CEO: Windows 8 Is Irrelevant


As Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows 8 launch approaches on Oct. 26, (NYSE: CRM) CEO Marc Benioff believes the operating system upgrade is "irrelevant." While previous Windows releases inspired corporate PC upgrade cycles, "you're not going to hear about the Windows 8 upgrade cycle. I think it's the end of Windows. And I think Windows 8 is the gambit for every CIO to reconsider what their new device is." Is Benioff correct?

First, let The VAR Guy put Benioff's statements in context. During a CloudForce New York press conference last week, Benioff said his views on Windows 8 should not be considered surprising or dramatic -- given the changing IT landscape we're all facing.

Benioff described how cloud computing, wireless networks and mobile devices were disrupting traditional IT markets. Plus, Benioff pointed to the bring your own device (BYOD) trend, where end-users are selecting their own smartphones and tablets. (See FastChat Video, Below.)

That's History

With those realities in mind, the old days of corporate IT upgrade cycles -- from one Windows PC desktop release to the next -- are over, Benioff insisted.

Is Benioff correct? In some ways perhaps yes. The BYOD wave and consumer IT spending on smartphones and tablets have squeezed recent PC sales. But let's give Microsoft a fair shake here: Windows 8 -- which runs on tablets, ultrabooks and PCs -- could also benefit from the BYOD trend if it works as advertised.

For its part, Microsoft asserts that Windows 8 and peer products represent the biggest upgrade cycle in the company's history. Peter Han, VP of Microsoft's U.S. OEM Division, has made some compelling points on Windows 8 during numerous conference appearances in recent weeks. Most recently, during Synnex National Conference, Han said Microsoft's ad campaign for Windows 8 would generate 1.6 billion impressions. (See FastChat Video, Below.)

Reality Check

Meanwhile, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has compared Windows 8 to the massive Windows 95 launch wave of 1995. But The VAR Guy sees some big differences. This time around:

  • The PC market is struggling.
  • Apple is incredibly strong, not imploding.
  • Additional alternatives like Google Android are flexing their market muscle.

Either way there are opportunities ahead for channel partners. Windows 8's debut -- coupled with the BYOD trend -- provides the latest opportunities for VARs and MSPs to sit down with customers and talk about the modern workforce... how they currently work, how they'll work in 2013 and beyond, and what that means in terms of IT resources.

Discuss this Video 3

on Oct 22, 2012
Ted, Chris: The VAR Guy appreciates your thoughts. Yes, Benioff's views are extreme and in some ways self-serving. But he does have a point worth following: Those days of CIOs sitting down and building a plan for an eventual move to Microsoft's next operating system are over. A healthy # of devices -- Millions -- will wind up running Windows 8. But today's CIO needs to prep for a heterogeneous world, not a pure Windows world... -TVG
Chris Chase (not verified)
on Oct 22, 2012
We already have some pc's on windows 8 and I would give a windows phone a chance as I did before. Let's hope this time it's not disappointing.
Ted Hulsy (not verified)
on Oct 22, 2012
Benioff is dead wrong. He is a first and foremost a showman. He is always knocking Microsoft, and then you go to his user conference, and half his workforce is using Windows machines; 100% of the presentations are delivered in PPT; and there are all these useful sessions on, for instance, how to integrate Salesforce with Microsoft Outlook. His attacks on Microsoft frankly make him look like a fool (though I love Salesforce). Windows 8's success or failure will hinge on many things. But make no mistake: Microsoft is all-in on this product launch and in my own personal opinion, Microsoft has executed a bolder software vision across - tablets, mobile, and traditional PCs - than Apple has. It is a bold bet. I think the odds are on their side. I will start migrating my own machines to Windows 8 on Friday and my next tablet or phone will be Windows. I will then know firsthand. Ted Hulsy VP of Marketing, eFolder
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