Windows 8 Enterprise Monkey Edition …Why not just “Windows”..

Microsoft has this unique gift in their current product portfolios, that is they have a fairly wide range of offerings that at times on their own are quite brilliant and great to use.

This now brings me to my state of confusion, that is to say why they spend so much energy and time confusing the masses when its clear their biggest competitor, Apple, have figured out the simplistic pattern of “less is more”.

There is just Windows.

Today, Brandon announced what will be the upcoming SKU’s for Windows 8, and yes the ye olde “pro” makes a comeback to a shrink wrap shelf near you.

Stupid.

Why do they need to separate out the product lines as to me they really should reconsider this approach going forward, especially given Desktop/Device are blurring out one another’s value proposition(s).

Instead of breaking out a variety of comparison matrix that often as a consumer will result in ticking the lowest cost box, why not instead just let everyone buy a Windows core, that is to say you just “buy” windows.

Picture a consumer walking into a retail shop of some kind, they walk straight over to the Windows box, pick it up, buy it and then install it when they get home.

The installation wizard steps them through various basic features and so on but on the last screen they are asked “what other features would you like to buy? for 0.99c

The end user ponders, and starts to tick or untick boxes that they think they will need for their installation – which is linked to a Azure ID of some kind.

That’s it, no confusion around which Windows SKU you own or at times buyers remorse because you bought the wrong edition which had XYZ feature and now you want that feature but then have to shell out for features you don’t want at a upgrade price of XYZ.

Furthermore this then would condition them to an initial introduction to the “AppStore” market model which no doubt they probably have already learnt via their iPhones/iPad interaction(s).

Just Windows doesn’t stop there either, you also have this same principle applied to Tablet/ARM/Phone hardware as well as now it’s less about specifics of Windows and more about Windows as an abstract platform.

Ergo this would also underpin their entire content first strategy that orbits Metro today.

I don’t see a cohesive strategy within the Windows Teams, I see snippets of success but there appears to be no over arching cohesive strategy. The problem is still there with individual product teams competiting for consumer awareness and attention.

Is Windows a platform or not? if it is, how about it start acting like one and become one and not some comparison matrix which leaves you questioning “Do i need that?” vs “Do I want that”

Scott Out.

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  • http://twitter.com/epic_n00b $(‘#Anil’)

    “Do i need that?” vs “Do I want that”
    spot on…

  • Rod Landaeta

    Excellent post Scott.

  • Kerry Street

    Agree. It is critical to get many users setup with store accounts and credit cards linked after install so the purchasing of apps is no brainer iOS-like going forward. This drives store sales like iTunes and is less after the fact or never setup like Android. What better way to do that than having people go buy/get free on ARM key features like the “Office App” right after first boot. In addition, with just “Windows” naming then you can allow x86 people to just buy the “Desktop App” which allows you to run all your old stuff. Then sales people say, “all Windows devices can run all Metro Apps in the Microsoft Store and they all run the Office App. If you need the Desktop App to install and run any of your existing Windows programs, then buy this model that includes the Desktop App (or is able to dload/activate it).

    Kerry
    @kcstreet

  • http://twitter.com/jmarbutt Jonathan Marbutt

    I am sure the conversation went something like a typical dilbert cartoon where Dilbert presents the idea you have just given to consolidate into one sku so to drive market share of the app store. But the manager can only see he is loosing the sales of the “Home edition”, or “Ultimate” because they made millions off the confusion. 

    Simplicity is key. The want to win the consumer market, but consumers play by different rules and simplicity is key. 

    I love the fact on my mac, I can do a command-r, reinstall the OS with the only thing I need is my app store id. No cd, no 32 digit key that I have 50 of and can’t remember which machine had which one or that some manufacture decided to put on a power supply that i let someone borrow. I mean that alone would cut down a major battle they have fought with piracy. But geeze, what does Apple know?

    I want to hold out hope that they will figure it out and I think it will do well, but I have no ambitions that it will be the success they are hoping for. I think many developers are holding back after the marketshare of WP7, issues with direction on products like Silverlight and many more. I hope they can pull their stuff together but I think it will be Win9 before we see any major headway, I just hope Win8 isn’t as laughable as WinMe. 

    Thanks for great post.

