Windows 8

Microsoft is marketing Windows 8 to developers not to me and you

While Microsoft might be getting Windows 8 "just right" with developers, many IT pros seem to be feeling left out.

Last week, I wrote about the need for Microsoft fans to come out of the woodwork and show their enthusiasm for their operating system. There's one area where I am seeing enthusiasm, and that's surrounding Windows 8. It's especially coming from people who are hankering for a tablet and, for whatever reasons, don't feel that the iPad or its Android competitors meet their needs.

In fact, a recent survey by Boston Consulting Group showed that 42% and 44% of U.S. and Chinese consumers, respectively, want Windows on their tablets, compared with 27% and 34% percent who want Apple iOS and 20% and 18% who prefer Android. A Forrester poll from a few months back showed similar sentiments.

Developers, developers, developers

It's also clear that people within Microsoft are enthused about Windows 8 -- at least, when they will/can talk about it at all. I've heard some folks say that the company seems to be suffering from a curious split personality when it comes to sharing information about Windows 8 with the public. On the one hand, they're pushing it heavily to developers; the BUILD conference last month was all about creating apps for Windows 8 and the new Metro interface, and a pre-beta Developer Preview of the software was made available to anyone who wants to download it. There's obviously plenty of interest there, with over half a million copies downloaded in the first 24 hours of availability.

The Windows 8 Team Blog on the MSDN web site (for developers) is packed full of great information about the new OS. During the time I was writing this article, Steven Sinofsky posted a white-paper-length (9,000+ words) discussion about feedback Microsoft has received from users of the Developer Preview about the Windows 8 Start Screen.

IT pros and Windows 8

Over on the IT pro side of the fence, though, we aren't seeing nearly as much focus on Windows 8 in the documentation and marketing that's targeted at IT administrators. At least that's the perception. And that sort of makes sense. Windows 8 is still a good way from a release date, and most organizations won't deploy it for quite some time after that. IT pros have plenty of time to learn about the new OS features and functionalities and get up to speed on it. But developers need to start creating Metro apps now.

To compete with the iOS and Android ecosystems that already support tens to hundreds of thousands of apps, Windows 8 on a tablet will need to have a healthy selection of good apps available right out of the gate. Microsoft needs to convince developers to get on board early, and putting most of their efforts into getting it out there to the developers is just good business, even if it does leave some IT pros feeling a little like second-class citizens -- again.

I've heard quite a few complaints from IT pros who downloaded Windows 8 and were disappointed that they couldn't do much with the "regular Windows desktop view." I try to remind them that this is called a Developer's Preview for a reason; its sole purpose is to give developers a platform for creating Metro apps. It's not a beta to be evaluated by IT pros and consumers. That comes later.

The developer difference

There's a fundamental difference that I've observed in the way the typical IT pro reacts to a new operating system vs. the reaction of the typical developer. For the latter, it presents new challenges and new opportunities -- something that most programmers enjoy. They look forward to getting in there and creating new applications that will do more and be more fun to build. Sure, some will grumble about having to learn a new skill set, but in general I think dev-types have personalities that lend themselves to new adventures in coding.

IT pros, on the other hand, tend to prefer the status quo a bit more. They want things to run smoothly; they want users to stay happy; they want the network to stay up. Rolling out a new operating system, especially one that's drastically different from its predecessor represents a lot of headaches. At the same time that they're trying to learn the new ways of managing the systems, their users are lost in a new interface. Administrative overhead increases, at least temporarily, and so do support calls. Incorrect configurations and user errors can lead to connectivity problems, data loss, and more.

It's not time to market Windows 8 to businesses yet, and it won't be for a while. Many of those businesses that recently upgraded to Windows 7, after running XP on the desktop for a decade, would be perfectly happy to not upgrade again for another ten years.

Where are the consumers in this mix?

Based on my experiences, at this point most members of the general public are only vaguely aware of Windows 8 at all. The ones who do know something about it, and are excited about it, are the "power users" -- what we once called "computer hobbyists" -- who like living on the cutting edge of technology. Many of them are the ones who are clamoring for that Windows 8 tablet.

