It's a sign of the times that a rumour that Microsoft is planning a preview of Windows 9 in end September is being met with a huge yawn. Remember when Windows itself came after DOS. And the launch of Windows 95 ? Each of them was a landmark event in the history of computing. Now, of course, technology has moved on and Microsoft has been left standing still. Who cares about Windows now anyway ?
Actually a lot care. Windows is now largely a corporate product - almost every company uses Windows as the operating system for the millions of computers its employees use. And every upgrade of the Windows operating system, is hugely expensive. Coupled with Office, Microsoft is omnipresent in the corporate world. There every such new version is met with fear and dread by the IT folks - for , a huge bill is coming. This is also why Microsoft remains a highly profitable company.
The rate of change in the tech industry is so fast that it seems almost impossible to create and nurture a brand in the way you can do in other industries. The sole exception to this is Apple, but even there, all that is happening is that the rate of fade is slower than that of the others. Brands get commoditised extremely fast. Do you now care what brand of smartphone you own - Other than a few members of the Apple Fan Club, nobody cares. Just pick the phone that is fancy at the moment and at the cheapest price. Full stop. Are you really going to get excited about the coming iPhone 6 ???
This is actually a surprise. In other fast changing industries, (OK; maybe not as fast changing as tech), brands survive beautifully. Show me a man who doesn't lust after a BMW. Or wouldn't mind a Rolex. Or wouldn't fly Singapore Airlines. And yet, it seems very few have cracked the marketing puzzle in tech. There are great products in the tech world. But a great product does not automatically make a great brand. How much ever new products come in the iwatch space, the aspirational brand will still be Rolex. Maybe its simply because the tech world is full of geeks - there are very few marketeers there.
So what of Windows 9 ? If its even remotely as painful as Windows 8, then it will be met with every curse in the land. Microsoft really is pig headed in absolutely not listening to its consumers. Refusing to reinstate the Start button and hiding behind gobbledygook is a marketing disaster on part with New Coke. And yet, I am sure Windows 9 will deliver all sorts of great tech possibilities while exasperating the consumer. After all it was Bill Gates' mother, in the early days of Windows who told him what fool would make a consumer click the start button to close down the computer.
So if you are a geek, and reading this piece, go out and talk to your granny. She is really your customer. Or you prefer, meet the gorgeous (but intellectually challenged) blonde serving you in the pub. Get her to use your new product without a tutorial. Figure out what makes her tick (imagine the wonderful ancillary benefits of this study). Maybe you can then ditch those glasses and transform from a nerd to a marketing whiz kid. It is then that the great brands of the tech world will arise.