Microsoft launches Windows 8, Surface: Winners and losers

Microsoft launches Windows 8, Surface: Winners and losers

Summary: Microsoft has launched its latest operating system and new tablet: Windows 8, and Surface. Who will gain and lose out from Thursday's event?


"All in," Microsoft said today at an event in New York as it launched the latest offerings from the company: the new Windows 8 operating system, and its debut into the tablet market, the Microsoft Surface.

Today's event was a non-event, to be fair. It was more of a recap than anything else. Besides some shiny new numbers and a few demonstrations of the new hardware and software, we saw nothing new.

However, interestingly there wasn't much focus on the Surface during the event, despite it featuring as the software giant's debut into the tablet fray. The onus on Microsoft was to nudge out Windows 8 -- the "make or break" product that will either see Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer walk the plank or not, according to analysts -- to the wider market.

But out of the event, rounding up from the previous news, let's see who wins and loses out of the announcements. Here's what we have.


Microsoft: The software giant is obviously a winner here. Windows 8 and the Surface tablets can't fail as such. Microsoft can see poor sales based on its own projections and analysts forecasts, but either way it goes Microsoft will see strong uptake from PC manufacturers licensing the next-generation operating system. Why? Because PC makers don't have anything else to put on their new PCs. 

Similarly, Surface has drummed up enough support from reviewers and analysts alike to suggest the tablet debut may actually dent Microsoft's partners' sales in the tablet space. 

Bring-your-own-device employees: The beauty of the Intel-powered Surface and ARM-powered Surface RT tablets are that they are designed with one kind of person in mind: the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) worker. The tablets themselves aren't locked down to purely work-mode, they're also "work from home" devices, and "home" devices all at the same time. Whichever mode you're in, the tablet will fit the user's need.

There is a caveat, however. Business users who want to bring their Windows RT-based tablet to the office must buy a commercial-use license, giving Microsoft yet another scraping of cash from each ARM-based tablet sale. ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley has more on this.

Dell, Lenovo: Both Lenovo and Dell, the first and third place holders in the worldwide PC vendor rankings according to Gartner (IDC disagrees and says second and third place respectively), are perfectly happy with the Microsoft Surface tablets. 

The Surface is the only bring-your-own-device (BYOD) tablet that fits into both the work and the home life.

Even though Dell failed in its Streak tablet endeavor, it's had enough time to lick its wounds and learn enough to compete with a new range of devices. Dell simply isn't concerned because it believes it has nothing to worry about.

Lenovo, however, laughed at the Surface, as its chief executive Yang Yuanqing said his firm would simply make "better hardware." It was a rather overt dig at Microsoft's new hardware because Lenovo, the PC market leader, believes its own products are better. But arrogance may get in the way of Lenovo if its tablets fail to take off. Will Lenovo be eating Microsoft-provided humble pie?

ARM: British chip designer ARM will benefit greatly from the introduction of ARM-based tablets. While ARM designs the chips that run Windows RT tablets, Qualcomm actually builds the chips -- which can also be counted as yet another winner in the list. ARM already has confirmed product announcements from Asus, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung, and Microsoft with its Surface RT tablet -- all powered from ARM's chip designs -- even in spite of nobody quite knowing what Windows RT is actually for.


HP, Acer: Despite competing research firms reporting different figures -- in worldwide PC vendor rankings, Gartner says HP and Acer are in second and fourth place respectively, while IDC says first and fourth place -- the two firms continue to lose market share. Ultimately that's all it boils down to.

Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu believes HP will not be saved by Windows 8, writing in a research note earlier this month. Acer's chief executive JT Wang went one step further and called on Microsoft to "think twice" about releasing its own branded tablet. ZDNet's Larry Dignan called the move "laughable," as did the rest of the world, but Acer stamped its feet and threatened to "find another platform." We'll see how well that works out for you, Acer. 

Apple: The Cupertino, CA.-based iPad maker is now being squeezed from both sides of the tablet market by both Android and Windows, and in light of its recent iPad mini launch there is little Apple can do about it now -- and it knew this a long time ago.

Apple has to contend with the full-sized tablet market -- which it's creaming everyone in -- as well as the smaller, 7-inch tablet market, which the firm has only just entered with the iPad mini. But now it faces an enterprise squeeze as well, primarily from business-focused users.

