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Former Apple and Palm executive Michael Mace is out with a detailed review of Windows 8 that every Microsoft (MSFT) shareholder needs to digest carefully.

Mace's point is that Microsoft is betting the company on this software. In fact, he says, the entire industry is on the line.

Microsoft could become vulnerable to another operating system vendor, which would destroy the company. Or it could become powerful in areas like online services and social networking, which could destroy other big companies.

There's precedent for this in Windows 3.0, launched over 20 years ago. That software forced IBM out of the PC business, pushed Apple (AAPL) to the margins, and gave Microsoft control of application markets, forcing out Lotus, WordPerfect, and Ashton-Tate, among other companies. Microsoft's industry domination was so complete that, when it tried to extend its reach into browsers later in the decade, the U.S. government stepped in.

The key to it all is the new Windows 8 interface, dubbed Metro, which is designed for an era of tablets and phones. (You can see it on the Lumia 900, which Nokia is advertising with the tag line "the smart phone beta test is over!")

The main Metro screen will be filled with Microsoft products, Mace writes, and current efforts by competitors to put brand identity on that screen makes it look like a billboard-filled highway. Also, the old Start menu (that button on the left-bottom of the screen that brings up things like the control panel) is gone - users will have to learn a new way of doing things. Even turning the thing off is going to be a trial.

So there are opportunities for companies like Apple and Google (GOOG) to grab enormous shares of the desktop market. But if users take to Metro, both these companies could be on the rocks, along with Facebook (FB) and any app company not tied to Microsoft's long apron strings.

Don't think that's possible? Again, look at the history. Look at the industry impacts of Windows 3.0.

The worst scenario, according to Mace, is what happens if Windows 7 users hang on to their current way of doing things tenaciously, refusing to upgrade. That could kill Microsoft OEMs like HP (HPQ) and Dell (DELL), as well as Nokia (NOK) - companies that can't handle a slowdown of demand in the face of growing Chinese competition.

Mace says he did a search comparing "I hate Windows 8" and "I love Window 8" and that hate outran love 3-1. But I just did a Googlefight on those same two terms and found love outrunning hate by nearly 30-1. And my straight comparison of the terms on Google.Com shown love outrunning hate 15-1.

So we'll see. For now, I'm going to hang onto my Windows 7 until you pry it from my cold, dead hands. But I said the same thing about DOS.

Source: Microsoft Is Betting The Industry On Windows 8