Traditionally, when it comes to Windows competitors there has been only one of major consequence, at that is Mac OS X. To be fair even Mac OS X’s market share is hardly a threat to Microsoft’s dominance with Windows and Linux doesn’t even register on Redmond’s concern list I’m sure.
Windows 8, however, has plenty of new competition thanks to the addition of ARM processor support. This means that that Windows 8 competes directly against: Linux/Unix Desktop derivatives, Mac OS X, Android, and iOS.
Not to mention it also has two big competitors in the form of its own Windows Phone and Windows 7 (and earlier).
Self-competition is often a difficult circle to get caught in to, and something Microsoft is rather familiar with. To this day Microsoft still has stiff competition from XP, trying to get users to make the switch away from the aging OS.
This is something they will likely face even more with Windows 8, especially trying to convince those that don’t care for Metro to make a switch.
On the Windows Phone front, I suppose this will only become self-competition if Microsoft directly brings Windows 8 to the phone, which right now doesn’t seem like the plan.
Anyways, the point is that Windows 8 has to fight for recognition and acceptance on multiple fronts, which isn’t going to be an easy battle by any means. Can Microsoft win this war? I think it is certainly possible.
The biggest part of the war will certainly be the mobile front, this is the place that Microsoft has stacked up all its cards against.
So what does Microsoft have to offer for tablets (and other mobile solutions) that can set it apart as a worthy option?
First off, Apple’s strength is in its closed, mostly secure platform. It is a cozy and safe place that offers great apps, ease-of-use, and alluring aesthetics. How does Windows 8 fit into such a picture?
They also offer a unique and alluring interface (although this could be argued), they want to keep things simple as well and offer a closed and controlled environment while still allowing open-source apps and other features that seem more Android-like.
Okay, what about comparing against Android? Android has tons of options from hardware, to software version that allows every type of user to find a phone/tablet within their budget.
They also offer tons of different sources for apps and a very open model. The downside to such an open model is malware problems that now plague the platform.
Microsoft likely has Android beat on this security issue, though for those looking for multiple app stores you will be a bit disappointing with Windows 8. On the shear number of options though, Windows 8 is looking like the best choice.
Don’t get me wrong, there are probably more hardware types out there for Android than Microsoft will have to offer, but this doesn’t mean that Android has better hardware options.
The problem with Android is that the experience is highly fragmented for two reasons: Multiple very different versions of Android are out in the market and there is no hardware standard.
With Windows 8 it seems likely they will follow WP7’s example of setting ‘hardware minimums’ that keep fragmentation from becoming an issue.
The shear number of choices of Android devices can be confusing to some consumers.
After all, consumers might think “this $80 tablet has Android on it, and so does this $300 one, so why spend so much since its the same OS?” In reality that $80 tablet has a 350MHz MIPS (or maybe ARM) processor, limited app support, and few functions.
Microsoft will have hardware options without the fragmentation, and that’s a good thing.
So in short, what does Windows 8 have to offer versus Android and iOS? It will have more options than Apple’s iPad, less fragmentation and better security than Android, while still offering many of the same ‘good’ features of both.
Is that enough to ensure its success? Only time will tell.
What is your opinion of Windows 8 when leveraged against the other major mobile competitors? Share your thoughts below!