The real renaissance starts now for Microsoft
Windows 8 saw a launch of a "renaissance" for Microsoft. It was a clear attempt to break free of the declining PC era, and try something radically new to launch the company in a fresh direction. However, no matter how visionary it was, no one (even people at the tribe) can call Windows 8 a success. And for understandable reasons- I can't say that anyone should have expected something so game-changing to be seamless in its transition. It could have definitely been better though, in implementation and design, but overall most Tribe members at least would agree it was a push in the right direction
But this year it's different. Windows 8 hinged on many things for its success, many of which couldn't have all been present from day 1. But now things are starting to align, and setting themselves up for a real "renaissance". Microsoft is carefully planning all its cards:
1. Windows 8.1 is a real refinement
Microsoft has had a chance to receive copious feedback on Windows 8 and is set to soon release Windows 8.1, which is universally considered a solid update to bring a more pleasant user experience. Most notable to Microsoft's "vision" of a post-PC era is a resolution fix.
2. Haswell and later, Broadwell
PCs have long been criticized for battery issues. No more. Broadwell is said to build upon Haswell's 50% bump by increasing it 30% more. This makes room for battery sucking higher res screens
2.5 1080p, 1440p, and 1800p
Now everything is high res, from tablets, to computers, to phones. GDR3 most notably allowed 1080p windows phone devices, and microsoft recently enabled high resolution windows tablets. 1800p computers are now a thing as well.
3. Microsoft Precision Point Touchpad
I wish there would be an update on this, but Microsoft has announced and teased precision point technology to debut in laptops this fall. It is expected to put windows trackpads to a higher standard.
4. Convertibles refined
OEMs should have a 10x better sense what convertibles work, and which don't. In particular, 180 degree hinges and computers that can go into tablet modes are popular. Note the number of "yoga" imitators there are now, and Sony's flip PC. I can say that while the average know-nothing consumer "hates" windows 8, all think a touchscreen computer is pretty awesome.
5. Intel Baytrail Atom Processor
Atom was an antiquated processor for tablets, and it as a shame that most windows 8 hybrids were forced to run it. Now with updated architecture, we can find reasonably powerful tablets with great battery life. This is the chip that windows 8 tablets like the thinkpad tablet, surface RT, ideapad lynx, asus transformer (and hundreds others) needed. On the ARM side, Tegra 4 is an option but it seems less convincing.
6. RT ready to hit low pricepoints, this time with a semi-mature app store
Intel announced that windows tablets would hit lower price points - big news for RT. RT is a great OS that failed for 2 reasons: lack of a good processors to power it (tegra3 and intel atom) and a lack of a good price. Using windows 8 as an incentive to make developers build apps for RT, Microsoft has decently positioned RT as a tablet ecosystem: it has a solid # of apps to take on android now. While android is more mature, it is very limited in its OS for tablets due to the nature of its construction: it started as a mobile OS and "adapted" itself to a larger screen. RT was built with tablets in mind.
8. Rapid WP updates and Nokia Aquisition
I think the # of GDR3/WP8.1 leaks are no "accidents". I think Microsoft is trying to show consumers that work is being done, and it will get here as fast as possible (aka, addressing previous criticism of a slow update cycle).
And Microsoft can make its own phones.
9. The competitors
My last piece is probably the most important: the competition. Life is relative after all. If you look around, you have Google with android on the mobile/tablet side and chrome OS. Android has arguably reached its peak - it is jagged and fragmented, and has succeeded because there was no other competition. Windows Phone currently is clearly superior on the low end space, where Android's bloated numbers come from, and is in a powerful position to gain in the next few years. On the tablet side, Android is especially weak, and has only thrived on ridiculously low price points which RT will now break. Chrome OS is an interesting concept, but it is not future proof: it is still based in the aged concept of a PC.
Apple has OSx and iOS. Both are mature platforms, but neither are moving. OSx will continue to take a niche market in a declining PC market, offering great hardware option and a competent OS. iOS is a very smart OS that will continue to be a competitive tablet and phone option. The problem? Apple is not growing anymore. It has already "reaped" the revenue from having a great mobile OS. For now, Apple is only refining itself, which will let it keep its current market share numbers. Continued dominance, but not more dominance. Apple too, is at the peak of its success.
10. The original vision of Windows 8
The future is mobile. Apple knew it and now we are in a market dominated by mobile OS's that are not post-PC: they are PCs. Apple did a phenomenal job of creating this revolutionary push towards mobile, and it will be Microsoft who will continue it. Android was always ungraceful and un-visionary IMO, and only succeeded because Microsoft came late.
Windows 8 takes Apple's original idea and pushes it to the future. An OS that is streamlined for mobile use. Desktops are dead. Microsoft is currently feeling consequences of joining late, but soon it will also realize the benefits of moving 2nd. It's OS is prepared to take on the future: touch/gesture based mobile computing. Last year few saw this vision, but now the plan is coming into fruition. The pieces are coming together. The stars are aligned. The real renaissance starts now for Microsoft.