Microsoft’s reactive approach to the Application phenomenon has cost them the top spot, with Apple stealing market share and growing more powerful. Now with its Windows 8, Microsoft is turning to applications in a ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ move.
It was only a few years ago Microsoft’s Windows was dominating the computing world with Apple just another obscure rival. A divergence in direction saw Apple unifying a vast variety of multimedia content, while Microsoft innovated the professional world catering to executives. What Apple came up with was an app store, standing today with 425,000 versatile solutions that has empowered the company’s iPods, iPhones and iPads. Despite common opinion, it was the app store that catapulted Apple forward, because without it the iPhone would be a stylish piece of out dated hardware.
Now to compete, Microsoft has to create an ecosystem of applications, but before it can do that it needs to create an OS that is simple, aesthetic and easy to use.
“Microsoft must now transition its desktop operating system to the world of tablets and slates” said Richard Edwards, Ovum’s principal analyst in a research note.
Up until its Windows Phone 7 revamp, Microsoft failed to develop products that satisfied these needs. But now they’re learning, ditching the inanimate stylus for finger friendly solutions in their new Windows 8.
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|Microsoft’s Windows 8 Tablet|
“More than two thirds of PCs today are mobile devices (laptops, netbooks, notebooks, tablets and slates), and so it comes as no surprise to see that Microsoft has gone ‘all-in’ with a complete redesign of the Windows interface to cater for touch screens.”
For the company to garner a vast variety of applications, it needs to prove to developers that their applications can thrive better on the Windows 8 platform than any other.
Microsoft CEO, Stephen Ballmer, stood on stage at the Microsoft Build conference and tried to encourage developers.
“It’s a time of unprecedented opportunity for developers and betting on us will be valuable,” he said.
His plea for developers to join the Microsoft cause was reminiscent of a general recruiting his soldiers, motivating them moments before they head into battle.
“It’s the day and age of the Windows developer. Let’s move forward together and seize the opportunity for developers, developers, developers.”
To seal the deal, Ballmer issued 5,000 Samsung built tablets running Windows 8. He also catered to developers who couldn’t join him at the Build conference in California, providing them with a website where they could download the software from.
So far, Microsoft is on track. Ballmer told the inquirer that over 500,000 copies of its Windows 8 developer preview had been downloaded.
President of Windows, Steven Sinofsky, recognised today’s age is driven by application support, with the success of Windows 8 being measured according to application revenue.
“In an app-centric, consumer-oriented world, Windows 8’s success will undoubtedly be measured by the revenue Microsoft drives through its new Windows app Store,” he said.
“We believe that making a success of the Windows Store will be a big challenge for Microsoft, but failure is not an option, as the company desperately needs to generate a new revenue stream as sales in other areas of its business decline.”
If Apple has proved anything, it is that brand loyalty falls second to content, its variety and availability. Surprisingly, this works for Microsoft as for the first time Apple’s brand value has exceeded theirs.
According to a brand finance report, Microsoft’s brand value has dropped by 9% to $39 billion, pushing it to third place. Apple has jumped up an astonishing 33% sliding into second place, with Google continuing to dominate the top spot.
Apple rose from obscurity into a must have brand at a time when Microsoft was the top dog. The question is: Does Microsoft have what it takes to do the same?