Wharton professors weigh in on Longhorn

Professors at Wharton are in agreement with what many think: getting corporate customers and consumers on the Longhorn bandwagon may take some doing. An article takes a high-level strategic look at the widely anticipated operating system and raises major questions, such as if the enhanced security is going to spark upgrades, if consumers will be lured by Longhorn’s visual effects, and if it will spark a wave of technology buying.

Professors at Wharton are in agreement with what many think: getting corporate customers and consumers on the Longhorn bandwagon may take some doing. An article takes a high-level strategic look at the widely anticipated operating system and raises major questions, such as if the enhanced security is going to spark upgrades, if consumers will be lured by Longhorn’s visual effects, and if it will spark a wave of technology buying. 

Wharton legal studies professor Kevin Werbach said, "Microsoft has to balance new features with the calculated decisions of corporations," and that, "Longhorn is a big deal for the technology industry, but it is hard to get excited about."  Similarly, Wharton legal studies professor Dan Hunter thinks users will hold back rather than form lines as they did for the launch of Windows 95. "The challenge for Microsoft is to make a profound difference compared to its predecessors and do enough cool stuff to move product," he said.

Security and search are two areas where success hinges.

Wharton operations and information management professor Eric Clemons, said “If security issues provide sufficient motivation and Microsoft has really made enhancements, then that could lead to rapid adoption.”

Thomas Y. Lee, a professor in Wharton's department of operations and information management, thinks search is one understated factor that could drive sales of Longhorn. “Search is what makes computers more accessible to the layman," said Lee.  "The problem right now with the directory system and file folders is that it's painful to find things. Most users are not skilled at maintaining folders. Search allows you to build organization structures and find three or four paths to information." 

Of most importance, however, may be Microsoft's ability to maintain its image as an innovative company since it's critical to prevent brain drain in the long run, said Werbach.  According to the professor, “If it succeeds, Microsoft continues to grow and attract the best talent. If Longhorn only maintains Microsoft's past glory, it may affect the company over the next five years."

It may or may not have sunk in to Microsoft that it, somehow, found itself having so much riding on a single product. With Apple pulling one showstopper after another, Linux gaining steam, and expectations building-up as Longhorn inches to market, it's a challenge that won't get any easier.