Will you buy Windows 8?

I told you so back in February that Windows 8 would debut in October -- not that it was rocket science to me. Nevertheless I wrote: "Windows 8 must RTM by end of August to make October launch, which is best timeframe assuring the channel is stocked for Black Friday". Today, Microsoft revealed that its next-generation operating system would release to manufacturing in early August and be available at retail in October.

Microsoft's timing is sheer brilliance. We already know that Surface tablets will ship simultaneously with Windows 8, and OEMs have shown off a boatload of new models coming for the holidays. Apple plans to release OS X Mountain Lion this month, perhaps in days. Anyone considering a shiny new Mac suddenly has reason to wait. Will Surface or Windows 8 slates be worth the wait? Mountain Lion's user interface is oh-so yesterday, while Windows 8 Metro is oh-so tomorrow -- well, for anyone who actually likes it. Now that we know when, it's time to ask if you will buy. That's a question you can answer in comments and the poll below the fold.

Enterprise Cornucopia

But wait! Enterprises won't have to wait until October, neither will developers. Software Assurance subscribers will have access to Windows 8 when it RTMs the first week of August. Meanwhile, the Windows Store will be open for business and allow developers to cash in on their apps. That's the other reason today's announcement timing is brilliant. Because of when Microsoft switched over to Software Assurance a decade ago, the bulk of renewals come in July. The August availability announcement comes as many enterprises are negotiating renewals. Many now have more impetuous to get those contracts.

There's more to this. Surface, which runs Windows RT, ships with Office 15. Microsoft hasn't released a public beta yet, and the Worldwide Partner Conference -- where the company announced Windows 8 timing -- would be right venue and fit in with promised summertime. If there is no Office 15 beta, and should Microsoft use 2013 naming instead of 2012, the software likely won't be ready until late-year earliest. That's based on Microsoft's longstanding approach to nomenclature.

Meanwhile, Microsoft will serve enterprises a software feast, which includes Windows Server 8 and new versions of Intune, .NET and Visual Studio, among others. It's an enterprise and cloud cornucopia all queued up for late this year and early next -- and, again, more reasons for businesses to polish up their Software Assurance renewals.

Okay, When?

Now, the question remains; Will you buy, and when? Microsoft hasn't announced pricing yet for businesses or consumers, but expect it soon. Meanwhile we know that special upgrade pricing will be available through end of January -- $39.99 from any consumer Windows version, including XP, to 8 Pro. My colleague Martin Brinkmann's "Four things you REALLY need to know about Windows 8 upgrades" is a must-read primer for anyone considering that $40 deal.

Last week, I asked BetaNews readers about upgrading for that low price. Among the 1,057 respondents so far, 43.42 percent of you that qualify say yes, while 27.91 percent who could upgrade won't.

Reader Jay Donnelly installed Windows 8 Consumer Preview last week, "and although it took me 2 days to work it out, it's actually quite good to the point I love it".

Geoff Coupe: "At $40 a throw, I'll certainly upgrade my Win 7 computers to Windows 8 Pro. By so doing, I position them to take advantage of the improvements that W8 has over Win7 in the basic platform, plus I am positioned to take advantage of new stuff arriving via the Marketplace".

Ben Cousins has "played with both 8 Previews and Server 8 Previews. They are both a pain in the arse to use. I have recently changed to (almost soul os) Ubuntu 12.04LTS. I'm starting to hate Windows more and more". Cousins is a developer.

Success or Failure?

Overall, reactions are largely mixed to Windows 8, with the most negative clearly leveled at Metro (particularly used with mouse and keyboard) and removal of the Start button/menu from the legacy desktop. I absolutely expect Metro to pose a hardship for enterprises. My colleague Wayne Williams insists that "Windows 8 will flop", while Randall Kennedy asks: "What if Windows 8 fails?" Failure or success is really about definition and measurement. I expect that Microsoft will sell tens of millions Windows 8 licenses, while enterprise adoption won't exceed Windows Vista.

By many measures, Windows 8 will be Microsoft's next Vista: Many buyers will loathe Metro and stick with or choose Windows 7 instead. That's not a bad scenario. Microsoft is trying to pull the entire Windows install base forward by making many radical changes. Take a pick. It's Metro on the desktop and back to the command line on the server-- and much more. Changes under the hood and user interface, including Metro and Ribbon, will give many IT decision-makers the willies.

The majority of enterprises will have just completed or soon will finish Windows 7 deployments by the time Windows 8 is available to them next month. They wouldn't upgrade soon anyway. Best time for Microsoft to make major changes is during a release cycle with lower enterprise adoption. From that perspective, Windows 8 preps the install base for what comes next -- Windows 8 or RT slates now but, for most businesses, version 9.

"I help admin a network at a LARGE company. We do not have a Win8 in our road map for future refresh", Ocram Schwarz comments. "No one in their right mind would put into a corporate environment. Our beta test group actually cursed at us after 3 days of testing [Windows 8]".

Is your company similar? Different? Please take the poll above and answer below: Will you buy Windows 8? If so, when?

Editor's note: Do to an error, the poll posted without "no plans". One-hundred seventy-seven responses were collected before we added this important option to the poll. We've recorded responses and will appropriately "weight" poll results when reporting them.

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