After the better part of a decade in the IT industry, I’ve learned one major thing: nobody wants to spend money. It blows my mind that computers, the things that all of your employees sit at for eight hours a day, are considered this horrible expense and a tedious chore to maintain or replace. It’s how our society runs. Wall Street runs on a series of computer programs and digital exchanges. When your computer fails and you’re stuck without one for three days, only then do you realize what a vital part of your business it is.
Why, then, do most companies not have a structure for replacing their PC’s? They keep them for a decade or more, until they don’t turn on one day, then “employee #326” gets a new computer. In my field of work, I’ve run in to slews of 10+ year old computers – and people want RAM upgrades, or hard drives replaced, rather than swapping out the entire unit for $150 more than they’re paying for this patch-work to keep them on life support.
So what does this poorly-planned businesss strategy have to do with Windows 8? It falls right in line with Microsoft’s master plan. Windows 8, while promoting itself as an entirely new platform which will cross the barrier between desktop and tablet, is incredibly tablet-centric. So much so that it is going to confuse and likely frustrate the average user. Younger people and technophiles are the ones who will be using Windows 8, and they will be able to adapt and understand and navigate this awkward learning and growing phase that Microsoft is about to go through. How the interface works, how to switch between the tablet and desktop environments, how touch and mouse controls can possibly co-exist (or does Microsoft really expect that Kinect for PC will make quick work of the mouse?) – all of these difficulties will be tackled by “early adopters.”
The business world? They’ve already adopted Windows 7. They have no intention of buying new computers for six or more years anyway, and Microsoft knows it. Microsoft’s going to dive in to the tablet market and sink or swim. The Desktop OS will grow along side it, helping them keep ahead of development rather than resting on their laurels. It will allow the desktop product to mature in the tablet world, and by the time the world is ready for a truly new Windows operating system (say, around the year 2020), the kinks will have been worked out of Windows 9.
Part of the problem with Windows Vista was the complacency that happened with the success of Windows XP. Microsoft doesn’t want to get caught behind the eight ball again, and this will help them stay flexible, while, really, avoiding an embarrassing flop of a product. They don’t expect it to sell like Windows 7 did – and that’s because of obvious trends in the business world. That makes this a safe time to release a product which they can treat nearly like a beta. They would certainly never call it that, but I would consider Windows 8 “market research” for the true next generation of desktop OS. And I’m excited to see what’s coming down the line.