect goes way beyond just the netbook.

      A lot of people and companies as well are forgoing PCs for Macs or iPads. Get used to it.