Microsoft

Microsoft's monumental task in Windows 9: Win back the base

At CES 2014, computer makers were already looking past Windows 8. Here's what Microsoft can do to get vendors and computer buyers back on the bandwagon in Windows 9.

 

win8-rp-startscreen.jpg

The executive frantically tapped several different keys on the svelte new laptop he was demonstrating, but nothing happened. The screen didn't change. He paused, started tapping furiously again. Still nothing.

"Wait just a second, let me go grab another machine," he said.

He sped into the other room and came back with an identical looker of the new laptop. With an exhale and a smile he launched back into his demo--the same spiel he'd given to countless journalists in his company's hospitality suite throughout the week at CES 2014.

He was back in the zone. And then, suddenly, it happened again. The screen totally froze. He was in a different part of the software but the same thing happened. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap. Nada.

The color drained from his face as he went into damage-control mode, speaking calmly and apologizing.

"It's Windows 8. What can you do?" I said and shrugged.

He said nothing. What could he say? His company had worked for over a year on product development on this, its next-generation flagship laptop. It was an extremely well-crafted device. Every edge was tapered beautifully. The new material on the cover looked and felt great. It was slimmer, faster, and ran longer on a single charge than any machine they'd ever made.

Unfortunately, it had an anchor weighing it down: Windows 8.

To be fair, I'm sure that machine made it through lots of demos at CES without Window 8 freezing up, so the fact that two machines froze up during a single demo was horribly unlucky. However, this machine's Windows 8 problems were a fitting symbol of the status of Windows 8 at CES 2014.

Windows 8 was everywhere and nowhere.

It powered lots of the latest PCs that were showcased across Central Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Intel had one of the largest, splashiest booths at the show and it sported gorgeous exhibits of the best PC hardware in the world in all kinds of different configurations, almost running Windows 8.

But, hardly any vendors were actually talking about Windows 8. Microsoft pulled out of CES a couple years ago, so it wasn't there to splash Windows 8 across the show. Intel focused totally on the hardware. HP's biggest news of the show was a line of Android-powered PCs. Lenovo also announced an Android-powered PC and with its Windows machines it put the emphasis on its own software add-ons such as camera gestures and voice control. Toshiba made a big deal about announcing its first Google Chromebook and LG got a lot of attention for its new line of Google Chromebase all-in-one PCs.

Tech Pro Research on this topic: The desktop diehard's guide to making Windows 8 work like Windows 7 | Microsoft's latest mobile platforms bring back more business-friendly features | Microsoft enterprise primer on Office 365: Past, present, and future | Microsoft enterprise primer on Windows Azure networking | Intel's Haswell architecture: A tech guide | BYOD Business Strategies - Adoption Plans, Deployment Options, IT Concerns, and Cost Savings |

The bottom line is that computer makers were already looking past Windows 8 at CES. Of course, Microsoft now being in the hardware business with the Surface likely played into the Windows malaise. Whatever the case, it puts a lot of pressure on Microsoft to right the ship with Windows 9. They need to give computer makers something to rally around and give computer buyers a reason to replace that four year old laptop that's running Windows 7. Users and businesses need something that offers tangible benefits.

Windows 8 isn't it. And, while Windows 8.1 is better, it's not the answer either. The combination of the two have just barely cracked 10% market share in 18 months since Windows 8 launched. By comparison, Windows 7 had about 30% market share at this point in its history and has continued to grow to the point that it now has almost 50% market share in the Windows ecosystem.

Long-time Windows enthusiasts will argue that this isn't much of a surprise because the last six versions of Windows have alternated between a successful version accepted by the public and an unsuccessful version rejected by it. The argument goes...

Windows 98 was a success.
Windows Millenium Edition (Me) was a failure.
Windows XP was a success.
Windows Vista was a failure.
Windows 7 was a success.
Windows 8 was a failure. 
Windows 9 ... ?

So, this line of thinking goes that Microsoft will naturally gets things back on track with Windows 9. However, that's far from a sure thing. To get there, Microsoft will likely have to backtrack on forcing the tiled Modern UI on users in such a draconian way--in much the same way that Microsoft had to backtrack on Trusted Computing in Vista because it popped up security warnings so often that users eventually just tuned them out and clicked "Okay" every time.

In both cases, Microsoft overcompensated for major challenges that Windows was facing. For Vista, it was dealing with the massive security problems that had led earlier versions of Windows to become a repeated target for high-profile viruses and malware during the early 2000s. For Windows 8, it was dealing with the threat that tablets like the iPad were eating the bottom out of the PC market.

Microsoft failed the average user in both cases by not coming up with a solution that was easy enough to navigate. Both Vista and Windows 8 confused and frustrated too many users. IT departments recognized it right away, and as a result, small businesses and enterprises opted out.

While Windows 8 has a small legion of fans, the adoption numbers show that mainstream Windows users as well as businesses have rejected it. We regularly hear stories from ZDNet and TechRepublic readers that add context to that story.

We hear from consultants who tell us they have been extremely busy for the past 18 months because so many small businesses have bought Windows 8 machines and asked them to come in and install Windows 7 over the top. We hear from enterprise IT leaders who say they have no plans to put any of their employee machines on Windows 8 because there's no added value for the average desktop or laptop user. We hear from long-time Windows fans who eagerly bought a hybrid machine like the Microsoft Surface or the Dell XPS 11 or the Lenovo Yoga and have been more frustrated than empowered by the experience of going back and forth between the tablet and computer modes.

