Beleaguered Tech Giant, Microsoft is hosting BUILD, its annual developer conference, in San Francisco with a keynote later today. BUILD will be a critical event for Microsoft to show the developer community how it plans to re-energize the ecosystem with Windows 8.1 and new devices running Intel’s next generation chip, Haswell. Historically, Microsoft has been on a very slow release cadence with Windows, at least relative to the rest of the software industry. However, with Windows 8.1 the company is releasing a relatively significant update to the operating system just eight months since the launch.
With the PC market lagging and the Windows 8 ecosystem seeing modest traction at best, we think Microsoft needs to show the developer community how it plans to energize the ecosystem. Windows 8.1, the public preview of which will be released next week, is a major piece of these efforts, but the company will have to prove the updates are enough to get more consumers engaged.
Windows 8.1 New Features & Customizations
Providing users with the ability to personalize their Windows 8 home screen has been a capability that Microsoft has pushed since launching the operating system. With 8.1 users will have more options to personalize their devices. The search functionality within the operating system is being enriched to provide aggregated results, powered by Bing, across many content sources, including the web, locally stored files and SkyDrive.
There are planned upgrades to the pre-installed apps and Windows Store, both of which have seen very lukewarm responses from consumers. Enhancements to the windows Store, which include new search functionality to more easily finds apps and automatic app updates (Apple also announced automatic app updates with iOS 7), are particularly important to help maintain developer support.
The company is likely try to emphasize the innovativeness and breadth of new devices that are in the pipeline from OEM partners, some of which were highlighted at Computex earlier in the month. Further, an updated line-up of Surface tablets could be introduced as well. It is absolutely necessary for Microsoft to increase the availability of smaller, lower price point devices running Windows 8, which is still a significant gap in the device line-up.
On the other hand, Microsoft is facing an uphill task to keep up with the application ecosystems at Apple and Google, as a thriving app development environment is the number one factor, even ahead of devices, that will determine the success of Windows 8. With the increased competition from Apple and Google for mindshare in the computing ecosystem, this more rapid development cycle is necessary, in our view, to be more responsive to consumer feedback.
So far with the announcements and data available in Public Domain, we think these updates will certainly make Windows 8 more approachable but certainly lack the wow factor with consumers and developers that is needed to energize the