What if Microsoft had done Windows 8 differently?

A comment Matt Rosoff over on CITEworld’s re-publication of my post on Microsoft’s current approach to developer (and other customer) engagement inspired me to do a thought experiment.  What if Microsoft had approached “Windows 8” differently?  There are a number of scenarios that they could have followed, so let’s explore a few of the more likely ones.

Most of the criticism about Windows 8 is around how Microsoft attempted to bridge the gap between a modern touch-based, tablet-centric (if you will), UI and the traditional desktop.  Now this is actually a complex situation, because we aren’t just talking about UI but also about a new app model.  In theory you could have one without the other.  In previous posts I’ve talked about why the overall re-imagination of Windows, including all these elements, was important.  So as one thinks about various alternative scenarios you have to consider that not all of the modernization would have necessarily occurred.

What if Microsoft had kept tablet support separate from desktop Windows?  That is, what if Microsoft had three different versions of Windows (Windows Phone, Windows Tablet, and Windows Desktop) with a common underpinning (NT) but separate user experiences.  Windows Tablet would have been the full-on “Metro” experience, including finishing the job of completely eliminating the Desktop.  Windows Desktop would have been more of a 7.5 product, combining the underlying architectural improvements in Windows 8 (faster boot, Secure Boot, better multi-monitor support, SmartScreen, etc.) with minor tweaks to the Windows 7 desktop UI experience and Win32.  What Windows Desktop would NOT include is the Start Screen, Contracts, or the ability to run Windows Store apps.  Why not?  Well, the claim is that desktop users hate those so why not keep the environment clean?  (And if did include them, then it would just be Windows 8 as we know it!)

What would have happened in this scenario?  Well we know what would have happened to Windows Tablet because Windows RT is Windows Tablet V1.0.  Windows RT is struggling due to the relative paucity of Windows Store apps.  The main criticism of Windows RT is that it can’t run desktop apps.  But the ability to run desktop apps is exactly what gives you the “jarring” and unnatural experience that people complain about.  So analyzing the first few months of Windows RT suggests that a pure tablet OS from Microsoft would have failed.

As I mentioned a Windows Desktop 8 would have seemed more like a “.5” release than a real next generation.  One reason for that would be that a lot of resources were tied up on the Tablet effort.  But the bigger one is quite simple, we’re exploring this scenario because many users claim they don’t want the paradigm to change much.  And as long as that is true then most of what you do is pretty minor.  So what would Windows Desktop have done in terms of the market?  Nothing.  Absolutely Nothing.  The decline in traditional PC form factor sales would have continued, at a rate no higher or lower than we are already seeing.  People who need a new PC would buy a new PC independent of if it ran Windows 7 or Windows Desktop 8.  No one would rush to buy a new PC just because of Windows Desktop.  Corporate adoption of Windows Desktop would be no quicker because they would stick to their existing schedules.  It might actually slow down because they were busy deploying iPads or other tablets and, with Windows Desktop 8 not offering a Tablet alternative, they could afford to skip it.  Consumer upgrades of Windows 7 systems to Windows Desktop 8 would probably be a bit more robust, but that was already a fairly insignificant business for Microsoft.  Basically, it wouldn’t have moved the needle on the health of the overall PC business.

So the bottom line for the above scenario is that Microsoft would be at best in the same position it is in today, and more likely in much worse condition as it would have completely bombed out in the tablet space.  They would have been tagged with “they don’t get it” and relegated to the dustbin of technology leadership.

For our next scenario let’s just take a minor variation on the above and suggest that Windows Tablet was not the Metro experience of Windows 8 as we now know it, but rather an evolution of Windows Phone 8.  Now this is interesting in that Windows Phone already had some momentum amongst developers and a well-regarded user experience amongst end-users.  But it had no traction in the market.  And its Achilles Heal is the same application library problem as facing Windows RT.  So I don’t see how things would be different in this scenario.  Windows Desktop would be a highly regarded addition to a shrinking market segment.   Windows Tablet would be Android 3.0 from a market perspective (e.g., Phone on steroid experience rather than being evolved for the tablet, OK Phone app library but almost no apps designed specifically for a tablet, etc.) and critics would be quick to hammer home the comparison.

If Windows Phone market share was exploding then a WP-tablet strategy might have been more successful short-term for Microsoft in the tablet space.  But with Windows Phone struggling, this strategy would not have yielded short-term (nor probably long-term) success in tablets.

Next up would be the strategy the most frantic Windows 8 critics believe Microsoft should have followed.  Retain the Classic Windows user experience and evolve it to (optionally) be more touch friendly.  Add a mode that makes the Start Menu more touchable.  Add spacing and size to common controls etc. as Office 2013 does and as Windows Mobile 6.5 did.  Improve on the existing app model, perhaps by basing it on .NET or by a somewhat evolved Win32.  Etc.  It all sounds good except when you consider two things.  (A) Been there, done that, and all I have to show for it is a T-shirt and (B) it makes the assumption that the technical mishmash that would be created would be cleaner, less jarring, and any better received than today’s Metro/Desktop duality.

On the first point, Microsoft has a long history of trying to evolve the Win95 desktop UI model to address mobile computing.  When Windows CE was created the UI was modeled on Windows 95, Start button and all.  The Handheld PC made no headway against the Palm Pilot, and much of the criticism of the HPC was specifically aimed at having used the desktop paradigm.  So for the Pocket PC Microsoft started to move away from trying to look like Windows 95 and the more it did that the more successful it was!  This culminated in Windows Mobile 6.5 (which itself borrowed from the abandoned “Book of 7” Windows Mobile 7 plan), that went the next step in making that UI family truly finger friendly.  It was too little, too late, as Apple had already redefined the entire user experience and app model expectations.  Windows Phone 7 dispensed with WM compatibility in order to leapfrog the iPhone.

Of course Microsoft also tried to evolve mainstream Windows to be more touch friendly, from the Tablet PC work itself to Origami to having Windows 7 support modern capabilities at its core (capacitive multi-touch).  What they didn’t do was try to alter the basic Windows desktop UI model nor fix the app model (so, for example, uninstall actually worked or apps were sufficiently isolated to keep them from interfering with one another).  Lots of Windows 7 PCs and convertibles were available with touch capability.  None sold in great quantity.  Few that were sold actually saw fingers hitting screens.  In fact once the iPad was out the notion that Windows 7 was touchable was considered laughable.  And that makes the notion that one could have sufficiently evolved the existing desktop UI model to be competitive, highly questionable.

The second part of this scenario is that leap of faith that when you were done evolving the existing user experience etc. the result would be any better than what Microsoft did by moving to the Metro experience.  I happen to believe it would be the opposite.  The closer you got it to something that would work in the tablet market the more bizarre an evolution it would seem to desktop users.  The more you catered to desktop users the more likely it would seem like a kludged force feed of the desktop PC on to a tablet.

My actual bottom line on this strategy?  It would have accelerated the decline of the PC business while failing to gain any traction in tablets.  All the criticisms leveled at Windows 8 would have been repeated, with only modest changes in wording.

So if the alternate scenarios are worse than what Microsoft actually did, yet Windows 8 has not yet captured the hearts of the masses, what “scenario” would work?

Here is the problem plain and simple.  Windows 8 is a V1 product and it needs to be a V2 product.  Take the Start Screen vs. Start Menu debate.  It isn’t that Microsoft needed to retain the cascading start menu, it is that it needed to provide a reasonable alternative for desktop workstation users.  In previous blogs I’ve thrown out an example.  Why isn’t there a snapped view for the Start Screen?  Then when in the desktop you could have Start bring up the snapped view (assuming a monitor that supports it, which is overwhelmingly the case) instead of losing the desktop to a full screen Start Screen.  Why on high-resolution monitors can’t you have multiple snapped views, or even a couple of “full screen” views?  That would mitigate the desktop user complaint of  Metro not being suitable for large monitors.  I don’t think Microsoft completely ignored these questions (and as I’ve mentioned before, I once saw a Windows 8 build demoed with a snapped view on the left and one on the right with full screen view in the middle), I think they just didn’t make the cut for “V1”.

Overall I think the direction Microsoft chose, and the decision to force accelerate the move to the new app and user model, was the correct one.  I would more question some of the individual tradeoffs that were made to make sure the release was in the market for the holiday 2012 shopping season.  And, as my previous post discussed, is Microsoft’s current penchant for secrecy making this situation worse?  Imagine if Microsoft was talking about, and perhaps even demoing, my idea for a Snapped Start Screen (or some other alternative) already.  And publicly promising a free upgrade to the release containing it for Windows 8 purchasers.  And even talking about that release being later this year.  I doubt Microsoft would have lost a single Windows 8 sale.  In fact, I think the change in criticism (from “Windows 8 is a disaster for desktop workstation users” to a softer “some users would be better off waiting a few months for the update” would actually boost overall Windows 8 sales.  When it comes to computing devices, even consumers often buy-in to where you are going more than buying the specific product.

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150 Responses to What if Microsoft had done Windows 8 differently?

  1. Looking at Windows 8 as a v1 product & platform gives another interesting question: Would it really be better for Microsoft to be more open about their strategy?

    Microsoft has probably mapped out Windows RT for the next ten years already. All that is left to figure out is what goes in v2, v3, etc.
    Now, telling consumer about upcoming features may make them happy and even buy in, but it is also a big risk (eg: What if the announced feature X cannot make it for v2, and must be pushed to v3?). Also, the feedback it will get may be useful in better shaping these features, but it will also be a big distraction (with tech bloggers who will second guess every details…).

    Another great quality that consumers have is a short memory (especially when you are talking about ten years strategies). So, Microsoft may choose to forgo the short term benefits of a more open communication.

    Taking all that into consideration, it would seem more advantageous for Microsoft to disclose its v.Next plans in a controlled environment (trusted partners, top secret market researchs, etc) to get some feedback and then “shut up and ship” 🙂

    • halberenson says:

      Interestingly enough, I can tell you with great authority that any organization that has adopted the “Sinofsky” philosophy completely rejects the notion that you should try to establish a long-term vision. Now obviously they have some mental picture of where they hope things go, but they will never put it to paper. And by that I mean, they won’t put it to paper ANYWHERE. Not just externally.

      • And that is a strange phenomena. There is an old story about planning I’ve heard from Walt Disney folks; they make 5 year plans, but adjust them every year. But the point is, they have big vision; certainly it is adapting to the changing world, but they still have that large vision they make happen in several steps (often taking years). Microsoft once had that long-standing vision (Cairo, Integrated Storage – btw, again, thanks for writing about it – still waiting for Part IV); certainly it was ambitious, but even given the fact Microsoft didn’t make all parts of it happen, it still got a lot from what it made happen (Active Directory, Exchange, Outlook, Office, Windows, etc.). To me, having no large vision is like being led by the river. To win you need to define river’s direction. And that’s why you need to have that long-term vision.
        That’s also a something that is an integral part of our approach to Zet Universe we work on.

        • Rob G says:

          Wow 5 years is “big vision” nowadays. How far we’ve fallen from the middle ages when projects would be started that wouldn’t be completed in a single lifetime.

          The reason Disney thought five years ahead is many films would take that long to produce, especially in animation.

      • John says:

        I don’t know if you’ve been reading SteveSi’s new blog but the interesting thing is that he “teaches” and advocates making a plan with a long range vision. It’s interesting because that’s what is written on the blog, and it makes sense, but one would get the sense from other things that you see and hear that in actual implemenatation, it is the opposite. Weird…

        • halberenson says:

          Let’s talk about “vision” in three ways.

          First, you wouldn’t have done the re-imagination in Windows 8 the way it was done unless you had a vision that Touch and other Natural UI was going to permeate computing over the next decade. You might have gone down a bifurcated path (one UI for tablets, another for desktops) instead. So as part of making a plan for a release you need to have a viewpoint on the future. Windows 8 definitely expresses a vision of computing over the next decade.

          The second way to think about vision is in terms of concrete ideas around evolution. Do you have a multi-release plan? Not necessarily a concrete one, but one in which you already know that in the first release you’ll focus on what is needed for tablets. You have a set of refinements in mind for the second release to both improve the tablet experience and start to expand to make the new enviroment better on desktops. And you have a specific goal and refinements in mind for the third release that allows the new environment to fully supplant the desktop. The specifics may change as you plan each release, and you might even have to alter direction based on how customer requirements and the market change, but you have and can express a “route map”.

          The third way to think about vision is the speculation aspect. Let’s say that direct brain to computer communications was going to be possible in the next decade. Windows would not express a vision on how they see the OS evolving to respond to this sea-change. They would wait until they were ready to do something about it in a release, perhaps until the world was clubbing them over the head for being late to the party, before being willing to establish a vision. If you did this part “right” then you would, at some point well before you actually had to plan a release to support Direct Brain Communications, set that as a long term direction and evaluate your multi-release plans in that context.

          When SteveSi talks about having a vision I believe (based on the past behavior of his organizations) that he is referring purely to the first way of thinking about vision, not the other two. They discuss evolution, but only on an informal basis. They don’t write down nor communicate any multi-release thinking. And they push back on any notion of establishing a speculative vision to use as a “North Star”.

          And the sad part is I’m going to get a lot of private communications telling me I’m being kind in saying that SteveSi’s organizations demonstrate even the first kind of vision.

