Windows 8: The New Standard or Microsoft’s Downfall?

by Matthew 7

Microsoft is known for many things where Windows is concerned. They are known for being the best, the most popular, and the golden standard. One adjective from their repertoire, however, is less well known; Microsoft is safe. I don’t mean that Windows has a five star crash test rating, it doesn’t keep you from sunburn either, and neither does it keep you from having a baby (of course if you’re spending too much time playing Diablo 3 right now, you’re probably not having to worry about any of that). No, Windows plays it safe. Every time a new Windows OS is released, it looks and feels like Windows. There may be a new coat of paint, a few tweaks here and there, but it is still Windows.

Windows 8 Takes a Gamble

However, Microsoft has taken it upon themselves to make one of, if not the riskiest moves they have ever made. It seems they believe that the classic Windows formula is growing old; that it needs to be refreshed completely by being changed as much as possible. I understand a company wanting to go in a new direction, but why they chose this one I’ll never know.

If you’ve seen Windows 8 or even a Windows phone recently, you know how this is supposed to work. Something called Metro shows you a live preview of apps, constantly updating you on your friend’s unimportant status updates, and making sure you don’t have to tap the screen much to do anything. Now, that’s a great idea and all, as long as you’re using it on phones and tablets (an idea Microsoft has already tried with little success).

Touch and Go: Windows 8

Windows 8The problem with this is that Windows 8 is designed for use with touch screens, which is great if you actually use a touchscreens. However, I, like most of the PC using world, do not want to do everything on a giant touchscreen. When finishing a PowerPoint presentation at three in the morning, I don’t quite feel like dragging my fingers all over a 15″ screen to do tasks that would normally only require the slight flick of a mouse.

Windows 8 is currently plagued with all types of other problems too. A hideous side menu that serves no real purpose, no start menu, an unnecessarily giant clock, no start menu, and no start menu. See the problem here? One of the most useful and traditional PC oriented Windows staples has been thrown out of the window (see the irony in that?) in favor of a mobile oriented OS.

For some reason Microsoft has decided to risk its most profitable piece of business so they can jump into the piranha tank known as the mobile market. It’s completely understandable that Microsoft wants to take the classic OS in a new direction; I simply don’t agree with the direction its being taken. Hopefully, Windows 8 will not be released quite like it is now, but it’s unlikely for much to change at this point. At least there should be a huge amount of third party support to help restore some beloved and traditional features of the world’s biggest operating system.

Comments (7)

  1. “Microsoft is known for many things where Windows is concerned. They are known for being the best, the most popular, and the golden standard.”

    If you had replaced ‘Microsoft’ with ‘Apple’, that would have made sense. The only reason why MS is popular is because most people couldn’t afford to get macs in the past. Once they did, and the investments in software, etc, they got used to it, and stuck with it. The main product of MS is windows, and that has always been an extremely buggy, easily corruptible, and slow system. After ten years of windows, and with the drop in mac prices, I finally made the move to mac, and will never turn back.

    Of course, if you just do emails and some surfing, MS is good enough. And given that lots of people are good for nothing other than reproduction, eating, shopping, and being a wage-slave, they wouldn’t be doing much on their PCs, and hence, another reason for MS’s ‘popularity’ as it wouldn’t give much trouble for those who don’t do much with it.

    1.  @according2ed I can afford a Mac but I like being able to play games and run software. Macs can only do editing and then they can’t do anything else. for the same price as a Mac you can get a much better PC which runs more software and is way faster than a Mac. “Wage slaves”, what you mean is people who work but PC. Yes we do, the scroungers living from their parents or friends silver spoons get macs. Linux is easily he best OS out there and it it weren’t for its lack of game support I would use it. But MS has made OSs what they are today, windows 7 is a shining example of what Microsoft can do. Mac OSX Lion suffers from RAM leaks (beach balling as it uses the HDD as RAM), it also recently experienced most mac users being turned into email spam bots. Have fun with your overpriced hardware and lacking software whilst I enjoy the speed and stability of a decent PC. If you spend the same money on a PC as you did your Mac you would be much happier.