In fact, one of the executives we met at CES worked for a partner of one of the computer giants. He repeated a similar story. Recently bought a new hybrid machine. Was really excited about it. However, he admitted that switching back and forth between the tablet and laptop modes was a lot less intuitive than he expected. He was disappointed. And now, he's stuck with the machine.

These are the converted. These are people already pre-disposed to sticking around the Windows ecosystem, and too many of them are having a hard time buying in. These are the people Microsoft has to satisfy with Windows 9.

In streamlining, simplifying, and cleaning up Windows Vista and turning it into Windows 7, Microsoft did a remarkable job. We shouldn't underestimate that. But, we should also recognize it as a brilliantly-executed strategic retreat.

In Windows 9, Microsoft will likely need to make another retreat. It will need to renew some of its focus on the standard desktop and laptop users that remain its core user base. It will need to focus on the things it can do to make their work easier, faster, and more productive. Yes, that will likely mean integrating multi-touch, camera gestures, and voice recognition in smart ways. But, Microsoft has to do it without forcing new interface concepts on users in places where it doesn't necessarily add anything, and sometimes even forces extra complexity.

That's a big task. It's a bigger task than what the company had to do between Vista and Windows 7, and that was a miraculous turnaround. Don't underestimate Microsoft in this, but don't underestimate the size of the task, either.

This article was originally published on ZDNet as "Windows 9: Can Microsoft pull off another miracle?"

Also see

 

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.

129 comments
andromedasj
andromedasj

The problem users have is that they get used to using an operating system and programs efficiently over a few years of use then BAMM! Some prat pulls the rug from under their feet and gives the user something messes up productivity.


Take for example the move from Office 2003 to 2007. How many of us asked the question "Who the hell messed about with the interface?" I can still go back to Office 2003 and work more efficiently than I can with 2007/2010.


Next time they tinker with Office give the user the ability to switch between simple user mode and advanced user mode. The more buttons/tabs there are the more a user will be reluctant to work with the program.


Same goes for Windows 8. People have been used to XP, Win7 for over 10 years now (Win7 a little less) and then some Young enthusiastic Muppet decides it would be a good thing to give the user something that resembles a Mobile phone app screen.


If Microsoft don't sort their ideas out soon then you they will find a vast majority of home based and business based users will look elsewhere.


Old Saying "If it isn't Broke, Don't fix it!" Remember too that there is an older generation out there who still have the ability to use computers. Cater for the Masses not the Elite few.

chuck.warren
chuck.warren

There are definite pro's and con's to Windows 8, but there are also pro's and con's to every other operating system. I have a hard time believing the two laptop lock up story since I have yet to see a Windows 8 computer go to a blue screen type of situation and have only seen one computer lock up at all - and that turned out to be a hard drive failing. 


Windows 7 is a terrific operating system, but the Libraries feature is clumsy. The user's folder structure could have been thought out better. This is especially evident in a workplace environment with mapped drives. But people adopted it because it is familiar - the UI is the same tried and true Start button style interface. 


The biggest reason for lack of adoption for Windows 8 in the workplace is that many companies just finished, or are finishing in our case, a roll out of Windows 7. We are not about to turn around and do it all over again. The down-turn in the economy slowed our upgrade schedule and we are just now catching back up. We will probably sit out Windows 8, but only for that reason. Not because of any flaws, real or perceived. 


In my experience as a professional the people who are the quickest to adapt to Windows 8 are the people with the least technical ability. Power users kick and scream because they can't find the controls they are used to messing with. I have set up more than 100 Windows 8 computers for people and migrated their stuff to it, and as long as I spend 5 - 10 minutes holding their hand they are fine with it. It runs great, and it doesn't seem to break. It's just the interface that puts people off at first. 


The miserable reviews and press that Windows 8 has received is unfair in my opinion, and no - I am not a Windows "enthusiast". I am just an IT professional who understands that Windows is a major part of my business and will not be going away any time soon. I think the Chrome OS is fabulous, and I use Mint with Cinnamon on my primary desktop. However, I carry a Lenovo Yoga with Windows 8 with me everywhere I go and think it's the best laptop I've ever owned. The battery life and stand by time is fantastic, it comes and goes from Standby with no hiccups at all, connects to wireless networks with ease, and does everything i need when I need it. I use it almost every day and have no complaints. 


I don't understand the comment about "going back and forth between tablet and computer modes", with Windows 8 on my Yoga they are the same thing. There is no change to the UI, which I assume is exactly what Microsoft was after in the design. As a Yoga owner I regularly flip back and forth and have no issues with the change. 


The hit and miss cycle with Microsoft operating systems is well known, but as far as I'm concerned Windows 8 is neither. It isn't perfect, but it isn't a poorly crafted, buggy product like ME either. It is different, that's the biggest problem. Most users are not tech savvy, they just want to get their job done. Windows 8 is different, that's it's biggest fault. 


It will be interesting to see what tack Microsoft takes with Windows 9, especially in the face of increasing competition from Android and Chrome. 