          • waldtaube says:

            Though your overall point is true I would say that another way some sort of a long-term vision gets expressed within the Windows and Office teams is that they generally cast a fairly wide net during the planning/prototyping phase of each release, in terms of researching technologies on the horizon and trying out a lot of different ideas including rather far-out ones, before deciding on the (usually relatively conservative) features that will actually make it into the release being planned. Then the unused ideas and designs will often be dug out and revisited for later releases. For example some of the features in Office 2010 and even 2013 were originally prototyped during Office 2007 planning and some of the features in Windows 8 originated with unused Windows 7 ideas.

          • Well said, Hal. Vision helps to define some coherent picture of the future, Big Vision is a vision that requires to pass through several big milestones to make that Big Vision happen. From that perspective, for a company that wishes to lead, having such Big Vision is the must. It should understand which things it is going to deliver and at which stage. Certainly, such company should be “proactive” rather than “reactive”, it should not just see the trends and adapt to them, it should create the trends by building and shipping compelling novel products.

  2. dave says:

    Hal – as always you do a nice job of taking us through a few scenarios and help us think about other options. I have no disagreement with what you have writing.

    However, I think the problem Windows 8 is encountering is simpler: for the most part people are quite happy with the speed and capabilities of their desktop/laptop computers already.

    Those Windows 7 machines are not so old. Do I need a faster WORD or EXCEL experience? Are my PDFs too slow? Browsers are getting faster, as are most of our Wi-Fi and internet connectivity. Great swaths of consumers don’t see the need to replace what they already have with something in the same desktop/laptop category. And nor do businesses, who have already shown tendency to skip releases.

    BUT, consumers are interested in purchasing new “mobile” form-factors — tablets and phones. And in mobile I think MSFT Windows 8 has been hampered by two factors:

    1) Windows 8 tablets are too expensive. When netbooks came out, they “reset” consumer expectations on price and performance for Windows devices. Small could be cheap. The price on the current crop of Windows tablets is too high. People are willing to pay a premium for Apple devices because of the Apple cache, build-quality and design. I believe The Surface Pro priced at $500 would be selling much more briskly.

    1.1) Use Windows RT for embedded and industrial devices, but eliminate RT from consumer lines — RT is greatly confusing the story for consumers. It’s too much of a “half-way-house.” For some it may be awesome, but most would rather have Windows Pro tablets at the RT price point. Moore’s Law means full “Pro” tablets will have the battery life we all crave very soon.

    2) Windows Phone 8 is hampered by being late to the mobile game. By being late, Windows Phone 8 is fighting a long slow uphill battle against entrenched OPINIONS (in the USA at least) that iOS and Android are more capable. By being late, it’s also late to the “app” game.

    Hindsight is 20/20, but for many people MSFT were behind the eight-ball on everything that would become important the day the iPhone was released.

    What can be done now?

    1. Laser-focus on delivering capabilities quickly to Windows Phone 8.

    That means stepping up the quality and quantity of meaningful releases with additional features and services. Windows Phone 8.5 should be released in August/September, not November “for the holidays”. Fix the mess with Xbox being a step backwards from Zune. Get better synchronization out ASAP.

    (As an aside, I’ve learned long ago that new MSFT mobile releases have issues. Windows Mobile 3.0, 5.0 and 6.0 were all bumpy, whereas 3.5, 5.5 and 6.1 and 6.5 were much much better. Windows Phone continues the tradition. 7.0 and 8.0 have “newbie” issues. 7.5 is solid, and I hope 8.5 will be as well. I NEVER buy a x.0 release from MSFT. It’s always been this way. Wait for SP1. )

    Nokia has built a range of Windows Phone devices for every price-point. Now it’s up to MSFT to deliver OS capabilities, improved services and key apps to support the ecosystem. A large part of that requires MSFT to actively engage with developers again. For example, give them the 8.5 SDK months in advance of the 8.5 release!

    2. Aggressively seek to reduce the price on Windows 8 Pro tablets.

    Until the price of Windows 8 Pro tablets drops to iPad levels, they Windows 8 tablets will always be too expensive. While the capabilities of the two OS/devices are not similar, the “it’s a mobile thing value perception” is. My claim is that for the most part people are not buying new desktops and laptops unless they are breaking. What people have is “good enough”. But they are buying mobile devices.

    MSFT has made the very bold move to be the 1st to market with a desktop/laptop touch enabled interface. They have made the very bold move to unify the interface across all form factors. This is a big deal. And it’s only a start — it has lots of rough edges. And everyone is watching how MSFT moves next.

    I’m interested in 8.5 – so the faster it arrives, the sooner I can replace

    Additionally, I would suggest with 8.5 MSFT needs to push harder to show an integrated vision for the future — rather than a number of separate lines of business.

    Good luck!

    • halberenson says:

      The problem is that as long as you have desktop apps you aren’t going to have competitive battery life. Moore’s Law will not help that, it is a Win32 architecture problem. Sure you’ll be able to take a Win 8 x86 tablet and measure great battery life, as long as you only run Metro apps. Walt Mossberg’s battery test, for example, should run just as well on x86 tablet as on ARM because it doesn’t require use of the desktop. But if the reason you are buying the device is to run desktop apps you will be disappointed by real world battery life performance.

      Microsoft and its partners do have to deal with the pricing issue, but I am sure Microsoft does not want to compete on price. That isn’t saying they don’t want to be price competitive, they just don’t want to use price to buy market share. Current Windows tablet prices are comparable to Android tablet prices at the same screen size and specs, so this isn’t just an “Apple can charge a premium” situation. Samsung is not trying to win the 10.1″ tablet market by significantly undercutting Apple either. And there are ~$500 Win 8 x86 tablets on the market. ASUS and Acer both have them. That Microsoft chose a premium price point for its own hardware is largely the result of its ability to sell all that it could produce, so why sell for less? It wouldn’t have helped market share.

      Really cheap (but again, not necessarily undercutting the competition) Windows 8 (or RT) devices should come out in the 7″ class, and one certainly can argue that Microsoft missed how quickly 7″ would become a significant form factor. Prior to the Kindle Fire attempts at 7″ devices fell flat, so Microsoft probably felt it was a dead form factor.

      From a general business standpoint, competing on price is a bad idea for IP-centric companies.

      • “The problem is that as long as you have desktop apps you aren’t going to have competitive battery life.”

        This is the main argument that people seem to forget. We want thin and light devices with great battery life – win32 & the desktop weren’t designed for that scenario. Thus, change is necessary.

        • Jaime Bula says:

          True, but WinRT is a very poor implementation of silverlight 3 at best. XAML parsing requires way more processing than win32 besides being far more memory hungry. Don’t let me get started with CPU usage at the default 60 fps.

          I agree with battery life, but the problem was solved (not really) with a heavier battery not a better framework.

        • John says:

          But, see, that’s the thing for me. I don’t understand why, on my big, beefy desktop computer with a powerful graphics card, I’m forced to have a dull, “battery friendly” UI. I understand that for my tablet; I want to eek out the most battery life that I can. On my desktop, though, I don’t care about battery life. I want my beautiful, colorful (not basic Modern UI colors), 3D “power hogging” UI. The desktop is a richer environment and I want a richer UI. That’s one of my problems with forcing a tablet UI onto the desktop; it doesn’t feel like a good fit for me. The funny thing is that my concern with Microsoft’s previous mobile strategy is that they tried to force the desktop onto the tablet and that didn’t work. Now they’re trying to do the same thing, except in reverse and it is just as frustrating for me.

      • dave says:

        Well, sure…. But, from a customer point of view, Windows PCs have always been less expensive than Apple hardware.

        And tablets are tablets, OS and aps aside, people view tablets as a group, and they have a general price point, and Windows 8 offerings are expensive.

        Take these ideas together and there is a disconnect. Amazon understood that winning market share quickly is critical to survival.

        As to battery life, my citing Moore’s law may be a misuse. My bad. What I was trying to allude to is that overall technology advances mean each year chips use less power and battery materials are becoming more capable.

        I want msft to succeed. But it’s just as likely that they won’t unless 2013 becomes a turn around year for them.

        • For Amazon, they use services as the main way to earn money back. For Microsoft, the core part of their income still comes from the money paid for software, not services. Certainly, it tries (and for second decade now, at least from my experience) to earn money from services (and it got some success from both Azure and Office 365), but I’d say that maybe 20% of revenue comes from services, and 80% from software sales. Cutting initial price of the product would hurt the income; and it is still the question of how much Microsoft would earn from apps sold via its Store(s)… Apple, for instance, earns most of its money from hardware sales (but correct me if I’m wrong).

      • fequalsma says:

        I don’t understand this: “as long as you have desktop apps you aren’t going to have competitive battery life”. Desktop apps spend 99% of their time waiting for something to do. They are idle, not consuming energy.

      • The power story of x86 isn’t as cut and dry as it may seem. See: http://www.anandtech.com/show/6529/busting-the-x86-power-myth-indepth-clover-trail-power-analysis which points out there’s considerable power lost to buggy WiFi drivers, GPU etc. Apple has somewhat of an advantage because their integrated product means simply less finger-pointing goes on.

        Microsoft is facing classical disruption because it is unable to get into a situation where it cannibalizes its own products, while at the same time, advocating a Windows everywhere vision. Worst of all, it is defending a low growth product while at the same time, losing competitiveness on the high growth one. Gates had said that a lot of the piracy in the Asian markets helped to entrench Windows.

        I wonder if WinRT was originally developed for to be the equivalent of iOS, but somehow it parasited itself on the desktop to help it gain traction. However, the story isn’t very good, and it is hard to buy in.

        To be honest, it still surprises me that my 1st generation iPad still runs flawlessly today. In the end, this feat required taking all the work in-house – OS and hardware. We never saw anything that ran as well simply because it created an environment with lots of small players that competed on price and relied on small tweaks on the fringes rather than a big bold vision.

      • RajivL says:

        The competetion on price is very necessary. As a consumer i would always see what features are offered to me and at what price. If i am getting a say i5 tablet at 900$ and an i5 laptop with better features and a touch screen at 600 dollars i would surely question the price of the tablet and not willing to spend that much. I dont know around the world how many general consumers have capacity to shell 900$ for a tablet whcih they expect to be in the price range of 250 to 500 dollars. I believe the core i3 is a good processor and if i get a 10.1″ core i3 tablet(with competetive price/weight/battery life) i would be very happy to buy it. Asus has 11″ 500$ touch screen laptop with i3 and if the same were a tablet config many ppl would be more than happy to buy it.

        Lack of current hardware and competetive prices have alot to do with bleak windows 8 sales. Also the outlets to buy products are now becoming mostly online (Amazon, Ebay etc) who publicise products like kindle fire for obvious reasons. If you go to a best buy you or frys you would see 3 win8 tablets on display and more than 15 android tablets. This clearly demonstrates lack of quality and cheap hardware

  3. jon says:

    Some valid points there but it’s all about what’s best for Microsoft, not what’s best for consumers. I’ve never seen anyone ever made the case convincingly that the gap between desktop and mobile is one that actually NEEDS to be bridged.

    • halberenson says:

      I guess you want to carry three (or even four, if you want a reading optimized device like the Kindle Paperwhite) devices around with you all the time then.

      • namsupo says:

        That’s a non sequitur. I don’t carry my desktop around with me, that’s why it’s a desktop.

        • Brian says:

          Everybody (who doesn’t own one) seems to hate the Surface RT. However, it is a wonderful compromise. I get a tablet that feels as weightless as an iPad, a full day’s worth of battery, browsing, email, news, weather, a few games, and the essential part of my desktop (I use LOB apps at my “desk” at work, but I’m not normally going to use them one the road or the couch – all I really need to carry around are the Office apps). And, I get a reasonable solution for input – mostly touch, some keyboard, and, when I really need it, a mousepad.

          • Tim says:

            Adding to what Brian said, using my Surface RT I can access my work desktop via RDP. So even getting things done with tools like Visual Studio is completely doable with this device.

      • John says:

        I don’t know if I’m in the minority here, but I actually do want to carry different devices. I’ve now tried the whole do everything on a tablet thing and it doesn’t work for me, though I did want it to. I have found that, for me, there’s a reason for the two different paradigms of consumption and production. For a lot of things, tablets are fine but when it’s time for me to get real work done, the tablet just doesn’t cut it for me. The screen and keyboard are still too small. I still haven’t been able to leave my laptop behind.

        Also, thanks for laying out the different scenarios, Hal; it was though-provoking as usual. I have been a Microsoft fan for a while, but I’m not a Metro fan at all and, while I wish that it could have been another way, I see the reason that things have played out the way they have with Windows 8.

      • Tim says:

        I think I would generally opt for the convenience of one or two devices rather than an array of specialized devices. The Surface Pro, for example, has a screen size smaller than I would prefer if I was using everyday, all day long. But given that its hardware specs are already on par with my desktop, I could always connect a larger monitor and keyboard/mouse while at home or work. But for a couple hours here and there throughout the day, I’m willing to give up a larger screen for the ease of portability and multi-use scenarios (tablet vs. desktop). That is why I really like what they did with Win 8. I can get two different yet integrated experiences based on my desired use scenario.

        • Bob - former DECie says:

          Tim, I’m trying to reply to your earlier post, but there is no Reply link below it.
          I find running Visual Studio on my laptop’s 15″ screen to be horribly painful. I can’t imagine trying to RDP to it from a Surface RT with the smaller screen.

          • Tim says:

            Bob – not saying it is comfortable, but doable for me for an hour or two at a time with heavy focus. I guess that is where youth (sort of) and good eyesight helps out with the small font. Perhaps I’ll change my tune in another 10 years…

  4. joe0507 says:

    Excellent post, It’s refreshing to hear the opinion of someone with a more in depth understanding of why some of these things are done. It gets tiresome to hear the wining of some people including the professional pundits. Windows 8 is a V1 product in metro form. But Microsoft was under pressure to get the product out into the market and begin the process of maturing the platform, something that would have only taken even more time if they had delayed the release to market.
    They do need to increase the dialogue with regards to the near term future of Windows 8, another good point.

