After participating in the Windows 8 'Build' event few days ago, I came back home full of ideas and thoughts about the impressive stuff Microsoft showed in the opening session.
No doubt, adding the Metro Style UI to Windows is a bold move. Extremely bold, considering the fact that the latest products to use Metro style user interface (Zune HD, Windows Phone 7) did not create enough traction in terms of sales.
So the question remains: will this bold move put Microsoft back in the mainstream of the mobile world (namely tablets and even [as a non-direct result] smartphones)?
Here are 3 scenarios I can think of:
Scenario #1: Nothing Changes:
Windows 8 is released (end of 2012?), the desktop version is similar to Windows 7, the Metro Style UI gets a lot of positive reviews and praises, but similarly to Windows Phone 7, it gains little traction. Consumers either love it or hate it.
The result: Windows continues to dominant the PC market, but the PC market continues to slow down. Windows fails to penetrate the tablets realm, while iPad continues to lead the constantly growing tablets market and Android continues to gain wild momentum in all mobile fronts: smartphones, tablets, combined netbooks, webtops, etc.
Computers world is changing, but Microsoft fails to lead the revolution. Nothing changes.
Scenario #2: We Are Saved!
Windows 8 is released with a wide range of cutting edge tablets that can run more than 6 (hopefully even more than that) hours and give a decent fight to the iPad. We are all saved. No need to look after productivity tools that never reach perfection - we now have full windows running on tablets.
Metro Style UI becomes the most admirable user interface ever, consumers either love it or hate it, most of them adore it.
The combination of a stylish, simple, fresh, tablet optimized UI with the power of a real Windows with all of its productivity tools creates an all-in-one beast. Something nothing can match with. Not the iPad or even Android.
- "Let's see you run Visual Studio or Photoshop on your iToy", are laughing Windows 8 owners at Apple fanboys…
- "Still no decent Excel in your Android crap-let?" – they mock at the Google fans…
The result: Tablets are evolving from luxury toys into the next generation of portable PC's – computers that can serve both as real working stations or as entertainment tools. The revolution is led by Microsoft because both Apple and Google cannot turn their smartphone focused OS into a PC competitor.
Microsoft wins the game (for now): iPads and Android tablets are slowing down fast, while Windows 8 (and Window Phone 7 followsh) both ride on the success of the Metro Design. People are buying Windows 8 tablets with docking stations that turn them into a full-capacity desktops. Metro design becomes standard, and as a result, Windows Phone 7 becomes the second biggest mobile OS after Android (just like Gartner said it will…)
Steve Jobs returns to Apple (hopefully) and the company secretly starts building the next biggest invention ever: the iSky: an invisible gadget that lets you fly in the sky.
Scenario #3: Windows 8 is a disaster. It's all over:
Metro UI is full of bugs and too limited to allow actual work. Metro apps lack real multi-tasking while "old fashion" apps still drain battery so fast the tablets are completely dead after 2 hours. Overall experience is poor, users end up switching from the slate interface (Metro) to the desktop one, over and over, and over…
Consumers either love Metro or hate it. Most of them HATE it. The reviews are horrible, Vista is a sweet dream from the past comparing to this Windows 8 hell. After a short while, no one builds Windows tablets, and Windows Phone 7 suffers from it as well.
The result: Game is over. Windows 8 is the last of the Mohicans. PC world cease to exists.
Post-PC era begins; for real this time, everything is 100% pure mobile, Google Android is the indisputable king, running on just about any device out there regardless to the form factor, replacing Windows as the leading operating system for both pleasure and work. iPad is the jewel. Windows is no more.
I know what option I'm betting on… do you?