Windows 8 hasn’t been going that well. When the product launched, the hardware wasn’t ready and neither was the product, really. User backlash to the massive user interface changes hadn’t been properly mitigated and demand generation started at the time of the launch but was inadequately funded. The product attempted to embrace both Intel/AMD x85 and ARM, but the x86 stuff either lacked touch or was too heavy, was too expensive, and had too little battery life. The ARM stuff was crippled, having been given a copy of Office that you couldn’t upgrade that didn’t have Office’s premier component, Outlook. The guy that led the effort got fired as a result.
Microsoft went back in and fixed the most annoying parts of the product. Now both the x86- and the ARM-based versions are more interesting, and folks have had a year to get used to the new interface. Personally, I’ve been using this for over a year now and Windows 7 seems out of date and antiquated (XP seems ancient).
But Microsoft needs to really build advocacy. It started with a TV and print campaign that talks about how Windows 8.1 devices are being used to bridge laptops and tablets, replacing both. It’ll showcase a number of testimonials in New York this week and I have some of the highlights.
Aviation Industry: Da Plane, Da Plane!
If you can picture Steve Ballmer calling this out on the old TV show, Fantasy Island, you have a better imagination than I do, but Windows 8 tablets are clearly huge in the airline industry. While I understand Emirates (these guys compete with Virgin to be the best airline in the air with respect to customer care) is using Windows 8 tablets, it is Delta that is being showcased this week. Every one of their 11,000 pilots is being issued two Surface 2 (ARM) tablets for use for key charts, reference documents and checklists. 19,000 flight attendants have been issued Nokia Lumia 820 smartphones (Wi-Fi connected) for use in the air for inflight purchases. Underneath this product is a solution called FliteDeck Pro by Jeppesen, which made most of this possible.
Fixing the Government
I was watching Jon Stewart the other night and he was covering the Colorado story in which the guy who put in place reasonable gun control legislation, supported by the majority of Colorado citizens, was voted out of office. Apparently, it was because in the recall, the vast majority of Colorado citizens didn’t bother to vote. Windows 8 devices could end up fixing this through an entity called Democracy Live. This secure SaaS eBalloting solution, called LiveBallot, is designed to provide remote secure balloting to assure more people get an opportunity to vote. Let’s hope that will lead to fewer idiots making it into public office. It is currently being used by the U.S. Department of Defense so that those who are sent on assignment overseas can still vote. This solution is backed up by Azure, Microsoft’s cloud service, and it is designed to meet the security requirements of the DoD.
Providing a solution for medical professionals that can give them real-time access to information could save your life. AirStripOne Cardiology is that type of potentially life-saving app. This app, in use by Palomar Health (the largest public health care district in California) is in pilot. It provides current and historical ECGs, the ability to edit and confirm findings in real time, real-time notifications and critical medical value displays, and real-time access to EMR monitoring and other health care data. Because of HIPAA, this has one of the highest security requirements of any app in its class and because it has to do with heart monitoring, one of the highest uptime requirements as well.
Another vertical industry that has high security and uptime requirements is the financial industry. Security issues are often board-level problems and having a trader out of touch for minutes can cost millions of dollars. SunGard, one of the leading solutions providers for this industry, is targeting its 25,000-strong customer base with a risk management solution running on Windows 8. IntelliMatch is the solution to help financial institutions better manage the accounting, trading, transactional and reconciliation activities that support their core businesses. This is a broad-based financial solution.
Wrapping Up: Building Advocacy
While these and other firms are being showcased this week in New York, the message Microsoft is attempting to build is that when it comes to getting things done, not just playing, Windows 8.1 is the better solution. Each solution I’ve highlighted has significant exposure to safety, financial, privacy, and security needs and requirements. I think these are compelling stories but it’s not what I think, it is what you think that matters. So what do you think? Is it enough?