As a happy Linux user, I’m watching the launch of Windows 8 from a perspective similar to someone who goes to the local speedway expecting to see a multi-car pileup.
The train wreck that was Windows Vista drove many of us (me included) to the Linux OS or the Mac. With Windows 8 set to roll out a whole new interface (one optimized for mobile devices instead of the desktop), I think I can already hear the brakes screeching.
Apparently a few publications agree (from this SJ Mercury News-powered SiliconValley.com email):
So will Windows 8, an operating system that targets both PC and tablet users, save the day? Recent reviews — of the release to manufacturing, or RTM, or final, version — haven’t been kind. InfoWorld: “Yes, it’s that bad. … From the user’s standpoint, Windows 8 is a failure — an awkward mishmash that pulls the user in two directions at once.” Computerworld: The “two interfaces uneasily coexist.” But according to Gizmodo’s detailed review, the “execution” is “not half bad.”
Note that Ubuntu Linux went through something similar a couple years ago; they moved from a “standard” desktop environment to something more comfortable on a touchscreen.
That interface was called Unity, and while it’s ultimately grown into something useful for desktop users, Linux users can pick and choose from five different (and mature) desktop environments, so I simply downloaded an alternative desktop (XFCE) and kept working.
Windows users don’t enjoy the same level of choice.
For Microsoft, the idea is to create a uniform user experience across computers — from the desktop to mobile. Which makes sense. Be nice to pick up a project on your tablet right where you left off on your desktop — using approximately the same tools.
The problem is there really aren’t any Windows mobile devices. At least not enough to make it interesting.
You slip behind the wheel of Windows computer every day? I’d keep my foot near the brakes.
Keep writing, Tom Chandler.