2015 – A landmark year for Microsoft and Windows

Windows 10 will be launched, we presume, at some point later this year. What you may not know is that the Windows Operating System is 30 years old in November 2015, making this a milestone year for Microsoft in a couple of ways.

Before we explore that further I have to ask, “Did anyone really work with this interface? (Windows 1.0 -1985)”:

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In our conversations about the Contemporary Workplace we often talk about how the Operating System should be invisible. In a world with modern workstyles and a plethera of devices to choose from, we focus on delivering Content and Applications across a range of different platforms to cater for modern user needs. While we relentlessly pursue that experience on behalf of our clients, it’s clear that the OS is far from invisible, hence why it attracts so much attention and commentary – both positive and negative.

Microsoft has had enormous success over the past 30 years. There have been challenges along the way, but you cannot counter the longevity and dominance they have shown in our use of technology both as consumers and in business. As is often the case where it has worked well (Windows XP, Windows 7) people struggle to let go of the platform they know and trust. But if occasionally doesn’t work out so well – Windows ME, Vista and Windows 8 too. Clearly you cannot guarantee success and to be accurate all of the time, as these two quotes from the past probably evidence:

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

Thomas Watson, president of IBM, 1943

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”

Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977

Windows 10, when it launches, will deliver a new User Interface, a new Browser (Spartan), Cortana on the desktop… and let’s not forget the return of the Start Menu. There are many other enhancements and features too, and with a technical preview ongoing, most of the feedback and commentary I’ve seen has been positive. The promise of “Universal Apps” I see as very compelling, and confirm the departure from delivering a traditional Desktop OS to delivering a platform to cater for the different devices we use today.

The future lies in using multiple devices and a departure from the traditional desktop/laptop only option – but the core of productivity still remains on these types of devices for the vast majority of users

Will Windows 10 be a success? I’m not psychic, but in this, the 30 year anniversary of Windows, it is a key for Microsoft to put the past behind them and move forwards in line with their new strategy. The first year free upgrade announced at last week’s event is big news – but remember that only applies to consumers!, more details from Microsoft for Business users will follow in due course.

Has the expectations of users of the Operating System changed over time? Invariably with the great success of mobile platforms such as iOS and Android I think expectations have changed. The OS is never invisible despite what many people may say. It provides many core user functions and tools that are useful to users, but fundamentally the OS needs to work to provide higher value functions – namely access to applications and data. The OS “bit” just needs to be reliable, performant and intuitive.

And that is perhaps a key change. As the way the user interacts with the OS has changed over time (from keyboard to mouse and now to touch), and with a more competitive landscape of technology and solutions I think the general expectations, particularly of Microsoft OS’s has increased, but this causes the dichotomy of innovation and change against the integration and adoption needs of a largest and broadest array of users across any platform.

History shows us that those platforms that do the basics well have been successful. Does the same fate await Windows 10? I’d really welcome your comments and predictions…

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About Paul Bray

Paul is Computacenter’s Chief Technologist for Workplace and User Productivity

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