  5. Harry says:

    Thank you and a quick reminder for the part4 of the storage saga 🙂

  6. Anonymous says:

    Excellent analysis but it still does not address the single most important and consistent issue I always had with new Microsoft product releases: They are never exciting enough!
    When Apple introduced the iPhone, it lack many features. Yet it was extremely polished in what it had. And above all it was very exciting.
    When Apple made Voiceover for the iPhone, even in its v1 edition, it was extremely polished and it produced a lot of enthusiasm. Given the fact that I am blind, I could suddenly and for the first time use a touch screen phone. Just like my sighted friends could. Exciting, isn’t it?
    Same with Siri. Same with numerous other Apple releases or additions that are, or are made to sound, innovative. They have managed to capture consumer enthusiasm. Loads of it.
    Google might not make things that are as polished, but they put out things at a surprise or frequent schedule. Chrome is always in the press as it gets updated constantly. Chrome Pixel was announced and went on sale the same day. As a result, tech enthusiasts and the press always talk about Google using the best of words.
    When was the last time that Windows felt really polished? Even Windows RT is full of half-finish features all over the place. Narrator is half-done and full of bugs. Good luck if you are blind. Why not settle for far fewer but really well-done features?
    When is the last time you got excited about a new version of Office because of a surprise new feature? Outlook is basically the same as in 2000. Don’t tell me that Word cannot add a new research-based feature that could excite consumers. When Gmail came out, for example, excitement ensued. Why not when Office 2013 came out or Outlook.com?
    When was the last time that Microsoft announced something that got released on the same day, instead of knowing about it months in advanced?
    When was the last time that Microsoft released something before their competitors and consumers found out about it? In very few cases.
    When was the last time that Microsoft came out with an innovative-sounding release that the press could not stop talking about? With the exception of the Kinect, I don’t really remember.
    Please explain the reasons behind these failures.

  7. MEElahi says:

    Reblogged this on Simple Thoughts and commented:
    Excellent post. Wanted to write something similar, but this is far beyond my writing/analysis capability.

  8. Great post! I agree with you that general direction is right for Microsoft. But devil in details.
    The problem with Windows RT is that there are no apps and there are no real reasons for developers to write them because of zero market share.

    What MS need to do differently to attract developers:
    1) Allow to run metro apps on desktop (as ModernMix do http://www.stardock.com/products/modernmix/ )
    It’ll give Windows Store significant market share overnight. Ideally they need also bring Windows Store to Windows 7.
    2) Simplify side loading of apps and make it free (without this Windows Runtime is almost unusable for enterprise and SMB. See series of posts by Rockford Lhotka for details: http://www.lhotka.net/weblog/Windows8WinRTSideloadingUpdate.aspx)
    3) Put some efforts into support of Windows Store developers. I sold my software worldwide for more than 10 years and Windows Store is absolutely worst experience in my life. For example, developers’ control panel has new bug almost every day. Sometimes half of pages shows “service unavailable”, sometimes statistics is stop working, sometimes there are problems with submitting apps etc. And we still didn’t get any money (we have best selling app from the very beginning) just because it is impossible to insert payout data in proper format for our bank in the control panel.
    4) Publish clear roadmap for Windows Runtime API.

    • jcallahan says:

      Good comments (and side loading link). It’s the combination of many subtle aspects that will determine the outcome. Rockford’s post really had some going points.

  9. Peter Green says:

    Pretty good summary but I think there is one key factor missing in the drivers. The API/App Surface Area/Platform. Until Win8 Windows API style has not fundamentally changed since Win16. While the industry cares about isolation, testability, async and the cool kids care about speed/time to market and are not afraid to use abstractions/helpers Windows provided raw nerdy APIs with 32 params 30 of which were pointers, what could possibly go wrong.

    Visual Studio/.Net had been doing an ok job of addressing some of this but by VS2010 .Net was sinking under its own weight of complexity and poorly factored APIs by people who had clearly never read .Net Design Guidelines Book.

    CoreCLR and Silverlight as a platform, as opposed to as a plug in, was a decent attempt to fix some of the 10+ years of baggage and was just starting to get traction in enterprises (but not the cool kid startups) when it became persona non-grata.

    It appears the windows guys thought they were smarter than everyone else in MS (and all the MVPs, Enterprise Devs etc etc) and decided to build a new app platform, it has some good stuff, the isolation/app safety, async everywhere etc. But it also has some gaping holes and feels more like a V0.1 (really all data has to come from a service, no good old Enterprise 2 tier apps) especially the whole enterprise side loading fiasco, its clear that v0.1 was designed purely to compete with the cool kids, but doing so has alienated the vast majority of classic MS Devs (in addition to your points in the post the other day about engagement). So now Win8 is in no mans land, its does not appeal app model wise to the cool kids, so its not driving enough app development to generate the sales of WinRT/Surface style devices and there is very little reason for the enterprises to invest heavily while their developer commmunity looks at yet another desktop app stack from MS that feels like the old one but is different enough from VB Classic, Winforms, WPF, Silverlight that its time to rethink the skills base.

    Its funny the MVP/evangelist community generated so much noise about the Visual Fred/VB.Not and Alt.Net initiatives but they could see they were still valued, MS just disagreed with them in terms of approach, I think Win8 leaves them question their value on the Windows platform vs just becoming more HTML/JS devs.

    • Tim says:

      But SL doesn’t allow direct access to databases, either. It takes the services approach as well – same as WinRT.

    • fequalsma says:

      The “async everywhere” junk in the WinRT API will end up having far longer (negative) consequences to Windows than the relatively minor UI issues mentioned in the article. Why? Because it drastically complicates development of anything more than toy apps. Look at what you have do to perform a simple StreamSocket operation (the official StreamSocket example code is worse than spaghetti code). Look at all the confused comments in the MSDN forums about simply writing to a file. There are all sorts of race conditions in the sample code and in the snippets I see people post (even the XAML+Direct3D template for WinPhone8 doesn’t properly handle multithreading). These are going to cause tons of crashes and difficulty in debugging problems in the real world.

      Async does NOT belong in the core system API. Why? Because in a general purpose API, async functionality spreads like a cancer. It’s an application-level problem that typically requires an application-specific solution. Win32 already had this issue covered with its excellent multithreading support for applications.

      • John says:

        I have been thinking this exact same thing and it has been a nagging concern. Making async easier is a blessing and a curse. If you understand async the ease of use is great. However, async is not something that you simply throw in to your app and go; you need to know what you’re doing. I read an article by Uncle Bob Martin recently where he explained why he feels that functional languages are the future. If I recall correctly, he talked about how async was a not a good long term solution because of the ease of screwing things up so badly. It was an interesting read. I think your comment is also dead on.

  10. Terry Diederich says:

    Along with their move toward secrecy for any future plans, I think their inability to show their current products is a problem.

    I cringe every time an iPad or iPhone commercial come one showing just the device and two hands using the device, showing off the features. Or the stupidly brilliant Siri commercials with Samuel L Jackson or Zooey whats-her-name. Anyone who sees those commercials know what Siri is and how to use it.

    Then a Windows 8 or Surface commercial comes on and all we get is dancing keyboards and break dancing business people. Where is the commercial showing snapped screens? Where is the commercial showing charms? Where is the commercial showing how the start screen works? How about a commercial where someone makes a change to OneNote on the desktop and then views it on their Surface and their Windows Phone? No, no. Dancing keyboards is all we need to show people all the changes.

    • A very good comment on the commercials. Agreed, bringing more focus onto the exciting parts of the product is quite important. Like that sync problem largely solved for email and files, web editing, sharing. Why not showing these things? They are working, they are for real, and they are amazing in their simplicity. Showing these things, the way they integrate into our lives, help us in our everyday activities, this sounds like a good commercials strategy to me.

      • dave says:

        God yes, Windows 8 commercials have been awful

        I totally agree that Apple so a great job of using their commercials to demonstrate how cool features are accessed and work. They are product demos, and millions of people know what an iPhone can do, even if they don’t own one.

        Now look at the Windows ads. I learn very little about what is possible or how to access and use the functionality.

        So, instead of using the adverts to educate, we get “concept or theme ads.” I will argue it’s not working.

        This has been the same situation for five years. It is infuriating.

        Apple wins hearts and minds. Windows wins choreographers.

  11. Sean M says:

    Hal, I generally agree with you that given the realities MS faced, it’s hard to see how they could have approached the situation much differently than they did with Windows 8. Having been involved with both the Windows and Mac platforms for the past couple of decades, I’m shocked by how much Windows 8 reminds me of the introduction of OS X. There were a lot of specific differences in the situations, but to me they have a similar feel.

    It’s easy to forget nowadays with Apple in as strong of a position as it has, but back in 2001, Apple was desperately behind the times with their ‘classic’ Mac OS, and was racing to get the Next-derived OS X out the door. When they finally released 10.0 in late March 2001, it was really rough and panned by many Mac users at the time, but they needed to get something out into the wild. There were enormous changes to the interface and the overall way things worked in the OS compared to the old Mac OS. And since there weren’t many native OS X apps available, there was a backwards compatibility OS 9 environment. It kept the classic Mac OS look, so there would be jarring interface changes between classic apps and OS X. There were also a slew of stability and performance issues with it. There were a few minor updates, and then a freely available major update to 10.1 in late Sept. 2001 – only six months after the initial release.

    Interestingly, when I went to look at the Wikipedia page for OS X to confirm the dates, I found something I forgot about that ties into the whole secrecy vs letting giving people a heads up about upcoming updates. A couple of months (July) before 10.1 came out, Apple announced it with a press release that actually talked quite a bit about the upcoming improvements. The press release announcing 10.1 is at http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2001/07/18Apple-Previews-Next-Version-of-Mac-OS-X.html

    Here are some quotes. Apple didn’t just “shut up and ship”:

    “This new version of Mac OS X is really fast, and incorporates many suggestions from our users, such as the moveable Dock that can be placed on the left, bottom or right edge of the screen,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “We’ve fixed a lot of bugs, and added a lot of great new features, like burning CDs right from the Finder and the ability to seamlessly network with Windows clients and servers.”

    “Throughout the operating system, Apple has ensured that Mac OS X v10.1 fully leverages its UNIX-based design, significantly increases performance and provides new features including:

    • dramatically enhanced system performance, especially application launch time and window resizing;
    • fine tuning of the Aqua interface for a more customizable experience that includes the ability to position the Dock on the left, the right or at the bottom of the screen;
    • data CD burning capabilities within the Finder and DVD video playback and authoring capabilities to support iDVD, making Mac OS X the ultimate engine for the digital hub”

    • aThingOrTwo says:

      Great post. Although I would argue on the consumer side Microsoft wasn’t in a much better position (from a technical standpoint) at the time either. What they had on their side was massive market penetration and great third party support. Apple on the other hand almost had to ship something, because that was only way to convince some important third parties (including Adobe) that OS X was actually happening.

      In 2000 Apple had OS 9 as their consumer OS, which lacked a modern kernel and therefore couldn’t do preemptive multi tasking etc.

      Microsoft had Windows 98/ME, which ran the legacy DOS OS, which by that point was hardly modern either and came with its own problems. On the enterprise side with Windows 2000 was far more modern than either OS 9 or ME.

      Apple shipped OS X 10.0 24th March 2001 and 10.1 25th September 2001.
      Microsoft shipped XP 25th October 2001.

      Apple certainly were burning the midnight Oil between March – September to fix things.

  12. pete says:

    Microsoft should have enabled WinRT apps to run in windowed mode on large screens from day 1. As it is now, the Windows marketplace is known as the source for tablet apps, of which there is a distinct lack of demand for.

    OSX is an interesting comparison- up until 10.5 it provided Mac OS 9 in a ‘classic environment’ for backwards compatibility. The critical thing though is that OSX was clearly intended for desktop users- the Metro shell, not so much. I can’t see Microsoft making a full transition to WinRT any time soon.

    As a developer working on WinRT, I can’t overstate how much work went into this system and how intrusive it was to every team at Microsoft (where’s the tablet version of Office?). Apple shipping a downlevel desktop app store in Snow Leopard in Jan 2011 was a massive embarrassment.

  13. aThingOrTwo says:

    > What would have happened in this scenario? Well we know what would have happened to Windows Tablet because Windows RT is Windows Tablet V1.0.

    The main failure of Windows RT is that Microsoft spent 2 years building a modern ARM based operating system and trying their best to generate developer and customer interest. They have a small, but not insignificant catalogue of third party applications (it is around 150,000 now I think). And then Windows RT failed to leverage (at least directly) any of that work. Different APIs, different native apps etc. etc.

    I’m sure they have their reasons, but it seems a snub Windows Phone users, third party developers and indeed the Windows Phone team at Microsoft. And not for any good business reason.

    > its Achilles Heal is the same application library problem as facing Windows RT.
    I’m afraid I don’t follow the logic in this… surely it’s better to put more fire behind the Windows Phone efforts, rather than fragment things further with another mobile OS? Surely it’s better for consumers to buy and developers to sell touch optimised apps that work on the phone and tablet? Because right now most PCs don’t have a touch screen and aren’t well suited to modern apps and most existing desktop apps aren’t well suited to running on a touch screen tablet (or any touch screen).

