Windows 9, Microsoft, innovation

Windows 9, Microsoft and the innovation challenge.

This blog is in it’s 5th year of existence and when I started it, I was excited about the concept of Windows 8. I called it Windows8update and religiously attempted to document all the changes that Windows 8 would bring.

You see, I was excited 5 years ago because Microsoft had a blank sheet of paper and were going to build something radical that would change the way we all interacted with computers.

Well Windows 8 has come and gone and as I said in my last post, it seems like it was a dud.

Now that we are moving to Windows 9, over the next few weeks I will be taking a detailed look at what went wrong in Windows 8. I know we are looking at Windows 8.1 and 8.2 and Threshold.. blah blah, but we should call the Time of Death already, a post-mortem is due.

Anyway, today I was thinking about the next version of Windows and it suddenly occurred to me that Microsoft may be in even more trouble than we thought when it comes to Windows.

Here’s why: There are no clear requirements for a Windows 9.

Now you may say “duh! Thats obvious genius! They haven’t started working on it yet” but that misses the larger point.

You see, just for fun I was looking back at some of the articles I wrote about what would be cool to see in Windows 8. I called that category the Windows 8 wish list.

If you read some of those articles now (some 4 years old), you see that Windows 8 wasn’t actually that bad as an attempt to revolutionize the traditional Operating System.

Windows 8 is lighter, faster, more efficient, more secure and more contemporary than it’s predecessor Windows 7. Heck the OS even supported tablets.

The main problem was – it just didn’t connect with the public.

Microsoft did a shitty job of rolling it out and selling it and the general public wasn’t sold on the interface and the message. Don’t believe me? – “hey you reading this right now – tell me what Windows 8.1 RT stands for and how it’s different from Windows 8.1!”.

I bet a lot of you still can’t tell me.

Here’s the larger problem – In 2014, it’s not at all clear what the general public wants now and will want for Windows 9.

Windows-9-Still-in-the-Pipeline-Despite-Windows-Blue-s-2013-Launch

Even though I have been REALLY tough on Microsoft, the truth is they took a chance and made a very risky bet on the future of computing. That in technology circles is called innovation.

The problem is, just because you innovate, it doesn’t mean that your product is attractive to your customers. The fact that something is novel or new doesn’t mean that it is automatically perceived as valuable or useful.

So as we go forward to Windows 9, Microsoft is faced with several challenges that they have to overcome.

  1. First, Windows is too expensive. People simply don’t want to pay $120 for an Operating System. Don’t shoot the messenger. As time goes on, Redmond will find that they will need to adjust their pricing model to move closer to FREE than anything else.
  2. Second, there are serious questions about how much flexibility Microsoft will have in attempting to fix this mess. Steve Ballmer correctly said that this was the riskiest bet for the company. How do you create a brand new Windows 9 when it’s probably going to need to be built on the foundation of Windows 8/8.1? You don’t seriously think that Microsoft developers are 100% free to start with a blank piece of paper again? Too many apps, developers and customers to support.
  3. Third, how will Windows 9 be credible with businesses? What exactly can Microsoft put out there to make that happen? It’s the rock and hard place conundrum. If they make it stable like Windows 7 – BOOORING, if they make it radical like Windows 8 GAME OVER.

There are many more but you get the point.

The sad truth may just be that we may be witnessing the end of an era – the end of the Windows franchise. Today, Windows seems more irrelevant to the average user than ever.

The truth is there hasn’t been enough innovation from Microsoft to really capture the hearts and minds of consumers.

In March of 2012, speaking about the then upcoming Windows 8 Release Candidate, I wrote this:

Based on discussions with a lot of my peers and fellow bloggers, there is a general suspicion that while Microsoft may be paying attention to the Micro feedback (colors, UI elements, charms, branding etc), they are less receptive to Macro feedback (separation of Metro etc).

If true, that would be unfortunate.

The Microsoft community has shown (with Windows Vista) that they don’t have to move to a new Operating System just because it is released.

Without question, there is a substantial risk of a mass boycott of Windows 8 if the RC doesn’t address both the Macro and Micro changes necessary to make this thing fly.

The boycott wouldn’t necessarily be a flamboyant, open rebellion, it would probably just come in the form of a quiet indifference.

Its 2014 and I think we are seeing the quiet indifference now.

Look, here’s the bottom line:

  • There are no “things that were missed” in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.
  • There’s no magic fix for Windows 9.
  • There’s no “one thing” that Microsoft can do to make us NEED this next release of Windows.

Microsoft needed to innovate and come up with something that we don’t know that we needed.

Something we are grateful that they invented.

They failed with Windows 8.x – You know why? – Because TRUE INNOVATION IS DIFFICULT.

I mean VERY DIFFICULT. Useful innovation is VERY HARD.

Microsoft gave it their best shot with Windows 8.x and came up short and now they have to go back to the drawing board and give it one more try.

I believe they only have one more shot and if they fail, it’s probably the end of Windows as we know it.

Now, let’s not get crazy. Microsoft is a large thriving company with a lot of business units and I am not saying it’s the end of Microsoft at all. Microsoft as a company will be fine for many years to come.

