Windows 8: the uphill battle for an OS ahead of its time

Love it or hate it, Windows 8 is an operating system that is trying to break new ground. Microsoft’s move to rethink their world famous platform is the grandest risk and endeavor that the company has ever taken. For those of us on Facebook, think of when an update is released and brings minor changes, but a major user backlash. The idea that people don’t enjoy change is just one of the battles the Redmond company faces as it climbs the hill to a new beginning.

The Learning Curve

Although the geek community generally embraces change and updates as a way to push forward, consumers see change as a hurdle to jump and little more. When I walk into an electronics store such as Best Buy, I continue to hear the same comments from those looking to purchase a new computer that I heard on the first launch day for Windows 8 – “I need a new computer, but I’m worried about Windows 8.”, “How difficult is this new thing to learn?”, and “Can I get it with Windows 7 instead?”.

Consumers are more concerned about learning to use what appears to be a new operating system than enjoying the new benefits that come with technological leaps. This puts the question on our minds- what is Microsoft doing to curb consumer worry?

With the introduction of Windows 8.1 the company has reinstituted the start button; it doesn’t function as it previously did, bringing up a small menu of your applications, but instead sends you to the Windows 8 start screen. While a small change for some, it appears to be well received by the majority – people who were previously lost on the desktop now have an obvious way to go back to their application screen. Less guess work for the consumer equals a happy consumer.

When a user first turns on their new Windows 8 laptop or desktop, a quick “introductory video” plays as the machine sets itself up, but the video itself isn’t exactly helpful and most users will ignore it while focusing on something else. Along with Microsoft’s devotion to change, the company needs to put a strong emphasis on helping new consumers beat the learning curve.

Microsoft had run a campaign when Windows 8 first launched in which those who bought a new machine would receive a free training lesson at participating retailers including Staples; this tactic was successful, but is no longer available. Here is an idea of what Microsoft really needs to do – a mandatory interactive tutorial on first boot. Sure, we hardcore geeks will hate it, but the majority of the population will benefit strongly from a tutorial that forces them to access corners and swipe edges while exploring the new operating system.

The Public Mindset

A sharp learning curve isn’t the only hill that Microsoft has to fight with its latest operating system; the mindset of how the company sees the computing future has to be worked into the public.

For most consumers there are three main devices: tablets, notebooks, and smartphones. Each device is in a different price category - $800 for a notebook and $400 for a tablet isn’t an uncommon thought. When Microsoft Windows 8 first hit shelves, the company’s dream of a hybrid device wasn’t cheap and people had to first be convinced that $1300 was really what they wanted to spend and what they actually needed – the idea of a “two in one device” had not fully been set into the mindset of purchasers. As we move forward, touchscreen laptops are coming down in price to as low as $399. Hybrids are also moving down and can be purchased for under $999 (my top recommendation – the Lenovo IdeaPad YOGA).

Microsoft’s future mindset of a hybrid world might be getting closer to a reasonable price point and consumers might be starting to understand the benefits of paying a bit more for one device that acts as two, but one last hurdle that stands in the company’s way is hardware.

The Hardware Limitations

The dream of creating an all in one computing device for endurance typing sessions, hardcore productivity, and kick back relaxation isn’t as easy as it may seem. Let’s take a look at the two hardware categories side by side and what we desire out of each. From a tablet, we expect a thin, small, and light device with extremely long battery life. From a laptop, we expect around the same with a little more bulk and a little less battery life which we sacrifice for increased power and performance. The ideal hybrid device for Microsoft’s future, a powerful tablet that is light and has outstanding battery life, just does not exist at this time.

Windows 8 hybrid devices can generally be broken up into two categories: Those that run lower power Intel Atom chips and obtain around ten hours of battery life, and those that run more powerful Intel Core chips and obtain around five hours of battery life. From a technology standpoint we are not in a position where the ultimate high power tablet with tons of a battery life and a thin frame exists. For those of you screaming about Windows RT devices – the OS is dead and we will cover that in another editorial from yours truly.

Just because Windows 8 hybrid devices aren’t currently obtaining the dream, doesn’t mean they never will. Intel’s latest microchip architecture, Haswell, promises to bring high performance and longer battery life to devices. Do I personally think that Haswell will be the answer for the ultimate Windows 8 hybrid? No, I do not, but it brings us closer to where we want to be. Maybe one or two more steps down the Intel microarchitecture roadmap will bring us to that future, but we aren’t there yet.

What does this mean for the consumer? Is Windows 8 a failure of an operating system? Are hybrid devices to be avoided until the technology can be improved?

The ultimate answer to all these questions is that Windows 8 isn’t a failure of an operating system – it is simply an unfinished dream and an unfinished fight. Microsoft put the bet of Windows 8 and their dream of an ultimate device into a landscape where the proper hardware was not yet available.

