As Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows 8 launch approaches on Oct. 26, Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) CEO Marc Benioff believes the operating system upgrade is "irrelevant." While previous Windows releases inspired corporate PC upgrade cycles, "you're not going to hear about the Windows 8 upgrade cycle. I think it's the end of Windows. And I think Windows 8 is the gambit for every CIO to reconsider what their new device is." Is Benioff correct?
First, let The VAR Guy put Benioff's statements in context. During a CloudForce New York press conference last week, Benioff said his views on Windows 8 should not be considered surprising or dramatic -- given the changing IT landscape we're all facing.
Benioff described how cloud computing, wireless networks and mobile devices were disrupting traditional IT markets. Plus, Benioff pointed to the bring your own device (BYOD) trend, where end-users are selecting their own smartphones and tablets. (See FastChat Video, Below.)
With those realities in mind, the old days of corporate IT upgrade cycles -- from one Windows PC desktop release to the next -- are over, Benioff insisted.
Is Benioff correct? In some ways perhaps yes. The BYOD wave and consumer IT spending on smartphones and tablets have squeezed recent PC sales. But let's give Microsoft a fair shake here: Windows 8 -- which runs on tablets, ultrabooks and PCs -- could also benefit from the BYOD trend if it works as advertised.
For its part, Microsoft asserts that Windows 8 and peer products represent the biggest upgrade cycle in the company's history. Peter Han, VP of Microsoft's U.S. OEM Division, has made some compelling points on Windows 8 during numerous conference appearances in recent weeks. Most recently, during Synnex National Conference, Han said Microsoft's ad campaign for Windows 8 would generate 1.6 billion impressions. (See FastChat Video, Below.)
Meanwhile, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has compared Windows 8 to the massive Windows 95 launch wave of 1995. But The VAR Guy sees some big differences. This time around:
- The PC market is struggling.
- Apple is incredibly strong, not imploding.
- Additional alternatives like Google Android are flexing their market muscle.
Either way there are opportunities ahead for channel partners. Windows 8's debut -- coupled with the BYOD trend -- provides the latest opportunities for VARs and MSPs to sit down with customers and talk about the modern workforce... how they currently work, how they'll work in 2013 and beyond, and what that means in terms of IT resources.