    > So what would Windows Desktop have done in terms of the market?
    Well businesses would be happier as they would get all the performance benefits without the requirement to retrain staff in the new modern UI. OEMs would be happier because they wouldn’t have to make these hybrid/convertible devices that (quite frankly) they aren’t very good at making. And customers would be happier because they would walk out the store with more traditional form factors better suited to running the applications they use day to day.

  14. Richard Hartley says:

    In the 1990s, Microsoft failed to invest much energy on Windows CE and lost too much ground to competitors. To this day, very little Windows CE / Window Mobile software around.

    After WinCE 2.11 Pro apathy set in. Finding a decent (compact) WinCE pda with a keyboard after the Jornada 720 proved impossible.

    So, if there had been more software the Windows mobile platform would have prevented the shift to WinRT.

    • Bruce Kiacz says:

      I’m not sure that Windows CE would still be around even if Microsoft put more effort into it. Case in point, the audio head unit (branded as “Dimension”) of my 2011 Hyundai Sonata. The manufacturer decided to use Windows CE 5.0 to operate the audio functions. Every time Win CE has a hiccup, I have to pull two fuses and the negative terminal battery cable to get audio again. I guess you could say this is a failure by Hyundai to provide a “reboot” button, or a compliment to Microsoft on how “robust” CE is (since it always comes back). But, as the end user, I just shake my head and think this is yet another example of Microsoft making life more difficult for no good reason, just as they have with the Office “ribbon” or Win 8 “tiles”.

      • Brian says:

        That’s probably a Hyundai software issue, not a CE problem. I have a Fiat 500 and the car’s user interface is driven by CE. It’s a little slow to boot (it re-indexes all the music I have plugged into it each time the car starts), but otherwise works like a charm. My only real complaint is that the voice menu system is too “deep” (you need to “say a command”, wait for the prompt, say another, etc, until you get to what you want the car to do).

        • Bruce Kiacz says:

          I’m glad to hear CE works better in your Fiat 500 (neat little car!). But, on the plus side, I don’t experience any re-indexing speed issues with the couple of thousand songs on the flash drive attached to the Hyundai audio head. Voice command on the Hyundai is pretty snappy, but likewise too “deep” – I prefer to use the buttons on the steering wheel. A couple of days ago I helped a friend move with my 1998 Chevy pickup truck. It has a Delco radio with knobs for volume and tuning. Humans are analog creatures and the most perfect control device for audio is a rotary knob. There is absolutely no need for voice command or “scanning” buttons – it’s just much faster and simpler to turn a knob and stop at the station you’ve “discovered”. And, the same rotary device could easily be used for CD or MP3 files – as Steve Jobs noted with the “rotary” method of selecting music on the iPod. Plus, if the controls were “hard coded” there would be fewer speed or reboot issues.

          • Bob - Former DECie says:

            Before satellite radio, I routinely used the “scan” feature on my car radio to find music I liked as I drove from city to city. So if someone doesn’t have or want to pay for satellite radio, the “scan” button makes a lot of sense.

  15. Roger Hampson says:

    Hi, I have just installed Win8 on my desktop and taken it out again. It was not because I didn’t like the new paradigm, it fact I thought it was a good move. No, it was because of the vast number of tiles that were added to the desktop after I had installed the applications I use for development purposes.

    On my current Win7 desktop I use a Launch Control gadget which is divided into 7 areas. I have one for Microsoft apps with Word etc., another for Development with VS12, Filezilla etc., and Security, Utilities, Apps areas etc. Apart from this gadget in the bottom left corner next to a vertical Task bar, my desktop is clear.

    What MS should have done on the Win8 desktop is allow tiles to be added within an enclosing tile. I could then have created a half dozen tiles labelled Development, MS Office etc. in which I could then place tiles for all the apps I use. In that way I could remove a lot of the tiles that had been added to the desktop when I installed my apps. After removing some of the standard tiles which I don’t use, I would have had a nice looking and useable system.

    You could extend this paradigm such that the Development tile, for instance, remains open until I close it. That way it would speed up the development process by flicking backwards and forwards between the tile view and Desktop.

  16. Andrey says:

    Microsoft Windows uses too much memory, uses too much disk space, writes to disk too much and too often, trashes CPU cycles in UI, and degrades with time. Windows, including RT, is years behind iOS and especially Android in presenting applications with an environment where they can cooperate nicely. All that is just unacceptable on mobile, poor battery life and the like for desktop apps are just minor consequences. Unfortunately, the mess Microsoft has for the OS is not fixable and they knew that well after Vista.

    The right thing to do was to fix all of the above. In this case Windows 8 would be a smashing success on the desktop and Pro would be a smashing success on tablet. They decided not to do that, possibly because it were DevTools people who new how.

    There are 2 main problems with tablets. First, it is not clear if I am hovering, or clicking, or pressing, or scrolling, or dragging, or right clicking, or middle clicking. Second, it may be hard to hit a small control. Both problems have evident solutions. A single hardware button (yes, the lazy and greedy industry, you have to invest that 50c per device) could solve the first one. The approach I already see in some Android apps where hitting is critical – if in doubt, magnify and ask – could solve the second if made universal. Microsoft opted to do nothing, possibly because the would not get permanent advantage – the rest of the pack will follow.

    So, the idea to start from scratch was correct, but how come “the future of the computing” has to fall back to the legacy desktop for the most basic tasks as proven by Windows RT? If they just listed the functions of the current desktop and get sure everything maps somehow to Metro they would be in much, much better shape.

    Microsoft goofed up big many times in a row, starting with ads and ending with the SSD as the only option in Surface Pros. A decent online store writes in red “not for servers due to insufficient life span” whenever it sells an SSD. Marketing bla-bla about “under normal use” fails with me – I do not know, do not care, and, most importantly, do not want to care or know if I am doing “normal use”.

    Microsoft was in perfect position to fight back on tablet. With all the harm done many people still love Windows 8. However, now we are going to see what happens first. Will that buggy Android that is usually mercilessly crippled by vendors but is still dethroning iOS on tablets right now get better multitasking, arrive on the desktop and smash Windows out? Or will Microsoft wake up, stop trying things like no Office migration, and redo Windows again?

  17. Bassam says:

    Here it is what Win8 could have been to succeed :
    • One OS having 2 personalities like current but each one is totally independent from each other, meaning , thru a setting , users can login into desktop mode with full start menu , settings , viewers and stay there without the need to go to metro what so ever (like now’s pdf viewer which takes them back into metro , or search , etc) , if this is a group policy setup then enterprises would have found a great benefit in Win8 since it offers very good new features over 7 like HyperV client , fast boot , etc, also cheaper price in terms of OS cost , on the other hand , Metro touch users find everything they need (supposedly they will use a tablet then) in the metro mode , every setup setting , so unless user intentionally want to switch to the other mode , user can stay in his preferred mode and not being annoyed with suddenly OS switching like happening now
    • Get back Aero to desktop mode and make it beautiful like it was in 7 , or at least give the option to users to choose to, in the same time Metro is simpler than simple, add more content into Metro applications rather than those huge empty boxes and primitive look it has now, what’s wrong with some beautiful rounded rectangles , buttons , 3d effects , etc , iOS is beautiful enough and still reserves batter power , isn’t it ? making it more beautiful and displaying more info to the user is essential for adoption rate!
    • Now to the more important issues , make WinRT fully independent API over Win32 version over version, which integrates good features from WPF and Silverlight , like flow layout , rich multimedia and data binding , etc , which developers found superior in the desktop mode
    • And the most important thing, open the Metro model , meaning no developer subscriptions needed for a license to develop a metro application like now (50$ for individuals, 100 for corporate) , make it free for developers to do so, AND , allow side loading, any developer can develop a program and deploy it directly into the device without the need for windows store without jailbreaking need , (like the desktop model) , at the same time , MS takes just 10% share from windows store sales from developers who chose to polish their programs into it – FOR MANAGEABILITY FEES – not a profit fees , but because they will invest in a big store infrastructure and that will cost , dropping this 30/20 % share , if they can make it 5% , even better.

    If MS did that , Win8 will sell like hot cake , attract developers from everywhere and soon overwhelm the big two (Apple and Google), maybe in a year or 2 max, Can they listen ?!

    They see the Apple model succeed with the closed model and they want to repeat that , this is wrong , if they follow the above guidelines , then Apple will end taking 8% of world’s touch market share (ipad apps , etc) like they do now in the desktop vs Windows.

  18. Nick Dowling says:

    A lot of people are now arguing that the best form factor for a tablet is 7 inches, backed up by the release of the iPad mini by Apple. Apologists for the surface pro (or at least its price point) argue that comparisons for that product should be made with ultrabooks rather than other tablets, but is that what the market wants? If I was Nokia I would be looking at bringing out a seven inch tablet that was basically a big Lumia. And given that there are so many more apps for Phone 8 than for RT (and Nokia itself has great apps on the phone) I would seriously consider running Windows Phone 8 on that tablet rather than Windows RT. That strategy builds on Nokia’s commitment to Microsoft technology, and the success of the Lumia brand, in a form factor the market seems to want, without competing directly with Microsoft’s tablet offerings.

    • fel0nious monk says:

      interesting thoughts. I think many people have speculated this. it wouldn’t be a bad idea, necessarily. more choices = more choices, but we don’t want to get back into the situation we had 5-7 years ago with feature phones – spreads the market and innovation leaders too thin (and we wind up with dull Apple products taking the market because of it). I think it would be interesting to see a 7″ tablet with WP8 and with RT (and even Win8 proper), but it might be too much variability for consumers.

      as for the app offerings, those apps written for WP7 and WP8 should be easily transferred to RT, or they weren’t architected well. Similarly, the APIs for all 3 are at least 90% compatible and getting closer and closer which each release toward the goal of a completely unified platform, differing only in UI.

      • Jaime Bula says:

        They made It almost impossible to migrate anything built on WPF or Silverlight to WinRT, and WinRT has exactly the same performance and memory consumption as Silverlight running in the SLLauncher.exe

    • Jaime Bula says:

      Complementing your thoughts, is funny how they compare their flagship product, The Surface, with the entry level, the most basic model apple offers, the Mac Book Air 11″.

    • Bob - former DECie says:

      I’m afraid I don’t see a 7″ tablet as being much better than my Lumia 920. My wife has a 7″ Samsung tablet and after using it a few times, I reach for the laptop instead whenever I want to do something that is too small on my Lumia 920.

  19. shev says:

    I think Windows 8 is quite good. I think the online tech media / blogsphere have all jumped on the bandwagon, creating a storm in a teacup about the multiple personality disorder.

    I have a friend who bought a PC recently, and he was adamant he wasn’t going to get Windows 8, because he read all the criticism. I managed to convince him that it is basically Windows 7, but boots faster, has a different and more useful start menu when you get used to it, and has a lot of potential with its app store. Effectively I managed to convince him that you can’t believe everything you read, and that it is easy to criticize. Anyway, weeks later he has declared he loves Windows 8 and can’t believe how badly misrepresented it is.

    • Jaime Bula says:

      Actually the problem is not totally windows 8, is all the crap that all Microsoft Professionals have had to deal with in the last year. Higher prices, suddenly changes of directions, products that have suddenly been plugged off, all marketing no solutions, half baked products, the badgering of the IT and developer community. Better off with apple o google.

  20. Peter says:

    What makes Windows 8 such a jarring experience is that, when use its operating system features (control panel, folders, devices, windows update, etc.), you are forced to jump between desktop mode and metro mode…and back again. If I choose to be in desktop mode, then I should be able to accomplish everything within that mode. Same goes for metro mode.

    I shouldn’t have to be desktop mode looking for control panel, then searching for it in metro, then clicking it to be sent back to desktop mode, select windows update and then be dumped back into metro mode. Why can’t all these things be duplicated in both environments and you, as the user, get to choose to work exclusively in one or the other? It’s a big mess as far a I am concerned.

    When it comes to running apps that’s a different story, since you are choosing to run additional items built on top of either of the desktop or metro paradigms. That’s the point here: give users the choice. Personally, I love and use Windows 8 on my desktop for its stability and speed, but never, ever use the metro stuff when I can help it. On a touch (small) screen laptop however I find myself more inclined to venture into metro land.

    Give us the choice Microsoft, and you’ll see better adoption and less backlash and confusion.

    • shev says:

      Why wouldn’t you use the new start menu? Remove the items you don’t want to see, add the items you do want to see. If you want to see the menu, press your windows key.

      For me it is no different to previous versions. In Windows 7, if I want the control panel I press the [Windows] key, and click the control panel menu item. In windows 8, if I want the control panel I press the [Windows] key and click the control panel icon. Exactly the same key strokes.

      In windows 7, if I want remote desktop I press Windows-R and type mstsc. In Windows 8, if I want remote desktop I press Windows-R and type mstsc.

      In windows 7, if I want to see the desktop I press Windows – D. In windows 8, guess what, I press Windows-D.

      Dot Dot Dot.

      • Peter says:

        Dash Dash Dash 😉

        The point I was trying to make isn’t mitigated by your suggestions, though I appreciate the effort all the same. Simply put, I don’t like having to switch between the two paradigms of desktop and metro mode, but Windows 8 forces this.

        I’m not really talking about the new start menu, but a much wider set of issues where, in trying to accomplish a single task, you are bounced back and forth between desktop and metro. That’s not an opinion, it is an undeniable fact.

        As I said, I am using Windows 8 and there are things I like about it. But it feels very incomplete at best, and badly thought out at worst, which I think is unforgivable for a company offers operating systems as part of its raison d’être.

        . . . – – – . . .