  • http://twitter.com/AdrianJSClark Adrian Clark

    They went from something like eight SKU’s of Windows with Win7 to 4, 2 of which will never be on a store shelf for a consumer to choose between. So when you’re buying a new PC the question is “Do you want ‘Windows 8’ or ‘Windows 8 Pro’ with extra features?”(Sure, it’s 5 if you include Windows Phone which, until it runs the same kernel I don’t.)

    Not sure how it could’ve been made much simpler.Windows 7 had the ability to “just buy an upgrade” to go from Home or Home Basic to Ultimate. I don’t doubt that you’ll be able to take your copy of “Windows 8”, go to the Windows Marketplace and say “I’d like to have the ‘Pro’ features, thanks”.@twitter-20263329:disqus Windows 8 will allow you to do basically what you are saying. You can do a “Refresh” which reinstalls Windows without touching other data on your disk and then re-installs all Metro-style applications. You can also “Reset” which will wipe everything back to factory and then your Metro applications are just a re-install away.Just like on the Mac, things that aren’t installed from within the Marketplace (aka App Store) will need manual handling.

    Not only that, if you have allowed your settings to be synchronised to Skydrive logging in with your Live ID will bring back colours, backgrounds and other configurations.

    Sure they could, as Scott says, just have “Windows” with add-on bits. I can see that they are putting the infrastructure in place for that. The Marketplace, encouragement (or requirement if you want any Metro applications) to have a Live ID, Skydrive integration.
    I personally don’t see any problem with Microsoft having a couple of different versions of Windows with different features. Windows is their core product. It is like people complaining that Apple makes too many MacBooks. Look, if they just had one size/CPU/RAM combo and then later on I could go back to the Apple store & buy more if I needed it that’d be so much simpler.

  • http://twitter.com/Dewey2000 Sam Covington

    You ever heard the saying, “It’s not a lie if you believe it”?

    Well, this isn’t at all confusing since some clowns at MS find it easily digestable!

    I like your idea, and I guess Apple was the only massive company to ever see the movie Highlander…

    THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!!!

  • http://twitter.com/brianmeidell Brian Meidell

    I think the answer – to some degree – is that Microsoft is in a position where they live off getting businesses to buy enterprise (translation: expensive) editions of the same programs as they want to be able to sell for cheap to consumers. They have to justify that price difference somehow, so they make different editions.

    I think this is a bit of a bind for them – there are obviously big changes happening: The computers and software market has turned consumer driven to a much greater degree, and peoples personal computing habits are affecting work purchasing decisions rather than the other way around. And it looks to me as if Microsoft will have problems accommodating the ease of use and simplicity people are getting used to from Apple, and still make the truckload of money from business customers that is paying for their operation. Businesses will gladly shell out the big bugs to avoid having to think about all the confusion they have traditionally excelled at creating. If that goes away to accommodate the regular consumer, I think they are afraid of cannibalizing their biggest market.

  • http://www.liyujn.com

    Sure they could, as Scott says, just have “Windows” with add-on bits. I can see that they are putting the infrastructure in place for that. The Marketplace, encouragement (or requirement if you want any Metro applications) to have a Live ID, Skydrive integration.I personally don’t see any problem with Microsoft having a couple of different versions of Windows with different features. Windows is their core product. It is like people complaining that Apple makes too many MacBooks. Look, if they just had one size/CPU/RAM combo and then later on I could go back to the Apple store & buy more if I needed it that’d be so much simpler.编织袋印刷机http://www.liyujn.com

  • http://twitter.com/jcdickinson Jonathan C Dickinson

    You could take your idea a little further: progressive disclosure. For features that would otherwise be out-of-the-box on pro editions you could instead place a shopping basket icon on the button/whatever. When clicked it would take you to the store to purchase that feature – even allow a evaluation period (so they could decide if it was really what they wanted). This way you wouldn’t have to guess which features you wanted at install time.

    The only problem is that once you have purchased these features people would expect them to be in their next Windows upgrade (just like the AppStore where your apps are automatically on your new phone): you could provide all the disclaimers you want (“You are purchasing the IIS feature for this copy of Windows – you will need to re-purchase it if you upgrade.” etc.) but people would still complain because the perception you have just created promoted IIS to an app instead of an optional feature.