The Macalope Daily: Less money, more problems

It’s now a little more than a week after the introduction of Windows 8 and, despite being told how awesome it is by everyone, the people who aren’t going to use it are still not convinced.

Yeah, let’s be honest. While he supports choice and competition, there’s very little chance the Macalope’s going to choose to use Windows 8 of his own free will. So his critiques of it should probably be taken with a salt-lick-sized grain of salt, which the horny one happens to have on hand, if anyone forgot to bring theirs.

So enough of the critiques of the jarring user experience between Metro and the Windows desktop. Enough jokes about fans. Let us instead turn to the business of Windows 8, which is caught between Steve Ballmer’s head and another hard place that’s not Steve Ballmer’s head. Possibly an anvil, or something else very dense. Like a neutron star.

When Lion was announced, the Macalope noticed how Apple has been squeezing Microsoft on price. $30 a pop? How’s a company supposed to pay for huge developer conferences and lobbying the government? Apple figured out how you hobble a software giant: You drive down the price of software.

Horace Dediu pointed out Microsoft’s price conundrum on the latest edition of The Critical Path (which, if you are interested in Apple from a business perspective, you really should listen to).

You can see now how Apple positioned iWork components at $20 a piece… and these are analogous to the Office suite. … How are you going to price Office for the [tablet] device?

While John Gruber made a pretty compelling argument for why Microsoft should go Metro-only on ARM-based devices from a technology and marketing perspective, Dediu notes the real reason the company can’t cut the cord with Windows on its tablet OS:

I argue that they put it together like this because of the economics. Because they have to be able to charge $40 [for Windows] and they’re going to say to the OEMs “Look, this is a PC. It’s just a different form factor.”

That’s $40 for an installed copy of Windows 8. What happens when it’s time to upgrade?

CNet’s Josh Lowensohn points out the conundrum.

…one of the potential problems Microsoft’s strategy creates is the difference in update cycles that users have come to expect. Tablet users on Apple’s and Google’s platforms have become accustomed to frequent updates that add features free of charge.

Indeed they do. How exactly is Microsoft going to survive if they do that? Make it up on volume? Microsoft will make money on app sales, and with its huge installed base, that could really add up, if users turn to it like they have on Apple’s platforms.

Whatever the case, Apple’s being what the business kids call “disruptive.” The rest of us just call it “messing with them.”

[Editors’ Note: In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

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