        • shev says:

          I’m sorry, but your points are so general they don’t actually convey any information to me.

          “Switch between paradigms”
          “Bounce back and forth between desktop and metro”
          “Incomplete at best….”

          No matter what you are doing (whether you are in a metro app or a desktop app), to open the control panel you open a menu, click the link and the control panel opens. To me there is no bouncing back and forth or switching paradigms, it just happens. And as I originally pointed out, there are no extra clicks or effort required compared to previous versions of windows.

          One easy way to explain it is that the new metro start menu is simply the old start button splayed into a full screen. eg

          Windows 7. Press the Windows key, a side-bar pop up menu appears.
          Windows 8. Press the Windows key, a full screen menu appears.

  21. Jaime Bula says:

    Microsoft hammered harshly their developer community. The badgered them on to the WinRT band wagon, without understanding that they aren’t Microsoft employees. They started killing technologies like xna, silverlight, TMG, mostly all server products. Forcing people to html5/js app model, wich y far too raw and doesnt even support data binding! If you have to change that much, then change to something else.

    Evidence of this is the lack of apps. They went back 10 years in terms of app development.

  22. Dweeberly says:

    I second Jaime’s comments. MS knew these problems; the developer community screamed about em … MS just didn’t care. Windows 8 internals had some really great improvements but who cares if they make it a massive pain to use (on the desktop). Instead of showing people how “in-tune” they are with their developer and customer base they shows how utterly detached and apathetic they are toward them. It’s extremely sad and frustrating for people who want to promote or have to support Windows. It’s very difficult to get people to care about a product when the company making it seems not to. A very sad sad situation; my best cynical guess is the MS upper management must own a lot of Apple stock :-/

    I suppose they will fix this in Windows 9, then break it again in WIndows 10
    no one listens to the introverts

    • fel0nious monk says:

      it’s not a massive pain to use as a desktop. stop regurgitating this nonsense and conflating your disdain for change with un-usability.

      • John says:

        Is that the best you can come up with to address these legitimate concerns? I love new operating systems and new things. I try all the new OSs, including Windows and several Linux flavors. I’m not afraid of change. I love change that makes my life easier and makes me more productive. Modern UI does neither of those things. In fact, it makes me less efficient and gets in my way. You can’t dismiss that simply by calling it nonsense and accusing people of resisting change. That’s such a tired line and it’s patently false. There are many many sharp people who enjoy change that is for the better who do not like what Windows 8 has done to the Windows computing experience.

    • fel0nious monk says:

      stop regurgitating this nonsense about being a pain to use on the desktop. it’s not. stop conflating your disdain for change with un-usability..

      • Jaime Bula says:

        But it isn’t much of an improvement either. If you check out MacOS Lion, full screen an app is completely optional (and useless with two screens), but still a far better approach. And since gestures really work is way far too easy to navigate between apps.

      • ScottM says:

        It is a huge pain to get used to on the desktp. (Hover over the bottom right to choose settings and then choose shutdown? It’s as if MS wants us to get out of the desktop mentalitity…) Regardless, it is absolutely a step backward in terms of desktop use.

  23. TNV Balaji says:

    Reblogged this on TNVBalaji.com and commented:
    From Hal who is GM retired from Microsoft Corporation.

  24. Brian M says:

    Oh so wrong! Microsoft have totally screwed their market place the very fact they had to just about giveaway the Windows upgrades about says it all! Have a stack of windows 8 upgrade licences that I can’t even give away to our staff ‘put Windows 8 on my Window 7machine and you are dead’! Windows 8 on the desk top sucks and Windows 8 on a tablet is not much better.

    Considering Microsoft could have evaluated what was wrong with the Apple iPad and yesthe iPad really is a horrible system and not just because of its locked down walledenviroment. Its an old design and not very logical, a design more fit for the 90’s. Instead we get a botched job neither tablet or desktop, the worst of all worlds! As a developer Windows 8 can’t be targeted as most of our customers are XP to Win 7, so we target these plus Android and iPad – Windows 8 forget it!

    • Jaime Bula says:

      Love your rant. Totally agree. In may case we have touch computer desktops. They do not run windows 8 because users don’t want greasy finger computer screens. They want them clean and clear. They hate when someone leaves fingers in their spreadsheet. Nor they have de upper body strength to operate a 23″ computers screens 8 hours a day.

    • Bob - former DECie says:

      Send me your Windows 8 Upgrade licenses you can’t give away. I’ll take them.

    • Roger Hampson says:

      I was just about to request any unwanted licences but you beat me to it.

      • Jaime Bula says:

        You can have mine… Oh wait I didn’t make that mistake. May I have your old win7? (Just attitude, no pun intended)

  25. “Windows Tablet would have been the full-on “Metro” experience, including finishing the job of completely eliminating the Desktop.

    Well we know what would have happened to Windows Tablet because Windows RT is Windows Tablet V1.0. Windows RT is struggling due to the relative paucity of Windows Store apps.

    So analyzing the first few months of Windows RT suggests that a pure tablet OS from Microsoft would have failed.”

    It’s true that app offerings (well that’s a symptom, app development support is the problem) are a player in the ‘success’ of RT, but this was never unknown, and this is a clearly long play. The same was also (fairly) said about iPhone/iPad when they released.

    BUT, this line of reasoning that leads to the conclusion that a pure tablet Windows OS would have failed is drastically flawed. The theoretical situation that was presented is of a tablet OS that removes the desktop, which one can only assume means removing the need for the desktop, which means reinventing all that functionality into a touch-first UI. In other words; the only thing we know from the first few months of RT sales says very little about a completely different scenario in which the product is completely different (and better, if that was your implication). You may as well ask: “If all things were different in the past 2 years, would they still be the same?”

    Obviously getting the OS out there was a big push. Could the Modern UX have been more fully-featured & functional in ways that would eliminate the need for the desktop (read: cursor-based computing)? Sure, to a varying degree, depending on what you consider needing from the desktop, but it certainly would have taken longer.

    And certainly would’ve taken much longer to convert Office to a touch-only experience. The portability of Office to touch shines light on the fundamental issues with the touch revolution. For all the benefits of touch, nearly every UX paradigm/metaphor that matured with the concept of a cursor & information density has to be re-invented. Where we used to be able to condense information, we now have to explode it. Where tooltips were useful, we now have to force a click to show information or take up more real estate. Where instant fine motor control was needed, we now have wildly inaccurate or time consuming long presses and finicky ‘cursor’ placement. Arrow keys? Key combinations? etc. All of these things are cornerstones of highly efficient usability and none of them have analogous counterparts in touch. At least not when it comes to efficiency .. which is why the prevailing group-think there is to ignore them and find other ways to appease our confirmation bias, the euphoria, of using a touchscreen because it’s cool that we can.

    Touch is great for things that aren’t complex. But the world is complex, and computing devices up until now have evolved in response to that reality, not because people have an agenda against touch computing..

    • halberenson says:

      Keep in mind I was responding to all the people who specifically don’t like the current Metro/Desktop mashup and evaluating alternative in the same point in time manor (i.e., after just 4 months). If you look down the road then things change.

      • Jaime Bula says:

        Well, with windows 95 people were ravaging stores, and the product was far from perfect. Today well, No lines of people waiting to get their hands on it. The market has spoken.

  26. bwana says:

    Having just spent the past year+ moving about half our people off Win XP and trying to get everything running on Win 7, in most cases not being able to deploy 64bit due to missing pieces of the puzzle, it will be at least a couple of years before we start looking at Win 8, if ever!

  27. Reverend Jim says:

    Microsoft made the same mistake with Windows 8 that Coca Cola Ltd. made when they introduced “New Coke”. They did not consider the impact of what they were doing on millions of users who were quite content with what the status quo offered. It would have been easy for Microsoft to provide users with a choice of default interfaces (Metro or Desktop). It would have been easy to provide a start button with the Desktop. This has been proven by the variety of third-party options such as ClassicShell and Start-8, to name two. Instead, Microsoft gave users the giant finger and said, in essence, “We don’t care what you want. We’re doing it this way now”. Microsoft has a history of touting new technology, then in a year or two abandoning that for yet another new technology. Businesses, with their limited education budgets, have difficulty retraining IT staff in their efforts to keep current. What other radical changes in direction can we look forward to in a year or two?

  28. david says:

    Dear Steve Ballmer,
    That’s it, you won! I finally get an Android mobile phone. I have been a Microsoft fan for twenty years, been a certified trainer, a certified engineer, and all the grades you could imagine. I adopted the windows phone seven platform thirty monthes ago and have been fooled by your lack of involvement, your misunderstanding of the mobile market and overall by the way you just treated me like an idiot.
    You won, I give up! Now I will build a new ecosystem in the Google world and I will build my desktop experience on ubuntu or other open system whose creators really care for their public.
    So long Steve, hope you can keep on the Microsoft board as long as you wish. Us, the real people, we continue to live our life outside Microsoft.

    • Jaime Bula says:

      I totally agree. they treated us as if we were their employees. And still they managed to leave us out in the cold. Your fault if you fool me once, my fault if you fool me twice.

  29. Dan says:

    Like Vista, 8 will be the one that everyone hates. Like 7, 9 will come along, make some relatively small improvements, and everyone will think it is fantastic. Overall I think 8 is a good start, but needs a lot of work. It has now become my tablet OS of choice, doing 100% of what I need to do. Android does about 80%, and iOS does about 20%.

    What the really need to focus on is fixing all the bugs in Windows 8. The new RT system has a lot of bugs and locks up way too much when you use it heavily. On a tablet there is no Ctrl-Alt-Del, so there is nothing you can do except reboot (Windows button generally does not respond). Also, they need to improve some desktop apps such as File Explorer to make them more touch friendly. Alternatively they need to have a zoom mode that allows fat fingers to manipulate small controls.

    As a developer, Microsoft needs to clearly articulate a desktop strategy, and don’t say “ignore the desktop, build for Modern” – this is nonsense. For real world apps we need the desktop (overlapping Windows, more than 2 at once etc etc), and Modern is never going to cut it. WPF is an awesome system, and rather than just trashing it, it should be on the roadmap. The other alternatives such as HTML 5 are still not ready. Microsoft has always had a huge developer following, and they have left them all in a state of confusion.

    Microsoft should also wake up and smell the roses. RT on ARM RT is dead. Just ditch it and stick with Intel. Once the world moves to .Net, it will be easy to support other processors, but don’t force them into that mode as you are with Windows 8 Store Apps, because they will just ignore you and move to other alternatives.

  30. philip jackson says:

    Clearly the insider world of software development needs to keep making new sales. Unfortunately for us poor punters, we are largely taken for a ride. I first used Windows 1 and it lasted on the desktop in the office for about an hour before going to the waste bin.

    I came back to Windows on the advice of colleagues at V 3.31 and have suffered with Windows ever since. 95 was a disaster, NT4 was not too bad and XP had occasional need for reboots to get rid of problems. I stayed with XP for years until January this year when repeated failures made me decide to upgrade to Windows 7. Also, MS weren’t going to support XP for ever.

    Windows 7 hasn’t give me any additional functionality that I need. It took me the whole of the month of February to get all my applications installed and running. Even when I had the original application CD’s, I had downloaded so many updates over the years that it took major efforts to get everything up and running as I wanted.

    And even then, some of my more important applications wouldn’t work correctly under Win7 and I had to buy an upgrade for them too even though those upgrades didn’t add anything to the functionality for me. In some cases, I abandoned applications where the cost of the upgrade outweighed any perceived utility. Even so, the upgrade has eventually cost several times the cost of the operating system upgrade, not to mention the time spent, and all for no improvement in functionality.

    I am not a fan of portable hardware. I first had a luggable machine back in the mid 80’s (operating under CP/M and with a small mono-chrome screen) and I’ve plugged in laptops in many of the world’s major airport to continue working when the batteries have been depleted. Nowadays I can leave all portable stuff to the kids. But I don’t want dirty screens from touch technology on my desktop, I’m quite happy to use keyboard short-cuts and a trackball.

    It appears to me that processor speed is more than adequate these days and operating systems have all the bells and whistles many of us need so developers likely have an uphill task to promote imagined benefits especially when they don’t work as advertised until some considerable time after introduction to the market.

  31. Hal… the main problem I see with Windows 8 is that it had no need to start as a V1 product, it could have easily been a V2 product if Microsoft had done things differently.

    When I first used Windows 8, I hoped it would be the next logical successor to Windows Phone 7. I even hoped that all my knowledge there would easily ported to the new platform. I was wrong. Just like WP7 was a reboot from Windows Mobile 6, Windows 8 was a reboot for Windows. Windows Phone 8, by the way, was also a reboot to WP7, which just drove us all mad. Not even the same concepts were used. Win 8 apps are barren land ’cause we only have Panoramic View Control not Pivot Control. Both were corner stone of WP7, but only one got ported.

    Now look at what Canonical is doing with Ubuntu for Smartphones and tablets. They manage to merged the desktop, tablet and smartphone experience with a clean and compatible design. They offer compromise but tell upfront what are those. No lies.

    They even went to the point of admit this is not a real release but rather an early alpha. They wanted to set the gears in motion, and they sure did it in a great way both for porting and for app development.

    Last but not least when we witness this two alternatives we start to find a common theme. We start to realize that the real problem is not skin deep, but rather much more profound. When Ubuntu mentioned they could have a smartphone act as hub for phone, tablet, desktop and TV functionality, everybody dismissed as BS until we remembered that’s been done before with Android, TiVo and Ubunut itself, all based on Linux. It was just a matter of merging to push this forward. Then you look back and ask for Windows equivalents and the answers you get are those you don’t want to hear: Windows Mobile, Windows Tablet, Windows Media Center and, of course, Windows 7, all which have in common only the first name.

