One of the things that has bothered me the last fifteen years or so is how companies, and Microsoft in particular, have released so much information about products in advance that launch events are merely parties. In the old days we’d reserve some good jucy news for the launch. And technically, release of pricing and availability were considered the providence of “launch”.
We already know pricing, availability, licensing, etc. Millions of people already have Windows 8 so there is no feature news. Surface remains a bit of a mystery, although we just saw a wave of reviews. So what’s the point of today’s launch event? Is it just a party? Will there be any news?
One piece of news I’ve been expecting, maybe even to the extent that it will classify as an “October Surprise”, is about a major boost in the quantity and quality of apps in the Windows Store. Over the last 24 hours some major apps, including ones I personally consider important, have appeared (unheralded) in the Windows Store. I think we’ll hear about them during today’s launch. I think there are others that will appear in short order, perhaps even in the next 24 hours, that Microsoft will feature in today’s launch. And I believe they’ll put a lot of energy into showing third-party commitments, perhaps even “partnerships”, for more exciting apps that will be available in the Windows Store over the next few months.
In other words the big news may be that the app picture, the one universally noted weaknesses of Windows 8 and particularly Windows RT, is far brighter than it seems today. Is this wishful thinking on my part? Probably. But it makes a lot of sense. It is something easy to hold back until launch. And some of the data points I’ve noted, like the absence of key apps from ISVs I absolutely know would not ignore a Microsoft launch of this magnitude, suggest it is the case. We’ll know soon enough.
Will there be any other substantial news? Based on history I’d say no, but then Microsoft has been rewriting the script a lot lately. They could go as far as to pull an Apple and announce a new product that no one knew was coming. But I doubt it, unless it is just a hint of something (e.g., a future Windows RT-based Nook tablet for example). Still, we can hope for more news. And even if there isn’t anything, at least they’ll be putting on a good party.