By Matthew Baxter-Reynolds (@mbrit)
The problem that Microsoft has with its newfangled UI with Windows 8 is that it takes a while to learn to love it.
I think it took me about six weeks. Six weeks of fighty confusion until one day I looked at it and just *got* it. As has been oft written in the past few weeks, Windows 8 is about tablets, not about the desktops. The peace I reached was that Microsoft had no other option. Creating a bizarre amalgam of Old Windows for the desktop and New Windows for the desktop was all that they could do to stay relevant as tablets took over.
Every time there has been a drop of Windows 8 (excluding the one from BUILD last year) people who look at it exclaim “LOLWUT!” and then bash out a rehash of the same old posts about how it doesn’t make any sense. Now we’re in another phase of that with RTM. And in October it’ll all calm down, GA will hit, and off we’ll go again.
And, OK, Windows 8 doesn’t make any sense. It’s bonkers to take an OS that for 20 years been based on WIMP interfaces, overlapping Windows, and ramped up information density and then forget that it ever happened. The re-imagining of Windows, arguably, goes too far. Thus the hypothesis that the pendulum will swing back in Windows vNext holds water.
But that’s hardly likely to happen. Any adjustments that Microsoft makes to the Windows 8 vision in Windows vNext will be smooth and calm and designed to satisfy some commercial objectives that you and I will know nothing about. Thing is, Microsoft knows that if a newbie Windows 8 user runs Windows 8 for a couple of months they’ll look at back at Windows 7 with its “Start orb” like it’s a piece of old junk. People generally dislike change, but we all can, at the end of it all, actually manage and thrive within change.
So what can you do? If you run a fleet based on Windows 7, are you thinking “I’ll skip Windows 8″? My question to you is “why?” Nothing you see today in Windows 8 is going to change. That
MetroModern shell is staying. Re-imagined Windows 8 apps that are tablet-optimised are staying.
But there’s more than that. The desktop is going away. Your users want tablet solutions *today*. What Windows 8 gives you is an option. It doesn’t have to be iPad. Come October it can be iPad or Windows RT PC. Come next year, it can be iPad, Windows RT PC, and various Windows 8 form-factors including Ultrabook and tablets.
If you haven’t tried it, you need to. Windows 8 is experiential. It’s something you have to form a relationship with. You need your own opinion.
If you go out there and are brave enough to move your estate onto Windows 8 you’re building a platform on which great new solutions can be built. You’re going to go through a little pain. You’re going to hear a *lot* of complaining. But you’ll all get there, and when you do you’ll have a fantastic OS and a fantastic platform for your next wave of solutions.
Matthew Baxter-Reynolds is an independent software development consultant, trainer and author based in the U.K. His next book, Programming Metro-style Apps with C#, will be published by O’Reilly in November. His favorite way to communicate with like-minded technical people is Twitter: @mbrit.