Microsoft has put a lot of eggs in the Windows 8 basket but they don’t have much of a choice. The PC market has peaked and its base will slowly fade. The tablet market is buoying for some years now but Microsoft’s tablets are only now beginning to hit the shelves in some countries. The smartphone market shows a pitched battle between Android and iOS while Microsoft’s phone business has not gained much traction so far. In other words Microsoft needs to tap into other revenue streams and Windows 8 is their best bet. But is it a good bet for PC users too?

Windows 95, Windows 98 se, Windows XP and Windows 7, we all agree, were pretty good and stable. The first three were followed by less great successors. If this pattern continues we have to fear for Windows 8. There is a clear problem with this operating system: it is trying to serve too many masters at the same time. Microsoft  ambitious goal is to unify all personal information devices under the same new metro user interface. While this is a worthy task it is questionable whether the current PC user base has a reason to upgrade. For PC Windows users – there are over 17 million PCs installed in the Netherlands­ –  a Windows 8 upgrade comes at €29,99. However, a nice price does not make for an unputdownable offer.  Let’s face it: Windows 7 works well, is pretty stable and is designed for PCs. If the only reason to upgrade is to go through a new learning curve to do all the things you usually do in a different way it doesn’t make much sense; not even for €29,99. For this reason and the fact that an experienced Windows user recognizes the MS pattern of successful OS releases, Windows 8 for all its ambitions and promise may not yet be the savior Microsoft is hoping for. Knowing Microsoft there is no doubt it will get there in the end but Windows 8 can best be regarded as the end rather than the dawn of a generation of operating systems.

At the METISfiles we do welcome a third ecosystem for personal information devices as it will drive innovation and ultimately deliver a better user experience at competitive prices but we wonder if it is a must have for current PC users. That said: if you do plan to buy a Windows phone and/or tablet it does make sense to evaluate Windows 8 (RT) and get used to those square tiles for only €29,99. Tempting? Then also remember that there will be support for Windows 7 until 2020. So no hurry, there are options. Windows 9 will be fine. You can W8 to upgrade to Windows 8.

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About Marcel Warmerdam