"Even if Microsoft doesn't consciously know there's a Plan B, they're such a resource rich and diverse company--and decision-making is pushed down to such a low level there--that if things really go wrong for them, and they go rooting around in the closet, they're bound to find a Plan B, something waiting in the wings," she says. "My guess is that there's stuff going on in the company that would be a de facto Plan B, even if it's not part of the strategy plan."
Wharton School Assistant Professor Andrea Matwyshyn also points to Microsoft's size and diversity as a default second option. She calls the 'No Plan B' talk "corporatespeak" (a term also used by Moorhead), though she says the intent behind Klein's comments is honest.
"If what's meant by 'There's no Plan B'--meaning, are you going to scrap this and adopt a completely new model and adopt something else in this section of your enterprise?--then, no, I don't think they're going to. And I don't think the [current Windows] model is wrong," she says.
Why a Plan B is needed
Matwyshyn's comments get to the heart of the matter. As Microsoft has said repeatedly, it's "all-in" on Windows 8 and the principles behind it. While desktop veterans may scream at the interface changes found in Windows 8, the ability to create a seamless user experience across all form factors is somewhat of a Holy Grail in modern-day computing. Like Sir Galahad, Microsoft might just be able to obtain its Holy Grail, especially if the rumors about a platform-unifying "Windows Blue" update bear fruit. In fact, Microsoft is betting the entire Windows farm that it can.
"I think the model makes sense," Matwyshyn says. "To create a contiguous user experience across all devices--that's the future. The user on the go wants to grab email on whatever device is convenient, or log in to various apps regardless of the physical situation."
Microsoft's vision is grand and forward-looking, but shoehorning a mobile-friendly interface onto desktop setups built around keyboards and mice is bound to have some growing pains (as commenters will indubitably explain at the bottom of this very article before long). The somewhat jarring transition may or may not pay off in the end--but let's hope it does, especially if there's no Plan B. Still, it certainly leaves Microsoft vulnerable in the short term.