In alternate reality where Windows 8 was called XboxOS….

Apr 11, 2013
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While the Rude Baguette tends to stick to covering the French tech market, I couldn’t resist speaking about a topic which has been bugging me for quite some time.

Imagine for a moment, if you will, that Microsoft had decided to call Windows 8 “XboxOS” instead of Metro, or Windows RT, or whatever it’s called today.

“But Xbox’s OS and Windows 8 aren’t the same thing at all,” you’ll tell me. And I’ll tell you that Apple’s OSX and iOS had little to nothing in common a part from iTunes when it launched.

“But Windows is a multi-billion dollar brand – you can’t just kill it off,” you’ll say, as many Microsoft Evangelists have said to me in heated discussion. And I’ll tell you that, like a band that swears never to perform again, you can bring a brand back whenever you want – nothing is forever, and people will forget everything they hated about that dried up brand, if you remind them of the core values the brand originally stood for.

So let’s venture down the world where Steve Ballmer (or someone else, as we’re clearly in a utopia reality where Microsoft gets rid of what should be removed) announces that Windows 7 will be succeeded by XboxOS, a fully functional OS for mobile, tablet, and desktop (it’s the same OS as Windows 8 today).

The tech bloggers immediately rip it apart because the Xbox Tablet (Surface) and Xbox Phone have different app stores; however, no one compares it to the iPad, because Microsoft isn’t positioning itself as a iPad competitor. Gaming bloggers hail it as the future of gaming controllers, and begin speculating about how Xbox 720 will integrate XboxOS.

Skeptical techies don’t pick it up immediately – they’ve got iPad retinas and Galaxy Tabs – but who cares: every Xbox gamer lines up around the block to pick one up. And this, every gamer’s parents and the gamers who are also working businessmen quickly discover that, just like an iPhone isn’t just for playing games on the toilet, so the XboxOS comes with a suite of enterprise apps that can be used at the office. Not only that, but you can have Boss Mode built into your work device: you look like you’re working on that important spreadsheet, but you’re just a tab away from your Xbox chat about the next Halo 7 league game tonight.

Sure it’s a bit crazy to think that Xbox users would flock to a device that shares a logo with their favorite gaming platform, or that gamers will inadvertently discover the business utility of their new controller/Facebook-checking device, or that this would subsequently carve Microsoft out a piece of the market that the iPad has yet to conquer – the premium game market. But in the end, is this more crazy than the idea that when I go to buy my next tablet, I’m going to choose not to buy the latest iPad or the latest Galaxy Tab, but yet another Windows product?

It’s not a question of product – Windows 8 is a fine product – it’s a question of perception. The very brand that built Microsoft to its height is now weighing it down; meanwhile, a new brand has emerged that people barely associate with Microsoft – Xbox – that is not nearly being used to its potential.