Bill Gates had a vision/goal: a Windows PC in every home. That vision was largely accomplished.

Today’s computing landscape is different and Microsoft is finding it hard/difficult to maintain that dream/goal. This is because it failed to acknowledge the changing phase and face of computing. The world went mobile while Microsoft still wanted us chained to desktops and laptops.

In a desperate third attempt to make amends, it hastily put together Windows 8 which turned out to be a poorly- conceived smorgasbord. It further compounded the situation by releasing Windows RT. And then there was also Windows Phone. Three products that bore the Windows name but couldn’t work together.


Of course, from a capabilities and features standpoint, Windows Phone and Windows RT are the same. They run on the same hardware; the latter only has a different interface. So, is it still possible to have Windows in every home on different form factors without having disparate product lines? The answer is yes. This is what needs to be done.

  1. Admit that Windows 8/Windows RT are failures. No one is perfect. People hardly get it right all the time. Windows 8.1 didn’t solve much. Microsoft should quit trying to patch the mess and just move on to Windows 9 or whatever they want to call the next major version.
  2. Harmonise Windows across all platforms. There is some work on this already. MS is working on fusing Windows Phone and Windows RT. However, there are some finer details to this. True harmonisation means the EXACT SAME EXPERIENCE & FEATURES across all platforms; form-factor permitting. For example, the full Bluetooth stack is open on Windows PC. Why not let it be open on Windows Phone/RT? Another example is the incompatibility between Windows Phone 7 and Outlook on PC. Outlook couldn’t transfer or sync contacts with a Windows Phone 7 device that I had. A Microsoft product that couldn’t sync with Outlook. Go figure. I confess I haven’t bothered to try out Windows Phone 8 so I don’t know if this is still the case. Also, if Windows on PC has a file manager (Windows Explorer), then why not Windows Phone?
  3. Strip windows down to the absolute essentials needed for mainstream casual computing. Most people don’t need IIS, Active Directory, Domain Services, Kerberos, etc. These advanced components could be downloaded at will when needed; perhaps a nominal one-time fee could be charged for each of component/module.
  4. Simplify and streamline the UI. Microsoft should give up the Windows 8 and 8.1 experiment. The user interface just doesn’t cut. Every newer release of a UI should enable the faster accomplishment of tasks and functions. As we know, this is not the case with Windows 8; it seems the developers took the approach of designing an adventure game where for the sake of replay value, things are designed to take longer.
  5. Abandon WMA and WMV. WMA and WMV are failed projects; nobody uses them. Their performance is neither comparable nor superior. MS should throw in the towel and embrace MKV (Matroska video). In my opinion, this is the best video container under the sun. I am not an audiophile but I think mp3 is good enough. That being said, Windows should also have native support for the lossless format of choice: FLAC and also support surround sound tech like DTS. Support for all the above should be built-in and should work right out of the box.
  6. Simplify the Windows lineup. Cancel Windows Starter edition. It is a non-starter. And while at it, simplify the entire Windows lineup. I haven’t known them by heart since Vista’s release.
  7. Reduce the price of Windows or make it free of charge. This is a controversial one. Reducing the price of Windows would definitely have a heavy impact on Microsoft’s revenue but then they would still be getting something for it. And then they would have increased market share/mindshare. They could also make it free. There are rumours that Microsoft is considering a free version of Windows that would be tied to Microsoft services – Bing Search, Nokia Here Maps, etc. This free approach contributed in no small way to Android’s success and dominance. They could make the basic but full-featured consumer version for PC free. This would be unlike Blackberry and its BBM on iPhone and Android efforts. I’m not sure how this would help the company stay afloat but that’s another matter.
  8. Confine Zune to the shameful annals of history. Don’t require/mandate any special software to use/activate or transfer media to the device.

These are my two cents.

This post originally appeared on Wale’s blog.

Olawale Sanni Author

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