Chuck

Blue Marble Consulting 

sweetcheers1234
sweetcheers1234

i am not against new windows, but it piss me off when microsoft remove handy features form previous systems and made other things even worse. And let's be honest why the hell microsoft changed win 8 so badly from win XP? I use system for many things, not just for running stupid internet but i do a lot in just system using text files and microsoft made it worse even with this. Many people expect simple interface of system as XP but microsoft try to change this realy unnecessarly and that's why microsoft should think and see what realy people want. If they want XP so make win 9 as XP and people will love microsoft

luckyg
luckyg

For PCs Win 98 had its problems, I liked Win 98se, I didn't find WinMe much different from Win 98se. For systems there were various versions of  Win NT that were stable and secure. I liked Win XP, Vista was a bust in every way it could be, I like Win 7, Win8 & 8.1 seems like it came out too soon after Win 7 to make it even an economic choice. At the rate they are coming out with the same OS with a revised UI I'll probably wait for Win 10 or 11 before investing in a new OS. Unless of course Linux proves itself better in the market place before that. And for those who point out that XP wasn't reliable at first I must agree, I didn't change over until SP2 came out. However with over 400 updates since then XP is now a stable and reliable OS and should not be abandoned but should be continued to be improved and kept compatible with older and ever changing hardware.

patwjscott
patwjscott

I Love these articles. 

Windows XP was not popular at all for at least 18 months when it came out. I remember a lot of people refusing to upgrade to it. Now people wont leave it.


As for Windows 8. I have been using it since release and upgraded to 8.1 on release. I have not had any major issues on my system even though the Manufacturer only supports Windows 7 on it. 


That is not to say that I haven't seen any problems. I am currently trying to repair a Windows 8 tablet which randomly chooses when it detects different pieces of permanently installed hardware. though I think this is more of a driver issue then anything else, Windows 8 is making it fiddly to try to fix the issue.


Overall I have no real complaints for Windows 8. I just think Microsoft made too much of an interface change and removed to much compatibility in one hit for most people.

AlanCx86
AlanCx86

I just "bought" a new system from HP (I don't remember buying a PC, only building them!). A higher end Envy system with Win 8.1. It IS confusing at first, where did this get installed ?, where are my pictures?, Is this IE or the desktop?, etc. I go back to the 3.0 days and before (I even have a Win 1.0 box with 5 1/4 floppies, bought from a garage sale!) Being use to the XP interface, then 7, I do admit Win 8 seems to be mush faster, but the seeming complexity of where everything is at is disappointing. I guess this is due to the fact that I know how it works "under the hood" but I can't find the release lever. One thing I did add is the Start8 app that does make it work like XP. Still, with the corner pointing, slide down on the right, Metro style, etc. I never had a Tablet but this seems to be the perfect interface for that (No Mouse, No Keyboard) Hell, I was confused when Windows Explorer wasn't much different looking from Internet Explorer (I don't think I needed Favorites when I was looking at my Drives and Files) Try Start8 from Stardock (No, I don't work for them) It has made things easier. Oh, If you think you go way back, I still have my Radio Shack Model I and it works!

KentC13
KentC13

Windows 8 was a failure. 


That is the BIGGEST LIE I have ever read as an IT Technician. The author should be ashamed at this Windows 8 Smear Campaign!


I'm the IT Lead for a small business named NovaTel,Ltd. who I single-handedly upgraded most our office laptops to Windows 8. Some did want to stick with Windows 7, but why? It's slow compared to Windows 8, and the battery life on all the DELL's INCREASED. Plus with an SSD even on the older HP laptops, the load time with Windows 8 vs. Windows 7 was incredibly faster! The Execute Disable feature was the only bummer but I see why they did such. 


Overall, I don't agree with the masses if this is the "accepted" ideal of what Windows 8 is.


Windows 7 sucks. Sorry, never was a fan and still am not.


I have my Lenovo B570, and have quad-boot with the following:


Windows 7 Pro

Windows 8 Pro

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

Puppy Linux 4.3.1 


Let me tell you, the one I use the most is Windows 8. It's easy and I've had no real issues, I've been able to tweak it and make it work well. I also got my copy FREE when they I discovered the Exploits out there, but for my company, I got everyone on the 15.00 USD promotion, so the upgrade was CHEAP!


Microsoft didn't mess up here, I want to lay blame on the overall dumbing-down of PC/laptop users in general. Windows 8.1, only reason I don't upgrade to that is because of the KVM servers issues. 


Windows 8 is a great OS, then XP is the next in line, after that.. Windows 2000/2003... the rest of them, won't bad mouth, but I wouldn't waste my time with those!


Kent C. [www.puppylinux431.com]

HOTRHOXZ
HOTRHOXZ

If I were to offer any advice to Microsoft Designers : It is this : read articles like this and then pick the top 200 or so of the people who seem to be having the most trouble adapting to the OS that you have just released.


Go to their home or office and spend real time looking at how they attempt the use the brilliant OS that you have developed which acts like putty in your hands but is so unmanageable in theirs. 


I think you will quickly learn that most people are not as computer literate as you and your fellow designers are. But you will also discover that Most of us like to do things that require little or no real brain power to accomplish.


So! If installing the OS  requires the installer to supply the OS with pertinent information then it is the OS that should be able to search the hardware and install the necessary drivers and applications needed to allow the user to have his OS up and running in the least possible time with an absolute minimum of input from him or her.


An example of this would be a series of wizards that examine each computer on boot up and then analyze it and then give the user a series of choices, such as 1: Your Computer has four Disks 

( 2) : Disk 1 is 500 mb. This disk contains data files and is not suitable for OS unless you delete and reformat 

       Disk 2 is a solid state 250 gb  Blank disk and is highly suitable for this Operating System.

         Disk 3 is a 2 Tb and is suitable as a backup and data storage disk

         Disk 4 is a  .....etc.etc.


In other words the Installer Disk should be able to gather and install everything on your computer as if it were an intelligent computer expert sent to your home with no input from you other than your personal details, telephone number, address, age sex etc.


