What is Microsoft thinking? First, the company decided that it was going to compete with its own partners of decades in the growing tablet market with its Surface tablet. Then, it decided that it's going to force feed Windows 8 users its “Metro” interface. Can they really be surprised when their partners and customers start to turn their back on them?
Microsoft has always been a “my way or the highway” kind of company and it worked... when they have a lock on the desktop. That was in the 90s and 00s, it's the twenty-teens now and the desktop is no longer the center of the computing universe. Now, we use tablets and smartphones as well and we do much, sometimes most, of our “desktop” work on Web sites and with cloud-based applications.
I know it, you know it, and now Acer is reminding Microsoft that they know it as well. Acer CEO JT Wang said that Microsoft competing with its partners “will create a huge negative impact for the [computer hardware] ecosystem and other brands may take a negative reaction. It is not something you are good at so please think twice." Acer's global PC operation chief Campbell Kan added Acer was debating whether to "find other alternatives" to Windows.
Microsoft won't think twice. The company knows, and plans, on competing with its one time partners. You can think Acer saying it may walk away from Microsoft is laughable, but there's nothing funny about it.
Think about it. If your supplier told you and the world that they were going to compete with you in the hottest part of the market, tablets, could you afford to keep working with them? In a business where the main product, PCs, have razor-thin margins? I don't think so.
For PC vendors like Acer there's only one viable alternative: Linux. Dell has shown that both Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu can sell.
The vendors, however, aren't just limited to a traditional Linux desktop. Cloud-based Linux systems, such as Peppermint and Google's Chrome OS are also viable alternatives. In addition, Google is showing signs of releasing a version of Android that would work well as a desktop operating system.
For users, there's also always Apple's Macs. Even with their high price tags, Macs keep getting more popular and its latest operating system, Mountain Lion, unlike Windows 8 is being greeted with joy by most of its users.
The same can't be said for Windows 8. In a TechRepublic survey only 349 out of 1,888 IT pros said that their companies planned to upgrade to Windows 8. 884 said their business had no such plans while 655 were undecided.
Among other things they didn't like about Windows 8 were: the lack of a start menu; the need for massive training to get people used to the new “Metro” interface; and the fact that the corporate desktop seems to be an afterthought. And, that was before we found out that Microsoft is, by design, going to make it harder to provide a start menu or avoid the desktop-unfriendly Metro!
It's clear now that Windows 8 is not an operating system that Microsoft's partners or its long-time users can love. Isn't it time to give an alternative a try? I think so.
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