Windows 8 just looks to me to be another ME/Vista. The applications are all about form over function (I refer to them as the “Duplo” versions of real applications). Everything Microsoft does at the moment seems to be focused on trying to be like Apple. I can’t tell you how much this distresses me.
Windows users are all about function and a little bit of form as long as it doesn’t get in the way of function. Apple’s ethos is for people who are more focused about how a thing looks than how it performs and gives value for money. Why do Microsoft feel they have to be like them with Windows 8? Apple are capturing the non PC literate home user segment, but these people were never going to buy a desktop PC running Windows. They are a different market who just want a device that’s not a PC that allows them access to the internet and Facebook whilst on the move.
So if Microsoft want in on that market, produce a device and an Operating System that goes after that but don’t disrupt/piss off the great user base that they already have chasing a completely different segment of society. Desktop users may not be buying a lot of PCs because the power and quality of the PCs they have are still good enough to do the job they bought them for. Don’t forget, we are in a real nasty recession that is making us all watch the pennies at the moment. Once that passes and their PCs start to need replacing then PC sales will jump and probably make tablet sales look weak!!
Windows 8 applications are just for tablets, but I am very worried that very soon Microsoft are going to be calling all desktop applications “Legacy” and in a future Windows release will be disabling the old desktop and that’s it, you have finally killed me as a Windows user off.
I have been a loyal Microsoft fan and have recommended their products for the best part of 25 years and I must be honest, right now I am starting to think about switching to Linux and open source. I have recently changed my sister from an XP box to a new PC running Linux Mint and she is very happy with it. I have done the same for my parents, as I really can’t see them wanting or coping with Windows 8.
So how can Microsoft fix this? Microsoft need to stop, take stock of where they are and then in my humble opinion do the following:
- Separate Windows 8 Metro as a purely Tablet and Phone Operating System.
- Make Windows 9 like the Windows 8 Desktop (with a start menu ) and give us all the performance benefits of an Operating System for tablets that runs on a desktop x86 style processor. So Windows 9 actually runs better with less resources than Windows 7, but has all the chrome and usability that Windows 7 gave us. You can lose the Aero transparency completely, it was just another pointless thing that gave no real benefit to using a PC and I suspect it was trying to emulate Apple again (DON’T DO THIS SORT OF THING UNLESS YOU CAN DO IT WITH NO PERFORMANCE DROP AND NO POWER USAGE INCREASE).
- Stop trying to make everything run in the cloud and just treat it as a convenient storage space that can be accessed everywhere and demonstrate to people like me that it is 100% secure from prying eyes and the Government.
- Ignore Apple with the main Windows product, they cater for a different segment. If you are not careful they will seriously come after your segment (desktop business PC users) and then you really will be dead. If you want some of their market for tablets, develop your Metro based O/S and Surface tablets purely with tablets and fingers in mind and DO NOT try and force this onto mouse and multiple screen users who want none of it. If you could produce a Surface tablet that just runs Metro and has 10 hours battery life and costs $199 you would wipe the floor with Apple. (I would probably be keen to learn Windows 8 development as you would have a huge user base that would be worth developing games for).
- Focus all future Windows desktop releases on:
- Improving performance so that Windows works better using less RAM and runs cooler on existing CPUs.
- As a result of A above, battery life on netbooks and laptops improves to the point where running an x86 CPU on a laptop with Windows can last for a full working day without compromising on performance like we had to with existing netbooks.
- Improve backwards compatibility by developing technologies like Windows XP Mode further and making it as transparent to the user as possible. This will help the entire Windows ecosystem, as business users will be able to bring their highly valued and very expensive to develop applications easily into the new O/S, rather than it being seen as a barrier to upgrading. Net result, hardware manufacturers and support people like me will get work building new PCs and implementing the software on them and the economy as a whole will benefit from the activity. Users will see improved performance and better power usage encouraging them to upgrade. If you encourage the support firms and the hardware manufacturers they will all add together to bolster your business.
- Make incremental changes that are demonstrably improvers of productivity, DON’T change things to justify the price on the box (I am thinking of the change from “Add or Remove Programs“ to “Programs And Features” as an example, it is just change for change’s sake and meant deep frustration from users). If a thing works and it has been around for ages and people have got used to it and there is no benefit in changing it, leave it alone!
- Value your desktop user base, understand that if you want to make a paradigm shift like you are trying to with Windows 8 and tablets, that needs to be in a different track that does not derail the existing user base. Sure if it takes off and becomes the majority usage scenario then quietly and very slowly phase out the old operating system when the tipping point occurs.
I know I sound like an old fart who doesn’t want change but what the business Windows user needs is a stable environment that evolves gradually, rather than this horrible knee jerk switching to whole new environments that just disrupts and decreases day to day productivity. In practice it means that users have to throw away knowledge they have paid for in real money (books training courses etc.) and real time and effort slaving over a hot PC for years.