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Microsoft shows-off Windows 8. Stop all the fuss

Man doing thumbs-down to his laptop

Microsoft is attempting to whip up a frenzy around its next operating system, Windows 8, at its BUILD conference. To me, there’s nothing to get excited about – other than the fact that Microsoft is finally catching up.

In his keynote address, Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft claimed the company has ‘reimagined Windows’.

‘From the chipset to the user experience, Windows 8 brings a new range of capabilities without compromise,’ he boasted.

Windows 8: what’s new?

My colleague Ben Stevens is won over, but I have to wonder what Microsoft’s ‘reimagining’ of Windows will actually deliver? You have to dig deep on the company’s website to find the answers. One thing that’s new is a Metro style interface, which is ‘built for touch’, but equally at home with a keyboard and mouse.

This is essentially just technobabble for ‘Windows 8 will run on a tablet PC’. Some limited tablets have run Windows 7 but with limited success; Windows 8 aims to turn the company’s fortune around on this new class of device.

Given the dominance of Apple’s iPad in this market, you’ll forgive me for not getting too excited about it; it’s hard to see how this new operating system (OS) will help to set tablets aside from the iPad where others have failed.

Further making inroads into the tablet market, Microsoft says there’ll be apps to support Windows 8. Again, I can’t help wondering what Microsoft can deliver that Apple hasn’t already. As ‘new’ ideas go, it has yet to fire my imagination and as previous conversations have proved the traditional PC is far from dead.

Building on Windows 7’s success

One thing Microsoft is keen to stress is that the new OS builds on the success of Windows 7, and that those who own Windows 7 won’t be starting again from scratch.

This is a wise move by the company and it’s good to see Microsoft building on the best of Windows 7 – namely its ability to run on less powerful hardware. The company says Windows 8 will run on devices from 10-inch tablets to all-in-one PCs, and it’ll run all day from a single charge.

These are bold claims indeed, but (as a previous post by my colleague Rene Lopez has proved) there are still a vocal number of people out there still hankering after Windows XP. Windows 7 has certainly outstripped Vista for popularity but there are still some who have yet to be convinced; Microsoft faces an equally tough sell with Windows 8.

Microsoft’s reimagining of Windows makes perfect sense; tailor made for tablets, closer integration with the cloud and all day computing on a single charge. For Windows, it is a reimagining but for me it doesn’t seem all that imaginative.

For me, Windows 8 smacks of Microsoft catching up with the competition rather than giving us anything new to get excited about.

Do you agree with Sarah? If not, make sure you read the other side of the debate, argued by Ben Stevens: Microsoft shows off Windows 8. Stop the press

Are you looking forward to the launch of Windows 8?

Not sure - I'll have to check it out for myself first (37%, 368 Votes)

No - Windows 8 doesn't appeal to me (36%, 358 Votes)

Yes - I want a Windows 8 PC/laptop (18%, 179 Votes)

Yes - I want a Windows 8 tablet (10%, 98 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,003

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Microsoft are not blazing a trail they are playing catch up – they have to. Apple has taken the high ground. This is how it has been over the last few decades between these two. I spend my time on the keyboard at work I don’t want to do this outside the office as well. HP recently announced selling off its PC division just as IBM did a few years ago. They had to jump ship, the tablet and the smartphone are the only games in town now. We’ve been here before in the 80s. Mac users had icons and ‘windows’ in a ‘graphical user interface’ while the Microsoft crowd were bashing out a series codes to get their computers to do something – anything! Microsoft speak is now about ‘apps’ and ‘tabs’ – as I said in our Computing issue this month, ‘Windows’ and ‘icons’ seem to have become dirty words. Change is tapping at the ‘windows’ – who do you think is leading the charge?

Hang on a minute John. Most companies and other organisations present their employees with Windows desktop and laptop computers. If there is a move, I don’t think it will be to Apple, which means buying both the hardware and operating system from the same company. Even in the home environment, price is a major factor when buying computers and Macs are too expensive for many to afford or justify.

