When asked about Microsoft’s attempt to converge its mobile and desktop platforms into a single Windows 8 release, Tim Cook responded with an analogy of trying to converge a toaster and a refrigerator. If interest in Microsoft’s Consumer Preview release of Windows 8 is any guide, it seems that the public might agree with him.
According to Net Applications, a web analytics company, only a very small fraction of devices connecting to the Internet were running the preview – just 0.11% (or 11 out of every 10,000).
While it will be six months or longer before Microsoft releases Windows 8 and its companion products, the company has been putting out a lot of information about its plans lately. One big Windows 8 mystery to date is Windows for ARM based tablets. Formerly known as Windows on ARM (or WOA), the company recently settled on Windows RT as the official name for Windows 8 on low-cost ARM-based tablets.
Microsoft is very clearly positioning Windows RT tablets as iPad competitors for both the home and business markets. Until recently, there wasn’t much solid information about them beyond that they would include a touch optimized full version of Office. With the information released recently, however, there’s enough detail to speculate how Windows RT tablets will stack up to the iPad in business.
Microsoft changes Windows licensing rules to spur Windows RT tablet sales
Microsoft is using its home field advantage in the business market to alter the playing field between its upcoming low cost Windows RT tablets (formerly called Windows on ARM or WOA tablets) and the iPad. To date, the iPad has been the business and enterprise tablet of choice and that gives Apple a significant leg up over competing Windows RT tablets.
Aiming to neutralize that advantage, Microsoft has written Windows 8 licensing for enterprise organizations in a way that makes supporting the iPad and other non-Microsoft devices more expensive – essentially penalizing companies that opt for the iPad and want to use a virtual desktop (VDI) solution such as those from Citrix and VMWare for remote access to a Windows desktop.
With Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Phone, Microsoft seems to be copying Apple strategies
Yesterday, Microsoft announced its Windows 8 product lineup. The lineup includes just three editions as opposed to Windows 7 and Vista, which offered twice as many options though some were targeted at developing and niche markets. In addition to streamlining the overall offerings, Microsoft also drew a sharper line between Windows 8 for desktop, notebook, and tablet PCs with x86/64 processors and Windows for ARM-based tablets.
If the dividing line between a full-fledged version of Windows and a version designed for low cost tablets seems vaguely familiar to you, it’s because the strategy is pretty similar to the distinction between Apple’s OS X for Macs and iOS for iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches.
In fact, the entire desktop and mobile lineup that Microsoft is developing seems to borrow pretty heavily from Apple’s playbook.
The VA cancels Microsoft contract, which could mean widespread use of iOS to follow
While many federal agencies have been defecting from RIM’s BlackBerry to iOS devices, the Department of Veterans Affairs seems poised to make a much more dramatic transition. The agency recently canceled its participation in Microsoft’s Software Assurance program. While the move isn’t likely to mean the VA is replacing all of its PCs with Macs, it may signal a significant transition to non-Microsoft mobile devices like the iPad.
According to a new report, Microsoft will launch Windows 8 this October. That tracks with the company’s announced plan to launch the latest version of Windows before the end of the. The launch will include traditional PCs like desktops and notebook as well as tablets. How successful Microsoft and its partners will be in taking business and consumer tablet marketshare away from the iPad remains an open question, however.
Just a few short weeks ago, Michael Dell announced that his company should no longer be considered a consumer PC and device maker. Dell should now be considered an IT vendor with a focus on enterprise data center products, went the message. The company was going to get out of the device and peripheral business.
What a difference a few weeks can make when it comes to a company’s message. While the tech world focused on today’s launch of Apple’s new iPad, Dell’s chief commercial officer Steve Felice was talking up the company’s ability to challenge the iPad in business environments. Or put more accurately, the ability that Dell will have to challenge the iPad when Windows 8 ships later this year.
Many pundits have made the argument that the iPad’s days in the business and corporate world will be numbered once Microsoft releases Windows 8 and Windows on ARM (WOA) tablets later this year. The biggest rationale behind this argument is that corporate IT departments will feel much more comfortable deploying and managing Windows devices and that they will already have the skills, tools, and resources needed to setup, secure, and roll out Windows-powered iPad competitors.
That argument lost a lot of credibility this week when Microsoft acknowledged that WOA tablets cannot be managed like other Windows variants including Windows 8 on PCs and x86 tablets or PCs running Windows 7, Vista, or XP. This makes the iPad much more suited for business than Windows on ARM devices.
Some arguments about Apple never seem die despite the fact that reality has moved on. Arguments like the Mac not being compatible with Windows file sharing or disk formats and that all Apple products being inherently more expensive than any competitors. This morning, Computerworld’s Preston Gralla pulled several of these outdated arguments together to support his opinion that Apple would never unseat Microsoft in the enterprise.
Virtually every argument in this piece is easy to debunk with facts. What’s more important than responding to these outdated myths, however, is realizing that Apple doesn’t want to unseat Microsoft from its current place in the enterprise. Microsoft is actually doing a lot of enterprise heavy lifting for Apple.
This week’s Microsoft announcement of the details of Windows 8 on ARM-powered tablets raises a big question: Will Windows 8 tablets based on ARM or running on more tradition x86 hardware blunt the iPad’s surge in business and enterprise environments?
A few years ago, it would have been easy to say that Windows 8 devices would become the defacto standard in business, particularly for large companies with Microsoft-centric IT infrastructure. But conventional wisdom like that has broken down when it comes to workplace technology in the face of BYOD programs and the consumerization of IT trends. In today’s environment, there are many factors that could tilt the playing field in favor of either Microsoft or Apple.