  32. memosk says:

    The problem is that Microsoft can’t and won’t integrate in windows thinks like c# and .net, because of panic that somebody could write “golden pig of microsoft”= microsoft office in a website . .

    It is about lost project like Silverlight witch should by integrated in phones.

    1.Android is normaly runnig with ordinary Java.

    2.Windows 8 phone is same crazy, non transparent unindetified something = microsoft UFO ..

    And then logical is problem with integrating MS UFO in ordinary Windows.

  33. memosk says:

    What they had to do ?

    0. Kick Steve Balmer

    1.Take windows NT ,
    2. program full support in NT for .net.(with graphical buttons for mobile phones).
    3. Take intel atom
    4. Put together in an ordinary mobile phone.

    The programs could run on every Windows with any problems also with binnary compatibility ..

  34. ScottM says:

    Windows 8 is ugly, unintuitive, and desktop-unfriendly. If MS had done that differently, Win8 could have been a huge hit. Yes, tere may have been some pain during the initial transition, but at least people may have seen it to be worth enduring the pain. As it is, Windows 8 is horrible.

  35. Pingback: So Non Fiction Windows 8 should never have mashed up desktop and mobile – InfoWorld | So Non Fiction

  36. Lawrence Knowlton says:

    I also feel there is more care for MSFT than for the consumer in most of the main points of the article. Many of you are developers for phones or are mobile visionarys (trying not to say addicts). Unless you absolutely have to be connected 24/8; mission critical you have no life scenario, there is no need for these devices or ADHD inducing UI’s all the time everywhere. I have Windows 8 (upgraded from win 7 pro) on my non-touch laptop (mainly because it was $40), I replaced the start screen immediately with a program that brings back the Start Menu to get back to being able to use my laptop productively and not have to fight the extra UI layers needlessly. I have to use a 3rd party desktop app to view pictures, since MSFT wants to force you to use their Search feature, instead of being able open a dialog to navigate where I want to go and browse through files. Why should we be forced to have to do things, when there are ways that are just as efficient within it? Mobile apps just don’t have real world functionality when it comes to day to day work. They’re good for PDA functionality and constant distraction. How about functionality and overall usabilty for the end user/consumer? I use two screens at work, one keeps 4 folders open that I’m constantly accessing, the other one I’m running multiple applications all running in separate windows. I have no need for anything but a desktop with icons that let me access all that I need to do at work. At home, the same is true. I don’t believe that I’m in small minority, save for the crowd here.

    • halberenson says:

      You actually are in a minority, just not a small minority.

    • sm5574 says:

      “I have no need for anything but a desktop with icons that let me access all that I need to do at work.”

      I don’t know about the rest, but I think this is a very common sentiment.

      • halberenson says:

        A) You can user Win8 that way. I have a machine in my office that I use exactly that way.


        B) Then why upgrade to Win8? Why? Why? Why? Did someone come into your home or office and put a gun to your head?

        • Jaime Bula says:

          They are actually pointing guns at our heads. It has become increasingly hard to get hardware without windows 8. you have to downgrade those computers by yourself and at an extra expense. Even if I loved Windows 8, I wouldn’t be able to deploy it due to the enterprise technology cycles and purchases.

        • Lawrence Knowlton says:

          My seemingly ‘required’ explanation is partly answered in parentheses in my op. It was cheap and for that price I didn’t feel, that if it was bad, that I’d wasted money on it. I also wanted to experience it for myself, since I’d heard it was faster and more secure. I’d read more bad than good about it, but willing to give it a chance. But, (isn’t there always a but) my experience was of tedium trying to navigate around the computer. We all don’t want the computer to out think us, become dependent, lose critical thinking skills and keep the computer in its place as a tool. It’s a recurring theme in movies and the like where the civilization becomes dependent on technology, eventually no one knows how to fix it and the civilization dies (seemingly inexplicably of course). This OS is in your face and it wants to ‘try’ to do everything for you, MSFT thinks that this way is easier for a dumbed-down public. Constantly changing photos, news feeds, stock quotes, email, tweets, etc.. etc.. on one obtrusive Start Screen isn’t for hardly a majority that are trying to get work done. MSFT just needs (as has already been suggested more times than you’d like to count) to give the end user the option to rid themselves of the Start Screen, unless they feel they want it. The word of Windows 8 is FOIST.

          • Lawrence Knowlton says:

            Instead of this: “We all don’t want the computer to out think us, become dependent, lose critical thinking skills and keep the computer in its place as a tool.”
            I meant to say “We all don’t want the computer to think for us, become dependent and lose critical thinking skills. A majority wants to keep the computer in its place as a tool.”

  37. Tim says:

    Isn’t it Microsoft that perfected telemetry? Surely a lot of the decisions with Win 8 were influenced by how the majority actually use Windows. I’m not saying that Win 8 is exactly what it should be…the opinions expressed here reflect that well enough. But again, I’ve got to imagine that the telemetry data collected over the past decade gave Microsoft some assurance that they weren’t completely shutting out the majority of their users in how they typically work.

    For instance, I almost always have my windows maximized, which means I’m focusing on one window at a time. I do snap windows occasionally, but generally I use Alt-Tab to navigate between the windows, and that works with Win 8 just as it did previous versions. At the same time, should they have included by default what the folks at Stardock did with ModernMix? Probably.

    • sm5574 says:

      Do you not think that most people use the Start button?

      I don’t know what MS was thinking, but I tend to believe/agree with the notion that they want to move people away from the desktop-centric model so they can have a single OS across all systems. Win8 is the New Coke of operating systems: It is Microsoft’s answer to a request no one was making. Instead of offering an alternative and potentially losing market share, they made the decision that this is what everyone gets, like it or not. New Coke.

      • Terry Diederich says:

        >Do you not think that most people use the Start button?

        Actually no.

        Your mileage may vary but most (not all) users I have supported fall into one of two categories. Non-tech people tend to have desktops littered with icons. Tech people tend to use the search to launch programs. The start button is used occasionally but the other methods are more the norm.

        • sm5574 says:

          I have known very few non-tech users who use anything other than the Start button to shut down their machine. Those users will NEVER find the shut down now. Is that what the users want, or what MS wants?

          • Tim says:

            It isn’t perfect. It certainly requires some level cognitive ability and retraining. Many actions in pre-Win 8 operating systems are now achieved through new gestures. The four corners of the screen are now KEY areas for navigating in Windows 8. (e.g. shutting down = bottom right corner -> Settings -> Power. Or just hitting the power button on your machine.) Perhaps Microsoft could improve the educational component when selling Win 8 upgrades or new machines with Win 8. Perhaps a well-designed cheat sheet.

            I may be mistaken, but if I’ve been reading Hal’s blog correctly over the past few months, he seems to make the point that Microsoft needed to do something and attempt to position itself for what the future of computing might look like. In wonder, did non-tech users have problems when Windows first came out? Did they understand what the Start button was used for? Did they have to struggle to understand how to do things with that new approach?

            • sm5574 says:

              “did non-tech users have problems when Windows first came out? Did they understand what the Start button was used for? Did they have to struggle to understand how to do things with that new approach?”

              I don’t know, but at least the Start button was there! Clicking on “Start” to shut down is an old joke, but it’s the most noticeable part of the Windows screen, so you are naturally drawn to it. Hovering over a non-existent button to choose a Settings icon (with no label) in order to shut down? The only reason I know to do that is that I read it in a review.

            • dave says:

              Instead of spending advertising money to promote surface devices that 95% of Americans could not see in real life as they lacked distribution, the opportunity was there, and still exists, to use so e of that spot ad air time to showcase the new win8 GUI elements and demonstrate what is available and how to access it. That’s what you see with Apple ads all the time. An apple buyer has a clearer idea about what they can do on a new device site unseen after a few tv ads. Gosh, regular PC buyers don’t read tech blogs. They watch tv. So instead of confused shoppers at the Best Buy poking at screens to see what might happen, they could have walked in and tried so.e of the moves and features they had seen on TV.

          • Tim says:

            But will a new approach (whether that which was introduced in Win 8 or something entirely other) eventually become common enough so that people just get it? In other words, 20 years from now – might something like the 4 corners of a screen become the norm for interacting with a system?

          • Terry Diederich says:

            I’m just not understanding the whole emotional attachment with the start button.

            Hit the windows key and you have a start screen instead of a smaller, hierarchical representation of your programs. Same basic function. I don’t see that as much of an adjustment.

            I’ve seen so many non-tech Windows users happily use iPads and Android tablets. They were able to deal with a UI that is completely different than what they were used to with Windows. If they can handle an iPad or Android tablet, why is learning the shut down such a complicated, stressful event?

            • sm5574 says:

              I have no emotional attachment to anything in Windows. I gladly welcome change that is designed with the desktop experience in mind. My point is only that MS was not interested in user experience. Windows 8 is not designed for desktop. They took Win7, stripped it of desktop-centric functionality, bolted on tablet functionality, and told us it was the future of computing. I disagree with Hal that it was their best option. We didn’t need Windows 8 right now; they could have released a new mobile version and kept Windows 7 until the mobile version was ready for its next generation, so they could put more thought into it. As it stands, Win8 is the OS version of New Coke, and Microsoft deserves every bit of the backlash they get. At least Vista was an attempt to address concerns users had. Windows 8 is an attempt to address concerns only Microsoft had.

            • dave says:

              Terry Dietrich makes a great observation.

              “I’ve seen so many non-tech Windows users happily use iPads and Android tablets. They were able to deal with a UI that is completely different than what they were used to with Windows. If they can handle an iPad or Android tablet, why is learning the shut down such a complicated, stressful event?”

              Why would that be?

              Probably a few reasons. Maybe they have to do with ios and android tablets starting from a mobile point of view, as extension of phone os’s with existing customers. MSFT could have done the same with Windows Phone, but instead took a different (larger?) view and tried to extend its core strength (Windows) to the mobile world.

              Perhaps another reason is that consumers view mobile phones and tablets as different categories of technology and don’t expect to do the same things on these as they do on PCs, so it is acceptable that they have different interfaces/protocols.

              In either case, it seems MSFT are working uphill. They can pull it off if they can quickly change hearts and minds about Windows 8 with an update that arrives quickly and addresses many concerns.

          • Terry Diederich says:

            What desktop-centric functionality has been stripped out? The desktop is still there. Aside from using the Start Screen instead of the Start Menu, what changed in terms of the desktop? My workflow hasn’t but everyone is different.

        • Jaime Bula says:

          But the stores aren’t being ravaged like when windows 95 launched.

          • Terry Diederich says:

            Sorry, I’m not sure what you are getting at. What does the windows 95 launch have to do with whether people use the start button or not?

    • Bob - former DECie says:

      Many people I know have the telemetry turned off. I have it enabled on my work machine, but disabled on my personal machine. Perhaps Hal has an educated guess as to the percentage of installations that have telemetry enabled.

      • halberenson says:

        Given that it is opt-in and that large companies probably block it using Group Policy I’d guess at 10-20% of the installed base participating. You’d have to do ancillary studies to calibrate the telemetry rather that use it blindly.

        I love telemetry, but what is really important is how you interpret it. Let’s say that 80% of users run full-screen 80% of the time. That doesn’t tell you how much value those 80% place on being able to have multiple windows on the screen occasionally. And more importantly it doesn’t tell you how valuable the 20% of users who regularly have multiple windows on the screen are to you. The latter requires a lot of judgment. So if Developers have multiple windows visible 80% of the time and you give them a system optimized for the single window case then you’ve alienated a key if relatively small community. The same for power users who tend to be the ones blogging, doing product reviews, etc.

  38. Pingback: Windows 8 should never have mashed up desktop and mobile : INNOVATED

  39. sm5574 says:

    “What desktop-centric functionality has been stripped out? The desktop is still there.”

    By desktop, I mean a desktop computer, as opposed to a tablet. Windows 8 is designed for tablet use. There is no denying that. MS took out all the stuff that didn’t make sense on a tablet. Or, to put it another way, they stripped out everything that was desktop-centric.

    And again, I’m not saying necessarily that none of this stuff is still there, but they have made it MUCH less intuitive. There is nothing — not a single thing — about the Win8 interface that is an improvement over Windows 7, but there are several things that are a step backwards. Again, in terms of desktop use. Which is, again, why I say that Windows 8 was Microsoft’s answer to the request nobody made. No one was sitting around saying that Windows needed to be more tablet-oriented. No one wanted MS to start hiding key commands. No one wanted Windows 8. They may have wanted a tablet version of Windows, but no one wanted what we got. Not beforehand. This was MS deciding what they wanted to give us, pure and simple. You are apparently okay with that. I, obviously, am not.

    And by the way, at work I run Windows 8 through a VM on a Mac. No Windows key. Great forethought there, huh?

    • Terry Diederich says:

      > MS took out all the stuff that didn’t make sense on a
      >tablet. Or, to put it another way, they stripped out everything
      >that was desktop-centric.
      Again, what did they take out? Specifically, what was removed? I agree stuff was added for tablets but what was removed?

      >but no one wanted what we got.
      You are certainly entitled to your opinion about whether Win8 works for you but this is clearly wrong. There are people that like Windows 8. If it doesn’t work for you, okay, no problem but you can’t say no one wants Windows 8 the way it is.

