July 9, 2012
I'd argue that the last truly revolutionary version of Windows was Windows 95. In the subsequent 17 years, we've seen a stream of mostly minor and often inconsequential design changes in Windows – at its core, you've got the same old stuff: a start menu, a desktop with icons, taskbar at the bottom, overlapping windows, toolbars, and pull-down menus.
Windows 7 may be bigger, prettier, and more refined – finally, a proper sequel to Windows XP – but it's also safe. Rote. Familiar. Maybe a little too safe.
Windows 95 was a big deal because it innovated, because it was a break from the status quo. It sold 40 million copies in a year. It marked the coming of age of the Wintel beige box PC hegemony, and in the process dealt a near death blow to Apple and its rapidly aging System 7 OS.
But we all know how that story ends – with the iPhone in 2007, and most of all the iPad in 2010, Apple popularized the idea of simple touch computing surfaces that are now defining the Post-PC Era. The best way to predict the future is to invent it. And to their credit, Apple did; that is why their star is ascendant. Kind of absurdly scarily ascendant, actually.
It's not like Microsoft isn't investing in R&D. The Surface table looked amazing. Unfortunately, it was also trapped in a ridiculous, giant coffee table form factor that no regular person could afford or even want. That's too bad, because the Surface table was actually … kind of amazing. I've only ever seen one, in the lobby of a Seattle hotel in 2008. I went in skeptical, but when I actually got to try the Surface table, I came away impressed. It was a fascinating and intuitive multi-touch experience … that virtually nobody will ever get to experience or use. The iPad also offers a fascinating and intuitive multi-touch experience; let's compare:
a multi-touch Surface Table priced at $10,000 that, statistically speaking, nobody will ever be able to see or afford
… versus …
a multi-touch iPad in the hands of every consumer with $500 in their pocket
Now guess which of these companies is currently worth umpteen bazillion dollars. Go on, guess! No, it's not Webvan, you jokers.
After using the retina iPad for a while, I was shocked just how much of my everyday computing I can pull off on a tablet. Once you strip away all the needless complexities, isn't a tablet the simplest form of a computer there can be? How could it get any simpler than a tablet? Is this the ultimate and final form of computing? I wonder. It's a display in your hands, with easy full-screen applications that have simple oversize click targets to poke your finger at, and no confusing file systems to puzzle over or power-draining x86 backwards compatibility to worry about. Heck, maybe a tablet is better than traditional PCs, because it sidesteps all the accumulated cruft and hacks the PC ecosystem has accreted over the last 30 years.
If you're Microsoft, this is the point at which you should be crapping your pants in abject fear.
It is nothing less than the first stages of the heat death of the PC ecosystem, the formation of a tidal wave that will flow inexorably forward from this point. But you can't say they didn't see it coming. Bill Gates, of all people, saw this coming all the way back in 1995, the same year Windows 95 was released.
One scary possibility being discussed by Internet fans is whether they should get together and create something far less expensive than a PC which is powerful enough for Web browsing. This new platform would optimize for the datatypes on the Web. Gordon Bell and others approached Intel on this and decided Intel didn't care about a low cost device so they started suggesting that General Magic or another operating system with a non-Intel chip is the best solution.
To be honest, I had almost written Microsoft off at this point, to the "whatever the abomination that IBM is now" enterprisey deadpool. It's not like they would disappear, necessarily, but they no longer had a viable horse in the race for the future of consumer computing devices. In these darkest of hours, I was actually considering … switching to OS X.
That is, until I tried Windows 8, and until I watched Microsoft unveil Surface. No, not the huge table one, the new one that's roughly the size (and one hopes, the price) of the iPad. I was expecting Yet Another Incremental Improvement to Windows, but I got something else altogether.
It took a little longer than originally anticipated, but what's 17 years between friends?
Windows 8 is, in my humble opinion, the most innovative version of Windows Microsoft has released since Windows 95. Maybe ever. And it's good. Really good! I can't remember the last time I was this excited about a Windows release, except when I was kind of obsessively running betas of Windows 95 and waiting for Windows 95 to be released. Don't judge me man!
What's good about Windows 8? A ton of stuff.
- Excellent, beautiful, "live tile" Metro multi-touch tablet optimized interface, as honed from two prior Windows Phone releases.
- Integrated app store with updates for Metro apps. Yes, it actually works.
- Fantastic new overlay notification system.
- Noticeably faster to boot, faster to shut down, faster to sleep. It's just faster.
- Awesome new Task Manager. I am seriously in love with this thing.
- Updated Office 2010 style "ribbon" Explorer UI.
- New copy dialog with graph of transfer rates over time, along with a visible moving average.
- Lower system requirements and smaller footprint than Windows 7.
That's just a list off the top of my head. But don't take my word for it. Download the free Release Preview and try Windows 8 yourself.
Now, I will warn you that Windows 8 definitely has a wee bit of Jekyll and Hyde going on, because it smushes together two radically different paradigms: the old school mouse and keyboard centric desktop UI, and the new school tablet and touch centric Metro UI. It can be disconcerting to get kicked abruptly from one to the other. It's different, so there's a learning curve. (Protip: using your mouse scroll wheel in a Metro panel scrolls sideways. Don't forget the hover corners, or the right click, either.) But I have to say, this choice seems, at least so far, to be a bit saner approach than the super hard totally incompatible iOS/OSX divide in Apple land.
I expect that most people will decide early on whether they prefer treating their computer like a traditional laptop, or a tablet, and stick to their guns. Fortunately, the tablet stuff in Windows 8 doesn't get in the way. Even if only used as a glorified Start Menu, the Metro interface works surprisingly well – just start typing and match what you want to launch.
What's even more amazing is that Microsoft is actually pricing the upgrade sanely. Can you believe it's only $40 to upgrade from Windows 8 from XP, Vista, or Windows 7? It's like someone at Microsoft woke up and finally listened to what I've desperately been trying to tell them for years.
In the post PC era, Microsoft is betting the company on Windows 8, desperately trying to serve two masters with one operating system. The traditional mouse and keyboard desktop is no longer the default; it is still there, but slightly hidden from view, as the realm of computer nuts, power users, and geeks. For everyone else, the Metro UI puts an all new, highly visual touch and tablet friendly face on the old beige Wintel box. Will Microsoft succeed? I'm not sure yet. But based on what I've seen so far of Windows 8, its pricing, and the new Surface hardware – I'm cautiously optimistic.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
Best part of Win8 is that we can deliver line-of-business apps to corporate clients so it will be much, much, much more than just-another-Facebook-machine.
I was successfully running the Consumer Preview on a desktop PC and then upgraded to the Release preview, which completely hosed my machine and caused me to waste a full day messing with it until I went back to Windows 7. YMMV.
All the nice improvements under the hood amount to nothing when the user interface is simply a mess.
Take the Metro IE for example. It has absolutely no intuitive way to figure out how to use tabs, how to split the view to desktop and Metro (which for some reason can't even be resized to anything but useless 1/4 or 3/4 sizes) etc. You just have to stumble upon the features by accident and even after that they're not that great to use.
Likewise the "Charms" bar has strange things like redundant features - running in a virtual machine, Brightness wasn't available. Brightness wouldn't be available on most desktops either I guess so why does the icon stay there? Likewise it often says you can't share things from the Desktop and even when sharing is possible, the options aren't exactly thrilling. Then there's still like 3 different control panels...Win8 is simply full of amateur hour UI design possibly by a committee.
Basically there is nothing to make the desktop user want to upgrade and for the tablet user Android and iOS provide a better overall experience because they're designed for touch input from the ground up, not this hybrid. I'm willing to bet Win8 will be a huge flop. Hopefully they'll listen to their userbase after that because nobody asked for a tablet OS from MS.
