Windows 8's five biggest enemies

There are lots of reasons why I think Windows 8 will having trouble finding acceptance. A major one is that Windows 8 will face more competition than ever before. Here are Windows 8's biggest rivals.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Windows 8 biggest rivals are already hitting it.

Windows 8 biggest rivals are already hitting it.

We're finding out more and more about Windows 8 as its beta release approaches. And, you know what? The more I find out, the more I feel secure about saying Windows 8 will be a flop.

I've already explained in general terms I think Windows 8 will follow in Vista's footprints as a strategic failure. Here's specifically, from least important to most important, are the operating systems and platforms that will ensure Windows 8 be a non-starter.

5. The Linux & Mac Desktops

What? You thought I was going to say that the Linux and/or Mac desktops were going to rise up from their combined less than 10% of the desktop marketplace and smite Windows 8? Please. Contrary to Windows fanatics' view of me, I'm not a Linux fanboy. I just like what works.

Specifically, I think the Linux desktop is the best for power users and I think the Mac desktop is best for people who just want an easy to use desktop. Thanks though to Microsoft's illegal desktop monopoly in the 90s, its rivals never had a chance to flourish and to this day they've never been able to catch up. Windows 8 won't increase Windows' PC market-share, but it will only cause a slight decrease on the desktop, not a catastrophic decline. Unfortunately for Microsoft, Windows 8 has far more bigger rivals to worry about.

4. Google Chrome Operating System and the cloud

What's far more dangerous to Microsoft's desktop monopoly is Google's Linux-based Chrome operating system. It's not that Chrome and Chromebooks have taken off. They haven't. Google has had only had minimal success selling Chromebooks.

So why do I think Chrome OS is going to be a bigger threat to Windows 8 than traditional desktops rivals? Because Chrome OS PCs are cheaper than Windows for businesses; Google's applications offer most of the same functionality of Windows applications for less; and it's more secure than Windows.

It's not just Chrome OS though that's the threat to Windows. It's the whole concept of being able to use a Web browser and the cloud for everything you need to do and that you want to do. When you can do whatever you want with the Chrome Web browser, on any operating system now, or Chrome OS, which is just the Chrome Web browser running on a minimal Linux core, do you really need to pay for a Windows PC? For many companies, the answer is becoming "no."

3. The iPad and Android tablets

What Microsoft really wants to do with Windows 8 isn't to get you to switch from Windows 7 or XP. No, it's to get use to use Windows 8 and Metro on your tablets and smartphones. Good luck with that Microsoft. People are buying iPads like crazy; people are already drooling over the forthcoming iPad 3; and after several false starts Android tablets are finally getting off the ground. Microsoft isn't even in the race yet and they're falling farther behind by the day.

Worse still, according to NPD In-Stat's latest tablet report, The Business of Tablets: Tablet Usage in US Business, tablet use has begun its crossover from the consumer world into the workplace. The most common business uses of tablets are email/calendar management, note taking, and presentations, with 77% reporting email as a common workplace use.

Do you really think that Microsoft including limited versions of Office applications on Windows 8 "Lite" ARM powered tablets will really make a difference? I don't.

Let's even say you can't imagine not using Microsoft Office applications. So what? You do know that you can run the full Office suite today on your iPad with OnLive Desktop today right? And, there's already at least half-a-dozen other office applications for the iPad and, of course, there's always Google Docs for Android or iPads.

So, here we have Microsoft arriving late to the tablet battle with an interface, Metro, that in its Windows Phone 7x line, has captured a mere 1.5% of the smartphone marketplace. So tell me exactly how Microsoft, which is not a distant third, but a distant sixth--behind not just Android and iOS, but Symbian, RIM and Bada as well--in smartphones can possibly catch up.

2. Windows XP

So much for Microsoft on the tablet and smartphone, but what about the PC? Well, what about it? You do know that XP has just just been overtaken by Windows 7 right? Earlier today I was on a video-conference call with a Fortune 50 technology company. The senior VP on the call did his presentation on, wait for it, an XP system.

Many users and companies think "If it's not broke, why fix it?" They're right, of course. For hundreds of millions of users XP will works.

1. Windows 7

But the number one reason with a bullet why Windows 8 is going to start up like a car hubcap deep in red-clay mud without any gas is that business customers still haven't even completed their Windows 7 roll-outs. Do you really think businesses are going to do another major migration in 2013? 2014? Heck, 2015!? I don't think so!

Besides do businesses really want to waste time and money moving to the Windows 8 Metro applications? Training their staff on the entirely different Metro interface? There's no way businesses will be moving to Windows 8 anytime soon.

So, at the end of the day, besides all the other reasons I see for Windows 8's forthcoming failure, I see Windows 8's biggest rivals being the rise of Web-browser/cloud-based computers; it's failure to keep up with Apple and Google on smartphones and tablets, but most of all, its own installed base is simply not ready to switch to Windows 8.

If Windows 8 brought something truly new and wonderful to its users, then maybe it could overcome all this. It doesn't. To me, the real question isn't whether Windows 8 will fail. It will. It's whether by 2016 the changing IT would will have room left for Windows 9 to matter at all.

Related Stories:

Five ways Windows 8 could fail

Is Windows 8 Metro failing even at Microsoft?

Why Windows 8 will be Dead on Arrival

Windows 8 Consumer Preview due February 29: why it's not called beta

Why Windows 8 matters for real work, and so will Windows 9

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