A/B Split testing a major platform: Windows re-imagined

Windows 8, what’s not in the name is that the traditional desktop OS will not be loaded by default. In a Microsoft Windows world most features were “opt-out sometimes”, but with Windows 8 it seems that even the OS becomes “opt-in always”. Coming from Microsoft, this is the most significant sign that talks of post-PC aren’t exaggerated at all.

This is the most significant sign yet that the IT industry is admitting we are heading to a post-PC era, Microsoft’s last drop makes this quite clear. In this blog of Sinofsky (yes, it’s a Steve’s World), Microsoft is saying that Windows 8 may run without even loading Windows OS. The new OS is definitely positioned as a post-Windows OS, Windows+ perhaps? Once marketing settles on a name, I think it may not even include the word “Windows”.

This is Microsoft on the offensive, big time. Such a bold move must be aimed at taking the wind out of the sails of Google and Apple. HP’s stutterings indicates that they are no longer in this game, certainly not focused enough to be a contender in a post-PC market.

As I read it, Metro platform (and not just the UI) will be the default boot experience for Windows 8, this will surely not allow any traditional Windows applications to run. That should relegate the traditional Windows OS experience to a secondary role (if you really insist in having it, you can have it but we’re not pushing). It doesn’t take a pundit to imagine what that means: this is how Internet Explorer trounced Netscape, it was the default browser on the PC. Microsoft could not possibly be doing this lightly.

Where is the A/B split testing then? Well, it’s a two phase testing as I see it. By announcing the decision so early in a blog posting, Microsoft is asking the community to comment. If there is any significant outcry, then Microsoft would be vindicated that the masses badly wants to stick to the Windows experience. If not then the new OS may launch with Metro as its default experience, at that point a second split testing kicks in. If Metro UI is a runaway success, it’s game on in the new era. Microsoft stands to win whatever the outcome.

The only group that may have some hesitation here would be the partner ecosystem, folks who have invested their soul into the traditional Windows OS experience might be nervous. But I suppose there is not much choice here, the industry is no longer ruled by the laws that prevailed when vendors decided what users would be getting.

4 thoughts on “A/B Split testing a major platform: Windows re-imagined”

  1. Metro UI (and underlying platform) is now being tested by admittedly very small group of people – the ones using Windows Phone 7 devices. I’m one of them and to be honest, this is pretty much the best UI I’ve seen on a mobile device (iPhone included). Judging from Windows 8 videos, Microsoft seems to be able to scale it to a big screen pretty well. Not to mention, that big number of users (Xbox owners) will get Metro UI pretty soon. As such, they will also prefer it for their Windows 8 PC (my guess).

  2. Metro UI is nice, I completely agree with you there. I do recall Charlie Kindel’s demo of an early version, and I downloaded the SDK and took it for a spin. At the time already I thought Windows Phone 7 was a nice piece of work, and frankly I was a little surprised that it didn’t do too well in the market so far. Several dynamics are at play, Microsoft doesn’t seem to have found a way to get their marketing mojo back – remember folks used to say that Microsoft’s PR machine was unbeatable?

    Windows, XBox and Zune users should be delighted with the decision on Windows 8 UI (if it’s final that is, who knows what it might end up like). On another hand, just think about the masses that keep churning out vast amount of VB code, people who only swear by the common controls, they’d all have to migrate to Metro UI, how smooth is that going to be is anyone’s guess. I think it’s another IE6 problem, Microsoft is dying to tell those folks to just move on to the web and to stop looking back. It may be tough to pull.

  3. I think VB developers and such are the reason why Windows 8 has two faces – Metro UI and “normal” one. And I totally support this approach. After all, there are countless number of applications that will never be migrated to Metro. Not to mention enterprise customers and their “love” for new software that has not been tested for 10 years. Btw, I think there is another A/B testing (just to steal your term) in progress – the one related to developers. On one hand, there are Metro application. On other – “normal” ones. Even Metro area is A/B tested. WP7 Metro uses Silverlight, but Windows 8 Metro is going to be HTML5. And this very early announcement already generated countless comments and reactions from developers.I have no doubt that Microsoft will provide great tools, but it will be very interesting to see how they will make Silverlight developers happy.

  4. Perhaps you have considered adding videos to your blogs to have your readers more amused? I mean I just read through the entire article of yours and it was quite good but since Im more of a visual learner,I found that to be more helpful well let me know how it works out! I love what you guys are always up too. Such smart work and reporting! Maintain the good works guys Ive added you guys to my blogroll. It is a notable article many thanks for sharing this explanatory info.. I am going to visit your weblog frequently for most latest write-up.

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