So what happened this year for Microsoft?
Well let’s see… More rumors about Windows 8 were swirling around and they were really just rumors until they released a preview video previewing the Metro user interface for Windows 8. Many people were shocked that they were changing Windows so radically.
Many questions also came up like, Will there be a desktop mode? Will there be an app store? Will that cool new interface run on traditional PCs or just tablets? Is Windows 8 a tablet operating system, or a computer operating system?
Many of these questions were answered throughout the course of the year with videos and blog posts that soon followed that video on the Building Windows 8 blog.
Besides Windows 8, many companies actually started upgrading to Windows 7 from XP, so they saw a sharp rise in sales in that area even if the overall PC sales were slow. Microsoft’s revenue was also up 12% this year from 2010. They raked in a total of $69.9 billion in revenue.
Despite facing challenges with their cloud services and Windows Phone sales, Microsoft is expected to do very well in 2012 with the help of sales of Windows and Xbox sales.
“There are challenges in areas like online services and mobile, but Microsoft’s lucrative Server and Tools and Business Divisions are healthy and will stay that way,” says Roger Kay, an analyst and president of research firm Endpoint Technologies.
Though according to Networked World, Microsoft can’t rely on desktop software licenses forever. According to them, more and more people are bringing their non-Windows devices to work like iPads, Android tablets, and iPhones. They are using the office suite available to them on the device, which is usually not Microsoft Office, and of course, they aren’t using Windows.
More back-end technology is moving to the cloud as well. That does not help Microsoft. But they are trying with services like Office 365 which is like Microsoft Office in the cloud.
Microsoft’s biggest challenge for next year is not going to have much to do with the cloud or Xbox though. It’s going to have a lot to do with Windows. Specifically Windows 8. Specifically the roll out of Windows 8 onto tablets.
“It is critical that Microsoft begin making inroads against the iPad,” says Wes Miller, a VP at independent research firm Directions on Microsoft.
Windows 8’s success is important, because it affects all areas of Microsoft’s “machine,” says Miller. Office 2010 and 365 are big parts of Windows’ selling point. So unless an iPad is on the way, the success of Office is completely dependent on the success of Windows 8.
So it will not be easy for Microsoft when Windows 8 launches next year. The computer options have changes since October 2009 when Windows 7 was released. Two versions of the iPad have been released since then, and Android has gotten a decent market share as a whole operating system in the tablet market. Once Windows 8 is released, a huge chunk will be taken out of the traditional PC market.
That may hurt Microsoft if Windows 8 doesn’t do well. And from the surveys that I’ve been reading lately, it might not. But let’s keep our fingers crossed for Microsoft and hope that it doesn’t flop and Microsoft does do well, or this might be it for Windows.