Will Windows 8 Win? Microsoft's Uphill Battle Against Apple, Android

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What’s more, the new OS features a log-in method called Picture Password, allowing users to define and enter a password by making select movements over a photo rather than typing one. Windows 8 also will deliver the most recent installment of Internet Explorer, version 10, and is expected to spark a more robust app selection in the Windows Store.

Perhaps one of the most innovative features seen with the new OS, however, is Windows to Go. The new feature allows IT administrators to create USB drives containing fully managed Windows 8 systems for users to take with them outside the office. As the name suggests, it’s essentially a portable and secured version of the new OS, apps and all (for more, check out the CRN Test Center review of the Windows 8 developer preview ).

Shahin Pirooz, executive vice president, engineering operations, and CTO of CenterBeam, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based solution provider, views Windows to Go as one of the most exciting new features to be delivered with Windows 8. Its appeal, however, is enterprise-focused, meaning that it may not necessarily draw a wider consumer audience. “In typical Microsoft fashion, they are speaking to the IT industry rather than the consumer,” Shahin explained. “Even though that’s who they are trying to get to.”

In addition to positioning itself as a true mobile innovator, Microsoft faces another challenge when it comes to Windows 8: the consumerization of IT. The phrase, referring to the increasingly blurry line between what is considered a “corporate” vs. a “consumer” device, could suggest that as more and more Apple and Android devices make their way into the corporate world, Microsoft’s grip on the enterprise market will start to slip.

Chad Osgood, CEO and managing partner at Premier Logic, an Alpharetta, Ga.-based software developer and solution provider, has seen declining interest in the Windows OS ever since the iPhone and other consumer-centric devices landed in enterprise users’ hands.

“I think what we started to see with the release of the iPhone was a lot more consumer-oriented mobile devices,” Osgood told CRN. “And what that did … we started to see a lack of demand from a consumer and an enterprise standpoint for Windows mobile.”

The decline of Research In Motion proves just how hefty a blow the consumerization of IT can deal enterprise-focused vendors. The BlackBerry maker lost a hefty chunk of its enterprise customer base to the iPhone and Android-run devices this year and saw a major blow to its third-quarter revenue, reporting $265 million compared to the $911 million the company reported in the same quarter the year before. If Windows 8 isn’t a game-changer, Microsoft also may find itself living in Apple’s ever-expanding shadow.

NEXT: Microsoft's Silver Lining

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