What problem does Windows 8 solve?

What problem does Windows 8 solve?

Summary: Windows 8 is intended to be Microsoft's platform that does everything for everyone. The problem is it doesn't solve anyone's problems, so who will need it?

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As Microsoft gets Windows 8 ready for the Consumer Preview coming shortly I am spending a lot of time thinking about the next OS from Redmond. There is a lot to consider given its multiple personalities. It's a desktop OS, mobile OS, tablet OS, and touch OS all rolled into one. Rather, all rolled into multiple SKUs depending on the hardware involved. I admit to feeling more uneasy about Windows 8 the more I consider what problem(s) it intends to address. Fact is I just don't see any.

Desktop OS

Windows 8 is beginning to look like Windows 7 recycled on desktop systems. It will have stuff under the hood to make that better, but from a user's perspective it seems like more of the same. It's not clear what it brings to the user that makes it a must-have upgrade over existing Windows 7 systems, and that frankly is not a good thing.

The desktop market is firmly owned currently by Microsoft, so it can't be the company's primary target. Unless the strategy is to simply keep the current Windows market, Microsoft can't be planning on Windows 8 to grab new customers on the desktop.

Mobile OS

The biggest change to Windows 8 is in the mobile space, with two major versions addressing that hot market. The x86 Windows 8 platform will bring the Metro interface and new app ecosystem to a variety of hardware types. Microsoft has made it clear we will see Windows 8 on everything from laptops to tablets at the very least.

The laptop market is not going to win Microsoft any new customers, it already has the lion's share of that market with Windows. The Windows 8 strategy must thus be aimed at trying to keep those customers from going completely mobile with tablets. Nothing I've seen of Windows 8 on laptops adds value over the existing Windows 7 offering.

Tablets are the hot market segment, and by addressing that market with not one but two different versions of Windows 8 makes it clear how serious Microsoft is about this space. They expect to see an entire ecosystem emerge of Intel (x86) tablets running Windows 8 to help compete with Apple and Google. The problem is these don't uniquely address any problems that a user might have, so why would they avoid the existing tablet solutions for these totally new offerings?

The Windows on ARM (WOA) tablets are the big story with Windows 8, as these are intended to compete directly with both Android tablets and the iPad. It is a totally mobile-focused OS coupled with a new mobile app ecosystem designed to take the competition head-on. For the life of me I can't come up with a single problem the WOA solution has over the competition, and that's the source of my concern over the future of Windows 8. What problem does it solve that isn't already being addressed by the competition?

Enterprise market

Microsoft already owns the enterprise with Windows so at the very least Windows 8 shouldn't jeopardize that. The scattershot approach with Windows 8 to hit all computing types may do just that, and create more work for major corporations analyzing how to bring the new Windows into the workplace. That may end up clouding the issue of how to best leverage Windows 8 in the enterprise. It doesn't seem to solve any enterprise problems on the surface, so there may be a hard sell here for Microsoft.

The enterprise is beginning to deploy iPads in greater numbers than before, and perhaps the Microsoft strategy with Windows 8 is to stop that process. If so, that's likely the reason it is including a full Office suite in WOA, as that is no doubt a plus for the enterprise. The problem is, these companies have already determined that the iPad meets their needs, and that means the mobile benefits outweigh the office suite requirement. By the time Windows 8 hits the market the enterprise may have figured out the pure mobile solution of the iPad is good enough. They may already know that Windows 8 doesn't address any problems they have.

What's it all mean?

The folks in Redmond are trying to make Windows 8 be the OS that fits everybody's needs. No matter what type of device you may be looking at, laptop, tablet, or desktop, Microsoft has the solution for you. No matter what your needs are, mobile, desktop, tablet, or touch, Microsoft has the solution for you.

The problem is the competition does too, and often optimized for a particular user scenario. Most people believe that a solution tailored for a particular need works better than a generic one designed to do everything for everyone. They are usually right in that belief, and that is what Microsoft will end up dealing with in Windows 8. In its attempt to solve everyone's problems, it may end up solving no one's. The competition, and I include Windows 7 in that group, is already solving them handily.

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Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software

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137 comments
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  • RE: What problem does Windows 8 solve?

    Neither iOS, Android, OS X, nor Windows 7 really solves problems ao you could say the same about them.
    slickjim
    • RE: What problem does Windows 8 solve?

      @Peter Perry But they already own the market.
      JamesKendrick
      • RE: What problem does Windows 8 solve?

        @JamesKendrick The tablet is a new (to most) market. iOS is the one real player there right now so that's not about addressing consumer needs as much as it is competing in an open market with opportunity. They are offering unique features there as well and may do better than Android on tabs so it would be silly NOT to compete.

