In my research for replacing my home laptop I’m stumbling across a lot of scathing press on windows 8. I’ve not seen or used a copy so this is all speculation based on rumour and such-like. I’m hearing that Windows 8 will alienate:
- current windows users migrating because it’s so different and current windows loyal customers are not seeking really different. Microsoft will alienate their core customer-base.
- software developers who produce the applications that run on windows because its a more significant investment (time and learning) to produce compatible upgrades of their programs.
- corporations who supply PCs for work because Windows8 is so different the cost of staff learning, making mistakes, being trained, to use Windows 8 will be prohibitive. Better to stick with, in many cases Windows XP or Windows 7
I suspect Microsoft are trying to apply an approach that has worked well with the Office Ribbon. They deliberately chose to accept the initial backlash that comes when the first-use experience not optimised because they knew that once learned it the experience is significantly better for regular use. One suite of products, one release, one core user-group – Corporations. The Office user experience team undertook a lot of high quality research to make sure they knew the impact of introducing the Ribbon on ongoing productivity.
Does this strategy work for an operating system across multiple form-factors (phone, tablets, laptops, Desktops)? Once Windows 8 has been on the market for 5 or more years will most of the use problems fade into distant memory? Assuming that Windows customers stick with Windows and undergo the pain while everyone adapts to the new interface, this could happen:
- Customers will experience of the new operating system’s interaction patterns on one or more devices and learn how easy it is to move between different devices re-applying the fundamental interaction concepts. Windows 8 will start to feel familiar and easy. Maybe it will even be fun?
- Software developers will have changed their development practices to align with the new Operating System requirements. New and innovative programs and updates will be efficiently produced. Maybe it will even be fun?
- Corporations research the total cost of ownership of alternative operating systems and realise that they are more expensive than Windows 8. Mainly because of things like outrageous hardware outlay costs (Apple) or lack of speedy, deployment infrastructures within secure environments. The need to shift operating systems will be becoming imminent as Microsoft removes support for the legacy systems that corporations will still be using. I have difficulty imagining that this could be fun.
The big risk that Microsoft is taking appears to be that in this time period many customers may have researched, learned, built, commitments to other operating systems (Mac, Android etc) and not be prepared to move ‘back’. It’s a huge, brave, bet by Microsoft. I hope they’ve done their groundwork research to know this is going to work.
I’m buying a computer in the next couple of weeks. Will it run Windows 8? What’s your guess?