win95 vs win8
Windows 95 was significant, risky and had a huge marketing cost for Microsoft because there was that IBM thing going on at the time. They'd been riding the coattails of IBM and moved into the OEM market as that grew but the big threat was their split with IBM and the OS/2 product IBM was then pushing. Should they had lost the customers and developers to OS/2 Microsoft would be an office software company today and relatively tiny.
fast forward 17 years to 2012 and what do we have? We don't have Microsoft growing in double digits anything like the '90s, the PC sector is saturated and then there are these portable handheld devices which do most of what people outside of business want a computer to do. They are not fighting off someone trying to take a bite into their main market, desktops, but it is Microsoft who is trying to get into the smartphone segment and the tablet segment. Very different than the days if Windows 95 where they owned the market and a big OS shift was used to keep another vendor from taking their market.
It is very interesting to see Microsoft forcing a change on the users of their market stronghold, desktops, in order to win entry into the portable device segments. Interesting because a loss or failure in those segments comes with lots of disdain from the desktop users. They're trying to push current users to the edge and hope the mobile segments are won over but if not, it'll be very dangerous with Apple and possibly some Linux there to pick up the pieces. I'm already seeing lots and lots of consumers telling me they have dumped "the PC" and are Mac users now and won't go back.
So it may be as critical to Microsoft's future as Windows 95 was but it sherley is not the same game and they are not in the same position as they were back then. They are still very cocky to be forcing such a UI change on developers and users at a time when it seems the world+dog is in love with Apple products. And that includes the press.