There’s so much buzz surrounding Windows 10 right now that I think Microsoft is even having a hard time containing itself. If you think I’m wrong, check out Microsoft.com/Windows–there’s nary a mention of Windows 8 or a picture of TileWorld, and we're at least 6 months away from a release! It’s funny to me that the Why Windows page is still available on the Windows 8 site, frankly. Call it an relic, I guess.
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One of the announcements in the past week or so has been that Windows 10 will be available for free for one year to users of Windows 7 and 8. Don’t get too excited, though, because that only counts for consumers. Windows 10 Enterprise is only “free” if you “paid” for Software Assurance, and/or you are using the Windows per-user OS license (to be clear, I’m ok with this). Nonetheless, getting Windows 10 on home devices will no doubt encourage organizations to use it on employee PCs. All those people that called me after buying a Windows 8 laptop asking if I could downgrade it will certainly be happy.
So things are looking up in Redmond. On top of the Windows 10 buildup, they’re also celebrating the fact that Surface tablets aren’t doing too bad. “Not doing too bad,” at least in the context of Microsoft, means “Billion-Dollar Business.” That’s right, the very Surface tablets that we’ve been underwhelmed with (<-- that is an entertaining group of articles right there!) are generating a billion dollars in revenue per year. (I’m not sure if Surface technically counts as its own business unit. As recently as last year, they were still part of the Windows unit, which is itself a billion dollar unit)
That sounds successful, but success can be measured in many ways. Sure, Microsoft made a billion dollars on Surface tablets, but they’ve spent many more billions marketing the damned things, which means they’ve got a few more years of growth before you consider that a winner.
Not many companies can be off by a few billion and live to tell the tale, but many IT people that I speak to have some sort of ultra portable Windows need. It’s not company-wide, but by the sounds of it you’d be hard pressed to find a company without the need to use a tablet device running a full version of Windows with native applications. Nobody used RT (which is why it’s dead now), but running full Windows apps natively on mobile devices is a tangible, though still reluctant, need.
JIM: It sure would be nice to have a tablet that can run Windows apps offline instead of a laptop.
HELP DESK: I have a stack of Surface tablets here if you want to swap out your laptop for one
JIM: Whoa, yeah, I’ll do that.
HELP DESK: Ok, hold on while I bring one down and get you moved over to Windows 8.
JIM: Hold on a sec…Windows 8? Can I just have a MacBook?
HELP DESK: I already told you–if we get you a MacBook, then we have to get everyone a MacBook.
JIM: Ugh. I guess I’ll take the tablet.
What this means is that there are an increasing number of people using the devices despite Windows 8 being on them. Add Windows 10 to the mix and it’s not a stretch to see Microsoft increasing their foothold in the home and the enterprise, not to mention closing the gap between revenue and marketing dollars spent. And in this new world, users might not have to have a Windows tablet–they’ll want one.
Conversation this Fall:
JIM: Do you have a Surface tablet for me that runs Windows 10 yet?
HELP DESK: No, we can’t keep them in. There’s a pile of old Windows 8 ones in the recycle bin if you want that, though.
JIM: How about a Macb…
Let’s face it, as much fun as we’ve had bashing Microsoft (deservedly so) over the past few years, they’re poised to reap the benefits of all the good press that comes along with their change of tune. An increase in the number of Microsoft devices in the world combined with renewed interest in the OS that so many people have been down on for nearly three years certainly backs up the sentiment that neither Windows nor Microsoft are going away anytime soon. In fact, that same trend also means that more people and enterprises will begin to use Microsoft’s other services.
We’ve always said that if you give Microsoft three to five years in any given space, they’ll eventually get it right and take over. I thought those days might be in the past, but here we are in 2015. Microsoft has set their sights on Google, Apple, and VMware, and is making gains against all three. I’m very curious to see how it all unfolds and how it affects how we deploy applications, what features we can take advantage of for desktop virtualization, and how companies react. It seems like they're changing enough, but is it too late? Don't bet on it.