For those searching for the ultimate Windows 8 devices there are currently two options: Either grab both a touchscreen tablet and an Ultrabook to enjoy the best of both worlds or grab a hybrid that will sacrifice either processing power or battery life. For myself personally, I picked the former with my ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook and ThinkPad Tablet 2.

As we move forward into the future, we expect more people to adopt and become familiar with Microsoft’s latest operating system and for Intel to continue their development on more powerful, yet lower energy consuming, microprocessors. The battle for Microsoft and their Windows 8 operating system is an uphill one, but we do see success on the horizon for a company that dared to be bold.

Michael Archambault
  • They need to have a training video when you fire it up for the 1st time. Also a nice demo video of how it works would also help
  • And the video needs to be tied to your MS account so you only have to see it once. I don't need to see it every time I log on to a new computer.
  • They call it ahead of time? I call it released too early. They did not think enough when releasing this OS. They just wanted it out and make money. But they overestimated their power and found out the hard way that the consumers have the power. 
  • if you installed preview 8.1 you would see there is a tile called "help & tips" and has a ? in the tile. if people miss that, then it would be really really bad. of course in preview you cant see the app yet, since its not ready and they tell you to wait for rtm. but im sure it will have the same help F1 had, which pretty much told you how from how to shutdown to how to close a win8 app. but of course most people didnt check F1 even if thats the usual button for help.
  • I don't think it would help. Its simply to big of a gap for my mom from Vista to Windows 8; she just couldn't figure out how to use it (yes, I tutored her in how to use it and it didn't help).
    Microsoft went to fast with the chances and didn't leave time for people to adapt.
  • Your mom could remember 3 corners? There really isn't a big learning curve. Your mom probably never went into settings on vista and there is probably no reason to show her the advanced charms. Just pin her favorite apps on the start screen and she will click on them when the computer starts. Push the start button on the keyboard to get back. Were is the difficulty here?
  • I've tried that. She has problems with the new "start screen". She doesn't like it (dispite me telling her it would be simpler once she got used to it). Though, to be frank, she never was good with technology.
  • Exactly. And anyone who can't figure out how to use it after that probably shouldn't be using a computer (or car) anyway.
  • Anyone else see the Windows Store at Best Buys? Saw one today, it was pretty neat.
  • I think Il be setting up a couple in my area in August. Goo nightshifts lol! But it should be cool and exciting for Microsoft. There will also be a full time Microsoft rep in store as well.
  • Microsoft may have been a little too aggressive with the changes in the OS here. I upgraded my main driver and think it is worthwhile upgrade from 7 but as you mentioned, the consumer is put off by this approach. To be honest, for a person using a computer for the first time, Windows 8 wins but most people want the same thing over and over again with marginal changes. Personally, 8 is a huge change and absolutely for the better. It is definitely not as robust as 7 but that's because it is still an OS in transition. With 9, I think, Microsoft will have to decide which parts to pick from each of the interfaces work for consumers and try to make it a little more versatile (modifying the start screen might help a little - make it more concise if the user wants it but leave it as is by default). I agree though, this OS is part of whole series that'll see the nature of computing become simpler and better.
  • How is W8 not as robust as W7?
  • My thought exactly, it's W7 with additions tacked onto it and an upgraded kernel...but I guess that's not as robust...?
  • Not as far as robust, but some of the compatability and driver support isn't there yet, for older devices, printers and such.  
    Yeah, I know that's on the original device manufacturers, to issue drivers.
    But that's not my, or other consumers' problem.   It's Microsoft's, at the end of the day.
  • As far as tablets go, I LOVE the feel of the Surface Pro. Snappy software and beautiful hardware. I reckon a price drop might move some units there. As far as laptops/notebooks, when anybody asks me about windows 8 I tell them to get a touch screen laptop no matter what. Though MS says w8 is a no-compromise OS I think it really does suit touch more than mouse & keyboard.
  • It certainly does, but 8.1 has made improvements on that.
    I use a non-touch screen with 8.1 and I have learned to actually like it.
  • I agree that Win8 is much better for touch. And yet HP, for example, has not a single standalone multi-touch monitor for their desktop systems.
  • I think ms were well aware of how drastic a change win 8 was going to be for people - look at how close it was released to win 7, there is no need for people to upgrade yet....but when they need to, win 8 will be the norm and many less people will complain about the change.
  • Great article. Lays out the challenge and the opportunity for Microsoft very precisely. I think that the path they have chosen will lead to considerable success.
  • Learning curve? C'mon people this isn't brain surgery. If you can't get the hang of Windows because of a "start button" well, let's just that you are not very intelligent and maybe you should stick to something a little easier like color in a coloring book and try and stay in the lines.