Shiny new gadgets excite more people than computer operating systems. Many move to a new operating system simply because they get a new computer, and there are plenty who are happy with Windows XP and Windows Vista, though I cannot understand how anyone can cope with Vista.

This reminds me that I must pay my £21 to upgrade the operating system on my Mac.

What we have to remember is that people actually don’t necessarily want major changes from Microsoft’s latest OS. Compatibility is a huge issue for corporate clients, and even consumers. Even Metro, an optional feature, is getting criticised simply from being included at all.

There are innovations in Windows 8 for desktop users, and there will likely be more on the horizon. And frankly, Lion has had its fair share of criticism since launch, so I don’t think the assumption of Microsoft playing catch-up is fair either.

I don’t like the touch-based bit for office work, i.e. the sort of work that involves keying in data where I just can’t see a better way of doing it other than via a keyboard. So I tend to use the keyboard whenever I can and memorised some useful keyboard shortcuts.
Also, I’m concerned about touching the screen which will inevitable leave greasy finger marks on these horrible reflective screens.
I can see Windows 8 working for devices where you don’t have a keybard, e.g. smartphones. But why bother when there are already good touch-centred OS’s out there? Is it all about games?

You definitely don’t want to be using a touch screen on a desktop. I have one at home and it’s fundamentally flawed ergonomically.

FC£60 says:
18 September 2011

I couldn’t care less about windows 8 it seems to be more for tablets and touch screen and as I don’t have either of these I will not be buying it. Microsoft are leaving a lot of people behind in making it look more like a tablet OS then a PC OS after all windows has always primarily been a PC OS why couldn’t they just modify WP7 to run on tablets and keep windows 8 as a PC OS. I hope the whole thing fails on computers and forces Microsoft to rethink their plans and release 2 OS’s on the different devices, Apple do it the iOS is not Mac it’s completely different so why are Microsoft turning their PC OS into a tablet OS? It’s stupid and I really do hope it fails.

21 September 2011

Microsoft used to be leaders, now they appear to play catch up. The role of computing is changing. PC is not “Personal computing” it is now Personal Communication as these new “toys” (no disrespect) are aimed at the mass market to gain the all mighty $. Throwing in the ability to design space craft, mines, sky scrapers, schedule complicated railway points systems, analyse blood blood samples, is a side line that 99.999% of users will not take up but the 99.999% will listen to music, watch TV, talk with friends, liase on Facebook while walking in the park.

I am pretty sick of Microsoft to be honest. In 2004, I bought a decent PC running XP and then once Windows 7 came along and Microsoft announced plans to withdraw support for Windows XP in April 2014, it made no sense when I bought a new PC earlier this year to get the licences transferred as I would have to upgrade in 2014 anyway. Now, before 2014 even rolls around, Microsoft announce that, rather than adding functionality to the existing platform, there is yet another operating system to upgrade to costing upwards of £150 (and doubtless I will have to upgrade all of Office as well). I don’t need any of these extra bells and whistles for my non-tablet PC and I would have preferred to run XP indefinitely. Upgrading MS programs every few years is a con and it stops here for me. Next time I upgrade my PC, it will be running OpenSUSE Linux and Openoffice.

No one is forcing you to upgrade. Technology advances, and if companies don’t keep innovating, they get left behind. And who says the upgrade will cost upwards of £150?

I highly doubt it will cost £150, unless you get the professional or business version and even that price would be for the retail version not the upgrade version which usually costs a bit less. There is no difference between windows 7 and windows 8 apart from that silly hub thing so anything that runs in windows 7 will run in windows 8. Microsoft’s OS’s are actually released at the right time due to the fact that computers could do with being upgraded every 3 years.

“Computers could do with being upgraded every 3 years.”

I’ve got some swampland I can let you have for a couple of thousand.

To put it another way, I’m still using the RiscPC I bought in 1991, and the Linux machine I built in 1998. I’m typing this on a laptop I bought in 2007. The falacy that computers need constantly replacing is just FUD spread by the companies that make them, assisted by the computer press (Including Which? Computing unfortunately).