So, what’s the verdict on Windows 8?
Well, personally, as a user, I actually think it’s quite a success.
Clearly Microsoft consulted a lot of people and exhaustively researched the market. Many of the worst gripes of the Windows operating system have been resolved. It takes a lot less time to get going. The applications are more responsive. The touch interface is a huge improvement on what was available for Windows 7. The applications I most often use, such as browsers, word-processors, spreadsheets and the like, behave well.
And yet, Windows 8 is now generally viewed as a bit of a failure.
Well, the most obvious reason for this is that the take-up hasn’t been nearly as great as anticipated. Part of the reason for that is because the Metro interface is extremely confusing for those who want to do simple office-type things like open a Word document, edit a spreadsheet and, most awkward of all, actually turn the bloody computer off. Another reason is the simple one which is that the world of desktop users isn’t really quite ready yet to embrace touch technology. Especially, it has to be said, when the computer that most people use to run Windows 8 doesn’t have a screen that allows touch-control.
It looks like Windows Blue will be along soon to deal with most of these new problems, of which the chief ones seem to be a lack of a Start button, being forced to go into a Metro screen when you aren’t remotely interested in playing Angry Birds or doing a bit of Social Activity on Facebook (and particularly not to buy crap from one of the many on-line stores that clutter the screen), and, I hope, make finding the Shut Down button easier to find.
The personal computer world has moved on since Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 when Microsoft was almost the only show in town. Apple had lost their way and most people didn’t have an internet account and therefore couldn’t download Linux. Now, of course, things are very different. The Internet is bigger than the devices that are used to access it. Microsoft has direct competition from Google, Apple, Amazon and Samsung (who are, in turn, in stiff competition with one another). Bill Gates has retired and his nineties geekiness isn’t so cool anymore anyway.
And now the Personal Computer world has become a complex landscape that at one end still includes boxes, keyboards and screens, but is increasingly more heavily populated by pocket-sized devices that know where you are, keep you in constant contact with literally millions of friends and store a life-time’s worth of music and video.
And in this new world, is it even at all certain that Microsoft can even survive for much longer?
Remember IBM, DEC and Sun?
Well, the same fate may befall Microsoft.