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Posts Tagged ‘Windows 8’

In our prior post we pointed out a few of the highlights of Microsoft’s all new Windows 8 operating system, due for release in just a couple days now (October 25th).

The day we wrote that post, the Wall Street Journal published a slightly more jaundiced view of the pending release of Microsoft’s biggest new thing in quite some time, in an article titled “Windows 8: A Difficult Workhorse to Ride?”  It seemed appropriate to counter our prior post then with a few highlights from the Journal’s take.

The article (WSJ, October 16, 2012, p. B1) points out that many companies, which will likely stick with laptops and desktops for the foreseeable future despite the rise of tablets, worry that employees will be frustrated with Windows 8’s changes.

The frustration portends the need for a lot more user training.  As one CIO of a firm currently using 3,000 Windows PCs pointed out, while the interface is good for tablets, “on a laptop, it’s more difficult to use.”

Gartner analyst Stephen Kleynhans says “This is going to be the first time in a decade and a half that companies are actually going to have to teach someone to use Windows.”  Microsoft counters that the benefits are worth the learning curve.  But it has a lot at stake.  Any hesitation in adoption rates for Win8 gives Apple and other non-Windows tablets more time to penetrate the business market, thus undermining Windows’ desktop dominance.

Forrester Research looked at Windows adoption rates, comparing Windows 7 to Windows 8.  It found that about one-third of companies plan to adopt Windows 8 eventually, while 57% haven’t considered 8, or plan to skip it.  At the same point prior to Windows 7’s release in 2009, twice as many companies said they planned to migrate, and only half as many said they would skip it.  After all, many companies spent a lot of money upgrading to Windows 7.  Still, that’s a big disparity, and a real cause for concern for Microsoft.

Then again, other companies, many of whom stuck with Windows XP and did not make the move to 7, are now looking forward to the move to 8.  It’s too soon of course to know the final outcome, but Microsoft is nothing if not patient and persistent.

And while tablets will generate about $10 billion this year in revenues, spending on Windows-based computers, while dipping by 3%, will still dwarf tablet sales by a factor of twelve to one.  There’s still time for Microsoft to build on its formidable desktop dominance.  But the winds are shifting, and Windows 8 comes not a moment too soon.  Users’ willingness to adapt to it, and to roll with the changes, will determine how well Microsoft succeeds.

 

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A combination of recent announcements by, and news reports about, Microsoft’s upcoming new offerings prompts us to write today about products you can expect to see – and may find yourself working with before long – for our business users.

It’s long been noted that Microsoft missed the smartphone revolution that today is dominated largely by Apple, Samsung and Google via its Android operating system.  At the same time, Google (and others) have released cheap versions of web-based productivity software to compete with the likes of Excel and Word, the mainstays of Microsoft Office — and also, by the way, its largest revenue source by product category.

Microsoft is attempting to correct these miscues with a slew of new products.

For starters, Hotmail recently became Outlook.com, immediately playing off the branding associated with Microsoft’s best-selling email offering.  Facebook, in which Microsoft owns a stake, will be integrated with Outlook.com, thus giving Microsoft a social boost.  As well, Microsoft acquired messaging service Skype awhile back, and promises to integrate that too.  Outlook.com promises not so much revenue, but to be a ‘sticky’ sort of ap that attracts users to other Microsoft products, and keeps users ‘in the family.’  It signed up a million users on its first day, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, Microsoft will soon unveil an updated version of Office that is more web-enabled, hoping to steal some of the competing Google office aps’ momentum. 

And of course, its new operating system, Windows 8, is bound to cause a splash.  It was specifically written to offer a touch interface that would be attractive to (and combine usage by) both mobile phone and PC users.  Naturally, though in a bit of a surprise move, it released its new tablet-style PC, the Surface, which will feature Windows 8 and give Microsoft a chance to show off its new operating system’s utility. 

Surface merges a laptop with a tablet, featuring a slick cover that doubles as a keyboard, provides Office productivity aps, and promises to be a more functional tool for business users than the more “passive” tablets from Apple and others.  Those devices, while optimized for receiving and streaming (think movies and pictures) are less than robust when it comes to actually working, a gap Microsoft hopes to fill with its new offering.

And then there’s Phone 8, the next mobile operating system from Microsoft, built on Windows 8 technology, which may please developers and corporate IT staffs, who can built aps that run on both office/PC and mobile/phone devices somewhat seamlessly.  Oh, and Windows Server 2012 is due this Fall, too. 

And if all that’s not enough, Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2013 (our flagship ERP product) is due for release in October.  It promises three user experiences: the standard client, the web-browser client and a new Sharepoint client too.

Tech changes: they’re like our Midwestern weather.  Don’t like it?  Relax, it will all change quickly enough.

 

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Slightly off topic for us, but of interest to nearly all computer users, are the recent developments surrounding Microsoft’s latest operating system…

The next release of Windows – Windows 8 —  is estimated by industry watchers to be about a year away.  It’s also said to be the most significant overhaul to Windows since Windows 95.  The new OS will included radical user-interface changes, including the fact that is said to be abandoning Windows’ desktop model in favor of colorful Windows Phone-style tiles.

The idea is to accommodate the new waves of computing devices, including tablets.  Early looks would indicate it’s the most ‘visual’ Windows UI yet.

There’s a blog available for more information, and its first post was written (in mid-August) by Microsoft Windows Division President Steven Sinofsky.

Subsequent articles have begun discussing virtualization in Windows 8, faster boot times, touch-screen capability, and a new Windows style of browsing called metro style, or “touch first” browsing, inspired by Windows Phone 7 and built on Internet Explorer 10’s engine architecture.  W/8 will include an HTML5 browsing engine for improved speed. 

Research from other sites has shown us that there’s even a split virtual keyboard so users don’t have to put down their tablet to type: half the keyboard will be on the left side of your tablet device, and half on the right.  With your thumbs apparently left to balance your pad underneath, this should make for some interesting typing.  It will also include a full, normal layout touch-based keyboard on screen for those with more demanding typing needs for business applications.

The current version of the metro style browser, debuted at Microsoft’s recent BUILD conference, is for developers, not consumers.  They’ll be working on this for awhile.  Other features: You can pin favorite websites to the Start screen.  Controls have more space around them, in order to be more touch-friendly.  There are supposed to be two interfaces actually, one being the metro style, the other being a more classic style, both built on the same engine.  Microsoft likens this to a single browser with two different ‘skins.’  Your choice will likely depend on how much of the “desktop” experience you want.

One of the greatest brewing controversies involves Microsoft’s decision not to support plug-in technology in the metro interface.  That means there’s some argument over whether Adobe Flash, for example, will run in metro mode.   Adobe says it will, via Adobe AIR.  There’s also discussion and developer feedback (not to mention argument) over menus, ribbons and other form and style choices to be found in the new Windows.

Explore the posts for yourself.  You’ll find the index to all posts here   and it appears it’s being updated frequently.

If nothing else, the blog’s comments, ruminations and dialogue with developers give one a sense of just how mammoth a project developing an OS really is.

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