Apple may lose the most in the long run, despite its lead in the tablet market, as it's now being squeezed from both sides of the tablet crush.

The growing enterprise trend will push users likely towards the Surface and rival Windows 8 and Windows RT-powered devices. Just looking at a quick comparison of Apple's share price versus Microsoft's: Apple dipped by 1 percent and slowly recovered, while Microsoft rose by close to 1 percent before levelling off. It's clear that the market isn't feeling too secure with another iPad rival in the mix.

What's also more interesting is that there are maybe a many, many more Windows developers than there are iOS developers, particularly in the enterprise space. It's easier for Windows developers to upgrade existing, legacy applications to the newer, ARM-powered Windows RT devices (as well as Intel x86 tablets) than it is to port the entire application to the iPad. Enterprises will want to keep what they can without spending any more than they have to.

The Surface and other Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets doesn't mean that Apple has lost out completely, Apple will certainly start to feel the squeeze in the coming months.

Android in the enterprise: Google has still not released an enterprise-focused Android product. It's as if the search giant turned tablet maker doesn't even recognize anything beyond its small-minded view of "consumers, consumers, consumers!" Google is already making razor thin profits on its latest Nexus 7, according to analysts. 

Surface is a middle-ground tablet for both fun and play. Google is just for fun. Maybe that's why it called its application store "Google Play?" The Surface breathes life into the BYOD space, whereas Android is pretty much solely for the consumer market. In ignoring the enterprise, it's Microsoft that will generate the profit on its business-focused tablet while Google continues to scrape the profit barrel on its tablets.

The wildcard

Intel: The chip giant both wins and loses. For the win argument, Intel now gets its x86 chips in 'proper' tablets. Before they were in those clunky, 'relic of the millennium' tablets that were actually fiip-and-twist laptops. They were heavy enough to crush a small European nation. If you dropped the Windows XP-powered IBM ThinkPad X41 on Luxembourg, "goodbye Luxembourg." Intel now gains market share in Windows 8-powered tablets and pushes out the competition, notably AMD, without having to resort to nasty anti-competitive activities (hint, hint). 

Yet at the same time Intel wins, Intel also loses out. Windows 8 likely isn't going to stop the stagnation of the PC market as we know it. The post-PC world is ever growing and tablets are becoming more of the norm unlike anything that we have seen before. Windows 8 is more of a stay of execution than anything else.

Topics: Microsoft, Tablets, Windows

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  • They Had 2 Events today, 1 for Win 8 and 1 for Surface

    they had a separate event dedicated for surface that started at 1:30 pm eastern
  • Nothing Else?.


    Microsoft: The software giant is obviously a winner here. Windows 8 and the Surface tablets can't fail as such. Microsoft can see poor sales based on its own projections and analysts forecasts, but either way it goes Microsoft will see strong uptake from PC manufacturers licensing the next-generation operating system. Why? Because PC makers don't have anything else to put on their new PCs

    It's called "LINUX"!!!. Android runs it, supercomputers run it, high end workstations run it, top servers run it. So your point is baseless. They do have something else to put on "desktop" PCs. And before you mention applications like MS Office, and Photoshop. Blame the Developers!!!. Not the platform. It's tested and reliable.
    • You are right

      Linus run on supercomputer, high end workstations, server ...but one big issue, no consumer wants Linux. how many years linux try in desktop and failed? people may not like windows but they have mac os ... so linux will never success in desktop.

      OEM are not stupid, if linux provide alternative platform they wil go , but sure they know it is too risky to do it.
      • Nope

        First, the operating system name is Linux, the creator and chief maintainer name is Linus.

        Secondly, Linux runs from supercomputers to corporation servers and corporation/consumer workstations and laptops.
        But it isn't just that, Linux is most used operating system in smartphone world.

        But it isn't operating system what many are afraid, it is their fear about different graphical user interfaces when they are different from < Windows 7.

        OEM's have offerings for customers and corporations with Linux to servers, workstations laptops, smartphones and tablets. But people who are ignorant, doesn't even see it because they are focused to their false information what Linux is. People like you.
        • Ignorant?

          Who anyone who disagrees with you or dont have the same taste in OS's is ignorant?
          • This is the type of people of Linux

            they know everything and the rest of us are ignorants....

