With all the headlines in technology centered on Apple with record breaking sales of iphones and ipads, one can only wonder what Microsoft’s future is going to be. There has been a lot of expectations on Windows Phones and more notably huge investments pouring in for Windows 8 due to be released at the end of this year. What is interesting is that Windows 8 will seem hardware agnostic as it will look and feel the same on a PC, slate/tablets, and smart phones. In the most recent financial results released by Apple, the company sold 35.1 million iphones and 11.8 million ipads! Clearly, there is a trend to go mobile. And Microsoft is well aware of what they need to do to survive. Have you ever visited a Microsoft store? Head down to South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa and visit a Microsoft store. They have mobile phones, slates, PCs and laptops for you to test drive. The store is buzzing with people on weekends but not a whole lot of people buying. On the other part of the mall, Crystal Court, the Apple store is also buzzing with people. But every few minutes, someone is walking out of the Apple Store with a box or 2 in their hands. Let me get back on track. This is not Apple vs Microsoft or the rest of the world. This is about Microsoft and what the future lies for Windows 8 at the end of this year. If you have a chance to test drive gadgets running Windows 8 in a Microsoft Store or even Windows 7 on smart phones and slates, you will notice that it’s not bad. Performance is decent making calls or browsing the web. Office seems to work well on mobile devices. But one thing I find unappealing for Windows 8 is the tiled interface. The tile is designed to provide live updates for each of the installed apps or newsfeeds. For a powerful desktop or laptop, live updates would work well. However with mobile devices I’m not sure what performance is going to be like with live updates on tiles. What about apps? Apple and Google/Android have the market for apps. Microsoft has Mobile Office but would need to convince third party developers that the Windows 8 platform would be as lucrative as itunes and Android Marketplace. If you look at the news about Nokia mobile phones and Windows phones, there’s not much to look forward to. Nokia is headed for a free fall and has abandoned Symbian OS on their mobile phones in favor of Windows Mobile. Windows 7 market share is not even mentioned on the latest Nielsen report. Would 2 failing brands be a winning formula? From AT&T and Nokia news, sales of the new Nokia Lumia on Windows seems to be doing OK with regular shipments going to stores but not enough to make a dent on market share gains. Slate/tablets on Windows are hopeless with pricing more expensive than Windows laptops. But here’s something to look forward to. AT&T and Verizon are embracing Windows phone platform. AT&T has been doing an advertising blitz to promote Nokia’s Lumia on Windows and Verizon hopes to replicate the same promotion they have accomplished with Android phones. On an earnings conference call with Verizon, the CFO said “It is important that there is a third ecosystem brought into the mix here.” Verizon helped create the Android platform from the beginning to be competitive with AT&T who had exclusive rights to Apple’s iphone until last year. Manufacturers such as Dell, HP, and Samsung are re-engineering and creating new slates/tablets for Windows 8 due to be released at the end of this year. So there is traction and excitement with Windows 8! It still remains to be seen where Microsoft is headed with Windows 8. There are very positive reviews and receptions to the new Windows platform. With the trend of consumers buying more smart phones and tablets, there is hope that Microsoft may have a staying power if they continue to get support from the top 2 wireless carriers in the US. Would consumers consider buying Windows devices? Is it cool to have a Windows phone? Stay tuned.