This may seem like a bizarre statement, but Windows has always reminded me of a Porsche. Wait, hear me out…..
I’m not talking about a Microsoft style, panache or over-indulgence – I’m talking about the theory behind their design.
Porsche have evolved their products slowly over time. They may add some cool new features to their latest model, but in the end, it always looks distinctively like a Porsche. A new 911 Carrera S looks very similar to the old 911 Classic– just a little bit shinier, quicker and smoother.
Microsoft and Windows reflected this with evolution as opposed to revolution. You can see the gradual progression from 95 through to Windows 7, with the overall layout remaining consistently familiar throughout.
But this gradual evolution has received a jolt.
Windows 8 has a radical new interface. The new ‘Metro’ style approach lends itself perfectly to a touch screen device whilst Microsoft simultaneously shows their hand in the tablet manufacturing market with the Surface. It is a match made in heaven? And how will desktop users react?
Aside from the early adopters, most businesses won’t switch immediately to Windows 8, but will continue with their current operating system. For example – although I would like to upgrade - I’m currently using XP, released over a decade ago. Nevertheless, this is a huge gamble for Microsoft.
Their loyal customers who are so used to the existing interface might decide to go elsewhere rather than adapt to the new one. Heaven forbid…. but they might even try out a Mac!
Windows 8 sales started extremely slowly, although they’re said to have picked up recently to be on-par with those of Windows 7 in its first 90 days. Long-term - if this venture fails, Microsoft may lose millions of individual customers as well as risking enterprise business. They are coupling this new OS with the prospected success of the new Surface, and that is a risky game.
But this move is also brave. Their confidence in the new design speaks volumes, and clearly they will target on-the-move businesspeople with the Surface (and specifically the soon-to-be-released Surface Pro) to try to increase the credibility of Windows 8 as a desirable OS in all walks of life.
Microsoft will put everything into making Windows 8 a success, and part of the excitement is that we’re just not sure which way it will go. It will no doubt disappoint some stalwarts, and shock some of the more conservative users. But this dramatic change might just be the thing that drags Microsoft away from the recent perception of being ‘boring’ into the realms of innovative pioneers – both for the consumer and enterprise market.
Matt Goolding is Digital Marketing Assistant for RibbonFish Ltd, a London-based IT consulting firm who develop bespoke software solutions for businesses using various Microsoft technologies. Matt likes blogging about the RibbonFish areas of interest in CRM, SharePoint and web development, as well as the latest business IT & tech trends.
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