Plato used to define the human species as "featherless bipeds". This thought came to me this afternoon as I stood looking at the Venus de Milo in The Louvre (I'm in Paris for Forrester's I&O Forum) and pondered what Microsoft was about to unleash on all of us. Why, might you ask? Well, as the story goes, Diogenes (the guy who invented cynicism) plucked a chicken, brought it into Plato's Academy and declared: "Behold: I have brought you a man!" After this incident, "with broad flat nails" was added to Plato's definition.
- The PC OEM vendors remain one (maybe two!) steps behind Apple in making well-differentiated hardware. To wit: Ultrabooks are just now beginning to match the MacBook Air, and no one else has a Retina Display in their lineups.
- They haven't had an operating system for tablets without styli or mice, or that will run longer than a few hours away from a power outlet.
- The upgrade process for Windows PCs is labor-intensive. IT organizations upgrade operating systems only when Microsoft forces them to, so end users are frustrated. Nearly half of organizations are still on Windows XP 11 years after its release.
- Taking control of their own destiny for hardware on the tablet side, and hopefully creating a device that is beautiful, and that featherless bipeds will flock to.
- Driving a stake in the ground that it's committed to Metro and a user experience for featherless bipeds and long, flat nails.
- Giving IT organizations a swift kick in the pants with Windows RT, but also giving them something in return: Manageability.
- Windows RT will be perceived as more "enterprise friendly" because it will offer you the ability to "manage" it (updates, deployment, patching, etc) with Windows Intune or System Center Configuration Manager. We currently believe that only SCCM version 2012 will supported with RT until Microsoft tells us otherwise. No word yet on which other client management vendors are moving to support Windows RT or to what extent Microsoft will enable 3rd party management tools to participate. Note that Apple has been very deliberate in the management functions they expose at the API level for management tools to hook into.
- Forrester believes that the Metro UI will appeal to the Phalanx of people currently prodding you to let them use an iPad or Android tablet, and it presents new opportunities for line-of-business application developers to create highly personalized, and well-tailored application experiences. Think: point of sale systems that employees can take to the customer, while IT keeps the auditors happy with demonstrated PCI compliance. Of course until the apps appear, it's anyone's guess just how appealing RT will be, but I'm a MacBook Air and iPad nut and have been pleased with Windows 8 on a Samsung Series 7 slate. I just wish it didn't have to have a cooling fan. At least Windows 8 isn't just more of the same.
- Don't expect applications written for Windows 8 on a PC to be compatible with RT on ARM. Besides the implications of a touch interface, applications will need to be compiled for ARM at a minimum.