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.