Microsoft Windows 8: Powered by the CloudThe long-awaited release of Microsoft Windows 8 is finally on the horizon. However, it was just a coincidence that I chose to write about Microsoft Windows 8 on August 1, 2012, which just happened to align with the day that Windows 8 was released to manufacturing (RTM). What that means is that hardware companies such as Lenovo, Acer, Samsung, Asus, and others can now start to install the completed operating system onto their awaiting hardware in preparation for the release to consumers that will commence on October 26, 2012. Until this date, however, consumers must continue to drool over the anticipated rewards that will come when they are finally allowed to purchase new devices pre-installed with the new Microsoft Windows 8 operating system. These new devices may seem like ones the consumer has purchased in the past, until one notices the new label that Microsoft has designated for its latest operating system.

While one would have expected Windows 8 to be just another improvement to its operating system, it is additionally labeled with the title “Powered by the Cloud,” which may give some pause for concern, and still others, a legitimate scare. These individuals are not made up solely of Windows users, but also Apple iPad and Android users who have chosen to avoid the cloud for a multitude of reasons. These reasons are:

  • Security or the lack of security for precious documents and files that could allow data to be stolen.
  • Data collected by big companies — including what is stored in the cloud — could potentially be shared with others.
  • Outages that could potentially make it impossible to access stuff when it’s needed most.

Should We Fear Cloud Storage?

Despite these legitimate concerns, I don’t believe we need to fear cloud storage as much as we should have a healthy respect for it. Common sense alone dictates that we should be as careful in what we place in the cloud as we are with the passwords that protect the files on our laptop or tablet. I know, for example, that when I get a copy of my state and federal income tax information sent via encrypted email, I would not even consider storing that information in the cloud.

However, while I choose to store this type of personal information on a USB drive due to the personal information it contains, I do currently take advantage of five different cloud services. These files include .apk files from my Android phone and Android tablet. I don’t worry about storing this information in the cloud because I don’t see how any of it is a threat to my security and, with that as my reference, I am not concerned about opting for Microsoft’s cloud services. I just won’t send anything to the cloud that I am afraid of a hacker poaching.

What is Microsoft Proposing?

Thinking about consumer ease of use, Microsoft proposes that the user uses the cloud to save personalized settings for such programs as Windows 8. Microsoft contends that the user can then share these settings across multiple devices, thus enabling him or her to enjoy in-place settings for Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks whenever Windows 8 is run.

Yes, I am aware that this is not new, per se, since I enjoyed this concept when I fired up my Nexus 7 tablet computer and logged into my Google account. It still amazes me how easy it was since it automatically restored all of my settings. These settings included those that I had previously set up for Chrome, Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Drive. It should be noted that Amazon Prime account holders can also take advantage of a similar setup process wherein they can log into their Amazon account and immediately have all of their applications available for installation.

Microsoft for the Enterprise

So has Microsoft decided to target the everyday user over business? No way. While we consumers want to believe that we are Microsoft’s most important customers and that when we buy a PC we are lining Microsoft’s coffers, Microsoft is fighting to maintain control of the business market. This is where its sights have always been, and it wasn’t until the company realized that the Apple iPad was making its way into the business environment that it woke up and realized that it had better come up with a better strategy to combat this movement from the traditional PC to the smaller tablet. It seems that one of the reasons for the shift was a simple one: the PC, in whatever form, had become boring and, even in a work environment of spreadsheets or video editing, users were opting to use their smartphone or tablet as their primary means of handling their daily activities. I personally believe that the reason the Apple iPad became so popular is because it is fun to use.

I know that, despite my 20+ years of using a PC, I now find myself reaching more and more often for my tablet computer. Basically, it comes down to the fact that I am bored with using my 17″ laptop computer with its accompanying keyboard and mouse, while I actually enjoy using my tablet computer. In other words, I like swiping and pushing things around the screen. This is a process in which I truly take pleasure when I use my new Nexus 7 computer with its super clear screen, which makes it perfect to surf the Internet and check email while relaxing in a lounge chair or bed.

What is Windows to Go?

This brings us back to Windows 8 and Microsoft’s battle to maintain control of the business environment. To do so, Microsoft is including a feature known as Windows to Go. This particular feature allows for those enterprise workers who so choose to take their work with them via a USB drive or other source. This means that workers will be able to access their files in order to make corrections or updates while traveling by plane or in the evenings while they enjoy the company of their families. In addition, Windows to Go will allow the sharing of documents and projects with any device using the Windows 8 environment.

Will Microsoft Be Able to Pull off an Upset and Unseat Apple in the Tablet Marketplace?

I personally believe that Microsoft could pull a coup if it can match Apple’s price point for its Surface tablet. This means that Microsoft must be willing to market its Surface tablet for a retail price of between $499 and $829. It seems to me that this would be a reasonable cost and, since Microsoft has all of the wheels in place and ready to roll, the only thing that could stop the truck from rolling would be Microsoft itself.

Let the games begin.

Comments welcome.

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by D T K L

Source: Microsoft