Steven Sinofsky, President of the Windows divison for Microsoft said: “Windows 8 is a generational change in the Windows operating system,” and described it as Microsoft’s ‘most radical redesign since Windows ’95, the version of the OS which catapulted Windows into worldwide fame.
“We challenged ourselves to bring the best of mobility and the best of PCs, in an experience where you don’t have to compromise.”
Coming from a generation first introduced to Microsoft operating systems with DOS, I have seen and used all the different flavours of Windows, and I have to agree with Sinofsky on this one; Windows 8 is a radical design! Any Windows veteran will feel lost, even intimidated, in the first few minutes of using it, until intuition from the use of non-Microsoft devices kicks in and you find yourself navigating through a completely different Windows experience.
Windows released a consumer preview last week that is available to download at http://preview.windows.com. It’s free and expires when Microsoft releases the final product. If you are thinking about downloading and testing it, I strongly advise to install it fresh on a spare computer and not your current dearly beloved setup.
If you’re curious, I recommend giving it a try to answer three questions:
1. What is the future of Windows?
Here it is, Windows 8, Microsoft’s audacious attempt at unifying all form factors in one operating system. Something that Apple wanted and haven’t achieved, Google is exploring, plus a little bit more. What the heck? I am talking PCs, tablets, mobile phones plus Xbox. Yup, one operating system. So the clever software engineers at Microsoft have finally created a kernel (not the popcorn) that will run on ARM-based devices such as those found in mobile devices and tablets as well as PCs.
2. Will I like it?
The first panic or pleasant surprise, is the unfamiliarity of what is displayed in front of you. The new interface called Metro is a modern blocky collage of features, programs and settings called ’tiles’. From Internet Explorer to Music, to XBOX live app, to the new Windows App Store called ‘Windows Store’; the new blocky interface has touchscreen in mind and users of tablets and smartphones will find the intuitive, touch, swipe and pinch interaction with the new operating system. Traditional PC users with the old Windows mouse will find it strange to navigate when the usual mouse pointer turns in to a hand on some areas of the screen, but you get used to it (either that or you’ll put in an order for a touch enabled monitor!). The old desktop desktop interface can be opened from one of the tiles and you can use it to run legacy Windows programs – but you will have to say goodbye to the old Start Button (although I found a 3rd party program called Vistart that re-enables it).
3. Am I ready for Windows 8?
Taking Windows 8 for a spin myself, shows me that it is time for a change. I am pleasantly suprised with the fast boot-up time; a frequent complaint from Windows users, and the efficiency and quick response of new programs running on the tiles. Perhaps because it is also built to work on less powerful devices, the program design was made much simpler, coupled with built-in Cloud computing capabilty of Windows 8, we will see that the computing power is pushed elsewhere and not on the device itself. We’ll see that older computers installed with Windows 8 perform better, quicker and more efficiently. Your favorite desktop could be given that fresh lease of life, enough to save you money to buy a touchscreen monitor!
So when Microsoft finally launches Windows 8 this year (rumour is around October), it signifies the re-entry of Microsoft in the Tablet market arena: a battlefield heavily dominated by iPads and Android enabled devices. While I would recommend upgrading your laptops and computers to Windows 8, will the cross-platform-ability and the current set of features be enough to for me to rush to the shops for a Windows 8 tablet? My honest answer unfortunately is no.
About Bobby Jimenez
Bobby Jimenez is a Cloud computing strategist, problem solver, functional innovator, super geek, eats, drinks and sleeps technology. Bobby is the CTO of a global climate change mitigation and sustainable resources company, where he is responsible for technological vision and development. Connect with Bobby on Twitter @bobbyjimenez or via his website http://bobbyjimenez.com