In February, I contributed to the 2.67 percent of all global traffic accessing the Internet through Microsoft's latest Windows 8 operating system (OS), after purchasing a Surface Pro tablet with touch screen. Adoption grew that month from 2.26 percent in January, according to web tracker NetApplications, which jumped 1.72 percent in December 2012, sequentially.
While Windows 8 now sits in fourth place just behind Windows 7 at 44.55 percent, Windows XP at 38.99 percent, and Windows Vista at 5.17 percent, the slight sequential rise last month points to changes in the electronics industry that will inevitably occur through a more intuitive OS. It will change the electronics industry and its manufacturing supply chain through touch.
What we should expect
Microsoft expects Windows 8 adoption to quickly ramp among businesses, especially among those that build on the developer platform, but the most obvious uptick points to the ability to touch the screen and interact with the content, making the features similar to those found on mobile phones. It's a complete rewiring of the interaction between man and machine, which may take some getting used to, but should prompt long-term innovation through manufacturing and electronic supply chains.
Simply touching: Microsoft's Windows 8 and tablets like the Surface Pro
will stress the supply chain in new ways, particularly for LCD screens.
The faster OEMs build touch-screen compatible machines for consumers and manufacturers, the quicker Microsoft will see adoption in the touch interface. While Windows 8 opens the door to the future, it could shut the door on prior operating systems and hardware. I'm hearing more companies have begun work on compatibility issues that will allow people to plug a mobile phone into a touch screen monitor and keyboard to access content through cloud computing. The business applications, especially in manufacturing facilities, would give procurement and factory personnel easy access to information any time.
Possibilities and probabilities
In early January, Microsoft said it had sold 60 million Windows 8 licenses to date, including upgrades and sales to OEMs for new devices. When I recently caught up with Microsoft to ask their opinion on how the OS might spur innovation for consumers and in the electronics supply chain, a spokesperson said the company continues to certify devices, but declined to comment on hardware sales. It now supports 1,800 devices for Windows 8 and Windows RT
Demand for touch screens supported by Windows 8 continues to rise. During the last few months in 2012, demand far outpaced supply, and there was a misalignment between product manufacturing and distribution. The Microsoft spokesperson said the company continues to work with its partners across the entire supply chain to catch up.
All devices in the future will support touch screen, such as convertibles, touch clamshells, all-in-one machines, tablets, ultra-thin, and touch monitors. The devices will come in all shapes and forms with new choices and possibilities for computing. Google also plans to make Chromebooks with touch screens.
I bought the Surface Pro when I sent my Sony laptop in for repairs. It needed a new LCD screen. Half the pixels burnt out on the not even three-year-old screen. If I would have known how much I love the touch screen on a tablet, I would have asked Sony to somehow put one in my laptop. Now I have to upgrade my laptop to Windows 8 and purchase an external monitor with touch screen capabilities, which adds to the need for higher production on hardware that supports the new OS.
Do you use Windows 8? What types of features do you see the operating system supporting throughout electronic supply chains and manufacturing?