            Let him work under his rock with his stupid OS.
        • Nope

          Everyone is saying Nope to Linux every day - it is not likely to change. Linux is just a warmed-over Unix which isn't that wonderful either - 200 utilities written by 200 different people and with a wierd name for each - I don't care for cutsies like that because all I want is a machine to do work for me without having to learn 200 separate interfaces...
          • Thank you! Linux is like learning 12 OS's per task.

            Really, my experience with a cassette-driven Atari was less hassle than using Ubuntu.Every simple thing was a project. I had to demonstrate that I had the right to do every basic task. I could not tell my system to stop being a helicopter parent preventing me from doing anything; while also orphaning me when I wanted help to do something that was simple on Windows 3.2. It's the worst of all worlds.
        • The ignorant people

          Yes, I'm one of the ignorant people. Somebody gave me a laptop with Linux installed. Didn't like it so had it reformatted and had Windows 7 installed.
        • Why I don't use linux

          I triple booted windows and 2 versions of Linux (Ubuntu, suse). Before that I compiled my own Linux system using gentoo, starting from a cd having nothing but bash on it and spending a week straight customizing everything to be just perfect. And before that, Slackware. I have tried KDE, gnome, fluxbox, messed around with wobbly windows and spinning cube desktops.

          In the end, I deleted all that junk and went back to windows. Because packages suck, compiling source sucks, ui that is pretty but not 100% baked sucks, mouse clicks that lag for 0.1 seconds sucks, upgrading distros sucks, sudo sucks, xorg.conf sucks, and a hundred other small things.

          Windows is boring, but it does what I want and does it the same way on every computer.
        • I rest my case

          Linux as OS for a Computer or Server is gone.... Long Live Windows... Long Live MacOS

          Heil to them.!!!

          Failure and Devastation to such a copier like Linus...!!!
      • I agree with Voidvoice

        No client of mine has EVER wanted Linux... they prefer to buy Windows OS or MacOS and not Linux for free....

        What else can be said?
    • Linux not an option

      I'm not really sure Linux is viable for the mass market, therefore, it isn't an option for the OEMs. Win 8 may confuse some Win7/XP users, but it is still Windows. Most of the examples you cited are IT knowledge dependent.

      I think the one chance linux had to make some inroads was/is with Google Chrome, and it hasn't had that much success.

      For linux desktop to succeed, it needs one OEM standard bearer using one flavor of linux, like the way of Apple. The success of Mac OS and windows is due to Apple and Microsoft, one head , one leader on each. Linux is too many heads going nowhere. Just my opinion.
      Coremail Rx
    • I tried Linux versions for years

      If you want a dedicated device for a narrow range of tasks, and don't mind feeling like you are no in charge of your "own" computer, Linux is fine..... Of course this is not true for people who work with Linux all day every day-- they love it because they spent years learning it instead of using their devices to do something useful.
      • It shows you have not used at all with that comment...

        “they love it because they spent years learning it instead of using their devices to do something useful.”
        • On the contrary

          Linux was my pet project, the thing I spent all day all week every week trying to make it just perfect. Reading docs and man pages till my eyes blurred, tweaking configs and writing shell scripts, compiling and installing the latest and greatest, tweaking the boot sequence to gain those extra 2 seconds.

          As rp518 said, I spent more time trying to get it to work than actually doing anything useful with it.
    • Linux is not going to make it ever

      except geeks...

      I truly respect Unix and Linux... I very much appreciate and feel specially the power of Linux... but come to reality....

      Now computers, a huge qty of them are used by regular humans and not geeks...
  • yeah apple is losing!

    despite selling about 100 million ipads and about 10 mil iphones this pasts quarter. Yeah buddy!! on the real full blown os windows 8 pro, I would agree with you on that but on surface and win rt. big lol!
    • Apple

      But where are their "real" apps - don't even have Office or hundreds of other Windows programs. That is going to make a lot of difference - not necessarily in numbers with consumers, but in the enterprise where Microsoft has reigned for years and likely to continue...
      • The real apps???

        The Real apps are in the App Store.. As in Apple's App store... No one is seriously going to do Excel on a tablet, LOL!!! Excel is an incredible and insanely complex app and needs keyboard and mouse... But the real apps that business people actually do use on tablets are already on the iPad and Apple has MS beat by over 500K+ Apps...

        The real losers are the MS customer who actually buy a Surface tablet and get to chose from 17 possible apps, 3 of which are different flavors of solitaire.