Monday, 06 June 2011 11:22

Ovum's oration and the Windows 8 debate


Respected analyst firm Ovum says that while reports of Microsoft and Windows' 'imminent demise are somewhat over exaggerated', it notes that the somewhat tardy software maker still has a lot of work to prove that Windows 8 will rate.

With Apple launching its OS X 10.7 Lion, its iOS 5.0 and its iCloud service tomorrow (Australian time, 4am), and with Google making waves not only with Android OS 3.x Honeycomb and its Chrome OS notebooks, there's never been more interest and action around non-Microsoft operating systems than today.

While there are over a billion PCs worldwide, most of which are running Windows XP, Vista or 7, there are hundreds of millions of smartphones and several tens of millions of modern-day tablets, most of which have nothing to do with anything from MS.

Thus, while Microsoft's vision for a 'computer on every desk' was effectively achieved long ago, at least in the Western world, any visions it had of being the deliverer of computing technologies and power 'anywhere, anytime and on any device' have been seriously derailed by its ever more powerful competitors.

Even Linux has advanced and matured greatly over the last few years, making it easier than ever for those who wish to live Microsoft-free lives to actually do so.

But for all those who wish to live Microsoft-free lives, there are still hundreds of millions, if not more, who actually use Microsoft products, and like them, at least to some degree, and want to see Microsoft's real response to the Apples, Googles and Linuxes of the world.

That response thus far is a public demo of a Windows 8 build, an while it appears to be 12 to 18 months away at the earliest, something that seems an awfully long, long, long time away in today's very fast moving world,  the demo has at least been surprisingly good, blending the power of Windows 7 with the finger-friendliness and Apple-esque finesse of Windows Phone 7.

So, now that you have some of my thoughts on the topic, what have Ovum's orators had to say regarding Microsoft's upcoming OS?

All the details are on page two, please read on!

In a media release entitled 'Microsoft showcases Windows 8', Ovum's 'onalysts' noted that Microsoft's announcement (and demo) 'comes just a week after Google announced its light-weight, instant-on, cloud-centric notebook, and is no doubt intended to make people think more deeply about their actual computing requirements rather than following the hype and the crowd.'

It also comes just before Apple's new OS releases as noted on the previous page.

Ovum continues, stating that: 'Tablet devices, such as the Apple iPad, the Motorola Xoom and RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook, are offering users an alternative computing 'lifestyle', much as the iPhone and Android-based smartphones have changed the way we think about mobile phones.'

However, as Ovum notes, 'most business users of these new tablet devices have not yet ditched their desktop or laptops PCs, preferring instead to use them as a convenient and more usable extension to their primary computer while on the move or away from their desk.'

Thus, sayeth Ovum, 'Windows 8 will, if Microsoft's hardware partners come up with good designs, provide business users and the huge community of 'content creators' with a tablet-sized device that has a full touch-based user interface, an ability to run standard Windows productivity tools and business applications, and the ability to connect to, and communicate with, a plethora of computing peripherals.'

To finish, Ovum ends with a warning for Microsoft.

The analysts conclude by saying that: 'We believe that Microsoft is still a viable market-maker, and that reports of its imminent demise are somewhat over exaggerated.

'However, the world's most powerful IT company must bring its innovations to market in a more complete and marketable manner than has been the case to date.'

Ovum are right - Microsoft's latest Windows 8 has not been brought to market in a form that consumers, let alone developers or beta testers are able to download and try, there's no word on Windows 8's completeness, and good luck trying to market a product that isn't even finished yet.

The demo was definitely slick - Windows 8 looks like a completely finished product from the demo, and one wonders what is actually wrong or unfinished about Windows 8 that Microsoft couldn't launch it immediately.

Unless Microsoft has some kind of 2010 launch date surprise in store, Windows 8 had better change even more dramatically over the next 12 to 18 months, otherwise we'll all be looking at the demo and the finished product and will be wondering why it took so much extra time.

So, as Ovum states, 'the world's most powerful IT company must bring its innovations to market in a more complete and marketable manner than has been the case to date'.

The world is waiting, Microsoft. It won't wait forever. Hurry up!


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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