On Windows 8.x

There’s probably a bunch of things that could be said about Windows 8 or the upcoming update Windows 8.1 – but as someone who has only recently been required to use Windows 8 on his new laptop, let me just say these two things:

1. The User Interface
The Metro UI new Microsoft design language (i.e. the tiles and the fonts) instead of the start menu – this probably makes sense on tablet computers, but for most other requirements (i.e. corporate), most people just want to stick to what they already have and which works for them.
The first thing I did on my Win8 machine was to install Classic Shell to get the tradidtional start menu back. I did this – not because I disliked the new tiles design – but because I missed a quick overview on all installed apps. That is, I understand the need for a clean cut and appreciate all efforts on user interface improvements, but for my needs – and probably a lot of other users too who have a dedicated tablet with its own OS – the old style just worked. Why change this?

2. Passion, or the lack of it.
I believe that Microsoft could be a great company IF only it would be a bit more passionate about its products.
To me and my perception of what they do, there is a huge gap between MS Research (which is really cool!), some good software products they have bought in the past and since killed or reduced in functionality, their focus on low hanging fruits when it comes to corporate IT needs (which would include the HTML rendering within Office since 2007, which is horrible), their bureaucracy and also their marketing approaches which are nothing but a collection of embarrassing spots and moments. All of this could be so sexy and they both have the potential and market dominance, yet what we’re witnessing here is so below the optimum. Too sad.

For professional reasons, I’ll have to stick to using MS-Windows and MS-Office most of the time, but I so often wish they would just make a giant step forward and tackle some legacy issues and also focus on what really matters to most users. Obviously, this does not include being innovative or marketing innovative technologies, so they should instead stick to optimizing on what they’re good at.

Windows 8.1 may be a good and much needed update to a Vista-like image of the current version, but in the end it’s great software tools (which “just work”) that will deliver revenue, imo. It’s a bit irritating that we’re currently experiencing so many cool apps on mobile operating systems, yet when it comes to desktop requirements, it still feels that we’re still stuck in 1999. I wish there could be a smart and flexible OS for my desktop needs that runs just fine and delivers what I need. Windows, OSX and most Linux distros aren’t delivering it – yet.

Author: jke

Hi, I am an engineer who freelances in water & sanitation-related IT projects at Saniblog.org. You'll also find me on Twitter @jke and Instagram.