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June 25, 2012

Windows 8 Down in Flames

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

I’ve been using Windows 8 for a while now. Let me tell you: It really sucks. I wrote before that I didn’t like it, but being forced to use Windows 8, especially under the guise of trying to write a book for beginners, is very painful.

Since 1995 (or, seriously, 1996) when Microsoft introduced Windows 95, they’ve been training a generation of users to appreciate and understand the Windows interface. My kids grew up using Windows. I’ve used it for nearly two decades now. It’s as familiar as anything, which is why it’s popular and no longer cursed.

Yet, who knows what cranial aneurism took place to make Microsoft utterly forget all that history, all that training, all that loyalty, to foist upon the masses something wretched like Windows 8?

Oh! I get it!

It’s the damned iPad, of course. That, and the Apple iPhone plus all the Android smartphones out there. Those mobile gizmos sport a newfangled, touchscreen interface. They also introduced the legitimacy of owning a computing device that you don’t actually use like a computer.

I believe that mobile devices have their place: There is a portion of the market that only does email, only browses the web, only does social networking. For them, the smarthpone, touchscreen interface does the job well. They are users, not producers. But to be productive, to actually create something, to function in an office-like environment, you need a full-on computer, with a screen, keyboard, and a traditional operating system.

Microsoft’s rationale behind Windows 8 seems to imply that they no longer understand how people use their products. They think you really want is a Windows Phone. Or a Windows tablet. Given the sales figures for Windows Phone, they’re utterly and completely wrong on that front.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Yet it’s with gusto and zeal that they’re about to force Windows 8 upon the masses.

Idiots.

Apple has avoided this mistake. They’re slowly merging both iOS and the Mac OS, training their users along the way. Microsoft is just slamming the door shut on that 20 years of training and suddenly announcing, “The future is here, get used to, sit down, shut up, and buy our stuff!”

It will fail.

Lamentably, there is only so much bitching I can do about Windows 8; my complaints aren’t going to change anything. If you really want to be entertained, check out the heaping volume of disgust rendered on the Windows 8 forums. Ignoring all that feedback is kind of sad, but Microsoft apparently doesn’t care.

Prediction: Windows 8 will go down in history as the most reviled, hated operating system upgrade ever. It will eclipse Windows Vista (which wasn’t really that bad), and Windows ME (which was). Mark my words.

7 Comments

  1. I think the problem with MS is that they have to sell software. That is all they really do and know. But there is a limit to how much software you can sell when the underlying hardware is in stasis. Writing and selling software to run on the same (or similar) hardware year after year has diminishing returns. And content-generation hardware really hasn’t changed over the last several years (I don’t count phones and tablets as content-generation devices). I still use Office 2007 – I don’t need any esoteric features they might have added in later releases. With hardware getting more powerful, making software run half-a-second faster isn’t really worth an upgrade.

    I thought MS did a great job with Vista (and even more so with Windows 7) – they changed the security, and added a bunch of cool features that I absolutely enjoy (the Win+Arrow key to position windows is amazing – I just couldn’t go back to using XP). But now they are approaching a dead-end. The only way forward seems to be to build an entire ecosystem of devices. And the only real way to maintain the illusion of an ecosystem is if it seamless – which ends up crippling the high-end devices (like full fledged desktops/laptops).

    A similar thing seems to be taking place in Linux as well – Ubuntu UI has gone from PC mode to tablet mode.

    I don’t see any way out of it – either they accept that there software is good enough for current generation hardware, and all they need to do is release service packs (with minor visual improvements/graphics/eye-candy, which really isn’t worth much money), or try to force consistency across all their product lines and hope people will buy into their ecosystem.

    Comment by sriksrid — June 25, 2012 @ 1:22 am

  2. Well-put.

    Comment by admin — June 25, 2012 @ 6:39 am

  3. Dan- I think the reason that MS thinks they will get away with this is because of UEFI which will turn PCs into a win8-only computer. Fedora and Ubuntu have already caved in and purchased licenses to be able to run on these ‘secure boot’ computers. Apple only has about 5% marketshare but are making more profit than MS’s 90% marketshare. So you know MS is just drooling over Apple’s business model by making their own windows-only hardware

    Comment by BradC — June 25, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

  4. I wrote a 2,700 word essay out of boredom stating exactly why I thought Windows 8 would fail. The more I read it, the more I find it to be nothing but truth. I won’t paste it in this comment box; it’s up on Google Docs if you want to read it: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fHTqgO7M5pqqf4WorOrPBb3O_SEHWlwRRGVOU9wqOaQ/edit?pli=1
    Be warned it wasn’t proof-read or anything, so there’s probably lots of grammatical and formatting errors. At the very least, I hope I make my points well enough known to be understood.

    But basically, it all comes down to that everything about Windows 8 (Windows 8, Windows RT, Surface Tablets, etc.) WILL fail. If luck is with us, Microsoft will fail as well. We don’t need Microsoft ruining the PC world any longer after Windows 8.

    Comment by linuxlove — June 25, 2012 @ 4:16 pm

  5. Awesome essay, Mr. Love.

    A couple of points:

    You nailed it on the tiles interface. A programmer and I were discussing it this morning. The biggest problem with Metro is that it’s non-hierarchical. E.g., there are no “submenus” or sub-tiles. So all your bookmarks with IE — all of them — will be one huge page on the Start screen. That’s obnoxious! I have 10 bookmark menus and each menu has submenus. That’s how I organize my bookmarks. It’s ridiculous to think that I would put all 110 of my bookmarks on one screen!

    Also, you missed a point about the touchscreen interface: It actually encourages keyboard use. That’s because it’s far easier to summon the Search charm and start typing a program name than it is to go out and hunt for that program. So in a way, Microsoft has thrown us back to the command prompt for starting some programs.

    The whole thing is just obnoxious, and I assume there will be more good and thorough essays written in the future. Good job!

    Comment by admin — June 25, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

  6. The whole thing is just obnoxious? I hope you mean Windows 8 and not my essay 😛

    Comment by linuxlove — June 25, 2012 @ 5:30 pm

  7. Actually, the start menu is something I hardly use in Windows 7 – I always hit the Win key and start typing the program name. The more common ones are pinned to the taskbar. It is so much easier than navigating menus.

    The big problem for me is the muscle memory – if every time I use Windows 7 shortcuts I get thrown to the damn Metro UI (which, I found out, can be disabled – if only unofficially), then I’ll be unwilling to get over the initial learning phase. Which is possibly why I like the ribbon (I hardly use Office, and the ribbon is so much better for a casual user). MS has also seemed to go out of their way to make unnecessary UI changes. They use Win+M get to the desktop – really, was Win+D taken??

    There are several features in Windows 8 desktop mode that I wish were coming to 7 as a service pack: sync desktop/program settings, native data-sync feature (like Dropbox), better multi-monitor support.

    I actually found this life-hacker link quite revealing: http://lifehacker.com/5842150/windows-8-in+depth-part-2-the-desktop . The desktop changes seem to be things I would really like – it’s just the baggage of Metro that Windows 8 brings along with it that I dislike.

    Comment by sriksrid — June 25, 2012 @ 5:39 pm

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