My take on Windows 8.

Seeing as others have stated their views about Windows 8 and why it isn’t selling, or why PC’s are on the decline, or why they think Windows 8 is the best thing since sliced bread, I thought it might be about time that this humble Granma gave her opinions on the subject. There will be many who won’t agree with me, probably the business users and those who work in Information Technology, whilst those who tend to use IT for pleasure or to simply socialise will probably know where I’m coming from.

I can remember a time when Information Technology as we call it today (or computers) first appeared. The only users in those days were businesses. colleges and training centres. They were all PC’s (usually Amstrad’s) and you had to be Einstein to get any sense out of them. I don’t remember them having an Operating System as we know it today, only programs such as Lotus 123 etc. The other type of computer, a Mackintosh, tended to be used by those who wanted to produce graphics etc. Ordinary people just didn’t have a computer, either because they couldn’t afford one or didn’t have any use for one. The desktop PC was a useful tool and as time has passed, is now virtually indispensable amongst our biggest corporations such as the NHS, the Police, etc. All are still running Windows XP, and most tend to  use a tailor made program that suits their particular needs and usage.

As time has passed, the rest of us have begun to use IT in a far different way to the way that corporate users make use of it. For the consumer user (for that is the description most used these days to describe the user who is not using IT for work purposes) IT allows us to socialise with one another, keep in touch, pass the time, entertain etc. One could argue that its exactly the opposite type of use to that of the corporate user, because we aren’t using it to ‘produce’ anything or in a serious manner, but rather in a frivolous way. Of course, we can also use it to keep tabs on our appointments, remind us of things we need to do, give us directions, and generally be an ‘aide memoir’ and assistant in our busy lives. In fact now that I own a smart phone, I don’t know how I ever managed without it. My point here is that now that the non-corporate user has begun to make use of Information Technology in their daily lives, the demographic of usage has changed dramatically and beyond recognition.

Of course the corporate user still uses their static PC’s and Mac’s in exactly the same way as they have always done, their needs have not changed, nor their need to change PC’s or even change their operating system. For any corporate user, changing and updating their core operating system would entail training their entire staff to use the new system, a costly and time consuming nightmare that any corporate user will obviously dread, and whilst the current set up in use is working fine, then many will consider it not worth the cost or the hassle, hence the reason why most large institutions and businesses are still using Windows XP, and as Microsoft plan to withdraw support next year, its going mean a massive upheaval.

In the meantime, as the corporate usage has in a way stood still, the none corporate usage has ballooned. From those years when no one but the corporate user found any use for IT, now the majority of us own some type of smart phone that we make use of daily, or we own tablets, e-readers, etc., and our needs seem to be that we need to use IT as we move around, during travel, walking along, in coffee shops etc., we don’t seem to want a static PC that remains in one place. Texting, taking pictures, keeping in touch with each other, these are our needs wherever we happen to be.

So, can one Operating system cover both uses? I say not. I believe that it’s one of the main reason’s why Apple has never attempted it. One usage is so far removed from the other, that its an impossible task and one that in my opinion, Microsoft shouldn’t have attempted with Windows 8. The corporate user needs to be able to multitask, have several programs open and  visible on their desktop at once, be able to maintain security of the highest level as their usage may entail accessing personal details of others, or information that they wouldn’t want others to have access to, whilst to the consumer user none of that is really important, as demonstrated by the way we are all happy to inform the world where we are at at any given time, and broadcast our latest pictures via sharing.

I love my Windows phone, and in my opinion, the operating system on the phone is perfect and Microsoft would be stupid to think otherwise or to change it. The way that you can tailor the tiles to suit your usage, personalise the phone to such a high degree that no Windows phone will look exactly like someone else’s, the way the tiles are ‘live’, the People tile, it all works brilliantly and is a ‘user focused concept’ that Microsoft should be proud of. On the phone it works well, as does the phone’s mail app, calendar etc., and Joe Belfiore and his team are to be fully congratulated on making an operating system that is fully tailor made to the user.

But in Windows 8 its a disaster. It simply doesn’t work!  No corporate user is going to make use of it, the Mail app, the People app, the Calendar app, they are a practically unusable and a thousand steps back from Windows Live Mail in the case of the Mail app. No integrated Calendar? In fact, whilst I was testing Windows 8, I simply downloaded the whole of Windows Live Essentials to the desktop in Windows 8 because I couldn’t function without their features and I’m  a simple consumer user!  Nothing works in Windows 8 that would suit the usage of the corporate user OR the consumer user in my opinion, and the integrated apps are rubbish. Windows phone puts it all to shame, both in usage and in application.  What Microsoft will do I have no notion, but they should leave Windows phone alone, its perfect.

They should have taken  the Windows phone OS and added it to tablets aimed at consumer usage, but updated Windows 8 desktop for PC’s and corporate usage. Its a step too far, and by trying to fulfil two separate usages, they have ended up fulfilling none. 

TG  (This post is entirely my own thoughts on the subject of Windows 8, and I know that many of you will not agree with my sentiments, only time will tell who is right and who is wrong, and my thoughts are entirely as an ordinary user.)

This blog post has been written, edited and published from the greatest blog editor ever, Windows Live Writer, for which their is no equal and which has not been made into a Windows phone app unfortunately. Sigh.

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About technogran
A granny and a geek? You bet! Still trying desperately to keep up with it all.