I have purchased so much aggravating software and various operating systems over the years that I could literally strangle any IT expert I could get my hands on because, too often they do not allow you to decide what and how you want the application or OS to look like and operate when installed.


I am what is called a computer Dummy. The kind of person that people have made millions out of by publishing Books called Windows for Dummies etc.etc.


Microsoft and Apple and just about any Computer, hardware, software, tablet or smart phone manufacturer would triple its market share if it  they employed more dummies and computer illiterate  persons to road test their products.


In fact I would even go so far as to say they would only need One such person ...ME, because When it comes to computers and finding faults and bugs in programs and applications I am a genius, because I am so stupid, if something doesn't work or is difficult to do on a computer i can find it in a few short minutes and start asking myself the obvious question, why is this so difficult?


Don't get me started... !! For example ! why is there no World Wide Web depository site for every driver that has ever been  written for every electronic computer driven device manufactured by any one who markets computer driven equipment. A sort of Wikipedia of "Computer Drivers" library


Why can't we have standardized phone and mobile equipment data cables and charging plugs.


It's just crazy! if you buy five different Phones, every one has a different data and charging system and OS. Surely it's time as a world, that is becoming more and more connected via all these devices we can come up with a simple standardized system.


I would love to be able to disable every aspect of my OS that is never used, but still have it there on a DVD to install if required at a later date. 

LouDamelin1
LouDamelin1

For what it is worth did you know that Zorin linux provides a look changer for their ubuntu based distribution?

With it you can make the desktop look like XP, Win7, or Gnome in the free edition.

If you go for the paid version three additional choices are provided including the Apple desktop. 

Some posters have asked Microsoft for choices.  That might be something to consider.



nitehawk10
nitehawk10

wthose of us who have used Windows Windows 9 should offer the classic version as they did in windows XP. For those of us used Windows 3 through 98 And then XP which offered a classic feature which made it easy  to continue without any redesign or pictures. 

iswayn
iswayn

An easy "User Interface" with a rather familiar look-and-feel to XP but very much a Windows 7/8 look-a-like under-the-hood, might just encourage a huge mass exodus to Windows 9 "Desktop" after April 8....!!!

iswayn
iswayn

How about presenting succeeding Windows for Desktop versions with "odd" version numbers starting with 9, and succeeding Winows for Tablets with "even" version numbers. That then assures us discerning users that we are getting exactly what we think we are getting...!!! My financial indulgence awaits.

davidjbell
davidjbell

First, the CES problem Jason reported was probably a hardware design issue; don't assume everything is in the software. I'm an electronics engineer and know just how complex these PCs are. Many manufacturers assume you just bolt the modules together and they will just work ; wrong. It's no accident that Dell, HP and Lenovo hardware platforms are so good; they test the hell out of them as a hardware system just as auto manufacturers do.


Now to Win 8.1 When I first used it I hated it. Having just purchased six HP Pavillions with 8.1 installed I'm beginning to change my mind. HP have done a good job first by making Win 8.1 start-up in the desktop; wow. They have done a few other things to make life easy and to be fair Win 8.1 itself has behaved itself very well. So good hardware and with 8.1s relative maturity we may be going somewhere. Pity MS Office Pro Plus 2010 SP2 disc is installed, taking ages, and is then completely ignored. UAC control remains an unnecessary pain.

APPIRITION
APPIRITION

In 2013 I bought 24 PC's and laptops for a song from people who switched over to Win 8. I knew (following the logic the writer outlined) that Win 8 will eventually flop and people will want to back track to Win 7. I have the utmost faith in Win 7 for its stability and operational capabilities. Well the story has a happy ending. I sold all the machines at 3 times the price of a new Win 8 equivalent. On second hand sites, the item that is in biggest demand is a Win 7 machine. MS hope you guys are taking note.

pbug56
pbug56

Windoze 8.x did not singlehandedly destroy the PC industry, but they sure have made a mess of it.  I wanted to buy a new, mostly mainstream laptop with modern hardware with Win 7 - but HP and Dell just won't sell me one unless it is either very old or very poorly equipped.  I won't buy 8 - the GUI is mostly unusable for serious computing.  


Sadly, all Microsloth needs to do is a hot patch that adds a switch that allows users to have the Win 7 GUI if and when they choose it.  But with their head buried in the sand, it's not going to happen any time soon.  They'd rather destroy the PC industry then to admit such a huge mistake.

dslovejoy
dslovejoy

Too many of my customers no longer trust Microsoft. They are asking about Apple computers and Linux (Ubuntu) systems so they don't have to put up with Microsoft's games anymore.

kevsan
kevsan

A smartphone is not a Notebook. A Notebook is not a desktop so Microsoft stop trying to merge them altogether.

Each type equates to how much computing power is needed. No designer can create on a smartphone or notebook. No person who only send emails or hops on to Facebook need a desktop. We all have different needs so forget bundling a OS to do it all. Create separate ones that suit the environment.

Desktop touch screens will never make the grade unless the user has 3 yard long arms or King Kong strength shoulder muscles.



macgvr
macgvr

It is interesting to read the various comments. Some think the naysayers are crazy and those who hate Windows 8 think the proponents are nuts. The thing is, what so most people think about 8? If most don't like it then it is going nowhere. The part I don't like is that Microsoft tried to force their view of how we should use our computers down our throats and I don't appreciate that. It was very possible for them to give the user options but they didn't. I understand the desire to merge desktop and tablet OSes. I have no problem with that. It makes sense in many ways. However, to force everyone to work the same way on both tablet and Desktop was unwise. Any company must make allowance for it's entire user population, not just part of it. That means, in this instance, giving users the flexibility to use the OS in the way that suits them best. Some love the Modern interface, great! Let them use that interface. Some prefer the Desktop, wonderful, let them have that option. Why must it be one or the other? It doesn't have to be that way and that is what I take issue with.

