Launch Day for Microsoft: Windows 8 and Surface

When it comes to tech companies that make headlines, it always seems like Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon catch the spotlight. Such tech companies take creative and usually meaningful actions that earn them attention. Just two days ago, millions of people were paying attention to Apple and its latest announcements, and the hype had been building for weeks.

One company that many of us interact with on some level every day never seems to get as much attention as the other big tech companies: Microsoft. Microsoft helped build the PC platform to a household product. Their Windows operating system has been the way we interact with PCs for decades. Now they are hoping to get back in the spotlight with a big launch today at 8:15 a.m. PT.

Good Ol’ Microsoft

According to an AP story posted on the Boston Globe, today marks the “U.S. launch of its newest operating system [and] … also heralds the launch of the software company’s Surface tablet.” It looks as if Microsoft is hoping the double-whammy launch will propel it in some way to equal standing with its competitors. I’m not sure that’s really going to do much, as the Boston Globe notes that “most analysts believe companies and governments will hold off on upgrading to Windows 8.” I know I have no plans to upgrade my OS in the near future. Windows 7 is working great for me. In fact, lots of people still use Windows XP, which is now in its 11th year of operation!

Is MS Trying Too Hard with Too Much at Risk?

To me, it feels like Windows 7 was released just yesterday. I know it has been a few years, but when it comes to operating systems, having a 10+ year system in XP really made it easy for consumers to get used to something for a decent amount of time without having to worry about upgrading in a few years.

Microsoft is taking a hugely different approach with Windows 8. Plus, they are releasing their Surface tablet (which is overpriced in my opinion – $599 with the touch keyboard!?) at the same time. David Goldman at CNN Money is a bit concerned about the company’s future if Windows 8 and Surface don’t do well.

Windows, as Goldman writes, has been the “linchpin of Microsoft’s empire.”  It has made them billions, but problems are on the rise. Goldman also states, “The Windows money tree is beginning to wilt. PC sales are slumping [and] … revenue has fallen for two straight years.” Add to that the rapidly expanding tablet market that Microsoft is just now entering with a high-end tablet. These new offerings have to work for Microsoft or it will slowly – very slowly – fade from prominence.

Lots of Catching Up to Do

For Microsoft to be successful, consumers and businesses are going to have to overcome their initial aversion to the redesigned Windows 8. The company also must massively expand their app store. The offerings are now pale in comparison to Apple or even Android. Goldman writes, “If Windows app development doesn’t skyrocket, Microsoft’s master plan is at risk.” Microsoft sat by idly for years as Google, Amazon, and Apple lead the charge into the new world of computing. Tablets, smartphones, and apps are the direction people are increasingly choosing—not the stale world of Microsoft and Windows. Microsoft doesn’t have a lot of time to catch up.

Don’t Fight Change, Especially in the Tech World

I take a few lessons out of Microsoft’s behavior. Sure, they used to be the biggest tech company. They determined the status quo of the PC market for years. But they quickly became stale. Technology moved past them, and it seemed as though they weren’t paying attention. Maybe they got too big, too lazy, too arrogant, or too aloof. I’m not sure anyone knows the exact reason.

I do know, however, that given the nature of technology, people and businesses can’t sit back and relax. We need to pay attention to how people are using technology; interacting and marketing to people using the most popular platforms of the day will help your business. The longer you wait, the more time competition has to take ground that should be yours.

What do you think of Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Surface tablets? Are they too little, too late? Are they promising solutions?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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