Windows 8 marches on toward its inevitable release--not yet confirmed, but expected sometime in early fall. Judging by the Windows 8 Consumer Preview release, though, the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system has some fatal flaws that could turn it into another “Windows Vista” scenario, and cause users to cling to Windows 7 as they’ve clung to Windows XP.
As a Microsoft MVP, a fan of Microsoft in general, and a lover of Windows 7, I have looked forward to Windows 8 with great anticipation. But, the more time goes on, the more concerned I am about just how successful the launch of this OS will be, and I’m not alone. There are many bloggers, analysts, and experts out there who have Microsoft’s best interests at heart, and feel that Windows 8 as it stands today is not ready for prime time.
Of course, the Windows 8 Consumer Preview we’re using today is a pre-release version that isn’t intended for prime time. But, there’s also a reason Microsoft isn’t calling it a “beta”. Microsoft is still making tweaks and adjustments, but in general the belief is that the Windows 8 Consumer Preview is essentially “feature complete”, and the final version will not be much different than what we have now.
That could be a serious problem. Here is a list of the top five things Microsoft should change or fix in Windows 8 before the official release if it doesn’t want to have another Vista-style debacle:
1. Default to Desktop
The Metro interface is awesome. It’s a unique and innovative approach to interacting with Windows…on a tablet or smartphone. On a desktop or laptop, however, it is just awkward and tedious. Windows 8 should default to the desktop mode when installed on a desktop or laptop, or at least offer the option during installation to let the user choose which interface to default to.
The Metro interface can still be there as an option, but desktops and laptops use mice and trackpads and keyboards for navigation, not touch. Wes Miller of GetWired.com says, “Personally, I believe that Microsoft needs to significantly strengthen the capabilities of the OS for mouse-bound users. The current user interface that we’ve seen from the DP [Developer Preview] through the CP [Consumer Preview] has been touch-first.”
The majority of applications I open and tasks I perform in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview forces it into desktop mode anyway. Microsoft should cut out the cutesy layer and extra steps and just let desktop and laptop users experience Windows the way that works best for those hardware platforms.
2. Allow Tiles to Be Grouped
When it comes to the Metro interface, Microsoft should enable users to group tiles together in “folders”. If you add the Administrator Tools to your Start menu, or install Office 2010, you end up with a whole slew of new tiles. My Windows 8 Consumer Preview Metro interface is currently at three pages of tiles, and I haven’t installed that many applications.
It would make more sense if all of the Administrator Tools were grouped together inside a tile called “Admin Tools”, and if all of the Microsoft Office programs and utilities were merged together within a tile called “Office 2010.” Microsoft should add the ability to just create a “folder” tile by dragging a tile and dropping it on another one à la iOS.