"Redmond, We Have a Problem"

Paul Thurrott:

I’ve been writing about Windows for almost 20 years, and I feel like I’ve kind of seen it all. But for the past several days, I’ve been struggling under the weight of the most brutal email onslaught I’ve ever endured over these two decades. And if my email is any indication, and I believe it is, the majority of people out there have absolutely no idea what Windows RT is.

As one of Microsoft's most staunch supporters, it's rather disconcerting to read such resounding negativity regarding a baffling lack of consumer education from Microsoft.

On the precipice of launching a radical interface overhaul of Windows and the associatively forked versioning therein, Microsoft has done little in the way of awareness. The company seems to be effectively peddling the Surface, but, according to Thurrott, few are aware of what ecosystem they're truly buying into.

Beyond the technology community-targeted propaganda regarding "compromise," Microsoft has failed to articulate the actual compromises inherent to Windows RT when compared to x86 Windows 8. The fact is, whether it chooses to admit it or not, Microsoft has created two separate ecosystems within Windows 8.

The two may look and operate in a functionally similar way, but beyond the cosmetic similarities, the two are fundamentally different. Apps are not cross-compatible, Office is in varying levels of readiness and availability, the desktop functions differently, and battery life is woefully disparate.

I don't mean to harp on the misguided "compromise" philosophy Microsoft remains keen to continue pushing, but it has reached a point of utter misrepresentation.

Derived from this misrepresentation is a serious sentiment of confusion in Microsoft's core consumer base. A genuinely broad feeling of questioning and uncertainty.

Therein lies the most serious danger in Microsoft's strategy. In spite of its best innovative efforts, the company has done little in the way of preparing its consumers, not to mention delineating the key differences between its forked OS versions.

Such a failure, unless rectified quickly, could pose disastrous consequences for Windows 8, RT, and the Surface.

Today, as has been highlighted in a piece by Nick Wingfield in the New York Times, the audience currently hovers between uneducated, alienated, and welcoming. Without further effort, I fear Microsoft will fail to reconcile such disparate and troubling feelings before it's too late.