How Windows 8 is the clear proof that Microsoft can't lead
I've just had a quick look at the Windows 8 developer preview. Not screenshots, rumors or reviews around, I've actually installed it on VirtualBox and tried it myself. Yeah, it's still early beta, developer preview, whatever you want... but what a crappy thing!! It's not really up to bugs, instability and this kind of stuff, it's all about the concept, that's doesn't make any sense at all! With this, I think Microsoft showed the last -though more evident- evidence they can't lead - they must follow others' footsteps. Apple has already said that eventually iOS and Mac OS will converge somehow but it's not speeding this change up, it's obviously something that will take time and, of course, PCs will never disappear. Anyway, slowly, it's fine to develop new stuff for the mobile ecosystem and leaving the desktop a little behind because that's where the average user will move, and the mass market with it. What's not ok -actually, it's foolish- is to think that the same operating system can provide a great user experience on both small and large screens. On portable and desktop devices. On 7/10" and 25" monitors. How could you possibly think that?!
I don't doubt the Metro interface looks amazing on tablets, but... you open Windows Explorer from there, and the interface slides to the old style. What?! Is Metro just a showcase that actually links to old styled apps? Is that the revolutionary OS you thought? And then in that explorer you have some really big buttons (which are absolutely awful) and some really small ones (like the one to hide the ribbon bar). It's like a puzzle. And then, it's hilarious, you can even bring up a cmd prompt. From a tablet! I'm sure out there there are plenty of people looking forward to execute commands from a black prompt on their new shiny tablet. Plenty.
The strength (doule-italics) of Windows 8 is the ability to switch from Metro to desktop in a click. So basically, you'll potentially have this continuous flipping of screens that's not really going to please users (or me at least). Everything is doubled and provide a different user experience, but it seems the tablet prospective can't live without the desktop one. Without the old interface (not built for the mobile world) it wouldn't be possible to browse disks, view flash content on the web and God now what else!
But that's not all, Microsoft wanted to go farther, wanted to change even the desktop experience. And what did they do? They've substantially made harder the desktop actions we all were used to. Or sometimes they even got rid of them. What about the Start Menu? What's that shitty black-and-white thing that pops out when hovering on the bottom-left corner? 4 items? I used to have 25, or something like that! Are you telling me every time I'll need to open a software, I'll either have to do it by a desktop link or via the Metro interface? Moreover, it seems to me like there's no way to close applications, they just pile up in a way the user doesn't see. And then, when you won't be able to close them, you may want to switch the whole machine off. But to realize how to shut the computer, you need to look up some tutorial on the web. In fact, there's no button like "Shutdown" or similars. It's hidden is a field nobody would actually think of: in the "Settings" list. I think Steve would be better off learning the meaning of settings, that isn't linked to Shutdown in ANY way.
With each update, no matter how much they intend to change things, they always end up cramming in the baggage of operating systems' past. This leads to a weird amalgamation that's neither new nor old. And quite often, worse than both.
This is what MG Siegler stated about the new explorer and it's kind of a summary of my whole point of view. They have developed a tablet concept that's not ready at all and that, for how it is now, poses no concerns about Android leadership. Then they have a desktop concept that is basically a much more confusing Windows 7, I'd dare say it's not the Windows we know anymore. It's just a clumsy attempt to put a foot in the mobile shoe and to keep the other one into the old-style-desktop shoe. The problem is that the former sacrifices the latter, leaving the whole system far behind my own expectations.
Yeah... It's a developer preview, it's still early beta (I'd better say early alpha)... but hey, if an OS is not decent and presentable, there's no reason to release a preview and push the press to cover it. Keep working silently and let some screenshots and blog posts leak if you don't have anything to show. This is not the first negative opinion, a lot of english blogs have already talked about it and they weren't really kind words.
I don't know whether Microsoft tried to anticipate Apple or not, but anyway that's now the right way of acting. Everyone's shifting to the mobile world as if there weren't already a lot of players there. HP tried to shift completely and failed. Microsoft is not doing it fully, but just putting its hands forward. Who is going to look after the desktop world? Does everybody really think it's going to die soon? Why the hell are you leaving it? Why don't you focus on it and assure your product is the best one so everyone will buy it so you are going to make money?
I feel like it has been something like a decade Microsoft has been needing a flop to build a good product. You know, Windows Millenium was criticized by most, while XP widely appreciated. Vista sucked, and then 7 came and was great and a lot of people bought and is still buying it. The point is that I'm not sure they'll have another chance if Windows 8 will be a huge fail. It seems that they can't innovate, introduce new things, new concepts, they can just implement already tested features and ideas into easy to use products. But take care: IT is changing and the market with it, dear Redmond, consumers will not wait 3 more years for you to understand how to do things, so plan your moves carefully.