Gunnar Berger

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Gunnar Berger
Research Director
1 year at Gartner
14 years IT industry

Gunnar Berger is a research director for Gartner's IT Professionals service. He covers desktop, application and server virtualization ...Read Full Bio

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Windows 8 Review – Part 1: A business decision

by Gunnar Berger  |  July 16, 2012  |  15 Comments

Disclaimer: Gartner analysts use their blogs to share their personal views and opinions on subjects close to their hearts.

I’ve been on a mission for a while now to dive into Windows 8 and to try and come up with a definite opinion on what I think about the OS; admittedly I’ve been having a very difficult time. Windows 8 is such a deviation from any prior version of Windows I have a very difficult time formulating an official stance. As an analyst it’s my job to not be moved by external forces but to just look at a technology and form an opinion, the issue I have is that my opinion with Windows 8 changes wildly depending on how I view it. So to write any compelling blog on this operating system I decided I have to completely segment my thoughts, so each day this week I’m going to post a blog that looks at Windows 8 from a different stand point.  Today I’m focusing on Windows 8 as a business decision for Microsoft.

Windows 8 – As a business decision

I wonder whose job it is at Microsoft to lose sleep over Microsoft’s lack of owning the tablet market. It doesn’t take a Gartner analyst to look around your local coffee shop and realize there is a major trend towards tablet devices and away from PCs. (It does take a Gartner analyst to back this up with a lot of data, which we have.) This trend puts Microsoft in a bad spot in the long term because Microsoft has no presence in the tablet market, nor do they have an operating system built for tablet use; this changes with Windows 8. Microsoft understands this trend and although they may be a few years behind, Windows 8 is an audacious move to get into the tablet market by evolving their flagship OS into a tablet focused OS.  If this move proves successful and they are able to convert all the desktops out there to Windows 8, they would become the number one tablet OS (regardless that the OS may not be used on a tablet in all cases). This fact alone makes the decision to make Windows 8 both a tablet OS and a desktop OS a brilliant move by Microsoft.  The question on many people’s mind is if this move will work or not.

One issue I see with this move is that Windows 8 doesn’t seem like a move to enable the enterprise, but a move to support the trend towards consumerization within the enterprise. In other words this move is aimed at end-user consumers, not IT departments, but this may not be a bad thing for Microsoft. We recently did a large field research study and specifically asked all of our interviewees if they were looking at Windows 8, most laughed. The fact is most enterprises are still trying to get to Windows 7 and few enterprises are ready for Windows 8. I believe that after the lessons of Windows ME and Windows Vista many enterprises will wait on Windows 8 to see how it works out.  I also think Microsoft knows this and is using this to their advantage (and I applaud them for it). If enterprises aren’t going to be breathing down their necks on this OS then they have some flexibility to build an OS that is more geared for the consumer and thus they can work on winning back that market, and believe it or not Microsoft cares a lot about the consumer market.  When I was at TechEd a Microsoft employee made a statement that I think best sums this up:

  •  “Microsoft doesn’t bet against the consumer. In fact a few decades ago a few people started a company that focused on what the consumer wanted, that company became Microsoft.”

I thought this was an excellent statement for Microsoft to make, and I applaud them for their efforts in Windows 8 to win the consumer back. If this move proves successful IT departments will rejoice as tablets running Windows 8 are bound to be easier to manage in an Active Directory environment.

The only real issue that I have (again – from a business stand point) is that I see a lot of marketing from Microsoft on Windows 8 being an enterprise solution. I guess this would depend on how you define “enterprise solution”.  If the marketing said this was a way for enterprises to support the consumerization trend within the enterprise, I’d agree. If the marketing said it was a way to enable tablets in an enterprise without losing the level of control Windows typical gives enterprises, I’d agree (but would also need to verify). Unfortunately, that’s not what I’m hearing, I think Microsoft really wants to move all desktops to this next OS, now I can’t blame them, but that doesn’t mean I agree with them.

So overall I think Windows 8 is a smart move for Microsoft, anything that gets them into the tablet market is a good move for Microsoft and Windows 8 is a major step in that direction.

Thankfully Microsoft was nice enough to send me a Samsung Series 7 “Slate” device with Windows 8 installed on it.  (A “slate” to the untrained eye looks and behaves like a tablet but is really a laptop in disguise.) I’ve been playing with this slate for a while now and tomorrow I will be talking about my experiences with it.

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15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ernst Verster   July 24, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Why not Windows8 on an iPad? The best of both worlds. Thanks for the test on desktops. Now I’m curious about Windows8 on desktops. So I go installing Windows8 on my test desktop.

  • 2 ArnoNyhm   July 24, 2012 at 11:58 am

    What I don’t understand is why MS just doesn’t make a settings so that a user can decide whether to get the usual desktop or the Metro one.

