Windows 8: A New Era for Microsoft
Author:Office of Innovation Technology Program
Understanding Microsoft’s new scope and direction for Windows is critical for enterprise IT managers, who need to look beyond the question of “when to upgrade desktops” and examine what role Microsoft may play across all of IT.
For the past 20 years, the lines of information technology (IT) have been relatively clear. Fundamentally, IT was split into two camps: enterprise servers and desktop clients. Even with the arrival of browsers, Web servers, hypervisors and multi-tier applications, the two-way split remained the same. However, over the past five years the lines between “what is where” in IT have been blurring significantly. Peer-to-peer networking, tablets and cloud-based services have taken what was traditionally IT and smeared it across a more complex landscape of technologies.
Many analysts in the IT industry think Microsoft is at a crossroads, where it needs to make a fundamental decision as to its future, similar to what IBM went through in the 1990s. However, the reality is that Microsoft already made that decision awhile ago, even as far back as Windows Vista. As described in the Executive Summary “As Vista Emerges, Think Platform, Not Operating System,” Microsoft’s effort with Vista, even though it was perceived as a market failure, planted the seeds of the company’s effort to dominate the IT software space — consumer and enterprise — well into the next decade.
Microsoft has been a dominant player in the personal computing space for almost three decades. During the past decade, however, many more alternatives to Windows have appeared. Furthermore, the PC market — though still large — has matured and leveled off. Growth in the IT industry has shifted to a broader spectrum fueled by mobility (Android and iOS), virtualization (where the operating system becomes more fluid), viable desktop alternatives (Linux and Mac), and an increasingly diverse set of networked ecosystems powered by cloud computing.
As the IT spectrum has broadened, Microsoft has been working to not only maintain its dominance in traditional markets, but to leapfrog and challenge its new competitors across the entire IT spectrum.