Beaten to the punch by Apple for the launch of this year’s must-have tablet, it’s clear that Microsoft will need comfort rather than hype to spur on the launch of its new Windows 8 operating system and its associated Surface tablet. Given that both the world of the PC and the corporate computing world are still largely driven by Microsoft’s Windows platforms, the Redmond company is confident that both consumers and corporate clients won’t have much issue upgrading to its new (and not to mention affordable) Windows 8 platform.
But maybe the Redmond Company isn’t as confident as it says it is, as its rumoured Microsoft has dedicated between US$1.5 to $1.8 billion dollars in advertising in an all out marketing blitz.
The problem, you see, is that no matter how comfortable consumer and corporate clients are with their Windows OS, getting those clients to upgrade to the latest offering has always been a challenge. While some analysts predict that the touchscreen features of the new OS will impede adoption, the primary reason is that clients simply have no compelling reason to migrate to Windows 8.
In an effort to encourage the adoption of Windows 8, Microsoft released two important numbers ahead of next week’s release: $39.99 and $499, the former being the temporary Windows 8 upgrade price with the latter being the retail price of the company’s Surface tablet. Microsoft is hoping that by offering the lowest OS upgrade price ever and a competitive, functional, and advanced 10-inch tablet at the lower end of the 10-inch tablet price point that it will motivate clients to upgrade to Windows 8 sooner rather than later.
But the problem with Windows users, both consumer and corporate, is that they’re often creatures of habit, particularly large corporate IT departments. While it might be nice to upgrade to Windows 8, with all its concomitant new features, it requires learning an entirely new OS and then distributing and managing that new OS across a vast network of computers…a headache to say the least. Add to that Microsoft’s inglorious penchant for releasing its new operating systems with a host of glitches and bugs, and you can begin to see how much work it will take to get people hooked on Windows 8.
In fact, in a recent independent ITIC Windows 8 Development and Usage Trends survey, only 1 in 10 organizations indicated it had plans to migrate to Windows 8 following its release. This number is a huge departure from the 64 percent who indicated immediate plans to upgrade to Windows 7 just three years ago. The reason for corporate client apprehension is simple; Windows 7 continues to adequately serve their needs.
Unfortunately for Microsoft that will likely mean that the migration to Windows 8 will likely be a trickle instead of a torrent, as I would guess corporate clients will only begin the Windows 8 rollover if and when the extant BYOD movement forces it too. That is, companies will migrate when enough of their respective employees have upgraded to Windows 8 for their personal use, ostensibly demanding their businesses do the same.
In the end, while I don’t think Microsoft’s Windows 8 experiment will be a bust, with many having just recently invested in an upgrade to Windows 7 I believe both consumer and corporate clients will take a wait and see approach, meaning that Microsoft will likely need to tread water for at least a year before adoption really takes off.