Windows 8 isn't New Coke, says top Microsoft exec; it's Diet Coke

Frank X. Shaw defends Windows disclosure strategy, denies aping Apple

By , Computerworld |  Windows

Shaw also took exception to the point many have made that developers were not kept as informed about Windows 8 as in past iterations of the OS, and that what they did get was much later in the development cycle than in the past. That contributed to the Windows Store's app tally and the omission, still, of some major apps, such as one dedicated to Facebook, the theory goes.

"We did tons of work with developers and ISVs to get them ready and to train them," said Shaw, citing the 2011 BUILD conference and follow-on efforts. "The thing that people have to recognize is that until Windows 8 shipped, there were zero targeted devices."

And sans those devices, implied Shaw, it was no surprise that at launch the app store had relatively few apps. "Developers are rational creatures," he said, hinting that until they had hardware they could use to test their apps, they took a wait-and-see stance. "We had realistic expectations of what [the app store] would look like at launch. There was never a 'work-done' moment for us related to the launch."

In the interview, Shaw again blasted press coverage of Windows 8.1. Some stories and opinion pieces described the changes Microsoft might make with the update as a retreat from its previous vision for the OS, and compared Windows 8 to the Coca-Cola debacle of 1985, when within months of the introduction of "New Coke," the beverage giant yanked the reformulated soda.

Shaw's counter-attack drew criticism of its own, with Moorhead saying it was a sign of weakness for a company as large as Microsoft to be thin-skinned.

Shaw disagreed. "These things stick," he said of pieces by The Financial Times and The Economist, which he had earlier singled out as examples of what he called "sensationalism and hyperbole."

"If you don't do anything about it, it can become perceived wisdom," said Shaw, explaining why he wrote the Friday post. "If we don't say anything, then we shouldn't expect other people to read our minds. So we get our voice out there."

Speaking of New Coke, Shaw even had a take on the metaphor.

"If anything, Windows 8 is like Diet Coke," said Shaw. "Diet Coke was a product that mapped an entirely new need expressed by the marketplace, something that tasted just like Coke but had zero calories."

Diet Coke is the world's second-biggest soda, behind only Coke itself and ahead of Pepsi, which it passed in 2010.

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