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3 things Microsoft has to prove at its Windows 10 event

Scott M. Fulton, III | Jan. 19, 2015
It could be the venerable operating system's last time at bat on the public stage, unless it pulls off this trifecta.

However, people do need one familiar place that brings together their documents, services, and applications no matter how many devices they use. If Microsoft can borrow a page from Dropbox and Evernote, it could represent Windows as a place they can reach from their devices, rather than a file system that needs to be synced with other file systems. This way, devices dont have to work the same way for them to accomplish the same goal.

2. Windows 10 is a service that bridges individual devices. If the huge number of Windows users are to become Windows subscribers, they need to begin perceiving Windows as a service. Newspapers dont charge individual fees for each device from which you read their online publications, and neither should Microsoft.

Microsoft does not need to reveal Windows 10s retail price just yet. But if it divulges no information at all Wednesday about how its subscription model will work, then Windows Phone 10 will gain no more users than it already has. If Windows truly is the same system for both classes of device, then why shouldnt a subscriber be entitled to it everywhere?

3. The ideal of Windows is a cause that everyday people can support. Such a cause must be practical, achievable, and desirable.

Apples iOS and Mac users believe in Apple as a cause. They perceive the company as upholding principles of usability, excellence in design, simplicity, and practicality. It just works is a phrase the Apple loyal are proud to say aloud. To some extent, Google has managed to cobble together a workable ideal for Android, around the principle that it belongs to you. As a company, it successfully portrays itself as a responsible, diverse, and moderately liberal corporate citizen, advancing itself as a model company for other companies.

The last ideal that Microsoft attempted to articulate for its base was, I am a PC. Thats exactly the wrong cause for the mobile era. While CEO Nadella has cast Microsoft in the new role of a "platform and productivity company," the ideal people will rally behind is not a vision for Microsoft but rather a vision for society. It won't be a product goal, like great user experiences, but a vision of work being done and life being lived.

Microsoft has started down this path before, and has occasionally made headway. Now the company needs to tie that vision directly to Windows, so that if someone pasted a Windows logo to his back windshield, his neighbors wouldnt think he was weird.

Well be tracking Microsofts progress towards proving these three points, beginning Wednesday before 9:00 am Pacific Time. Follow our coverage of the Windows 10 preview event, including our Twitter stream at @SMFulton3.


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