Is Microsoft a Year Too Late?

The Windows operating system that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) should've rolled out a year ago is finally here.

Windows 8.1 became available for download today. It will show up at retail stores tomorrow. The reviews are generally favorable. The Start button -- the feature that threw most early adopters for a learning curve loop -- is sort of back as an option. The same Live Tiles that have made Windows 8 seem like a blown-up version of Windows Phone are still there, but the new interface is easier to customize. It no longer feels as awkward if you don't happen to have a touchscreen. 

Investors shouldn't expect a deluge of new PC buyers to emerge for this rollout. Global PC shipments have fallen sharply every quarter through each of Windows 8's first 12 months on the market, but it's not necessarily Microsoft's fault. In fact, Apple's actually been doing even worse. Shipments of Macs and MacBooks have fallen harder than Windows-fueled PCs. Take out Apple and domestic shipments actually improved during the quarter!

With momentum building closer to home this could be the push that Microsoft was hoping would happen last year. However, Windows 8.1 still doesn't solve the problem that the tablet and smartphone markets are growing fast at the expense of desktops and laptops. In terms of computing -- mobile or PC -- Microsoft's Windows is losing market share to Android and Apple's iOS. A well-regarded and necessary update isn't going to change that. Too many former PC buyers have come to realize that they never needed the sheer processing power of a traditional computer. Outside of the corporate world and the ranks of designers and die-hard gamers, tablets and smartphones will do just fine in scratching the itch of email checks, casual games, and surfing the Web. 

Why do you think Steve Ballmer is stepping down as CEO? Why do you think Microsoft is shifting its emphasis to become a devices and services company? Apple, Microsoft, and nearly every box maker has moved to adapt to the mobile computing future and what it means for their core businesses. In Microsoft's case, we're talking about a world that's moving away from its proprietary operating system to the more cost-effective open source Android. 

So, yes, Windows 8.1 is here. It's a year too late, but Microsoft itself may be several years too late at this point.

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  • Report this Comment On October 18, 2013, at 1:28 AM, NoWindows8LockIn wrote:

    One must question the judgement of a of a company who spends billions of dollars trying to sell its customers the new-and-improved, when the customers would prefer the Old Dog of yesteryear.

    The question every Windows user should be asking himself is...

    "Why is Microsoft so hell-bent on selling something its customers clearly do not want?"

    The answer is simple: money.

    If you follow the money, all of the non-sense currently coming out of Washington starts to make sense.

    An analogy would be an itch creme company might be giving a way funny-looking underwear that no one wants, even begging customers to take them. Later, it is discovered that the underwear contains a special type of dye that causes horrific itching that only the creme can fix.

    That's Windows 8: an OS filled with gimmick that will will make Microsoft billions and billions of extra profit, but only *IF* people are stupid enough to start using it.

  • Report this Comment On October 18, 2013, at 3:31 AM, wabartlett66 wrote:

    NoWindows8Lockin is a prime example of the fringe of the consumer market. A seemingly socialist techno Sod.

    I am sitting here in a hotel that has an iMac in each room. Reading your article I need to move the page up to get to the end of the article and to read the comments. I reach out place a finger on the screen, make an up gesture and Dohhhh nothing happens.

    Microsoft is looking to change to user experience and set a standard set of expectations, its competitors will follow but in following not leading the a ceding the control of the user experience expectation to Microsoft and "voila" another 10 years of secure revenues.

    All corporates are currently considering their next desktop upgrade, they are wondering about the Windows 7 VS 8.1 choice that choice just got a little easier, the OS is friendlier to the point of being acceptable, the service/support life is a lot longer( so i can put of the next upgrade a lot longer).

    Think of it this way, 5 of the big US banks move to Windows 8.1 and Bang a million new users, those million users are now not frightened about this new OS so bang 20% of them a year will go out and buy a new PC and "BANG" 200,000 more sales into the consumer market. Follow that around the world and one more time, "BANG" adoption flows, the cash register ring and everyone is happy again.

    Technosocialism doesnt work, it is about the money because it is about the shareholders and the employees and that is what makes the world go around.

  • Report this Comment On October 18, 2013, at 8:13 AM, badgerzilla wrote:

    A button labeled "Start" is in Windows 8.1 be it does not do what the Start button did. There is no drop down menu, control panel and it still has this jekyll-hyde personality. Windows 8.1 is a mess at best.

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