NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Mazel tov, Mr. Ballmer and Mr. Gates. On Friday, after what feels like 13 years of development, your pride and joy, the Windows 8 operating system, finally stands up and does its thing -- it ships to consumers and businesses.
"It's a big step," Bill Gates said in a video he posted about the rollout. "It is key to where the personal computer is going."
But like all fast-growing adolescents, this OS brainchild can be utterly, totally maddening. The computer software desktop that we all know is out. Nick at Nite-style graphic tiles are in. The trusted keyboard and mouse, as well, has been replaced by something called a NUI (that's "newie"), geek speak for a touch-based Natural User Interface.
As interesting as this product might be, the fact is whoever finds Windows 8 natural is probably from Mars.The silver lining that comes with this frustration-fest is that at least there will be no surprises. Windows 8 has been in development for so long, it is so well-documented and its message has been so hammered into consumers' and analysts' minds that the guesswork to the "isness" of 8 is gone.
If you have a question about this product, simply head over to the ludicrously well-documented Windows8Update.com, which reads like this offering has been on sale for years. Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) has even gone as far as to release updates before 8 actually went on the market. "We are pleased to be releasing a set of improvements to Windows 8 in broad areas of performance," Steven Sinofsky, president of Windows and Windows Live, said in a blog post back in early October, about three weeks before the actual launch. You can't make it up. Here then, is what these tired eyes say you can count on with Windows 8: Windows 8 will never, ever replace Windows 7.
No matter what Microsoft, Steve Ballmer or anybody else does, Windows 8 just won't become a dominant piece of software. Just take a one look at this absolute must-click database from Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based research shop Net Market Share. There, on the Desktop Operating System Market Share analysis page, you'll see that after more than a decade of deployment, the ancient, unsupported, utterly unsafe Windows XP still splits the market with Windows 7, with about a 41% market share.
And this is not just Redmond's problem. You will see in the same analysis that Apple (AAPL - Get Report), too, struggles to get folks to migrate to different takes on its Mac OS X. Worse, if you drill down into the data, you will see that the OS market subdivides into dozens of tiny niches broken down by browser, OS group, device type and -- a new wrinkle in the digital nightmare -- the search engine. That all means the world will never again see a one-size-fits-all OS as in the golden age of Windows.