Technologizer

Windows 8: The Seven Roads Not Taken

How should Microsoft have retooled itself for the era of tablets and touch interfaces? A few alternate-reality scenarios.

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In 1995, consumers in Sydney, Australia go gaga for Windows 95, Microsoft's most rapturously-received upgrade of all time

On Friday, I responded to Paul Thurrott's report that the first few weeks of Windows 8 sales have been disappointing by saying that Windows 8 is a long bet — and it therefore doesn't matter much what the early sales numbers look like. Bloggers John Gruber and MG Siegler referenced my post, and both said that Microsoft's strategy of combining Windows' traditional-PC interface with new touch-centric features is a mistake. Their thoughts are worth reading, and the market may well prove them correct.

Me, I've been studiously avoiding making any predictions about Windows 8's chances of success…except to say that I think it's going to take a while until we know whether Microsoft's big bet is going to pay off.

But here's a question that's worth pondering: If Windows 8 is a misbegotten idea, what should Microsoft have done instead? What should Windows 7's successor have looked like? What sort of products should the company offer for the era of touch interfaces and tablets? How should it position itself to do well in the post-PC years and decades to come?

I can think of seven alternate roads the company might have followed. (They're not all mutually exclusive.)

1. The plain ol' plain ol' road.

Microsoft could have released a Windows 8 that was to Windows 7 as Windows 7 was to Windows Vista: An improvement, but not a fundamental reimagining. Such a Windows 8 might have introduced some modest tweaks to make touch interfaces work better. But it wouldn't have demoted the old Windows interface in favor of an unrelated new look and feel; it wouldn't have eliminated the Start menu; it wouldn't have bifurcated into separate versions for x86 and ARM chips.

Advantages of this road: It wouldn't have confused or alarmed anybody.

Disadvantages of this road: This approach wouldn't have done much to reposition Windows for a world in which PCs are looking less and less like PCs.

2. The “Windows 7 Lion” road.

Apple upgrades OS X more frequently than Microsoft upgrades Windows, but it hasn't done anything too radical: The operating system is still a conventional desktop operating system for conventional personal computers, and doesn't support touchscreens. But both Lion and Mountain Lion have borrowed lots of features from iOS, including the Launchpad, full-screen mode, Notifications, App Store, AirPlay wireless video feature and more. They're all optional; if you liked OS X the way it was, you can use it the way you always did. Windows 8 could have done something similar, riffing on Windows Phone features in a relatively subtle manner.

Advantages: It sounds appealing to me!

Disadvantages: Apple has vast numbers of customers who know iOS and are ready to understand iOS-like features which show up in OS X. But Microsoft hasn't had much luck getting Windows users to buy Windows Phone handsets.

3. The Windows 1.0 road.

When Microsoft introduced the first version of Windows in 1985, it bore as little resemblance to DOS as Windows 8's new interface bears to old-school Windows. And anyone who ran both DOS and Windows lived in two different worlds with two radically different types of applications, much as Windows 8 users do. But for its first decade, Windows was an optional add-on to DOS — nobody used it unwillingly. Maybe Microsoft could have done something similar again, upgrading Windows in a more conventional manner, but simultaneously introducing an add-on which would give the operating system a simplified, touch-friendly front end.

Advantages: Nobody would feel like they were having something unfamiliar forced on them.

Disadvantages: A new Windows new interface as an extra-cost option might never become popular, let alone pervasive. (Then again, Windows 3.0 and Windows 3.1 were extra-cost options, and were blockbusters.)

4. The Windows Phone road.

During the 15 months in between the launch of Windows Phone 7 and the first public demo of Windows 8, lots of people thought that Microsoft should release a version of Windows Phone for tablets. Then the company revealed that it planned to give Windows itself a Windows Phone-like interface, and it became clear why it hadn't released a Windows Phone Tablet Edition. But maybe there's an alternate universe in which the company's tablet strategy was the same as Apple's: one operating system for phones and tablets, and one for computers. In this scenario, Windows tablets might look much like the Windows 8 and Windows RT models we're seeing, except they wouldn't offer the desktop and wouldn't be compatible with any legacy Windows apps.

Advantages: Windows Phone is an excellent operating system which might be pretty nifty on a tablet.

Disadvantages: Microsoft's having trouble convincing teeming masses of people to buy Windows Phone smartphones, so there's little evidence that they'd clamor for Windows Phone tablets.

5. The just-Surface road.

Right now, Microsoft isn't just introducing a wildly new version of Windows — it's also going into the PC business for the first time, with the tablets it calls Surface. The first version of Surface runs Windows RT, which is basically the same product as Windows 8, except it can't run traditional Windows apps except for the ones it comes bundled with: Office and Internet Explorer. Surface competes with other Windows RT tablets and with Windows 8 tablets, and the whole situation is kind of ugly and confusing. It's conceivable that it would have been cleaner if Windows just went on being Windows, and Surface was a new and unique Microsoft device, running an operating system that wasn't available on anything else.

