Sunday, June 14, 2009
Can Windows 7 save PCs? - Jun. 12, 2009
PCs do not really need to be saved ;-), but as the article shows, PC sales are dropping and Microsoft bringing out a new Operating System (OS) is not going to be enough to significantly boost sales during this recession.
On the plus side: everyone who has seen or worked with Windows 7 (Win7) says it is everything that Vista promised to be, but without the bloat and the slow performance. Win7 even runs fine on the smaller netbooks and other "places" where Vista was a no-go. Making sure that Win7 worked on the new netbooks was, I am sure, the number one priority for Microsoft.
Why are netbooks important for Microsoft? Consumers and business users alike are switching to the smaller form factor netbooks because they are easier to carry, have longer battery lives and are much cheaper then their bigger brothers. And because of the newer faster Intel Atom chip sets you do not really have to give up any performance compared to your current system. The first netbooks that came out were all running some flavour of Linux, something that definitely got the attention of Microsoft!
So why isn't Win7 going to be a reason for consumers to upgrade to a newer PC, laptop or even netbook? Well, for one, the average consumer PC is not really old enough to need upgrading plus most of what a consumer uses a PC for just requires a browser. (it is called cloud computing!) So, although Win7 has a list of new features as long as my arm, there isn't really anything in this list that is a must have for the average consumer.
Consumers are also starting to become aware of a trend I predicted a while ago which is that pretty soon, if not already, a smart phone like the iPhone is really all the computer they are going to need. Nice advantage of a smart phone over a "real" PC or laptop is that it is build from the ground up to be user friendly, portable and with an excellent battery life. So no matter how many nice features Win7 has it might not be enough to compete with the smart phone, at least not for the consumer.
The enterprise desktop and laptop on the other hand is a different story; a lot of business users spend several hours a day behind a computer screen and for them doing this on a tiny smart phone screen is just not feasible. Business users (read their IT departments) almost all decided to skip the upgrade to Vista, thus forcing Microsoft to extend the life of Windows XP. Once Win7 is out officially it will take the average enterprise close to a year to evaluate and check for compatibility and maybe then we will see an uptick in PC sales. But by then the trend towards cloud computing (or as some call it: "do everything from inside your browser") will be even further along, making it harder for Microsoft to have their release of Win7 be a reason for upgrading your PC.