Windows H8

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?


7 bits of lovely banter on “Windows H8”

  1. ExpatEgghead writes:

    Yes, you will. So don’t buy a conventional laptop and your audience will learn from your experience.

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    wendy writes

    Expat – that is a very powerful point in favour of windows8. My Teccy friends that dont work for Microsoft (run everything on Apples and use Windows licences for virtual machines, they get all goooey when they talk about virtual machines) say I should buy a windows 7 machine that is hardware compatible with Windows 8 then wait until Microsft releases SP1 – then do a cheap upgrade to win8. That makes me feel all teccy myself. Upgrade an OS (have done it before)! I might wander into John Lewis’s this weekend and see what their salesstaff suggests – though I do like this manufacturer’s ‘Refurbished’ laptops as a potential bargain…

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  2. James Sutherland writes:

    I imagine almost any PC you could buy now would be Win8-compatible, assuming you do go the PC route rather than a tablet or other rival platform.

    I’m starting to think about heavier tablet use; I read a blog post by one full-time developer who moved to using an iPad exclusively! He does have a “proper” PC – a virtual machine from Linode – behind the scenes, but he does all his email and web browsing on the pad itself, then uses X (Unix remote desktop) to run the software that needs it. If I could get a giant tablet I might be tempted to try it myself, but the tiny screen would just seem too cramped after a full size desktop/laptop setup for so long…

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    ExpatEgghead writes

    I agree. Making the change to a tablet after dual big screens is hard. If I need small and quick, well, the phone does the basics and more. Win8 ready? Hmmm. Anyway, as all PC process are 64 bits these days running a 32 bit operating system does not make sense. 32 BIt OS = 3.5Gbyte memory available no matter how much you plug in. 64 bit OS and you have have as much memory as you can afford and everything runs so much quicker. The downside is drivers.

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  3. wendy writes:

    surely all you need for the multimon is a docking station for the tablet that has connections to the monitors and a more comfortable keypad. I’m really overwhelmed by how much effort I, as consumer, have to put into thinking about a vision for my technology infrastructure in order to make a decision about buying a computer. I can now totally empathise with the ‘damn it I want a tablet I’ll have one” approach that leads to emergent home technology networks rather than the simple, efficeint and beautiful infrastructure that I aspire to.

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    James Sutherland writes

    Sadly no – there will be limits to how much monitor capacity the tablet can drive, as well as how many.

    With the non-ARM Windows 8 tablets, you might be able to get a USB video card working to drive a decent screen area, with a hefty performance hit from going through USB. A proper laptop will do much better, some of them having the graphics card power to drive two or even three monitors directly, which would be nice.

    (Dream setup right now? Probably a 15″ Retina MacBook Pro, driving a pair of 27″ Thunderbolt displays… if only it were affordable!)

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  4. Brian writes:

    Very nice analogy, I’m hoping too for the good kind of innovation (like Office 2007) as opposed to the bad kind of innovation (like Windows Vista?). Many reviewers seem very happy with Windows 8 so I’m feeling optimistic so far.

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