Why Windows 8 and beyond is a bigger shift than consumers may realize

When Windows 8.1 came out users starting asking if this means that Microsoft is backing away from some of the changes they made in Windows 8.  Most tech journalists seemed to answer that they weren't sure.  Well I'm sure, the answer is no and here's why and what's going to happen over the next 5-10 years.

Around the time Windows 8 was being planned there were two issues on Microsoft's mind.  The first was that they needed a tablet friendly user interface.  The other is that they were looking at Apple and Google selling devices which made users shop through their own app stores where Apple and Google collect a cut of every sale.  This would make Microsoft very jealous because since the beginning of PCs Microsoft would get paid for the operating system and maybe a copy of Office, but from there on got nothing from all the money you spent on other software for your computer.  Microsoft wanted an ongoing revenue stream from everyone who continues to use a computer running Windows.  I believe that Microsoft decided the only way they could pull this off was to introduce a new API for Windows that was locked down so that you could only access it via Apps sold through a Microsoft App Store.  They decided that this new tablet interface they needed was going to be that locked down API - two problems solved for them.

Microsoft has announced quite publicly that they plan to become a "devices and services" company.  This means that you don't get to just buy a copy of Windows and never need Microsoft again.  In the new model you buy a machine running Windows, buy all your applications through the Microsoft Store (Microsoft gets a cut), and store your data in Microsoft's cloud called Skydrive (you pay Microsoft a monthly fee).  They're betting the business on this new model.

But none of this happens as long as you can still buy software for that "old" desktop interface outside of the Microsoft app store.  So Microsoft is going to do everything it can to make the new tablet user interface look cool and the desktop interface to look dated.  The version of Skype that's built into Windows 8.1 requires you to use your Microsoft ID instead of your old Skype id.  The way Microsoft pitches this to consumers is that if you sign into Windows using your Microsoft ID instead of a local id and use only new Microsoft Store apps instead of old desktop apps then you won't have to worry about backing up your computer since your data will be stored in the cloud.  You can just pick up a new computer, sign in with your Microsoft ID and all your applications and data will just be there.  And just to make sure the herd is moving along they also dropped future support for the built in backup tools that were just getting good in Windows 7 - they don't want you to have good local backup options because then their cloud solution wouldn't be as compelling.

So this is why Microsoft is NOT backing away from the new "used to be called Metro" style interface, you're going there in the next 5 years or so whether you want to or not.  Microsoft will kill the desktop interface as soon as they can get away with it, but it's going to be years before that can happen.

Facebook Comments Box