I have a bone to pick with some very prominent technology journalists about Microsoft Windows 8 and their obsession with declaring the operating system a failure before it is even released to manufacturing. While I respect these journalists, many of which I have been following for years, for their knowledge and insight when it comes to trends in technology, I think they are off the mark when it comes to Windows 8.
More than units sold
When I see Leo Laporte, John C. Dvorak, Gina Smith, and others already declaring Windows 8 a failure based solely on their perception that Microsoft will not sell many upgrade units, I cannot help but think that they are missing a key reason for Windows 8's very existence.
I agree, neither enterprises nor consumers are going to upgrade their Windows 7 (or XP for that matter) PCs to Windows 8 in great numbers. (Although at $40, they probably should.) There is no overwhelming reason for anyone to change their desktop operating system to Windows 8. Microsoft understands this and it is not how the company will measure its success. Microsoft is not really selling a new operating system; they are selling a new technology ecosystem.
It is not Windows 8 that will determine the future success or failure for Microsoft; it is the success or failure of the Microsoft Store that will determine the company's ultimate fate. I have to believe Microsoft is looking at a long term strategy of creating a market for selling Metro-based apps. Windows 8 is just another operating system; Apps are the real future.
Microsoft is going to compete with Google, Apple, and to a lesser extent Amazon and Facebook for what is essentially the future of software delivery - an apps ecosystem. And in this arena, Microsoft actually has tremendous potential because they have a foot in the enterprise door already. These five companies, and few other less-defined as of yet players, are creating systems that will lock in users to long-term commitments to their services - long-term lucrative commitments.
IT pros and the ecosystem
IT professionals on TechRepublic have been quick to accept the potential for deploying phones, tablets, and PCs all using a similar, familiar, and manageable operating system. They understand the benefits of being in a committed vendor relationship and they also understand the drawbacks.
Of course, these professional are careful people and they want to explore that potential before making commitments, but they are not shying away from the concept. In fact, our poll results show they are looking forward to testing it. A result that seems to discount what many technology experts have been saying.
The ultimate question
At least this has been my perception these past few months as Windows 8 has moved through the preview stages. But in light of what so many technology journalists are saying, I think it is time we stop beating around the bush put the ultimate question directly to TechRepublic members.
I'd also like to get some insight on the Windows 8 decision making process. I think your IT professional peers would benefit from seeing how you are approaching the potential deployment of Windows 8 in your enterprise. What are the pros and cons of Windows 8? What is the main concern? What is the major perceived benefit? Is the technology press too quick to dismiss Windows 8? Do you agree with me that the real measure of success is going to be whether the Microsoft ecosystem is adopted or rejected?
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.