Unfortunately, however, the fact that Windows 8 is looming over the horizon is affecting many consumers who are perfectly happy with Windows 7 or Vista.

Recently I heard from a computer user who told me that she got a new Windows 7 laptop, after using it and liking it on her desktop for the past six months. The first thing she did was go looking for the desktop gadgets that she had come to rely on for various functions. Imagine her surprise when a visit to the Windows Live Gallery where she had previously browsed through hundreds of gadgets brought her to a page that said "Looking for gadgets? The Windows Live Gallery has been retired. In order to focus support on the much richer set of opportunities available for the newest version of Windows, Microsoft is no longer supporting development or uploading of new Gadgets."

The text went on to say that some of the most popular gadgets are still available in the Windows Personalization Gallery. You'll also find that this is now the website you'll be taken to if you select "Get more gadgets online" when you right-click the Windows 7 desktop and click Gadgets. Unfortunately, there are a mere 29 gadgets available on that page. None of them were the ones that she was looking for.

My friend was furious. "Why did Microsoft need to take away all those great gadgets? Not developing any new ones is one thing, but taking away the ones we used to be able to get so easily? Are they low on web server space or something? Seriously?"

I have no good answer for her. Yes, you might be able to do a search and find some of those gadgets on their developers' own web sites, but why should you have to spend a lot of time tracking them down? Removing the Gadget Gallery strikes people as just "mean for the sake of being mean." It doesn't even make sense as a tactic to force you to upgrade to Windows 8, since the new OS isn't even available yet.

I'm thinking Microsoft needs to get its enthusiasm for Windows 8 just a little more coordinated. While they might be getting it "just right" with developers, many IT pros seem to be feeling left out.

At the same time, some consumers think the company is jumping the gun by yanking support for Windows 7 features they like because they want to focus on the "newest version of Windows." Those users, many of whom just got Windows 7, surely don't want to be told that their OS is already "old." That seems like a good way to ensure that Windows 8 makes a poor first impression on them and makes them more resistant to upgrading when it finally is released. And that's not good marketing.

About

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

28 comments
sysop-dr
sysop-dr

Microsoft is focusing on Developers to get the platform and as many apps as possible ready for release. It seems to be their pattern, anyone with MSDN access has been able to bet pre-beta versions of all of their OSes since msdn was founded. But the removal of the desktop widgets thing is probably just someone at MS getting to excited too early. I wouldn't call what they are doing now marketing anyway as it's not trying to sell anything. They just want their developers who make stuff for Windows ready to roll and have product out there for the launch. Yes most people want Windows on everything they have if they use Windows on the desktop. Why wouldn't they? Windows Mobile is the only phone that does office in any useful shape, most people don't need to use office on their phone or do any type of heavy computing so a phone that is not running office and does things like play mp3s the same way as their ipod is OK for most people. But when you get to tablets having one that can do some relatively complex computing and is compatible with your office mates and your desktop is kind of a must. With most people that means having Microsoft Office and running Windows so the overwhelming interest in a Windows Tablet is a given. It surprises me that people are excited about this new version of Windows tablet when they are not excited about the ones already out there. We have 3 generations of MS tablet running and while most people would pickup and use a tablet once in the long term only a very few actually used them for long. I don't see why this new version of Windows will change that. I have used the tablets we have now extensively and am one of the few with opportunity that actually like to use them for much of anything. Although people do get excited about using them when they see me siting under a tree outside using one and they try them again but then soon they leave them sitting in their chargers after a day or so. I guess what I am trying to say is that for most people there better be a large change in what they do or how they do it to make them do more than use them for a limited number of things like reading, watching videos and games. So this is why Microsoft wants to get developers on board now; developers are going to have to come up with compelling applications that can contribute more than what is currently available to keep people interested and using them and in a business environment that is a tall order beyond checklists and providing a convenient way to read boring documents.