What I am saying is that now for the first time, I can start to see the Windows division/business unit become irrelevant or even just a loss leader. 

Anyway, that’s me – what say you? Do you agree that we may be seeing the beginning of the end of Windows?

Share this and use the comments below.

Tags: , ,
Previous Post
windows_xp_atms
Miscellaneous Uncategorized

95% Of ATMs Worldwide Still Running Windows XP? Oh Dear!

Next Post
appwatch_space_kitty
Windows 8 Applications

Windows 8.1 App Watch: Space Kitty

  • Arnold

    Disgusting

  • Jamie C

    Fantastic – well said!

    Microsoft will have to step up for this one…

    • Arnold

      No clown, not well said, lies lies lies as usual. Most everyone agrees, Microsoft is on the right track now and that OS is improving and improving. This clown is the only one on his own site that is so hateful and negative. All the other writers are good writers that add substance, This guy just spits venom.

    • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

      I agree Jamie. It will have to be something universally regarded as brilliant.

      • Arnoldo

        you mean like windows 8 is brilliant. the fact that it runs on ARM processors as well as Intel and when all the kinks are worked out they will have an arm into billions of legacy apps that can be recoded for mobile.

    • Arnoldo

      No, not well said. These are all lies

  • David Cariveau

    I love using one device for work and play… I love windows 8. I hope they don’t change a thing.

    • http://www.learnabouttheweb.com/ Onuora Amobi

      Good to hear.

      🙂

  • Arnoldo

    look out for it on change dot org becasue links may not be allowed on this site. Do a search for
    Remove Onuora Amobi as editor in chief of “eyeonwindows com”

    • Arnoldo

      JOIN THE CHANGE dOT org and sign up to have Onoura removed. He is trying to block me.

  • arnoldo1

    look out for it on change dot org because links may not be allowed on this site. Do a search for
    Remove Onuora Amobi as editor in chief of “eyeonwindowscom”

    • arnoldo1

      I can do this all day. Jump from Proxy to Proxy change emails, no problem. LET THE CHANGE DOT ORG PETITION BE SEEN

  • Alex Bayes

    SO YOU DOWNLOAD A ANTIVIRUS PROGRAMME OR LIKE POKERSTAR OR A PROGRAMME YOU NEAD TO PUT ON THE PC. I LOVE WINDOW

    • dmaynard

      ZOMG WHAT IS THIS? THE INTERNETS??? WOW!!!11!!1ONE!!!

  • Ray C

    Microsoft will be fine. Most Windows sales come from large companies and organizations. Those companies just we’re not going to move to Windows 8, when they’ve probably been trying to figure how to move to 7 for the longest. They probably do need to come down in price, but most Window sales come already on devices, so it only helps with companies also bring down the price of their PCs and tablets? Should Microsoft subsidize price cuts like they subsidizing the making of Windows Phone? Windows 8 never would have filled the purpose Microsoft wanted it to if it booted to desktop by default or if Metro was just an option like windows were in early versions of Windows when people were still probably using the DOS side 90% of the time. They needed people to at least touch and play around with Metro, if only to make them at least familiar with it before the next version. At the end of the day all those companies, organizations, and governments using Windows XP and 7 are not going to a non-Windows solution any time soon. At some time they will be upgrading to another version of Windows. Bringing back the keep the start menu probably would be a bit of a help, but that probably only be a help with the kind of people who feel like they have to try the latest thing out there as long as it’s not too different from the old thing. The merging of the Windows and Windows Phone stores will help. The merging of RT and Phone will help as well. This will help people get more used to Metro/Tiles. Plus, many more people will already be on Windows 8.x by the time Windows 9 comes out. They just need to improve Metro, make it more organized, and make people feel like it’s not that big a transition from Windows 7. People need to feel like it’s the easiest Windows they’ve ever used just like they feel when they use a tablet

    • Arnald

      Ray C always has wise words, but Nobody can beat Onuora though, you got to understand that his views are flawless and everyone else, even other good writers like Fahad Ali, David Blair and Lisa Gupta who have good sense and have a good pulse on the industry and how Microsoft is moving in the right direction, even they are crap compared to Onuora. He knows it all. Forget about it.

    • WillyThePooh

      Companies don’t buy copies separately. The IT company I worked before has a contract with MS to get all products for unlimited licenses with a fix price per year.

  • Macpaul Emeka Ekwueme

    Too much pessimism for one blog. What I think MS needs to do is provide more Google services – like apps that are very intuitive and directed at the ordinary consumers. The trick, make the UIs very simple, dumb them down so the dumbest user can take a look once and figure it out. A good example is the Google keep note app, not as rich as one note but very simple. That has been Apple’s secret and when Google figured it out, they started flying too. All MS needs to do is make almost everything an ordinary user would need available on the modern UI and let businesses live in the desktop. I repeat , the key is simplicity. Forget about feature richness.

  • WillyThePooh

    If they can get enough money from app store, then free OS is possible. Otherwise, who is going to pay the salaries of all MS employees.

  • wlennon

    The best thing they have done is, putting a full OS in a tablet. I cannot think of anything they’ve done that has expanded my work or fun with a walk or carry around tablet. I did wait till the newer version of the tablet to arrive.