Ville Aho argues that Metro UI will kill Android

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Finnish mobile commentator Ville Aho has written an extended article on why he thinks Windows 8 will be important to the entire computing world and consequently Android will fade away. The article hinges on the convergence of desktop and mobile operating systems, with the explicit expectation that iOS and OSX will eventually merge and that Metro UI will unify the user experience of Microsoft's products.

I wrote in my previous article that both Apple and Microsoft are taking steps to merge their mobile and desktop operating systems in the long run. Apple is approaching this challenge by adding elements from iOS to OS X, whereas Microsoft has boldly decided to revamp Windows in its entirety. Like it or not, but the new Metro UI with its colourful tiles is what you will be using in the future. This is the way 90% of people will be using their computers from now on. If you are a PC or an Xbox user there will be no escaping the tiles. Microsoft will tile up your life for good.

That convergence is questionable. To the best of my knowledge (I'm not an Apple user), the only iOS feature to make it to OSX is an app store, which is more about control and content delivery than it is user experience. As for Windows 8, again I haven't tried the preview yet, but from all accounts the tablet and desktop user experience isn't so much unified as it is awkwardly stuck together with digital gaffer tape. As such, Windows 8's duality (rather than convergence) has been the main source of its criticism, even though Metro UI has been well received.

If we really are moving towards a post-PC world then doesn’t that mean that eventually mobile operating systems will replace desktop operating systems? And if so, isn’t it realistic to assume that the fittest, the most popular, the one with the biggest developer support and the largest ecosystem would be the one that would be the most attractive to the consumers also in the future? When comparing together all the operating systems on the market today: Mac OS X has about 5% of the market, iOS has 2%, Linux is at 1% and Android is at just 0.5%. Although iOS and Android seem to be the hot topics of the day, the fact is that Windows with its 90% market share is still dominating the market left, right and center.

Desktop Metro
Desktop Metro UI (source)

These numbers are another corner stone of Ville's argument, but it's not absolutely clear where these numbers are coming from, and it certainly seems as if he is lumping mobile devices in with desktop operating systems; but is he talking about consumer devices or computers in general? It's probably inappropriate to jumble the user counts of smartphones with desktop operating systems because the convergence that Ville expects to happen, hasn't happened yet, and so we're talking about very different device classes. Consequently, I fear that those percentages misrepresent the dominance of iOS and Android.

[…]The unfortunate victim in preserving the status quo is Google. They’ve had years to find a way to catch up with Apple but have essentially come up with nothing. That’s too bad for Google because Windows 8 will most likely kill Android on tablets for good. Unlike Apple and Microsoft, Google has no desktop OS market share that it could benefit from and that it could try to convert into tablet users.

[…] Android’s future as anything more than a smartphone OS is therefore very questionable indeed. It might even be that overtime having just a smartphone OS is simply not enough. Apple will continue to have a strong ecosystem that covers both smartphones and computers (i.e. tablets) and so will Microsoft. If consumers really do not choose an Android device because of its operating system but for other reasons, it means that the device could just as well be sporting some other OS. Then why not go with something familiar? Say, something that you are already accustomed to in your computer or home entertainment system? With Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 Microsoft makes answering these two questions very simple to a huge amount of people.

I'm more sympathetic to this part of the argument, as I transitioned from Ubuntu to Windows 7 just so I could cover Windows Phone 7 (for professional reasons I hasten to add, I still think Ubuntu is the superior OS in all ways) – the integration of desktop and mobile is nice to have, especially when you add in things like Office. However, we shouldn’t forget that Google's ecosystem is omnipresent, and so whatever operating system you're using, you can integrate Google's services. Therefore, Google would be okay only having a smartphone OS, and if Android remains the commodity product that it has become, this could easily continue unless Windows Phone 8 can take a significant portion of the low and mid-tier phone market.

You can read Ville's complete article via the source link below. It's an interesting argument, but I've yet to be convinced by its foundations.

Source / Credit: Why Windows 8 matters and why Android will eventually just fade away [Ville Aho]