How Windows 8 has complicated Microsoft's development of Windows 9

Windows 9 - The direction ahead

As you read these words, Microsoft (MSFT) developers are probably already deep into the requirements and design phase of the next version of Windows (presumably Windows 9).

I believe that this is a very pivotal and critical decision point for the worlds largest software company.

I spent 3 years of my life closely tracking the development, deployment and demolition of Windows 8. It was a bold bet by the company but it clearly didn’t pay off.

A new direction

After it was apparent that Windows 8 wasn’t a raving success,Microsoft replaced a lot of the senior management responsible for making that failed bet. This sent a message throughout the company and to the public that things were different and the company was going in a new direction.

To top things off, Steve Ballmer resigned and the transition was made to Satya Nadella, a “fresh” face going in (once again) a new direction.

This is where it gets complicated

Steve Ballmer made news when he said that Windows was the riskiest bet that Microsoft had ever made. On the surface, it seemed like that statement was talking about changing the face of Windows 7 and going in a new direction but it was about much more.

Ballmer’s statement was about more than changing the face of Windows 7 because if that was all it took, they would have quickly backtracked and gone back to Windows 7. That’s not possible because Microsoft changed a lot more than the look of Windows with Windows 8.

They changed almost everything.

  1. They (obviously) changed the underlying code in the OS.
  2. They added a brand new OS (Windows RT).
  3. They made major changes to the Windows Phone 8 platform.
  4. They introduced a new Tablet (Surface) running Windows 8.
  5. They started to head toward a unified platform for phones etc.
  6. They added a Windows Store.
  7. They shifted emphasis with new Development tools.

On and on it goes.

These are what we (in IT) used to call “Legacy decisions”. The decisions that were made before a large re-org and everyone still has to live with.

These decisions have made life complicated for the software giant.

Microsoft is bending over backwards to make Windows 8 easier to use, better and more pleasing to customers. These are enhancements that customers are getting used to and will expect to keep. The challenge is, because of all the aforementioned investments they have made, it’s almost impossible to start from scratch with Windows 9.

Because it’s almost impossible to start from scratch, they may be saddled with the ghost of a product (Windows 8) that I believe they really, deep down don’t like or want. If they do decide to start from scratch, it is going to be a lot more expensive, time consuming and complicated to change all the integration points that exist with other Microsoft products.

Going forward, I believe that with Windows 9, Microsoft will continue to try and refine Windows 8 with a few new flourishes. It’s the most pragmatic business decision – heading in a brand new direction would be entirely too risky.

For the Microsoft investor, I actually don’t think it matters very much because for better or worse, Microsoft is not a consumer software company.

Microsoft is now a business software/service company that makes software that is used by consumers – a big difference.

In the pure consumer space, Microsoft is the underdog. They benefit from low expectations at this point.

Regarding Windows 9, there are three possibilities moving forward:

  • Microsoft underwhelm with Windows 9 and people pile on and say they failed again BUT the underlying financial structure of the company won’t be affected that much because their business solutions are so strong.
  • Microsoft create an average release with Windows 9 and consumers shrug and things (and the stock) remain status quo.
  • Microsoft create a blockbuster success with Windows 9. The most unlikely scenario but one that would show some upside with investors but not much. There are too many structural financial challenges with the Windows model for the celebrations to be long term because it’s getting harder and harder to convince businesses and individuals to pay for Windows in general.

For the Microsoft investor, once again, I actually don’t think it matters very much. I see Microsoft growth coming purely from more innovative BUSINESS solutions which can also be used by customers.

What do you think?

Which direction will Microsoft go in with Windows 9?

Facebook Comments


  • Dave98761

    I couldn’t agree more!

  • Pepper

    I wish Microsoft created a Windows working on a ROM disk so viruses Gould never effect the OS again.

    Its possible in UNIX based OS’es why not with a Windows OS.

    • Joseph Hightower Simmons

      Unix based platforms use scripted language and configuration files which means in plain english that a virus can not infect a plain old text file.
      Microsoft on the other hand happens to be built on artificial intelligence or binary and assembly language that calls stacks and byte point segments beyond the scope of c++ which unix like operating systems need in order to survive.
      So to de-mystify the whole issue unix like operating systems are used for research and development whereas Microsoft operating system is for development, productivity and entertainment which makes it more of a likely target for man-made programs or processes that “disrupt” the hardware and parity control flow of logical operations. There really is o such thing as a computer virus.
      It is all about what you feel comfortable using non-gui or gui.

