Why Windows 8 will not be another Windows Vista (editorial)
There are many reasons people believe that Windows 8 may be another Windows Vista. Some believe it will because it is very different for what most people are used to, in fact, that might be the main reason why Windows 8 will NOT be another Windows Vista besides the major improvements that come with the latest iteration of Microsoft operating system.
The very first time we heard Steve Ballmer talk about the yet-to-release Windows 8 operating system, Ballmer took the tech world by surprise classifying the next Windows as the “riskiest product” that the software giant would ever release due to the sheer amount of changes that will be introduced and the direction the company is taking with its operating system. Since the general public had not laid in eyes on Windows 8, well besides the teams at Microsoft that were working on the product, it was very hard to understand what Ballmer meant by “riskiest product”, but when general public laid their eyes on Windows 8, with the Developer Preview, the reactions were mixed but the general consensus was Windows 8 was indeed different. After the general public had the chance to use Windows 8 on its fledging form, the opinions of those who had a chance to use Windows 8 for the first time quickly grew divergently; with one side forecasting the success of Windows 8 based on the changes that were introduced, while others viewed Windows 8 as the next Windows Vista. With the release of Windows 8 due in by the holidays, like many Microsoft officials and partners have promised, it won’t be long before we witness if Windows 8 will be a success or fail based on its merit. But based on what we have seen so far, there are lots of reasons to believe Windows 8 will not be the next Windows Vista.
When Steven Sinofsky took the stage to talk about Windows 8 for the first time and the Windows 8 blog that would be introduced thereafter, one of the many things that he constantly mentioned was Windows 8 reimagines Windows from the chips to the experience. But it was until we saw the amount of works that Microsoft put into Windows 8 in collaboration with its hardware partners that we finally understood what he meant by re-imagining Windows from chip to experience; that is from the software level to all the down to the hardware and chip level. After Windows Vista was made available to the general public, the user experience on Vista quickly belittled with hardware incompatibilities, particularly for users who attempted to run the software on older hardware. From that point on, Windows Vista quickly gained a bad reputation that Microsoft was not able to recover from even after the first release of service pack one which had fixed most of the driver incompatibilities. In a nutshell, Vista was a disaster, similar to what Microsoft underwent with the Xbox 360 recall problem due to the chip the software company decided to use. Sure Vista was a disaster due to hardware incompatibilities, but this is one area where Windows 8 is totally different compared to Vista, even Windows 7. With the next iteration of its operating system, Microsoft’s partnership with its hardware companies has greatly improved. A quick glimpse of all the works that partners have introduced at Computex that just took place in Taiwan would give people a sense of the type of engagement that Microsoft has taken with its hardware partners during the continuous development of Windows 8. Intel, one of the biggest partners of Microsoft, during Computex, has showed more than 20 Windows 8 based tablets. The work that Microsoft is doing with Windows RT to run on less-powerful but battery-efficient processors with its partners (NVIDIA, Qualcomm, AMD, and Texas Instrument) is also significant to ensure that Windows 8 and Windows RT offer the best experience regardless of the hardware or the type of chips under which Windows is running. But even the absence of updated drivers, Windows 8 seems to work fluidly on older hardware since the operating system uses less processing power than Window 7.
One of the reasons Windows has been able to gain and sustain a large share of the operating system market is due to the multitude of hardware at different price ranges that are available for Windows; this remains true with Windows 8. In fact, with the next iteration of Windows, as shown at Computex, Microsoft’s hardware partners are getting very creative introducing hybrid-type computers that can be used like media consumption like tablet and productive machine like the many portable computers currently available on the market. Many tech analysts have raised the concern that Windows 8 based tablets, if priced comparatively even to Apple’s iPad or higher to Android-based tablets, may suffer from large adoption of the general public. There are many approaches that Microsoft and its hardware partners can adapt to circumvent these concerns. The fact that Windows 8 will be offering a different and fresh experience is already an advantage. Microsoft and its partners, if they decide to offer a tablet that is priced as low as the current Android-based tablets that are available, can offer tablets that are running Windows RT since this version of Windows will only able to run Metro-type application. But if Microsoft and its partners want to offer machines that are prices higher than the iPad, they can easily do so by offering Windows 8 Intel-based tablets that not only can be used as a tablet, but also a laptop computer; and the fact that these Intel-based computers will be running the millions of applications that are available for Windows today is another justification for the higher price, which most people are already comfortable with. With the same price, they will not be getting less. In fact, if properly marketed, Microsoft can tout Windows 8 as the operating system that offers it all: a machine that can be used as a toy, a media consumption or workstation for real work. In fact, pricing is one area where Microsoft and its hardware partners can compete with the plethora of iPad and Android-based tablets that are currently available to the market.
