Recently Microsoft released the latest version of the Windows operating system, Windows 8. Let me preface this by saying I cut my teeth on Microsoft products. I obtained my first certification on Windows NT 3.5 in 1996, then obtained my MCSE in 1997 and continued to install and support small/medium business networks for nearly the past 20 years. I have had my hands in every version, although I was an early adopter of Windows NT which is the foundation for every version since Windows 2000. Windows XP was a great marketing step for Microsoft because they led everyone to believe it was something new. They made it pretty, it works very well and by the time end-of-life comes, it will have been around for some 12 years or so. Windows Vista should have never been released and should have been held back for Windows 7. Windows 7 is incredibly stable, performs very well and it is extremely resilient–you almost can’t kill it. It’s like the Terminator, it just comes back to life after something bad happens.
Time will tell how Windows 8 stacks up but my first impression is that it’s a game changer for Microsoft. They kept the core of Windows 7 so “behind the scenes” components are the same or very similar. You can see this by looking at Control Panel and using the Desktop app. Microsoft has very creatively bridged the gap between PC and the tablet so many people are now growing accustomed to by introducing the Metro interface also called the new Start screen. This new interface is where you will always boot to and then you can choose to run Metro apps, which run full screen like a tablet and have a new fresh look or you can launch the Desktop or even a Desktop app which will open the Desktop as a requirement.
The key component that is a game changer for Windows 8 and Microsoft is the “Store”. I know what you’re saying–“Another rip off from Apple.” I have news for you. Another organization put this concept on the market before Apple. More than 10 years ago, $200 PCs and laptops started to appear in big box retail stores with a Linux-based operating system called “Lindows”. After a tussle with Microsoft in court, they changed the name to “Linspire”. The curiosity got the best of me so I paid $99 to download the OS and after the easiest installation I had ever seen, I was blown away at the CNR service (Click’N’Run) where I could simply find an app, click on it and it installed with no interaction. So the Apple fans can shut it when it comes to innovation and “being copied” in this area.
At any rate, this starts the ball rolling for most people who never understood how to find and download software, much less install and configure it. The autorun feature of CDs has helped, but there were still issues sometimes and even if there weren’t, end-users simply never got it. The Microsoft Store makes finding and installing software simple like the average person has become accustomed to with their tablets and smart phones. Most the mainstream apps are still Desktop apps but there are already a ton of Metro apps already in the store with simple installs and it will only continue to increase. Just like the mainstream apps we all use for weather, news, sports and other addictive games are developed for Apple and Android, they will also be developed for Windows 8 and later editions. Who is going to miss out marketing to the operating system that still on well over 90% of the world’s desktops? No one, especially now that Microsoft has made such a bold and creative move. Mobile devices and tablets will continue to rage in sales but for the vast majority of businesses, if you want to get any real work done you have to have a PC.
Anyone who knows me can tell you it takes a lot to impress me with technology. So far this is one of the most impressive moves I have seen Microsoft ever make. So much so I have created a new category on my blog and I will be periodically posting articles about my findings, good or bad. I have yet to see anything bad with Windows 8 to this point. Time will tell.