Stardock CEO Brad Wardell has been very open about his concerns about the current version of Windows 8. He spelled some of them out in a recent interview with Neowin. Stardock also released a Windows 8 app, Start8, that was designed to give desktop users of Windows 8 a more classical Start menu.
This week, the privately owned Stardock issued its annual report, written by Wardell, which goes into detail about what happened at the company in the past 12 months and what it has planned in the future. The annual report also details its issues with Windows 8 as it stands now.
Stardock's report says that it feels Windows 8 could be a failure if Microsoft does not change three things about the OS:
- Allowing desktop users to use Windows 8 entirely as a desktop OS. Specifically, interface and experience changes are necessary to prevent users from being shifted back and forth between the desktop and “Metro”.
- A realistic way to organize programs on Metro. Currently, Microsoft has termed “Groups” as being columns of tiles with a column label. Users are expected to either show a tile or hide it. If they are hidden, they can only be found through searching (typing). There is no folder concept in Metro as there is on the desktop, Android, Mac, or iOS.
- A migration away from mouse-over discovery of features back to visual discovery features. In the present consumer beta, Windows 8 requires the user to move the mouse around the screen to discover new elements, which work inconsistently depending on the context or the application.
While Stardock believes there will be a number of third party software programs that will deal with these issues, it adds that many users may simply decide not to use Windows 8. In fact, Stardock's report says that the immediate threat to the PC as a whole, as well as gaming consoles, is an Apple display product with AirPlay support. The report says:
A Windows 8 failure may buy enough time for Apple to release displays (and get partners to release displays) with embedded AirPlay. The “computing” will be done on an iPad/iPhone, the keyboard/mouse handled by Bluetooth and the display via AirPlay.
The report also talks about Stardock's plans to release new software products that will enhance and improve the Windows OS. The company plans to release a number of updates to its many software programs that will work with Windows 8 such as WindowBlinds and ObjectDock. Indeed, the report claims, "ObjectDock’s popularity has recently increased as users look for ways to effectively organize their programs in a Windows 8 world."
Stardock also plans to release two PC games this year. One is the fantasy turn-based strategy game Elemental: Fallen Enchantress which is being developed internally by Stardock. The other is Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, a stand alone continuation of the hit space strategy game that's being developed by Ironclad Studios. The report states that Stardock will make some game-oriented announcements for other platforms later in 2012.
Stardock concludes its report by saying that because of the sale of its Impulse game download service to GameStop in May 2011, it was able to have its most successful year ever. It adds, "Over the next 18 months, (Stardock) hopes to begin announcing a wide range of new products, games, and technologies."
Disclaimer: Stardock involvement with Neowin.