Glynn1937
Glynn1937

Just waiting to see what Windows 9 does for us. Win-8 didn't fair so good

aliceten
aliceten

Well, you can use Long Path Tool for such problems, it works good.

jp-dutch
jp-dutch

In my company, a (mainly) Dutch Bank, we have just migrated the bulk of our applications to Win7.
The main reason we are not switching to Win8, is that it brings too little extra functionality to the average desktop and laptop to merit the extra work.

And we are definitely not waiting for Win9.
We want a 5 year cycle in which the OS becomes more mature and secure.
And more easily deployable as virtual Desktop.


Vista failed in the market because it was a resource hog and overly complex.

And because of this it certainly could not be used to upgrade existing PC's.

smith.jenkinson
smith.jenkinson

I'm using an Asus Transformer Prime to access in 7 on my PC. MS could do a lot worse than copy Splashtop's methods for handling Win 7. Given the increasing power and decreasing costs of tablets why don't Microsoft do a full implementation of Win 7 with a good user interface for tablets and call it Win 9? If people want the look and feel of Win 8 then Microsoft could have that as an extra - or let users choose from third party alternatives.

ctv5
ctv5

I get the sense that you have a point of view and you're looking for evidence to support it. We are using W8 across numerous platforms and, to a person, we are really enjoying it. There is a large constituency who like the direction MS has gone. Time will tell all, I suppose...

firstaborean
firstaborean

I'd be willing to bet that the executive described at the start of the article was using a 64-bit version of Windows 8.  Windows 7 uses the same 64-bit kernel and has the same freeze-up problem; it loses its video driver.  One usually need do no more than pause and wait a minute for it to recover.  The 32-bit version of Windows 7 does not have this problem.  Microsoft seems reluctant to repair this kernel-based problem, so I really feel for that executive, but everybody I've talked with who has either 64-bit Windows 7 or 64-bit Windows 8 has these freeze-ups, and Windows, itself, divulges that it's a kernel-level problem.


C'mon, Microsoft, fix it!

Myrna Taylor
Myrna Taylor

Keep it around long enough for people to learn how to use it.

kavanaghk
kavanaghk

My biggest issue with Windows 8 is still that if you don't have a program like Adobe Reader installed and  set as default you are brought to an App when opening a PDF. Now you can't view your desktop at the same time. Same thing goes for Pics and other file types. I am not sure if they put it back in 8.1 but the start menu missing and not having easy access to open up a command prompt if needed was another nuisance with Windows 8 I found. Maybe there are more keyboard shortcuts I wasn't aware of.


I think they had it right with Windows 7 and tried to get too cute with Windows 8 and it was a terrible idea in my opinion. 

blatanville
blatanville

The reports of Windows 8's failure are largely premature and stupid.

Read back to articles from the early years of XP. It was declared a failure because it was "slow to catch on with business." People didn't like the way it differed from Win98 or 2000, or they did but it was "too colourful and looked like a toy" 

Two years after its debut, and given a service pack to iron out the bugs, it really started to take off and became the rock to which business and timid users are clinging to today (13 years after the initial debut).

If people are afraid of Windows 8's differences, it's because the press - like, say, this very site, have been telling them how bad it is. Spend 20 minutes, realize that other than the start menu being a whole screen, there isn't a whole lot that's different, and nothing so radically different you can't get used to it.

The secret is the Windows key, people. Tap it, and the Start Screen is gone, gone! Tap it again, and the Start Screen returns. Other than that, you don't need to really think about the Start Screen - the Windows desktop is pretty much the same model as it was in Win95.


Get over it.

Microsoft only has to "win back" the fickle, timid people who believe what they're told, not what they experience...

xplorer1959
xplorer1959

@andromedasj  You're right about one thing- there is an older generation out there. But don't assume they're incapable of learning new things just because so many younger have such cognitive problems. My mother is 76 years old and had used Windows XP on a desktop for 8 years. Then, she tried my Windows 8 laptop, went and bought one for herself and, without even having to call me for help, learned to use it on her own, then found the simple instructional videos included and learned much more.

If you're having problems adjusting to the far more efficient 'ribbon' in Office, then use a modern version and go back to the simplistic and time consuming menus- that's an option included for those who have a hard time grasping new concepts...

As for the UI, it's just like Windows 7, except faster and easier to use, the 'start menu' that so many seem to want back was a total  mess compared to the easy to use start and search menu in Windows 8.

And the tiled screen- I see a lot of people who haven't actually tried it or spent any amount of time using it bash it because it looks "different" (wow, that's a valid complaint- it looks different and I'm so scared of it!), you're NOT required to use unless you want to. And if resembling a phone interface (specifically the Windows 8 phone UI) is so bad, then why does Apple's latest iterations of ios look so much like that interface and why are Apple and Google working on their own copies of it?

I'm pretty sure that when automatic transmissions were first introduced on cars , quite a few people complained because it was different than what they were accustomed to and said the same thing- "If it ain't broke, don't fix it'." Well, cell phones weren't "broke" either, but smart phones are steadily replacing them and they look nothing like the good old cell phone! Imagine that, an improved product! Gee, I hope I can learn to use it, tough; it looks different...