Advantages: It would be easy to understand — and maybe Surface would get more attention if it were an idea unto itself rather than a Windows 8 offshoot.

Disadvantages: If Microsoft released an ambitious new software platform and didn't let its hardware-making partners use it, they might be even more ticked off than they are.

6. The something entirely new road.

Or, if you prefer, the Courier road. Instead of tackling the tablet conundrum by reworking Windows, in any form, Microsoft could have created something from scratch. Something that wasn't designed to replace Windows as we knew it. At least not yet.

Advantages: When a product starts off without any preconveived notions or existing customers, you can do whatever you want without fretting about ticking anyone off.

Disadvantages: Unless the idea was BIG, it probably wouldn't go anywhere. And it wouldn't answer an all-important question for Microsoft: What should Windows look like in 2012, 2013 and beyond?

7. The almost the same as what they did, with one big difference road.

If you upgrade to Windows 8, or buy a new Windows 8 PC, there's no way to cautiously dip your toe into the new-interface pool. The operating system boots into the Start screen, and it doesn't have the Start button and Start menu; it's willfully unfamiliar in a way that gives cautious consumers and businesses a reason to avoid it. Microsoft could have avoided this by (A) letting users configure Windows 8 to boot directly to the desktop; and (B) retaining the Start menu, at least as an option.

Advantages: Windows 8 users could acclimate themselves to the changes at their own pace.

Disadvantages: You know, I can't think of any. By shoving people directly into the new interface and withholding Windows' most familiar features, Microsoft took a pointlessly heavy-handed approach which denies its customers the ability to customize Windows to their own tastes. It's a move that's bad for Windows users. And if large numbers of those users respond by steering clear of Windows 8, it's bad for Microsoft.

Even if you find things in Windows 8 to admire, as I do, you may still come to the conclusion that a sizable percentage of Windows users should ignore it for the time being. (Last week, my father asked me if he should upgrade; I considered the matter for 1.37 seconds and then advised against it.) But Microsoft, and recently departed Windows honcho Steven Sinofsky, deserve credit for doing something. Something rather daring, actually. Rather than dithering, the company chose a road — and now it needs to figure out how the world's responding to its decision, and journey forth accordingly. What matters now is what happens next.

81 comments
checking
checking

IMHO, microsoft hit the ball out of the park with windows 8, the problem is that it is future oriented.  Microsoft see's the trend towards tablets and touchscreens so they went that way.  I believe it is a great move to have a tablet like surface that can serve as a tablet, kickstand into a mini desktop, has a touchscreen, and has the ability to run a full operating system.  Expect for a disk-drive, there is nothing a lap top can do that I know of that the surface cannot except for hard drive capacity being smaller ( but who needs all that hard drive on a tablet oriented machine). The problem they may encounter is that people may not adjust quickly to the new UI, which is a shame because that will most likely be the future of computing.  It would be nice if metro could minimize and maximize multiple windows, if it could a full switch and app only software would be ok because there would really be nothing left to be desired, the tiles are very slick and customizable but presently lack the ability to be minimized and view more than two at a time.  I just think that windows 8 has unlimited upside and may make desktop view unnecessary with a few improvements. 


MR_TiGGer
MR_TiGGer

Seems like those who are most upset with Win8 are the ones who expected Win7.1. 

Things have to change and while Win8 is a steep learning curve after ALL previous windows version from 95 being pretty much the same thing with different toys. I stuck with Win8 and very happy I did, it's so much faster than Win7 on my testbed laptop, and combined with a SSD, it's  excellent.

Bottom line? I believe is to spend time with Win8 and open your mind to change, you may be very surprised how easy it is to use .... once you get the hang of it. But hey, the haters got to keep hating and zero sleep will be lost by me. Nice one MS :-)

JeffWestfall
JeffWestfall

As someone who has strugled with Microsoft sence the begining of windows, this new windows 8 really sucks. They make mistakes in the past and than corrected them, (98 &98SE) They screwed up with Millinum and then they made XP. XP finnaly got to be stable and mangeable but then the screwball teckies gave us Vista. It went away thank god and they gave us Windows 7. It seemed like the wanted to repent for Vista. The only problem I had with 7 was with the file manager always closing the tree. When they announced 8 I hoped they finally would make something stable again that we can use like a upgrade for 7. BUT no! These idiots make something that is trashy and unuable for all the current computer users. It might be ok in a phone or tablet,  but not on a PC. We talk about our politicans being out of touch with the public, I feel that Microsoft is the same! I would like a stable system that I can use and navagate like a PC and not my smartphone!  