  • +100000000.. I say The same thing, always.. All these " what a big change!!!" complainings are bullshit For me.. MS clearly combined Desktop and touch-tablets very smoothly..
  • I'm kinda thinking the same thing.  How can not having the start button be that big of a deal??  
  • For us? No it isn't. For the average consumer... it is more of a challenge than you think. It's not just the start button though... it's the corner, gestures, etc.
  • When apple introduced iPhone, it made people dumber. I always use start button on my keyboard. People doesn't use keyboard no more.
  • I disagree.  It didn't make people dumber, it made people lazier!  The one thing Apple did that no one has been able to do yet, is create an ecosystem where everything "Just works".  We throw that term around a lot, but it's the truth.  Sure, it has limitations, just like everything else, and Apple is slow to adopt new technology...but that probably has something to do with the "Just works" idea as well.  Don't get me wrong, there are sheep out there, but there are also people who just don't want to power on and go.
    I had to go away from WP out of necessity, but I'm also looking to move to the Apple ecosystem for my primary means of computing.  As I get older, I too, have become lazier with regards to things such as this.  I used to love tinkering with all my settings and optimizing everything to no end....but now I have more important things to spend my time on.  I think I'll have a Win8 hybrid device on hand as a tablet, but that's just the inner tech junkie in me not letting go.
    I think Win8 as a whole is a great OS, but Microsoft left a bad taste in my mouth when they butchered some things in the process (Music, videos, podcasts, etc.....mostly things that would be ecosystem functions shared between Win8 and WP8).  They should not have realeased Win8 when they did (even though that was the normal release cycle) and they should not have released it without massive pre-release advertising/training sessions.
  • Yes by being lazy, you don't learn so hence dumber. And I agree I'm already 22 years old and got my first windows mobile from age 18 and after only using 2years of hacking I got tired of it and got window phone in 2010.
  • A shift in priorities does not equal dumber.  Nor can you call someone dumb (or dumber) because of a lack of interest in a particular subject, whether it be Physics or using a new type of phone.  Laziness drives the world.  Every technological innovation was designed to make someone's life easier.
    With Win8, it takes me more effort to accomplish some of my most frequent tasks than it did with Win7.  There was regression in some areas because the OS just wasn't ready.  Everyone who grabbed the previews knew this, so it was no surprise when it happened.
    For instance, in order to sync playlists to my WP8, I had to use the Windows Phone Tool from Microsoft.  What does the Windows Phone Tool do?  It scans for a Windows Media Player library, and an iTunes library.  Strange, seeing as how the default media player on Win8 is Xbox Live Music/Video.  I haven't used WMP since WinXP, and even then it was only for proprietary formats.  Yes, I can, with my Xbox Live Music pass, have access to my music an playlist on my phone....but for streaming only, which requires data and/or WiFi, which are not always guaranteed.  This should have never been allowed to happen.  If you're going to ship a product that has features that "Mostly" work, then remove that feature and include it in an update.
    That being said, I still think it's a great OS overall, and really want it to succeed.  I have been able to change people's opinion of the OS just by spending 10-15 minutes with them to show them how to do the stuff they normally do, then showing them how they can make it easier than it was (in comes that lazy part again).
  • I wouldn't call wanting stuff to just work and lack of interest in tweaking settings being dumb or lazy. I just don't have the time or desire for that form of entertainment anymore.
  • I have to agree on the "just works" part even though I think the OS for Apple products is less than stellar. Look at XBOX Music and you will see something that doesn't JUST WORK...
  • I used to say that about the learning curve, until I introduced w8 to my parents.  I had no problem adjusting to windows 8 but my parents were really having a tough time.  My mom has been forced by circumstance to use my win8 w510 exclusively for the last couple of months and she now absolutely loves it and is planning to buy something similar, but if she was not forced to use the windows 8 OS on a daily basis I don't thinks she would have had the patience to appreciate it on her own.  My parents are smart people in their field too.   My dad hasn't been forced to use w8 yet and is almost always using his cheap laggy buggy $100 andoid tablet  even though I upgraded his laptop to windows 8 pro because he says android  looks just like xp with the icons and he's more familiar with that even if he can't do much with it. 
    I think It's a multi-faceted problem that can't be solved just with just tutorials.  MS should be as innovative in their methods of informing and helping people with their products as they are with making and designing their software and services.  and W8 really IS innovative
  • Windows 8 in a non touch environment is a bit tricky at first. There's no better examples of this than watching some of the presentations from Microsoft's own TechEd 2012, especially from the guy from Systernals. That being said, I've been using 8.1 for the past few weeks on my Surface Pro, and I really can't explain why, but its an amazing difference. The keyboard is a huge improvement and the ability to print single pages or ranges is also nice. Arranging items on the Start Screen is more like WP. I can't explain why the Start Button helps, I usually hit the Windows Key, but evidentially I click on the button sometimes. Coming from Windows Phone and Windows 7, I hated 8, there was little consistency. Looked like WP, but acted totally differently. 8.1 fixes much of this.
