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Friday, October 26, 2012


Windows 8 - Yay?

Today, October 26th, 2012, Microsoft officially launched the latest version of it's Windows operating system.  They had a fancy midnight launch and everything - although around Los Angeles, the Best Buys and such looked nothing like an Apple Store on the eve of some i-doodad about to be released.  Guess good old MS needs some better PR. 

For those of you with Windows 7 or earlier, you're looking at yet another radical redesign of the user interface, and most of you are likely thinking to yourself, why?  Well, think of Microsoft as a shark.  Did you know sharks never stop moving forward, and if they do stop, they'll die?  Microsoft has a winner on it's hands with Windows 7.  They could've just freshened it up, thrown in a couple new features, added support for newer hardware, and called it a day.  But the truth is, with the shift in computing focusing more and more on mobile devices, just like a shark that stops swimming, Microsoft would find itself floating belly up.

So what are they REALLY throwing at users?  It's really not all that different under the surface, and this great article from the fine folks at Tech Radar,  "Windows 8 vs Windows 7: 8 ways it's different" tells you most everything you need to know, but I'll give you some of the high points here as well.  

It's got more support for touch.  Yipee, so does Windows 7 and I never use it there either.  Touch is for tablet and phones - and you guessed it - the OS looks more like Windows mobile OS.  You can, if you're so inclined turn the new touch features off and make it look more like your standard Windows OSes.  The start menu's gone as well, but there's a third-party app called Start8 that'll get it back for you should you be unable to survive without it.  It'll set you back $5 though.  These are the two biggest complaints about Windows 8, that if users wanted a Tablet OS, they'd buy a tablet.  

Which gets to the next point.  Microsoft is now in the hardware game selling none other than its new Surface tablet.  Running a modified Windows 8 made for mobile devices and support for software more like standard Windows software (just nothing legacy, so no,  Office 2010 won't run on it).  It's presales were all snapped up, but my guess is there'll be plenty of them available in the VERY near future.  Looks like a decent enough device that no one will give up their iPad for.  Oh yeah, it's got a slide out keyboard too.  Nice I suppose.

So what else ya got, right?  They've got an app store now too.  Original idea, I know.  More tight integration with their Skydrive cloud solution.  You can sync your Windows 8 settings with it now, which is kinda cool, but it's not like it'll install all your software on every computer you use.  The home screen has more integration with search and social networks but it still feels too clunky to really take hold.  And now to get to the old control panel, you've got to use these charms things on the right of the screen.  

It all just feels like change for changes sake so far.  None of these changes are real enhancements.  It's not feeling better, just different.  It's the enhanced hardware support going forward that'll make someone want to upgrade, but the OS itself is nothing to get too worked up about.  Microsoft did this, well, because they had to do something.  Even though they run 90% of the worlds computers, the mobile game is turning them into an also-ran in the world of high tech.  So they've got to roll the dice on this stuff, or risk just being a company that gets squeezed out of relevancy.  They didn't do a bad job of it, they just didn't do an outstanding job of it.  They felt like what they were great at, business OSes and Office Suites, weren't enough.  Sadly, Windows 8 doesn't feel like enough to make them a player in the mobile space either.

The bottom line is that Windows 8 is ok.  Just a small, unenthusiastic ok.  It's not another Vista moment for Microsoft.  This won't send them down a long spiral to obscurity (although one could argue they're already in it).  Windows 7 users have no reason to hurry up and upgrade, and new PC purchasers likely won't have a need to downgrade.  But for Microsoft, the big splash they were hoping to make is hardly a ripple.  If there is a direction they're going with this, the consumer will likely have to wait until Windows 9 to get it.

If you're apt to stick with Windows 7, I know just the guy to make that happen.

As Always,


I'm not a geek.  I'm your friend.  And I'm here to help.

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