Back in January of this year, Steve Ballmer delivered a keynote speech talking about his concept of “Windows Everywhere”. According to Ballmer, “Whatever device you use, now or in the future, Windows will be there”.
Since then we’ve seen that Windows 8 is introducing ARM support alongside traditional x86 processors. Windows Phone is tying itself closer to Windows 8 and its technology as well.
Even rumors have sprouted about Xbox having ties to Windows 8 (or even 9) when its next version arrives, and they’ve already debuted a Metro-like interface for Xbox 360 now. Windows is clearly aimed to bring itself to a new level and give it a home on multiple new devices.
This effort is furthered by Windowed Embedded and Microsoft’s vision of a future of improved ‘intelligent systems’. Essentially the idea is equipment that is constantly connected to the online world. Imagine a weighing scale at a hospital that takes your weight and then logs the weight into your virtualized patient file.
So this begs one question, why the sudden change? To be fair it isn’t exactly a new strategy and for years Microsoft touted the internal mantra “NT Everywhere” (which is the technology in modern Windows). At the same time this mantra really used to mean NT on all computers, but the idea of computing is rapidly changing.
In today’s world smartphones, tablets, game systems, and cloud-based technologies are starting to really dominate the market. Windows has survived a very long time as a desktop operating system and has pretty much labeled itself as the de facto standard for PCs.
Do I think that Microsoft is in danger of losing the PC market to competitors like Mac, Linux, or even possible future threats like Google? No I absolutely am certain that the immediate future of desktops and laptops will be dominated by Microsoft. Is Microsoft worried about its future in the desktop market? Once again I doubt it. Of course this is missing the bigger picture.
Microsoft has the desktop and even traditional laptop market, but this market is quickly declining. The desktop world will exist for a lot longer for businesses and productivity users, but with changes in technology average people have many other paths to our Net-driven world.
Microsoft sees this changing world and so Microsoft’s Windows Everywhere strategy isn’t about draining more money out of your pocket. Okay, so yes it is but that’s not the only reason. If the desktop market decreases than Microsoft will lose relevance in the market unless their other endeavors can balance out this change in the market.
With Android taking 52% of the 3rd Quarter sales for all smartphones, it is clear that in other net-driven devices Microsoft is far from leading the pack. As Paul Thurrott recently discussed, if Windows 8 is a failure it could really affect the company’s future relevance. Although I don’t think it’s as dire as Paul suggests, I respect his opinion as a Windows guru and do agree that it could potentially drive more customers away from Microsoft.
Since the early 90s Microsoft has convinced us all that we need Windows and Microsoft products to have a fulfilling experience with the Internet and applications. With the growth of OSX, iPad, iPhone, and Android we are starting to realize that this just isn’t true.
Looking at what we’ve seen so far with Windows 8, I would say that Microsoft is determined to stay competitive in our mobile world. The future looks bright for Windows and Microsoft in general. Xbox has become a major player in the console world, Windows 7 was well received, and Microsoft has started to expand into cloud-based computing as well. Will Windows 8 be the game changer for better or worse? Share your thoughts below.