  • I think you mean TechEd 2013 in june.
  • They need to make it better, it should never have got out in its current form. Its minimalist look just presents problems and makes it less flexible. The native apps are pretty much all horrible to use. I have a very decent laptop and Windows 8 is very slow and clunky. I was sick to death of the rotating dots within ten minutes of having it. If you are going to make a primarily touched based OS it should run like butter. You select an app and it should already be open, you shouldn't need to wait ten seconds for the spinning dots. Agree about it being ahead of its time. The majority of pc users don't have touch so brining out an OS that is so heavily focused on it was a mistake. What Microsoft should have done was release the 8 we have now (But better) for tablets and done something for PC users that bridges the gap. Hands up, how many business users or users with a mouse do anything with the Windows 8 OS other than click to or press the windows key to access the desktop? Why would anyone waste time in the W8 apps when you can go through to proper programs and the internet on what is essentially W7 behind the fancy touch based home screen?
  • Slow? Really?
    I installed Windows 8.1 on a PC that was originally running Windows 7 (dual boot) and one of the first things I noticed was that is was faster & more fluid.
  • Opening modern apps is a little faster in 8.1, but by no means as good as it should be.
    On my desktop with regular ol' W8, I compared opening OneNote in its different versions. The desktop version was up and running and ready to use within a second of clicking the taskbar icon. I then closed it and opened the modern version. The purple OneNote start screen with the revolving circles was up in no time, but I had to sit there and wait about 15 or 20 seconds (an eternity!) for that screen to disappear so I could finally use the app.
    Face it, the modern apps open sooo sllloooowwwwlllyyyyy.
  • Everything opens instantly with an SSD. :)
  • No, it doesn't.  Modern apps take a long time to open on all of my Windows 8 PCs and all of those systems have SSD.  OneNote on my Surface Pro just took 14 seconds to open.
  • I'm curious what is causing you the slowdown. Even the Surface RT isn't all that bad. Programs loading is slow (a few seconds) but once they are opening, it switches between them quickly. Anyway, I agree, and so many people have said it... you should have either a default Touch or default Mouse experience. Touch
      o) Boot to and return to Start Screen when closing apps o) Default opening media, etc to Modern Apps o) Simple tutorial for swiping to access charms, settings, etc   Mouse
      o) Boot to and return to Desktop when closing apps o) Default opening media, etc to Desktop Apps o) Start button with ability to Restart/Shutdown (and I think most would prefer this is a real Menu!)  
  • I was a Windows 8 hater, but after some extensive use on 8.1 I have changed my tune. I actually really like Windows 8 now, although I'm using it on my desktop that is not a touch screen, so I don't use the Start screen that much - mainly as a programs list.
    8.1 has made a big difference in my opinion and after a little practice it's not much more than Windows 7 with a new wrapper or skin.
  • The Windows RT demise will cost Microsoft. Consumers will NOT be happy to know that they bought a device (specially a Surface) and that Microsoft just gave up on it a couple of months later. So that won't help either. I personally am not that's not the first time Microsoft screws me with an OS (I remember WP7) but I'm certainly not going to buy a new tablet just to get W8. That said, regarding W8 itself for PC...I don't like it. Sorry but it's not a OS designed to be used on a normal PC with a mouse and a keyboard. It's much more complicated to operate that way than normal WIndows 7 so it's normal that people aren't that eager to adopt it. (I will refrain on commenting on 8.1 since Microsoft also screwed up the launching of that preview so I haven't tested it).
    Windows 8 is an OS that only works at its full potential, outside the tablet-world, if you have a touch screen monitor. For a normal PC user who doesn't have a touch screen monitor, W8 is a headache and W7 is still a much better option.
    I'm however waiting to see how the monitor market develops. The first touch screen monitors ready for W8 are only now being released. Once they become affordable and PC people can get them along with the computer, I think W8 will become a much more pleaser than at the moment. Microsoft may just have taken a step bigger than their legs.
  • How did MS screw up the 8.1 preview release? I'm using 8.1 on a non-touch PC and I actually like it, after hating Windows 8. (see comment above)
  • For example you can get the preview if you have the OS in "American" but not if you have it in English. You can get it if you have it in "Brazilian"...but not Portuguese. And if you had language packs it wouldn't install. It was a mess.
    (I used "American" and "Brazilian" on purpose to illustrate the point that MS released the OS in the derivatives of the original languages - British English and Portuguese - but not in their original European versions) Again, I'm fairly accustomed to Windows 8 on my Surface. Will I want it on my PC without a touchscreen monitor? Hell no. 8.1 may improve that opinion but I still will not go from W7 to W8.1 until I get a touch screen monitor. But from the regular consumer point of view...I know many people who went back to W7 after trying W8. The interface was just too unfriendly and new for them. Heck, I had to spend an hour explaining how Windows 8 worked on her new laptop. She simply finds it still too confusing. I still get calls from her asking for help 'cause she did something and has no idea how to correct that etc.