alainbastien
alainbastien

.......However, we are concerned that Microsoft and hardware manufacturers will implement these boot restrictions in a way that will prevent users from booting anything other than unmodified Windows. In this case, a better name for the technology would be Restricted Boot, since such a requirement would be a severe restriction on computer users and not a security feature at all. We're looking at a world in which it could become impossible for the average user to install GNU/Linux on any new computer, so too much is at stake for us to wait and see if computer manufacturers will do the right thing. "Secure Boot" could all too easily become a euphemism for restriction and control by computer makers and Microsoft -- freedom and security necessitate users being in charge of their own computers..... extract from http://www.fsf.org/campaigns/secure-boot-vs-restricted-boot/statement

stdo57
stdo57

see what I mean.

stdo57
stdo57

you need to make thge old with the new or you ailianate all those that have delt with the previose versions and you need the option of doign so but as code goes exelent. yes i hsve spell check but just goes to show haw bad code can get.

kimbaslair
kimbaslair

I just got windows 7 (I had to replace my laptop) after using XP for the past "few" years and I am so not ready for v8 - the 1st I heard of windows 8 is when I got this email today from TR re: the above subject line

Spexi
Spexi

Actually really concerned what's going on from the side of Microsoft in this moment. From my own point of view from being an let's say advanced user of Windows clients, started to learn myself using XP in the beginning of last decade and now headed over to Windows 7, spent several of hours together with other users during the last years. I must say, I have a serious feeling people haven't really realized yet what's happening. If visiting the B8 blog it's also developers that shares the same wondering's in what kind of impact this new plans and challenges may bring both productivity from this OS as well the impact this going to have for all kind of software producers around the world. If then also include the impact this may have for other fields of business and use, it starting to look scary. I mean we shall not forget that basically a whole world out there depends on these desktop solutions where people using keyboard and mice and many times multiple bigger screens. Most of these screens doesn't support touch beyond they often in the size above the size of a laptop. We only have to walk out in the society visit different places and that's how the majority of companies, banking, schools, etc are based upon today. I mean it's easy to download a copy of Windows 8 and start using it at home on my own laptop. Some people will probably start enjoying the new OS in a perspective like that. But how many of these users has in the same time the knowledge in replace their laptop in working with this OS in a completely different environment? That's one of the problems here with Windows 8, it hasn't been tested enough in the real world out there in the right action on traditional computers. I know from this point that there are also a different dimension here in the discussion pending if we see it from Microsoft's point of view as a company in both the way they acted from before and where they want this time (Metro WinRT) and also the perspective from a users point of view which I believe are still left behind in many individual cases where people still believe Microsoft giving us what we need always. Time changes because now it's different I can assure you that. What's happen for instance when a company one day realize people doesn't buying that much of products from them as before. Besides the first lifestyle they created and sent out in the wide world can't be made once again as it now already there (Internet), that's a complete kit they can't invent over and over again. What I've seen here occur ever since Windows 7 came out is something of an reverse behavior where many products get's blocked from further upgrades (can be seen with released web browsers, virtual software packets & so on) Or where also the hardware itself are used in stimulate users to upgrading their computers in get advantage of new products. In regards to hardware I don't mean all situations doesn't need a upgrade but there are signs right now this is used in a excessive way in trick people to buy more. Everyone remember XP mode when it came right after Windows 7 was released. In the start it couldn't be used if users didn't had virtual support for running it in the CPU, soon afterwords they just changed it (by lot of complaints from users). In Windows 8 it now happened again for users who running the preview in a virtual environment (VM). Much of the new mission which can be seen working from the point they have to destroy what they created and released in get new products out on the market. This is something new that never really existed before. You heard it I believe in name of get rid of XP. I'm sure there will be many more features and products that going to face the same pattern every time something new they want to sell. What does it really mean for a user or for all these companies and organizations out there? We don't any longer buying these products by our own needs or that we feeling curious in follow the stream of development forward. Instead we starting to become dependent of these innovations so we must listen to companies like Microsoft in following their architecture and philosophy as a multinational company that wants to having it's economical engine running on full speed. To return to the subject, It's not only about the Metro Start Screen and Tablet's or great interest in the mobile market of phones. Which they want us to believe are created for our best and good as many seems to believe. This game are nothing else than a