/ Technology

Is Windows 8 what we want?

Windows 8

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.


Windows Vista was a disaster and Microsoft should have given every user a free copy of Windows 7, plus a sincere apology for wasting their time. Vista has put a lot of people off the the benefits of a modern operating system, which is one reason that so many still use Windows XP.

Microsoft would be better to focus on improving Windows 7 and addressing the problem of viruses and other malware that makes life difficult for so many users.

I don’t care what Microsoft says to convince people that their latest version of Windows is so great, I will continue to use Ubuntu (it’s the most popular and user-friendly Linux distribution) as I don’t have to constantly worry about viruses. Ubuntu never slows down at all – it will be as fast in 2 years’ time as the day it was first installed. It never needs to be defragmented, it does its own disk check, keeps itself clean of temporary files and log files and so on.

Microsoft will never create an operating system that you can just use without constant maintenance headaches. Install Ubuntu and if you already have Windows installed, it will create a dual-boot setup. Yes there will be some Windows programs you may or may not be able to run in Ubuntu using something called “Wine”, but for Internet use – Ubuntu is far safer and won’t cause you any major trouble if your computer’s hardware is working properly. It is not be 100% perfect, but it’s far better than any version of Windows – I know from having re-installed different versions Windows time after time when it misbehaves!

Phil Broughton says:
12 June 2011

I find this constant slating of Microsoft slightly annoying. It seems that Apple bring any old rubbish out and dress it up in a nice case, make it look and pretty and everyone gushes over it. And yet Microsoft unveil what looks to be an exciting and practical interface to their new operating system and people criticise them on past systems. Personally I have not had any real problems with XP, Vista or 7. I work in a secondary school in IT and we have over 300 computers with a mixture of XP and 7. Viruses are a rarity and I certainly can’t remember the last time my Windows 7 laptop (now four years old and still fast) caught anything nasty.

My only concern is the way we are all moving with touch screens. As a reasonably fast typist and being fairly adept with a mouse or mouse pad I think I am going to struggle to adapt to touch screens; especially if the screen is a monitor that is 60cm away from me. The human race is going to have to quickly evolve longer arms and more spindly fingers to operate these things. And if I remember rightly it was Apple who really kicked off this touch screen nonsense.

By the way, a message to a previous comment about Ubuntu. Please don’t make out to people that Ubuntu is lovely and simple to install and operate. I gave it a trial and couldn’t get anywhere with it because of the unavailability of driver software. I am an experienced ex-IT Technician that spent hours trying to get Ubuntu to work as it should but I gave up. I had a dream of building the ultimate free computer using Open Source software but it failed at the first obstacle. How do you expect people with no real knowledge of such things to install this on their computers?

Phil – Window Vista has attracted a lot of criticism, so I don’t think I was being unfair in my comments.

I’m glad you are not troubled by viruses. Your IT experience is likely to help you avoid and deal with problems. Many home users struggle and spend a lot of time/money dealing with malware. In fact I posted my message after listening to the woes of a friend who had spent a couple of days dealing with a problem on his Windows computer. Corporate environments generally have malware under control, but that does not help home users of Windows.

You criticise Apple for introducing touch screens. I don’t believe that they offer any laptop or desktop computer with a touch screen, whereas PC manufacturers do! The iPad has a touch screen, of course, and a keyboard is available for anyone who feels the need to input a lot of text – but that is not the principal application for this and other tablet computers.

I wish Microsoft luck with Windows 8. A lot of users have stuck with XP because of the problems with Vista. It is important that W8 is not released to the general public until it is free from major bugs.

it is easy to install ive done it sevral times and it finds drivers and updates for you

Jack says:
14 June 2011


I really REALLY hate Windows 8, I’ve been using it for 6 weeks and all I can say is YUKK!

Hi Jack, that would make you incredibly lucky, because Windows 8 isn’t out yet. I presume you mean Windows 7. What is it that you don’t like about it?

Roger says:
17 June 2011

I too am mystified by the reputation of Vista which has been running on my machine without problems since it was launched about 3 1/2 years ago. I use the free Avast antivirus programme which seems to have protected me well – I remember it alerting me on about 3 occasions. The NVidia video driver has caused a few crashes. I use my machine mainly for photo processing with Photoshop and Lightroom with some sound and video editing so fairly demanding but no gaming. Perhaps that makes the difference. Why would I need Windows 7 or 8?

I’m not getting excited about a new “Windows 8” and how much better Microsoft claims it will be compared to previous versions and all the other marketing hype!

I said earlier that Ubuntu is not 100% perfect and I’m also saying it will not work on every computer it’s install on, but I’ve had complete success with it. I can switch on my computer with Ubuntu, do what I want without having to run anti-virus software all the time, I don’t have to do a weekly “defrag” in order to try and “improve performance”, don’t need to manually delete temporary files and no longer do I have to get annoyed by the constant reboots every time Windows needs updating – and the list goes on and on.

I’ve just had to re-install Windows 7 on a NEW computer because the Windows updates were refusing to install and NOTHING could fix it. I’ve re-installed Windows more times than I can remember and across multiple versions, because things go wrong with Windows and the only way to fix it is to back up personal files and then re-install Windows “cleanly” as this deletes everything on the partition where Windows is installed.

Don’t think I’m making this up – check out the REAL facts via these links and judge for yourself:



Firstly i will only use windows 8 if i can use in a traditonal desktop way with a start or menu button not start screen. (ie xp vista 7 start screens)
secondly ive tried linux personally i wouldnt recommend it
thirdly i dont care if windows 8 is the dogs wotsits unless its proven great ill stick with windows xp to the end