Yesterday we saw some rather convincing argument about Windows 8, put forth by my colleague, on why he thinks Windows 8 will succeed. I am however, skeptical about the success of Windows 8 in the near future – and if Windows 8 were to fail, the following could be the possible reasons, in my opinion.
With this operating system, Microsoft introduces the third biggest transition in its Windows line of operating systems – the first being Windows 3.1 to 95 and the second being Windows 98 to Windows XP. The operating system based on graphical user interface got its major revamp when the Start Menu was introduced in Windows 95. This was further improved upon in Windows XP.
With Windows 8, Microsoft removes the Start Menu and replaces the user interface with what it calls the Metro UI – a set of tiles featuring live applications on the desktop instead of icons and the Start button. While this is being seen as a major change that may be welcomed by users of touchscreen based devices, will Windows 8 become the choice of the people – especially for the desktop?
The Metro Interface
One of the main reasons I see for Windows 8 not being accepted by people is the new interface. The Metro interface is good, but only for devices with touchscreens. When it comes to desktops, the mouse-happy users, will have to figure out a way for easier navigation, which I could not find so far. There are Windows 8 shortcut keys but the ease of navigation among screens and then among the tiles is nowhere as near as compared to the previous versions of Windows.
In short the common Windows user will have to unlearn a few things before he can learn Windows 8!
There is quite a steep learning curve for basic navigation involved here, especially if you are a regular Windows users and do not consider yourself to be a geek.
Is Windows 8 Tablet Based OS?
From my perspective, Microsoft is trying to build an operating system for tablets and portable devices – possibly assuming them to be the future. While this is true that portable devices are the future, it is also true that people will not leave the good old desktops in near future.
Okay, the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) offices are getting popular, but ask the IT team and they’ll still suggest desktops and laptops for networking within and outside business houses. How many of you would like to hook up tablets to your home network – a network without desktops? And even if people accept tablets in the network, what kind of security can they expect from the users?
The operating system is secure for sure, but wouldn’t it be a risk allowing employees to move around with your organizations’ data on their tablets? What I mean to say, is that IT departments and general users will not find it easy to move to the tablets and other types of portable devices so soon. And the Metro interface of Windows 8 is perfect only for the portable devices and not for desktops with traditional input devices. This is one of the major reasons why I think Windows 8 will not be accepted in the market.
Windows 8 To Boost Microsoft Tablet Sales?
As one of my friends on Twitter puts it down: “@PowercutIN: Though Metro might fit tablet, it’s too late to compete with iPad & Android; big flop on desktop”.
Sure Microsoft is trying to bite into the market share of iPad and Android but does it need to risk rejection from desktop users? Or by introducing its own tablets, is Microsoft trying to signal the end of desktop era? What is the need for the company to move away from the successful mouse and keyboard navigated interfaces to “good-for-touchscreen-only” interface for tablets and phones? This is a factor many will have to consider before they move to Windows 8.
Microsoft Encourages Move From XP To Windows 7
Coming from the above argument, I also think that Microsoft has been too quick in bringing Windows 8 to the market. Though the product is yet to be released, many are using the Release Preview. Some used the Consumer Preview and went back to Windows 7, unable to bear with the interface woes. Moreover, even if we accept that people would like the new Windows 8 interface and that there won’t be many problems with users navigating the start screen, tiles, Charms bar, et al, how does Microsoft think that people who are still using Windows XP on their computers, will move to a totally new realm of Windows 8, easily? Microsoft cannot afford to forget that there are still very many Windows XP users out there and moving to the form of navigation in Windows 8 is not going to be easy!
According to a whitepaper released by Microsoft itself, there are some 45% people still using Windows XP – even after a decade of its launch. The whitepaper says that most of these users intend to stick to Windows XP even after the support for XP SP3 ends in April 2014. The whitepaper urges people to move to Windows 7, as Windows XP is now more vulnerable to issues – being a two decade old operating system. This, in my opinion, would be a good move.
People and organizations are finally moving to Windows 7 and training their staff on the new operating system. They have recently upgraded their hardware and software to make them compatible with Windows 7. Though Windows 8 can run on the same machines without added hardware changes, software will still need to be changed – especially if people want their software to run in Windows 8 Metro mode. How many will make such kind of transitions?
“Glad I Did Not Upgrade To Vista”
Given that people were so skeptical about the new operating systems from Microsoft that they took 10 years to move to Windows 7, how can I expect they will move to Windows 8 soon after it is released? People gave a miss to Windows Vista and they were glad they did not upgrade as Vista proved to be a mistake-of-sorts, by Microsoft. Now that they are moving to Windows 7 after nearly two years of it being released, will they not wait to see the performance of Windows 8?
Two questions arise here:
- Will the organizations and people invest again and so soon in Windows 8, as they recently invested in Windows 7?
- Given that Windows 8 is a totally different operating system – with Metro Apps, Start Screen, et all, will people not want to wait and see how different applications fare in the new operating system? It took two years for most applications to get compatible with Windows 7. How long or how soon can these applications develop metro apps for Windows 8?
Desktop Supercomputers vs Tablets
The bottom line is that people resist changes and in case of Windows 8, it is too many changes too soon. Having to train on new interface is one factor, while having to invest in the operating system cost is another. When the organizations are still in the process of migrating to Windows 7, they might find it difficult to move to Windows 8, which, it seems an operating system for portable devices with touchscreen and not for desktops. While Windows 7 was still in the release process, people were talking about the possibility of Windows 8 being developed for 128 bit CPUs. We were thinking in terms of desktop supercomputers – more computing power. And when the operating system finally comes, it is optimized for portable devices.
Personally, I feel Windows 8 is more like an operating system for use with mobile devices. It remains to be seen how Windows 8 will be accepted on desktops by the common computer user. It would be nice if Microsoft were to give the Desktop user the option to opt out of the Metro UI, if he wishes - but that doesnt seem to be happening, I guess.
I rest my argument here. If you have anything to add, support or counter my views, please leave a comment below.