The Biggest Fails Microsoft Made with Windows 8
29 January 2014
As a longtime personal Microsoft and Steve Ballmer fan boy, though professionally technologically agnostic as I rolled out various hardware to support millions, (a contradiction I know), I like many were and still are gob-smacked & disappointed when Microsoft launched Windows 8 RT originally. Not because it was not fit for purpose (a different debate), but because REALLY REALLY bad communication by Microsoft has I believe set the marketplace back years, and I believe irrevocably so. Let’s briefly touch on the whole RT name game fiasco. As simple as it sounded walking into computer store and asking for a Windows 8 tablet (and not RT) began a series of hair pulling questions prior to the Surface 2 being out for even the savviest of consumers. I heard the same story over and over again as many did.
One simple question is what few if any retailers could answer. What version of Windows 8 is on this tablet? Tablets at least in Australia, were not labeled with the word RT. There were 12 or so on the market at the beginning here in Australia, but only 1 or 2 running the Windows non-RT full version. Trying to find that out was not easy (I am talking 3rd party devices of course). Initially MS Office was only on the RT version but 3rd parties were offering a trial version of Office as well on the non-RT versions so that made it less simple, if asked if it had Office on it. When you were lucky enough to figure out the right version say the non-RT version.
Then pre-Windows 8.1 had a couple of challenges, on the tablet, with the early version just not being that great, ok awful, Touch was not working great pre 8.1 and really needed a keyboard. But there were no keyboards, docks or case enabled keyboards like the Android tablets had for 3rd part devices, or those that were there were also awful. Third party Bluetooth keyboards worked well, but without a matching stand fitting together a workable tablet was just too hard.
Like many reviewers we are often given the hardware we are reviewing, usually on the bad stuff. Having no keyboard, and with touch being not very good on the tablets early on the 1st gen, Windows 8 tablets were and still often are painful. I was told to keep mine, and told I would give it away as I found it unusable, again I was told it was mine.
However that was not the worst problem. Microsoft has said repeatedly they are committed to touch. Unfortunately in practice this meant exclusively from the mobile / tablet market, and totally ignoring completely the desktop market. As a result there are still very few touch monitors on the market for PCs, and demand for this is very small ( I have one, it needs an OS that supports touch well and Windows 8 is not it yet). The only Microsoft market embracing touch then was the mobile phone and naturally the tablet market. Here’s lies the irony, with Microsoft not having a market leading tablet, or even tablet / app eco-system, (e.g. such as a good metro version of Office at the time of Windows 8 Pro launch on the market. If Microsoft wanted touch for business to work they could have thrown some money at it. Instead they left the market to fend for themselves, whilst they threw all their rotten eggs in the RT basket.
The result now is Windows 8 is pooched, with many companies, and even hardware vendors preferring to ignore or sell around it.
Ignoring the natural maturity and slowdown of the PC market some companies like HP seem to even go as far to appear to blame Microsoft for their woes.
One litmus paper for this is the highlighting of the extension for Windows XP support (likely until Windows 9 is out)and more proactive selling of Windows 7. Unfortunately even if Microsoft combines their phone app ecosystem as it might with Windows RT, it still will lack a good cohesive eco-system as compared to Apple or yep Android.
There in lays the paradox, with Windows 8 deemed a failure (a tear is forming in my eye), then Windows Phone 8 by name alone also will be tainted regardless of how perfect it might be with 8.1 etc. Microsoft needs one of 2 things, kill RT and have a tablet running Windows phone (why doesn’t Microsoft listen to Paul Thurrott), that I bet likely against. Or you got it, more a Windows Phone running Android. Microsoft is already close to launching a phone running Android under Nokia, is the next logical step, an Android / Windows Phone 8 Hybrid?
Windows / Android hybrids are nothing new, I wrote early 2013, when Samsung launched their first hybrid machine (the Ativ Q), But in 2013 there was a problem in that Android was running in a virtual machine and required a boot into Android or Windows dues to incompatibility of hardware. However, a current trend like Asus at CES in Jan 2014 launched their TD300, a quad-core i7 Powerhouse tablet/laptop that runs both Android 4.2.2 and Windows 8.1 with 4GB Ram, and touting both a 128GB SSD drive and a 1TB hard disk, it is no slouch.
With Android and Windows both able to boot with Intel chips now, even Intel is behind the opportunity. Again at CES Erik Reid GM of Intel’s tablet business, also showed off the dual boot nature of the Haswell chip.
Windows Phone partnering with Android, can be good for both Google and Microsoft. It gives Microsoft a foot up into market share and Google more of a foot into enterprise. Apple has recently said and shown they are making a play again for enterprise, again. Perhaps in Google and Microsoft’s case the saying, The enemy of my enemy is my friend is applicable, or what Lincoln said, I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.