Today’s the day! Will there be any real news on Windows 8 or Surface?

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.

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8 Responses to Today’s the day! Will there be any real news on Windows 8 or Surface?

  1. I think this is something that Apple has perfected and Microsoft is slowly learning to emulate (though not quite so successfully this time). They announce the new/revised operating system and immediate availability of the SDK about 6 months out from announcing & releasing a new/revised product range. Products are also available almost next day, so there’s no 1-2 month wait.

    Microsoft’s launch of Windows 8/RT has followed this formula much closer than Windows Phone 8, the latter of which we’re still waiting on general availability of the SDK.

    • halberenson says:

      I can’t help wondering if Microsoft held back on the WP8 SDK to keep developer focus on Windows 8 itself. Sure Terry has long wanted to be able to keep WP under wraps until right before general availability, but they could have stubbed out a lot of the user visible things to maintain secrecy. No, I’m thinking conspiracy. But its only a theory.

      • I had never thought of that angle, however for Microsoft to hold back development of WP8 apps to focus developers on Win8/RT would seem to go against their philosophy of code once, and then tweak for the target platform (, and seems odd to me. Why not give developers the opportunity to launch integrated Win8/WP8/XBox apps all at once, selling SmartGlass at the same time?

        Also, keeping WP8 under wraps until GA seems odd. It means that the app store will be empty of WP8 specific featured apps, which is why we see an iOS announcement then an iHardware announcement. The new Nokia Lumia 920 might have NFC, but if there are no apps written to support NFC, then it’s hard to sell.

        I agree that today’s ‘reveal’ of Windows 8 is nothing of the sort and it’s just a GA party, because we’ve already seen most of the features (DP/CP/RTM) and devices. Today should really have been about all of the new hardware, but then I understand that OEM’s don’t want their new device lost in the noise, which is kind of what happened at the WP7 launch.

        At least with Win8 devices, OEM’s have been to truly showcase and demonstrate their devices (because of availability of the DP/CP/RTM), where WP8 devices may as well be wrapped in bubble wrap.

        • halberenson says:

          Seems odd to me too.

          Microsoft has run a limited availability program for the WP8 SDK, what we don’t know is how large it is. But I would imagine that they are making sure there will be a few compelling applications using WP8-only features available at launch. NFC, for example, is something that would be far more important to have a half dozen major players utilize than thousands of individual developers. At least initially.

  2. Tim says:

    Wish I could actually be a part of the “party” today…I pre-ordered on the 16th late afternoon, with a confirmation email stating it would come by the 26th, and now I find out it won’t be here till Monday. Not a huge deal, but MS could have handled the logistics better.

    • halberenson says:

      Check the shipper (in my case FedEx) status carefully. On the one I (finally) received this morning it shows an estimated delivery date of next week, but in the detailed tracking I see that it is at the local sorting facility for delivery. That would appear to suggest that actual delivery will occur today as promised.

    • halberenson says:

      Really weird logistics Tim, but at least we are getting them as promised!

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