The release of the Microsoft operating system, Windows 8, and tablet, Surface, has been announced. October 26th is the date that will set Microsoft’s fate, for better or worse. The backlash from the direction the industry giant is taking has already begun. Most of the flack comes from partner manufacturers that feel slighted by the Surface tablet and secondly by software developers that say Windows 8 is a ‘catastrophe’.
The ire over Surface comes from Partners that had previously enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with Microsoft; providing a hardware platform that allowed both Microsoft and hardware manufacturers to benefit from success. Now Microsoft will be competing directly with these manufacturers in the market place – similar to the model Apple has. This removes a lot of incentive to bend over backward to support the Windows platform.
Developers are also voicing their frustrations about Windows 8 and how difficult it is to provide a consistent user experience. Gabe Newell, former Microsoft employee and current co-founder and managing director of Valve Corporation, who revolutionized online distribution, claims his 10 year outlook sees Linux becoming a more predominant platform for software development. Brad Wardell, president and CEO of software company Stardock, holds out hope that there is time for Microsoft to come to their senses and “someone at Microsoft will realize the peril they’re putting their flagship OS in”.
The details of the Surface release still remain a bit murky. The release date was “leaked” as part of an SEC filing by Microsoft, and there’s not a lot of information available yet. One online retailer in Sweden is listing the tablet as the equivalent of $1,000. As re-sellers, we’re waiting to see if we’ll be able to sell them through our distributors or not.
One thing is for certain – if there is a version of Office for Surface, it will sell. That is a major feature lacking in the Apple iPad that Microsoft can certainly fill, and we see a lot of users that were either on the fence about a tablet or current iPad owners getting Surface for that ability.
Resistance to change is common and only time will tell if these decisions reap brilliant success or disaster.