BUILD it, and They will Come

Microsoft has a lot more work to do than you might think when it comes to Windows 8.1 and ModernUI

gsmarena_002My buddy Preston Gralla has a really great article over at ComputerWorld. In a nutshell, he seems to think that Windows 8.1’s Boot to Desktop feature is going to kill ModernUI development.

He may very well be right.

Users have been SCREAMING for an end to Windows 8’s Live Tiles and a return to the traditional desktop computing paradigm they (meaning, Microsoft) created back in the days of Windows 3.x. In fact, it’s very unlikely that ANY business ANYWHERE will EVER install Windows 8 on the corporate desktop. The learning curve is too steep and the productivity hit(s) are too deep to make Windows 8 a REAL OS in any respect other than limited BYOD or other enterprise engagements.

Windows Store, Alex Washburn

Bringing Boot to Desktop back is a huge win for users but a huge problem for Microsoft AND all of their development partners, currently scheduled to appear alongside Windows 8.1 at Microsoft’s developer conference, BUILD, next week. Unfortunately with only 10% of the apps that exist in both iOS and Android app stores (80,000 vs. 800,000), Microsoft has a big problem to solve. Microsoft wants more ModernUI apps. Here’s what they need to do:


  1. Get More Compelling Apps – Many tablet apps are stripped down versions of desktop apps. For example – photo processing apps that let me do quick retouching and leveling while out in the field, saving the big retouches and refinements for desktop counterparts when you get back home. If Windows 8 apps did the same thing as their desktop counterparts, but did them on tablet based processors, that would be huge. The best way for MS to get more compelling apps is for them to create API’s that make development easy and performance smooth. BUILD is just the place to roll out SDK’s with those capabilities.
  2. Incent Developers – Many tablet or device (smartphone/tablet) apps sell for a couple of bucks. Developers make money on volume in the iOS and Android world; and nearly everyone from major 3rd party developers to your grandma’s dog are writing apps and making a fair bit of money, too. Windows 8 apps tend to be 2x-3x more expensive than their iOS or Android counterparts because the volume isn’t there. There aren’t a lot of users using Windows 8. Microsoft has to find a way to get developers to pump out a number of good quality applications quickly. I’m not certain how to incent developers to do that as yet. I’m going to leave it to MS to figure that one out, but that also needs to happen quickly.
  3. Build the Install-base – Just because the apps are there doesn’t mean the users will flock to the hardware or the OS. Microsoft needs to find a way to DRAMATICALLY increase Windows 8 adoption. They can do this by:
  • Giving the OS away or making it dirt cheap to license and/or purchase
  • Permanently, dramatically lowering the price of Surface RT as WELL as Surface Pro tablets. I’m thinking $199 for RT and $299-$399 for Pro tablets. The current price cuts you’ve heard about are a start, but don’t cut deep enough.
  • Subsidizing 3rd party hardware costs, making it easier for OEM’s like Dell and ASUS to provide competitively priced devices in line with the prices, above.

While I wouldn’t hold my breath on any of these, especially that last set of suggestions, it’s clear Microsoft has to do SOMETHING to turn this ship away from the iceberg. If they don’t find a way to get more compelling ModernUI apps and dramatically increase the amount of people using them, it’s clear to me…the Windows 8/ModernUI ship won’t stay afloat for long.

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