  • Having the Surface you probably don't really see how the desktop portion of Windows 8 is so much better than Windows 7. Along with everything you get from W7, the W8 right-click menu in the lower left hand corner gives you direct access to so many things that I used to have to hunt through the control panel to find. Explorer is much better, IMO, with the ribbon toolbar and the return of the "up" button. Sharing works better along with backups to network drives. The only thing not there is the classic start menu, but I don't miss that at all. The full screen one is just as good to me, and search is much better. Dual monitor support is MUCH better, with different wallpapers and the taskbar built in.
    W8.1 only makes it better.
  • Just FYI, Windows RT is in full support for 4 years. Directly stated from Microsoft so it is nowhere close to being given up on. Also I do not agree with people saying Windows RT is dead. It may be dead in the consumer space, but that is just because Microsoft's poor advertising and explaining the differences in the two systems. Also the all the FUD being spread by uneducated people isn't helping it either.  
    Windows RT has a great potential in the Enterprise and education realm. My Company already dropped our 75 iPads for Surface RT's and it has made everyone’s lives a lot easier and not to mention saved us money from having to develop a custom front end app to our ERP program for the iPads. By using SharePoint Apps and RDWeb on the Surface RT, we have gained full functionality of our ERP program right out of the box. Also rumor is on the finished version 8.1 we will get some kind of AD and GPO push to the Surface RT which this happens. I see a lot more iPads ending up on eBay. 
  • If WIndows RT is dead then so is any hope of WP8 fully merging with W8.  ARM is here to stay, sorry folks, there is no way in hell x86 chips can ever hope to catch up to ARM battery efficiency, let's stop pretending otherwise.  Atom?  BWAHAHAHAHAHA.
    Let's stop the stupid "RT is dead" bullshit.  When Microsoft completes the deprecation of legacy apps RT and x86 machines will be indistinguishable.
  • This. I've got a Surface RT and know quite a few others that have one as well. They use it daily and really enjoy it. Really looking fwd to the 8.1 release update :)
  • I have also found that the 8.1 update has provided quite a boost in speed to the Surface RT.
  • Who cares about what MS has anounced about the support cycle if they are not going to put it into practice. Even WP7.8 is anounced to have support by MS but WP7.8 still has bugs/performance issues coming in from WP7.5 and tons of missing features. I'm 200%sure MS is not even remotely thinking to do something about WP7.8
  • Those of you that are stuck in the past get off the Ark. Time to move forward people. If Microsoft had released another Xp/7 they would been slated for not being brave enough to bring something new to the table, keep it fresh and new. 5 years from now when have updated our PCs and laptops for a new shinny tablet then windows 8 will be praised for taking that leap. If it were still only the good old PCs and Laptops, then simple Windows 7 clone would have sufficed. I don't have a touch screen/tab yet but i want one as i believe W8 will come into its element. The thing is i don't really get to see the new awesome start screen as once im on the desktop and on internet i don't see it until remember that need to check weather on a weather app. Basically its new and awesome and all that's needed by sales staff demonstrating W8 for PCs and laptops is to show the start screen briefly and then show them the good old desktop and all the oldies stuck in past will be happy bunnies.
  • I bought a low end laptop (AMD A6-4450 - 2.1 ghz dual core), 500 GB HD, 4 GB ram, and it runs fine on W8 BUT would not use it without Classic Shell (brings back the W7 start button & menu).  Other than playing around with it I have avoided the W8 modern UI because the included apps are of limited functionality (Mail, Calendar, People) and don't see the utility of the Modern UI in the Desktop environment.
  • Make Desktop tiles and delete classic shell. Done.
  • Why do you say that Windows RT is dead? I'm going to buy a Surface RT. Is anything I need to know before I buy it?
  • It has not been abandoned. In what way? Are apps still being developed? Yes. Are updates still coming? Yes. Will it get 8.1? Yes. I love my Surface RT and use it every day. For $350 it's a no-brainer.
  • Absolutely agree. I use my Surface RT more than my laptop. I only pick up my laptop when I need to use SAP. RT does everything else. Now with the 8.1 installed, it is even better...way better.
  • The Surface RT at it's new price is a pretty good deal, in my opinion. It all depends on what you are using your tablet for. Windows RT is a much better operating than iOS and Android so I don't understand why it gets criticized so much. iOS and Android are either very limited in functionality (iOS) or just plain awful (Android). Microsoft came in with Windows RT and made an amazing tablet OS, one that can do everything the iPad could do plus a gazillion more (full office suite, Xbox games and Xbox controller support, printer and device compatibility, USB ports, multiple accounts, HDMI output, keyboard and mouse support). For what I use my Surface RT for (Microsoft Office with SkyDrive for work, Xbox games for play, and reading the news and social media), it's fantastic.