        If PC's and Windows upgrades sell half of what they did in the past 3 years over the next 3, there will be a quarter billion windows 8 users by 2015 which should be attractive to developers. MS needs to create a new eco-system; fun for consumers who expect that and powerful enough for enterprise.

        I think your article is accurate. There aren't many problems to solve but its a market MS has to compete in. The new app platform and metro design is a nice product worthy of competing and I'm looking forward to watching it play out
        TechJunkiesCA
      • One could say that the problem at the moment

        @JamesKendrick
        is being able to use a tablet without Google's intrusiveness, or Apple's tight control on how you are allowed to use the tablet.

        It also solves the problem of having to own multiple platforms to get things done.

        But then it is obvious that you believe that no one should offer an alternative to the already established products, so in essence you belive Apple and Canonical should both discontinue their current PC based operating systems.
        :|
        Tim Cook
      • How does WOA solve the "tight control" problem?

        @Will Farrel, the Spock Impersonator
        [i]"or Apple's tight control on how you are allowed to use the tablet".[/i]

        WOA appears to be even [i]worse[/i] than an iPad in that regard, because the UEFI Secure Boot means you can't "root" it.
        Zogg
      • I have no desire to root any device, and do not understand

        @Zogg
        what anyone would. I can not root my current microwave, nor can I root my flat panel television.

        I do not purchase units to root them, so I would not need a tablet that I can root. Yet I would desire my tablet to be secure, which is why I would purchase one UEFI Secure Boot.

        Rooting is not an issue for most purchasers.
        Tim Cook
      • Rooting, jail-breaking...

        @Will Farrel, the Spock Impersonator
        [i]"I have no desire to root any device, and do not understand what anyone would."[/i]

        Except that you've just complained about vendors' "tight control on how you are allowed to use the tablet". Rooting / jail breaking allows people to escape that "tight control", so it's frankly perverse of you to claim that you don't understand why people do it.

        And people [b]do[/b] jail-break their devices. Even ZD-Net editors. Google for "ZDNet, Rooting Android Part 1" for the link.

        [i]"Rooting is not an issue for most purchasers."[/i]

        You are claiming this without a shred of supporting evidence.

        [i]"Yet I would desire my tablet to be secure, which is why I would purchase one UEFI Secure Boot."[/i]

        Secure from whom, though? Because Secure Boot is secure from [b]you[/b]. If you truly object to a tightly controlled platform and weren't just making a cheap shot at Apple then you'd realize that WOA will be the most tightly controlled platform yet.
        Zogg
      • RE: What problem does Windows 8 solve?

        @JamesKendrick - Microsoft has looked down the road and they don't like what they see coming towards them. Apple has consistently grown their marketshare and they are taking marketshare away from MS on the desktop. The tablet and the smartphone are already lost. I don't agree with what they are doing to Windows 8, but I understand their reasons.
        terry flores
      • Interesting

        @Zogg

        [i]Will Farrel, the Spock Impersonator [/i]?

        Because there are a handful of people that I tend to agree with (Rama.net, Will Farrell, Cylon Centurion to name a few) is not indicator that I am am them, or that I am impersonating anyone.

        Except for Mister Spock, of course, as I would have to believe that everyone knows him to be a fictional character from late 1960's television, as he, and Vulcans, really do not exist.

        :|
        Tim Cook
      • You "outed" yourself here, Will

        @Will Farell, Spock Impersonator

        /tb/1-113814#1_113814_2303703 (this website)

        You were conversing with "The Danger is Microsoft" and seem to have mixed your logins up. The sentence:

        [i]"I believe all I did was mention why Apple could not do that."[/i]

        is a clear reference to this earlier post:
        /tb/1-113814#1_113814_2303504 (also this website)
        Zogg
      • RE: What problem does Windows 8 solve?

        @JamesKendrick The issue is larger here will he us consumer be able sustain wastefull ways any more? The dollar is losing value and reserve status, we are producing next to nothing for exports. Government is practically bankrupt and printing money to pay bills. Think about this.
        augustus_rome
      • RE: What problem does Windows 8 solve?

        @JamesKendrick
        not only that, but the new proprietary winRt technology M$ is imposing, is flatly rejected by people because there is no FOSS equivalent or open source code.
        The Linux Geek
      • RE: What problem does Windows 8 solve?

        @JamesKendrick Market != Problem, and Problem != Market. OS give the user a way to manage their computer/device. That is the problem they solve. End of story.
        jgoode@...
      • RE: What problem does Windows 8 solve?

