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Samsung’s laptop snub raises the stakes for Windows 9


Samsung’s laptop snub raises the stakes for Windows 9

OPINION: What's at stake for Microsoft and Windows 9?

Samsung has earned a reputation as a company for whom no consumer tech niche is too small.

Think about it. The firm has hundreds of smartphones and tablets in every conceivable size, spec set and price point. If you want it, Samsung has got it in three fetching colours.

There are curved screen phones, a phablet with an edge screen, optical zoom compact cameras with smartphones attached to the back, approximately 915,636 Galaxy ranges, umpteen variants of smartwatches no-one is buying, curved OLED televisions, virtual reality headsets and everything in between.

Indeed, the company’s willingness to cater to everyone makes last week’s decision to give up on the European laptop market a stunning blow for the faltering PC industry.

If the laptop sector is performing so badly that even a massively profitable company like Samsung is unwilling to tolerate any losses in order to stay the course, then what does that say for the future of our trusty notebooks?

What does this mean for Windows 9?

That decision has huge knock-on effects. It’s a massive cause for concern for Microsoft, it’s hugely worrying for chipmakers like Intel who’ve struggled to break into the mobile market, and very ominous for companies like Dell and HP for whom so much more rests on the prosperity PC industry.

All of this brings us neatly to Windows 9, which will be unveiled by Microsoft at a special event tomorrow. After the disappointing consumer reaction to Windows 8, the stakes are sky high.

If Windows 9 doesn’t convince users that a laptop is still the best way to combine productivity and portability, will there be many major manufacturers even making notebooks by the time Windows 10 rolls around?

However, it’s not obituary time just yet. In my opinion, there are enough reasons to believe Microsoft can and will find the winning formula for Windows 9.

Microsoft is making the right moves

Firstly, the company rarely makes the same mistakes twice. Before Windows 8, the last time Microsoft gave Windows a massive overhaul was Vista. Following that debacle, it rebounded with Windows 7, the most popular operating system in history. I’m not betting against the firm doing it again, especially with the decisive Satya ‘yeah, let’s unbundle that Kinect sensor’ Nadella at the helm.

With that in mind, Windows 9 looks certain to offer an experience that’s actually attractive to desktop and laptop users; a modern product that improves their productivity rather than slows it to a crawl.

Windows 9

Bringing the Start Menu and appeasing desktop users is a good first step

Leaked screenshots of the company’s technical build have shown it is bringing back the trusted Start Menu, which promises to be highly customizable and include the option to add Windows 8 live tiles on the right hand side. This, plus the ability to run ‘Metro-style’ apps in a window, rather than full screen, means Windows 9 will maintain some of Windows 8’s identity, while improving on the experience exponentially.

Curtainling the need for desktop to struggle on with Metro when using a mouse and keyboard will be a key to success. Microsoft seems ready to admit that a separate experience is needed for desktop and touchscreen. If Microsoft gets that balance right Windows 9 can finally be the master of all trades that Windows 8 was intended to be.

These adjustments aren’t the be-all-end-all solution but they will give those folks unwilling to leave their Windows 7 and Windows XP (XP still has a 24 per cent market share compared with Windows 8’s of around 13.5) machine behind something to hang their hats on and, importantly, buy new laptops or hybrids!

Don’t forget the Cortana wildcard either. Never has a desktop OS that integrated voice input with any modicum of success. The time has come for a smart personal assistant, worthy of the name, on a device that is truly designed to aid productivity.

“Pull up that email”

“When’s that appointment?”

“File this here”

“Where is this saved?”

“Turn on my do not disturb”

“Print this document”

“Order my lunch from Dominos”

Sounds pretty great to me.

The Grim Reaper may be ironing his cloak and sharpening his scythe just in case, but with Windows 9 baked in to some innovative new hardware solutions that combine desktop, touch, portability and productivity, the laptop could thrive for years to come.

Next, read how the iPhone 6 could kill the wallet

Spike Black

September 29, 2014, 4:00 pm

The big one will be if someone can just transition to it without the obligitary swearing when they hit the start button on the keyboard.
Most people will make their mind up with the first few minutes of use and if they can't just sit down and use it like Windows 7 or XP then it's failed at the first hurdle for them. Hopefully the reimplementation of the Start Menu will allow them to do this.
Cortana might be great provided it's not as intrusive on desktop as the old paperclip. Provided it needs keyboard /mouse / touch input to get it working then it will be fine but if they decide to implement it so that's it's like the Xbox One and always on then I can imagine some fists through the monitor after a while or it being disabled quite quickly in busy offices.


September 29, 2014, 6:26 pm

A new Microsoft Desktop operating system needs a software option for gesture controls and Microsoft should work with hardware companies to produce desktops with gesture sensing cameras.

I cant believe how incompetent Microsoft are in implementing gesture control. Back in 2002 I remember working with touch screens as a computer technician but no one really liked using them. When tablets came out before the IPad the idea was not popular either.

Now we are seeing mistakes have not been learned from as usual. Touch screen did need to reach a certain quality before it was useful as back in the day it was not reliable enough. When it became reliable people needed to be shown properly what using a touchscreen device could do for them.

Now gesture has apparently gotten so that its accurate enough to follow finger gestures. So who the hell needs a mouse anymore.

If you can sit people down in front of a desktop or laptop and show a person using two hands and finger gestures moving windows around on a computer screen and performing actions really fast, similar to minority report minus the holograph screens, instead of using a mouse people may start to understand what gesture control can do productivity wise.

But what did Microsoft do with gesture control? Made a device for gaming and gaming is not the best medium especially at the moment and possibly also because software companies seem to refuse to implement it or cant. When VR becomes popular , assuming that is implemented well this time, gesture will make more sense. But also they bundled this gaming device with their games console and it cost a lot of money so it became a fail.

So now most people I think believe gesture control is stupid, just like they thought of touch control, smartphones and tablets before Apple could properly implement them because they were all poorly marketed originally.

Gesture is the new fast productivity tool and will happen sometime but when is the question. Microsoft have a chance to innovate with their new operating system and bring computers into the 21st century finally. Gaming will come next.

Mark Colit

September 30, 2014, 11:38 am

I thought human productivity in the IT sector is otherwise known as automation in the real-world? Automatons don't need to eat pizzas, either.

As for Windows 9, it may have a shelf-life, but its successor will definitely not. The operating system as we know it has become more multi-polar in the last 5 years. When China, India and Brazil, etc, forsake Microsoft once and for all, then the game's up. I've nothing against Microsoft, and like Windows 7, but companies rise and they decline in the tech-world. Microsoft will be no different.

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