Blomange
Blomange

@chuck.warren I would be fine with the Win8 user interface it if would just run all of the business applications that I am dependent on. These applications will not operate on any MS OS since XP. I have migrated to Win7 for my "paper work" but rely on XP for laboratory use. I find that the "improvements" to Win7 (and Office 2007) to be more cumbersome and less efficient.

Microsoft's answer to my problem was for me to tell the vendor of those software's to provide Win7 compatible updates. The problem is that those programs were developed in house at great expense and the developers are no longer available. I am now faced with the cost and effort of assembling a team to modify these programs just to run on a different OS. If I go the Windows route I will have to replace many perfectly good computers (and their data acquisition peripherals which will further complicate the software development effort) with machines that meet the increased Win8 hardware requirements. All of this effort will result in my applications providing the same results as on the old platform with no practical improvements in efficiency. But at least I will be able to continue to receive the frequent Microsoft patches to correct for security and other deficiencies (/sarc).


I find the many features offered in Win8 as negatives. I do not want my data on the cloud. It is difficult to document how to run commands on a graphical interface (i.e. look for the icon that looks like ...). I also am tired of the arrogance of Microsoft (e.g. You are going to like Win8 and the computer offerings and if you don't, you are just too lazy to learn).

It is clear that Microsoft is targeting the novice user so I as a business user will need to target an OS that meets my needs.

Blomange
Blomange

@patwjscott I am one of those people that reluctantly went to XP and now do not wish to leave it. The primary reason is pretty simple. Many of my critical business applications will not run on any newer Windows OS versions. To me the OS is simply a environment to run programs. Since Vista, Win7 or Win8 will not run my applications they really do not qualify.


So why is it that I should migrate to Win8? I am told that it has a great user interface and that it is way more secure. Based on my originally stated issue it would not matter if Microsoft came up with a user interface that could read my mind. If it cannot run my applications it is just a flashy toy.


Because of Microsoft's inability to maintain backwards compatibility I am faced with the expense of having these applications rewritten to operate on a new OS. Given that Microsoft is clearly more focused on the non-professional user it really does not make sense to apply this effort to continue with Microsoft.

For those who say that the people who do not like Win8 cannot handle change you would be wrong. I am very much looking forward to my migration to Linux.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

@KentC13 "I'm the IT Lead for a small business named NovaTel,Ltd. who I single-handedly upgraded most our office laptops to Windows 8"

Well apart from your clumsy and ungrammatical sentence structure, I have to feel for the poor workers of NovaTel because your opinions are strangely out of step with the industry. Yes, 7 added some complications to procedures that had been quite simple in XP, but overall it offered big improvements in security, speed, and stability. You simply "didn't like it" but I note you offer no meaningful reasons or foundation for that dislike - could it be because you are just biased?


As for accusing the author of the article of lying - again, can you offer any evidence to support this theory of yours? Whereas the author reports facts and his own experience, all you seem to have on offer are opinions.


Your rant is typical of many of the nerd arguments I have heard over the many years I have been in  this industry where the emotions and (very strongly held) opinions of the ranter are held to be all that is important, and the rest of the world can just go to hell. Try opening your mind a little before you open the tap on your flame-thrower.

picklepants26
picklepants26

@davidjbell if dell/hp are so good why do the lock there bios? answer cheap nasty prebuilts go get a real comp then post something usefull lol asus will wipe the floor with any prebuilt 

xplorer1959
xplorer1959

@macgvr  So, you're saying that 200 million + Windows 8 users in less than 2 years mean the system isn't going to last? Man, I'd love to have that kind of "failure"; and Apple would probably love it if Windows 8 doesn't exceed in number all mac machines combined within the next two years, but not much chance of that happening...

rmalako
rmalako

@macgvr "Microsoft trieed t force their view of how we should use computers down our throats".  Apple has been doing that from the beginning.  It doesn't have to be one or the other.  If you want to spend most of your time on the desktop it is not significantly diffetrent from Windows 7.   I you want to leave the desktop and run an app (Angry Birds on a 22 inch screen is fun) you have that option.  That's more choice than you get from Apple. 

pbug56
pbug56

@jp-dutch A US bank I did a consulting gig for last year is also migrating to 7.  It works well even under their oldest PCs, is easy for most users to adjust to, and accommodates most of their apps.  8 adds nothing except grief and lack of usability.


BTW, I wonder if the bank you work in is the one I worked in for several years a while ago (US entity centered in NYC)!

cpguru21
cpguru21

@jp-dutch Exactly right with the resource hog.  I worked at a shop that also had a store front and initially we sold Acer laptops that were vista certified.  AMD Sempron and Intel Celeron single core that were certified with 512mb ram.


needless to say these systems came back often for upgrades or replacement.  A huge issue in my view with Vista was the roll out.  AND the need for new hardware because it was a resource hog.  Other than that, I was ok with the OS.

vbooker
vbooker

@smith.jenkinson Well said! Functionally, Windows 7 is exactly what the professional and educational environments need. Implementing a "touch mode" for tablets and touch sensitive monitors would allow flexibility for existing and emerging desktops and mobile computing, while maintaining what we have all come to love about Windows 7. More Win 7, less Win 8. It is ok for Windows to be different. Let Apple and Android fight over that type of interface, at the end of the day we use PCs to make our money....

