Windows 8's Chances for Success: 10 Factors to Consider

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2012-08-22

Windows 8's Chances for Success: 10 Factors to Consider

Windows 8 is slated to hit store shelves on October 26. On that day, hardware manufacturers will start releasing a number of Windows 8 devices, including notebooks, desktops, and even tablets, will be made available. Microsoft, after years of promoting the software as the next big development in its operating system division, will finally have the chance to prove that it can actually deliver on Windows 8's lofty promise.

Outside of Microsoft, there are many people–both industry observers and analysts–that are trying to handicap the operating system's chances of success. Many of them are already predicting how the Windows 8 roll out will go.

But perhaps that's a mistake. Windows 8 hasn't even launched yet. There are a host of factors that will play into the operating system's chances of succeeding in the marketplace. Neglecting to consider these factors would be a grave mistake.

These are the factors that will have a hand in Windows 8's success or failure.

1. Tablets

With Windows 7, Microsoft lost its way in the tablet market. With Windows 8, however, it's making it clear that it wants to be a strong player in that space. In fact, the company itself has announced its own tablet, the Surface, to take on Apple's iPad. Tablets could very well make or break Windows 8.

2. An eye on Windows 7

Windows 7 came out of the gate at launch with a purpose: fix the issues that Windows Vista created. After becoming the top-selling Windows version to this point in Microsoft's history, it became clear that Windows 7 could deliver. But given that success and its popularity, could it actually hurt Windows 8?

3. What's the overarching pitch?

It's not clear right now what Microsoft's overarching pitch is for Windows 8. It's a new operating system, sure, but why should customers want to adopt it? More importantly, why should those folks buy a Windows 8 PC over a Mac? Until Microsoft makes clear what customers need to know, its software might be in some trouble.

4. Enterprise desire

The corporate world has been moving at an exceedingly rapid clip towards technologies that, years ago, it wouldn't even consider adopting. However, Windows is still a corporate favorite. The big question now, though, is how long will it take before enterprise adoption of Windows 8 gathers momentum? With many companies upgrading recently to Windows 7, their desire to add a new operating system now might be somewhat diminished.

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5. Vendor participation

Over the years, Windows' success has relied in large part on vendors. When companies like Lenovo, HP, and Dell play nice with Windows, the operating system succeeds. When they don't (remember Vista?), all kinds of trouble ensues. To a great degree Vendors will determine Windows 8's fate.

6. The market's need for a new Windows

When it's all said and done, Microsoft must consider whether the market–made up of both consumers and enterprise users–really wants a new Windows version. As noted, Windows 7 PCs are still selling well and the vast majority of the latest options are extremely powerful. It's not clear right now why anyone would really need Windows 8. And until that changes, it could hurt its adoption.

7. Current opinions

Don't forget that Windows 8 has already been in use by thousands of people who took a spin in its pre-release versions. In many of those cases, the reviewers were positive, saying that the operating system delivered on Microsoft's promises. That's good news for Microsoft–and even better for Windows 8 adoption.

8. OS X Mountain Lion's appeal

Apple last month launched OS X Mountain Lion, the company's latest desktop operating system version. With Mountain Lion, Apple offered up over 200 improvements and made its Macs all the more attractive. Although Apple still owns a small slice of the PC market, the recent launch of Mountain Lion could hurt Windows 8 adoption just a bit.

9. Microsoft's brand appeal

Microsoft has moved beyond its Evil Empire image of the late-1990s. However, it has also lost much of its brand charisma in the industry. Nowadays, consumers are far more likely to focus on Apple or Google news than anything that might crop up from Redmond. That could hurt Windows 8 to a certain degree.

10. A (potentially) confusing design

One of the biggest problems with Windows 8 could be its design. The operating system doesn't look anything like its predecessor, Windows 7 and could confuse customers at first. Then again, it could impress them and bring in even more people. Either way, Windows 8 comes with a distinct new design that could impact overall adoption.

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