      >Great forethought there, huh?
      Are you expecting Microsoft to design Windows to work with Apple hardware? Besides, doesn’t the Command Key function as the Windows Key? Until recently I was running a MacBook. I had Windows 7 in either BootCamp or a Fusion VM. The Command Key always worked in both. Does it not in 8? The VM should let you map the keyboard. Doesn’t it?. This is a fringe issue at best.

      • sm5574 says:

        > Specifically, what was removed?

        Oh, I don’t know. Visible buttons? The ability to start in desktop mode? Scrolling that makes sense with a mouse rather than a touch screen? To name just a few.

        Oh, and did I mention it’s by far the ugliest interface I have ever seen? At least since the advent of EGA. But that is neither here nor there…

        > you can’t say no one wants Windows 8 the way it is

        You’re right. That’s why I didn’t say that. I said no one wanted this before it came out. No one was sitting around wishing for it. No one asked for it. Whether anyone likes it now is irrelevant to that point. No one asked for this; MS decided this was what we were going to get. The question at hand is, What if Microsoft had done Windows 8 differently. And I contend that if they had given users what the users wanted rather than what MS decided they should have, then they would have received a much less negative reaction. Hence, the New Coke analogy.

      • Bob - former DECie says:

        I spend 99% of my time in the desktop doing development work. As such, I’ve pinned almost everything I need to the taskbar. There is one major exception: Windows Update. Because it lives in Settings, you can’t pin any of the Windows Update things to the taskbar. In Windows 7, I had a shortcut to the Windows Update page on my taskbar. If I could figure out a way to get around the Windows Update issue, I could completely ignore the Windows Start Page. About the only time I see the Windows Start Page is when doing Windows Update or the rare occasion when I have to actually reboot my laptop. As it is, I use Windows-key shortcuts to get to things like Control Panel and Search. Since I work on a laptop, I just close my laptop and put it to sleep instead of going to the Charms bar, Settings, Power, and Shutdown.

  40. dave says:

    An interesting and related article on this topic over on Engadget:


  41. harryE says:

    It was the biggest markting failure ever to use the Windows brand for the mobile devices and to apply this “one size fits all” approach. Microsoft missed completely the chance to create something new what users really like, something really exciting. This article and the in-depth discussion is nothing else than a proof how much Microsoft is lost in finding a working strategy. Microsoft became big because the competition made many failures (e.g. IBM) and NOT because Microsoft products have been so great. The lack of ingeniuity and innovation becomes now clearly visible where the competitors have learned their lessons and are delivering attractive products in a fast pace.

  42. You say that the “Windows 7.5” approach would have meant that desktop sales would continue their slow decline. That’s likely true. The problem is that the actual Windows 8 product has ACCELERATED the decline of desktop sales; people dislike it so much that they are resisting buying new computers. Unlike past versions of Windows that produced a bump in PC sales, I believe that Windows 8 has actually damaged them. The exceptions are touch-enabled systems (which are selling well to the minority that want them) and Ultrabooks (which have been a disappointment to Intel, but the people who want one for the enhanced portability aren’t going to be deterred by having to be saddled with Windows 8).

  43. You say that if Microsoft had released “Windows 7.5”, desktop sales would have continued their slow decline. That is very probably true. The problem is that people dislike Windows 8 so much that it has ACCELERATED the decline of desktop sales; people are resisting upgrades because they don’t want Windows 8.

    System upgrades have also slowed down because, honestly, most users don’t need them. In the past the upgrade cycle was driven by the eternal ratcheting up of system requirements for new versions of software. In the recent past, two things have stopped that ratcheting. One is that we finally reached the point where the typical computer is Good Enough. But perhaps a bigger factor is the ascendance of the laptop and especially the ultraportable laptop. Ultraportables have no more computing power than a five year old desktop system, and since software developers have to make sure that their shiny new software will run acceptably on a shiny new Ultrabook, it follows that the shiny new software will also run acceptably on a five year old desktop computer. If that is the case, why bother to replace the five year old system?

    There are two exceptions. Touch-enabled Windows 8 systems are selling decently to the minority of traditional PC users who want them. I believe that will always remain a minority because touch is a poor fit for many of the use scenarios of traditional PC users. The other exception is Ultrabooks; although they haven’t taken the market by storm, some users want the enhancement in portability that comes with the form factor, and they’re not going to be deterred by having to accept Windows 8, especially since most of those people are power users who are willing to go to the trouble of installing software to undo the UI failings of Windows 8.

    • fel0nious monk says:

      What evidence do you have to show that people are not buying new hardware or PCs because they hate Win8 so much? That’s just your negative opinion of Win8 projected onto the market.

      Dare I question your impetus for hating it so much? Surely you are not influenced by the bandwagon loving to hate 8 on the premise that it’s ‘jarring’ or ‘stupid for mouse and keyboard’, right? Those criticisms are rooted in emotional angst, not substantive or objective reasons. Like what .. you hate having to move your mouse all over the screen? Forgive me for noticing that you have to move your mouse all over the screen today; you have to sling it to nearly every corner of the screen for simple tasks like closing a window or showing the desktop or opening the start menu. So the Start Menu takes up the whole screen – so what? That’s just as ‘jarring’ as windows that overlap; do you know how ‘jarring’ multi-tasking is to some people?

      I’m not saying there aren’t things that can & will be improved, but this is by NO means a broken OS – it’s simply basic framework that allows for a lot of expansion. From an engineering POV, it represents the culmination of many years of optimization of Windows and core of the OS (google WinMin). If the new APIs were too expansive and too new, then developers would be crying foul for having to learn so much. I read some other comment here complaining about the slight variances in the developer platforms between Windows classic, WP7, WP8, WinRT, and even Silverlight is a deal breaker. Really? Given the alternatives it’s THE MOST coherent and unified platform offering available.C# is C#, XAML is XAML, WP7 was a bridge to WinRT, WP8 is closer to WinRT (the underlying goal), etc. There isn’t a brand new everything to learn, just slight variances that bring better support and uniformity – why is that something to complain about?

      I got a little off-topic – anyway…

      You’re also forgetting the huge and fastest-growing segment of the PC market: AIOs. BECAUSE people are on the go so often, the home PC in its traditional form has taken a bit of a backseat. AIOs are like PC Kiosks for the home that people love to use, and touch is a necessary compliment to a mouse and keyboard for many use cases. A nice big screen sitting with a keyboard and mouse, while it’s a desktop, just begs to be touched, and Win8 delivers perfectly for that segment.

      The Home PC still plays a critical role in the lifecycle of data, because it’s the hub where your data lives (as Steve Jobs said .. AllThingsD interview with Bill Gates) and your consumption devices are essentially peripherals. Of course Cloud-based services have grown to fill the basic needs of those without home computers (and there are still MANY untapped ‘desktop’ consumers), but it’s still not a replacement of the home PC.

      • sm5574 says:

        Why is it so hard for you to believe that people hate this for their own reasons other than bandwagoning? Why is it so hard for you to believe that you, who love Windows 8, could be in the minority? Is it not possible that those of us who find Windows 8 ugly would still do so if everyone else loved it? Is it not possible that those of us who find the unintuitive method of shutting down — find it to be stupid — would do so even if everyone else were praising it? Are you seriously discounting our opinions just because they happen to agree with the majority? Or is it that you are so insecure in your own opinion that you need to dismiss ours in order to feel justified in yours?

        • fel0nious monk says:

          lol this is like a conversation a smoker and a presumed nonsmoker have. the smoker says ermahgerd you cannot possibly know how difficult it is to stop smoking since you’ve never ever done it! the nonsmoker then enlightens the fool who’s simply making an excuse for himself that he was in fact at one point a smoker and successfully overcame his addiction and freed himself from the grips of confirmation bias.

          this argument is just one big wahmbulance ride. complaining that the default theme isn’t glassy? go download a 3rd-party app. how many years have everyone just like yourself complained windows is a bloated POS? SO they rip the bloat out and you still whine like a little baby. They optimize the OS anywhere from 30-50+%, improving battery life, saving you energy costs, breathe life into older PCs, and you find reason to bash that because it means you don’t have to sell new hardware. So they add (see that, add, not subtract) a reason for folks to actually upgrade their hardware, and you find a reason to complain about that. (btw, many have staved off hardware upgrades for a VERY long time. decreases in sales of not only hardware but all tech spending during the past 4 years of recession are starting to bite people, and it’s picking up dramatically). Hey you may as well be arguing that Windows 8 sucks because it doesn’t fit the use case for a satellite perfectly.

          I think it’s funny on one hand the rationalization for declining desktop sales – “people just don’t use desktops like they used to!” – which basically means it’s not the best fit for all computing needs, is somehow now a benefit feature and windows 8 trying to bring more possibility to the desktop usage scenario is a bad thing .. because .. because .. because .. waaaaahhhhh I just don’t like it for these reasons which carry ZERO weight unless a seeming ‘majority’ also believe the same thing.

          I’m not the jaded one. I’m not the one crying over spilled milk. Turn your insecure finger pointing around..

          • sm5574 says:

            You are completely ignoring the point that I have constantly talked about: Windows 8 is what nobody asked for, what nobody wanted. Any improvements to the OS are irrelevant to that point. If the question is what would have happened had MS done things differently and offered a desktop-oriented OS for desktop computers, then the answer is that fewer people would be complaining. I have not mentioned anything about removing bloat or any of the other red herrings you are throwing out there. My complaint is that MS decided that I should no longer have an OS designed for desktop use. For that, I slam them.

            Now, you may disagree and love to have large corporations tell you how to run your own business. That is your prerogative, but it does not negate my view, and it does not mean that I am bandwagoning.

          • fel0nious monk says:

            “Windows 8 is what nobody asked for, what nobody wanted.”
            — do cite or otherwise justify these assertions..

            “offered a desktop-oriented OS for desktop computers,”
            — see, here’s what I’m talking about; windows 8 IS a desktop OS. Desktop is still the desktop buddy. you are using a self-fulfilling fallacy, like defining a word using the word in the definition. your complaints about win8 stem from your labeling of it as a non-desktop OS. I must’ve missed the part where Windows 8 was actually WP8…

            • sm5574 says:

              > do cite or otherwise justify these assertions

              I can’t prove a negative. Why don’t you cite one single source that said (before Win8 was announced) that the next version of Windows needed to have a touch-centric start menu with a tablet-style tiled screen, that they needed to remove obvious buttons and replace them with invisible hover locations, that they needed to hide the shutdown and get desktop users into an overall tablet-based mindset, and so on — cite just ONE source to prove me wrong.

              > windows 8 IS a desktop OS. Desktop is still the desktop buddy

              Then why does the start screen scroll sideways? When was the last time you had a windows mouse with a horizontal scroll wheel? Or is that designed for touch screens? The MAIN SCREEN. This is your “desktop OS”. Yeah, right. Then why is MS pushing this so hard for tablets?

              Please, do justify your claims.

          • fel0nious monk says:

            “My complaint is that MS decided that I should no longer have an OS designed for desktop use. For that, I slam them.”

            you are now Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair in which is sitting this phantom Windows OS of your nightmares.

            Win7 had touch support. I guess that means Win7 was a non-desktop OS too. Whether or not you know it, you are ‘bandwagoning’ because these assertions are patently false..

            Those weren’t red herrings .. those were just some of the other complaints that give rise to your assertion that the OS is not meant for desktops.

            Unless you’re suggesting that moving the shutdown button (but really not changing the actions needed to do so) makes it a non-desktop OS? Well shucks color me impressed at your ability to deduce.

            You are also suggesting that because it’s ‘ugly’ in your mind (and others, even though apparently your rationalization doesn’t require the opinions of others..), that makes it a non-desktop OS? Again, kudos.

            • sm5574 says:

              Wow, you are the master at blindly following your own vision. I give up on trying to have a discussion with you.

        • fel0nious monk says:

          RE: shutting down. why is this such a big freaking deal? The default power profiles in Win8 automatically go into very low power mode when unused. I bet you never complained about how long it takes a computer to boot right? You would never ever want it to be instant-on, right? BUT ERMAGERD I NEED TO SHUT IT DOWN! WHY?!?! BECAUSE I”M COMPULSIVE AND LIVE IN THE PAST!!. DEAL BREAKER TO LEARN A SIMPLE NEW THING!!! ERMAHGERD I HAVE TO MOVE MY MOUSE TO THE /OTHER/ CORNER OF THE SCREEN!!!

          Tell me, how much do you dislike the current version of windows changing the buttons in the shut down menu depending on the power profile you’re using? Bet you don’t go telling everyone in your life that they should go back to XP because you don’t like the ‘recent programs’ start menu list, or the nested ‘all programs’ menu, or the instant search, or the fact that they removed the ‘run’ command without having to force it to show.

          hints for Your Whinyness:
          — just like in every previous version of windows, click on the desktop, hit alt-F4 -> Enter.
          — click/hit start, type shut down, down arrow twice, enter.

          just be honest. you wouldn’t have a foot to stand on if you didn’t think enough other people were easily fooled by the absolute lack of depth to these complaints.

          • sm5574 says:

            Again, you are picking and choosing what you want to harp on instead of looking at my broader point, which is addressing the subject of the blog. If MS had listened to what people actually wanted instead of going in a different direction, then fewer people would be complaining.

          • fel0nious monk says:

            “picking and choosing what you want to harp on instead of looking at my broader point, which is addressing the subject of the blog”

            ??? you complained about shutting down being different. that you find the OS ugly. that others do too. and these are all reasons that show Win8 is NOT a desktop OS, and THAT’s why you don’t like it? and now that I’m taking you to task on these ridiculous assertions, exposing your obvious bias, you backpedal? could you be more vague when you say addressing the subject of the blog?

