If Windows 8 Fails, Ballmer's Out: Gartner Analyst

Dennis Faas's picture

According to a prominent analyst, Steve Ballmer's job hinges on the success of Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system (OS).

Gartner's Carolina Milanesi says if the new operating system (OS) fails to pan out, Microsoft's chief executive officer could find himself among those looking for a new job.

It has been more than a month since Microsoft formally released Windows 8 to the general market. As you probably know, the new OS features a completely new interface optimized for touchscreen devices like tablet computers and smartphones.

Early reviews have been mixed, primarily because those using the new OS without touchscreen devices feel hampered by the new interface. However, in comparison to Windows 7, most reviewers acknowledge Windows 8 offers improved system performance and more security features.

But it's the new user interface (UI) that has polarized computer user opinion and kept early sales relatively low.

According to one recent report, people are embracing Windows 8 more than they did Windows Vista -- but not as much as they did Windows 7.

Mobile Market Key to Windows 8's Success

Milanesi believes that if the buzz around Windows 8 fails to pick up, CEO Steve Ballmer will face increasing criticism from many directions.

To right the Windows 8 ship, Milanesi believes Microsoft must do a better job of engaging mobile device users.

"Absolutely there is lots at stake in terms of the mobile segment," Milanesi told the New York Post. "Microsoft needs to be successful in mobile, because it's where consumers are going." (Source: nypost.com)

Microsoft's recent foray into the mobile market includes its new tablet computer, the Surface, as well as the new Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system.

It's too early to say if the Surface has been a success or not, but early indications suggest the device won't be embraced like Apple's iPad or Google's Nexus 7.

In fact, some reports indicate Microsoft may have already curtailed manufacturing of the device.

Windows Phone 8 Devices Receive Solid Reviews

There's a little more hope for the success of Windows Phone 8. In recent reviews, devices running the mobile OS received a rating of 76, essentially the same as the Apple iPhone 5's score of 77. (Source: computerworld.com)

But Gartner believes Windows Phone 8 will have a hard time establishing a place for itself in the competitive mobile segment. The firm recently predicted Windows Phone 8 will account for only 13 per cent of the smartphone market in 2016.

If Windows 8 doesn't win more favor from consumers soon, Milanesi thinks Ballmer will be gone by then. In fact, she believes the Microsoft CEO could be in trouble by the end of 2013.

"If Windows 8 were to fail, Ballmer would be questioned," Milanesi said.

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