Skip to comments.Windows: It's over (The numbers show that the Windows era is coming to a dead end)
Posted on 04/17/2013 6:46:11 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Most people in our recent debate over the future of Windows 8 thought that the operating system could be saved. I'm sure many people in 1491 thought that the Earth was flat, too.
The very day the debate came to an end, this headline appeared: IDC: Global PC shipments plunge in worst drop in a generation. Sure, a lot of that was due to the growth of tablets and smartphones and the rise of the cloud, but Windows 8 gets to take a lot of the blame too. After all, the debate wasn't whether or not Windows 8 was any good. It's not. The debate was over whether it could be saved.
Indeed even Microsoft defenders are no longer talking about Windows 8 in terms of a stand-alone project but instead they're spinning it as Windows 8 being "more like a living organism, made partly from familiar bits that have evolved over the last two decades, with several new strands of DNA tossed in. Its due to be updated for more often, and its part of a much larger hardware-apps-services ecosystem that is also changing quickly."
Please. Changing too fast for the user-base was what turned many former Windows fans into Windows 8 haters. Some people think I've put too much emphasis on Windows 8's dismal Metro interface for why Windows 8 has failed. I don't think so. This isn't a matter of judging a book by its cover; the user interface (UI) is everything for computer users. If the UI alienates users, you lose them. It's as simple as that.
My comrade pointed out that I declared Vista dead six years ago, but that the Aero interface, which I like, started there. True, but that wasn't the point. I was right. Vista did die. Microsoft had to bring back XP to stop users from fleeing to Linux on netbooks.
Now, Microsoft could revive Windows 7 sales, or make Aero Windows 8.x's interface, but from everything we can see about Windows 8.1, aka Blue, that's not what they're doing. Instead, Microsoft seems to be doubling down on Metro.
You think the least they could do is give users a choice between a real Aero interface and Metro, but no, they won't do that. I don't know what it is, but lately, UI "experts" seem to want to create interfaces that only appeal to their builders and not to any of their users. It's not just Microsoft with Aero. In Linux, GNOME made similar blunders with its 3.x line and many former Ubuntu Linux users think Canonical went on the wrong track with Unity.
Yes, we are entering a post-PC world. Tablets and smartphones are becoming more important... to sales. PCs are no more going to go away than mainframes did. We're still going to be using them in offices and homes for the foreseeable future. They let us easily do things that we need to do every day that we can't easily do with a tablet or a phone.
Perhaps most of our computing will move to the cloud, but you know what device we'll still be using for most of our interactions? It will be a PC, simply because it's easier to enter data with a real keyboard than any other interface.
True, it would be great if you could use one operating system for your PC, tablet, and smartphone. Besides Microsoft with Windows 8.x, Canonical with Ubuntu, Mozilla with Firefox OS, and Google with Android/Chrome are all making similar bets.
But I don't think that's essential. I think Microsoft could continue to dominate the important, but no longer growing, desktop market for years, even decades to come. However, I don't think they will.
It looks like Microsoft is betting all its chips on the silly notion that Metro will be the one true interface for its entire PC and device line. There's only one little problem with this idea. Sorry, but I have to say it again, look at the numbers: Metro-interface operating systems have already failed.
Fewer people than with any previous edition of Windows want Windows 8. Vista actually looks successful when you compare it to Windows 8! As for tablets and smartphones, I think my ComputerWorld colleague Preston Gralla summed it up nicely in his analysis of ABI Research's report on 2013's tablet market: "Windows tablets don't even rate a blip in the $64 billion tablet market."
So, what do the numbers show? Not what do you want them to show, and not what would your faith in Microsoft would have you believe, but what do they actually add up to? The sum is that Microsoft is failing to hold on to the desktop market and that it has no impact whatsoever on smartphones and tablets.