JonathanNiccolls
JonathanNiccolls

Works like it's SUPPOSED to? Really?! Windows is DEFECTIVE, and NEEDS to be RECALLED! I've used Windows since 3.1, and ever since XP, M$ has had four incarnations to secure their OpSys, (which OS X (Unix), Linux, & BSD are), and because of their total disregard for it's consumers' needs, and it's preference for it's legacy programs, they have left me stone cold. I have never been more gratified NOT worrying about viruses, trojan's, spyware, adware, defragmentation, wasting valuable time to secure my OpSys, when that was Microsoft's job!!! Win8 is STILL insecure, needs anti-virus apps, spyware apps, as well as YOU having to defragment YOUR hard drive! M$ doen't care about it's consumer base, and it shows. I LOVE my Linux Mint, and unless, and until they put administration security protocols, and auto-defragmentation into their OpSys, I'm quite happy with my Linux Mint!!!  

sandyrossw
sandyrossw

I love Windows8. It really isn't different than 7 it just displays 3 different screens instead of clicking and scrolling. If I want a program I just go to the Apps. page with 1 click and they are all there beautifully organized. Plus my quad core 64bit computer finally works like it's supposed to.

bobc4012
bobc4012

Microsoft has run into the same problem IBM had to address a few years back. It had to find other areas of revenue as the PC era took a chunk out of its mainframe business. It still supports the mainframe and the various OSes still have the same fundamental core that they had when they were first written, albeit DAT (Dynamic Address Translation) was a major transition back then. IBM also learned that evolution rather than revolution was a better and more customer acceptable path to follow. Twice they tried to do a major innovation on their OSes. In one instance, their marketing division killed it because of potential customer reaction. In the other case, the planned innovation was so ambitious, the H/W - at that time - made it impossible to implement. They ended up taking the slow road, gradual evolution, which kept mainframe customers satisfied and on-board. They also found new areas of business revenue as a service company. In this, they had an advantage over Microsoft. They already had a marketing division that had direct contact with their customers. Microsoft does not. As a result, Microsoft must come up with new ways to keep up its revenue stream, even if it means shooting themselves in the foot with products that may not be ready acceptable to business (forget the home users - the "enthusiasts" will play with any new innovation - the typical home user will stay with XP as long as their PCs keep working and will upgrade (not by choice) when the H/W breaks and they have to buy new). Yes, there are those who bought Windows 7 by choice, but the typical home user only "upgrades" when they have to replace their current H/W. Tablets are popular because they provide a quick, neat way for the typical home user to get on the internet to do e-mail, exchange pictures, and surf the internet. When it comes to serious data entry, they revert back to their Desktop/Laptop. Microsoft will sell tablets to the enthusiasts and some typical home users who may prefer some of the features compared to the I-Pad and the Android and even to some of the businesses. But it is going to find it a much more competitive market than the PC business where they had a monopoly.

gabefc
gabefc

I think it's important to consider that technological innovations have a life cycle and adoption pattern that starts with enthusiasts and ends with laggards.  Furthermore, disruptive innovations introduce new performance metrics to existing markets, so judging their merit by comparing their performance to the market's current primary performance metric doesn't offer much insight.  For example, the first iPhone's call quality and reception was poorer than many flip-phones'.  Apple didn't position iPhone to complete with existing phones based on call quality, instead they introduced a new metric:  the app platform.Our need/demand for easily distributed and accessible apps predates iOS though.  The rise and spread of web apps on intranets and the internet may have been the first step toward migrating away from desktop computing, and mobile apps appear to be the next step.  Currently desktop operating systems compete on elements like hardware supported, software supported, aesthetic, security, and price.  With this in mind, it seems obvious to me that creating subsequent iterations of the same thing (desktop Windows) will only retain market share so long as other providers don't offer all those things PLUS something new, exciting, and useful.So, looking forward, Microsoft needs to innovate in order to avoid stagnation.  Given the trending popularity of mobile computing and disconnect between mobile devices and desktops, what better way to pull away from the pack than unify the platforms?  I'm well aware of the differences between Win 8 and Win RT, but I for one look forward to using the same app against the same data while I sit at my computer or while I lay in bed with my tablet.

MSBassSinger
MSBassSinger

There are 3rd party "start" buttons that can be used.  There is a transition period (not a Microsoft transition, but a hardware transition) from most Windows computers not being touch screen to when their users will be using touch screens combined with mouse and keyboard.  Microsoft is correct in taking the long view to have as close as possible to one codebase from handsets to tablets to PCs and laptops, to servers.  How long before the ARM design for chips catches up, instruction-wise, to x86 chips, meaning WinRT will have caught up to the full OS?

If you have a non-touch system, just leave it with Windows 7.  At some point, the vast majority of the non-touch systems will age out of use, being replaced with touch-capable systems.

