2012, Microsoft’s Epic Year?

Steve Ballmer took to the stage yesterday at Microsoft’s annual powwow, the Worldwide Partners Conference. Steve was as bullish as ever calling 2012 an “EPIC!” year for Microsoft. Steve is always excited but this time Microsoft does have it ‘going on’. Why is Steve so pumped, and what makes 2012 a year of “epic”?

Product Launch Extravaganza

This year will see Microsoft simultaneously launch Office 15, Windows 8 & Windows Phone 8 - the first time all three updates have come along at the same time. As Steve says himself, it’s going to be a “huge!” deal.  Why so huge? Late 2012 will see Microsoft not only bring their entire line-up of products together by implementing their Metro design UX across the board, they will also be ushering in the deep layer underpinnings for a total platform refresh.

Microsoft is finally bringing their entire eco system together as one cohesive story. For the longest time we have had many similar, but fundamentally different products from Microsoft. At times, it has been difficult or impossible to get these products and services to play nicely together. That’s all about to change. With Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 now sharing a similar UI and codebase new experiences will become a reality.  Combine that with a powerful suite of cloud services, a rich Marketplace full of Apps, Music and Video and we see a powerful and compelling story emerging.

The Living Room Play

The story of course doesn’t end there, we also have the Xbox360 in the living room providing a crucial link to the biggest screen in the house, the TV. In the last few years the 360 has gone on to own that place in the living room. The missing piece in the eco system story is now the enhanced Xbox companion product, which they now call SmartGlass. With this new ‘Play To’ enhancement, we should finally see a viable competitor to Apples Airplay emerge and put an end to the Xbox360 existing in its own walled garden.

Rapid Consumer Deployment of Windows 8

Steve Ballmer estimates that around 375 million PCs could be sold within the next 12 months. From October, they will all come pre-installed with Windows 8. Whilst they will be a rich mix of tablets, PCs and desktop machines, they will all have one thing in common. They will all have the WinRT underpinnings and by proxy, Marketplace access. If you are a developer and Steve Ballmer is right, then you’ll have a target audience of around 300mn for your application in the marketplace.

Again, that is not all. Microsoft has also re-imagined the way they will ensure existing Windows users move to the next version of the OS. Every single person that has a copy of Windows, whatever version, will be able to get the next version of Windows for only $39.99. It is imperative that Microsoft make the transition to the Windows 8 eco system as quick and painless as possible. With an upgrade this cheap and accessible, and considering how painless the process will be, it should mean we’ll see some serious numbers making the switch. The underlying story here, although MS predicts 300mn of new PCs will sold in twelve months, the total number of Windows 8 users after the upgrade could swell that number to around double that.

Hardly A Stone Unturned

I would be remiss in not mentioning the advent of Surface, their stunning tablet products designed from the ground up to highlight Windows 8. A product that on its own is an epic move from Microsoft; it will be the face of Windows 8. I suspect Surface will be the best tablet you’ll be able to buy running their new OS for some time. That is unless OEMs can finally get their act together and produce some stunning new hardware.

With the combined launch of Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Office & the updated Xbox story all happening at the same time, we’re going to see a tidal wave of advertising. For those of us who follow tech news, every little twist and turn along the way will still seem pretty exciting. To the normal person its simply going to look like Microsoft re-invented itself. I expect the knock on effects of this ‘glow’ to bolster the entire ecosystem and hopefully we’ll see more and more people taking the plunge with Windows Phone.

Yes, Steve - I admit it’s going to be epic.

