Why Technology Comes Second

Anyone who has had the chance to preview Microsoft’s forthcoming release of Windows 8 in the latter part of 2012 maybe scratching their heads as to where the company is heading when it comes addressing end user priorities.

You’ll notice from the preview video above that the Windows Phone 7 interface has been adopted to enhance the user’s social media experience as well as the usability for future tablet owners.

So far, only previews have been leaked into the public domain and therefore there’s some chance that what rolls out as Microsoft’s next operating system, may look very different. We doubt that though and therefore wonder, are Microsoft creating software that simply befits their own internal priorities?

Are we looking at products that exist as a result of Microsoft employees pursuing their own hunger for technological evolution or do they know something we don’t know about our customers?

Windows XP still reigns in terms of market share, double that of Windows 7 (Vista is third), and most upgrades for new operating systems comes as a result of hardware refreshing. There are even some of the most loyal and successful Microsoft Partners in our channel still using XP; why are they still using it and are they likely to upgrade their clients?

The Channel needs to stop and take a reality check as to what’s going on in this bubble. Too many organisations have thrown themselves under the runaway ‘cloud train’ because they have failed to implement a solid supporting business model that puts their clients and their own staff first. Cloud has become a niggling buzz word that when explained in plain English, becomes nothing but a ‘oh is that all it is?’ let down. Queue, Microsoft’s new buzz word ‘hybrid’ (weren’t these words commonplace before MS coined them?).

Microsoft and their competitors must slow down on hunting down the latest technology and rework their efforts on advocating what they’ve previously asked us to sell. It’s clear there is a big motivation to keep running forward for the sake of their own personal grudge matches with their competitors; it’s just a shame that their clients and Partners are innocent bystanders left trying to figure out where they still fit in. Couldn’t their programmatic Partner relationships be stronger if they could help us support the business priorities of our clients rather than put technology first?

The positive thing is that those IT Professionals who have their act together are carrying on regardless; the downside is that they are sometimes too busy or too ‘radical’ in terms of their thought leadership to be received by the majority as anything other than ‘troublemakers’ or ‘lurkers’. It is these people who 10 years ago were working with vendors who at the time were exciting and dynamic places to work – now they’ve got their business priorities in order and are focusing on creating long-lasting businesses. Hats off to them.

These businesses, their clients, and those around them who in their own way are already carving out their hallmark in our Channel and the image below illustrates this:

Looks pretty much like the Windows 8 interface right?

Here at the Cowshed, we manipulated our Windows 7 GUI using Rainmeter.net and Omnimo so that we cosmetically altered how we located our information. It’s very pretty, granted. But let’s go back to why so many people are still using Windows XP thank you very much; it’s our guess that most people use the operating system for all the same things they’ve always need it for – start, shut down, run command, and to locate an application or file. Why is it okay to change and charge for how people use technology when it worked fine beforehand? In many cases, people are still trying to fathom how to use what they’ve already got. The Ribbon bar and the last two editions of Microsoft Office illustrate just this. All this slick technology to help people use more than 10% of the capacity their investments offer.

Many moons ago, we were involved with the launch of Windows Vista and for months we repeatedly asked Microsoft to market this OS in a way that focusses on what goes on ‘under the hood’ so that we could tie in the benefits and features into the business priorities of our corporate clients. We believe Vista failed because those within Microsoft who were responsible for marketing that operating system chose not to understand both these aspects and instead focused on what they believed would excite the consumer. Shame that the consumers were looking elsewhere at Apple at the time.

Windows 7 has been lucky since it’s been around this time that the likes of Apple, Intel, Dell, HP, and mobile phone manufacturers such as HTC have come along and excited pro-sumers (professional consumers) into evolving how they work.

Windows 8 seems to be on first glance the result of internal restructuring of several departments and not because the market is crying out for an operating system they can spend their restricted budgets on. With so many business owners still sceptical about technology (Y2K ‘bug’, hardware lifecycles of ~three years) and how IT VARS, resellers, and consultants support it, it would be really great if the big vendors can hit the ‘pause’ button to focus on the qualitative analysis and provide greater assistance with business growth.

So before the drums begin to beat louder as more tidbits ‘leak’ onto the web about Windows 8, just remember what technology comes second and it’s you, your business, and your clients who come first.

Further reading:

Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2013

Susanne Dansey is the Managing Director of Purple Cow Ideas Management – an organisation that facilitates a paradigm shift in the collaborative nature of the ICT Industry. You can follow her on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook.


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