2014-10-04 MS Win 8 Dying Away

An article appeared in The Register about the percentages of Windows OSes out there being used.  I was surprised at how low the percentage of Win 8 & 8.1 were.  It looks as if Win 8/8.1 are going to be this decade’s Vista: treated as a hornets’ nest and completely avoided, even though the prospective buyer hasn’t ever been exposed to it.  Mike, my co-worker, had some thoughtful things to say.

Microsoft tried to force a change to how end users were used to using Windows in the past.  Change is fine but Microsoft missed the mark on keeping in intuitive enough so end users can easily figure out how to be productive again.

The metro tiles makes sense for touch screen tablets, mobile devices, and touch screen laptops but not for desktops (touchscreen would lead to “gorilla arms”) which are still used by most businesses.  So ditching the useful Start Menu was not a good idea.  For home use, I also think it was lame that Microsoft made Media Center a separate purchase instead of included free like it was with some Windows 7 editions.

After 8.1 came out with updates to allow booting directly to the desktop mode bypassing the metro screen and adding a third party Classic Shell start menu, then I can see myself trying to get used to using Windows 8.1 even though I might still like Windows 7 most.  Maybe given some time I can start to like Windows 8.1.
But the point for Microsoft is, why should end users have to add third party software and mess with buried configuration settings to get productive again?  Microsoft should have listened more to the end users.

What may have also kept the adoption number low for Win8/8.1 is that other software vendors have been somewhat slow on updating their software to be compatible.  Windows 7 has a nice feature called Windows XP Mode that allows a free license to run a virtual instance of Windows XP to run older software that might not be compatible with Win7.  Win8/8.1 does not offer any such feature but if they did offer a way to run a free virtual instance of Win7 and WinXP then that might have helped with the adoption numbers.  Businesses then, such as our district, just stayed on Win7 to avoid software incompatibility issues.

Hopefully this time Microsoft does more end user surveys on their software to blend change with user expectations.

I also had another thought: MS may have feared that if they didn’t rush to get Windows to look more like tablets and mobile devices, they would miss the boat on the trend toward a universal OS that shares the same user interface on all devices. But I’ve never seen an Android device that had all the capabilities of a full keyboard and mouse interface.

I had been using Win 8 for almost a year, and I still didn’t like it. I bought a Win 8 for Dummies book when I first got it and that helped a little bit. But I’m not using it on a regular basis any more, since I sold the laptop. I was satisfied with Win 7. I will not, as long as I can avoid it, get a PC with Win 8 or 8.1.

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