Will Windows 8 Excite or Frustrate Users?
Seemingly enchanting users with the catchphrase, “Reimagined Windows,” Microsoft Windows 8 is the newest OS that is set to hit the market reportedly sometime in 2012. Much fuss is swinging everywhere on the anticipated Windows 8 release, with reception leaning on the little less positive side also becoming evident. But really, is Windows 8 worth the wait?
A Quick Rundown on Windows 8
Unveiled on September 13, 2011 during the BUILD Developer Conference in Anaheim, California, Windows 8 is packaged as the grand overhaul and the radical makeover of Microsoft’s landmark OS since its flagship Windows 95.
Windows 8 has a five-menu option called Charms, consisting of Start, Devices, Share, Settings and Search functionalities for improved and easier interface navigation. More importantly, an essentially enhanced performance awaits Windows 8 users. The newly introduced OS is rich with fresh features designed to address customer feedback, including:
- “Metro” interface optimized for touch-browsing user experience, but works just as well with keyboard and a mouse
- Faster start-up mode or booting at 8 seconds
- Improved file synchronization and storage via Windows Live SkyDrive
- Overhauled Windows Task Manager for better diagnosing of app issues
- Augmented wireless connectivity for seamless switching between broadband networks and Wi-Fi
Windows 8 for Tablets
Making a mark in the tech world with its next generation hardware support, Windows 8 embraces ARM chipsets, x86 devices, sensors and touch that enable it to work across all platforms – from 10-inch laptops or tablets to 27-inch HD PC screens.
While a prevailing computer platform, Windows 8 aims to compete mainly with Apple iOS and Google Android, targeting a foothold in the tablet sector. True, Apple goes on to reign as the best in the sector, with the revolutionary iPad still waiting for a worthy competitor to dethrone it. When it comes to operating systems for larger devices, however, Microsoft leads with its Windows OS – unlike Apple and Google that are currently the top OS platforms for smaller, mobile phone devices.
Research authority Gartner, Inc. is projecting that tablets will be gaining massive support in the next 5 years, selling more than 300 million units in 2015. With an inclination toward the highly promising world of tablets, Microsoft is poised to capture a portion of the tablet market – more so that the hunt is on for alternatives to the Apple iPad and Apple iOS. To this end, Windows 8 is poised to potentially gain a large share in the tablets market.
With the imminent release of the cutting edge Windows 8, Microsoft is finding shelter in Dell, HP and Nokia, which are showing signs that they may be looking into selling tablets that run on Windows 8. Presumably, the top manufacturers are set to introduce their tablets after Windows 8 is officially launched.
Windows 8 Initial Reception
Microsoft is set to help software and hardware partners prepare new and existing applications, systems, and devices for this upcoming product.
On the night that the Windows 8 preview was made available, Microsoft recorded no less than 500,000 copies of the pre-beta version downloaded. Building up the excitement, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the initial reaction was as they had hoped it to be.
The Microsoft Server and Platform Team also shared customer reactions – proof positive that the soon-to-be-launched OS may just be delighting users, at least for now.
According to the Team, Windows 8 preview experiences were generally positive, noting how the forthcoming OS clearly offers an improved scope and scalability, readying data centers for support and agile provisioning. Others are sharing inputs about how its customer-centered designs are defining Windows 8, as it is Microsoft’s combined portable laptop, desktop and tablet OS for personal, gaming and business purposes.
Windows 8 is considered by preview testers as an “everywhere OS” that offers access to services practically across computer and next-generation computing devices. In this respect, Windows 8’s versatility may be worth the attention.
Pointing out the bad in Windows 8, developers at the BUILD conference bring up the “sandboxing between Desktop and Metro”, as reportedly no cross-over may be expected, except that the old Windows and the new UI will be supporting apps separately. In the enterprise arena, business users may also find getting used to the Metro UI somewhat of a chore.
A Quick Peek at Predecessors’ Performances: Windows 7 and Vista
Windows 7, the latest release of Microsoft Windows, enjoyed a generally warm reception from users, earning mostly positive reviews. Launched on July 22, 2009, Windows 7 became the top grossing pre-ordered product at Amazon.co.uk, surpassing its less-liked predecessor Windows Vista.
During the Windows 8 preview, Microsoft touted a Windows 7 milestone: the Windows 7 sales had reached 450 million since its official release in 2009 – or some 650,000 licenses sold per day – with business deployments continuing to accelerate. With its recent sales figures, Windows 7 is trumping the 10-year-old Windows XP as the most widely used Microsoft OS.
Microsoft called the Windows 7 release significant in gaining back the credibility that has been marred by the missteps that surrounded the earlier OS, Windows Vista, which – just two years after its official release in 2006 – was a spot shy to being an all-time technology flop in a list compiled by InfoTech. Restrictive licensing, user account, control technology, cluttered drivers and complex hardware requirements became targets of criticism and frustrated business users and customers.
Windows 8, on the other hand, is “the best of Windows 7, only better,” touting improved performance, privacy, security and reliability – all while reducing required memory.
The Not-so-final Verdict
Microsoft’s latest attempt to diversify the user experience may stir controversy among traditional Windows users. On the flip side, Windows 8 – in catering to laptops, desktops, tablets and similar mobile devices all at the same time – may be steering modern computing and digital living toward a new dimension. With Windows 8 yet to be fully tried and tested, however, questions are hounding the reinvention. Rightfully so, actual user experience may prove to unearth a completely different story.