The Surface may end up being good hardware, but people will still prefer the software in iOS/Android because it's more user friendly. Depending on what it runs on, it might end up as a great "root it and cram in your favorite Android version" platform.
I certainly applaud their effort, and would also be cautiously optimistic if it weren't for the lingering feeling that this is (like Bing, Silverlight, and Windows Phone) another desperate attempt to justify being the last one at the party.
And I think you forgot something ... Windows ME. If that's not innovation, I don't know what is!!
All right, im sold :)
I've been postponing my first experience with Windows 8 but I think its about time I tried it out.
Thanks for your insight Jeff.
"Even if only used as a glorified Start Menu, the Metro interface works surprisingly well – just start typing and match what you want to launch."
When you compare this to the Windows 7 Start Menu, it seems you need some extra clicks to locate what you have found.
I've rather enjoyed Windows 8, to the shocked horror of my friends and family. I use the "hit [Win] and start typing" approach to Start Menu usage, so the Metro flow for finding and running an app presented no obstacle for me. Those live tiles keep me quite entertained, as a matter of fact. Once the multi-touch drivers and some third party apps catch up, I could see Windows 8 being a downright pleasant experience!
The reason for "the super hard totally incompatible iOS/OSX divide in Apple land" is that touch interfaces are *necessary* on portable computers (phones, tablets): no one is going to lug around a keyboard and mouse with them. Touch interfaces are also handy for things like ATM's and cash register where you use the interface for a couple minutes at a time.
But NO ONE is going to use a touch screen on their desktop if they work on it for hours at a time. NO ONE. I know Tom Cruise wowed us in Minority Report flailing his arms at the big futuristic touch screen, but your arms wouldn't last 10 minutes if you had to hold them up to touch the screen on your desk all day.
MS is really muddling two completely different computing use cases: portable devices where the only practical input method is touch, seeing as the thing is already in your hands, and computers on your desk that have to be operated with keyboard/mouse.
First positive thing I've read about Windows 8, and I'm glad to hear it. I'll have to give it another shot. I installed the preview edition on a Dell Touchscreen pc, and wasn't very impressed despite the focus on touch. The Surface tablet, though... I want very much. (But, only the PRO model that can run anything.)
The only thing missing is Chrome for Metro.
Windows 8 is a solution in search of a problem.
The fact that MS is trying to mix desktop and mobile UI's shows that they do not know what they are doing or why.
Perhaps they are sick of following Apple and KDE but they don't know what to do so they are throwing as much shit at the wall to see if anything will stick.
8 will go down as a bigger failure than Vista or ME.
The problem is, is it too late? Listen to this interview with AppCentral CEO: http://soundcloud.com/scobleizer/the-state-of-enterprise-mobile We cover the kinds of reactions to Windows 8 that he's hearing from enterprises (they make a great enterprise app store for all sorts of platforms).
Windows Phone had the same exact kinds of reactions and ended up with 3% market share so far. Why? App developers (the kind that are venture funded, like coupons.com, which got $200 million in funding and have a billion value) are telling me they are ignoring Windows 8 unless it sells.
We also don't know the price yet and with a very nice $200 Android tablet out there (the Nexus 7 is pretty freaking awesome for the price) and more coming from Amazon, I think Microsoft really is gonna struggle here and that you might totally change your tune if they don't get the pricing right.
Also, Windows 8 is so different that many enterprises might totally ignore it for a while, sticking with Windows 7, or "BYOD" (Bring Your Own Device) users will decide to go with the "safer" iOS or Android tablets.
That said, I agree that Microsoft is doing innovative work here, the keyboard is very nice. I just don't know that's enough and we don't know VERY important things, including the price and the initial set of apps.
Gabrielross: I totally disagree with you. I work for hours at a time on my iPad. Even when I have a laptop sitting right next to it. The iPad is far superior for many tasks (like interacting with books, media, typing short emails and Facebook statuses, etc, and even giving presentations with something like Prezi. Use the right tool for the job.
It is funny, you are obviously an MS fanboy, and have proven yourself technically illiterate.
My search for a technically knowledgeable MS fanboy continues.
Does such a creature exist?
Windows 8 works great on my laptop, for me its just a refined windows 7 in that mode.
I think the big change is a few years down the road, I probably won't own a desktop, laptop and tablet. It will probably just be a tablet that I dock to work in different modes. That is where Windows 8 and onwards will really shine, work at your desk with keyboard and mouse and then just take the tablet with you and carry on with touch.
Amen to the price thing. I'm still on Vista because I absolutely refuse to pay full price on what's a cosmetic upgrade.
One of the main reasons why I bought iPad was IPS screen. Surface has "ClearType screen", which in practice I expect to be TN with some cosmetics.
In the keynote, Microsoft said its pricing would be comprable to ultrabooks not tablets, so you would have to imagine it would probably be closer to $1000 than $500 for the iPad or $200 for the nexus7. That price point is not going to help windows8 or the surface tablet.
98 was good, me was bad, xp was good, vista was bad, 7 is good, 8 is ...?
I just cannot get to grips with the fact that it's a PHONE ui intended for use on a desktop. It just won't work. Also there's no way it will be picked up in the enterprisey stuff. It doesn't offer enough new features and all the IT guys think is "more training for the employees..." (yes most of the people who use a computer are utterly stumped if one single thing changes.)
Therefore I think that windows 8 will end up like vista did.
@GregGuida - The PRO version of the surface will be $900-1100
the ARM surface will be $500 - Right inline with the iPad
When I first saw Win8 I did a WtF that will never work, but once I got the betas and RCs installed I don't think I can go back and will be upgrading all my machines day 1.
What I personally hate (and won't forgive Microsoft) about Windows 8 are the missing APIs in WinRT especially for creating executable memory - which is effectively necessary if you want to write a JIT compiler.
For further information I refer to Mike Pall's (developer of luajit) rant about this issue:
P. S.: Of course I know that Apple disallows executable memory for external applications on iOS, too. That is one of the reasons why I still don't own any iDevice.
A week after installing Windows 8 CP I just removed 80% of the metro apps and start using the start screen as a glorified version of the start menu (nothing wrong with that) on my laptop and it's working exactly like Windows 7 was, but faster.
I just didn't find anything great on the marketplace yet, even being an Xbox and Zune Pass user, it's a preview after all.
Meanwhile I'm just happy to know Windows 8 can be used exactly like Windows 7, you will not need to downgrade a new machine because it's impossible to do whatever you're doing.
This is a great article, and while I appreciate the points you raise, I don't think I agree. The changes from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 were drastic, but at the same time similar concepts existed between the two, so it was not such a steep learning curve to figure out how Windows 95 worked. The big "START" button didn't hurt either.:)
But I've tried Windows 8, and I've found it so frustrating that I eventually gave up and booted into Windows 7 again. And I'm a .Net developer, so I like to think that I am on the adventurous side of trying new software and ideas. Saying that, I don't have a Windows tablet device and was running it on a regular PC. In my opinion it was rubbish if you don't have a touch interface. Maybe I need to spend more time learning the user interface, but I shudder to even think about trying to teach my parents how to use it. Especially with a keyboard and mouse.
On the other hand, we have a very well established OS that runs on the iPhone and iPad that my 3 year old figured out how to use in about 2 minutes.
I think Microsoft missed the boat on Windows 8, and I don't think it will gain any kind of traction in the tablet market. Not for a very long time at least.
They are trying to be a jack of all trades, and sadly mastering none.
I predict that Windows 7 will be the next Windows XP... hanging around well past its end of life date.
Windows 8 seems absolutely awful to me, unless you're on a touch device. Metro is a touch UI (and a good one) but Windows 8 on standard PCs will be a miserable failure IMHO.
I'm amazed Microsoft has gone down this path. Perhaps Ballmer had a stroke or something.