            ” If MS had listened to what people actually wanted instead of going in a different direction, then fewer people would be complaining.”
            — you mean if they had listened to what people are saying now, after the same exact baseless complaints are passed around the waahmbulance? I suggest you go read the extensive official building windows blogs .. the usability testing MS did, the research engineering. etc. Then open your mind, because your hate is clearly skewed by a a very narrow perspective.

          • John says:

            sm, don’t feed the troll anymore…

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  50. Jaime Bula says:

    I can only think that things went way back. We have a “power friendly”, new Paradigm, form factor Os, etc etc, and they ended doing the same thing everyone is doing. That is called “Strategic Convergence”

    I would love to see it going the other way, more graphics, more effects, more UX. Get top of the line visualizations on Power Point and excel. Get an extremely high dpi for making reading from word a charm. Get some GPU processing into excel. Get again true 7.1 audio support again. For gods sake! DirectX 12 for gaming! DX NEEDS AN UPDATE. Silverlight 6 for the store so things can be sold to Apple people.

    New networking compression algorithms that really put those i7 and i5 to work. New solid state cooling systems. Finally get WinFS released! Bare metal restore from the Internet. More intuitive C++. Kinetic or at least Leap Sensor Support (hate greasy screens). Wireless Screen and audio support and not the silly Play To. The heaviest encryption available on by default. A predictable release schedule. If enough Ram load the whole kernel to it. Readonly assemblies so that they can’t be corrupted.

    One to one simultaneous collaboration with screen sharing at the Os Level. Spelling tools at the Os level so every program gets office level spell check as an Os service. Compiled XAML. notification area always visible with second screen as vista once stated. Faster execution of the .Net framework, maybe embed it in the kernel.

    Etc, etc etc,

    Note, this still should be as efficient as possible, don’t want to see an i7 and a good GPU gone to waste

    As a personal note, netBooks in my opinion is the worse thing that happened to the windows platform. It was a crappy experience on slow computers, and we made it the new normal. You can’t be Fiat and Ferrari at the same time, even it is the same company. Windows has become cheap, and Windows 8 makes it even cheaper. It is easy to lower the prices, hard to keep them high.

  51. Formfiller says:

    First of all, let Microsoft themselves speak about what they thought a good UI should be like. Suzanne Hansen, a product manager at Microsoft, explains:


    While the Visual Studio 2010 visual appearance is unique, it does follow the Microsoft Windows UX guidelines. Microsoft does not use one standard visual appearance for all its products for multiple reasons, including:

    * Not every product has the same users and therefore the same UI is not appropriate everywhere
    * Microsoft has such a wide range of products, it would be impossible to do one visual appearance that is a “one size fits all.” For example, it would be virtually impossible to use a single UI design for Zune, XBox, Visual Studio and Bing.
    * Different visual appearance of different products helps differentiate/brand them.
    * Having a single UI appearance would not give individual products flexibility to evolve as needed in response to trends, customer and business needs.

    Thank you, Suzanne Hansen, Program Manager, Visual Studio Platform Shell Team

    Suzanne explains here why Visual Studio 2010 has a different look and feel than Windows. And the explanations make perfect sense! (unlike the stuff they tout out with Windows 8) But isn’t this the complete opposite from the current Windows 8 design philosophy? And yet, this was Microsoft’s credo just two-three years ago! How is it possible to trust in Microsoft’s Windows 8 vision, when they were able to flip their own philosophy completely on its head within such a short timespan?

    Windows 8 is clearly a “one size fits all” rush-job that was driven in a dictatorial fashion by its main-overseer at Microsoft, Steven Sinofsky (the man “left” the company shortly after the Win8 debute. Signs and wonders). Countless of people have raised their voices on the official Windows 8 blog when the OS was in development, yet the dev team and Sinofsky have demonstratively ignored the highly technical issues that were brought up and only answered the simplistic ones. it went something like this:

    Sinofsky’s Blog
    user 1: Hi there! I like Windows 8.
    user 2: You said Aero shouldn’t be in Windows 8 because it harms battery life, but that doesn’t make sense because Aero can be turned off when the computer is on battery. It actually wasn’t long ago that Microsoft was defending Aero as having minimal impact on battery life. Are you now going to claim that Microsoft was wrong? In fact I have multiple links showing specific benchmarks that Aero only uses 1-4% when on and…..
    user 3: Will Windows 8 have a Twitter app?
    Sinofsky: That’s a great question that I’d be happy to answer. Yes Windows 8 will have a Twitter app.
    (week later user 2 comment is gone)

    (Quoted from the blog “Techbroil“)

    But let’s concentrate on the product itself – Windows 8 has a new programming interface, called WinRT, and a new GUI, formerly called Metro. What’s the problem with WinRT and Metro? Here’s the list:

    1. The desktop has multiple windows, Metro has not.

    2. Desktop programs can be resized, Metro apps cannot.

    3. The desktop has drag and drop between applications, Metro has not. Instead of just selecting the items you want to export and actually move them into the other program, you need to handle with “charms” which comes across far more unintuitive than just dragging and dropping.

    4. The desktop has nearly unlimited multi-tasking abilities, Metro has not.

    5. Metro apps are far more limited in scope, by design, than desktop programs.

    6. Desktop programs have depth and 3D, Metro apps on the other hand seem to be approved by the Flat Earth Society.

    7. Desktop programs are usually more colorful and vibrant, the Metro design principle consists of CGA style mono-color.

    8. You can open up other programs in the desktop, through the start menu, without disrupting workflow. On the other hand the start screen is something like the “item menu” in games where you dress up your character with weapons etc. Everyone knows that it is quite distracting switching between item menu and game world in games, and Microsoft brought this concept onto its flag ship product! Hooray.

    9. Desktop programs can be easily distributed, Metro desktops are locked-in into the store.

    If an alien would just land on our planet and see Windows 7 and Windows 8 (and its programs) for the first time, without no prior knowledge, he would think Windows 7 is the successor, not 8. And that’s just the problem of the WinRT part. The fact is that Win8 has multiple control panels and update mechanisms and is a duality monster. Win8 apologists in all seriousness propose arcane keyboard shortcuts as solution for some of the glaring problems, where previous versions worked just fine without using them. Also the Metro start screen offers absolutely no indication that it is searchable, yet it is. It’s full of little news items and ad-like graphics. It resembles something like cnn.com, only that CNN HAS a search box! Would you “just start typing” at cnn.com, if the site had no visible search box?

    So, fine. Use ONLY the desktop then! But here’s the catch, and the reason for all this negativity – Microsoft put away the start button. If you click on the hidden start button, you’re back to the Metro interface. It’s a jarring experience. They want you to force going Metro, yet the whole Metro and WinRT experience is so limited and smart phoney, it’s just insane to use it on a screen bigger than a tablet. No one, and I mean NO ONE was able to tell me what the heck the benefit of the start screen is for desktop and laptop users or why the Metro apps are this castrated (the mail app can’t handle the most common mail protocol IN THE WORLD!), yet MS forces you to use them (the default image/video/music viewers/players are awkward Metro apps in W8.. even in desktop mode! They look as if they consist of one single code line). The explanations only come to “newer mobile devices have something like that, so.. eh.. and you will get used to it!”.. And that’s pretty much it. That’s not a compelling argument to warrant such a hassle.

    Oh, and did you know that for multiple users Windows 8 is just arsed? The “All Programs” system is bonkered in Windows 8. Let me explain: If installers (of Win32 programs) put links into the C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs folder, they ARE NOT GLOBAL. Not really that is. The link appears in the start screen for the user who installed the program, but all other users don’t see it. It’s only visible for them if they right-click and chose the “All Apps” screen (yes, IT’S HIDDEN ON DEFAULT!)

    Windows Vista and 7 didn’t highlight newly installed programs in the start menu for other users as well, but the “All Programs” submenu-button wasn’t hidden, so it wasn’t such an issue like with W8.

    Oh, and let’s also not forget that W8 Metro “apps” need to be installed per user, undeleted per user and updated per user. Just try it out: Install the updates of all the default apps through the appstore, create another account on the computer and log-in to the app-store. What do you see? You need to install the updates for that user as well! Trying to manage this for multiple users is hell! At the moment, the only reasonable tactic if you have multiple users and you want to use them apps is to let them use ONE account only and lock that one down with scripts etc. BACK TO DOS, BABY

    And it’s not only about the metro-menu and all the headache that brings, it’s the whole approach. For example the darn “apps” themselves: How hard could it have been to include a “Pro mode” (with scary “You’re on your own now!” warnings if needed) or something like that which would allow sideloading? They could still have their store and still make the enthusiasts and “Pros” happy. It would have been easy to make the Metro-Notro-Win8stylestoreapps-whatever more appealing to the laptop and desktop users. How about more features availble the bigger the screen is? “Windows has detected you have a 24 inch screen, multi-tasking and windowing of Metro apps is enabled now”. Stuff like that wouldn’t be too hard, freeware like Bluestacks does it! But no, Microsoft has chosen the most limiting and existing-customers-repulsing way possible. That is why there are complaints and bad feeling all around. That’s where the “walled garden” and “dictatorial” accusations come from. MS was a quite comfortable choice between the strict Apple- and the free-for-all linux world, pretty much the golden middle, now they are doing their darndest to change themselves into a totally redundant MicroApple and this generates ill felings. The many game developers were annoyed for good reasons IMHO. And let’s not start on the limitations of the metro apps.. Oh sure, they aren’t forcing metro down on you, except they do:

    Now let’s forget the start screen, just open up an audio file on the desktop.. BAM – You’re on a full screen monstrosity, with “parental advisory” graphics from obscene rap album covers and stuff like that. With no obvious way to get out of it. PROGRESS. They wanted to simplify Windows 8. That’s why instead of clicking on an easy to spot bright red X, (that’s faaar to power user for the common idiot to understand) you need to “grab” the application by its invisible head and drag it down the drain so that it can disappear. And if you managed to close it, you’re back on the metro screen instead of the desktop (where you started). Just fabulous! So just playing a darn audio file means switching through completely different GUI environments and playing a mini-adventure. Same is happening when you open up pictures and movie files. Yes, that’s what I call a great user experience right there. Then there’s the DVD codec issue and WMP not playing them even if you have the codecs installed, mail apps that can’t handle common protocols.. No one is going to change their provider just because subpar OS update decided it wants to out-hipster the whole world.

    Sure, you can hack-around to link WMP back to the files etc. but shouldn’t an “upgrade” make stuff.. you know, better?! How’s stuff like that a good default experience? In the first beta versions, the welcome screen could not be clicked away. You had to drag it away with the mouse! Totally insane. That’s one of the very few things they have fixed, but the fact that something like that made it into an alpha version, yet alone beta, makes it clear what kind of carelessness the “design” of Win8 truly was/is. I am pretty sure the main reason the server got metro too is to prevent “power users” running Server 2012 as a desktop replacement.

    All that is just NOT comparable to the previous versions. Never before were there such regressions in usability of Windows and “feel” of the company.

    Then there’s the whole subplot about their handling of developers and the whole Silverlight affair to promote the W8 craplets – killing SL just when it was going strong as LOB tool. The amount of badwil they have created with this OS among their (former) allies, devs and supporters is just staggering.

    Steve Ballmer compared Windows 8 multiple times to Windows 95, yet the comparison doesn’t hold water in the slightest.

    Windows 8 is the anti-95.
    Win32 programs didn’t gave you the feeling that something is amiss compared to Win 3.1 applications. (with Metro you have this feeling constantly). Even the first generation Win95 programs at launch felt more capable than their 3.1 precursors (Corel Draw 6, Office 95). Notro provides the complete opposite feeling.

    Windows 95 came with uncrippled winfile.exe and progman.exe (the win 3.1 GUI), and you were able to boot directly into it without even seeing 95′s explorer.exe at all (“shell=progman.exe” in system.ini). (works in win 98 too) There was even an official option at the Windows 95 setup for that if you upgraded from Win3.1.

    You also were able to directly boot into DOS with ease (just set bootgui=0 in msdos.sys, that also worked in Win 98).

    Windows 95 is the anti-thesis to Windows 8. The philosphies were completely different. The team had enough courage to provide all these options because it truly seemed as if they were proud and confident about the system to stand on its own. Windows 8 on the other hand comes across as coward’s darling – “the users are too stupid to appreciate our beautiful hippster GUI, let’s cripple the desktop as much as we can to force them to this”. Windows 95 didn’t need any crippling, users chosed explorer.exe because it was better, and they had the ability to use the old GUI without compromise If they wished to do so.

    Windows 95 is confidence. Windows 8 is cowardice.

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  56. Windows Weeny 91 says:

    Regardless of what has transpired, one head should roll out of Microsoft for falling asleep at the wheel and letting other companies steal their lead. We all know who that person is.

    I am pissed off at this guy because so many people around the world make their living out of selling, implementing or supporting the products and solutions made by Microsoft. This person should realise his limitations and let someone (BG) with vision and know how do the top job. A lot of ground has been lost by Microsoft, but I think someone more capable can keep Microsoft a relevant technology company in the 21st century.

    BTW, I am not sure why the younger generations hate or think Microsoft is rubbish and totally uncool. (I am not sure if cool is still used to say cool anymore)

    My two cents….

  57. ron davison says:

    oh, it will be fixed in one of our mandatory security upgrades…

    but this is at the heart of the disgust with Microsoft products.

    Why buy something new that needs fixing?

    “We promise to fix that” is not a marketing program that will crush Apple!

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