It was just before midnight last night that I caught up on the news that Microsoft had demonstrated the new Windows 8 UI at the D9 conference (liveblog and video here). The demo’s were slick, and Microsoft’s Steven Sinofsky did a great job under pressure, handling Walt Mossberg’s pointed questions with aplomb.  I sent him a congratulatory email afterward.

One question left unanswered by Sinofsky was the intended ship date for Windows 8.  At best, he offered that Windows operating systems generally ship every 3 to 4 years.  My bet is that Windows 8 is going to manufacturing in June of 2012.  Why? In Redmond’s playbook:

  1. Serious public displays of important Windows operating systems usually start about a year before the ship date.  The goal is to build a wave of demand around launch.  The first public demos of Windows 8 were at the Mix’11 conference in mid-April, where Dean Hachamovich showed IE 10 running on Windows 8.  Yesterday’s public demo of the new UI at D9 is another the next step in the demand building strategy.
  2. Large scale professional developers conferences are usually held in the fall of the year before a major Windows release.  Developers need time to build products to target the platform, and Microsoft wants them to ship their products when Microsoft is ready with its own.  In April Microsoft also announced the next PDC will be Sept 13, 2011 in Anaheim California.
  3. Operating systems releases targeted at consumers generally go to manufacturing no later than June of the year in which they ship.  This is to allow hardware manufacturers to target the fall sales season – back to school, followed by Christmas – which is the busiest consumer buying cycle of the year in the PC world.

Microsoft is clearly targeting May / June 2012 for release to manufacturing.  And, given how Apple and Google are gobbling up market share in the tablet space, it seems clear that Microsoft has no choice but to meet that date.

Any bets on the exact date?

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Post image for Playbook: Maybe just right on target.

Playbook: Maybe just right on target.

by alec on April 15, 2011

There have been a rush of negative reviews for RIM’s Playbook over the last few days.  It’s been called half-baked, rushed to market, unfinished, and worse.  I haven’t seen it yet, but in my opinion, Playbook might be just right.


Yup.  You heard me.

No product team has ever produced a fully realized product on version 1.  It’s simply not possible.  Case in point: Apple’s version 1 iPhone was roundly panned as underpowered, with terrible battery life, poor reception, and no applications.  Recall that in the early days, Apple insisted that the only applications that you would ever need on iPhone could be written as web applications.  How wrong Apple was.  To its credit, Apple recognized the flaw, and pivoted quickly.

And how about the popular viewpoint that it takes Microsoft three tries to get a product right?  Well, it’s not just Microsoft, people – it’s everyone.

imageIt’s not until a product meets the market that a product team can begin to listen to customers and work on delivering the feature set that customers really want to buy.  It’s a so-called “virtuous cycle” of design, ship, refine.  The key is to ship the minimum necessary feature set, start listening to customers, and plan the next iteration of the product. That’s how great franchises are built.

We should all be delighted that the team at RIM have shipped their product.  Let’s cut them a little slack.  The hard work for them is just beginning, but at least they’re now in the game.


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