To anyone who thinks Windows 8 will be a failure - try Fresh Paint. Casual computer users will love this thing! It's really a killer app. I really believe that app alone is enough for Surface tablets to fly off the shelves. Oh, and the OS rocks.
Agreed. Small typo: "upgrade from Windows 8".
Robert Scoble: Was this sarcasm or serious?
> I work for hours at a time on my iPad.
> Even when I have a laptop sitting right next to it.
> The iPad is far superior for many tasks (like:
> interacting with books
> typing short emails
> and Facebook statuses,
At least for most people who use computers for work.
For the average Windows XP/7 user, the flashy Metro interface will likely be turned off by the IT wonks. And touchscreen interfaces - even multitouch - are largely for media consumption and artistic endeavors. (Few, if any, people are actually doing real business-grade work on an iPad.) Office workers don't need touchy-feely - they need a solid keyboard and mouse to use with their legacy apps written by companies who only just got around to updating their apps for XP and IE 8 (maybe) a couple of years ago.
At this point, Windows is entrenched. It doesn't have to be especially innovative, it just needs to keep working with newer hardware.
I can't believe you liked Ribbonized Explorer UI. Windows 8 reminds Windows Vista.
Windows 8 may work well as a tablet OS, which seems to be the focus of your post. As far as a desktop OS, though, I'm gearing up for disappointment, given the reviews I've read elsewhere. For those of you who think the desktop is dead/dying/obsolete, no need to read any further...
...for everyone else, I invite you to commiserate about what we'd like in a new version of Windows, and what we'll actually get. Here's my own take on it.
What I'd like to see in a new, desktop version of Windows:
- stability and security
- improved performance for common tasks (copying files, inserting and removing USB drives, browsing the list of installed programs, booting up, etc.)
- fixes to longtime annoyances
- noticeable, incremental improvements (that are indisputably improvements)
- the continuing ability to buy and download whichever version of Windows I'd like to buy, whether it be XP, Vista, 7, 8, etc. (without jumping through obscure "downgrade" process hoops)
- a subscription model for Windows. I'd like to be able to always obtain the latest version of Windows for a moderate fee ($40 a year?), and to receive incrementally-improved versions while I'm subscribed.
Unfortunately, I've lost hope that I'll ever get this from Microsoft. Here's what I wouldn't be surprised to get in Windows N (where N = 8, in this case):
- slower overall performance which requires hardware upgrades
- radical changes to the UI, in which Microsoft breaks as many things as it improves. (Windows N always has a few cool features which Windows N - 1 didn't have. Yet Windows N often breaks, slows down, or reduces the usability of many useful Windows N - 1 features.)
- deprecation of my favorite features (For example, as happy as I was that Windows 7 lets you set up and use the Quick Launch bar, I wouldn't be surprised if this handy feature was wholly missing in Windows 8, or in a Windows N from the near future.)
- a huge price tag, which is hard to justify unless I'm buying a new PC. (OK, a $40 Windows 8 upgrade departs from this negative expectation. However, I'm holding my breath to see what happens with this price point in the future.)
- elimination of consumers' ability to purchase older versions of Windows, as much as they may want them. (I want to retain the ability to to help friends upgrade their untimely-purchased PCs from Vista to Windows 7, whenever I come across those unfortunate devices.)
You are the 100th person that has described Metro as beautiful. It's about the ugliest thing I have ever seen. Primary colors with white icons? This is practically Hot Dog Stand 2012.
So stop showing bad taste, that is ugly shit. Second, it has no real functional purpose, (Metro), I can see no design sense or rationale behind the layout or sizes of the tiles which will all end up being ads anyway when you buy one of these things.
I agree with the notion that MS needs to be awakened from its doldrums, but wait do I really? Why would I want a typewriter manufacturer in the consumer space where it doesnt belong?
MS builds garbage for corporations who eat garbage for lunch and pay a high price for it. Im happy with them continiuing to do that, while I use innovative stuff.
MS has nothing to offer me that I will ever want besides an Xbox and thats pretty much that.
"Just start typing"...wow what a great plus for using metro. I can type shit I shouldnt ever have to.
is Metro a command line interface?
By trying to serve 2 masters (mouse and touch), Windows 8 creates an UI abomination.
Try changing the keyboard layout from Metro? You're sent to the Desktop. Try watching a video from the desktop? You're sent to Metro where the video will take 100% screen real estate and pause whenever you need to do something else.
The Weather app is everything that is wrong on Windows 8. The mouse navigation is awful (at least on my computer) and beside the tile, this application has no meaningful purpose compared to the old desktop widget.
When I first met Win8, I was quite excited. After 2 betas, I went back on Windows 7 (that's too bad, there are some very nice desktop improvements, and metro as a program launcher is much better than the Start Menu).
I don't want to give developers the idea that I will support the Windows 8 ecosystem (on a non-touch device) with my money.
I agree with those saying there is some polish missing. I don't like the fact that I'm snapped out of desktop and into Metro with some things.
But I've been using Win8 for my primary OS on my netbook for months now, and it's awesome.
Granted, it probably helps that this is one of the Acer touch-screen netbooks that they gave out at PDC in 2009, so the touch interface of metro is far more usable. But when I find that I'm on the keyboard and mouse, I haven't struggled at all to adjust. 99% of the time, Metro is great even with a keyboard and mouse. Desktop is a WIN key button away, and the performance improvements are almost mind-boggling.
Whatever about Windows 8, I completely disagree about Win95.
Windows XP was revolutionary, as it at last merged the consumer (W95/W98) and enterprise (W2000) platforms, and for the first time consumer machines needed a spec >= that of enterprise machines.
As a result, hardware prices dropped dramatically (at last I could buy a laptop with enough memory to run a 32-bit OS for a reasonable price), and XP was so good that there was no longer any compelling reason for further OS upgrades.
Your focus seems to be on UI design ("...a stream of mostly minor and often inconsequential design changes in Windows") - but these are mostly just fashion fads - Aero is cool, Aero is old hat ...
Yawn ...innovation? Badly unfinished combination of iOS and (I am sure Microsoft engineers tried it, even though you may not know about it) Gnome 3/KDE 4. I had the similar (and I would argue better integrated) desktop experience for couple of years already. It is pretty cool, ...
2013 will be the year of Windows in the tablet and the year of the Linux desktop... see the irony?
"the super hard totally incompatible iOS/OSX divide in Apple land"
Because MS strategy is much better: Windows Phone 7 (or is it 8 now?), WinRT and Win8 all of them completely unable to run apps from the other. At least Apple and Google are consistent on the mobile side.
I think Microsoft is marketing Windows 8 a bit wrong.
I heard this one statement at an Microsoft event, which sold Windows 8 for me:
"Use Metro for consuming content, use Desktop for producing content."
I hear a lot of people talking about how Metro is "all or nothing", but i think it's an valuable addition for the user.
For example, of course you can create meetings and appointments in your Metro Calendar App, but it might be much more comfortable doing it in Office Outlook on Desktop. But during the day, if you just need some information about your next meeting, you can look it up in the Metro App.
This "content-first" approach for Metro is new for the Home-PC and something the industry is seemingly moving towards.
I don't need multiple windows or applications simultaneously on my smartphone, where i just want to read a few feeds or browse some sites on the web.
But when i'm on my desktop firing up Visual Studio, i also have the browser open for documentation, i maybe want to look through some log files or edit some SQL scripts, all "at the same time".
So, as i said, i think Metro is more an addition than a replacement. But Microsoft maybe didn't make it clear enough with focusing the marketing on Metro only.
Interesting article, and the blatant fanboyism of various comments aside, it does seem like an interesting time for Microsoft. Personally having used both Apple & Android tablets, I found none of them to be ergonomic or well designed (and almost never consistent). Conceptually they're good, but we're a long way from a good user experience in my view. Perhaps I just have very high standards ;) I'm not really expecting Microsoft to change that, mind you, but I feel more competition is only ever a good thing.
