Windows 8: Turning Point or Repeat of History?
Windows Phone 7 failed, in a big way. This was mainly caused by Microsoft's inability to execute properly, as well as a failure to get their product out at the right time. They managed to scrape by with their much improved, but still not good enough, smartphone operating system for the next few years while also being saved by the sales of Windows 7. When the first images of Windows 8 were released there was much excitement that Microsoft, a company that had been stuck in a creatively rut, had come out with something innovative and user friendly. There is a chance that Windows 8 can do what Windows Phone 7 was unable to do on its own. Windows 8 has everything going for it, it has an innovative idea, a company to put money behind it, and connections with a wide range of hardware manufacturers across the world. There was still a sense of hesitancy and slight mistrust that needed to be adressed. Where might this feeling of caution, rather than excitement, be coming from. To understand this one needs to look back at other projects that Microsoft has worked on over the past few years as there are many that provide a lot of insight into the current state of Microsoft and the product it is now realeasing.
In November of 2010 Windows Phone 7 was released and it piqued the interest of many technology sites and magazines. One of the more interested parties was that of Joshua Topolsky who recently wrote an extensive article on the history of Microsoft and Windows, which was particularly interesting, but didn't quite cover an issue that came to mind. How did Windows Phone 7 succeed in some respects, while failing in others and how will Windows 8, a system very similar, be any different? One of the more crucial places Windows Phone 7 really struggled was in gaining support of hardware manufacturers. If you can't get people to make phones with your software on them, then you may as well have never made the software in the first place. Windows Phone 7 lacked the ability to gain traction in the market because it forced the handset makers to into very specific design frameworks, limiting their choices. Companies were frustrated with limited choices and questioned whether Windows Phone 7 was even worth their effort. Microsoft was trying to change their approach, but they didn't ease their hardware partners into the change. Here is where Windows 8 makes a big change in Microsoft's policy regarding software and hardware.
This change was the creation of Windows Surface, a newly announced tablet series by Microsoft, of which there are two initial models. The first model is the Surface for Windows 8 Pro, which offers higher end specifications at the cost of weight, while Surface for Windows RT, its companion, drops some poundage at the cost of a little bit of firepower, but both are capable machines. The importance of these two devices is immense because for the first time Microsoft is taking the reigns, a bit more, of the design of its hardware. Surface, Windows 8, and Windows Phone 8 are exemplary of Microsoft perfecting what they attempted to do in 2010. This isn't definitively a turning point for Microsoft, but it is a step in the right direction. My hat goes off the the mad scientists in the hardware department at Microsoft. People like them are the reason that Microsoft is still innovating, which I hope, with the right leadership, could lead to an extremely successful Micrsoft that makes great products again. These tablets will set the tone for the Windows 8 hardware market in the months to come because by making these tablets Microsoft is saying, "this is what we want you guys to make and innovate upon." Microsoft is guiding their operating system in a way that they have never done before and it looks very promising, not a gauranteed victory, but promising.