If today’s enterprise Windows users move onto Windows 8-oriented hardware, enterprise workgroup software might become very very differetn:
How Windows 8 Transforms Enterprise Computing - Quentin Hardy via NYTimes.com
Windows 8 could mean a lot of changes for business computing, in particular touch computing, like the swipes on an iPad. Microsoft appears to have adopted a refreshing awareness of current events, and with a nod to Apple and Google, designed a user interface that is also centered on apps. If you don’t like that you can go back to the old drag-and-drop desktop-era screen, but it is the new default.
H.P. is not talking about its future designs, but Dell sees the next version of Windows encouraging sales of ultrabooks. These lightweight laptops running Windows 8 are likely to adopt touch screens, like an iPad, while keeping the keyboard preferred for working on things like corporate spreadsheets. “Our view is that the mobile endpoint devices will become more important,” said David Johnson, Dell’s vice president of corporate strategy. “When you are creating content, a keyboard is critical.” For other things, like reading a newspaper, he says, the keyboard might go away.
In the demo, Microsoft showed personalization features that included instant feeds of information from Web-based accounts, including Facebook and Twitter, as well as Microsoft’s own cloud-storage system, called Skydrive. There is every reason to think that an enterprise version of this idea would instantly load updated workflow and task information that is stored elsewhere. That could be very attractive to companies, possibly leading to system-wide upgrades.
Mr. Sherlund said he thought the integration with Facebook, in which Microsoft bought a 1.5 percent stake for $240 million in 2007, could mean that Facebook could begin to have a workgroup function, something Google is also after in its Google+ social networking software. “With the touch capabilities thrown in, this is all about the cloud,” he said.
Imagine Microsoft building an enterprise Facebook, and attacking the work media market with it. Given their position with Office and Sharepoint, they could make a lot of trouble for Yammer, IBM, and the two dozen other start ups and established players trying to dominate that exploding market.
However, I wonder if Microsoft can move fast enough. I won’t rule them out, though.
But the real battle here is Windows 8 versus iOS (and Mac OS X) and versus Android.
The ultrabook niche — especially the arrival of convertible ultrabooks, like Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga — will have to compete against the iPad and MacBook Air. These devices have touch sensitive screens — like the iPad — but also allow a conventional keyboard to be used, as well.
My prediction is that Apple will develop a convertible product — what I call the iAir — and it will become the next killer device, the one that defines the post-pc era.