What I found intriguing was that we're all lauding the concept of the tablet as something great because it abandons thirty years of cruft, without asking the question of just what we'll be doing in thirty years time at the same point, when tablets themselves have accrued all that cruft (or we've run out of raw materials to make them because idiots buy a new tablet every year and don't recycle them). What will we do then? It'll be fun to see where this new technology goes.
I used Windows 8 for awhile and found it horrendous on the desktop and am surprised Jeff is so excited about it.
1. Why would I prefer a single tasking environment (only one window, or at best a window and a narrow sliver of another window on my screen) to a multi tasking environment. Even if I usually work with a maximized window I still need to view a few windows next to each other every now and then.
2. Why get rid of the task bar? Why should I have to take action to view running apps in order switch between them or to view a list of tabs in IE? I mean I have large screen on my desk with plenty of room for this. I'd rather just click on the "other" app in the task bar, then start swiping all over the place to find it.
3. Similar to the above, but why is it better to not see the clock,volume,network status... at all times at the bottom of the screen? Why should I go the home screen to see the time? or wifi status?
4. You can ONLY install Metro apps from the app store. no side loading. I know how much you hate Apple's control over iOS apps. You wrote "Kind of absurdly scarily ascendant, actually" about Apple. Well, now you can have the same absurd scary control from MS. So, in Windows 9, when they get rid of the "legacy" desktop, you can forget about doing what you want on your PC. Only what MS wants (Or Apple on your iOS)
Windows 8 feels claustrophobic and barren. I want more information at my fingertips, not less!
I considered Microsoft Windows 2000 as an innovation making the Windows NT operating system nice to use and develop systems on. I was continuously following Microsoft and getting their Betas and Candidate Releases and Preview Release for Microsoft Windows 2000 and it runs as a nice Virtual Machine :).
I'll still get a copy anyway to run as a VM on my MacbookPRO. I still have useful apps that only run on MS-Windows and I am a regular MS-Access user.
I must be in a parallel universe if windows 95 is considered innovative. I know it was very successful, but innovative? I don't think so. There is a reason that Mac users referred to windows 95 as Mac 87, it was lifted wholesale from apple, nothing changes.
But I gotta say, the metro stuff does seem new and interesting, I have never used the metro UI, but at first glance I think the "I" word does apply here, this is very unusual for microsoft and I wish them well.
you're the first person I've seen to write a positive review of windows 8. It seems like if you're using a touch interface, you should be using a tablet, which is the way things are headed as far as personal computers are going.
I have no idea how this will be useful in an office environment though. Are we going to be stuck with windows 7 for was long as we were stuck with XP? What am I saying, I'm typing this at work on my PC running XP X(
It will be kind of cool to have the same experience whether you are using your PC, Phone, or Tablet. (Assuming you use Windows 8, Windows Phone and the Surface tablet) There won't be any need to learn one OS for your PC and one OS for your phone.
I think it's a good idea. After all, if I'm using Windows 8 at home and it comes time to buy a new phone, I would be much more open to buying a Windows Phone. Because with a Windows Phone it would seem like I was able to have that same desktop experience even on the go. Personally, I like the idea of having the same/similiar user experience across devices.
Does windows 8 still have the command prompt available so you have all three. UI options.
I still use it when creating ebooks with kindlegen.
I'll echo the previous comments about innovation in the UI vs. actual innovation in the OS and add this observation:
Every single version of Windows post-95 has had a one-click option to return the default UI to what the last version looked like. Every. Single. One. It's already been reported that the registry key that controls this is in the Windows 8 consumer preview and works as one would expect.
The Metro UI is for tablets and touch screens, period. If you're running Win8 on a desktop, just turn it off.
"It took a little longer than originally anticipated, but what's 17 years between friends?"
Actually, that should be "17 years and counting". Microsoft hasn't released anything yet, as far as the Surface tablet is concerned. No one was allowed to touch the clever keyboard cover, and no one had a real hands-on session with one. Compare this to the Google Nexus 7, which was handed out to 6,000 beta testers a couple of weeks ago, and will be in the store by the end of the month.
They seem to have forgotten that some people multitask.
I frequently have a video or stream playing on one monitor, browser open in another... and chat open in the background or on a third.
Also, they failed to learn the important lesson from apple. Keep your mobile and desktop interfaces separate. iOS sucks in my opinion, I hate it with a passion, but it isn't OS X. The apple desktop is a desktop, it isn't on their phone or tablet, it is tailored to its users. Windows 8 is a bastard of both desktop and mobile, one that feels broken and disjointed.
I think individual consumers will adopt Windows 8, the problem is business users. I know many IT people have trouble helping business users use the current, classic version of Windows.
IT folks are going to look forward to teaching business users a whole new UI. Since they often times old the keys to whether a new operating system will be installed, I think Win8 will take a long time to infiltrate the enterprise.
Windows in not only the buttons, icons, and menus that you see. The operating system kernel is more important than that, and I'd say that Windows 2000 (or NT if you wish) was more "revolutionary" than Windows 95--it was the first version that didn't crash like crazy. A robust kernel is underappreciated: if it works, you don't notice it's there. But if it crashes twice a day and it forces you to reboot for silly reasons, you sure do.
@Greggman, your reply to Scoble is exactly on target. Not a single one of Robert's examples of things that are easy to to on the iPad is a good example of the majority of things that billions of people do with a computer every single day at work.
For the sake of argument, of course, we know that the nature of line-of-business applications can change over time to become iPad (or Surface) friendly, but if it ever happens, it's a change that will take place over a decade or more. Neither Apple nor Microsoft can count on it to move people onto touch computing platforms within the next few years.
All the gushing in the world will not pull the wool over the eyes of everyday computer users, who can generalize from their own experience that, in 2012 and for the near future, the vast majority of interaction with the computer is going to be faster--much faster--with the keyboard and mouse than with a touchscreen.
Where the touchscreen is better, it's pleasantly better than a keyboard and mouse. But where the keyboard and mouse are better, there's simply no honest comparison.
@Nes Anderson makes a good point re: Metro. People with more than one screen will be vastly disappointed. Metro apps only fire up on your main screen. You cannot move them from one screen to the other, or run them on two screens at the same time.
It's self-imposed limitations like this that will have otherwise-sane users waiting for the next opportunity to re-introduce Mr. Ballmer to a fresh dozen eggs.
> a multi-touch iPad in the hands of every consumer with $500 in their pocket
iPad starts at $399, not $500. The $399 model has a better display than Surface and exponentially more apps and will sell many more units.
> Excellent, beautiful, "live tile" Metro multi-touch tablet optimized interface,
> as honed from two prior Windows Phone releases.
And one Zune release.
Adding Metro to Zune reduced unit sales. Adding Metro to Windows phones reduced unit sales.
There are no apps. Microsoft has almost nothing to offer the ARM architecture user.
You're excited about Windows 8, but you are the only one I know who is.
> was actually considering … switching to OS X.
I know you are trying to make a joke here, but it isn't funny to people who know both OS X and Windows and know how much time you lost over the past 10 years, and especially the last 5, when the high-end Wintel market died and Windows started shipping on cardboard only. I'm trying to imagine hiring someone who still uses Windows in 2012 — especially a coder. Nope. Can't imagine it. Maybe you are that one guy who can chain smoke and also run marathons, but everyone else on Windows right now is just doubled over, coughing all the time.
