Microsoft Blues: Some Thoughts on Windows 8

The Economist weighs in on the problems with Microsoft and Windows 8, taking the view that its short-term problems are much less than its long-run prospects:

It is always fun to watch the mighty fall. It is even better when they try to break their fall with corporate waffle. This week Microsoft said it was rethinking “key aspects” of its new operating system, Windows 8. But then it began to obfuscate. A Microsoft executive insisted that “customer satisfaction” with the new offering “is strong” while also conceding that “the learning curve is definitely real”. (Translation: customers are tearing out their hair and scattering it on the keyboard.)

The company is attempting a U-turn. Windows 8 was Microsoft’s biggest bid so far to adjust its flagship product to the new world of touch-screen devices. Out went the “start” button that had controlled access to the computer’s menu since 1995. In came giant multicoloured tiles that respond to the touch. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s boss, described the introduction of the new system as a “bet-the-company” moment. But the bet proved so ill-judged that an app which lets users reintroduce the familiar start button is now one of the bestsellers for Windows 8.

I have a laptop – non-touch-based – with Windows 8, and the lack of the start button was a pain initially. The split personality was the much bigger issue though; going back-and-forth between old and new apps made for an inconsistent and incoherent experience. I found two things that made Windows 8 more palatable thought: connecting the laptop to a 23″ monitor so that I could see more on the screen at once, and secondly, from the tile screen just starting to type to find the app I wanted to launch.

Categories: Miscellaneous