Having tested Windows 8 for a while raised some questions in my mind about Microsoft’s strategy for the future. It’s fairly obvious that the focus in Windows 8 has been on making an OS for touch screen devices. And only that. The desktop environment is something that had to come along since it is still required by most users. But if they could they would probably have wanted to removed it. Because full screen metro apps are so amazingly awesome! Well, right now, anyway. But if you ask me this is a mistake.
Microsoft’s stronghold and cash cow is the business environment. Businesses use the desktop environment, and there is no real advantage for them to switch to metro apps as far as I can see. But now Microsoft is basically forcing Metro onto businesses, because it is so tightly integrated into the new system. I don’t see any big gains in switching from Windows 7 to 8 from a business point of view. The cost of training is probably substantial though, yet corporations will continue to use desktop environment and their office applications, which basically works the same in Windows 8. I see a risk of a repeating the XP vs Vista situations. Nobody wanted Vista, so people and companies continued to use XP and even demanded that new computers come with XP even though Vista has been out for long time.
My impression is that Microsoft feels a pressure to be innovative. In the quest to be perceived as a hip company, always at the cutting edge, they regularly make major changes in their applications and systems. Have you noticed that MS Office never seems to look like a standard Windows application? They always re-invent the interface. Yet the Windows interface, also designed by Microsoft and supposedly grounded in scientific studies on usability, is what Microsoft expects everyone else to use when making software… Microsoft simply do not allow their applications to look like the previous version, even if there are non-visible areas improved. The changes must be visible, and Microsoft apparently feels a need to be the first to launch a new graphics style every now and then and “lead” the rest of the world. But if it ain’t broken, why try to fix it? In my opinion they make a lot of changes that do not work well at all, all in the name of innovation. Appearance before usability.
I think Microsoft is scared. Their monopoly is no longer as strong and self-evident. Apple dominate the premium mobile market and steadily grow on the desktop market. Google and Facebook dominate online. Microsoft wants to play with them. But do consumers and companies want to play with Microsoft?