Maybe in 5 years, Windows 8 will catch up to iPad today, but Microsoft is not even trying to match the Mac. Windows ASP is only $400, there are almost no high-end sales. MacBook Air and MacBook Pro are totally unopposed by any competition. There is not even a high-end Windows to go on a high-end Wintel apache if such a thing existed. So what is the appeal of using iPad and Surface but not Mac? What is the appeal of using a 17 year old system that has seen little improvement? Is it smoking? We're supposed to admire that you can use Windows in 2012 and still feed yourself because you are really that great of a coder? It just makes me think you are not focused enough on the quality of your work if you do not concern yourself with the quality of your tools. It doesn't impress me at all.
"Heck, maybe a tablet is better than traditional PCs, because it sidesteps all the accumulated cruft and hacks the PC ecosystem has accreted over the last 30 years"
Bam! That's the nail, right there, and you just hit it. In order to truly move forward, you need a clean slate.
The problem for Windows 8 is that it brings the cruft with it. And for a reason, too. For the thousands upon thousands of companies running Windows, they are enslaved to a legacy of thousands of crappy applications.
To break away from our desks, we need to radically re-imagine how we work, how we interact with technology, what tasks we perform and where we'll be when we're doing them.
This is beyond most people. It's beyond most CIOs and most programmers and IT staff. The majority of people can't imagine a room in a house they're buying in a different colour, let alone how they're going to build the apps of the deskless future.
And I'm not just talking about corporate, in-house software. The ISVs themselves usually churn out garbage - the pricier or more niche it is, the worse the software. Even massive, rich technology companies produce crap - you mentioned IBM, but Oracle, too is like a company stuck in 1997.
I'd love to see Microsoft completely reinvent Windows, to a point where the PC architecture could change beneath it. That'd be amazing. But if a company is faced with having to rebuild or repurchase all their apps again, then they'll have the opportunity to move away from Windows.
Microsoft are playing a canny game with Windows 8. They need to be revolutionary and conservative. They need to be Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and that's exactly what you see.
Its also why Visual Studio 2012 Express is WinRT only. They know they need to push people forward, push ISVs forward, push corporations, and I think you'll see more of this.
Corporate IT needs to be coerced into the future. The decision-makers in these companies are usually the dimmest bulbs, detached from reality by their endless meetings, droll budget presentations and empire-building, while their own internet content filter prevents them being part of the conversation - these people are still rolling out VMWare while the kids on the street are trailblazing with HTML5 and 4G.
This is one of the most interesting times to live through since the emergence of the internet. The divergence of tablet and online with cruft and offline, and Windows 8 has a leg on each side of the rift.
Hopefully they won't fall down the hole.
I still think that the best computer shell ever designed was Windows 95 Explorer. It got improvements in the next versions, but the original polished design has also been watered down (i.e the new start menu or Windows 7 dock-like taskbar). I really love this design, and it's painful to see that it's gone in Windows 8. Sure, Metro is good for tablets and touch interaction, but not for the "traditional" personal computer tasks.
>>What's even more amazing is that Microsoft is actually pricing the upgrade sanely. Can you believe it's only $40 to upgrade from Windows 8 from XP, Vista, or Windows 7? It's like someone at Microsoft woke up and finally listened to what I've desperately been trying to tell them for years.
Sorry... I beat you to it by several months. ;)
Windows 8 and the Surface tablet is the only reason I haven't ordered a new MacPro Retina yet. I hope it comes out soon so I can decide.
By the way, I have never been less excited about a Windows release. I'm still a PC guy. I owned an iPad and sold it. Now I own an Android tablet, it's somehow better and I use it daily on a regular basis. But... overlapping windows? Real multitasking? A big display with the browser next to a text editor next to a dictionary next to a messenger chat? Or a TV window in a corner of the screen (I still happily own a Media Center with a TV tuner in my desktop PC) watching the news while I'm doing something else? Anything of that is possible on a tablet. I don't like the single monotasking of the post-PC era. I'm a PC guy.
It is amazing clear to me reading some of the comments in this forum that people love to attack Metro. I guess when I think of RT on my desktop I feel the same. But to act like on your home PC you wont be able to do every single thing on Windows 8 (and more) just shows how little time you spend actually using Windows 8. Yes Windows 8 has a simplified metro cover but you have an improved Windows below. All your apps work - Media Center, Multitasking, Task Bar - umm everyone that says well I still wants these things is a moron. You still have them. I have been using Windows 8 since they have allowed it and it just a better experience once you get over yourself and your inability to change. Yes its you, not Windows 8.
Windows 95 was not innovative. Windows 1 was because it went from the old command line DOS to the be the first mass market graphical UI. Windows 3 had a bit more style and was more business like than 1. Since then it always been the same windows. Anyone using Windows 3 could use Windows 7 without much trouble, all the UI concepts are the same though some stuff might be done in different ways or in different places but the user will not be lost.
Ah yes Windows 8 - "the El Camino OS"
I know that you're dedicated to the MSFT stack Jeff but I think you're trying to find answers where there is only questions.
Currently 99.999% of windows users use a "desktop" PC with a keyboard and mouse... In fact MSFT has spent the better part of 20 years getting us used to doing everything on a PC this way. I can't see a point ever in my life when I would dream of letting anyone (including myself!) put greasy fingers all over my screen... Never! More importantly I'd lose all the precision of my mouse and the speed of my keyboard... Which I use constantly for all my real work.
MSFT realized they missed the tablet market completely and decided they needed to compete... But what could MS bring to the tablet that would provide "Value Add" over what other tablets already had? - windows desktop apps! Bingo! Make it so that windows runs too (watch how useless this really is on a tablet in NCIS or on any existing hardware currently on the market)
Ok that's their business plan and in all honesty they didn't have any better options.
But when they made their touch UI (Metro) which basically steals from their failed mobile phone platform it was a good choice for touch but pointless for desktops... And that's where they blew it.
Now as a user I have to get past the metro UI in order to actually do any work... Eg use Excel, AutoCAD, Photoshop, Programming, Database, PowerPoint, organize files, edit audio and video etc.
Don't get me wrong - I want the instant boot time... I want the task manager and the IE10 browser capabilities (spellcheck a decade late!)... On my desktop... But I don't want metro... I don't want the compromised browsing experience in Metro IE, I don't want my start bar hidden from view in desktop mode.
Similarly if I was going to buy a windows tablet I'd want the touch UI and ability to access a real filesystem but most of the "windows 7 port" would be useless on such a small device screen without mouse input and a well designed zoom.
And don't even get me started on the failed attempt at ARM based Windows tablets which can't run any of your existing apps in the "real windows mode" thus totally defeating any reason to get a windows tablet! I'm very curious as to how MSFT plans to market them as I expect most customers would be pi$$ed off if they find out that their brand new windows tablet doesn't run their previously purchased apps.
I think windows 8 will be like Vista... I'd rather wait till I can upgrade/patch to Windows 9 - Desktop Edition Ultimate.
For the life of me, I can't understand why MS didn't just make Metro a shell that could be launched from the regular Windows desktop instead of doing it the other way round. The shell is not the operating system, it's only the UI the OS presents and presumably there could be any number of those. The OS is all the services and systems the OS supports.
As it is now, Windows 8 disrupts the traditional mouse and keyboard desktop which will simply lead to no one who needs that upgrading. MS won't mind because it'll still sell all those guys Win 7 and Win 8 will go to all the touch desktops/tablets it was never able to support before.
I think a notable point about your Windows 95 commentary is that they didn't really innovate most of that. Most of the innovation in Windows 95 was a cheap copy of existing innovation that took place in the far-less-popular OS/2 2.x from IBM.
Microsoft and IBM were partners in the OS/2 project up until a short while before (before the better UI), when they split up and IBM kept going with the concept while MS took the code they had rights to at that point as the basis for the WinNT line. Not just menu systems and launching and all that, but even the concept of desktop shortcuts came from OS/2.
Win95 was revolutionary at the time for the Windows crowd, but don't think for a second MS thought all that up on their own.