tactical movement in rule the world in dominance and gain more profits together with more power in fight everything else down. That's why they don't want accepting users feedback in give an option in change the whole packet back to where it was before (Startmenu), or implement a choice for turn Metro Off in all these discussions on their blog. Without Metro & WinRT the majority of the project will be a failure were they going to lose 30% in value of every sold App in the Metro App Store. Further on they can't keep the same grip on the market. As well is interests like Facebook and equal social media companies involved as everyone can see in the preview. For these interests it's one of the best opportunities for advertisements they can get in attract new audience of users right infront of our eyes every time a user starting up the computer or other device which is used. Isn't that what is called BLOAT just asking:) Like I see it, you right Debra, this time it's not much talk about how to bring the IT technology forward for all users. It's more of selling it and let it sound good in a very sharp minded way. That's talks against everything what all these communities working for where we trying to learn and inform people how to using it and the whole human idea behind all this in bring communication forward, in bring developing forward, in bring societies and countries forward in development. This time it is all about Microsoft itself and the big ego of arrogance and controlling the users opinions as well what they do. A new head office for trace users behavior on it's way: Codenamed "Social Analytics" Services ???Project Vancouver??? Privacy statement http://bink.nu/news/microsoft-codenamed-quot-social-analytics-quot-services.aspx Like it wasn't enough with Google and the others. Heard also of a new office in Mexico recently for developments of new Apps. Microsoft bought Skype, now having big interests in Nokia, don't know what happened with Yahoo but they tried take that as well. What does all this mean? Yes controlling the world in simple terms and their users. During the last two years we also in Europe shared a lot of news of new invented regulations in the subject of having control, collecting of data etc on the level from authorities and new created laws, some of this ideas can be tracked back to interests in united states multinational companies in media etc why shouldn't Microsoft having interests there as well. The fact a single human are quite small in discussion in this interests and this big money that are involved is more easy to see if check next link in Microsoft's efforts in spreading their opinions among 7 millions students in India, just imagine how much this going to mean for Microsoft in a few years in both income and people that keep on spreading their advertisements all over the globe http://techrights.org/2011/10/12/sai-manish-on-tamil-nadu/ An eyewitness story, very interesting to read. http://www.zdnet.com/tb/1-106929-2107184 In question of last composed post on B8 blog in regards to the new Task Manager please go ahead check out further information and how it's created in force users over to Metro. Don't be surprised if the Task Manager can't be used if the Metro interface is blocked in case a user want to run only Windows 7 style without Metro Start screen. It's easy to find this out by installing a Start screen switcher like this gadget inside the preview http://windows8startmenu.codeplex.com/ What can be seen is that the new developed Task Manager is useless if not accepting Metro Start screen. What you get if calling up Task manager when running the classic desktop, it's basically the old untouched version of Task Manager the same as in Windows 7. This is nothing Microsoft has informed their users! Some info: 1. taskmgr.exe known from Windows 7, this one will be used if Metro interface is locked down. 2. The new version of Windows Task Manager, TM.exe, note, will only be reachable if Metro stays open, otherwise locked down. In the latter one you find the features like 'suspended mode', highlighted 'heat maps' and everything else they been telling about. More news: http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2011/10/13/steven-sinofsky-accidentally-discovers-mac-os-x-through-extensive-research/ Recommending everyone that still haven't tested Windows 8 in doing it and bring Microsoft your Feedback to Steven and his teams in what you think. http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/ Heard people saying that this is only one preview (don't worry) OK sure it is, but there are more things behind that explains this is how it will look like in the big picture as soon it's finished as well the direction they have taken? Meaning if you want to see changes it's now you have to act and tell your point of view and say what you think. If waiting it might be too late. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/apps/br229516 The Developer preview can be downloaded from following page (burn the iso on a DVD and install the OS in a dualboot, that's the most easy way in try it out) For more help search the web -Thank's for reading

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

but, they made it available to anyone who can get to the download. Anyway, the sooner we get feedback to them, the more likely they are to consider it and make changes. I for one hope they make all the enhancements available for those of us that want nothing to do with that hideous Metro interface on the desktop. I don't have touch-screen monitors, nor am I likely to get any any time soon. I also don't want to move them closer to me so I can touch them. I like the space on my desk. I also don't like running anything in full-screen mode (except the odd Excel spreadsheet). I like having multiple windows scattered about. Windows 8 has a lot to like about it. Don't ruin it by making it difficult to escape Metro.

