Failure is easy to spot

Microsoft’s lineage of operating systems have had a mixed legacy of success.  Some of its OSs have been wildly successful while others have failed to catch on with the buying public.

This has led to a term called the “skipped” O/S, or an O/S that has not matched the success of both its predecessor and successor.  Let’s look at a few generations of Microsoft Windows OSs.

  • Windows 3.0: Enjoyed significant success
  • OS/2: co-developed with IBM. Died an ugly death.  (skipped)
  • Windows 95: was a major success in the marketplace at launch and shortly became the most popular desktop operating system in the world.
  • Windows NT 4.0:  Long since vanished. (skipped)
  • Windows 98:  A huge success and one that many users clung onto for years (like XP)
  • Windows ME:  Often referred to as “Mistake Edition”  (skipped)
  • Windows XP: Huge success, number of users has just been overtaken by Windows 7.
  • Windows Vista:  Dramatic failure  (skipped)
  • Windows 7: Again, a massive success for Redmond.
  • Windows 8: ???

So we can argue here that Micosoft has a habit of shooting a brick every other generation.  If that is the case, we could infer that Windows 8 anecdotally at least, may be headed towards a notable lack of success.

OK that’s it with the “skipped generation” theory.  However, we can equally argue that this is a new day with a paradigm change in the devices and form factors out there.

Windows 8 may fail not because of the every-other-generation lapse that seems to occur, but because it is starting from a very weak point in smartphones and tablets, which are the future of computing.

Similarly, it may buck the generational trend because of the brave new world and a desire by the enterprise to entrust Microsoft to bridge the gap between legacy computing and BYOD-type computing.

The exciting thing is… we’ll find out soon enough.  What are your thought on Microsoft’s “skip-a-generation” success record?  Real or made-up? Relevant or irrelevant?

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  • chontay

    Windows NT4 (skipped)? Are you sure?! NT4 on the desktop and server was huge and lasted for years! If you’re going to try and justify your every other release title try doing your homework!

  • Bay

    Oh, yes. NT 3.1 sold only 300,000 units in the first year. It found some use on servers, not the mass market and was eclipsed by Windows 98, which came out soon after.

  • Lucas

    NT4 was quite a solid server and workstation system for 1996. Target price was high and market was small, but it was definitely a good system, like all the NT kernel based systems I used, and for mid-90s it was a successful product.
    The list also misses 2K, that has a similar story to NT updated to the end of ’90s decade.

    Anyway, the skip version gimmick works if you count “home” Microsoft systems…
    3.x was great for its eon
    95 was buggy as hell, a huge commercial success but a nightmare to use
    98 was better, still a frail tower but decent for its years (and an huge success)
    Me tried to push the 9x core too far, and it was horrible
    XP was the first NT-kernel based system for home user and even if a bit cheesy at first was an huge impovement on 9x, and with SP3 become “good enough” for many people even for today’s standards
    Vista was reinventing the wheel, it was heavy and full of bells and whistles that 7 and 8 tries to get down piece by piece, an huge pile of cr4p!
    7 was good, first viable alternative to XP
    8 is the worst thing ever conceived, burying a pretty good desktop under the tablet-touch centric paradigm

    I hope with 9 MS will get the clue people are buying tablets not because the LACK of desktop but because of WEIGHT, NO NOISE, NO HEAT, 1 DAY OF FULL OPERATION, and last but not least integration of modern hardware – not the extra GHZ or GB, but we are talking of touch, accelerometers, GPS and 3G.
    Please, start marketing machines with those features AND a desktop and it would be perfect. There is no point in losing (or hiding after Metro) your advantages without matching competitors advantages!

    • Bay

      Lucas. Agreed, the chronology could be improved. Thanks for the corrections. You are right about the confused nature of Windows 8. I think much of this confusion could have been avoided by simply allowing a choice during installation of default booting to the desktop UI. It is also clear there’s something about the tablet market that Microsoft fundamentally misunderstands and I think you’ve put your finger on at least a part of it.