    That said, many people are admittedly frustrated when they buy one and realize they cannot install legacy programs. Frankly I don't understand their surprise (they cannot install these programs on iPads or Android tablets either), but it means that Microsoft needed to do a better job of highlighting the differences (they could've started with a better name: should've called it Windows Tablet 8, and  then renamed Windows 8 > Windows Desktop 8 to complement Windows Phone 8). Honestly, I think that Windows RT is so much better of a tablet OS than iOS or Android that people were upset it wasn't the whole shebang whereas with the iPad everyone just accepted that it was just a tablet and didn't expect it to be a Mac. Plus, most of the mainstream media is biased against Microsoft.
  • it means Microsoft needs to do a better job of getting Desktop completely out of Windows 8.
  • STFU idiot how does removing desktop help anyone? That is the most idiotic post ever
  • it is time to evolve dinosaur.
  • Yes you are right... Thank you
  • i believe haswell will fix this, i've seen a macbook pro with 14" screen and that new haswell chip and lasted 14-15 hours of video playback, thats enough proof for me to wait for the surface pro 2, that will make the RT and ARM tablets useless if they can totally overcome the short battery problem
  • Among touch-based OSes out there, Windows 8 is the easiest to use. Personally, it is the desktop that requires alteration.
  • Man I'm tired of hearing this, has anyone seen the Chrome OS why doesn't the media pick on that. Windows 8 is really good!
  • The article doesn't say Windows 8 is bad. I agree - it's excellent. I think the desktop experience is a step up from Windows 7 in speed and multi-monitor support, and the Modern experience is very forward looking. The settings/data carry over between my Windows 8 systems and Windows Phone, including SkyDrive are all a delight. But as I said above, they pushed Modern and touch-friendly on non-touch systems in a way that I think was a mistake. By default, you boot to the Start Screen, and all of your media (images, video, PDF) opens in a Modern app. When you close that app, you are taken back to the Start Screen, even if you were in the Desktop, viewing the media from a Folder. I think that was a big mistake. If you're in the desktop mode, you should be opening Desktop apps, and closing those apps should take you back to the Desktop. And there should be a mouse-friendly way to Sleep, Restart and Shutdown. If you're on Touch, it's fine to open touch-friendly Modern apps and return you to the touch-friendly Start screen when you close them.
  • +1 for classic shell. Win 8 is a bold move but a slower transition would be better. I'm a techie so to speak but at the end of the day computers are there to do work! Learning new things is oh so fun but people mostly want to get on and the demise of the start menu just pees off most non techie users as far as I can see. Win 8 with classic shell gives me quick boot times, hyper v and a solid desktop experience and on my surface pro I can switch to the metro for my tablet UI. I really couldn't see why MS didn't give the start menu as a option to disable / enable then desktop users would be less concerned about an annoying learning curve which does not help them work any quicker!
  • people always claim microsoft too scared to do any major changes to their OS or its always behind everyone else now they step up to take the lead some joined them some still too scared to join im sure its going to take microsoft a lot of time to convince people to change the way they use their PC's but it will reach its goal at the end of  the road
  • Just what I said but you developed and upgraded my comments into a better package, just like W8! :)
  • I gave my mom a Surface RT.  She was never able to nevigate through Win 7 with ease, and she found the Metro UI actually easier, and more fun to use.  On the other hand, a friend of mine, around my age (32), who gave me a statement that he has not upgraded his laptop in part because he doesn't like Win 8, without further explanation.  But when I said Win 8.1 might offer to boot to desktop directly, he appeared more interested in the prospect.  It really beats me to see something my mom enjoys, yet younger, more tech savy guys don't. 
  • I think that's exactly it, though. I've never been interested in the iPhone / iOS experience. I always felt it "dumbed it down" too much. One app at a time, it's all the mind can handle. Big icons that look like real life objects. Notepads that look like real legal pads. Of course, Windows Phone 8 and the Modern interface are "dumbed down" and I don't like using them on a mouse-driven device. But it's good for touch. Simple doesn't necessarily appeal to tech-savvy, though.
  • Great article, but I have to disagree with one point. It's the geeks that resist change the most. I witnessed it with the change from Win 3.11fWG to 95, again when XP came out and now with Win 8. In turn these Luddite geeks tell anyone who will listen (especially their non-tech savvy friends) then new thing sucks. Then of course when the next thing arrives, they cling to the formally hated platform. Sad really.
    Meanwhile, more open-minded individuals have been designing context-based UI/UX's and attempting convergence for years because it's the next logical progression in computing.
    Windows 8, while nowhere near perfect is a great step toward ushering in that future.
  • +1