      • Rumin8

        “Unix based platforms use scripted language and configuration files which means in plain english that a virus can not infect a plain old text file.”

        If only that were true. Script and configuration files are not plain old text files, they are text files whose content affects or controls the operation of whichever programs read them.

        “Microsoft on the other hand happens to be built on artificial intelligence or binary and assembly language that calls stacks and byte point segments beyond the scope of c++ which unix like operating systems need in order to survive.”

        This is the most puzzling statement I have read in a long time. For some Unix devotees, using C++ is a sin. And Microsoft built on artificial intelligence? My oh my!

  • Bill Franklin

    Great points. I think 8 being good can only help 9. Microsoft needs to worry about having the best software and go from there. They don’t need another Vista to hurt itself for a lot of years down the line.

  • Wow, Onuora! Lots of great pointers in here! I definitely agree with you.

  • dnr2

    Microsoft should do what Ray Ozzie, who Bill Gates hired as the Chief Scientist to tell them what to do, tried to get them to do five years ago and they rejected it, i.e., go to the cloud. Windows 9 should be a “fat browser.” It should have only basic structural parts, e.g., the UI, but rely on the cloud for functionality. I do not know why MS is fighting this. It is how the world is going. Big fat, overwhelming operating systems are a thing of the 20th century (and it is like having an oil well, a refinery and the power plant in your back yard to get electricity). Yes, it requires an Internet connection to function, but that is the same as saying “our home requires an electricity to function.” Internet connectivity will become universal as any other utility and device bound operating systems and applications are a thing of the past.

    • John Howe

      Good points. On a positive note, Microsoft has patented a cloud based OS, which is definitely a sign they’re moving forward and admitting their mistake.

      • dnr2

        This is the real answer and all the rest of this is just fluff.

      • guest

        I think Microsoft is only adjusting to the marketing structure and demand. Let’s just say Microsoft knows that it’s operating system is only supported by corporate investors and fans of corporate environments however, if it were left to Microsoft to decide they would pull their product off the shelf and go towards selling to companies again. The drawback to that is that companies would then have to train employees or have employees seek training in Microsoft before consideration of employment thereby leaving Apple and Linux to battle for the dominant home operating system.

  • tullphd

    If all you people have to do is complain about windows then you could spend a fraction of that time learning a few ways to get around, and relax in the beauty of the Windows 8 OS. My God when I set at my desk in reality it is cleared off, and whatever I need to work on is either in a file cabinet or a brief case. Possibly another drawer.

    Windows 8 has all my software on the Start Menu, I call it the software shelf. There are the ones that are easy to get to or I use the arrow to find everything else.

    Thats no problem.

    My desktop has a few icons to quickly open those files that are in process, or those programs that I don’t even need to go to the software shelf (Start Menu) to find.

    In my opinion this is a whole lot to say about nothing. I’m running Windows 8.1 update one and feel comfortable in everywhere I need to go, and with all the OS functions that I use on a regular basis.

    If those that are afraid to look, and work with the start menu — they fixed that arrangement booting to desktop… I wish I could go back to boot to start menu. But I live with that. Again, it is like my desk. I set down at the desk, start to work… grab files and folders, when a program is needed, click the file to open it in your program, or go the software shelf (start menu) and find my software.. I have no clutter on my desk, as I only want it clean. I think there are a bunch of HOARDERS that like the messy desk top and were confused with order and organization.
    I LOVE WINDOWS 8.1 update one.

    Come on give it a chance. you realise that your individual needs can be accomplished with ugly old Windows XP…
    or Windows 7, 8, 9 … 15, 16, or 17

    Perhaps Apple panther, lion, godzilla or whatever they evolve to is at least based upon a solid OS that only improves. Windows 8 is a great step in that direction.

    And that’s How I feel

    Please feel free to call me for your personal OS support,

    Mark W. Roy

  • tullphd

    I think my comment about HOARDERS in my last post has resonated clarity to me. If you have ever watch the program as the doctors and the family all try to get the HOARDER to clean up their house from all the crap, trash, and personal possessions that were bought and never put in the closet.
    When the rescue effort is met with push back by the HOARDER it is just like the Windows 7 users or XP that haven’t cleared of their desktop in several years. They reject the help and push everyone away. They love the mess, and fight all the way to a clean house. But, once they realise it is better to sleep in a bed instead of a pile of pillows in the bathtub they sometimes….. see the light.