Fletchguy
Fletchguy

@ctv5 

Well its not a large group supporting Windows 8 or 8.1 and thats been proven by the god awful numbers and decline in  sales of everything that switched over to windows 8. Yes there is a small sector that is happy with it but if your a large world company who is in this to make money you dont want to satisfy a meger 10-15% you want that 85-90% which windows 8 lost.

xplorer1959
xplorer1959

Yeah, at least 30 minutes for the computer illiterate!

kavanaghk
kavanaghk

In case you are wondering why I would need to see my desktop while viewing a pdf here is an example. Lets say you are reading an e-book and want to make notes or follow directions how can you view your desktop and the pdf at the same time unless you install another program and set it as the default for the file type? 

Fletchguy
Fletchguy

@blatanville Yup all they have to do is win back the 70% of former windows users who absolutly hate the modern tiled UI of windows 8/8.1 which means they have to dump that idea and go with what the mass majority of their consumer base demands in order to purchase. Its not media making window 8 a failk its the fact if a product does not give the buyer something they value then no matter what it is it does not sell.


They can fix this easily if they wish too. Just in windows 9 make the classic desktop the default which will have the classic start button and menu. Have a icon on the desktop like they do with explorer that you can click to open the metro desktop to run metro apps.If the user doesnt need it then it stays quietly out of the way . Allow the user to switch the default boot to as an option for those who need metro modern UI tiles. They need to do this with the tablets and phones too. Let windows users use windows or go to metro when ever that might need to happen. One os does not fit all unless its flexible to the device it is on.

blarman
blarman

@blatanville

If the fickle, timid people didn't constitute 80% of the market, you may have a point.  The problem is that businesses and users both vote with their wallets, and the market share numbers are the best bellweather into product acceptance.

And, yes, I've used Windows 8 and the interface is a joke on the desktop - epic fail in gamers' terms.  I've been in IT since NT 3.5 and seen every flavor since.  What I think Microsoft has really done over their history is imbue a permanent skepticism in ALL users' minds with their new products due to their record of failure on the first attempt.  Windows 98 didn't solidify until SE.  Windows NT was okay at 4.0 but MUCH better with Windows 2000.  Vista was a complete flop and then you got the upgrade to Seven that finally worked.  I won't go into ME or Media Center.

The long and the short is that Microsoft needs to pay more attention to the users and less to their product development engineers.  The Desktop OS doesn't need to be flashy or touchy - it needs to get people to the apps they use.  People don't buy computers for the OS - they buy them to get stuff done, whether that's gaming, office productivity, design, documents, etc.  Stop trying to make the OS the center of the world - you're not that important.

eaglewolf
eaglewolf

I am neither fickle or timid.   I resent being put in that category just because I don't like Win8 and certainly don't find it useable in any regard.   Unless, that is, you consider social networking and playing games 'useable.'

I happen to need an OS that is functional .. that does what *I* need it to do, not what Microsoft tells me I MUST accept simply because they came up with a flawed idea and, by God, it WILL be forced on users.

I need a working system - not a toy.   Yes, I've tried it and my productivity dropped like a rock.   For truly profesional system, network, and investigative needs, it fails across the board.   Touch screens?   On a 10 hour workday, that's the most impractical thing anyone can imagine.

If you like it, fine.  Use it.   But don't demean and insult people who don't like it or use it.   Wake up.   And no, it's not the 'wave of the future.'   It will only succeed in driving users away and what Microsoft will be left with IS a fickle, timid user base.   Somebody waves a prettier whatever in front of them and they'll be gone.   And well beyond Microsoft's ability to recovery.

xplorer1959
xplorer1959

@Fletchguy @blatanville  70%- just what are you talking about? All other end user operating systems combined don't add up to 70% of Windows' installed base, not to mention the hundreds of millions of pirated copies in use.

And Windows 8.1 boots to the classic desktop, and the tiled start screen is full of extras. More than 200 million Windows 8 tablets, laptops or desktops have been purchased and nearly all in use in less than 2 year! 200 million of a UI that looks nothing like the old-style, icons on a screen computers people have become used to seeing and using. Windows 8 is selling nearly as fast as Windows 7 did, and that is the fastest selling and most used operating system in history, so just what is it that "does not sell'? Unless you're talking about the mac os computers- they're far fewer of them sold than Windows 8... But I'm sure you didn't intentionally call Apple a failure, did you?

blatanville
blatanville

@blarman: and, as I said the start of my comment, it's too early to declare Win8 a failure based on adoption after just over a year. XP, the darling of the Windows Age, took several years to catch fire. (as an aside, Win2K was like the combat version of a Hummer, whereas XP was the consumer/street version)


"  The Desktop OS doesn't need to be flashy or touchy - it needs to get people to the apps they use. "


Seems to me, that MS is paying attention to the consumers, who ARE using touch-y devices, and is developing an OS that can meet that desire. The fact that they've combined it with all of the abilities of their flagship OS, and that it can serve both tablet and desktop users, seems to have pissed off or befuddled a lot of people. Apple chose the other path: two, distinct OSes for the two markets. Which approach you prefer, which approach will survive, is up to time (note the number of people touting that they can get along just great with something like a Chromebook, which is a hybrid, or with Android, which has hybrid potential, too. I bought an ASUS T300 Transformer BECAUSE it can be my e-reader/facebook toy, and with the keyboard, I can work on real documents.


