Did Microsoft miss the point?

Published on: Author: Mike Hall Leave a comment

I’ve spent a bit of time defending Windows 8 in the forums of late, and as a consequence, I am not getting as many ‘marked as answers’. The other reason is that moderators no longer cruise the forums marking answers just to make it look like the forums are working well. In the early days, there was a lot of this happening, and one had to keep open reply notifications long after the post was marked ‘answered’ because the poster’s problems had most definitely NOT been answered. While ‘stock’ answers are good, they do not always address the complexity of the mess that a user has created.

The amount of trolls is increasing and they will have an effect on Windows 8, just as with Vista in the old Microsoft newsgroups. The amount of ‘FUD’ being spread is almost every bit as bad as it was for Vista and IE7. There is a difference though. While Vista was a little intransigent, it was at least familiar. Windows 8 doesn’t have familiarity going for it at all. If Microsoft believed that most Windows 8 users will have had practice on a smart phone before buying a new PC, the sales figures for smart phones were portraying a scenario which simply didn’t exist.

Go to any coffee bar, snack bar, burger joint and look around. Who do you see with smartphones? People under 30 years old generally. Where are the smartphones? Laying on the tables or in hand, on 24 hour alert for the next text message which will give co-ordinates for the next part of the day’s itinerary. A few years ago, these same people would have bought laptops, but lugging around a laptop, using it while driving.

College and university kids get cheap laptops via enterprising geek students who get hold of older ones, clean them up and sell them at a cheap price. These machines are fine for dissertations et al. For everything else, essentially texting,  the latest smartphone kicks butt, and it has to be the latest model. The massive sale of phones is not because EVERYBODY has or wants one. The sales are down to the ‘kids’ dumping their old phones for the latest and greatest..

So where does that leave the rest of us who haven’t grown up with a mobile phone surgically attached to our ears?

Yikes, it’s all tiles!!

I give short shrift to anybody who claims to have been a Windows expert since the early days of Windows. They, of all people, should know about 3rd party stuff and workarounds. To be honest, I rarely believe a word written by these people who , In the same ‘breath’, follow up with ‘should have bought a Mac’ or ‘going to switch to Linux’. With all respect, if these people typed anything truthful, Mac and Linux would have been challenging Windows years ago, but neither are even close.

I remember in the Windows 7 beta groups a question being forwarded about how to implement touch into the operating system. I suggested supplying it as an add-on, a shell, bearing in mind that there were very few touch screens around. I think that is how it should have been for Windows 8 too. There are still too few touch screens around and they are still expensive. Any computer where a keyboard is an essential part of the system is NOT going to be used as a touch system even if it has a touch screen, so why supply a touch oriented OS as the default?

I still put it down to internal sabotage. I do NOT believe that Microsoft as a whole would have made such basic mistakes, and certainly not if Bill Gates still had the final say on what went out of the doors. The man didn’t always get everything right, but he was no fool.

What Windows Blue should do..

  1. Improve reliability of the Modern UI. It is far too susceptible to errors, not updating, not re-installing and in general just not working. Had the Modern UI been an optional shell as it should have been, it could have been uninstalled and re-installed easily.
  2. Each app needs to have the traditional ‘X’ to close. Nobody trusts leaving an app running in the background. When they have looked at the weather or checked email, they want it GONE.
  3. Apps need to be made such that they can be tiled rather than running full screen.
  4. The traditional Start menu and task bar needs to be in place regardless of the UI being used, if only to allow easy access to the tools required to fix issues.

Waiting for Windows Blue to do the above at the very least is like waiting for a sunny day in the United Kingdom. Phrases like ‘well, you never know’ spring to mind. The weather is beyond control, but Microsoft has a chance to change the way that the wind is blowing for Windows 8 and whatever follows it. Lets hope that the right decisions are made.

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