Windows 8 may not just be a failure in and of itself. Unless Microsoft changes course, this may be the end of the Windows domination period in end-using computing. Indeed, some major financial firms, such as Goldman Sachs and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), already believe that Windows has crested and that it's all downhill from here.
My friend, a certified MCSE wants to know what certification he should take next...
good grief these people are desperate
Personally, I think that the first person that figures out an application, program or utility that can sift through a users “social media, email and web accounts” can come up with a way to disguise, erase, protect and render any other privacy invasive entity (government, scammers or owners such as Google, et al) IMPOTENT and ineffective would be the next Web Billionaire.
Funny....ZD Net also published an article saying exactly the opposite which I linked to earlier this week or late last week.
Got a Windows phone. It sucks and the app selection is pitiful.
This is a stumble. I don't think Win8 is their best product, but I doubt Windows is done yet.
Fedora, though, is an excellent product, and one I highly recommend.
I can barely read the damn thing as it is. I can't imagine trying to read stuff on an iPhone (whatever that is).
I have a Windows phone and find it to be an excellent phone, in itself. However, it does need more apps and it will get them.
I remember when I installed Vista, and then uninstalled it and went back to XP. Then my late hubby Introduced me to Linux which I used for a while. THEN I got a MacMini.
I still have a PC, but I use it ONLY for applications that don’t involve the Internet, such as Publishing, Sheet Music, and Mastering recordings.
It is like a separate tool from my Internet activity, and works great. Since it is unconnected, there are no viruses, no ads, no “updates” no JUNK.
My Mac, My PC and Me...Living in Perfect Harmony! LOL!
However, the Windows marketplace now has over 50,000 apps, so it is getting there.
>>My friend, a certified MCSE wants to know what certification he should take next...
Whatever he enjoys doing the most.
I am not sorry for Microsoft.
When I got and used my MCSE, I learned just how bad Microsoft “engineering” was. At my home, after over a decade of reboots, rebuilds, virus fixing, crashes, and uncountable curse words...I gave up and the house is now an Apple/Unix domain. Everything works. Even my 13+ year old Mac. All connected via the house network. Our one Microsoft laptop works fine, but is banned from the network - I just cannot crust those clowns.
It’s too bad, because Windows 7 (on my office machine and the home laptop) is actually not bad.
But - the trust is gone.
Adios, Microsoft....the Yugo of operating systems. Gates never actually invented anything anyway - he was just a fine (albeit sleezy) business type that couldn’t make a light bulb light given batteries, wires, and the bulb.
I like the iMac for photos.
Slick, quick and easy to use.
I’ll never go back to a PC.
Like I said, the PC is just one of my Tools. Like a Stove, or a Microwave Oven. LOL.
There was a debate regarding the future of Windows ( especially in regards to Windows 8 ) at ZDNet just a few issues ago.
Here is the link:
ARGUMENTS FOR WINDOWS...
Intelligent design and evolution, together
Windows 8 isnt static code in a shrink-wrapped box, like Windows XP or Vista. Its a living organism, made partly from familiar bits that have evolved over the last two decades, with several new strands of DNA tossed in.
Its part of a much larger hardware-apps-services ecosystem with roots that also go back decades.
Windows 8 lays the groundwork for some huge long-term changes: big shifts in the user interface, a brand-new app model, and deep connections to online services like SkyDrive, Outlook.com, and Office.com.
Those services have evolved significantly since Windows 8 launched six months ago. Windows itself will make another big set of changes this summer with Windows 8.1 (Blue), which is much more than a service pack. New Office apps for Windows 8 will arrive this year as well.
Those are big changes. But the Windows 8 system you use today will include all of them by the end of the year.
Windows 8 doesnt need to be saved. It just needs to evolve.
The OS market isnt a winner-take-all game. If you want to compare it to a table game in Vegas, try seven-card stud. There are still several rounds of betting to go, and Microsoft has the potential for a winning hand if the company plays its cards right.
