A decade ago, I designed and built large-scale web applications for companies all over the world. Using the cloud and mobile technologies available today, I would've built it faster, better, and less expensively -- and quite, quite differently. Here's how the world has changed in the last decade.
So about those supposedly weak Windows 8 sales...what happens next?
Last Friday, longtime Microsoft reporter Paul Thurfott reported that one of his "most trusted sources" at Microsoft told him early sales of Windows 8 are not meeting Microsoft's internal expectations. This source blamed lackluster adoption by PC makers, and Thurrott added his own speculative reasons, like the confusing messaging about Windows 8 vs Windows RT and the "two-in-one" desktop/touch interface.
Single-sourced stories should always be taken skeptically -- somebody might have had political or personal reasons to leak or spin the information.
But Thurrott's report added weight to the lukewarm comments HP's Todd Bradley had about the operating system last week -- for instance, Bradley told CITEworld he expects Windows 8 adoption to have a "slower ramp" than past upgrade cycles "because touch is such a big piece of it" and said, "if you look at retail orders, what we built with touch related to Windows 8, touch is a small percentage of that."
Then today, Computerworld reports, analyst Brian White of Topeka Capital Partners said that channel checks of Asian manufacturers saw a slower rate of order growth in October than in previous years. Usually, with a new Windows release, the opposite happens -- PC makers place more orders in anticipation of higher demand.
It's early days. Windows 8 has been on sale for less than a month. And Microsoft does not plan its Windows business to spike or goose revenues for a single quarter, or even a year. Windows is a long play, meant to respond to sweeping market changes and keep the entire PC upgrade cycle rolling for years.
Even so. Sometimes where there's smoke, there's fire.
So what if the reports are true and Windows 8 continues to have weak sales for the next quarter or two? What happens next? Here's a likely series of events:
We are entering unchartered territory when it comes to surveillance because of information broadcast from our smartphones even when they're off. Right now, it's the NSA collecting this data, but as computing power gets ever cheaper, it could be your local police or even the store you just entered.
It turns out that most IT departments no longer want to buy, install, and run software on their own servers, and the ancillary benefits of the cloud -- like easier mobile access for workforces that combine full-time employees and contractors -- seal the deal.
Adding to a string of announcements aimed at making its service more appealing to businesses, Dropbox this morning said that Dell will start selling the service to its customers.
The battle over which platform delivers the best location and context services to mobile users is already underway with Google in the lead, but Apple's purchase of mapping startups and social analytics firm Topsy, combined with its Bluetooth-based iBeacons could give Apple a strong chance.
Box is experiencing some good times these days with new features, new funding and a high profile CEO, but Box has to be careful as it grows to say true to its root and not fall into the trap becoming just another enterprise software company.