Posted 17 July 2012 - 01:09
I've noticed there are many hate threads on Windows 8, with people downright disrespecting the OS. As an app developer for the Windows Runtime and daily user of the Release Preview with mouse and keyboard I want to do the opposite in this post and tell you why I love Windows 8.
Windows 8 is all about change and that change is the Metro environment. While Metro is certainly touch-first, it works well with mouse/keyboard, and some apps look absolutely great.
Many people seem to hate how Microsoft crammed the “Tablet UI” in our throats but I find it a clever move. No OS has changed how apps essentially worked on traditional PCs (windowed, resize buttons, dull controls, static icons,…). With the Metro UI, people will have to learn a lot of new gimmicks. Many people desperately want that start menu back, or want the Metro environment shut off. I don’t get them. People should embrace change if it’s for the better and give things a chance. I had trouble using the Developer Preview, but I’m blasting through the Release Preview now getting things done faster and loving some Metro style apps.
This day and age everything that’s different seems to be regarded as bad. I see friends automatically installing Firefox/Chrome without them being aware of IE9, I see friends going to Google instead of Bing. When I ask them why, they reply something along the lines of “Internet Explorer sucks, Bing sucks”, without them knowing about any of the features. People are having similar reactions with Windows 8, not knowing what it is. The only thing they know is that a tablet running Windows 8 crashed during the Surface announcement, because that YouTube video went viral on Reddit or some other site. Microsoft isn’t cool, it’s disregarded and won’t be given a fair chance unless it has an Apple or Google logo. Microsoft barely makes it into the news and when it does it talks about “Microsoft announced (x), trying to catch up to [apple product here]”, together with a lot of footage from the Apple product, and few of Microsoft.
I fear that it’s too late to change anything about that impression, partly because Microsoft hasn’t been very forthcoming to the general audience of Windows 8, and their corporate identity isn’t exactly inspiring.
On the note of the UI, it’s certainly premature but together with the pre-installed apps it’s pretty powerful. For now. Microsoft can’t wait another 3 years to update the framework or add features, but I think they know that. I’d love to see an improved file picker/save dialog, 2 snapped apps for large screens, a decent Metro desktop, and some improvements to built-in apps.
In my dreams, and this will never happen, I’d like better blending between desktop apps and metro apps. I’d love to see desktop apps being chromeless and appearing in the multitasking bar on the left, with the ability to close them by dragging them down. The taskbar and desktop mode should be removed and desktop apps just run on top of Metro apps.
I really love how people will be able to buy a PC, and thanks to the built-in apps/Flash be ready within minutes to get great experience (without needing to download an email client or Flash installer)
As a developer who invested many hours in learning WPF and Silverlight for Windows Phone, I’m having a blast developing for Windows 8. I’m able to port lots of my code. WinRT neatly integrates with C# and feels really great to use. The APIs feel familiar and expose some great functionality like easily roam settings or set up data sharing. The templates are handy and often a good starting point. Rich online documentation is also super handy.
Hands-down, WinRT might be the coolest platform EVER. It feels like home if you’re familiar with WPF/Silverlight/XAML, is super powerful and really extensible, making me believe business apps (like Photoshop, 3DSMax, Office) can be rewritten to a Metro app. What surprised me most is how much online information is available, from tutorials to guidelines, blog posts to case studies to an entire collection of sample apps. Together with the Windows Store and possibly having the largest customer base on day 1 makes WinRT the coolest framework.
I’m seeing lots of badly written software out there, often with a crappy UI, others rely on Access/Win32 as environment/API. Many people [unlike us] don’t have lots of IT knowledge but have to learn awkward gimmicks or awkward UIs to get around. PCs are generally still hard to use for some and that’s why they’re transitioning to tablets. I think Windows 8 is, like iOS, easy to use and bringing the UI to PCs as primary interface might result in something great in the future. It’s on all levels better, easier, faster and more powerful than what iOS or Android has to offer today, and I really hope Metro becomes mainstream.
Bottom line about Apps is that there won’t be any bloatware-quality apps, and they will finally look good. The technologies Microsoft carefully crafted over the years can finally be put to use by a broad audience.
People don’t like change, some people don’t like the Windows 7 taskbar or Vista settings re-organization and want the classic Windows XP way back. Metro is a much more major change and many people will hate it and will have a hard time using it at first. I believe that eventually they’ll adapt and get a better, richer and faster experience. I really hope Metro style apps and ways of working become more refined and (in the longterm) mainstream (with less to no desktop apps anymore).
Windows 8 is a bold risk and even though the above is possible, I have my doubts and hate things as well. I’m wondering whether it will be marketed right so people will get to know it and the Intel vs ARM differences. I’m wondering whether OEMs will trash it with bloatware. I’m wondering whether Microsoft can flush out the remaining bugs, improve apps and get their identity and logo straight for Windows 8. (Official website shows classic Windows flag instead of window, Surface website has 2 Microsoft logos). I wonder whether Microsoft gets around the issue of updating their OS and framework)
Nevertheless I see Windows 8 as a phase, it’s the beginning of a new Windows, the beginning of a new era of PCs thanks to bringing this UI to the mainstream audience. It’s more than an iPad in every single way, and with a good form factor it can be a tablet device. I feel like I’m witnessing the release of the SNES, the iPhone. I feel like Windows 8 is going to change a lot of things, and I can’t wait to see if people will adapt and embrace it.
I really don’t get how people can outright say “I hate it”, and sometimes not even give it a chance, while Microsoft clearly explained their reasons for doing certain things in their blog posts on the Start Screen and File Explorer. I really hope that those people will give it another shot and ultimately use desktop and Metro apps concurrently.
It’s 3AM so I’m going to stop writing and post this thread. It came out to be even lower than my lowest expectations (been thinking about this since the D9 announcement and I suck at writing). I’m no Microsoft fanboy, just a user who uses and loves some of Microsoft products and someone who feels like Windows 8 is a risk in the right direction.
Bear with my grammar and thanks for reading, do you also think Windows 8 is a step (or risk) in the right direction?