The Sinofsky Ultimatum

Credit Long Zheng

Sinofsky at CES credit Long Zheng

 

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was quoted as saying the next release of Windows is the riskiest yet. And if you take in the landscape they compete in you can see why.

On one front there is Apple. With their IPads, IPhones, and Mac Books in tow, the little computer company in Cupertino is making a dent in the larger PC market. On the second front is Google with Android, which has largely displaced Windows in mobile and has become the De facto choice for Microsoft’s traditional hardware partners with tablets. And let’s not start with HP going solo since buying Palm or depression will set. And to add to the complicated picture, Apple and Google control growing ecosystems adding applications daily.

Saying Windows 8 is risky is a bit of an understatement.

Not only will it have to expand n the success of Windows 7, it will have to make a case for why people should buy into the platform beyond work. The next version will also have to fend off Apple, RIM, HP, and Google in tablets.

And all this falls on the shoulders of the President of Windows, Steven Sinofsky.  Sinofsky, a twenty plus veteran of Microsoft, is largely credited with cleaning house in the Windows division and repairing the damages of the Vista era. His style has been so received he even wrote a book about it.

Sinofsky is largely seen as a possible successor to Ballmer. And I think Windows 8 is where he will either cement this fact or plan his exit. There are issues as to his history of working with others. Before heading the software division, Sinofsky headed the Office unit. While there, at least according to former Microsoftie Dick Brass, he held Office apps from the Microsoft’s Ultra Mobile PC platform and Clear Type technology. Also while being known as a good manager, Sinofsky isn’t known for bringing the new.

Taking all that into consideration, here are my thoughts and questions:

Can Windows 8 bring together the Microsoft Ecosystem? Outside of Windows Phone, Microsoft’s services don’t connect well. Win8 will need to create a seamless mesh to compete.

Will it play nice with Windows Phone? With rumors of a new framework, can developers write once and run anywhere?

Can it bring the new? The next Windows has to both maintain current customers and give people a reason to buy it in light of newer operating systems.

Finally, and something no one can known til it ships,  Will what comes out in 2012 be too little, too late?

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think

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