Microsoft is aiming to be the best OS for when the transition period is over, and capturing enough marketshare during transition to make a profit.  Windows Phone 7, and now 8, is a superior user experience to iPhone and Android.  Which points out where Microsoft's biggest weakness is - in their marketing.  I am not sure Microsoft could do a worse job convincing users about their products.  Apple excels at marketing so much that they can sell mediocre to good stuff at confiscatory prices.

PeteDashwood
PeteDashwood

Dunno 'bout you, but I'm really getting tired of people boo-hooing about the "missing" START button...

The WHOLE SCREEN is a START button!  You can easily organize your most used apps to be on it (including desktop applications) and you can switch between START and the desktop with a click or press of the Windows button; you DON'T have to bring up the charms to do it.

And the performance has stepped up a level. The more I use it the more I LOVE Windows 8! Certainly the best OS out of Microsoft so far, and I've been developing PC applications since DOS 2.8... Including every version of Windows that has been commercially released.

If you want "same old same old" don't upgrade; Windows 7 Ultimate and Windows XP (SP3) are very adequate OSes.

But Windows 8 simply rocks.

They were right NOT to travel those other roads and time will show they were.

DavidNation
DavidNation

And why would Microsoft want to waste time and energy on making 2 separate operating systems?? the answer is they don't waste time and effort. They have created the best operating system they have ever made. It will also work on almost any device that will be made from now to along time in the future. It also works very well on older computers. I don't want to go through all the advantages it has and there are many. Go to my Blog at : http://justaboutwindows.blogspot.com/2012/11/using-start-page-on-windows-8-way-it.html and you will see how windows 8 is intended to be used. I also have several posts on what you can do to personalize your windows 8 and many other topics. 

roberto.rojas
roberto.rojas

Option 3. seems the best to me, the aditionall interface doesn't HAVE to be paid could be free (included in the licence) and chose it in the installation, as an GNU/Linux (and windows since 3.1, even DOS) user I use to recomend Windows for new users and unexperienced users, with Win8 I prefer to recomend some user friendly GNU/Linux distribution. As Linux and Windows user I find strange the path of MS, I see GNU/Linux making things more user friendly and making more stable and fast in the background and MS making it less User friendly and the performance pass unadvertised. WHY IN THE NAME OF ZEUS an desktop interface should look like an tablet or cellphone? they are different devices, Keyboard+Mouse+Display (different) to smaller screen+touch is so simple and nobody seems to see it why do I need an 16cm^2 icon, with a mouse I can hit something smaller, is a big waste. I'm all for change but not for worst not confuse change with innovation. If you make a sacrifice to learn something you have to get something back (more than pretty colors). Finally MS with every version seeks to make their users constantly noobs, almost all the user knowledge with XP is lost in 7 and even more in 8. Is like they are trying to keep them ignorant. And treat them as childrens. Thats why everyone has a PC and nobody knows how it works or even how to use it.

MarkKB
MarkKB

Harry, they tried that with Windows XP. It worked horribly for them:

a) The "Who moved my cheese" people turned off the Start Menu without even trying it.

b) Some geeks who did maintenance for their families, and even some OEMs, turned it off before hand, meaning they never got the chance to try it.

c) People who were used to using one got confused when they moved to a computer using the other. Microsoft wants to ensure a consistent interface, so every Windows 8 computer is alike in terms of usage.There's also phone support to consider: if they gave the option, then, should the user have trouble finding stuff, they'd have to figure out which one the person was using before helping them. This way, they can just say "Are you using Windows 8? Okay, step 1..."

snogret
snogret

Metro is ugly, ribbon effect from Office just clutters the screen,  and no fast way out (i.e. start button)

Partial solution: Classic Shell 3.6.2 or later, ShellFolder Fix to keep windows resized (wasn't in Win 7 either), StarDock 8 for a Start Button. Next drop all the Metro icons except the desktop.  Go to work.  It's still uglier than Win 7, but some of the crap is now out of the way. 

MikeMilo
MikeMilo

I think the biggest thing that Microsoft forgot is the corporate world. I don't know about you but I can't see a bunch of lawyers using a Fisher Price interface to hammer out big corporate deals. Sure, I'm positive some of you out there are lawyers and will tell me I'm wrong but I don't want you to represent me holding a primary colored toy thank you very much. Personally, I need the Start bar, I need the interface I'm USED to for workflow to be fast and productive quickly. I do NOT want to learn a new operating system on the fly and try to find where they've yet again hidden multiple settings in different places all during a deadline. It's a complete disregard for the fact that at the end of the day most people use computers to make money, not play.

And don't even get me STARTED on older folks upgrading. I can't count the amount of phone calls I'd get from my father asking where to shut the computer down. I mean COME ON Microsoft. Really? You had to HIDE the TURN OF switch under SETTINGS? How short sighted is that?!?!? But sure, lets let you choose the color lollipop you want to adorn your machine.

