Microsoft’s Potential Windows 8 Problem?
Matthew is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
If you thought Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) releasing iOS 6 and shipping the iPhone 5 with a sub-par map experience was bad press, be on the lookout for a similar reaction again, except this time orders of magnitude louder. Because next month, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) will begin shipping their Windows 8 operating system. And if the CEO of one of the tech industry’s most important companies is correct, Windows 8 is not ready for prime-time just yet.
At a private meeting for employees, Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) CEO Paul Otellini discussed how Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system is being released before it is ready. These comments are nothing too shocking, with over 16 million active Windows 8 preview participants out there to publicly discuss such problems. Otellini’s comments do echo those being made by stock analysts covering Microsoft, however, who are worried about the amount of bugs being found during the Windows 8 beta testing process.
Intel’s comments and analysts' concerns aside, when are operating systems ever actually "ready?" All operating systems are shipped with bugs. And even when those bugs are fixed, new bugs will inevitably be discovered. Operating systems are code piled on top of code; new code added to old code. There are always bound to be bugs, exploits or conflicts within the programming. Shipping a software product with bugs is just the nature of the tech beast. And despite Otellini’s comments, he also reportedly told employees at the meeting that Microsoft was correct in their decision to ship the operating system as scheduled, ready or not. That Microsoft can make the necessary changes after Windows 8 is released.
Far more devastating for Microsoft, Intel and computer hardware manufactures would be if Microsoft actually delayed the release of Windows 8 to fix any small lingering issues with their new OS. With the Christmas buying season nearly upon us, Windows 8 absolutely has to ship in October as planned, rain or shine, ready or not. No company can afford to miss the most important quarter for consumer electronic purchases. And with so many companies relying on Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system to boost their sales, Microsoft would have a tech-insurrection on their hands if they delayed anything.
Other tech companies are looking to capitalize on the Christmas buying season. Amazon’s (NASDAQ: AMZN) line of Kindle Fire tablets are going to be popular purchases for the holidays. One Kindle Fire in particular, the $159 base-model Fire, is priced so cheaply that many parents would have little problem justifying the price as a child’s Christmas stocking stuffer. Apple will also be a big beneficiary of the season, with their iPad expected to be a favorite among holiday gift givers as it has been in the past. And with the possibility of a cheaper 7-inch iPad Mini ready to be announced and shipped before the end of the year, this final quarter of 2012 could be even bigger than usual for Apple.
Likewise, the various Windows hardware partners are looking to release their own tablet offerings, with the majority of those releases coinciding with the launch of Windows 8 on Oct. 26. As will be shown at Intel’s Windows 8 tablet event on Thursday, there are many traditional Windows PC manufactures ready to jump head-first into the tablet wars. One of the most talked about companies is Microsoft itself, with their Microsoft Surface tablets. Another is Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) with their surprising potential tablet hit, the HP Envy x2 (surprising given HP’s track record with tablets). The HP Envy x2 has been receiving positive preview impressions thus far and could be nice first step in correcting the company’s many problems.
With so much on the line, so many companies involved and so many competitors ready to take an even larger lead in the tablet race, Microsoft would be crazy to delay Windows 8 for anything other than the most serious software bugs. Unless we are talking about another Windows Vista situation (which had much bigger problems than just bugs), releasing Windows 8 in October is a must for the company.
Will a buggy Windows 8 release elicit criticisms and comparisons to Apple’s recent Maps issues? Most likely. Should Microsoft care? Definitely not. Not when the alternative is to delay the release of the company's most important product, right before the year's most important buying season.
WhichStocksWork owns shares of Intel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Amazon.com, Intel, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Amazon.com, Apple, and Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.