        @JamesKendrick

        What problem does Windows 8 solve? An OS for Microsoft tablets that has a shared app architecture.

        n/t
        NativeFloridian
      • RE: What problem does Windows 8 solve?

        @JamesKendrick: And? Windows 8 will struggle in Enterprise (except maybe tablets, office is a big draw and iPad adoption is low anyway) but consumer laptops/desktops will do well.

        On tablets it's to early for anyone to say.
        bradavon
      • I ...uhh...dont get your reply. At all.

        @JamesKendrick

        Peter Perry asks/says:
        "Neither iOS, Android, OS X, nor Windows 7 really solves problems ao you could say the same about them. "

        James, you respond:
        "But they already own the market."

        I repeated that exchange mostly because I wanted to see if it made as little connective sense as it first seemed and it did.

        I guess, if any sense is to be made of it, it has to be that each of those OS's own or are huge in a selective market so they don't have to solve any problems. Windows 8 is new so to make an impact it has to solve problems, is that it?

        Because if thats your point, its horribly skewed and misses the mark.

        First of all, I can suggest one huge gigantic massive important problem Windows 8 may well solve for millions. It may well provide for a convincing Windows OS on smart phones and tablets. Millions would like to see just that happen and it appears that Microsoft is saying "here it is".

        Now, I don't know, but it just seems so SO painfully obvious that this is such a massive problem solved, for the millions who would like to see a new viable Windows smart phone tablet OS, that to act, or make it sound like that isn't one huge problem solved is ludicrous and problematic. It makes it look like the writer of an article that misses that point entirely has no interest themselves in Windows as a smartphone/tablet OS and as such sees no value in such an OS anyway. That is a fatally flawed way to write an article.

        What problems does Windows 8 solve??? Well, what it looks like its going to solve directly is it looks like it may just give the world its first high functioning OS on a small device. Thats the largest single problem that exists currently across all small device platforms so it is truly baffling how James has written an entire article asking a question to which he dosnt even seem to know what the biggest most important answer even is.

        What problem does Windows 8 then solve for desktop/laptop OS usage. Well, if it does nothing much in that regard, it hardly matters. SO long as it runs as well as Windows 7 it will simply carry on as the most popular desktop OS in the world gradually occupying more desktops and laptops over the next 10 years until its in the majority. After all, as James himself has said, if your already on top you don't HAVE to solve problems.

        But wait a second, lets consider this. As horrible as it seems to be for James to even consider that Microsoft may, just may preemptively figured out a problem thats not fully here yet and solved it before its arrival, what about seamless cross platform integration? No, not a hugely massive issue today, but certainly, as smartphone and tablet usage increases, a more seamless integration will surely be a great feature. And what happens if touch becomes more important over the next few years on desktops and laptops??? Well, Windows will really be the only choice then wont they.

        Its a ridiculous article because it asks a question to which there are numerous obvious positive answers that the writer of the article is feigning a lack of knowledge of. Its an embarrassment.
        Cayble
      • Wow Zogg.

        @Zogg

        It like you dont even get it. Apples tight control has ZERO to do with rooting. The point is that if Windows brings any real releif from Apples overly tight grip on a users platform experience then its a problem solved.

        Sorry Zogg but bottom line is that there is every reason Windows 8 will and it has not a thing to do with rooting. Wake up.
        Cayble
      • Could you be any more vague, Cayble?

        @Cayble
        A WOA tablet cannot be jail-broken and therefore leaves you 100% at the mercy of the supplier. If you don't think that amounts to "tight control" then it's [i]you[/i] who needs to "wake up".
        Zogg
      • RE: What problem does Windows 8 solve?

        @JamesKendrick so we should let monopoly run for Apple, oh right...
        AmediaN
      • RE: What problem does Windows 8 solve?

        @JamesKendrick At this time the tablet market is full of toys. It's a high-end gadget niche for those who can afford to get a machine that doesn't help them produce much. The current crop is full of presentation and push devices that's seen as a novelty to most (in the real world).

        I don't see folks comfortably managing construction projects, designing websites, editing long videos, or doing major accounting on an iPad, Galaxy Tab, or [future] WP7 tablet. The iPad TV ads would have you believing differently but that's just to sell you the gadget.

        Install Windows 8 (or some similar Apple offering) and the right app on a 11x8.5 tablet and you'll see an actual engineer and foreman going over cement delivery schedules and arranging rain days on an actual job site. Until then it'll just be a Tab or 'Pad with a pie chart in the board meeting.
        myangeldust