I think Microsoft is trying too hard to be like Apple. As long as Macs cost as much as a mortgage payment, the majority of people will not buy them regardless of how good they are. iPads are more along the lines of what people buy because they're pretty much glorified toys and that's what they're used for. 

Sure there's people out there that use them for business but not the majority and I don't think they ever will. Apple controls your experience which is why everyone has bought iPads. They're very hard to destroy in terms of the OS. A 2-year-old can use an iPad but that doesn't mean that a doctor wants to use the same interface for his business and Windows is what people use for business.  It still has the majority of the user base. I don't see Microsoft is so worried. I know people say PCs are going away but I think that's a bit short sighted. In my business; animation, no one is EVER going to use a tablet to animate a 3d movie. It's just not made for that regardless of how fast it gets. Sure there may be interface differences down the road but the PC interface as it is just WORKS. And it works WELL. Hell, no one has tried to redesign the wheel either because it WORKS. It will always be used in one way or another.

What they should have done in my opinion is make a new operating system for tablets and get away from calling it Windows. Surface would have been a nice OS name. That way they keep their main product which millions around the world already use and have invested in and know the interface for and would also attract a whole new slew of customers iPad lusting customers just like Android has done.  What they did is paint their flagship to look like a clown.

Windows 8 looks like a toddler's lollipop. And yes I bought it and yes I installed it and yes I hate it.

RichfieldMall
RichfieldMall

Windows 8 is having a similar reception to Windows 2000, etc., because users generally skip over (more or less) every-other generation, as seen in the browser wars that Microsoft had with Netscape.  A report came out that predicted this would happen with browsers; Netscape released a new version which was ignored; Microsoft stopped developing the browser and stuck with 6 for a looooong time, while actually gaining market share.  The best thing Microsoft could have done with 8 was to acknowledge that this was a boutique release, and kept their eye on version 9, the one that actually matters... (Or simply not release 8 at all.)

msbpodcast
msbpodcast

Microsoft delivers OSs to OEMs. I doubt that any enterprise buyers are thrilled at having to change a damn thing. (I know a few FAX machines still running with OS/2 because their requirements never change and the machines aren't busted yet. Enterprise buyers like to "fire and forget.")

Enterprise has made substantial investments in developing its own software, has shifted to out-sourcing or worse off-shoring the maintenance, and really doesn't want anybody upsetting their apple cart.

In the consumer space, the software turnover is just as abysmal and for exactly the same reasons.

thettk
thettk

I work in an IT organization and everyone had negative things to say about Windows 8 and curiously enough when I asked if they had actually used the interface they all said no, they read somewhere that it was bad. So I pulled out my Surface and after about 30 minutes of demonstrating what it can do there were a few people who definitely converted and now they are testing out the Surface for deployment. The reason is they saw the potential of having the start screen displaying only what they need. Lets face it, how many users care about anything other than using Office, checking email, playing Solitaire and browsing the web (apart from a few custom corporate apps). Show me a user who needs more than that and I will show you a tech blogger. Windows is personal (you can even take your settings on the road), the interface shows you what you need and when you need it (pinning of tiles and live tiles) and Microsoft gets it. Sales of PC's are down and the next generation is interested in true personal computing i.e. give me a device that I can customize for me and get what I need to get done quite easily and quickly. If you don't get that concept then you will knock Windows 8.

Denesius
Denesius

After about 22 years, I've finally decided to abandon MS, and this monstrosity of an OS is the final reason why. The core philosophy at MS is obviously a new OS every couple of years to keep the cash flowing, never mind all the bugs, shortcomings and fossilized routines in the present system: a dinosaur of a shell, based on a fragile and inconsistent registry (originally devised as a way to maintain backward compatibility with.... who even remembers?); print buffers that need to be manually flushed when the printer experiences an error; Word documents in email attachments that can be edited, but if not saved directly are in danger of evaporation without hope of recovery; mysterious subroutines that hog the processor perpetually without any purpose; a media player that in its twelfth iteration is still a cpu and hard drive hog, and still full of bugs. I could write a daily column on all that's wrong with Win-7, but who listens? Certainly not the Gates minions; they're too busy getting out the next dog in te breed.

checking
checking

I have to add, I'm using the desktop version of windows 8 pro, tablets may have different capabilities, but my point is that even the desktop could become 100% metro and that would be fine with a few tweeks.