I'm amazed that someone I believe is a full-time-and-a-half programmer, par excellence, Jeff Atwood, would be so fascinated by Metro, which I, in my head, think of as "Rectanglero."
Reading the comments, I come away quite confused as to what extent multi-monitors will be able to be used in Win 8, each with its own app(s), or multiple window(s) per app, on both ARM and Intel based computers.
Personally, I never want to touch any screen; and I am hoping that the high-precision gestural control-at-a-distance technology now being developed at Leap Motion http://leapmotion.com/ and, I assume, in behind-high-security labs at the usual suspect's R&D secret skunkworks will open a new world of gestural control without dirty fingers on screens. Obviously, my bias.
For PC-side programmers with substantial investments in .NET, WinForms, WPF, SilverLight, etc. the upcoming Win/RT is a donnybrook, and I'm surprised Jeff did not go into, in more depth, the implications of this change for programmer employment, and re-training, and re-working/re-compiling of existing apps.
Being an ancient one, I have trouble forgetting that most of what we are seeing now as "the latest great thing" was well worked out before 1970 at Xerox Parc (touch, and multi-touch, being the exceptions ? ... with the exception that I believe Parc did have light-pens styli working on the Alto or Star ... not totally sure on that).
And if there's any one current "catch-phrase" that does describe the "functional divide" between touch-driven small form-factor devices, and desktops with large monitors, keyboards, mouse or trackpad for precision control: surely it is the, now almost a cliche: "content creation vs. content consumption."
Microsoft suffer from the most enviable of all corporate afflictions. Success! In fact so damn successful that they are like the Mendoza family, running ot of places to stash their (ill-gotten?) gains.
Once you reach this point (and few corporations ever do) you are faced with the almost inevitable future that can only be downhill. There is no where further up to go; and that causes some problems with certain kinds of corporate egos and shareholders. Microsoft also have had to deal with 2 other major issues. The style and scope of the projects required to create their new products are incredibly complex ( as much as I hated Vista and am appalled that they could spend so much money ( how much was it by the way?) on a piss-poor product while sitting on a absolute motza of cash, i also know that dropping another billion or so would have had no discernible impact on the project (read the Mythical Man Month).
They have reached the limit of their's and possibly current human ability to manage projects (the haldron collider seems to have gone well though...). The other issue is speed of change in the technology and market.
So apart from trying to be cool (they are not, can not, never will be .. look in the mirror Steve, Bill) and follow the current trends, what can Microsoft do to leverage their tremendous cash reserves, technology base, billions of customers and millions of (underpaid and stressed) analysts, developers and support people? while still making money.
I dont know for sure but getting confused about wether your OS is for business or consumers doesnt look like a good call to me. They keep doing it! They can never separate the requirements and while I understand the advantage of sales volume they just never get it right. The consumer version is always crap and the business version suffers because of it.
Microsoft, through insight, timing and a fair amount of borderline un-ethical corporate behaviour actually ensured that we all use windows for (most) work purposes (up till Saas because a reality). Millions of legacy applications rely on this but the cost to move us into the current century is horrific but the support costs and productivity bottlenecks in that old world are breathtakingly huge.
They got us here. Now can they do something monumental to really shift the way that business works, something that harnesses all that resorvoir of technology, skills and customers or will they fritter it away on trying to be cool?
I agree with much of the article, I'm actually quite excited about Windows 8.
Like most people I have an iPad which I carry around with me to most places but I've found that over time I've been using it less and less. In fact, I barely open it at all these days although apps like BBC iPlayer are handy for keeping the kids quiet if there's a decent web connection.
The novelty has worn off, if I want to do something productive then I still need my laptop while if I need some information or to quickly check my email while on the move then my phone is always more convenient. The iPad is just this redundant piece of kit which doesn't really serve any pressing need in my life except possibly as a convenient digital book store. That's quite an expensive book storage device.
What excited me about Windows 8 isn't so much how it compares to Windows 7 but rather the exciting prospect of a tablet that's actually worth carrying around.
I can still run iPlayer and the other passive app's the kids run on the iPad but there's also a keyboard and serious business apps so I can flip out a real keyboard and do something grownup.
How easy is it to use? Well I ran it on a desktop with touch screen and my 4 year old daughter without direction was able to find a game and start playing it, granted using the touch navigational skills picked up from years of iPad and iPhone time. In Windows 7 I still have to really help out.
So Windows 8 combined with more creative devices could give me something I would actually use.
A tablet that even my 4 year old can use like the iPad combined with a very portable computer I can carry on the plane and start using, something I still find awkward even with a smallish laptop.
On the desktop or laptop I'm not so sure, at the very least I hope it won't be less productive than Windows 7 but to be honest if I can fire up my business software and use it with a real flip out keyboard then perhaps I won't need a laptop at all so it becomes a redundant concern. That's what I hoped for from the iPad but it failed to deliver, hopefully this will be the winner and give me a new device that really does replace the laptop.
I don't really get the whole "I'm a desktop user, I don't wanna deal with Metro", because.. well.. don't do anything with Metro then? The desktop is still there and your interaction with Metro is almost entirely limited to the new Start Screen if you so choose.
And the new Start Screen functions pretty much exactly the same as the old Start Menu. Except that it offers a lot more space. Yes, it's full screen, but the current menu doesn't allow you to click anywhere outside of it either, so for all intents and purposes, it's 'full screen' too.
Other than that, your "exposure" to Metro is basically that some Metro apps are the default for certain files, like video, which is easily changed (in fact, Windows notifies you that you have other applications that can open the file).
Microsoft isn't pretending that the current Metro interface is gonna service all your power-user needs. The desktop environment is still fully supported and improved. But for the average user who browses the web and plays games and watches video, it's perfectly suitable. Even with mouse and keyboard.
The only real annoyance I've run into is that the power button is kind of hidden away and takes too many steps to get to. Would be nice if you could pin it to the Start Screen.
I was convinced that Windows 8 would be a huge flop, and I still think it has the potential to be. For a non-touch desktop machine, Windows 8 is the Black Plague, but for a tablet it could be a different story. And that's why the Surface Tablet is a potential game-changer.
The iPad and its ilk are toys. The only thing they have proven is that most people don't actually NEED a full-blown computer. They want to play games, check the weather, surf the Web and make grocery lists. Tablets and smart phones are perfect for that.
Me, I do need a full-blown computer, and I despise virtual keyboards. The Surface Tablet is exactly what someone like me would want. It's an actual computer -- a powerful computer -- with a touch screen AND a physical keyboard, the form factor of a tablet and an operating system actually designed to its strengths (as opposed to Windows tablets that have come before). It's essentially a foldable laptop with a touch screen. That is something I and other semi-power users might actually be interested in.
If only Metro weren't so ugly...
Anyway, I don't think this will be an iPad killer as many people don't need its power and don't want its complexity. But for people who actually want to get stuff done, the Surface could be the Mack truck to the iPad Flying Turtle.
Here's what I remember from the old 3.1 days.
We had our own DLL loader to keep from getting "Out of memory" errors. It was based on a solution from MSDN magazine, to give you an idea of how common the problem was.
The Microsoft/Sybase database client could become corrupted if other code was doing TCP/IP activity.
File Manager and Program Manager were jokes.
The default MS TCP/IP stack would occasionally stop working. I could never figure out how to reenable it without reinstalling Windows. (I eventually went to another stack, which worked flawlessly.)
Windows 95 had a much smarter loader, so we didn't need our custom loader anymore. TCP/IP was reliable. And we could go 32 bit, which solved our database client issue.
I don't see similar technical issues for moving to Windows 8.
"Lower system requirements and smaller footprint than Windows 7"
The first Windows platform not requiring new (more powerful) hardware to run on. This maybe the decisive success factor.
I thought of waiting until August when the RTM will be released to try it out but now...
