Monday, August 12, 2013

Tech Note: Can the Failing of Windows 8 Have Been Caused By Arrogance

It seems that Tech Notes has become a place for me to write about Windows 8 and nothing else.  Well in the world of IT where I live my work day Windows 8 is a big topic of conversation.  What is going to happen to the standard computer and what is going to happen to Microsoft are two big questions.

Lately what I've come to realize is that the buzz I hear over Windows 8 reminds me very much of the buzz I heard around Windows Vista after it had been out about 6 months and so this has lead to me understand that Windows 8 has failed.  Once the consumers turn on your product for whatever reason you've lost the battle and have to move forward.  Microsoft in many ways is acknowledging this with their big push of Windows 8.1 which is supposed to address the many issues, but the problem is it still doesn't address the biggest issue and so I'm left to wonder if Windows 8 is failing and will ultimately fail completely because of nothing more than human arrogance.

To understand why Windows 8 is failing, perhaps it's best to go back and understand why Vista failed.  When Microsoft was developing Vista they had this vision of an operating system that once booted up would pretty much have everything you needed running in memory and ready to go.  This meant a much more bloated operating system than Windows XP and so it needed computers that were much more robust than the vast majority of machines publicly available.  Microsoft went to their vendors and laid down very high standards on computers that would get the Vista approval.  If a machine didn't get Vista approval it would not get the Vista label and thus would be sold with Windows XP.  This would assure that the consumer got computers that were specifically designed to handle this much heftier operating system.  Problem is, before the release of Vista, Microsoft backed off and allowed Vista to go on any machine anyone wanted it to go on.  Almost overnight Vista was labeled as a bloated, slow, and sluggish operating system.  It was labeled as such and never lost the label.  The very thing that Microsoft feared, happened.

So what does that have to do with Windows 8?  In many ways it is a repeat of exactly what happened before.  Windows 8 is in essence a dual operating system.  There is the desktop mode which we are all familiar with and then there is the touch mode which is the new cutting edge component of Windows 8.  Now let's say I want a cheap laptop.  I go to Office Depot and I pick up some Acer for $400.  It has no touch screen, just a standard old laptop.  I get it home and start it up.  I'm thrown into the touch interface.  I can use the mouse sure but it's awkward and a bit clunky and I find that I spend most of my time working in the desktop environment because that's where a computer like this is most comfortable.  Problem is there is no start button in the desktop mode.  So if I want to launch an application I have to go back to the touch interface to launch an app that will then open in the desktop interface.  It's very awkward.  As a consumer I'm now finding myself very frustrated by this.  You have essentially added layers of complexity to something I have been doing on my computer and taken for granted for years.  Why?  Would be my question as a consumer, why would you do this to me?  And just as people found Vista bloated and sluggish, they find Windows 8 clunky and awkward.  There are now more apps coming out all the time and so you could find yourself spending more time in the touch interface even with a standard laptop, but the initial question still remains why?  Why were consumers ever put into a situation where they would find themselves this put out?  And now that Windows 8 has this bad reputation how do you restore order?

Well the obvious way to restore order is to simply give people their start button back and make it easier for users who aren't using the touch interface.  I love the touch interface for my Asus Windows RT device.  It's fast, easy to use, all in all very well designed.  I never use the touch interface at my work computer.  Why couldn't Microsoft understand or see that their users would be approaching this from different perspectives with different needs.  I wrote about this a while back when I envisioned a device that would let me move from work mode, to travel mode very easily.  That requires letting me live in desktop when I want to live there and in touch when I want to live there.  There are open source products that will alter Windows 8 to give you that control, so it's easy to do, so why not offer it up to consumers and computer manufacturers as a way to make people happy?

My only answer is arrogance.  Someone, somewhere at Microsoft is stubbornly standing behind the decision to not include the start button.  To force users to always go through the touch interface.  Why else would they stand behind something that is so clearly failing them?  The tweaks they are making for Windows 8.1 do not resolve this primary issue and so it will not eliminate the disdain the consumer now has for windows 8.  It's a shame too.  If you were thinking about getting a pad device I would not hesitate to recommend a Windows 8 device.  Especially now that they are trying to give them away.  At the price point you can't beat what they offer compared to an iPad.  But the tide won't turn for Microsoft or their vendors because the consumer despises Windows 8.  People at Microsoft can spit at the ignorance of the consumers, but the truth is it is not the ignorance of the consumer that has been the downfall of Windows 8 but the stupidity and arrogance of the people at Microsoft.

I find this to be a very sad story all in all because as I have said before Windows 8 is the greatest operating system ever made, but it is essence a failure.

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