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Why Might It All Go Wrong?

What It Reveals About the Microsoft Mindset

Now this is what really interests me. Look at the bigger picture and coding for Windows 8 only began this month and - much like any great undertaking - plans can change radically along the way. What does tend to stay in place, however, is mindset and looking at all these slides one clear message comes screaming out: MOBILE!

The App Store, the fast boot and near instant resumption from standby, the courting of slates (read: 'tablets' in non-Redmond lexicon), quick but secure log-on methods that can be done on the move and specific hardware requirements for better optimisation - these all benefit portable devices more than any other category.

The motivation is understandable: when netbooks came along they caught Microsoft completely off guard. Suddenly here was a hugely popular new market segment which used such low power and low performance components the company's flagship operating system (Windows Vista) couldn't be used. This temporarily opened the door for Linux and though Microsoft clawed back the situation with Windows XP it was all too aware it needed a five year old OS to save the day. The result was Windows 7 became the most scalable platform in Microsoft's history and Windows 8 looks set to take that even further. But should it?

Where It Might All Go Wrong

It might seem unkind to kick an OS which won't even be released until mid 2012, but as the title of this piece ominously states: there are great dangers for Microsoft with Windows 8.

Study these slides as a whole and Microsoft is revealed to be a company caught in the midst of an identity crisis. App stores? Visual log-ons? Tablet emphasis? Surely this isn't the path for what is traditionally a PC operating system? Of course we could forgive Microsoft getting a little radical if it was backed up by a consistently clear operating system strategy, but look closely and it's anything but.

Five major operating systems are currently being developed: Windows Phone 7 for smartphones, Windows Embedded Compact 7 for embedded systems and slates and Windows 8 for PCs, laptops and slates. Throw in the Zune OS for the company's MP3 players and KIN (only cancelled on Thursday) and that makes five - all of which are being pitched at the mobile space, none of which are cross compatible in any way.

In its slides Microsoft praises Apple as being "known for high quality, uncomplicated, "It just works"'. I'd argue Microsoft has a very different target audience to Apple and shouldn't look to mimic it, but it does need to greatly simplify both its range of operating systems and tighten their focus - two things to which the all encompassing nature of Windows 8 looks diametrically opposed.

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