After Microsoft introduced Windows 8 and Windows RT, a new framework upon which developers will be able to develop applications based on the Metro principles, we quickly found out it was more about Windows. In fact, the Metro principle was affecting and changing the operating system to something radically different from what we have become accustomed to. Microsoft was also “Metrofying” its complete line of products: Windows Server, Xbox and the Xbox live online service, the soon to be announced Metrofied Hotmail, and of course Windows Phone. In fact, Metro started with Windows Phone and quickly influenced one of the most influential products of Microsoft, Windows. The gist of the Metro principle is simple: Put the user experience and the content first. This is also another aspect that Steven Sinofsky explained on the first post on the Building Window 8 blog, “Most of all, computing is much more focused on applications and people than the operating system itself or the data. The changes in the landscape motivate the most significant changes to Windows, from the chips to the experience.” This is very true about Windows 8 with the glorying presence of tiles on the start screen which give the user information at a glance. It can only make sense when you start using Windows 8. The content of the user takes center stage while everything is casted aside; this is also true with Windows Phone and even the new dashboard of the Xbox. Metro is also about efficiency and fluidity, something that is undeniable with every version of Windows 8 that Microsoft has released so far. On the mobile side, the software is very responsive on even low-powered processor. Windows 8, with each updated release is getting faster and more fluid as it is shown with the recently released Windows 8 Release Preview, which is extremely fast by all accounts, even on old hardware. Windows Vista was totally different. Windows 8 is different, but faster. Windows Vista was not fluid or fast.
In current computer terminology, personal cloud probably refers to having personal data that is always accessible from some sort of online storage service, whether the data exist in forms of pictures or documents that are important to the user. But in another sense, personal cloud is also about the activity that users conduct online as to the data that they store in remote storage. Most computer users spend the majority of their online time using a browser for sharing, searching, and consuming content. And with Facebook nearly to have close to a billion active users, one can have a sense of what people are doing online. An operating system that offers seamless cloud integration with the current social networks; or getting access to personal data is crucial in the way people use computers; Windows 8 offers the best personal cloud experience. This is one area where Vista did not even compare to Windows 8 with the line of Windows Live service that are now dead in their forms. Windows Live for Windows, Windows Live Office for office were the service that Microsoft offered with Vista but most users never used it. Windows 8 offers the best social and sharing network integration with service like Facebook and Twitter. With Windows 8, Microsoft rebranded the Live service and offer better integration that brings the user a ready-to-go experience. With Window 8, a user will use the Microsoft Account to synchronize information that is necessary in terms of a user calendar, contacts and emails. And with the recent announcement of new the Xbox Music, Videos, Xbox Game and the SmartGlass, Microsoft promised to bring a media consumption experience that will be unique to Window 8, something that Apple has done a long time ago.
Well, no one is really sure whether or not Windows 8 will succeed based on its own merit, but one thing that is certain is that Windows 8 will not be another Windows Vista since the latest iteration of Microsoft’s operating system promises to fix most of what was wrong with Vista and continue to follow on the much improved experience of Windows 7. Windows 8, in its nascent form, already offers a user experience that is far superior to what was available with Vista, indeed in major ways. Certainly, there are many areas where Windows 8 needs to be improved, particularly in term of multitask switching, but again Windows 8, based on the Metro principle, is at its first ever release. Windows 8 will be improved over time and Microsoft needs to start somewhere. Many are predicting that Windows 8 as another Vista; Windows 8 cannot and will never be another Windows Vista for different reasons mentioned above. Sure Windows 8 is different, this also the reason it may be successful.Further reading: Microsoft, Windows 8