    Come on all of you windows Hoarders, clean up your house, desk top and live in the new world. Get rid of your crap.

    Mark again the “”

    Did you hear that “Jethro Tull” has a new album out.
    But, it’s Ian Anderson under his name. check it out.

    Even he has evolved as well over the last 45 years with his music.

    I think that we can live with Windows 8.

    Just try.

  • As Meyer

    I sorta agree with much of what you say, Onoura.

    I think they go further, and do their own version of Google,

    aka chromebook, chromebox, in a Microsoft way.

    That is a subscription OS and ( we already are getting this ) a subscription

    Office. The Windows experience we get will depend on the hardware we buy.

    The “pure” windows experience will come from Microsoft Devices. What that means is simply optimized and standardized pc systems for whatever Ilk is chosen. Be it Phone,Tablet

    or laptop or desk pc. This may even lead to Vendors such as HP, Dell Lenovo etc…selling a

    system where the customer chooses whatever OS they wish, inc. Windows, and they may be

    custom systems only available online. As this is the only way MFG can cut costs and increase bottom lines.

    I think the days of BUYING Windows may be over for consumers. It’s either that or

    buy windows thru subscription and get a pc, etc. thrown in.

    Windows 8 PC’s are quickly becoming a Microsoft Account only device as it is.

    Thru subscription the version windows is less important as it will become a rolling point release thru necessity.

    The only thing Investors are interested in is profit, preferably through customer Lock in

    and that will be provided by M.icrosoft A.ccount S.ubscription distribution

  • Rumin8

    I don’t want to be in Apple’s walled garden. I don’t want to sell my soul to Google or Facebook. I want Microsoft to succeed. The problem is not the software, it’s the perception. That’s the hard component to change. There are signs that it is: Everyone is copying the Metro UI. Android and iOS, and many web sites, including the one on which I am typing this post, are being revamped to remove chrome and use flat controls. Think back: Did you imagine, 2 years ago, that Microsoft would be the one to copy?

    • rthiele

      Thank you Rumin8, I have been saying this for a while now. The videos MS released on Windows 8 reveals that the design was adopted by signs in Metro areas (hence the name Metro UI). I also see that they have designed an interface that is across al their devices. But, unlike Apple, they did not trap you in only buying only Microsoft devices to have all of them communicate.
      Also, my wife uses an Android, and with each update it looks more and more like my Windows Phone. I laugh every time she installs an update.
      I also observed the web sites changing to a tile based interface. And why not? More and more users are on touch screen, and creating two version of a web site is silly when one version will suffice.
      Microsoft has re-invented themselves, and it will take time for the users to adjust. But they are not forced to use Windows 8, they can still use Windows 7. Key here is, stop running to Dell to get a computer that has an OS installed on it. Better yet, tell then to install Windows 7 is you hate Windows 8 so much. Fact is, this is the future of MS, and I applaud them for taking the step forward.
      Imitation is a sign you are doing something right!

    • Gary W

      So true. Microsoft was the leader and now they are the one trying to keep up with the competition.

  • Alberto Gorin

    i keep repeating same over and over
    we are in the path of windows 8 and windows 8.1.i have windows 8.1 on mi netbook
    what Microsoft need to do make it in to options
    option to show star menu option to boot in to desktop
    better way to clean less defragment security
    saver I.E browser internet explorer.was a leak
    maybe was a update and its solved i use marathon browser
    thats alll

  • Go window

    I love my Win 8 touch screen laptop. I like the ability to switch between traditional win look and feel and a modern metro desktop. This will succeed because it works.

  • djpauloeuropa

    a tecnologia android anda muito mais avançadas q a dos pcs atualmente sera q o novo windows 9 vem com tecnologias androids.

  • wreckymeck

    I run a small business and unfortunately bought a new laptop with windows 8 (updated to 8.1) and hope that one day it will be usable as a work’s computer as nobody will use it except my kids for gaming, they all still use the xp , vista and windows 7 one’s,I hope windows 9 comes out soon and is business frendly