11 Responses to My take on Windows 8.

  1. penpusherpen says:

    ’tis a multi-million dollar subject TG, and you state the case admirably. I have an old PC with Windows XP SP3 still, and use it very occasionally, but it’s still a friend…I bought a laptop and then we had to purchase another PC (the old one started smoking ;-) ) and couldn’t find anything other than Windows 8 already pre-loaded so we thought why not have a go… and I find for our personal use it’s great…NO Tablets in this house, as yet, and our phones are just mobiles, nothing special, so Windows 8 was fully new and exciting for us… and I do love Live Writer, it’s a godsend, couldn’t wait to download it, … aint technology wonderful ? xPenx.

  2. staceyuk says:

    When I replaced my computer last year, I specifically asked for Win 7 in my specs as I knew what I was dealing with. A computer is a major investment for me and I didn’t want to gamble on a flaky OS, especially as I use it every day. I did that with Vista.

  3. Ludwig says:

    Thank you T.G. – You have said it very well.
    Some of my students have Windows 8 computers and they are more lost than I have experienced in the past. What really is very confusing, and hard to teach, is the two versions of Mail, Photos, Internet Explorer. I just don’t have any answers when they plead “Why are they different? How can that be fixed?”

  4. deputydoug says:

    I believe your comments, for the most part, are spot on. Like you, I don’t believe Windows 8 will ever make in-roads into the corporate workplace. You did mention that the PC is slowly going away and the numbers reflect this. And as the PC is departing the tablet is emerging.

    Window 7 will mostly remain the corporate staple for computer use. But tablet computers running this operating system are could definitely be something we could see a heavier use of, and this is where this OS shines.

    No enterprise would use Mail, I agree, but it can be altered to use SharePoint instead of Office 365.

    For the most part I find 8 to be a fluffier version of 7. All Programs has been replaced with a new Start menu. Setting the defaults for opening applications is easier in 8 than in 7. But having the The Store included in the OS is really very nice (my opinion).

  5. Geoff Coupe says:

    TG – won’t surprise you at all that, while I agree with a lot of your data points, I disagree with your conclusions :-)

    Yes, the corporate world moves slowly, and yes, the current slew of Modern UI Apps are crap-ridden toys, but the underlying platform of Windows 8 is solid. When corporate IT finally gets rid of XP and its successors, the Windows platform will still be an attractive, and comprehensive choice.

    Microsoft has taken a big gamble on a unified OS designed to span hardware ranging from smartphones to servers, and we are just at the start of a long journey. Apple are likely to follow suit. Yes, Windows 8 is a mewling, puking infant at the moment. But it will grow up.

    • Technogran says:

      Well that’s if users can be bothered to wait until such time as Microsoft get it right, and in my opinion, because the usage of Corporate users is so far removed from that of Consumers, its an impossible task, so Geoff, we’ll have to agree to differ.

    • Ludwig says:

      Indeed Windows 8 is stable and a well-designed operating system as near as I can tell. That is not the problem. The new interface and the apps that are provided for it, are the weak heel. Microsoft can’t even make up its mind on what to call it, I will call it the kiddie interface, because that is who it seems to be designed for. The apps have been stripped of features – don’t tell me that 83,000 employees could not have gotten decent, full-featured versions of Mail, Internet Explorer, Photo Gallery, Paint or even WordPad ready for Windows 8. Microsoft Office clearly is moving in the direction of the Spartan look, but it is not ready in the kiddie interface. By offering such a pathetic, nearly useless “front”, Microsoft has killed much enthusiasm. Will Windows 8 grow up? Will anyone care?

      • Geoff Coupe says:

        Ludwig, unfortunately not all of the 83,000 employees are working on the Apps. It’s ironic that the better Apps are being built by the Bing AppEx team, while the horrendous Mail/People/Calendar/Photo traffic accident is being built by the Windows team themselves. They clearly haven’t a clue how to use their own platform…

        http://www.zdnet.com/microsoft-updates-six-of-its-own-windows-8-apps-7000014009/

        • Ludwig says:

          OK, Geoff, I just installed the updates. Looked at the Maps app. Sluggish. Went to desktop on the same machine and started IE10 – went to maps. Speedy zoom, dragging is fast. Bird’s eye view available, street view available (yes, Bing maps, called “Streetside”). Joy. The kiddie – metro – modern app: no bird’s eye, no Streetside – clearly just a toy. Can these folks at Microsoft really be this dumb?

  6. Windows 8 may well become the standard OS but for now, I’m happy with Windows 7.
    Have a good week. :)

  7. quikboy says:

    I personally think Microsoft has the right idea on unifying OS elements across all their platforms, but so far a terrible early execution of it. It’s very obvious Windows 8 wasn’t done, or else there wouldn’t even be a Windows Blue update. The built-in apps (Mail, Calendar, People, Messaging) are atrocious, and Xbox media apps are the worst. Surprisingly, I only have actually really liked the Bing apps as they’re actually well done and they seem to have more functionality than the other apps.

    By radically changing the way Windows work, by hiding a ton of features with no proper tutorials, and having so much inconsistency between the desktop and start screen, among other things, this was a recipe for disaster. Now I’m not a hater of Windows 8, but I do acknowledge it has so many shortcomings as a half-done OS. If Microsoft could have spent more time refining the OS before releasing it, then maybe there wouldn’t be so much backlash, or at least making the change less radical until the next release. But half-baked changes released too quickly, without giving proper ways for people to adjust have only hurt Microsoft’s reputation and I hope that they can execute their ideal concept better by the time Windows 9 comes out.

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