Anyway, any opinions on running Win8 on non-touch PCs, notebooks etc? What does it have to offer ?
Microsoft is, and should remain Line-of-Business. Metro is consumer, and Windows 8 is becoming a lot less Business than all the Windows that came before. Granted, there are a lot of Road Warriors out in the field with apps that could benefit from a touch interface, but really not enough. Entering a name and address is just not any fun on a touch screen. However, I can envision wanting something for the 6000+ roadies I support. Metro isn't hacking it. I becomes obvious that NONE of the folks who write articles have any experience with the products they review. Well here goes. I want to write a Metro app to browse a database of customers and launch a questionnaire. The database of "customers" is resident on the device and no Internet access is available. There is a whole infrastructure of applications that provides data to these devices when they have connectivity, but they have to operate without it when necessary. So, try and get to a local database from Metro. That ain't going to happen and Mickey says that Metro was designed that way to protect apps from one another, you know, sandboxes and all that crap. So now I have to run an IIS on the device and communicate through a service which does all the work. Add to this the fact that I can't use the flashy controls I am used to and have to reinvent the UI again. It never looks or feels like the .Net business apps we use currently, and the user isn't happy with the dorky interface. This is just the start of converting Line-of Business to Metro. If MS is trying to pander to the consumer, then be up front about it, and stop trying to combine the two.
I like some of what the author says, but it is blatantly obvious he really lacks experience in the field and with Windows 8 and Metro in particular.
@Chris Doherty: Where is the option to turn off the Metro interface in Windows 8? I have the CTP and I cannot find this option anywhere...not "Display", not "Personalization", not "Settings"...not anywhere.
I want my Start button on TaskBar in Desktop mode. Why would I want to interrupt what I'm doing to go to a separate screen, find the app I want to launch, launch it, then go back to Desktop? That is ridiculous.
Funny you mention switching to OSX, because after the release of Vista I made that switch. My main/everyday machine now uses OSX 10.6, which I find to be superb, but I never have been able to commit 100% to OSX. I still keep my old PC running Vista exclusively for Visual Studio 2010. I would have kept XP on the machine as I much preferred its lack of clutter to whatever the hell Vista was trying to do, BUT Vista's considerable increase in WPF performance, something which VS2010 uses quite a bit, eventually won me over. I haven't felt the need to upgrade to Windows 7 on that machine, and the only thing that has been compelling me to upgrade to Win8 is the speed increase. Now that I've read your article I am a little excited about this new OS, I may even build a new PC for it!
So let's say somehow Windows 8 succeeds, and the majority of desk workers switch from desktop PCs to tablets. Can anyone talk about what's it like to use a tablet at a traditional 8-hour desk job? (Please ignore the fact that this Surface tablet can be used like a laptop, which is similar to typing on desktops. Let's assume a normal touch/tablet usage.)
I always see people holding a tablet, and often hunched over, but that's while standing.
I ask because I'm wondering if there are any ergonomic studies with this. We've come a long way in our understanding of what's good and bad for a typical typing/desktop job, but these tablets could cause RSI to be replaced by neck or back issues long-term.
So far, we do not know much. The classical desktop is expected to loose Windows 7 chrome (which I like) and get Metro look. This may be anything from very good to a show stopper.
"What's good about Windows 8?": I guess the list should also include reduced lags in the sound subsystem and improved multi monitor support. Build in ability to use multiple Internet connections in parallel has been promised too.
Overall, Metro for a common desktop computer reminds me of pop-up DOS programs like Side Kick. It will be useful.
As for Surface and its price, please do not worry. It is a premium product, OEMs will make lots of cheaper ones.
Finally, that which I post everywhere in hope that Microsoft notices follows. Microsoft, make the stylus pressure sensitive so that Surface can be used for serious drawing.
The Metro interface only supports 1 monitor. What are you going to do with your other displays?
No, the last truly revolutionary version of Windows was 5.1, aka Windows XP. That was the version where they finally took the useless Windows 95 / 98 / 98 SE / ME kernel out behind the barn and blew its freaking head off with the howitzer it deserved in 1995!
IMHO - nowadays it's almost rather rare to see web developers using anything but Linux / OSx. So many more choices in Linux world - Windows makes u feel handicapped.
I think Windows 8 will sell well because of the $40 upgrade. If I can dig out an old dead XP box, wipe the dust of the license sticker, dial that code into the Microsoft site and pay $40 and download an ISO of win8, then I'll certainly be doing that. Even if in my case it's only for a few games in boot camp on my Retina MacBook Pro.
Yep, Apple gets thousands of dollars from me every year, and Microsoft is going to get $40 from me. People have never liked paying for software. Microsoft is now just waking up to this.
I'm sure enterprise users, for years, will lock solidly on Win7 just as they did with XP. I mean I still know many companies who refuse to upgrade from Win Server 2003 because they took away the included outlook license per cal license and they don't want to buy 50+ copies of office.
I agree with the article that Windows 95 was exciting.
You know what? Look at those two screen shots above. Compare Windows 7 to Windows 95. Which one is easier to use? They've seriously gone backwards in a big way.
Even worse, look at Control Panel in 95 vs Control Panel in Windows 7, in large icon view. WTF?? They dropped the ball.
Suppose Windows XP is bringing up a log in screen, and you want it to auto log in to your user account, because you're a home user. On a Mac, in System Preferences, Accounts, you click "logos options" and under auto login drop down, choose your account. On Windows XP, you edit the registry. Really.
Want to move a program from your old mac to your new mac? Drag and drop, put it on a USB flash drive, whatever. Want to move a program from your old PC to your new one? Oh I'm sorry, you can't, original installation media required, because the installer file explodes itself into your registry and and system32 folders and program files and puts DLL's everywhere, which is great until malware or a legitimate app over writes required files.
Sorry, end rant, but I used to be the biggest Windows fan ever but they've dropped the ball, and they deserve what they get. I truly hope though that they can pick up the pieces quick smart because we need the competition. Deffiantely don't want Apple ruling the world as Microsoft did in the 90's.
@Chris Doherty That's not entirely through. Several settings are only available through the Metro UI (changing profile pictures for one) and become inaccessible when the UI is forced into classic mode using the registry. Others, like changing wifi connected networks, bring up a horrible abomination of a Metro-eqsue look that takes up the entire corner (full vertical length) even on the classical destop.
It's as if Microsoft was undecided where they wanted to go and just gave up halfway.
You know what Windows 8 really is? Microsoft Bob 2.0.
Microsoft hasn't been successful in their tablet business because they brought what was essentially a desktop OS on to a tablet system, and now they're trying to do the reverse, and for what? To kill their desktop business?
After trying both the publicly available Windows 8 beta, the next thing I did was to get a hackintosh up and running, to prepare for the inevitable day where I would have to switch to OS X.
Microsoft jumped the shark when they decided that C# was the only way your program could get onto the Metro UI. Give me C (or C++) or give me death! Or something like that anyway.
Every other Windows release is traditionally a failure at release. Win95 was experimental and I view it pretty much as a failure, Win98 successful and much more stable, WinME a failure, WinNT successful, Win2000 kind of a failure, WinXP successful, Vista failure, Win7 successful.
So, if the trend continues, Win8 will be a failure - on the desktop anyway - reserving judgement for tablets. But C# and the whole .NET ecosystem is the real failure. Despite what Microsoft thinks, there is a huge contingent of C and C++ developers out here still waiting for the day when they get off their C# unicorns and come back to reality.
@Jim: What are you talking about? You can get onto the Metro UI using VB.Net, C#.net, C++ and HTML5/JS. What more do you want?
I completely disagree with this. The new metro interface is a UX nightmare.
