Microsoft has started to lift the veil from its latest operating system – Windows 8. Taking on the guise of a tile-based interface, will Microsoft be able to keep its traditional customers happy?
There’s a lot going on in the race of the operating systems (OS). Now that phones want to be computers and computers want to replicate phones’ functionality, Apple and Google have been trying to come up with the right software to manage each device.
It’s clear that Apple has the upper hand on innovation, but Google’s open-platform approach is narrowing the gap.
The race is definitely on and Microsoft, the biggest software company in world, has been struggling to catch up with the competition.
Is Microsoft listening?
Microsoft returned to the game with Windows 7, answering critics with the motto ‘I’m a PC and Windows 7 was my idea’. This implied that they had actually listened to their customers’ feedback and built a system based on what people wanted to see in a Windows OS.
And now Microsoft’s working hard on its next platform – Windows 8. But what ‘must have’ features will there be for us, the users? And what do we actually want to see – an improved version of Windows 7 or something closer to Apple or Google’s offerings?
Well, when I asked whether you were nostalgic for Windows XP here on Conversation, the consensus appeared to be ‘yes’. Ian F commented:
‘There’s a dreary old saying: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. XP for a vast number of users is a solid, simple and reliable system.’
On the social news site Reddit, the opinion was very different. ThePhotoMan didn’t hold back:
‘People seriously need to grow up and move on. Computing technology evolves quickly. The reason XP is so popular is because Microsoft dragged its feet on Vista, and everybody began to get the idea that XP was forever.’
Windows 8 breaks the mould
So which camp did Microsoft listen too? Apparently, both. Microsoft has so far shown off a tile-based interface for Windows 8, which is very resemblant to Windows Phone 7. It looks like Microsoft’s learned a lot from Google’s approach of transferring a phone OS to a computer.
Focusing on touchscreen tech – in a complete departure of the traditional Windows desktop formula – Windows 8 will certainly address one of Microsoft’s current weaknesses – tablet PCs.
But unless you’ve got a tablet or a touchscreen PC, traditional users might not like the look of it. Although you’ll be able to use your keyboard and mouse with Windows 8’s tiled interface, it doesn’t look optimal for a desktop PC. Well, worry not – although it wasn’t included in Microsoft’s June demo, Windows 8 should come with a traditional desktop interface.
This raises the question, how different will it be from Windows 7? Apart from new features like rumoured face recognition and a faster boot time – will Windows 7, or even XP users have a reason to upgrade? It all hinges on what Microsoft’s holding back.
The company has a lot to lose (or gain) with its latest OS, so Microsoft had better get it right by listening to what its customers want. Is Windows 8 ‘your idea’? We’ll have to wait and see.