“Essentially, you can think of the Windows desktop as just another app,” Steven Sinofsky explains in the Windows 8 blog’s most recent post.
Apple’s one-liner returns to me, like it does most days when someone repeats it, jokingly, as though they were the first to say it: There’s an app for that. This is the world we live in: Applications have replaced hard wires and permanence. Even our phones may have split personalities some day very soon. Hardware is being created as a reflective surface, merely presenting information rather than storing it anymore.
Discussion of Windows 8, and the team’s vision for the new OS, brings this to a new level. The OS’s Metro version is a world of floating apps. Users have the option to remain in the “Metro world” without ever seeing the desktop, the code never having loaded onto your machine. “This is Windows reimagined,” Sinofsky says.
Or is it really just Windows undecided? Rather than fully understanding and then delivering what its users want, the Windows team is offering a mixed plate, expecting the user to decide what sort of experience they want. Some users are afraid that choice might cause even more problems:
Sinofsky addresses these concerns in the post, sort of: “This is a balancing act, and one we’ll be talking quite a lot about in this blog in the coming months. Having both user interfaces together harmoniously is an important part of Windows 8.” In other words, Windows 8 is their way of creating something new without completely pissing off customers that are happy (and reliant upon) Windows 7’s UI and existing apps.
Users interested in doing “PC things,” will have the capability. Moreover, Windows 8 touts improved command usage and access, file management (copy, move, rename, and delete), and a “robust USB 3.0 support.” Users not interested in doing “PC things”? Well, according to Sinofsky, they “don’t have to” and they won’t be “paying for them in memory, battery life, or hardware requirements.” But you can choose to be both of these kinds of people, switching between the two options with “ease and fluidity.”
Sinofsky’s image of Windows 8 is a bit contradictory: In one sense, we don’t have to choose between the desktop and Metro, in another, desktop is just another app in the Metro world.
The Windows 8 team’s vision is one of “no compromises,” and so they are offering everything their users could possibly want. Or will it end up like Vista, where users will want none of it and wait for Windows 9?
Weigh in: What’s the most important improvement Windows 8 could make to all of its previous versions?