On iPhone, toys, the enterprise and of course, Windows 8


Flashback 5 years ago. In 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone, the original model, which had no 3G support and cost more than any other mobile phone. At that time, Nokia dominated the market, with almost 40% market share, and Samsung was gaining ground on Motorola, both owning around 15% of the industry sales. Funny, how things change in so little time, but what's even funnier, is how the competition reacted to the iPhone. Some of you may remember how Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, laughed at the iPhone, saying that it's pretty much an expensive toy that would never penetrate the enterprise. History proved him wrong, and we can only guess if this was one of the most bitter predictions he ever made.

Apple proved that with proper marketing, a toy can find its place in the enterprise, a place traditionally owned by Microsoft. We must understand that even if a lot of Microsoft's revenue does come from the Windows division, most of it still comes from their enterprise business (Business Division + Server and Tools). But is the enterprise ready for a radical user interface such as Windows 8's Metro? I hope Microsoft isn't overcompensating for the totally wrong estimate about the success of the iPhone, because it's hard to believe they will be able to pull something similar off. Sell another toy to the enterprise.

I love Windows Phone 7. The user interface is great, the user experience is intuitive and fun. I like what I've seen about Windows 8. I think it's fresh and modern, something that even Apple could be proud of. But what worries me is its adoption in business environments, which is Microsoft's core business. The phone and a tablet are primarily casual gadgets, the personal computer is not. And there is already quite a bit of bad press around about the upcoming new version of Windows. Some have already said the next Vista situation might happen, and that most people will stay on Windows 7, like they did on XP before.

I think the average user in the enterprise in not that tech-savvy. Imagine a 50 year old secretary, struggling with the new fundamentally different environment of Windows 8. Businesses have already had problems with implementing the new Office 2007, at it was only slightly different than the previous version (compared to the differences between Windows 8 and Windows 7). Who will pay for the massive training required by users to adapt to the new Windows? Which company will risk it?

Of course, I might be wrong and Microsoft isn't primarily interested in the enterprise with this release. Maybe they are just trying to own a bigger share of the consumer markets, and targeting mostly smartphones and tablets, hardware included. This might be an interesting strategy, since adoption of Macs has also grown with the success of the iPhone and iPad. I hope they have a solid plan behind it, because I would like to see Windows 8 succeed. Because Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7 actually did higher my perception of Microsoft, they made me believe Windows can be awesome. But to succeed, Windows 8 will have to be more than awesome, the way it's done, it will have to be so amazing my mother will be able to use it on her first try. Otherwise she won't.

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written 1.8.2012 8:34 CET on chronolog
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