    In both cases, the underlying “engine” would be the same; this way, the user could use best of both world, MS could go to the market with one version of the OS and enterprises would be happy, too.

    -Incredibly to me that they didn’t come up with such a solution. I expect that Win8 will get it’s market share in the consumer market, but enterprises will stick with Win7. As a consequence, MS will bring a “Win9″ which is just that: A combination of Win8 engine with a user choice between a Metro-style and Win7-style HMI.

  • 3 Windows 8 non adatto a usi aziendali, meglio su touchscreen [FOTO] | xvid entertainment news   July 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    [...] operativo, ma è più dedicato all’utenza consumer che a quella aziendale, inoltre la fruizione con mouse e tastiera non è così comoda, secondo Gartner: “Importantissimi menu sono nascosti dallo schermo e si possono richiamare con un tocco su uno [...]

  • 4 McDruid   July 24, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Seriously, Dude, you are comparing a 2-pound, $1600 Series 7 with a 1.5 pund $500 iPad? Heck, for the price of the Series 7, I could get an Air and an iPad, both with Retina screens. It must be nice to have companies give you free hardware, but the rest of us have to look at the cost.

    Also, will W8 be as responsive on a Tablet as on the Series 7 Ultrabook? And will Office be the same on both?

  • 5 Ron   July 26, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    ArnoNyhm, in Win8 MS is following the same fundamental design choice they made with the Windows 1.0 in the 1980’s and Ribbon in Office 2007. They came up with a “new & improved” design and “forced” users to use it.

    The original Windows was just a “gooey” shell on top of DOS. You could clearly see that during the boot process. Into the late 1990’s, even into Window NT, “New” technology, there were still lots of DOS modules visible in Windows.

    It would have been trivial for MS to keep the old menu as a UI option in Office 2007. I saw the first 3rd party “Menu” addons for 2007 within 30 days of it’s general availability. The underlying commands and functionality are the same, they just “put lipstick on the pig”. Keeping the menu as an option would probably been easier than removing it. Even if they made the option difficult to find, it SHOULD have been there. That simple choice made adopting and using 2007 / 2010 much harder. For people who have invested YEARS of their own time and lots of their own MONEY learning the old UI, having to learn the new UI is a huge disincentive.

    Win8 is the same. They have the old “desktop” present, so why not make it easier to load by default. Because they want to force people to use “Metro”. The “start” button was still present in the Beta versions, a simple registry hack, until MS explicitly removed it.

    Now they are doing it again with Office 15 / 2013. They have written the installer to explicitly not allow Vista, Win7 and Win8 only. Sorry MS, bad choice. I bought 2010, even though I had 2007, just because I wanted to learn it. I won’t be buying 2013 until I have to replace my current computer. Hopefully another 3 or 4 years down the line.

  • 6 James   August 12, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Regarding the MS Employee quote:

    “Microsoft doesn’t bet against the consumer. In fact a few decades ago a few people started a company that focused on what the consumer wanted, that company became Microsoft.”

    It is an excellent quote for them since it follows standard revisionist thinking about Microsoft. MS in it’s early days was hardly focused on the consumer as we know it today, since their primary products were development tools (compilers for various computer languages like BASIC and CP/M, etc.), hardly the choice of the average consumer.

    Microsoft didn’t really start pandering to the consumer until Apple came to them to develop applications for the Mac, (I don’t really count DOS since that was done for IBM initially and not directly for the consumer).

    It’s good press for them to proclaim the consumer mantra now, since they have a healthy stable of consumer products, but that’s not how they started out.

  • 7 Michael   August 28, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    I disagree with you, Ron.

    While I can sympathize with your argument “it’s difficult to go through the process of learning changes that come with new OS and application releases”, it’s a necessary step for giving the overall market easier, better ways what they ultimately *need*. The reality is that no small percentage of the population really understand what they need. Of course, many of them THINK they know what is is they need, but for most, their ideas are limited to the box they’re so comfortable in remaining.

    What I don’t think you want to admit is that part of life is accepting change is inevitable. It’s something that’s taken place all through history and will no doubt continue to be how the world works.

    Say that “Microsoft shouldn’t force users into having to accept change without being given options to keep “the old way” going is the “bad choice”, Ron. You trivialize that the changes that have come along with new software are essentially “cosmetic”, the so called lipstick on a pig. Since you mentioned going through the DOS to Windows transition, you can’t tell me that there’s not much difference between those early operating systems and what is available today. DOS gave way to “primitive” versions of Windows… Win 1.0 and 2.0 lacked what it would take to get people to hop on board the new “gooey” interface, but it too the work in both v1 and v2 for Microsoft to get to Win 3 and 3.1, the first big version that won a good chunk of people over.

