Miscellaneous

Windows 8 with Live Tiles – From Phone to the Desktop

Microsoft is putting the final touches on the next edition of Windows – Windows 8. It’s due later this year. One of the key ideas is the coherence of the interface across multiple devices – from phones, to tablets, to laptops, to desktops. Live Tiles is a big part of this, and has come up from Windows Phones.

Some thoughts:
– Microsoft tried this strategy in reverse in the 2000s – putting “Windows” on mobile devices. It didn’t work well. I owned a number of them (usually the HP variants), but they were always clunky and unreliable. I thought the lesson taken from that decade was that what worked on one device didn’t work well on a device with a totally different form factor.
– Live Tiles change frequently, bringing in new data. It’s pretty eye candy, but looks overwhelming for productivity. Fun – maybe. Productive – don’t think so. It might work on a smartphone where you want to stay up to date and can’t do any real work … but on a laptop / desktop, I’m skeptical of its utility.
– A touch-based interface for a laptop or PC does not appeal to me at all. The extra movements from keyboard to screen will take extra time, slow down the user, and lead to greater fatigue. That said, I try to use my mouse as little as possible – keyboard shortcuts are the way to go. On my Mac, I generally launch applications using Spotlight fully driven by my keyboard. And as for fingerprint smudges on the screen …
– Dragging down from the top of the screen to close an application on a laptop is consistent with the finger-based navigation on a tablet, but it’s a whole lot more work than clicking the close icon. I don’t see why that’s needed.

Net-net … Based on the preview in this video, I think this is dead in the water as a place for productive work. Playing games and keeping up with friends – maybe so (and there’s a big market for that).

Clearly Microsoft needs to do something to re-kindle desire for Windows. Apple owns mind share (and the market share) for smartphones and tablets across the board … and is making in-roads into homes and the enterprise with these devices and its more traditional Mac laptops and desktops. Even diehard Windows fans (like Eric Mack) are getting cosy with multiple Apple products and desirous of more. Something has to change on Microsoft’s side. Is Windows 8 it?

Categories: Miscellaneous