  • I'm a little confused by this statement. When Windows 2000 came out, I got on it, even though it wasn't "consumer friendly." I wanted the stable server platform with the ability to do consumer things. And when XP came out, I had it before it was officially launched. I guess I am not a geek? :-) I also tried Vista, but the performance issues, especially across the network, were more hassle than I cared to deal with. I eventually migrated with Vista SP1, and I loved Windows 7 from the very beginning. I was one of those "geeks" that held a Windows 7 launch party, and in return, I got a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate, which I used from Day 1 up until I was able to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for ~$16 early this year. To further geek out, I had a Windows Phone 7 from early on, and a Surface RT. Geeks are early adopters. But Windows 8 has to sell to the mainstream... and the geeks have to answer their friends and family with "yes, I tried it, and it's great", or it'll have a much harder time catching on. Windows 8 doesn't do that for everyone, mostly because of the "forced touch" experience even on mouse-driven devices.
  • Only took me a day to learn everything and customize W8 to my liking. I like it a lot more than W7 now. Everything I hated about W8, I was able to change.
  • It isn't actually really hard learn how to use W8. I'd say that many people simply don't won't to try to learn...
  • I think you got it wrong. The idea of Windows 8 is an OS that can run in all the devices. Windows 8 can run in the smallest tablet, a laptop, a desktop, a big mural touch screen PC, and in the future the phone. With one OS you can give a continuous and unified experience to people using many devices, and build a big portfolio of apps that you can run seamless in all those devices.
    Partners try to build devices that do more and are more attractive to people, but It's not the primary objective of Windows 8. In fact for Microsoft would be better if people buy many Windows 8 devices and not just one. This extreme fixation in the convertibles and the Surface Pro is an attempt of the OEMs and the hardware division of Microsoft to enter in the tablet wave with a product that is late and doesn't have many apps.
    The negative effect of this strategy is that the OS is not evaluated by its features, nobody talks of how superior Windows 8 is in a tablet compared to iOS or Android. People, including you, only discuss how well the device can do many roles in the current hardware.
    That's one of the reason why I think Microsoft should launch a “pure” 7'' Windows 8 tablet without desktop, so people can evaluate the small tablet in its own merit, not in how small the desktop looks. It wouldn’t take a big market share, as the first Android tablets also didn't, but it could show the potential of the OS with more clarity and open new markets for the company.
  • I like the idea of a "non desktop" version of Windows as well. However MS needs to make more of the Control Panel available in the modern interface. 8.1 has a bunch more but there are still things that require the classice desktop to sort out. Maybe in 8.3 or 9 this could be possible.
  • I've gotten used to Windows 8 and like it without start button, even on traditional desktop/laptop. There had better be a registry tweak available in 8.1 to disable the start button.
    There also had better be a way to get rid of video tutorials upon a fresh install of Windows 8.1.
  • The start button is nice, at least for touch, because now us Surface users can long-press it and access the new right-click menu.
  • Long-press for the context menu has always been available, even in previous versions of Windows running with touch-enabled screens. Maybe that is what you meant, at least for Surface/Windows 8?
  • I have a Surface RT and I love it.  I know I cannot install Wndows programs, only apps, but why does Apple get all the accolades for the iPad when essentially it cannot run iOS programes either?  My Surface RT is great as a media device PLUS I can do some real work on it with the built in Office apps. I really love the interface and it's fluidity within apps too.
    I think the significant difference between what MS are offering over Apple is a unified experience across devices.  MS should be applauded for this.  So your phone, tablet and PC work the same way.  If Apple did this with their iPad, iPhone and Mac OS, imagine how they would be congratulated for being so innovative!  Yet go from an iPad to a Mac and the experience is different. I'm not saying it's bad, but isn't a consistent user interface better, especially if that interface works?
    I don't yet have a Windows 8 PC, however based on my experience with Windows 8 on my Surface RT, I'm actually looking forward to it.  I got over the learning curve very quickly. 
  • Hardware manufacturers have no incentive to move the cheese. Samsung is quite happy to sell android devices up to $650, sell non-touch TVs under $650, and sell Wintel over $650. Toshiba almost gets it. The u925T with 128GB SSD, backlit keyboard, convertible, i5, and touchscreen for $700 to $750.Those are on closeouts but specs like that at $699 and the days of the non-convertible and magnetic drive are dead.
  • Domo!
  • The cry babies got their gaudy and pointless "Start Button" back. Maybe if the rest of us scream and cry enough, they'll get that stupid thing off our screens.
  • Great article, well written.
  • I have a laptop & a desktop both running 8.1 & absolutely fine with it. Both are non touch.
  • Apart from my Windows Phone 8, I also possess an Acer Ultrabook M5. But the ultimate Windows 8 device for me would be either Surface (tablet) or Acer Aspire S7 (Ultrabook)
  • >>I need a new computer, but I’m worried about Windows 8.”, “How difficult is this new thing to learn?”, and “Can I get it with Windows 7 instead?”.
    Actually this is nothing special, I heard of this numerous times since the release of Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7, some consumers always complain this, complain that, they always find excuses. Fine, except that MS doesn't hold guns to their brains, forcing them to upgrade to new OS.
  • I hope that Windows RT is not dead, I would be happy to see it become THE Windows without all that legacy bulk.
