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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2731

Windows Blue – rectified version of Windows 8 in the offing!

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

The tendency to quote big numbers to quantify the tentacles of performance of a company at the launch of any new product or gadget is the outward manifestation of a particular gene of any modern CEO who runs a major technological company nowadays. In this context, Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft, is no exception.

“There are 670 million computers running Windows 7 and every one of them is a potential Windows 8 upgrade,” declared Mr Ballmer at the launch of the latest operating system, six month ago.

I have a PC that runs Windows 7 and stubbornly refused to fall into the category that Mr Ballmer was talking about – and so did millions of Windows 7 users. And the frustrating outcome, as far as the software giant is concerned, Windows 8, the latest operating system, is that it did not create the watershed moment for the company despite its attempt to physically harmonize the tablet with the PC.

After months of failed PR campaigns, Microsoft is finally admitting that Windows 8 operating system has its own flaws and hoping to release a substantial update in the coming months; it is rumoured to be called ‘Windows Blue’.

With the release of Windows 8, Microsoft hoped that it finally had a match to what late Steve Jobs did with the introduction of the iPhone, the first smartphone, but to no avail. For technical analysts, the sudden departure of Steve Sinofsky, chief software architect who attached Microsoft’s Surface tablet to his skateboard to show its strength at happy times, just two weeks after the launch of Windows 8, was a bad omen – and as things turned out, it indeed was.

The removal of start-button-based user interface, the inelegant tile-based alternative and the added burden of a steep learning curve, even on the computer-literate have collectively ruined the prospect of Windows 8 becoming a game changer. Unfortunately, it took six months for Microsoft to admit the catalogue of shortcomings, which in turn highlighted its inability to adapt itself to the rapidly evolving PC landscape.

Moreover, corporate clients no longer share the enthusiasm of Microsoft in upgrading existing systems in order to embrace new developments. I know quite a few British companies which still are happy to work with Windows XP operating system – one of the most successful operating systems of Windows family. The emergence of cloud-based software has clipped the wings of Microsoft to such an extent that its ability to dictate terms to its corporate customers is fast on the wane.

In addition, Microsoft has been honouring an unwritten code of morals too, especially for its loyal old customers: the company has been making sure that its operating systems are backward-compatible so that software developed for its old operating systems about 20 years ago, is still working in the latest operating system as well.

The multi-pronged attack on Windows 8 operating system – from consumers, PC makers, independent critics, and of course, usual suspects who always hate Microsoft - has certainly angered Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s head of corporate communications. Mr Shaw attacked the critics and said they need what he called ‘chill pill’.

Before prescribing the ‘chill pill’ to the critics of Windows 8, the big guns at Microsoft must be on the lookout for ‘innovative pill’ for the sake of both itself and rapidly-dying PC market. It is inconceivable that Microsoft got this particular product wrong while pinning its hopes on the very product in reviving the PC market. Microsoft’s obsession in conquering the tablet market is damaging the reputation of the company in an irreversible way.

Microsoft can learn an important lesson from Apple in this regard. Apple promoted iPad, the tablet computer, while making the distinction between iMac, the PC equivalent and the former very clear, which in turn facilitated the growth of both arms at their own pace.

Microsoft has been in the habit of ‘stuffing’ its products with advanced components at the expense of both clarity and performance. The introduction of widgets with Windows Vista, is a case in point: they may be eye-catching on our desktops, but affected the performance in a significant way; the layers of new icons in Office Suite inhibit the smooth user experience while leaving him or her in technical wilderness; the endless warnings that pop up while surfing the internet, do very little to retain what is left of brand loyalty for Internet Explorer.

In this context, the software giant cannot afford to shoot itself in the foot when what it needs is a shot in the arm. Google’s elegantly simple home page and the intuitive user interface of iPhone proved beyond a shadow of doubt that genuine modesty and linear progress can coexist, even in the brutally competitive technological world.

Since Microsoft’s reputation for embracing the pair is questionable, we can only hope that ‘Windows Blue’ will rectify the inherent flaws in Windows 8, when released in June this year as an essential step in guaranteeing the long term survival of the company. Millions of Windows users worldwide are eagerly waiting to see a world through ‘Blue Windows’ in order to ascertain whether the user experience is really changing as Microsoft claims.

- Asian Tribune -

Windows Blue – rectified version of Windows 8 in the offing!
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