  • Agreed.  The only thing that would have made this year better for MS is if they were releasing the NextBox this year.
  • I was thinking the same thing myself! :)
  • Got to save some epic-ness for 2013 I assume.
  • I think you're right, they need to hold a little something back ;)
  • I know for a fact the all 7 members of my family are getting the surface pro and at least 5 of us are getting wp8...now just imagine how many families will be doing the same..."multiply that by infinity and take it to the depth of forever" and ull barely have an idea of how epic this and next year will be for Microsoft...and not to mention we already have 3 Xboxes
  • Me like your comment! :-D
  • Wow, thats some shopping list for the year. With Windows 7 they did the family pack deal, this upgrade offer for Windows 8 is even better. I think they have done well to sort that out. :)
  • Same here,  I see at least dozen folks in the family waiting to buy  Surface and many more in my company.   Office, filesystem access and USB plus the great UI seems to be key  in addition to perfectly fitting into Windows world.
  • Nice list, don't forget to also grab a few Nokia WinRT tablets.
  • At 40 bucks, how can I not upgrade to windows 8. Friend of mine runs his it dept and I've seen win8 boot up. Blink of an eye fast. Then WP update unless use my upgrade with tmo for wp8. Big year for MS.
  • I know the boot up time is sick and just imagine the bootup time with a computer that's made to run w8 awesome I can't wait to get my Nokia WP8 my W8 tablet this is awesome year for Microsoft and so 2013 ^_^
  • Bring it on! :-D
  • My house is also gearing for a w8 splurge. Can't wait =D
  • Bravo Microsoft Bravo thanks for putting us first :D
  • Can't wait to upgrade my desktop to windows 8 :-D
  • I really hope Xbox will recognize WP8 as a media device, that's one feature I really miss today. Otherwise, I'm still psyched!
  • The next Xbox dashboard should have DLNA support added (for the Play To functionality from Windows 7/8). So many WP7 phones should even be able to use it, I think a handful of OEMs have written DLNA apps. But yeah, hopefully that becomes a standard part of WP8.
  • I'd guess at the Phone not being designed to expose itself to much access. But the Xbox 360 should work much better with advent of SmartGlass. :)
  • Cant wait to buy a Surface Pro here in Sweden... because I will be able to do that, right Microsoft? :|
  • Really epic year
  • +1 :)
  • Can some one tell me what does OEM stand for?
  • Original Equipment Manufacturer, basically the hardware manufacturers
  • Original
    Think Asus, Lenovo, HP, Dell, Sony, etc. who all make pc's and laptops that come bundled with Windows.  MS didn't manufacture the laptop, Asus or Lenovo did.  
  • Original Evil Manufacturers of course. What else could it be? :P
  • Original Equipment Manufacturer
  • Thanx everyone lol
  • Awesome!!
  • I was going to hold off on building a new system, but at $40 for the upgrade to windows 8, I guess I don't have much of an excuse to put it off. ONWARD TO TIGER DIRECT! :D
  • Well w8 will feature touch screen so I would wait if I were u
  • I'm using the release preview and it works fantastically with mouse and keyboard. I'll never need a touchscreen for my gaming rig.
  • That is good to hear. I was curious how it would work without a touchscreen.
  • Its OK with a mouse and keyboard. But using W8 with a trackpad on a laptop sucks. To get the most out of W8 you really really need a touch screen. I think that's the main reason why Microsoft is releasing Surface. To push all OEMs to start using touchscreens on all PCs.
  • I agree, considering MS are 'lowering' the specs from Win7 then not much point in waiting. Only worth waiting to buy a tablet or laptop due to them coming with all the new sensors etc..
  • for 40 dollars you can upgrade your current pc and still get a w8 pro tablet and it wont rape your wallet unlike another rotten fruit company i know :D
  • Honestly, I don't have a problem with Apple. If I'm going to buy a Windows Laptop, I'm probably going to spend upward of $1k because I know the OEMs won't skimp on the innards, and at that point I'm in the price realm of a macbook. My problem is with the apple-flavored koolaid drinkers who actually think the product is somehow "better." For that price it better be better than a $300 acer laptop!
  • well thats all good and i respect your reasoning but honestly not everyone can afford pcs in the price range of 1k and higher. so i see that as microsoft realizes that. yeah they are just another big corporation but its felt that way to me.
  • Same here....I was originally planning on getting an iMac, but with all of the things Microsoft is coming out with this year, I would likely run Windows 8 most of the time anyway. Plus the fact that for half the price of a top of the line iMac, I can build a computer that is more powerful. And the final nail in the coffin for the iMac was no Mac client for Guild Wars 2. Lol.
  • Isn't the abbreviation for million "M" instead of "mn" ?
  • M is for Molar and mn is minute. I'm unsure what million's abbreviation is, but it isn't that.
  • I always thought "mill" standard for million. Then "min" was minute.
  • I realise it's not the most reliable source, but Wikipedia disagrees (abbreviation is "M"):
    That references http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_System_of_Units which shows the same abbreviation. It shares the same symbol as "mega" as they are both 10^6.
    Soooo instead of "300mn" it should've said "300M".
    Or perhaps it is an American-specific abbreviation?
  • You might be right. I don't really remember chemistry anyway..
  • Getting out from under the watch of the DoJ was the most important thing for Microsoft as a company. We are finally able to see this convergence come together that we started to see begin in WinXP but was never fully realized due to competitors whining because they were scared of the beast Microsoft was getting ready to unleash. That beast is finally out of its cage and I can't wait to ride it all the way to the future.
  • +100000000 this comment got me excited and slightly aroused LMAO jk or am i ;P
