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Intel CEO: Windows 8 Needs 'Improvements'

Is anyone else bothered by this Bloomberg report that quoted Intel CEO Paul Otellini as saying that Windows 8 isn't ready for release?

Otellini allegedly made those comments to employees at a meeting in Taiwan. "Improvements still need to be made to the software," he was quoted as saying.

Yikes.

Remember that Intel isn't some obscure third-party developer making tower defense games for WinRT; it's Microsoft's most important partner. And its CEO says Windows 8 isn't fully baked? The point is that there's a strong desire to treat Otellini's comments as credible, given who he is and the company he runs.

I get the desire to have Surface, and other WinRT tablets, out before Christmas. And I get the need to not fall further behind the iPad, new Android tablets that are finally starting to catch on, etc. Yeah, Microsoft needs to get in the game.

But given the quality of the competition, this is very risky. Consumers will be comparing Windows 8/WinRT tablets to mature tablets from the Other Guys. The old saying about not getting a second chance to make a first impression is relevant here; if Windows-based tablets suffer by comparison, by being incompatible or buggy or insecure or whatever, then those consumers may give up on Windows for anything but desktops and laptops.

(And it could potentially spill over into Windows Phone 8 as well. "Hey, if WinRT stinks, how good could Windows Phone, based on the same technology, be?")

Microsoft sort of responded in the story. Here's what a spokesman said:

"With over 16 million active preview participants, Windows 8 is the most tested, reviewed and ready operating system in Microsoft's history," said Mark Martin, a spokesman for Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft.

That's not a statement that fills me with confidence. Martin did say, specifically, that it's ready, but he didn't say Otellini was wrong, or that his comments had no substance. In my opinion, he used numbers (16 million) to try and obscure the main point -- that Windows isn't ready for release one month from today.

All this could work out, of course. Windows 8, as mentioned in the story, will be updated -- probably frequently -- in the early days of its general availability. But the potential flood of bad publicity that could be coming its way, if those flaws end up being major issues, could seriously suppress sales. This isn't an iPhone, after all, in which tons of negative reviews about the new maps application have no effect due to iPhone's impenetrable public perception of near-perfection. Windows 8 is brand-spanking-new, and Microsoft doesn't have a history in mobile computing yet.

If those issues are minor, on the other hand, they may have no effect on sales at all. But if they were minor, one would think Intel's CEO wouldn't have said what he said.

Posted by Keith Ward on 09/26/2012 at 1:15 PM


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