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Can Microsoft Do It Right With Windows 9?

Microsoft is covering its bases on the enterprise and consumer fronts.

First, the company on Sept. 30 will show a technical preview of Windows 9 highlighting its enterprise focus. Second, Microsoft said it would acquire Mojang, the popular maker of the addictive Minecraft game for $2.5 billion.

It’s no surprise Microsoft is touting Windows 9 for the enterprise. The company tried to be radically hip with a new user interface when Windows 8 first shipped and we all know how that turned out. Windows 8.1 Enterprise was an improvement, but when the industry likens Windows 8 to Vista, you know it’s all over.

Today 51.2% of the desktop operating system installed is Windows 7 with only 13.4% attributed to Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, according to last month’s figures from NetmarketShare. Even the now defunct and unsupported Windows XP commands 23.9% market share.

But as we all know, Microsoft is like a Weeble that wobbles but doesn’t fall down.

With Windows 9, its clear how the enterprise might embrace this operating system if and when their organization is ready to move beyond Windows XP and Windows 7.

The look and feel is reminiscent of the enterprise’s beloved Windows 7 with the traditional desktop user interface. And, more importantly, the Start Button returns. Now the Start Button shows how the operating system can display menus in both the traditional and modern look. There is also the ability to show virtual desktops, similar to what Apple’s Mac OS X does.

The company also worked out many of the security features enterprise IT pros expected in Windows 8.1 that should continue with Windows 9.

With some of these new snazzy features, Microsoft hopes to marry both the enterprise and consumer needs, providing an operating system enterprise IT can deploy while also bringing the more vibrant consumer flair to the table.

What Microsoft must work on, however, is improving its track record for updates. Several times the company has recalled Windows 8.1 updates. If this continues in Windows 9, who knows whether enterprise IT will seriously consider upgrading to the new operating system.

As Microsoft readies its Windows 9 debut on Sept. 30 we can only hope the software giant doesn’t move far away from its enterprise roots. Live and learn, but Microsoft needs to remember the enterprise customer is its bread and butter.

What will be interesting is whether Microsoft can get more businesses to adopt Windows Phone. Unless Minecraft is pushing BYOD with young consumers, I don’t think that’s the answer. Windows Phone is a far distant third in smart phone market share compared with iPhones and Google Android devices. Will Minecraft on Windows Phone be the next Angry Birds or Candy Crush that motivates both business users and consumers to adopt the platform? That’s an iffy proposition.

For now, let’s just hope Microsoft does it right with Windows 9 and gives what IT pros need to consider deploying the next operating system into their organization.

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