  • That's a really good point...reaches for the edit button... :) The oversight has harmed MS in many ways but also its been good for them (and consumers) too. I love that they have decided to fight back instead of being the next IBM. I cant wait to see whats next!
  • And then later on, Xbox 8, but I still like the name Xbox 720 more...
  • I wonder will the next living room device be called Xbox? Or will the name live on only as the entertainment brand? 
  • Then can ditch "Zune", that stung a little. But, please, don't ditch "Xbox" . These are names we've all come to know and love.
  • I LOVED the name Zune, it was (and still is) the best music player, in my opinion. When they ditched zune, I was a little upset.
    The name Xbox is an epic name for a gaming console. For some reason I hate the name "Xbox 720" even though it makes sense in the evolution of names. As long as they don't ditch the name "Xbox" its fine with me what ever number they put after it. (assuming it will even be a number)
  • And yet I still feel like the Fandroids and Apple fanboys are winning the war against Microsoft. The iPhone ushered in an entirely new breed of anti-Microsoft goons. Just listen to any show on the TWIT network...
  • Yeah, I agree. I like the TWiT network. But, I think their best towards apple. Except for of course Paul from Windows Weekly. Also, I think Brian from NSFW isn't.
  • No!!
    Have u ever heard of galaxy 2!?
    Galaxy Note? Galaxy 3???
    HTC one x....
    IPad 3
    Only if I can sell my Windows Phone with a quarter of the original price.
  • Wow seriously?
  • IPad 3???? No, its the "New Ipad." :P
  • Ahh well excited this year for Microsoft products
  • I can't wait to prove my friends wrong and show 'em that the MS ecosystem will be the best!
  • Right on!!! Me too!!
  • 2012= EPIC   then 2013= What word is bigger than EPIC?  colossal, monumental?
  • HUGE! HUGE! HUGE! (As Steve would say, but thats more than one word..)
  • 2013 would simply be kick-ass, lol.
  • The next big thing will be..........Fucktardic!
  • I am so excited!!!
  • I have a HP ZV5000Z laptop which runs on AMD 3000+ series. When i install windows 8, it boots up and it seems to be able to browse etc.. but i dont have the WIFI and speakers working... dont know why and how older laptops can upgrade
  • That's all driver issues my dude. Reinstall those and you should be cool.
  • So here is my thoughts...
    Windows 8 makes a change from the startmenu that has been ALMOST the same from Windows 95. Windows has always displayed it's applications/games in the same method. Windows 8 changes this and so far, it's questionable with a lot of users I have talked to about it.
    As an IT professional, I talk to a lot of people in IT. About 90% of the people I have talked to about Win 8, say, it would be good with a tablet but, on a desktop with a keyboard and mouse, not so good. Most IT people said they would not upgrade to Windows 8 but, a few said yes just because it's the newest thing.
    When I asked about Win8 in the corp world, they dont see them chainging from Win 7 any time soon and they might skip over Windows 8 (some are investigaing). Why ? The current systems that they run with active directory are 2003 and 2008 based. Perfect support for Win 7 or even XP for older clients.
    Windows 8 has a learning curve, Windows 7 is just like XP, 98, etc when it comes to the start menu. It would be a VERY large investment to pay for training of all their users to move to Windows 8, as for Windows 7, it's just like everything they have been using for years, they learned from the ribbon interface on office, a lot of people didn't like the change. I honestly think you will see this in a lot of very large companies.
    As for Windows Phone 8, it's almsot the same thing but, smaller smart tiles on the home page and some MAJOR improvements on the subsystem (as a quick list). So, it's a worthy upgrade for fans of WP7.5.
    I really would like to know what other IT professionals feel about this...
    As for Microsoft's year ? Maybe, it could be a flop, it could be a hit, MS will do good because 98% of PC based computers are shipped with Windows, and most new ones will be Windows 8, so they will sell them no matter what (unless people order PCs with Win7)
    For me, yes, I will get WP8 device (depending on what my carrier has) as for Windows 8, I'm a little on the fense but, I am using it. I think a dual boot will keep running but, with the preview release, I'm still using WIndows 7 more.
  • The whole change is going to be a learning curve that I see only as the first step (in the right direction) of a much greater learning curve, or should I say 'Unlearning' curve, I mean, all this changes and still MS has Kinect to make everything Touch´LESS'. I would just love to have all my screens clean and without and fingerprints what so ever, yes, even my phone. Combine Kinect and voice, and leave screens neat! Now the corporate world will have to adapt and learn to UN-learn!
  • The start screen is not all that difficult to learn. So much simpler. Easier to organize. And then the multitasking and fast app switch, along with the original desktop app, where you can run it as if it were win7... Why not make the switch? Not to mention the ecosystem and NFC support and cloud storage! Its going to make the IT world so much more friendly.
  • I find it sad that even though there's no start button, people feel like W8's desktop side isn't still the same thing but with new features. It took me a while to get used to switching back to the start screen and typing what I want, but it's very convenient.
  • now throw me a Surface + WP8 bundle deal and I am all over it. MS should do that.
  • agree :) Im waiitng wp 7.8 :)
  • I'll be copping surface for me and the wife and new phones when WP8 drops. Been running W8 on my 4yr old hp dv6 laptop and it feels like new again. I just wish I had a better graphics card to play Tera! I'm excited to see how that ecosystem plays with wp8 and smartglass over time.
  • Maybe Q4 2012 will be considered epic. Little rough to say that about their year to date.