Surface Tablets seem really well-made, and the OS keeps advancing. I personally think the RT approach was a bad idea...one reason I went with another Android device...

xplorer1959
xplorer1959

@eaglewolf  Take your own advice: don't demean and insult those who actually know how to use Windows 8, which is actually very simple to be productive on. I don't use it because Microsoft FORCES ME, by God(!) to use it. I use it because it's faster and more efficient than Windows 7 and easier to use. And just why would you have a problem with a touchscreen when, for most work situations, a mouse and keyboard work better? You sound like you're easily offended and just looking for something to take your anger out on... 

blatanville
blatanville

@eaglewolf 

I really can't imagine how the Start Screen is preventing you from being productive in the way you formerly were under Windows XP or 7...have you got any examples?


Rather than curse the darkness, I'll light a candle, however:


Under windows 7, you logged in, and were presented with the desktop. This was the same place logging in had landed you (the typical Windows user) since Windows 95 debuted.

Likely, the applications you used every day were arranged on the taskbar, so you could quickly launch them and get on with being productive. Or, you might dot your desktop with shortcuts to applications. To each their own. (I like a nice, clean desktop with perhaps a few current documents, or a shortcut to a frequently used folder, but some like to litter it with every doc and app)

If there was something else you needed to launch, you clicked the Start button, a menu popped up, and you either navigated through the menu to find the app or document or panel you needed, or you started typing in the search box at the foot of the Start Menu, and the Windows index service tried to find what you were looking for.


Under Windows 8, you log in and are presented with the Start Screen. This is different from what you were used to. It IS a place where you can pin your favourite apps - just like the taskbar or desktop before. Also, while on the Start Screen, you can simply start typing the name of an application or document or panel if it isn't already right there on the first visible portion of the Start Screen. This is essentially the same functionality that the Start MENU of Win XP and 7 used, it's just bigger.

If you don't want to deal with the Start Screen, as many seem reluctant to do, you simply hit the Windows Key, and the regular old desktop appears, just the way you like it. IS the necessity of tapping the WinKey to restore your preferred UI enough to halt all productivity? Not likely.

Once you're on the traditional desktop, you never need look at or use ANY of the Modern UI applications. IF one of them has been set as the default for a particular filetype, well, you should know how to deal with that - it's the same process as it has been for years.

(I will say, as an aside, that the Netflix Modern UI app is great - functional, attractive, etc. It does what it's supposed to, it's automatically full-screen so I can watch my shows without distraction, etc.)

People often claimed that the Start Button was GONE from Win 8, but it was still there, just invisible unless you hovered your mouse over the lower-left corner. When you did so, a graphic of the Start Screen appeared. Click that (or, again, tap the Windows Key), and you'd be transported to the Start Screen. 

So, the Start Button took you to the Start Menu...the Start Screen Graphic (or WinKey) took you to the Start Screen...the correlation is so close...I don't know how this was confusing for people...


So, after the hue and cry in the press and from lots of people who didn't like this new variation, MS restored the Start Button when they released the first Service Pack, 8.1. That is what 8.1 realistically is, right? And don't we always see big improvements in a Windows operating System AFTER the first SP? Even the "Disaster" that was Vista was pretty decent after the first Service Pack. Apple's been releasing Service Packs for OS X for 12 years now, and, until the recent Service Pack, has been charging users for the privilege of upgrading. I think this is clear from actually using OS X, and from the fact that they're still designating them point releases of the same basic OS.


So, the Start Button is restored (well, simply made visible all the time, see my mention of the Start Button Graphic above), the Big Bad Microsoft listened to its customers and gave them what they wanted but didn't technically need. That's responding to customers, right?


So, you don't need any of the Modern UI apps**, and you can avoid the Start Screen a lot of the time...so I really, really don't see how these things are an impediment to productivity.


I hope that somewhere in here you find some tips that help you get along with, if not enjoy Windows 8. I've been using it for about 18 months, now, and I think it's terrific. I avoid most Modern Apps (I've listed the two exceptions), I've leveraged the Start Screen as a second-tier taskbar for somewhat-frequently-used applications, and I appreciate the overall stability that the OS has.


peace,


bud 



**(although launching Google Chrome v32 in Windows 8 mode essentially creates a ChromeOS environment running ON TOP OF the Windows desktop - it's pretty cool, and an opportunity for people who are curious about ChromeOS/Chromebooks to test it out before they commit to buying one. Very clever, that.)



Blomange
Blomange

@blatanville @eaglewolf For me it is not a question of the user interface (although I find that Microsoft primarily focuses playing with the user interface and their changes are often aimed at the more casual user). It is that I have numerous internally generated applications that will not run on Win8 which pretty much means that Win8 is useless to me.

I do resent Microsoft and others telling me what I should like and that it is time for me to buy new computers and software when they have offered no real incentive for me to do so other than their forced obsolescence. Win8 may run faster than Win7 or XP (for applications that will run on these OS's) but it should with the associated hardware requirements.

I am now forced to spend a great deal of money in assembling software developers to rewrite these in house programs. I do not wish to be dragged down to an argument over a start button or touch screen. I just want something that works and that will be around for the foreseeable future. Microsoft has not been able to satisfy this simple need since the introduction of Vista.

xplorer1959
xplorer1959

@blatanville Clear and concise! I can't imagine anyone who can read won't understand such basic comparisons, although some people will simply refuse to... I'll only add 2 things: a "Desktop" tile is on the metro-style screen that just needs to be clicked or tapped so the Windows key doesn't even have to be used, and, purely a personal preference, I won't use Google Chrome that runs on top of the Windows interface- that's the same thing AOL has always done. And I doubt Google Chrome will ever be able to run an emulated version of Windows 8 on it, so yes, that is very clever of Google: why let your competitor show off their product using your own product? Unless, you're not concerned with any significant portion of your user base switching OSes?

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