Did Windows get cool again?

09/16/2011

By Srini Katta

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Windows get cool again

Yesterday, I installed Windows 8 developer pre-beta version not having any expectations.  My first impression???  Very nice.  With Windows 8, Microsoft made a serious attempt to provide a unified user experience across desktop, notebook, tablet and windows mobile.  This is a huge step forward for Microsoft to stay competitive in the rapidly changing consumer and business device world.  For years, Microsoft banked on the familiar look of MS Office and Windows to keep their customer base intact.  In doing this, however, Microsoft seriously missed some major demographic changes.  The people that grew up with MS Windows and MS Office are now in their 40’s and no longer the demographic that define where technology is heading.  Over the past decade, Generation Y grew up, adopting the iPod and transitioning to Mac Books, iPhones, iPads and now Android phones.  All the while, Microsoft seemed to sit on its laurels banking on the past dominance of Windows.  Well, those days are over.  With Windows 8, Microsoft brings the cool factor back to Generation Y.

For those have not read some of the early reports, one of the most innovative offerings brought on by Windows 8 is Metro Apps.  In a nutshell, Metro Apps are apps that can be ran from any Windows 8 device, whether a PC, tablet or mobile phone.  I logged in to Windows 8 using my Microsoft Live ID.  This saves the Metro Apps, settings and self-selected websites (ex. Facebook) in the cloud.  I can then access my Metro Apps, settings and associated websites from any other Windows 8 based device that I sign into with my Live ID.   This functionality and ease of use is great.

One of my favorite Metro Apps is “Socialite,” a cool app that connects to your Facebook account and brings your feed, friends, photos, etc. right into your PC.  Socialite neatly stacks your feeds and friends and gives a great visual experience by avoiding the usual clutter that one may experience when account accessing Facebook in a browser.  I think Generation Y is going to like it.

Providing more than just great apps for social, Microsoft did not ignore its core business customers.  The Windows on the Go feature enables users to carry a bootable USB drive with a copy of their Windows 8, Metro Apps, data and settings.  Power users or business users can use any Windows 8 PC and boot their version of Windows 8 from the USB drive and do work as if they were on their own machine.  The data and updates save to the USB drive and nothing is left on the PC that was used.  The implication for field sales reps and service executives is clear, no more need to lug notebooks everywhere.  They could even use the PC provided by the hotel they are staying in to complete the heavy work by using the bootable USB drive and do their business with a smartphone.

As we have seen with Palm however, a good OS these days is only as good as the apps that are being developed for it.  I don’t think Microsoft has much to worry about in this department.  Microsoft has indeed taken a page from the success of app development from Google, Facebook and Saleforce.com.  To build Metro Apps, Microsoft announced support to develop apps using HTML5, CSS3 and Java script in addition to a pure Windows development environment such as .Net, C# and Visual Basic. HTML5 will be supported on IE 10. 

As we build mobile CRM apps, we are keen on following the Windows 8 story as it unfolds.  Stay tuned.

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