Photo: By Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Alarm bells must be ringing in Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters.Microsoft is close to releasing Windows 8 and it’s shaping up to be another “Vista.” Only this time the repercussions could be much worse.
The critics who have been using Windows 8 are extremely negative on the new look and feel of the operating system:
- At Slate, Farhad Manjoo writes, “In my time with Windows 8, I’ve felt almost totally at sea—confused, paralysed, angry, and ultimately resigned to the pain of having to alter the way I do most of my work.”
- At Marketwatch, John Dvorak says, “Windows 8 looks to me to be an unmitigated disaster that could decidedly hurt the company and its future … The real problem is that it is both unusable and annoying.”
- Our own analyst, and long time Microsoft observer Matt Rosoff said, “I still think it’s needlessly confusing and hard to use … I’ve spoken to other people who have been testing Windows 8 for months. A lot of them found it puzzling like I did, and it’s getting worse, not better, with each beta update.”
Rosoff doesn’t think it’s going to be a disaster for Microsoft. He thinks Microsoft will be safe because it has so many other lines of business that are strong.
But if Windows 8 is as bad as all the early critics say it is, it really could be a disaster. (We’re defining disaster as a significant hit to its market cap, and the beginning of the end of Windows dominance.)
When Microsoft botched Vista, Apple was just starting to come into its own. Now it’s a juggernaut with a secret weapon to kill Microsoft—the iPad.
Microsoft is supposedly targeting consumers with Windows 8 because it’s scared of losing them to Apple and Google. Well, the consumer is going to hate Windows 8.
If the consumer hates Windows 8, the consumer will just skip buying a new laptop or desktop.
Why? Because the iPad, which can be had for as little as $400, is good enough. It’s good enough for checking email. It’s great for surfing the web, looking at Facebook, playing games, watching videos, and so on.
If someone needs a full-on computer, their old computer should be able to handle the occasional heavy duty email, word processing, or whatever. The iPad can handle the rest.
Then in two years, when that old computer is totally busted, either Microsoft will have improved Windows, or the iPad will be stronger, or a Mac will just be more tempting.
It’s dangerous to predict the decline of Windows. People have been doing it for years and it’s amounted to nothing. Microsoft is a powerful, resilient company.
However, if ever there was a time when it was ready to fall, that time is now. Apple is at the top of its game. And, if the critics are even half-right, Microsoft is at the bottom of its game.
If the alarm bells aren’t ringing, they should be.
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