blog We hate Windows 8 on the desktop just as much as the next man, but we haven’t tested it as extensively as Taswegian technologist Simon Reidy, who penned this epic rant on Google Plus this week detailing why Microsoft’s new opus is the company’s “most interesting, daring, different, ridiculous, contradictory, frustrating, and awful Windows yet”. At the heart of Reidy’s opinion of Windows 8 is the idea that Microsoft has tried to cram too much into the operating system. Some sample paragraphs:
“One of my primary gripes, is that the distinction between Metro apps and their ability to use Live Tiles, and legacy apps (which cannot access any Metro/Live Tile functionality) leaves you in a situation of having to decide between the two operating environments for many applications.”
There is simply no continuity with Win8. Why do my pictures and videos when launched from their desktop libraries, default to opening in the crappy bare-bones Metro Photo/Video apps? Easily fixable by changing default programs of course, but I can see a lot of less users being really confused by this jarring behaviour.
I want to like a lot about Windows 8 as there are genuine improvements under the hood, but I’ve come across so many little problems and inconsistencies that its clear that its still very much a confusing, half-baked product at the moment. In many ways it feels like Vista all over again (although unlike Vista, at least the overall performance is just as good as the previous OS).”
I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about Windows 8 over the past few months as I try to get a grip on what the operating system will mean to the Australian technology sector, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not as simple as black and white.
What Windows 8 fundamentally represents is Microsoft’s understanding of the fact that the laptop and tablet markets will eventually converge. Apple hasn’t yet made an attempt to converge the laptop and tablet categories (although it’s clearly going in that direction with the latest versions of Mac OS X), but it eventually will; recognising that if it doesn’t, somebody else will. Windows 8 is Microsoft’s attempt to stay ahead of this trend; and it’s a powerful attempt, using Redmond’s core platform, Windows, as its hero attempt to stay ahead of the curve.
But along the way, Microsoft has done much to ignore traditional users of Windows; those who use the desktop OS as a desktop OS, and have no plans or desire to have it integrated with their tablet devices for the forseeable future. Many, perhaps most Windows users also have no desire to use a touchscreen on their PC.
Personally, I feel that Microsoft is comfortable with those users continuing to use the best desktop operating system ever made, Windows 7, and I doubt that there will be many technological advances and upgrades which aren’t back-ported to Windows 7 from Windows 8 if they become absolutely critical. Windows 7 is the new XP — a desktop operating system to last for a decade or more — and Microsoft seems fairly comfortable with this. Windows 7 for the desktop (especially advanced users), and Windows 8 for the mobile platform; that’s the implicit message Microsoft appears to be pushing for the moment, even if it’s pushing a completely different one explicitly.
With this in mind, I’m not as angsty as Reidy about Windows 8, as I don’t see it as the be all and end all for the desktop and laptop PC market. I really have no interest in upgrading my Windows 7 gaming machine at home to Windows 8, and I can’t see myself switching to a Windows 8 laptop/tablet hybrid and off my iPad/MacBook Air combo. But I will be watching carefully to see how successful Microsoft is with its new touchscreen paradigm. Because it does have to get this space right eventually. If it doesn’t, in a decade, we will all be living in a purely rigid iParadise.