Windows 10 Will Never Be Windows 95 (But That's OK)

It has already started. Some pundits are openly wondering if Windows 10 -- Microsoft's forthcoming successor to Windows 8 -- can deliver a Windows 95-type market impact. The answer is no way. But Microsoft could still regain some customer clout with a solid Windows 10 launch in 2015. Here's why.

First, let's look at the bogus Windows 10 vs. Windows 95 comparison. Rewind to 1993 or 1994:

  1. The PC market was highly fragmented -- PC vendors and users had a mix of Microsoft MS-DOS, IBM PC-DOS, some OS/2, Windows 3.x, Windows for Workgroups, etc.
  2. The vast majority of consumer PCs were just moving into the built-in networking stage.
  3. Corporate buyers were the early adopters... and consumers often were IT laggards.
  4. Apple was spiraling downward. Mac OS was aging and Mac hardware was a mess.
  5. "Mobile" meant you might be carrying a monochrome laptop... but most of us were still tied to desktops.
  6. But users were starting to be trained: You needed a new PC every two or three years based purely on Moore's law -- and the ever-increasing price/performance of Intel chips.

With all of those factors in mind, Microsoft launched Windows 95 with the perfect mix of features at the perfect time. All that market fragmentation disappeared as the market grew and rallied around Windows 95.

PS: I think I offered up a similar Windows 8 vs Windows 95 view back when Win8 arrived two years ago.

Different Century, Different Challenge

Fast forward to 2015: Most people think Windows 10 will mainly compete against Google and Apple. Wrong. Look at the Windows 10 event earlier this week in San Francisco, and you'll discover Microsoft is actually competing with customer inertia and Microsoft's own software ineptitude on the desktop. That's why Microsoft is targeting enterprises first with Windows 10. With a good release, Microsoft believes Windows 10 can finally rid the world of Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.

With a little luck, those "happy" corporate Windows 10 users will consider adopting the new offering on home PCs, tablets, notebooks -- and of course, Microsoft Surface devices and smartphones.

Overall, Windows 10 could very well become a solid enterprise hit. And maybe -- just maybe -- even a consumer hit. But please don't compare Windows 10 to Windows 95's launch and adoption. The world has moved on. Now, it's time for the IT media to move on, too.