  2. Replying to Evomedia: I guess I misunderstood the purpose of the MS Store.  I was under the impression that you “had” to get apps for W8 from the Store.  I use Office 2010 (mostly Word & Excel), Wndows Live Mail, Google Chrome, Adobe Acrobat reader, Adobe Flash player, a sound file editor from NCH, GIMP ( similar in spirit to Adobe PhotoShop), and a string of specialized communications programs, mostly provided by my equipment manufacturers or fellow radio amateurs.  Rightly or wrongly, I tend to trust other amateurs to supply me with “good” (i.e., “clean”) software, and so far, they have not let me down.  I will admit that some programs are somewhat easier to use than others that fulfil similar functions, and that some have more bells’n’whistles.  The finer details of user interfaces & procedures are personal & subjective.  The one thing I will say in favour of Windows is that it has enforced a fairly consistent set of corresponding commands across applications.  I have used a variety of applications, programming languages, computers, & OSes over the years, Flex, Mini, Rio, ISIS, ZCPR, CP/M, “TRASH-DOS”, MS-DOS, assemblers for different OSes, COBOL (on an IBM 360), the old Motorola 6800 CPU, the RCA COSMAC CPU, BASIC, WordStar, DBase, Lotus, the offline editor-verifier for a Shape metalworking punch press.  I can remember repairing the old Singer-Friden hard drives – 14″ platters, & the 7-disk pack held 35 megabytes (5 meg per platter). Most of this software (& some of the hardware too) is lost in history today, although I still use WordStar 4.0 for some text editing work.  Try picking any two of the four applications mentioned, and then save your work to disk & exit the program.  All four used a different key sequence.  At least the same command works for all Windows programs.

  3. Microsoft is messing up in a huge way with Windows 8. Rather than offering the “metro tile” UI as an option they are forcing it on people. Alot of people like to stick to Windows only because they are famiiar, every version they make small changes that irritates people, but the changes are small enough to be tolerable. Now why would people want to stick with an operating system that is nothing like the Windows brand? I know my customers that I put machines together for would rathe rtake the time to learn a free OS like Linux uBuntu than have to learn a whole new OS they have to pay for or just stick with an older version as long  as they can.
    Microsoft needs to catch a f******n wake up and realise people ( barr mindless apple followers ) don’t like to be told how and what they can do with their stuff.
    All I can say is you’re gonna see an decrease in market share of Microsoft products and an increase in Linux especially since such good inprovements are being made in Linux and the fact not only the OS is free but even the Office software can be found for free ( legally )
    People have only been paying for Microsoft Windows because it’s what they are familiar with, but now they are being FORCED to a whole new OS.

    1.  @DjarnNicholas Not to sure linux will really manage to cash in on it TBH. For reasons i can’t comprehend a load of distributions seem to have decided to swap out their nice polished UI’s for unwieldy, slow over cluttered ones. Gnome 3/Unity etc.. That said, it forced me to jump to lxde which is actually pretty nice.

  4. if you dont like touchscreens, use the dam mouse and keyboard, no one is stopping you >.>

  5. I honestly don’t understand why people are so sceptical. Windows 8 is everything Windows 7 was, but with far superior touch support (thanks to the new start screen), an entire additional (that’s “additional”, not overwritten) application platform and distribution method, and a plethora of tweaks that make it faster and more reliable in almost every way.
    I often read comments about people’s concerns that they will have to acquire all of their software from the Windows Store- this is untrue. The Windows Store is the only way to (officially at least) install Metro style applications. The lovely Win32 applications we’re all familiar with will install just fine through whatever method you like. You still have your same unrestricted desktop OS, just with a (in my opinion) appealing redesigned start menu.
    Where’s the loss here? The ONLY loss is the start menu. Users are now forced to adopt a slightly altered method of launching programs- a method that’s actually not that different from the start menu we’re all used to, just a full-screen implementation with awesome support for touch. It’s also far more than just a launcher now too; as many Metro style applications support showing live information on their tiles. No more running your mail application first to check for new messages- your start screen mail tile will just tell you automatically!
    One final reminder to anyone who’s afraid of this being a glorified locked-down iOS on desktops- it’s not! It’s Windows as you know it, but with a new additional array of applications that are pretty and work great on touch devices, and a redesigned and more functional start screen / menu for launching them. It all still works fine on a desktop (I’m using the RTM on one now), and is great with Keyboard and Mouse. You can still press Start on your keyboard and type away. You can still then use CRTL+SHIFT+Enter to run as admin from those results. But now those results aren’t just your files and programs, they can search into individual metro style apps too- so you can search your mailbox in the exact same way, search your pictures, skydrive, the Web…
    … Remember when the mouse was new and everyone was annoyed that it didn’t work as well as keyboard alone? I, for one, embrace new ways of interacting with my technology, and making the OS easier to achieve just that is nothing but a good thing in my book.

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