Business

Microsoft is taking a huge risk with Windows 8, and that's OK

Microsoft is ready to make a bold shift with the launch of Windows 8. Windows 8 is a dramatic departure from its predecessors, and Microsoft seems to be putting a lot on the line. Windows 7 is phenomenal, and people inherently resist change, so Windows 8 is a risky proposition. Frankly, though, it’s a risk Microsoft has to take.

Risk is a part of life. Not only is risk a part of life, but it’s an essential part of evolving and maturing as opposed to just stagnating. Don’t take my word for it—here are some quotes:

“If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T.S. Eliot

Technology changes rapidly. For decades, those changes all revolved around improvements in PC hardware, or ways to use a PC—changes that drove the success of the Windows operating system, and Microsoft as a whole. Since the smartphone and tablet revolution hit, though, Microsoft has found its relevance fading fast.

The landscape has changed. Over the past few years, the smartphone and tablet have replaced the traditional PC as the primary device for a wide variety of tasks. Tablets take the mobile productivity potential of notebook PCs, and make it easier to work on the go with a device that’s thinner, lighter, and lasts longer on a single charge.

windows 8
Windows 8 is a necessary, calculated risk Microsoft must take.

Apple introduced the iPad just two and a half years ago, and it has already sold 100 million of them. Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed this week that Apple sold more iPads during the quarter ending June 2012 than any PC manufacturer sold of its entire lineup.

iPads don’t run Windows, and that’s a problem for Microsoft. It’s a problem that Microsoft has recognized, though, and Microsoft is working hard to adapt. Microsoft is looking beyond 2012 at where computing is headed, and it has put all of its chips on Windows 8 and the future of Microsoft rather than stubbornly clinging to its former glory.

Of course, “iPads don’t run Windows” is—in many cases—a problem for the iPad as well, and that is an opportunity that Microsoft is trying to capitalize on. The iPad also doesn’t have Microsoft Office. Smartphones and tablets are phenomenal tools for a wide variety of tasks, but when it comes to real-world productivity there are some things you just need a “real” PC for.

Many expected Android to fill the void and offer a more open, customizable, PC-esque approach to tablets. Android tablets have managed to carve out some market share by sheer volume and force of will, but they have not caught on as hoped.

The door is still open for Microsoft to step in. Windows 8 is different. But, Windows 8 is a necessary step for Microsoft to take in order to adapt and evolve and move the Windows ecosystem in a direction that can survive—and hopefully thrive—in this new era.

What choice did Microsoft have? With each passing year, technology continues to evolve and it becomes harder and harder for Microsoft to shift gears and change direction. Obstinately clinging to an outdated and dying concept of what personal computers are or how they’re used would eventually lead to the death of Microsoft—or at least the Windows operating system.

Windows 8 is risky. But risk can be good. I’ll close with one more (slightly paraphrased) quote:

“Often the difference between a successful [company] and a failure is not one has better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on one's ideas, to take a calculated risk—and to act.” – Andre Malraux

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