    Yes, Windows 3 and 3.1 were built on top of a DOS shell, but you have to keep two things in mind… First, the hardware of that time put limits on the extent of how far software could go. Secondly, change doesn’t happen overnight. Did we get to the jet set world we live in today in a mere blink from the first flight of the Wright brothers?

    I mean really… Microsoft has brought us where we are today far from the days of yesteryear when there was WordPerfect, WordStar, Word… and on top of that, dedicated WP systems like Wang… all of which had different file formats which for a long time, were completely incompatible. But if your job was say, being a typist in a law firm… having the Wang in the office was a godsend if you were brought up using a typewriter. I was fresh out of school around then and my first job was developing office related software. Those who were used to their “WordPerfect” or “Wang” expertise loathed having to learn Word when companies moved on to Microsoft products. But this was change that had to happen. The office personnel I worked with back then could never have thought ahead to how the change ahead would bridge offices in distant cities together with networks and the Internet. Few people could have predicted then that’s the path the world would take. Not even most heads of companies saw this coming. For many, it had to be “pushed” on them, which is how many people like yourself view this process.

    What Microsoft does with changes like “Metro” is move change along in an increment they deem is needed. I’m not saying that ultimately, the new UI as it’s about to be released is going to be a big winner. Some features no doubt will, while others will turn out to be duds.

    I think there’s a lot of potential with the Metro tiling and making it easier with the aggregating of common user areas of interest… messaging, email, photos etc, built in to the OS. Getting to the “but it’s what I know and am used to” desktop is a simple click on a tile. If Microsoft made the default to “off” or made it an option to turn off and stay off, it’d take longer to “scoot” people in the direction they think things need to go. Huge public outcry will let them know if they’re right.. but I think absolutely, it IS the right choice. The difficulty of getting through the learning curve of the new stuff is far outweighed by the benefit of how it will ultimately simplify our lives and do more things that are difficult or impossible to do without them.

  • 8 Windows 8: 40 giochi Xbox pronti per il debutto [FOTO] | xvid entertainment news   September 3, 2012 at 9:22 am

    [...] operativo, ma è più dedicato all’utenza consumer che a quella aziendale, inoltre la fruizione con mouse e tastiera non è così comoda, secondo Gartner: “Importantissimi menu sono nascosti dallo schermo e si possono richiamare con un tocco su uno [...]

  • 9 Bob   October 29, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    @micahel

    Back when i used a simple word processor with a crappy DOS look, it was so much faster to writup a document than running win 3.1 which would take forever and then crash. And if it did not crash you then had to wait 15 minutes to start Word which would hopefully also not crash after typing 3 or 4 characters. I liked the fancy gui but hated how slow microsoft products were and the frequent crashes.

    I think most normal users at work using a keyboard and mouse in front of a desktop computer will agree that windows 8 metro is inneficient. Same goes for the office ribbon.

    i like the office ribbon look, but finding an obscure option or setting requires a google search, so was that change worth it? How much time did the UI team really sepnd allocating location and real estate space to each function – none in my opinion.

    Have a look at what has been done to the new Visual Studio. There is a desease at Microsoft in th UI team – probably on the Apple payroll.

    Change for the sake of change does not neceesarily mean good in the long-term. I predict 8 will flush faster than vista down the office toilet.

    And think about this. We now have metro crap to look at, plus the newer vista dialogs and options together with the old 98 and xp style dialogs here and there. The whole windows interface is a mangled web of styles.

    Please MS create a ui team dedicated to the office environment and make sure Windows 9 looks and works consistant and efficiently at my place of work.

  • 10 Are Businesses Waiting For Windows 9? – InformationWeek   February 14, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    [...] It’s not that Windows 8 doesn’t offer IT-friendly enhancements; rather, as Johnson noted in a Nov. 16 blog post, it’s that the enhancements only add value for employees whose jobs involve mobility. For most purposes, Windows 7 remains good enough. In another post, Johnson argued that consumers would drive Windows 8 adoption, echoing a point Gartner research director Gunnar Berger made in July. [...]

  • 11 ¿Estarán esperando las empresas a que salga Windows 9? | InformationWeek México   February 18, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    [...] No es que Windows 8 no ofrezca mejoras amigables para IT; todo lo contrario, como observó Johnson en una publicación en su blog del 16 de noviembre, aunque las mejoras sólo agregan valor para empleados cuyos puestos se benefician con la movilidad. Para la mayoría de los fines, Win7 sigue siendo suficientemente bueno. En otra publicación, Johnson argumentó que los consumidores impulsarían la adopción de Windows 8, haciendo eco de una observación que Gunnar Berger, director de Investigación de Gartner, hiciera en julio pasado. [...]

  • 12 Windows 8 Part 1: A business decision | senk9@wp   October 22, 2013 at 3:56 am

    [...] Windows 8 Review – Part 1: A business decision [...]

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