I am one of those who thinks that this week is a seminal moment in computing history. The introduction of Windows 8 is the most important time for Microsoft since the launch of Windows 95. Microsoft’s actions – and the buying public’s response to those actions – is going to change the future of Microsoft – and the future of computing – forever.
Microsoft will survive…
Let’s take a step back and put things in perspective. Microsoft makes – and will continue to make – a lot of money.
Microsoft is really an enterprise company. It makes much of its money from business customers with products like Windows Server, management software, SQL databases and development tools. Those businesses are doing well. Further, Enterprises are upgrading to Windows 7 and the Microsoft Office suite. Microsoft will have most enterprises locked up with agreements for three to five more years. Finally, Microsft is sitting on $60 billion in cash. It has deep, deep pockets.
However, personal computing is no small part of Microsoft’s business. Windows makes up 25% and Microsoft Office makes up 35% of Microsoft’s total sales and a much greater percentage of its profits.
…but their future in personal computing is not assured
There are those who argue that Microsoft has plenty of time, plenty of money, plenty of chances to fix Window 8 even if it goes astray. I couldn’t disagree more.
Did time, money and opportunity allow Microsoft to fix the Zune? Or Windows Phone 7?
Windows 8 on the desktop may or may not do well. But Windows 8 is all about Microsoft’s efforts to transfer their desktop user base to the tablet and smartphone markets. Mobile is the future of computing and Microsoft has absolutely nothing going on in mobile. If Windows 8 does not kick-start Microsoft’s mobile efforts, Microsoft will have missed the boat for good and no amount of time, effort or resources will allow them to swim fast enough to catch up.
Microsoft knows this. They remember well the PC wars of the eighties. In those wars, they were the ones sailing into the sunset, leaving Apple and the Mac floundering in their wake. In today’s world, iOS and Android are the new Windows and Windows is the new Mac. And for Microsoft, that ain’t a pretty picture.
If Windows 8 flounders, Microsoft will survive, but not as the same company we know today
The times, they are a-changing. The decades old Windows-Intel empire is already crumbling. If Windows 8 doesn’t gain traction in mobile, it will be disastrous for Microsoft. We’re witnessing history – we just don’t know yet what the result of that history will be. October 2012 marks a new beginning for Microsoft’s mobile efforts. Or it marks the beginning of the end for Microsoft’s mobile efforts. By this time next year, we’ll know for sure – one way, or the other.