How long can Microsoft go on like this? With the way IT is changing, could they end up eating dust?
That idea puts a smile on my face for some strange reason ....
Microsoft risks eating the dust in this rapidly changing market. I wouldn't be surprised. Ironically enough the way to avoid it is to rapidly adapt to the consumer-grade application mentality set forth by Apple and others. That means pushing Metro forward.
The problem, in my opinion, is that this paradigm shift of the past few years between the "old" function-centric applications and operating systems and the "new" consumer-centric application model isn't really about "old" and "new". This is simply the tapping of a previously unexplored market. The function-centric application model is still in very much high demand. Notice that despite what all the hype may lead you to think, personal computer sales still dominate the global worldwide market. If they are declining, it is only natural: They are adjusting themselves to this new market and the new devices that took a share from the PC. Were before there was only the personal computer to handle web services and communications, now we have smartphones and tablets that can do it. Anyone pretending the decline spells the doom of the personal computer is just doing futurology and not paying attention to history and the many past examples were the same was said about personal computers (and newspapers, and radio, and television).
So, when Microsoft announced Metro I was happy. here we had a more active Microsoft, quick to embrace new trends and understanding the huge importance of what Apple created. Around the time it was announced the Microsoft/Nokia partnership I actually thought we would be having a Microsoft trying to disturb Apple's tablet market share with a tablet and operating system of its own. That's what Metro is for, and Microsoft announcing that Metro would be an optional interface to Windows 8, made every sense in the world. What best way to market their new tablet-centric UI than offering it as an alternative to their desktop operating system?
But when it became evident Microsoft's plans were in fact to force it down our throats and make Metro the only UI for Windows 8, that really put an end to any ideas I had of a Microsoft/Nokia tablet or anything else for that matter. The philosophy is instead to bring Apple's vision to the desktop and hopefully turn the PC into one heavy tablet in our homes to keep Microsoft shareholders happy that what everyone is saying that the PC is dead is not going to happen because we now have a consumer-centric operating system for the desktop.
To top it, as if function-centric operating systems were a thing of the past, we are presented with this absolute nonsense of an idea that Metro is an easier to use operating system. "Define easier!"
There's nothing overly complicated in the line of operating systems from Microsoft since Windows 95. My wife could for sure locate and fire Excel, Word or a browser from a Windows 95 installation as well as she can from a Window 7 one. And as new generations take their turn, thus seeing a general increase in the IT world literacy, we can expect the easy-of-use epithet to see its scope diminish.
What instead we have is just a new market with specific needs. Not a change from a complicated world to a better and easier one. That Metro (or some descendant) can eventually find its way into our offices one day, I have little doubts. But I seriously question the fact we are being forced into it when it shouldn't. There's no reason whatsoever to think that the current UI (~20 years old) is inadequate for the professional market or that is going to become worse as the years move on.