There's busy animated tiles throwing way too much info at you and sliding constantly looking like a spammy website, unintuitive side scrolling surfaces, side popout menus which I can't work out how to make them appear and then of course the way they've shoe horned in the traditional desktop which gives you this weird feeling you're using a VM. I found in a lot of apps I haven't been able to just perform my desired function without poking around - its not nice to use.
My parents, who are not tech savvy at all, can pick up and use an iOS device no problem. Windows 8 needs to be like this and is anything but. They're trying to cover too many bases with one product, they should have stuck with a desktop version for legacy software and had a completely separate Metro release which only runs Metro apps, and is designed only for touch input.
Personally I think the whole tile thing is far from "beautiful" as well.
I'd almost be willing to shell out $40 to Microsoft (instead of pirating) for Windows 8... if I hadn't already spent all this time getting comfortable with Linux (Arch, Gnome 3, lately) and Mac OSX. At this point the temptation to switch back is negligible. I wonder how much this will be a story of "too little too late" or "IT department won't upgrade from XP until the i-meteor comes and wipes out all the e-dinosaurs".
Certainly the countless hordes of XP/7 traditional mouse+keyboard PCs out there aren't going to get much out of a touch-centric interface, and certainly the big focus lately is on mobile devices, and certainly all of Microsoft's competitors in that space have way more momentum. The new pricetag is nice, but what's the selling point? "If not for that iPad you already paid a small fortune for, you could have had a unified experience across (some/all) of your computing devices"? Dunno. We'll see.
I happen to own a tablet PC so this would actually be a viable upgrade path for me, but I already spent all that time getting it to work with linux (and by the way, it does, quite nicely, and I like what Linux makes available to me as a developer).
Also, Windows 8 is so different that many enterprises might totally ignore it for a while, sticking with Windows 7, or "BYOD" (Bring Your Own Device) users will decide to go with the "safer" iOS or Android tablets.
Windows 7 may be boring, but I find it incredibly productive. It is essentially well designed: most commonly used features are easy to access, and there aren't too many extraneous ones to distract you.
I think windows 8 is good OS, and Microsoft have designed a tablet interface which blows away the competition. However, I think they have missed a trick by making the traditional interface secondary (why on earth would they force an entire context change just to get to the app launching menu??). They had a great opportunity to make *both* interfaces equally prominent, so that you could use either, or both as suited. Alas they did not, but I wouldn't be surprised if they do for Windows 9.
> IMHO - nowadays it's almost rather rare to see web developers using
> anything but Linux / OSx. So many more choices in Linux world - Windows
> makes u feel handicapped.
Yeah, unless you want to run any software that businesses actually use in the real world (ERP, payroll, CAD, etc., etc.) , or games.
Windows is probably the most consistent UI I have ever seen. I mainly develop for Obj-C for the Mac but also do .NET. Windows 3.1 they have the crappiest UI ever, way behind the Mac of the time. Windows 95 threw the Mac way behind. What Microsoft dosen't realize is we want a transition not a flip. Apple is a great example as well as Linux. Apple took OS 9 and built OS X and gave developers Carbon to make it transition. Linux had GNOME and is transitioning into Unity, slowly. This causes developers little grief. Microsoft is a victim of their own success. XP comes along and they repackaged the UI into colors. Vista introduces Aero, glass on top of a 15 year old UI. Now they want to shove Metro down my throat. I understand why is that they see Apple making iPhone features look good on the Mac like Launchpad, but if I wanted that on Windows I configure it (something the Mac is horrible at customization). MS dosen't understand transition. It is giving a choice to the users that makes the OS usable to us developers.
I'm a Linux "fanboy", but never had anything other than Windows as desktop. For a very simple reason: on Linux, whenever I open more than 2 windows (of any sort), I feel handicapped, gasping for air. On Windows XP, I can easily have 30 windows open, and manage them successfully. With XP, I just can do more.
XP/W2k (classic look) treats screen real estate as a precious resource. Every last tiny display space is used to convey useful information. On Linux, half a inch between menu items is OK.
Then came Vista.
The Linuxification of the UI ! I never used Vista, Seven, or Win8 (and probably never will, for more than 10mn that is).
XP/W2k UI goes beyond my wildest dreams, and although there is a ton of things to fix in XP, really, really, the UI needed no updating at all !
I simply can't think of a suggestion to make to make the UI better (with all the available customization).
Hey, I'm not against change ! Really, if Ms was to come up with a useful evolution, I would be the first to sign up ! Just show me an improvement !
I see blatant, ugly, in you face regression in usability. Faster/lighter/safer/smarter underlying OS doesn't make up for it.
It's that bad.
The ONLY good thing about Windows 8 is I don't have to buy it.
Thanks for your information. I think Windows 8 next version is not going to be Windows 9 rather it is Windows BLUE. Regarding this i have a recent article from Microsoft about its upcoming product name.
keeping my comment short and simple.....
Windows 8 so far as per the Consumer Preview is aesthetically beautiful. But at the same time the Metro environment it feels very claustrophobic
You can never knock it until you try it. I'm taking a look at the release now. I've always shared a distaste for it, but I've found myself moving more to software development. So maybe it's time I updated my OS as well.
I really love to use Window 98 cause its easy to use and not complicated as Window XP or Window 7, But now a days its no longer working properly.
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Let's think what people use an tablet for:
- Reading emails
- Reading news
- Playing Angry Birds
- Posting on Failbook
- Posting on twitter
Let's see what people can use an computer for:
- Developping applications
- Debugging stuff
- Interacting with corporate applications
- Producing reports
- Working with spreedsheets and finantial documents
So it's not unusual to see that Windows 8, is going to be an disaster if it tries to do both of these... And to see that tablets make the world more unproductive every day...
I just tried Windows 8, and I have to say: What did you smoke, Jeff?
There's hardly any true innovation in it. They merely shoenorned Windows Phone's Metro interface (which has no place in a desktop OS) into it in a intrusive (and repulsive) way that doesn't allow the user to disable or hide it, and replaced the Aero Glass appearance with a new and hideous look that looks like it was designed in 15 minutes (Seriously, even Windows 3.x looks better. It's like they tried to make it look as hideous as the could.).
And why are you would excited about the Metro apps being integrated into Windows? Like with the Metro UI, they have no place whatsoever in a desktop OS. Their functionality is extremely basic compared with that of a typical application to the point that they're only suitable for a tablet computer, in which apps must be crippled and simplified in order to comply with the hardware's limitations. I can't think of a single reason why you would, for instance, want to use the Metro version of Internet Explorer with its basic functionality, slow and clumsy design, and inability to be run in window mode, when a regular web browser would be so much better. Seriously, that's almost the equivalent of buying a Wii and using it to play only NES and SNES games. I say almost because at least there's a point in playing retro NES and SNES games on a Wii (even if buying one just for that is ridiculous) since many of those games are still fun to this day, but there's really no point whatsoever in using a tablet/smartphone app in a desktop computer or a laptop.
Bringing out windows 8 with surface will revolutionize desktop computing. Surface can act as a visual keyboard tailored to the application while multi-monitor support brings out a better UI experience. This will really take off when enough surface's are sold and programs start using these features. Goodbye keyboard.
finally found a home on the third one. The increase isn't as noticeable as going from a single monitor was, though. I think the rule of diminishing returns will definitely kick in for more than three. luxury apartments london
I don't really get the whole "I'm a desktop user, I don't wanna deal with Metro", because.. well.. don't do anything with Metro then? OBD2 The desktop is still there and your interaction with Metro is almost entirely limited to the new Start Screen if you so choose.
"Windows 7 may be bigger, prettier, and more refined – finally, a proper sequel to Windows XP."
I'd write more if I had time, but...Just what is wrong with you? Most of the nice Windows 7 features that people are using were introduced in Windows Vista, yet it still isn't regarded as the 'proper sequel to XP'? That's not fair.