Why Windows 8 Could Fail and Become Another Vista

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Windows 8 Beta, is releasing on February 28 29th. While just like everyone, we are excited about the plethora of features Windows 8 will be bringing on the tables, we however fear that Windows 8, in the long run may not be able to convert Windows 7 users as permanent Windows 8 users on PC’s. I have tinkered with the “Windows Developer Preview” for a fair amount of time on my desktop while I pile the reasons why would be another blunder for Redmond in biblical proportions.

1. Microsoft is playing a dangerous gamble with the PC market

Perfect GUI is a fictitious toy, which everyone keeps playing around with, and seldom succeeds in achieving. The current Windows 7 desktop, arguably is one of the best GUI (Graphical User Interfaces) ever designed for PC, in terms of customisability, stability and flexibility.

Here I am not arguing that Windows 7 GUI was the best thing happened to humanity, but the fact that, the Win 95 GUI in itself, was actually created after a lot of research. The successive windows versions merely kept improving upon the same and Windows 7 is the pinnacle of those efforts. But Forcing long time PC users to adapt to a completely new interface with the next Windows version is illogical, to say the least.

2. Metro: Y U NO LIKE PC?

metro control panelLet me not blaze the guns on Metro interface saying it looks childish, not customisable and more. In fact, we at TechSplurge are quite a fan of the Metro interface on the Window Phone 7 and keep on raving about it. Extending that clean design on tablets, is a good idea too which makes it really livid on touchscreens. What about non touchscreens? Of course Metro in Windows 8 supports keyboard and mouse, but the overall user experience on PC in the developer preview is kinda awful for me. And here is why:

  • Metro apps are actually, infotainment apps, which are built for consuming content, not creating them. So if you are a coder/designer/writer, you will be passionately hating Metro.
  • The classic start menu is simply gone, there is no neat way to get the classic start menu back in Windows 8 apart from few tricks which are out of bound for the common users.
  • Metro mimics the (un)popular GNOME Shell, Ubuntu Unity app management style, where you launch an app by searching it. Sure efficient and time saving for power users, but not for normal home users like my mom who launches Word by going Start>All Programs>Microsoft Office>Word.
  • In metro there is no good multitasking for PC. Either apps run in full screen, or  minimised. Which is definitely not a brilliant way for running apps on a PC.

3. Dearth of Applications

Speaking in naive terms, there are two variants of apps on Windows 8:

  • Traditional Desktop apps
  • Metro Apps

The latter, even if magically gained users overnight, is still according to many developers a pain to develop on PC because most of the Metro Development Framework is in its infancy. No wonder why Microsoft is overnight pushing so many incentives to develop Metro apps.

Now coming to the former, there are no known changes under the hood when compared to Windows 7 classic apps framework, so logically, most long time developers might not consider to have their apps ported to Metro.

4. Enterprises will Simply Not be Interested in Windows 8

What does Windows 8 contain apart from Metro interface? Windows Store, a new ribbon interface for explorer, a revamped task manager and a handful more expected internal updates. Sadly, the corporate big-wigs are not even remotely interested in these at the expense of wasted man-hours or relearning the interface and training employees for Metro. If Windows 8 Metro interface would be as famous as iPad, we could barely see pilot projects based on this but not a complete upgrade like Windows XP to Windows 7 or even Windows Vista to Windows 7.

5. Windows 7 is Just Perfect Right Now.

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While this argument might sound rather silly at first, Windows 7 “just works” wonderfully, whether it is switchable graphics, or gaming. Apart from the new interface, there is practically nothing the common windows user would gain from the upgrade (except if Microsoft has added more features in Windows 8 on top of the dev. preview).

Remember that unlike Mac OS X which is mere $30 upgrade, Windows is very expensive from any point (the basic version of Win 7 costs about 4x the price of OS X ) Also it is unanimously the successor of Windows XP, which is why corporate houses are upgrading or planning to Windows 7 because Windows XP support will end soon. While all these factors are not at all Windows 8 team’s fault, this will simply work to the disadvantage of Microsoft.

Concluding

Although I would love to see Windows 8 as an another successful product from Microsoft, things might go exactly opposite for the reasons I’ve stated. If it happens, it would be a death bell for the entire PC market which is already witnessing flat growth rates and even loss making in some cases.

Though, the ball is in Microsoft’s court and small things like a neat way to get back the Windows 7 Start Menu, more focus on desktop at the least for PC edition of Windows 8, optimising the disk usage, taking note of user feedback on Metro, etc., would just go a long  way to ensure that this release of Windows does not bomb like its now legendary Vista release. Stay tuned for more action.

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