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Windows 8: A Mild Flop

Windows 8: A Mild Flop

Any Microsoft predictions need to start with Windows 8. So let’s get this out of the way: Windows 8 will flop in 2013

Not hard – the new operating system probably shouldn’t be compared to the catastrophe that was Windows Vista. But Windows 8 will likely be seen as overly ambitious, a risk that many potential customers won’t be willing to take. In all, though, Windows 8 will sell slightly fewer copies than Windows 7 during 2013.

That’s not because Windows 8 is bad. It isn’t. To its credit, the new OS hasn’t been plagued with the sort of slowdowns and crashes and user interface mistakes that afflicted Vista.

But the break from previous version is sharp. Windows 8 doesn’t launch to the desktop, the most familiar interface (and – perhaps to speed the transition to the new user interface – Microsoft is refusing to let users configure it to go direct to the old-style desktop). Years of interacting with smartphones and tablets have taught users how to navigate the Metro interface, and swiping left and right along the main Start screen is easily understood. But most consumers don’t quite seem to get what they need to do when they want to “work,” i.e. use the desktop. The back-and-forth between the desktop and the Start menu, the navigation between apps, the lack of a traditional Start button and other interface changes will frustrate users. Unlike Michael Dell, I see a significant chunk of enterprises still choosing to standardize on Windows 7.

Typically, Microsoft halts sales of the previous operating system two years after the new version goes on sale, which would mean that Windows 7 would fade away in Oct. 2014. (Windows 7 mainstream support will expire in January 2015.) I think we might see a “toned-down,” more transitional edition/service pack of either Windows 8 (or 9?) that will help consumers shift over to the new OS.

Basically, what consumers will accept is a Windows 8 tablet interface on top of a Windows 7 desktop environment. They don’t have it. Yet.

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