gabefc
gabefc

@bobc4012 enthusiasts are important for technology adoption because they increase and drive interest.  Windows 8 enthusiasts and early adopters will be needed to catalyze the Windows 8/RT app ecosystem.  Without apps fulfilling existing mobile expectations as well as new innovations, Windows 8 will fail.  On the other hand, the enterprise utility of Windows 8 will manifest as line-of-business apps evolve to allow seamless transition to and from desktops.  When business users are no longer tethered to laptops + docking stations or desktops, their productivity may increase.  For example, as phones and tablets with email capabilities have become ubiquitous, many people participate in work-related email exchanges outside of work hours.  If the LOB apps they use in the office exist on a tablet adjacent to their email client, it's a short step from typing a message to inputting some data.  But it all starts with enthusiasts creating compelling prototypes to entice the public at large.

ramii19780529
ramii19780529

@MSBassSinger While having a touch screen can be fun - it's not a requirement. A properly developed Windows 8 app works equally well with a mouse and keyboard. I have Windows 8 installed on my desktop without a touch screen and I love using the new apps and the new start menu.

robert1
robert1

@PeteDashwood 

PeteDashwood Yes, Pete you still don't get it. Majority of people/companies is not like you who will spend time finding/reading and getting to know the OS. I myself the more I use it the more I love it. There is a but.. Companies will have to spend to retrain people and at this time don't see the value of upgrading. Microsoft should have thought a little more about the user experiencing and therefore I agree with number seven (7) to a certain extent (B) retaining the Start menu, at least as an option, but not the (A) portion that says let users configure Windows 8 to boot directly to the desktop. If A) was allowed then most people would avoid the mobile portion all together given that people on a whole are oppose to change. So Microsoft should have put more into creating a WIN-WIN situation and with time areas of Win 7 can be phased out of Windows 8.

joaomiguelcorreia
joaomiguelcorreia

@PeteDashwood 

You know, your argument is precisely the reason the start screen doesn't convince people of its merits. Why would anyone -want- a full screen program launcher? On a 25 inch screen? Really? And you say you've been using computers for that long? Wow.

What would be the problem to include, as they have done previous windows versions, a classic shell option? If you wanted a full screen launcher, you could have it. It might even come disabled by default. But taking away the option simply shows the road will end in a fenced garden, precisely the opposite of what the platform has always been. 

And yeah, i would still like to know the rationale for having -apps- rather than  programs on a desktop. But hey, what do i know, i've also been using computers since the 80s, i might have ended up as screwed as you.

ramii19780529
ramii19780529

@roberto.rojas I like what Microsoft has done. The desktop PC is dying - look at the sales numbers between tablets, laptops and desktop computers. Tablets outsold laptops in 2012 Q3, with desktop PCs falling way behind. Windows 8 is going to be running on the next big thing, which will be devices like the Surface. A tablet / laptop hybrid. Building an OS that targets the top selling platforms is the smart think to do.

That being said, Windows 8 looks a little different, but as another post mentioned, the start menu is still there; it's even labeled "Start", but it's full screen now and opens when windows starts. You can drop to your desktop right from there and add shortcuts to your programs on your desktop or task bar, but clicking in the lower left corner opens the start menu just as it always has.

Desktop Linux distributions have a long way to go before they can be used mainstream as the big ones lack support for many things some users might consider required. Any new interface can be "user friendly" if you take the time to learn it. Any change comes with a learning curve - remember going from Window 3.x to 95? It took me some time to adjust to that as well.

I've been using Windows 8 on my older laptop (that has a touch screen) since October and once I got used to it, I love it.

MarkKB
MarkKB

Ack, in a) I meant "the new Start Menu". ^^;

ramii19780529
ramii19780529

@MikeMilo If you base your selection of professionals by the color of the tools they use, you can be missing out on some of the best talent. As another post stated, using a stand interface helps with support, and as I have stated prior, the interface is great once you get used to it.

Microsoft is taking a step ahead of Apple (who has been spitting out the same thing in different sizes for years now). Apple has not been innovating, they need to do something new and different soon.

I personally think the new start menu is very clean, and easy to use with a touch screen and a mouse as I have been using it that way for over a month now with no issues.

vincentwansink
vincentwansink

@Denesius Your comment is mostly fluff.  Of course you have to save changes you made to a word doc, even if it is an attachment.  duh!  Show me any other worthy operating system that doesn't get updated every couple of years and is still full of bugs and based on decades old architecture?  You've just described the entire industry.

MSBassSinger
MSBassSinger

@ramii19780529 @MSBassSinger 

I agree.  A well-designed app can run both ways.  But most existing software, for the average Windows user, could be more difficult to use.  I think it is better to waste less time on transition cases and be prepared fro when non-touch Windows is as common as 8088 DOS PCs are today.

If I were writing an app new, however - then I'd do my best to target touch and non-touch markets.

PeteDashwood
PeteDashwood

"As screwed as me", huh?

I wouldn't wish that on anyone... :-)

Everybody has a right to an opinion and I have no axe to grind with people disliking Windows 8. I'm not on commission for Microsoft.

