The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes Back

There is a fundamental debate about processing and UI with the arrival of Windows 8. I’m an unapologetic APPL Fan Boy from way back, and I’ll never forgive MSFT for losing Ray Ozzie.

Never the less, I’m willing to give MSFT the benefit of the doubt on W8. Why? Because as both Gruber and Newman point out in their opposing viewpoints, W8’s success or failure is all about what is doing the heavy data lifting. Neither tablet will be doing that “heavy lifting” in OS5 or W8.

Here’s the thing: I think MSFT has a better sense of the cloud than APPL–particularly in the Enterprise environment-(music and entertainment media files aside). If W8 manages data and “heavy lifting” via the cloud in a more elegant way than APPL does via the desktop box or via iCloud, it could well be a winner. That is certainly a possibility (the Ozzy snub not withstanding). Ozzy brought the cloud to MSFT, and he understood its power better that St. Jobs did during those critical years between 2006 and 2009 when all this stuff was getting mapped out.

I will not count MSFT out. Ever. As APPL gets more powerful and the cloud more essential, everyone is now pretty much equally evil. Google can’t keep things screwed down from a security standpoint and Amazon can’t seem to make hardware (sorry the Kindle is just sad now). APPL’s announcement about iCloud will certainly be important– game-changing even, but here’s the thing: APPL’s failed in the cloud over and over. Even if they get it right this time (as it appears), they are only going to get it right for consumers. Sadly, it’s difficult for me to imagine them getting it right for the Enterprise. They don’t even sell their enterprise-grade servers anymore.

Honestly W8 could be a big deal for MSFT and its followers. I still think the UI is ugly, but that doesn’t really matter– elegance and beauty have never mattered to the Enterprise. MSFT’s base is huge and people desperately want a tablet for work. While Keynote is ok, Numbers is a joke (really? no pane freezing?). Office still rules. Does anyone seriously predict “Office for iCloud”? APPL can’t seem to write applications worth a hoot, and I have always been compelled by the haters arguement that Apple’s OS is just Unix in a nice UI wrapper. APPL is an amazing hardware company. Always has been. The genius of the APPL strategy was its ability to master hardware AND distribution (iTunes). MSFT is a software company as is GOOG. AMZN is a distribution company. We will continue to watch power cycle from software to hardware to distribution. Look at the power that T NFLX and CMCSA have now. This may well be the the resurgence of MSFT if GOOG doesn’t get in the way. Android is a huge disappointment from the functionality and security side, it’s market share, however is enviable.

It pains me a little to say it, but this might be MSFT’s comeback if they aren’t too big to fix.

Regardless, I won’t be buying any W8 devices anytime soon.