For the sake of transparency I will share the fact that I do not own any Apple products. No iPhone, iPod or iWhatever. That said, I will give Apple a lot of credit as they have developed a significant presence in the marketplace with their iPod and iPhone product. Now, by no means were these products revolutionary. In fact, I was at first bemused by all these people going out and buying iPods when I had a Windows Mobile 5 or 6 device that not only allowed me to carry around tons of songs, but also served as my phone as well. Seemed odd that I would want two devices… Anyway, Apple eventually came around with the iPhone that unified these.
The reason Apple was successful was for two reasons. First, the product was standardized. As a result, a whole industry of accessories was born where you could by a case, a speaker dock, etc. and know it would work. The second was that Apple marketed the heck out of it to consumers. Microsoft never really marketed their smartphones to consumers. They were business productivity devices designed to compete with Palm and Blackberry.
Today it is all about BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). The principle here is that IT is expected to support any device within the corporate walls. Realistically, however, this is not feasible. For example, I have had countless conversations with CIOs where they are trying to figure out if they should support iPads and how they will impact the organization. At the end of the day these are great entertainment devices, but will not run any common business application. In fact, in most situations, you have to custom create any app that you might want to use to allow your workforce to be productive. Further, that app is something custom and specific to the iPad. It can’t be used by anyone anywhere else.
So, where does Windows 8 come into play? For the first time, there will be a single platform that I can write an application for that will work across the desktop, the tablet and the phone. That is powerful. Further, most of my applications that I wrote to work on a desktop or laptop will continue to function on Windows 8 Professional. As such, I can give my sales guy a sleek, lightweight, ultra portable multi-touch tablet and know that once he is done delivering his PowerPoint presentation he will be able to open up Outlook to send some email and then open up his fat client application to talk to our old ERP system.
That’s just one scenario. Another is the fact that from a skillset perspective the Windows 8 platform is second to none. A large chunk of businesses have taken on staff that knows the Microsoft .NET platform (C#, VB.NET, etc.). Building an application for Windows 8 using these tools/technologies requires a small amount of training. To create an application for the iPad I need to know Objective C and have an Apple OS to build on. Not many midsize companies will tolerate having a full time iOS developer on staff.
These are just two of the many reasons that Windows 8 is going to be the best, most successful operating system release since Windows 95. I am looking forward to the release and discussing the applicability of the new OS to our clients’ businesses.