Windows Blue won't solve all Microsoft's problems, analysts say

Drumbeat of leaks leads to high expectations for upgrade, but pricing, form factor and apps need attention, too

By , Computerworld |  Windows

"Everyone's obsessed with the look of the thing. What do I care about a Start button in Windows 8 if I spend all my time on the desktop? It's the lack of good applications [that's hurting Windows]. And from what I can tell, developers aren't going to get anything from Blue. I don't see anything about apps getting better."

To prove his point, Cherry pointed to the apps Microsoft has created for Windows 8 and Windows RT, such as the "Mail, Calendar, People and Messaging" app.

"If that's the best Microsoft can do, if that's what they come up with, with their resources, it's no surprise that there's not a [third-party] app worth a darn," said Cherry.

Rather than tout its new, faster release cadence, Microsoft should instead tell developers what it will do to help them make top-notch apps. Without those, Cherry questioned the entire Windows strategy. "Make a statement of intentions on development," he urged Microsoft. "Tell developers, 'We're going to get you all the assistance and all the documentation you need, we will create apps that are so full-featured that they will inspire you to write great apps.'"

Microsoft may be able to solve the pricing, form factor and app problems these analysts see as critical to Windows' transition from a desktop OS to one that works equally well on touch-enabled tablets. None are counting the company out.

"Never assume that the first iteration will succeed," said King of Strategic Analytics. "For a small company, a failure could be disastrous, but for Microsoft, as large as it is, it's just a hiccup."

"I don't think this is Microsoft's last shot [at Windows 8 success]," said Forrester's Gownder of Blue. "Microsoft has made missteps with Windows 8, but they did the same with Windows Vista. And they moved on. They have an established position in the market, and a lot to offer. They'll get there."

Gartner's Silver may not have been that optimistic -- "Blue isn't going to save Windows or PCs," he said in an interview earlier this week -- but like Gownder, he conceded that Microsoft has more than one chance of making Windows 8 palatable to consumers and enterprises.

"They'd better have multiple iterations of Windows 8, because its attempt so far to blunt the affect of tablets on PC sales was pretty minimal," Silver said. "Microsoft is right in looking toward the next release, admitting it make mistakes. At least it's a step in the right direction."

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