A Long Game?

I’ve worried that with Windows 8 being so far away (guesses range between next summer and the spring after next) that it won’t be able to make a dent in a runaway tablet market.

It occurs to me that making a dent in the tablet market may not be the plan.

The reason I think this is to look back at Windows NT.  When Microsoft introduced Windows NT, comodity server market was a far more specialised area than it is today.  You didn’t just call a random IT consultant and get a linux box or two in a server room.  MS were planning ahead.  Specifically, MS realised that the Windows 95 line of products were never going to be the server class OS they wanted.  They also realised that people would one day want server class operating system stability and functionality on their desktop… just not yet.  So NT was maintained alongside the 95 strain.  Eventually 95 was eradicated, and with the introduction of XP we all moved over to NT.

I think MS  might be trying to do the same with tablets.

Right now tablets are not quite up to being full PCs.  Not if you want battery life and low weight.  But they might well catch up with what desktop users want on day – especially as more and more processign moves into the clouds.  So Windows 8 might not be a play to corner the tablet market tomorrow, or next year.  Rather it might be a play to put a foot in the door.

Once MS have a foot in the door, they can keep working on dekstops. They can keep working on laptops.  And they can keep working on heavy, underpowered tablets.  And they can keep making all three of them better.  Tha gamble is, as tablets improve, and as Windows looks more and more like it is ready for tablets people (and IT managers) might think to themselves “Why don’t I just use Windows tablets?”

Its a gamble, because it assumes tablets are slowly going to become PCs.  I’m unconvinced by this argument – I see desktop PCs and Laptops ultimately becomeing more like tablets.

Its also a gamble because, with 95 you could move to NT without losing too much (or even noticing, int he case of most users, I imagine).  MS are assuming people will want to move from desktops to tablets, which seems to opposite direction from DOS-based to NT based PCs

But its a long game stategy.  And it might work.

I certainly wouldn’t bet against it.

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