Why I Believe Windows 8 Could Spell the End for Microsoft on the Desktop
Windows 8 is getting ready to launch and unfortunately this might be the next biggest blunder since Windows ME or Windows Vista. Microsoft seemed to get it right when Windows XP launched and then seemed to build on it's success with Windows 7. Now they are reverting back to a crappy OS without any regards as to how it will affect users across the board. Give us more money to upgrade from a good, more or less stable OS to a huge piece of junk. That is what will be happening.
One of the main problems is going to be the cost of hardware to support the new OS. The OS is based on a touch screen system and that will add considerable dollars to a new system to support that. Sure, you can use Windows 8 without touch-screen, but as I have found it, it is far more difficult and confusing. Many of the screens that you will need to access are done by swiping other screens, like with an iPad or Kindle Fire, but with a non-touch-based system, you will have to guess where to click and not get any indication that you are clicking in the right area to display things such as its Charms bar or even the initial log in page.
Speaking of log in, the initial screen, will nice looking leaves your average person thinking "OK, that's nice, now what do I do?" No indications that you need to drag the screen down to get to the log in page. No user friendly at all. Once you are logged in, the new "Metro View" comes up and you are once again left with a new interface that is confusing. Even if you manage to get to the normal looking Windows interface, many of the functions are either gone, moved or scattered so much that it's a chore to navigate. Forget just clicking once or even twice, just to get to a Control Panel option you have to click three or four times. This goes as well for applications. Closing programs is not obvious either and is complicated.
Apparently there will be two flavors of Windows 8 for consumers to choose from - Windows 8 and Windows RT. Which to get? Not entirely sure, in fact, according to an article on The Verge, even Microsft employees cannot tell you the difference. Instead of Microsft discovering new few features to incorporate they are building what is basically a completely new operating system. What you are left with is people noticing the things that are missing as opposed to some of the new features that have been added.
This by no means is where it all ends. OK, so your average home user can eventually get used to using it. No worries there. Here is where my beef comes in.
In the business world putting Windows 8 on a desktop or laptop workstation is going to be a help desk technicians worst nightmare become reality. The amount of calls from end users who are going to totally be forced to change how they use their system to work will skyrocket. IT shops are in this day and age mostly understaffed and taxed to wear multiple hats. They get a bad rep because of what is perceived as a lack of customer empathy. Truth is, one help desk technician, who probably makes a little over minimum wage, is now going to so busy answering simple navigational questions on top of the amount of calls they get for things such as printers, email, etc. that their already hectic schedule will double, maybe even triple. I can here the voice of reason say "well, just hire more help desk techs. That'll put jobs in the economy and ease their burden." Yeah. Right. I can tell you from experience that IT is relied on for CRITICAL day to day operations and usually has the smallest budget (if they even have one at all) and hiring new employees doesn't happen because the current staff is forced too overcome to keep the ship floating and when they do, the money men say, "well, they are handling things, why should we hire more staff?" These guys and gals will now have this extra burden tossed in their laps and expected to "make it happen."
If any organization looks at this and realizes the burden (and cost) they will incur by moving to Windows 8 you will see the already growing rise of Apple Mac systems increase. That fallout will be that businesses will have no choice but to find an alternative, especially once the support for Windows 7 ends and companies that rely on this support from Microsoft for stability are left with the only alternative of buying a new, hard to use operating system. You will probably even see the rise in Linux systems, but probably not on a widespread scale.
In the end this move I think is a good thing for Apple and Linux and a VERY bad one for Microsoft. You would hope they learned from ME and Vista, but apparently not. My gut tells me that Windows 8 will bomb horribly and the next iteration of Windows will find many of the features and usability issues lacking in Windows 8 returned to whatever the next OS is called. But they will have paid the price. I personally believe that the domination of Microsoft, especially in the business world, will take a huge hit by this Windows 8 blunder.