Could Microsoft’s Windows 8 turn out to be like Novell’s Netware 4 story?

According to Paul Thurrott, Windows 8 is tanking harder than Microsoft is comfortable discussing in public, and the latest release, Windows 8.1, which is a substantial and free upgrade with major improvements over the original release, is in use on less than 25 million PCs at the moment. That’s a disaster

I couldn’t help seeing a parallel between Windows 8 story as told by Paul Thurrott in his latest blog post and what happened with Novell and Netware 4. I was triggered by this phrase:

Windows 8 is tanking harder than Microsoft is comfortable discussing in public, and the latest release, Windows 8.1, which is a substantial and free upgrade with major improvements over the original release, is in use on less than 25 million PCs at the moment. That’s a disaster…

What’s ironic is that, Microsoft was the one who pushed Novell to outdo themselves, and they came out with Netware 4, from which they never recovered.  I remember well when Netware 4 shipped and changed everything.

The blog mentioned: “Threshold” to be Called Windows 9, Ship in April 2015

Will Windows 8 eventually drop the acid colours from Metro?

It is interesting to watch what i would call Microsoft’s renaissance – in the French language interpretation of it. It is not yet clear if the markets (consumers!) are wholeheartedly responding. But the telling signs are multiple in my opinion, the first sign for me is a combination of the following:

  • when I saw the first preview of Windows Phone 7
  • the developer tools group’s genuine embrace of open source
  • the work they are doing with the programming languages, think F#, what their language designers say these days
  • the very impressive Azure product line
  • and the first develop preview of Windows 8

I like the general user experience of Metro Style UI. The one thing I haven’t warmed up to yet is the acid colours, those colours are “too loud” to my taste. That would be my single criticism for now. I hope there would be a way to tone that down when it eventually ships.

Windows 8 will ship when it’s ready, not forced by a schedule!

In an unprecedented move, Microsoft said that Windows 8 will ship when it is ready, they are driven by quality and not by a schedule. The second surprise, to me at least, is that Windows 8 previews will not require activation keys.

I briefly caught up with the keynotes live stream of Microsoft’s Build Windows event today. I saw about 15min of it and these are my favourite take aways:

  • Microsoft’s Steve Sinofsky said that, I quote him, roughly “Windows 8 will ship when it’s ready, Microsoft is focusing on quality and they will not be driven by a schedule”. That’s exactly the kind of language you hear from popular Open Source project leaders, last time I read it was from a Ruby on Rails framework developer (talking at the time, about when  Rails 3.1 would be released)
  • Windows 8 preview releases will not require any activation key
  • And of course, the 8 second boot time (I may not have properly heard that one, but there was an 8 sec boot time demo’ed earlier)
Microsoft  announced that Windows 8 developer preview would be available for download at 3 AM GMT on 14 September. I’m already prepared for a title like “the most downloaded OS preview ever!” or something like that, being announced within a week perhaps. Let me risk a gamble, 2 Mio downloads within 5 days? 😉

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.