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Windows 8 – You should make the move?

December 20, 2012

So many people are talking about Windows 8 sales now. Everyone knows that Microsoft sold about 40M copies of the software in the first 30 days, which is pretty much on par with the sales from Windows 7 (the most popular operating system on the planet). I don’t want to spend time analyzing the numbers because at the end of the day, I don’t have anything new to add to this analysis.

What does it matter anyway? Consider this, Apple’s most popular desktop operating system has the same market share as Windows Vista which most analysts would say was a huge Microsoft failure. Let me repeat that, the most popular desktop operating system from Apple is a match for the Vista operating system from Microsoft. The Mac operating system makes up about 6-8% of the PC market depending on your source. The most popular desktop operating system on the planet is Windows 7 and you might know Windows XP is still hanging around; however, there is a large movement to get off Windows XP for a number of reasons. While there isn’t the kind of dislike for Vista present in the market, there will be an increasing number of users moving from Windows XP and the majority of those users will move to Windows 8.

I tell you that to say this, Windows 8 will probably sell somewhere in the 400M PC range over the 12 months since launch. Let’s pretend for a second Windows 8 a horrendous failure and it is so poorly received that it only sells 300M PC’s in the coming year. Well, put that in perspective. the iPad may account for about 100m devices. In the worst case scenario, Microsoft will sell 300m Windows 8 devices of which 1/3 of those will be touchscreen devices (being conservative). To me, this is where market analysts are simply not doing the math. If only 1/3 of the Microsoft devices are touchscreens that means in 12 months, we will see Microsoft as the leader not only in desktop computing, but also in touchscreen computers.

Now, why does that matter to you? Let me say it this way, with an ecosystem so large, there are going to be a bunch of new and exciting products coming to the market. For example, it’s hard to imagine buying a PC that doesn’t have touchscreen capabilities going forward. I have been using Windows 8 as my primary OS since it was released as a development product. For the best range of products ranging from your old PC, to a new PC, to a new hybrid/laptop/tablet, to the phone and even to the living room with the Xbox gaming system, Microsoft has a great ecosystem. Simply put, Windows 8 provides you to get the most out of your computer. Truthfully, unlike any other platform, Windows 8 also makes it easy to work with technologies from others. Why? Windows 8 can work with iTunes. It works with Google products. It provides you with a foundation for flexibility. However, if you want to embrace the Microsoft ecosystem, it will also provide you with the best user experience of any operating system (desktop or tablet) over the next 12-18 months.

Now, I have given you a bunch of background that outlines the bigger picture, what is happening to make Windows 8 the right answer in the long-run, but why now? Why should you upgrade to a new computer, or why should you simply spend the $40 to get the new operating system on your current computer ($40 is a very limited time offer). Here’s why:

First, it’s faster. It’s faster at doing, well, pretty much anything you want to do. From how quickly it boots up to how quickly it is to find things by using the incredible search feature. Windows 8 is fast. Here’s the thing, even on an old computer running the first generation atom processor, Windows 8 is fast. It makes the computer faster. This is beneficial regardless of what computer you are running.

Next, it’s easier to use. I know you have to learn the new interface. But seriously, let’s think about this for just a second. When you fire up your computer, do you try to find a new way to do something every time? Do you try to find different apps or programs you can use every time? No. In fact, when you fire up your computer, my bet is that 99% of the time, you use largely the same set of applications. Guess what, in Windows 8, those apps will be pinned to your start screen. This means they are always front and center. They are always incredibly easy to find (assuming you organize your start menu). You don’t even have to worry about going to the old start button, clicking, going to programs to find what you want. Instead, just click on the live tile.

The live tiles are another reason to switch. First, it makes the PC become much more about you. Pin the tiles with data you care about on the start screen. I strongly recommend you organize your start screen into groups of tiles that are related. then by simply passing through each group, you get a sense of what is happening. Personally, I do this for social apps, news apps, entertainment apps, etc. Live tiles are a great reason to switch to windows 8. Regardless of the type of computer you have.