And its terribly short-sighted to focus only on the interface. Theres also an impressive collection of cloud services that are evolving along with Windows 8, including SkyDrive and Office 365. Those work across devices, too, even across platforms. The end-to-end experience, the collective impact of all those devices and services, is the really big bet.
So why isn’t Windows 8 picking that much traction?
The economy sucks worldwide...
...PCs are better built and therefore lasting longer, and Windows 8 really makes the most sense on touchscreen hardware. Not to mention Windows 7 is well supported and well known. Surprisingly, even with all of those negatives, Windows 8 is being adopted at about the same pace as Windows XP. And that OS seems to have done OK.
The real key is delivering touch-enabled devices. Googles new super-Chromebook, the Pixel, is a touch device. Apple was just awarded a patent for a touchscreen MacBook that looks remarkably like a Surface Pro. Anyone who uses a touch-enabled device for any length of time quickly discovers that theyre trying to make things happen by touching the PCs screen, too.
As economies of scale kick in and touch support becomes more common, the Aha moment will happen for many people. I think high-end, touch-enabled Ultrabooks are going to be very popular with business buyers, especially when powered by the next generation of power-efficient Intel chips (Haswell).
Decline of the PC?
The evidence shows its really more of a transformation in PC form factors. I might quibble with Gartners numbers, but I think they are basically right to see big growth in ultramobile devices (which can act like a tablet or a full-strength PC) and lower-powered tablets designed primarily for media consumption and light computing tasks.
If you look at Windows 8, you can see that its aimed at both of those segments, which are primed to grow at very high rates over the next few years. Theres every reason to think that Windows 8.1 tablets can quickly climb into a 10 percent share, especially if they begin appearing in smaller form factors at lower price tags.
Regarding the so-called sucky Windows 8 User Interface...
People like to complain about change
People complained about Windows XPs Fisher-Price interface when it was first released. People complained about Windows 95. (How many times did you hear critics joke about having to click the Start button to shut down?) Hey, people complained about OS X and its interface changes.
People like to complain about change. Most people who complain about the Metro UI are really grumbling about two things: Microsoft took away the Start menu, and some of the gestures for controlling the new interface take a bit of learning.
Seriously, thats it. We already know that the Start screen will get some fine-tuning in Windows 8.1. You can already see some slight rethinking of the way apps work with the latest refreshes of the Mail and Music apps. Theres definitely room for improvement in the way that Windows 8 introduces itself to a new user, but the grousing about the Metro UI is an overreaction.
The good news is that enterprises always resist new Windows versions
(See history lessons here and here and here.) So most of them will be able to watch from the sidelines for the next few years and see how early adopters fare with the first wave of updates. Among enterprise shops, Microsoft has a well-deserved positive reputation for its update technology. In services, theyve managed to deliver regular, predictable updates for a wide range of products.
The trick is not breaking compatibility for enterprise customers while innovating more rapidly for consumers and developers. I think they can pull it off. But I wont be surprised to see some problems in the first couple of years.
Windows 8 isnt broken
The biggest failure was falling behind in the middle of the last decade, first fighting a battle to make Windows more secure and then cleaning up the mess of Longhorn and Vista.
The scope of change in Windows 8 (and its successors) is so great that it was inevitable it would be released in phases, with the early phases that were in now causing some confusion. But Windows 8 isnt broken, like Windows Vista was. It doesnt need a service pack to fix fundamental performance and compatibility problems. It just needs to grow up and for the ecosystem around it to evolve.
So, failures? Im sure my worthy opponents will have a list of 5 Ways That Windows 8 Has Failed. But most of those are just disagreements over design decisions or a general distaste for anything that comes from Redmond.
Microsoft has a dozen billion-dollar businesses in its portfolio right now.
The same technology that is at the heart of Windows 8 is powering Windows Server 2012. In two or three years, that technology, sufficiently evolved, will begin powering corporate desktops and notebooks.
Office is already earning more than Windows, and it has significant growth potential in Office 365.