corcorac
corcorac

Sorry as an IT Pro, I have just bitten the bullet and started migrating my users of XP and on to 7, at the slow pace we are rolling it out it will be another year before we finish, with legacy main frame and in house programs needing to be re-written I don't forsee W8 in my future for at least 3-4 years. By then Sp1 or 2 will be released and then I will start getting excited. But touch screens for my users won"t happen.

wlportwashington
wlportwashington

I played with Win 8 breifly. OK, it is not ewven beta but from the short time I used it, it crashed 3 times, once on install. Once it was up and running I found it horrible at least for a PC. So far this looks like it is better suited for a tablet to try and give the iPad something to think about. As it is now if Win-8 is going to be like this when the release comes out, I propably will give a real serious look at switching over to Linux.

David Stratton
David Stratton

I'm a developer and since the article is something that comes to my inbox, "Me and you" includes me. I have no issues with the content of the article, but don't forget that developers care about your posts as well, and read your articles. They may be meant for "IT Pros" (and why is a developer not an "IT Pro, by the way?) but as developers, we need to keep up on the trends affecting "IT Pros" and the IT ecosystem we'll need to develop for. We care about infrastructure because it affects how we design and code applications. The information shared at the build conference may have been pushed toward developers, but it certainly provided a glimpse into the future for our network Admins, support staff, and others in IT. We're all already thinking of the potential changes coming and preparing, based largely on the videos from the build conference. I think my main beef is that your writing, in this post and in previous ones draws a clear line between developers and "IT Pros". It reeks of snobbery and separatism. We're all on the same team. What affects one area of IT affects others. Finally, it makes sense to get the developers enthused first. They need to have apps in order to sell the new system. Network admins are generally more conservative when it comes to accepting change, at least in part because they are charged with supporting systems and apps, and ensuring there are no unintentional conflicts. To try to get the "IT Pros" (if you want to stick with that awful distinction) enthused is a lot harder than it is to get the developers excited. At least in the teams I've been on, the usual pattern is for some better way of developing comes out (think ASP.NET compared to classic ASP, and .NET in general, with the removal of "dll hell".) The devs try it out, assess it, and if it's something we love, we go push our Network Admins saying "When can we move forward with this! These tools are great!" and then WE do the job of explaining th benefits to the admins. That's the beauty of selling developers first. Microsoft knows that if they get us enthused, we'll be fighting on their side to convince the Admins, who will likely be a lot more resistant to change.

bguthrie1
bguthrie1

I find this article a bit lacking, the first day Windows 8 was accessible, we downloaded it here at work, I have it installed in Vbox, it works great. It would be nice to have a tablet or a touch screen to play with it. Though it is perfectly functional on a standard desktop for demo purposes. Soon it will be installed at home, and more playing and testing will begin. Everyone has the opportunity to demo it. You just have to want too...

wuboyblue
wuboyblue

If Microsoft weren't so good at the integration of multimedia with extenders, I might just chuck it all out and buy a Mac Mini with some fast external storage. The new Windows Explorer is nice but like most OS things Microsoft, it just ain't pretty coming out of the box. Maybe the feedback they get will encourage a little bit of tweaking across UI.

gak
gak

Based on Build and blogs, I see only one fundamental mistake MS is making. The development of W8 is very well thought out, it is like a scientific research. However, they wanted a fresh design and did not include all their past experience. There is no list of good things in Windows 7, the problems that good things solve, and equivalent solutions for Metro. Not providing solutions to what is already solved means that Metro is doomed to be an archaic interface on day 1 and we all will have to go the road from Win 3.1 to Win 7 once again. A shocking feature is the lack of structure in the Start Screen. Just install a few programs that create folders in the Windows 7 start menu and enjoy the Metro mess. If that one is solved, there will be lots of other problems thanks to a methodology fault. However, nothing prevents MS from creating the missing list, so W8 may be rolled out nearly perfect. As for the reaction of developer and users, I guess the major difference is that developers see how things can be made better going more down the same road; users are annoyed and unanimously cry "let's return".

amj2010
amj2010

We think the life cycle of Windows is becoming shorter and shorter. why is this? because they can't keep up with the rest of the IT community, it has become too big like IBM early on, well split Microsoft in departments which CAN compete... Wee eight has arrived and shown way too early... like Philips did, another company which went out of the IT business, for showing devices which were innovative but too expensive and the MARKET was not ready for it. Let's hope that Mikey does not make the same mistake and let Windows 7 grow to a full blown market share (10 years?)

