In the past few years, it has appeared that Microsoft has been on the defensive. They have defended against the financial analysts, the legal attacks, their relevancy in the market place, relevancy in the phone market, the tablet market, the cloud market, on and on it goes.
No more. Microsoft is going on the offensive. This year will be a historic year for Microsoft. This year will bring the biggest product refresh for Microsoft in its history. Over the space of 12 months, Microsoft is releasing new versions of nearly every single product in its portfolio.
This refresh cycle begins by unifying the user experience. Whether on the home pc, the office pc, the tablet, the phone, the home gaming system – all will be tied together with Metro. Metro allows users to move seamlessly from home to the office or from public to private cloud. This unification begins with the release of Windows 8. Windows 8 has already been released to manufacturing. The bits for Windows 8 will be available on August 15th and general availability on October 26th. Windows 8 will be followed by Windows Server 2012 (which also has been released to manufacturing and will have general availability September 4th), Windows Phone 8, Kinect, Surface and others.
After unifying the user experience, Microsoft focuses on what users will do with that experience. Office 2013, Sharepoint 15, Exchange 2013, Lync 2013 are just a few of the releases that are coming this year from Microsoft that will extend the capabilities of the users beyond where they are now. System Center 2012 makes it possible for organizations to roll out and manage these new products.
Microsoft is betting big on this year. In Steve Ballmer’s mind, there have been four big moments in Microsoft history – the founding of Microsoft, the launch of the PC, Windows 95, and now. “Now” is about anywhere, anytime, anyplace, on any device. It is about public cloud, private cloud. It is about collaborating freely. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle but “Now” with Microsoft connects all those pieces together like they never have in the past.
To construct a user experience that works fairly seamlessly across desktops, tablets, and smartphones, Microsoft had to make some compromises, and these trade-offs are affecting desktop users the most. Although it’s relatively easy to operate a touchscreen-oriented interface on a device with an actual touchscreen, it’s not so easy to translate touch gestures to the world of mice and keyboards. Power users aren’t happy with Microsoft’s new Windows 8 mouse gestures, so you can only imagine how well they’ll be received by the enterprise market, and by all of our grandparents.