Well, Windows 8 is now officially slated for an October released and the earlier reviews are positive (I’ve downloaded the release candidate but haven’t installed it yet). Already, Mr. Denny is putting together excellent troubleshooting tutorials and IE10 is getting excellent marks from Ed Tittel.I don’t think a Windows release has garnered so much excitement and enthusiasm since WindowsXP, released 10 years ago. And for good reason:Windows 8‘s “Metro” Interface represents the biggest departure from the traditional windowing paradigm since Windows launched, and WindowsPhone 7 has proven that Microsoft is capable of making a well-designed OS with it, even if it’s not a complete market success yet.
But that excitement and those revisions comes at a cost: Radically different means what has worked for years is heading the way of the Dodo, and retraining, rebuilding and restructuring are all going to become part of the upgrade, especially difficult for the OS ecosystem that has bent over backwards for backwards compatibility. Yes, a more traditionalWindows 7-ish interface lies just beneath Metro, but that’s a bandaid, or as Tony Bradley snarked, “Windows 8 feels like Windows 7 with Metro added as an additional, frustrating layer I have to work through to get to the features and capabilities I actually want to use.”
I bet that will be a common thread among two groups in particular: Power users and computer novices used to things exactly the same as they’ve been (See viral video for demonstration). Change is inevitable and I think Microsoft is making the right strategic choice, but it’s also a good opportunity for enterprises to ask themselves which platform will they embrace for the future: Windows 8‘s bold but uncertain moves? Apple’s polished, pricey and enterprise-indifferent strategy? A web application suite that they can better deploy – but at the cost of endpoint control?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, since the only thing I know for certain is that there are no easy answers. E-mail me at Michael@ITKnowledgeExchange.com, and if we like your response we’ll even try and select a great book or other swag to send you.