Windows 8: Great for Consumers, Not So Good for IT... Yet - Executive Viewpoint 2013 Prediction: SmartDeploy

Aaron Suzuki (Profile)
Tuesday, January 29th 2013

Windows 8 will have a sleepy year in 2013, which is too bad because it does a lot of cool things. The Surface device is slick, but I predict consumer uptake will be moderate based on three key factors:

  1. The competition,
  2. the price tag, and
  3. the dramatically changed - and therefore initially alienating - user experience.

To get a really capable device you’re going to spend a PC budget… and not a netbook budget, either. With the price starting at $599, the Surface is right on the line between a tablet and a PC but ultimately is neither. An ultrabook is a PC that can become a tablet. Although we have a Windows 8 tablet in the office that has no keyboard, the ultrabook is what people will buy.

Computing is, as it has always been, about the apps. With the Pro device ruled out due to price, the cheaper, less capable Windows RT device is left to compete at a relatively lower price point, but it is handicapped by still being priced too high relative to the market-proven competition and a lack of apps. I don’t foresee Microsoft successfully building out a competitive app store in time to win meaningful tablet market share in 2013. And without a robust app store, the premium price tag is a problematic barrier to adoption. I believe Microsoft will eventually have the best app store on the planet. But it is just hard to know when that will happen

In business, with Windows XP just falling past the 50% mark in 2012, Windows 8 will get little attention in 2013. Windows 8 is much less relevant without a touch-enabled device. With businesses refreshing PC inventories for the Windows 7 migrations, they either recently finished, have in progress, or are just starting, they’re not about to go out and rush to deploy first generation hardware running brand new operating system that no one knows how to use.  In this regard, Windows 8 is an affront to productivity, which is antithetical to the purpose of technology in business in the first place.

For the masses of organizations that have not started their Windows migration, they might eventually migrate directly to Windows 8 from Windows XP, but it is unlikely that it will be in 2013. They are going to wait for a Service Pack – or in the absence of Service Packs a lot of updates and fixes – for Windows 8 and at least second generation hardware. The favorable coincidence is that both of these should exist readily by the time Windows XP is finally end of life. Organizations that hold out for this migration scenario will have the advantage of moving directly to the most modern computing paradigm, will have the time to have their people adjust through consumer adoption, and even have the additional time for ISVs and internal development to overcome any remaining application compatibility issues. To be clear, the same migration challenges exist for XP to 8 migrations as they do for XP to 7 migrations. There is no particular advantage to migration to Windows 7 if you plan to move to Windows 8 soon.

Yet, by the end of 2013, I predict we’ll start to see interesting new Windows platform-based, touch-enabled PCs with beautiful, highly functional designs from multiple OEMs. Prices will probably remain high through the year alleviated only by deep discounts and heavy promotions from strategic vendors hoping to carve out market share.