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7 things on Microsoft's 2014 to-do list

Tim Greene | Jan. 3, 2014
Microsoft needs to make Nokia work, get Office on iOS, and find Ballmer's successor in 2014.

No. 6: Get more Windows 8 apps
The Windows Store boasts more than 135,000 applications, but no single one of them nor even a collection of them is compelling enough to cause customers so choose Windows 8 in order to use the apps.

Microsoft needs such apps and needs them soon. Think the next Angry Birds.

Without an A-list of apps, customers will seek other platforms that have what they want without giving Window 8 much consideration despite its other merits.

The company has been luring apps and game developers for more than a year to create apps and games for Windows 8, offering deals on tools and attractive splits of revenue when their products are sold through the Windows Store. It's even given away Windows 8 laptops and tablets to attendees at its developer conference.

It has also partnered with third parties for Windows 8 versions of popular games. One example is Disney, which in some cases has released Windows 8 versions of its games before releasing them for Android — a step toward making Windows 8 relevant.

Its efforts seem to be working. In August, user-interface developer Infragistics came up with the 100 must-have apps that are available for iOS and found that just 54 of them were available for Windows 8. The 100 were a smattering of social-site apps such as Google+, services such as HBO GO and PayPal, and resource sites like IMDB. Now, though, 72 of those apps are available for Windows 8.

Coming up with the next Angry Birds requires inspiration and innovation in a way that can't be plotted out, but Windows 8 needs that kind of lightning to strike.

Beyond that Microsoft needs compelling business apps to be written for Windows 8, taking advantage of its touch-friendliness. Expanding the usefulness of Windows 8 by making workers more productive when they use it will make it more attractive.

No. 7: Promote Windows 8.1 for business
It may already be too late, but as Windows XP fades into end of support this April, Microsoft needs to do all it can to push those XP diehards into buying Windows 8 machines as a replacement.

Figures indicate that Windows 7 is gaining in popularity while Windows 8 is dipping, according to NetMarketshare statistics.

One remedy for this could be pushing Windows 8 into large businesses, which would not only boost sales but also promote consumer popularity by forcing workers to become familiar with the operating system.

But adopting Windows 8 wholesale into enterprises is a longshot given that the touch aspects that make Windows 8 superior in some cases to Windows 7 aren't needed to do many corporate jobs. Those that lend themselves to touch, such as mobile workers and sales staff, could transition to Windows 8 while others remain on Windows 7, but that's a long process. It could result in businesses hanging on to Windows 7 until Microsoft irons out the kinks, much as they did by hanging onto Windows XP, skipping Vista, and ultimately adopting Windows 7.


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