Gisabun
Gisabun

At this point, it's not surprising Win 8 is being pushed more to developers. It's not even in beta but MS is trying to get developers to prepare to move to win 8 development. You'll see the MS marketing ramp up towards end users before Win 8 is released.

dogknees
dogknees

Since when are developers not IT Pros?

Justin James
Justin James

... I have mixed feeling on Windows 8. The good news? The development model for Metro/WinRT apps is MUCH better for things like security, the apps will work on the tablet form factor, you get cross platform with ARM, and it's a fresh, clean reboot of the Windows development system which has been desperately needed for a long, long time. The bad news? Metro is not a good UI for sophisticated applications, especially those that need precision control (as opposed to a UI that is well suited for touch), the security model is so tight that you can just forget about 3rd party system utilities under Metro/WinRT, and (biggest of all), and the experience of using "legacy" apps is so miserable that developers are going to have to rewrite their apps from the ground up to be Metro/WinRT if they want to be future-compatible, which means maintaining a "legacy" version for years too. So yes, while developers may be in love with the new, shiny tech, coping with Windows 8 is a huge task. I foresee a LOT of developers shifting to Web apps, where Microsoft will be on even playing ground with non-Microsoft techs. J.Ja

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I think MS overpublicized this release. Perhaps if they had limited the download to Build attendees and MSDN subscribers, IT support pros wouldn't be screaming about what is hopefully an unfinished interface. On the other hand, the earlier and louder we respond, the better our chances of getting a final product we'll buy into, not bypass over.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Are you looking for some better communication with Microsoft concerning the plan for Windows 8?

David A. Pimentel
David A. Pimentel

All the fuss over an unnecessarily-radical desktop UI change has gotten me thinking the same thing.

JP-470
JP-470

Where is the explanation of your introductory statement?

brian
brian

I think the wildfire of public (even paid television) Vista bashing is the reason we have so many releases of Windows in such a short time. They had to replace that name, quickly, with something that looked different, and with minimal additional development cost. So, Windows 7. Otherwise we very likely would have gone from Vista to Windows 8, though it may have been called something different. Absent Win 7 the release cycle wouldn't have been that abnormally short. Win 8 sounds like the true next gen release, where they really put in all the effort for major change. (Good or bad, whichever it turns out to be.)

brian
brian

MS is marketing to developers because this is the appropriate point in the cycle to be doing that. They need there to be new things available for their new platform when it comes out. For one thing, I.T. pros are not the types who will be creating new panel widgets and the like. (At least not unless they are also developers.) For another thing, when have I.T. pros been anything but the last audience to embrace a large change in OS structure and interface like this? Last I heard companies are just starting to consider thinking about maybe the near future being a good time to plan a meeting about whether to adopt Windows 7. If there are any I.T. pros out there planning to grab Windows 8 less than two years after it hits shelves, either it is for home use or they are gambling their job on untested software.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

The term is being used to refer to those on the service desk and infrastructure side, as opposed to you 'code monkeys' :-) Deb probably should have used the phrase 'other IT pros' to refer to those who are feeling MS is ignoring them. I've worked both sides of the street, although it's been a while since I wrote anything more complicated than some Excel sort macros.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

then we'll install W8 for those who will use it. Until there's a requirement for W8 or until we can't get W7 drivers for new hardware, it won't be installed outside our IT department. This is the same approach we've used for previous releases, although at this early stage it looks like we'll do more app compatibility testing than in the past.

dogknees
dogknees

I didn't think Deb meant any insult. It's more that putting up artificial barriers between "us" and "them" does neither of us any good.

nyssssa
nyssssa

They're always doing that kind of thing.

Editor's Picks