  • Yep, waiting for that ultimate hybrid.. :)
  • People have got to get over the fear of breaking something. Go ahead and explore a bit. Try things out. Sure it takes a bit of time at first. But then it saves TONS of time later on, not doing things the slow way, or waiting until someone else does it for you. I think any company that has more than 100 computers needs to give employees that use them time each week to learn to use them better. So many don't even understand where their files are being saved or how to move them somewhere else,etc. Basic stuff. Computer illiteracy is a huge time and money waster.
  • Microsoft just recently announced they're discontinuing support for WebTV in Sept 2013! I think RT will be here awhile.
  • Hi there,
    Absolutely great article and i love the title of the article .Thats correct Windows 8 OS is a head of time.
  • "Ahead of time" and "Public Mindset" are weak excuses. In 2007, the iPhone was YEARS ahead of its time and worked. Same can be said about the iPad as well.
    Ultimately if people like what they see, they will buy it. The sad reality is, Windows 8 is an unfinished product.
  • Windows 8 is the future, iPad never appealed to me, they dumbed it down to appeal to noobs such as yourself Ipad definitely feels ancient after using windows 8 on a tablet
  • This is Windows Fan Central so I expected an ignorant "iPads are terrible" comment such as yours. You thinking it's ancient or dumbed down is worth nothing - millions of users are proof that the iPad is a pretty solid product; but anyway that wasn't my point.
    My point is that a product that's "ahead of it's time" doesn't necessarily end up with the ton of criticism Windows8 has, and MSFT fans should stop giving themselves this excuse that it's the public who are stupid and don't want to change to their shiny new OS just because its intimitading.
    You probably think of yourself as an alpha-hacker in your tiny little brain calling me a noob, but know this:
    Noobs rule the world. Expert power-users are a miserably small minority, and the fact that only a tiny percentage of the user base is able to appreciate a device doesn't sit well with investors:
    If noobs don't like it, sales will suffer, and changes will be made to make it noob-friendly.
  • I realise your a bit slow, but once you've learned, obviously at a very slow rate, you will realise what I'm saying is true. All the noobs will learn, probably at a faster rate than you from the sounds of it. IPads are pretty damn boring and hence there dropping sales rates. I think you better get out of the house a bit and go learn.
  • And to reiterate, that wasn't even my point to begin with. I'm simply stating the "Ahead of its time" is a lame excuse for something the public at large clearly despises.
    "Ahead of its time" done right should have everyone drooling over it - not running away intimidated by it for you self-proclaimed non-noobs to say how stupid everyone is for not appreciating this.
  • And don't put words in my mouth to try to prove yourself, read my original statement. Wow, what a fool
  • iPads are boring. Right, that's why they've sold millions of them. Looks like you're the one who needs a lesson in basic arithmetic.
  • I know heaps of people that have iPad and never use them, having to click a button instead of swiping from the left is a major pain, after using widows 8 on a tablet it becomes intuitive. It feels like the future if you just try it, I recently used an ipad for the first time in years, it was painful and it was slow. Using statistics means nothing, I work in IT support, and I can say the sheep mentality can't last forever and I can't imagine people being happy with a stripped down OS designed for kids for much longer when you can get full OS on like Wndows 8 on a tablet. I'm using rt 8.1 and its a pleasure to use
  • the only thing the iPhone was ahead of was mass producing capacitive touchscreen phones. There was nothing ground breaking in their OS then, and there certainly isn't anything groundbreaking today.
  • You're crazy if you think there was nothing ground breaking about the original iPhone back in 2007-2008.
    If it weren't for that device, we'd still by pounding away on tiny Blackberry keypads with QVGA screens, or poking at resistive screens with a stylus.
  • I believe another element of public mindset is that people view Windows very differently than anything by Apple. In short, Windows is a pragmatic product whereas Apple's products are for enthusiasts and supposed technology aficionados (i.e., snobs). The public is conditioned by brand design to anticipate and desire anything new by Apple. In contrast, the public tends to mistrust and avoid anything new with Windows, which is the brand the public has given it.
    I feel each successive release of Windows has improved on the previous version. Certainly, some things change which require my work habits to change, sometimes not to my preference, but I have to accept that as part of the relationship. The Modern UI and environment is nascent but will likely prove quite useful. The Desktop in Windows 8 is a definite improvement over Windows 7. In fact, in my opinion OS X is looking a little silly compared to it now.
  • The ability to default boot to desktop (and to set start menu as full program list view) with 8.1 should help to make it a more familiar OS to people. I think it was a choosable option when I installed but would be best if the OS could detect whether or not it was being installed on a computer with or without touch screen and highlight the appropriate choice accordingly.
  • Even though I agree that Microsoft really didn't do a good job explaining the new features of Windows 8, especially the Charm Bar. People who DON'T get Windows 8 are obviously computer illiterate to begin with!