Windows 8.1 Puts Microsoft On Track For A Better Year In 2014

I’ve been taking reporter calls in the run up to today’s Microsoft Build announcements about Windows 8.1 Preview. They want to know: Will this be the turn around? What does Microsoft have to do to succeed? I’m pleased to say that last October Forrester predicted that Windows 8 would have a bumpy birth year, but would eventually mature and take hold in 2014 as Microsoft moved to update Windows on an annual cycle. Further, we were very clear that reports of Windows’ death were greatly exaggerated.

Today’s new details on Windows 8.1 show that Microsoft is on track for updating Windows annually, that they’re engaged in significant product improvements and they are listening to market feedback. There were a ton of improvements and new built-in apps. Among all the details, three were the most significant to advancing Windows:

·         Smart Search. By combining Bing’s web search with search across my devices and Skydrive, search becomes more relevant and personal. We’ll be watching to see how third-party developers can use this and where Microsoft goes with it. Very interesting.

·         Making Windows desktop modern and more synergistic. The tweaks to allow the desktop background underneath the Start Screen and the return of the Start button make it feel a little less like I’m running two PCs in one, but the difference is still jarring.

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Apple Furthered Its Position As The Industry Leading Innovator, But Doesn't Clarify Its Role At Work

Apple’s WWDC keynote was rich with details of new versions of the OS X and iOS operating systems. The lead off video was the best articulation yet of Apple’s design philosophy - in my words, Apple focuses on continuously improving usability while evoking great emotional experiences, while simplifying and avoiding excess features.
 
The new Mac Pro demonstrated that Apple is committed to continuing deep hardware innovation - the cylinder shaped system is the size of a large flower vase, but packs huge power for pro users. 
 
It’s difficult to immediately absorb all the rich, deep improvements in iOS 7 and OS X. For customers, it means a richer, more engaging, and helpful experience that is best appreciated with extensive hands on time. 
 
iWork for iCloud will bring office productivity to all the major web browsers, not just Safari. But the long term was unclear. Is Apple aiming to help people at work, or only for their personal stuff, forcing them to switch between Microsoft Office or Google Apps and iWork as they move through their day?
 
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