Switch now so you can start using different technologies together. By using Windows 8, you can really start building your experience into a better experience across technologies. With Windows 8, you will begin getting  yourself moved into the cloud storage for pictures. You will begin moving yourself into the cloud storage for movies. You will begin getting yourself accustomed to the live tile interface that will be used on phones, computers, tablets and even the Xbox. It’s a better experience from the desktop, to the laptop, to the tablet, to the phone, to the Xbox.

Before you say, “Wait, I don’t want any of that stuff, I just want things to stay like they have been with Windows 7”. Let me remind you of something Henry Ford said when talking about creating a car. When discussing how people helped shape his opinion, he correctly pointed out, if he asked people what they “wanted” they would have said, “We want a faster horse”. You see, it’s natural to want what you have, only faster. But, let’s just face it, technology is ever changing and the truth is, most of the time, we don’t know exactly what we want. Instead, we need to make the move to the new technology. We need to learn how to use it and we need to simply figure out how the technology can make our experience better. In that way, Windows 8 is a huge step forward. You can start with this platform on your current computer as a starting point, but as you learn things about Windows 8, recognize that what you learn can now transcend a single computer. That is, you can get a tablet and it has the exact same interface. You can go to an Xbox, with the same interface or you can pick up a smart phone and guess what, same interface.

There are those that will tell you, listen you can just stick with Windows 7 and that’s true. There are others that will say, if you have to learn something new, you might as well switch to a Mac. However, keep in mind, The Mac represents 6-8% of the market. The Mac doesn’t support a touchscreen. The Mac has a different user interface than the iPad. It has a different user interface than the iPod. It doesn’t have any sort of integration into the cloud ecosystem of productivity apps like Microsoft Office, or even into awesome gaming platforms like the Xbox. Seriously? If you want to go down that path, it’s fine. But, be prepared. That system will have to change to be relevant. Can you imagine the Mac is going to stick with a non-touch friendly interface on the desktop for long (the slower horse)? Let’s go back to the math. Let’s pretend that Windows 8 is a catastrophic failure. It will still represent a significantly larger market share than the Mac and the iPad combined. Truthfully, it’s a little old. Hasn’t changed in 5 years. You think it’s going to stay on that path?

You know the answer. Sticking with the slower horse isn’t the path forward. Windows 7, XP, Mac, some flavor of Linux desktop, those are all looking backward. Technologies that are only delaying your transition to a much more enjoyable computing experience. So ready, here’s my final recommendation. If you can afford to do so, get yourself a new device that is already touch enabled. It really doesn’t matter if it’s a desktop from Dell, or HP, a Windows 8 tablet from Microsoft of Asus, one of the hybrid laptops like the Lenovo Yoga, or traditional looking clamshell laptop, but make sure it’s a touchscreen. Windows 8 is without a doubt the best experience on a touchscreen computer regardless of form factor. I am definitely not saying that you can only use a touchscreen, but when you are learning the new system, having a touchscreen simply provides more options and you will find that often you want to touch, sometimes you want to use the mouse. The option of touch just opens other doors to enjoying the experience a little more.

If you have an older machine, go ahead and make the switch for other reasons I have outlined. It’s faster and for 99% of what you do, it’s going to be much easier. The live tiles will make any computer become more personalized and it will make any computer provide more information quickly and easily.  Understand, however, you are missing some features which are awesome. It’s ok. If you have a laptop that is relatively new, the touchpad will likely support swiping from the sides. It’s not as intuitive as the touchscreen, but it’s not bad. If you have a mouse, well, a mouse makes things pretty easy too. It’s just that because you can’t “swipe” in from the edge of the screen, you again are missing some features. Still, it works. But again, regardless of where you start, recognize it’s a start of a learning experience that will be useful across platforms. Just keep things simple by pinning the things you really want to do to the start menu and move the tiles into logical groupings. It’s really easy. Once you get the hang of it, you can go grab a new device and you already know how to use it. Now is the time to get started, have fun.

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