Xbox is doing pretty well. Windows Phone is growing its share, slowly in the U.S. but much more impressively in parts of the world that have tremendous untapped growth potential.
And of course corporations are still buying Windows licenses and using them with Windows 7.
The Windows desktop market is not small, but its a small percentage of Microsofts overall business.
Ive said it before but it bears repeating here:
Windows 7 is the Long Term Support version, and Windows 8 is the experimental release. My opponent should be aware of the difference: its the way some of the most popular Linux distros work.
Windows 8.1 will build on Windows 8. Windows 8.2 the next year will build on its predecessor. And just like every version before it, youll see gradual uptakes, not big spikes.
Yes, The selection of Windows 8 apps is relatively weak today, and any sane developer chooses iOS and Android first, with Windows 8 nowhere near the must have category yet.
But even the most pessimistic projections show hundreds of millions of new devices powered by Windows 8 shipping each year. At some point, maybe in 2014 or 2015, the ecosystem will be big enough that it cant be ignored any more. Ultimately, I think well see the market settle on three ecosystems: iOS/OS X, Android, and Windows. And it wont make economic sense to ignore any of them.
Also, Windows typically follows the lead of Office, which has been tinkering with subscription models for a long time and finally went all in with Office 365 this year.
Im sure my opponent is horrified by the option of paying anything for software and services, but Id rather pay for a product than be at the mercy of ad-supported free services that can be abandoned or changed at the drop of a hat.
The most likely scenario is a variation on what already works in the mobile device world: low-cost hardware subsidized by service contracts. For Windows devices, that sort of offering would include not just the device but also cloud storage, music and video, games, email, and productivity software.
Windows Doomers presupposes that theres a fixed, static thing called Windows 8.
The reality, as I mentioned in my opening arguments, is that this is an evolving organism in a rapidly changing ecosystem. This is going to play out over at least five years, maybe as long as a decade.
Anyone who wants to declare winners and losers today or next year is making a huge strategic blunder.
My worthy opponent has only two arguments, which he repeats in every answer.
First, Windows 8 PCs arent selling. Second, the Metro UI is awful.
The current slump in PC sales is not a verdict on Windows. Its the economy, Steven. In Q4, Apple said Mac sales declined roughly 22 percent. Is the MacBook Air dead? Hardly.
My opponent cites Gartners projections but ignores their more recent numbers: 1.7 billion Windows devices of all types will be sold in the next five years, including 250 million Ultramobiles - the kind of hybrid device that Windows 8 was designed for. Not dead yet.
Critics of the Windows 8 UI are loud, but theres strong evidence that people really like it. If the missing Start menu bothers you, try Start8, which my opponent admits has been downloaded 3 million times. Fixed.
Six years ago, my opponent called Windows Vista the walking dead. Sound familiar? But the Aero interface he loves so much debuted in Vista and matured in Windows 7.
Windows 8 is solid at its core, and Microsoft today is far more disciplined than in the Vista era. With some usability tweaks and some hot hardware, it will survive to torment Mr. Vaughan-Nichols for years.
Granted different source.
I am an MCSE as well. Listening to what responses come in...
What, again? Every 6 months or so someone posts a thread here proclaiming the end of Microsoft.
I try to steer my clients away from Windows 8, if they need a new computer and cannot afford a Mac + Parallels 8 + a System Builder version of Windows 7, then I encourage them to buy a Windows 8 machine and add Classic Shell which will at least make it look like and operate like Windows 7.
I'm no Mac fan, but Windows 8, to me, is revolting.
Apple does not have their Mac OS look like a iPad or iPhone interface - Why did Microsoft entirely scrap their computer OS and make it operate like a tablet? Sheer idiocy.
Another year, another “Windows is dead” article. I believe this is number 18....
PC sales are down because people are using other platforms to do more and more activities (tablets, mobiles, tvs, etc) Windows addressed this well with Win8.
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