Only time and sales figures will ultimately determine if Windows 8 is a success or not, and in the meantime, all we can do on the consumer side is speculate. Microsoft, however, is in a position to do more. The Redmond software giant could, for example, come up with a Plan B in case Windows 8 and its radically redesigned interface doesn't catch on with consumers. Interestingly, it doesn't appear Microsoft is too worried about that scenario playing out.
In an interview with The Seattle Times, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sort of dodged the question of what Microsoft's plan will be if Windows 8 doesn't take off the way the company hopes.
"You know, Windows 8 is going to do great," Ballmer said.
Asked whether or not he had any doubts about that, Ballmer said, "I'm not paid to have doubts," before letting out a chuckle "I don't have any. It's a fantastic product."
That's up for debate. In our formal review of Windows 8, we issued Microsoft's touch-friendly OS a 7/10 verdict. It's probably not as bad as many people fear, but there are certainly things we don't like about Windows 8. By comparison, we scored Windows 7 with a 9 verdict and Kick Ass! award when we reviewed it three years ago.
Ballmer spoke on a number of other subjects, including what he thinks about having to compete with Google, which has been known to pluck top-level talent from other companies.
"I think Google is just another big company at this state. I'm not saying they're bad. They're a good competitor for talent but it's not like they're some small startup," Ballmer said. "It's not like they have the charm of smallness or pre-IPO-ness with them."
The stakes for luring talented programmers is higher than it ever has been before. Microsoft is now aggressively competing with Google in the mobile space (Windows Phone and Windows 8/RT versus Android), and that's something that will intensify when Windows 8 ships on tablets.