I'm just a bit tired of people complaining about somethng because it isn't like how it used to be. There can be no progress without change and evolution would falter if everything remained static.

And, BTW, I didn't "say I've been using computers for that long" I've been using them much longer than that. I started programming mainframes in 1965 and moved to networked workstations when they became availble in the early 1980s.  So if you want a pissing contest about experience, you lose. 

However, it isn't really relevant to the topic. People who are just starting to use computers, people who work with them every day,  people who have used them for years, developers and users, Windows 8 rocks for all of them. 

For people who resist change, I agree it is less rocky... :-)

joaomiguelcorreia
joaomiguelcorreia

@ramii19780529 : Where exactly do you get the notion that the desktop pc is dying? Magic-eight-ball aside, i highly doubt that who has pcs will simply throw them away. There's quite an established base. And about the number showing tablets and mobile devices rising? Sure, look out the window, there's a crisis going. People will opt for the cheapest available. That doesn't mean a)the numbers won't rebound, b)whoever buys mobile devices doesn't already have pc's or won't buy one to get -actual- work done (yeah, facecrapping and twittering don't qualify as -work-).

Besides, companies are not on the buying part of the upgrade cycle. They just got new machines for windows 7. Touch isn't going to magically appear on all screens -just because the OS supports it-. The OS has supported biometric readers for ages, and the real number of installed readers is hardly noticeable in the real world.

joaomiguelcorreia
joaomiguelcorreia

@ramii19780529  

If you base your criteria by doing something ahead of apple, on the pc market segment, remind me again what's the number of pc's currently running an apple os versus the number of pc's running windows?

Denesius
Denesius

Ok duh smart ass know-it-all, 'MS is the greatest thing out there': 1-send yourself an email with a word doc attached; 2- open live mail, open the email & double click on the attachment (word opens the document); 3-edit the document; 4-exit word (say yes when asked to save changes); 5-close live mail; 6- reopen live mal, and resync; 7- reopen the email & double click on the attachment. Voila- your editing has disappeared into the microsoft headquarters, never to be seen again. It doesn't even save the backup copy on your computer. Now that's what I'm referring to!

bantrtt
bantrtt

@vincentwansink Mac OS X, Linux? Denesius is right of course, I was given a Windows 7 laptop this year at work and windows explorer crashes and stops responding all the time - windows explorer! There are two major problems with Microsoft Windows that other OS's aren't shackled with: 1) the initial design decisions and codebase were crap, so every iteration is a compromise between starting over and doing things right, and keeping backwards compatibility 2) every technical software decision has to pass through Microsoft's uniquely flavored layer of corporate business/marketing managers, whose focus is more on keeping their corporate Windows/Office buyers happy then making solid software.The good news is that Windows 8 is the beginning of the end for Microsoft, and a new generation brought up on smart phones and itunes is not going to put up with this nonsense anymore.

PeteDashwood
PeteDashwood

Thank you; it is good to see some gentility still alive and well on the Internet :-)

No problem. I respect your right to your opinion and you are not wrong about change for change sake...

joaomiguelcorreia
joaomiguelcorreia

@PeteDashwood :

My reply was unnecessarily rude, my apologies.

 Just as you are tired of people complaining about change, i'm similarly tired of people praising change for the sake of change. To a desktop user, windows 8's metro interface doesn't add any value (obviously, imho). Everything it enables could be done in less steps, without loss of visual context, and with more complete programs (as opposed to apps) with the start menu paradigm. I'm not anti-microsoft either. In fact, i was quite eager in the pre-windows 8 developer preview, given the amazing product that windows 7 was. Also, i do recommend windows 8 -as long as- the user also installs something in the lines of classic shell or start8, and disables hot corners and the start screen. Those things might have their place in touch-centric devices, but not in the desktop.

ramii19780529
ramii19780529

@joaomiguelcorreia While Windows 8 apps can be used as Touch, I'm finding that many of them work very well with a mouse and keyboard too.

ramii19780529
ramii19780529

@joaomiguelcorreia @ramii19780529 I believe that most windows applications are designed to be used with a mouse and keyboard. I don't think of the new style of apps as "phone apps", they are windows applications that are designed to be used with a touch screen. Both have their place, and Windows 8 Pro lets them run together on the same device, easily switching between a laptop to a tablet. If you load Windows 8 Pro on a desktop, no one is forcing you to run the new Apps, you can run the old ones just like before.

joaomiguelcorreia
joaomiguelcorreia

@ramii19780529  

Hi, thanks for replying. Could you please point just one thing you can do with an app that you can't do with a program? I find the notion of phone apps in a desktop particularly obtuse, but i'd like to understand the appeal.

ramii19780529
ramii19780529

@joaomiguelcorreia @ramii19780529 Look at any sales report that compares the sales of laptops, tablets and desktops. I was just reading one a few days ago on Tom's Hardware. I was pointing out that the majority of new sales are laptops and tablets, not desktops - and I believe this trend will continue. Windows 8, while it works great on desktops, also works great on tablets, so it is like an all-in-one device - the Surface is a perfect example.

Windows 8 Pro also works perfect on Desktops once you learn how to use it. I've been using mine for a while and I love it! You don't need touch to use Windows 8 - My desktop doesn't have touch. It works great with a mouse and keyboard - just like windows 7 did and I installed all my usual apps, and now I can install the new app styles too!

ramii19780529
ramii19780529

@joaomiguelcorreia @ramii19780529 I'm using the features of both Windows 8 and Windows 7 - I was pointing out that I can use it like Windows 7 with all my old apps, which I need to do for development, but I use the Windows 8 apps (particularly the start screen Live Tiles) or for a quick reference to check if I have email, the weather outside, the current news from my favorite websites, if it's my turn in any of the turn based games I play, etc... all in one glance.

While refreshing a screen full screen with your internet connection may be slow, the connection speeds to the internet are increasing constantly. I don't have that issue when connecting to my Windows 8 desktop, but I am lucky to have pretty fast cable service in my area (http://www.speedtest.net/result/2336593058.png) - while it might be a fraction of a second slower to load the full screen start menu, instead of a partial screen refresh of a smaller start menu, refreshing the entire screen occurs frequently, even using Windows 7 when switching between windows. I don't notice any slowdown at all when using it on my local wireless network.

joaomiguelcorreia
joaomiguelcorreia

@ramii19780529 : So you're using it like Windows 7. Then what did windows 8 give you that you couldn't already do? Full screen program launcher aside? For every phone app there is an equivalent, but more feature complete, program, that won't take your whole screen estate and let you actually use more than one or two at the same time.

And have you tried to remote desktop into a windows 8 or server 2012 machine through a slow link? When you go to open a program, the full screen refreshes sure kill performance. Instead of fast-and-fluid you get slow-and-crappy. But hey, they thought that forcing a full screen launcher down people's throats, despite years of indoctrination to the opposite, was the way to go.

ramii19780529
ramii19780529

@joaomiguelcorreia I have been using my 2 year old i5 laptop with a touch screen running Windows 8 Pro to write these comments in Chrome, and I'm working with Visual Studio at the same time, just like in Windows 7... At lunch I'll load up one of the new apps to play a simple game like Robotek or ARMED! using my touch screen.

ramii19780529
ramii19780529

@joaomiguelcorreia Let me clarify this a bit - They should have released the Surface Pro before the Surface RT. All desktops and laptops should be running Windows 8 Pro - I'm not even sure if Windows 8 RT can be installed on a laptop or desktop - I didn't look at all since I am not interested in it unless I can run all my current applications.

ramii19780529
ramii19780529

@joaomiguelcorreia @ramii19780529 I wouldn't consider buying the RT at this time. I would only use the Pro version, which is what I have on my laptop and desktop.

I think the order of the release is backwards. They should have released Pro first to support all current windows apps plus the new style apps and when they have built up the library of new apps, then release the RT - but who knows what they were thinking?

joaomiguelcorreia
joaomiguelcorreia

@ramii19780529  

 I don't follow that rationale. The -programs- we use on a desktop today won't run on windows arm tablets. Those are the -programs- windows users are -used to-. Not apps. Single purpose, single window mostly, software are not the norm on the desktop platform. Reducing it to it, by using -apps-, is gimping the platform. Its like breaking the horses' legs and calling it a sledge, and then claiming it its just as good.

ramii19780529
ramii19780529

@joaomiguelcorreia @ramii19780529 I think you are missing what Microsoft is doing here. Windows is way ahead in laptops, and PCs, but not in tablets. That's been the domain of Apple and Google. With Windows 8, Microsoft gets to expose all the current upgraders and future windows users to their new interface (which is very nice once you get used to it). As you stated, they have the majority. Since Windows 8 also works very well on tablets and the average consumer is already used to the interface and applications that run on their other Windows devices, when they go to by a tablet it would make sense to get the device that they are used to that runs all the same apps they already have.

ramii19780529
ramii19780529

@Denesius This is a training issue. I think it would be a very bad thing if you could make changes to an attachment in an email and overwrite the original.

It might not work the way you want it to, but if you learn how to use the tools you are given, you won't run into these issues.

I never had any issues with Windows 7 crashing, at least nothing that was the fault of the OS, the issues I have seen have to do more with hardware, or malicious software corrupting things.

vincentwansink
vincentwansink

@bantrtt Windows 7 is a solid operating system.  If it's crashing on you, try uninstalling iTunes.  As for smart phones, guess who's just built the most innovative, most user friendly and most powerful smart phone operating system in the world.  It ain't apple.