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Microsoft, Windows 8 and a whole lot of pissed off users

No operating system from Microsoft has ever caused this kind of division for a long time since the DOS / Windows operating system debates of the 90’s. Most issues people have agreed (hell, even in some cases Microsoft itself agreed, Vista and Windows ME come to mind here). Vista sucked, ME sucked. No debate there.

Windows 8 logo from system properties

Windows 8 logo from system properties

Windows XP had a rocky start in terms of security but recovered to become a rock solid OS with service pack 2. New interface elements were introduced in XP and so were a host of things but there were no arguments there. Windows 7 super solid and secure operating system. I started using Windows 7 from the beta as my production OS and never looked back. That’s how good it was. Again no arguments there. This then brings me to Windows 8.

Windows XP and Windows 7 Logos

Windows XP and Windows 7 Logos

This Operating system since the developer preview has been widely condemned and supported in equal measure. Having gone through the Developer Preview, the Consumer Preview and the Release Previews, I’m still undecided whether to be happy or cry. The operating system evokes so much emotions in myself and so many other IT people. The reasons are simple, its a big paradigm shift from what we are accustomed to. And humans being by nature do no like change. Worse still change they deem to be unnecessary.

Something then dawned on me. This change is not for us. This operating system is not for us. Because as it stands, it just looks like Microsoft is giving us a bit fat middle finger. But that’s not how they see it. As a company Microsoft is doing what it should be doing as a public company, maximizing shareholder value and yet at the same time stay relevant in an age where things seems to change like weather in Swakopmund. Windows 7 is a perfectly acceptable and useable operating system which many people can use for a very long time (like most did with XP). What they are doing whilst pretending to be producing a new Windows operating system is to introduce a new Tablet focused operating system. Yep i said it, you can go ahead and shoot me.

For the foreseeable future, Microsoft is going to be making money from Windows 7, mostly from corporate customers. This revenue from Windows doesn’t change that much no matter how great an operating system they introduce. Look at Windows 7. They have been screaming that Windows 7 have sold this number of millions OS licenses but the revenue stays flat. On the other hand, Tablets are a different scenario altogether. Here they intend to fight tooth and nail to get in and dominate and supplant Apple’s Ipad. And to do that they are willing to bet the company’s inheritance on this operating system by forcing it down on everyone.

The Windows 8 interface is a touch/tablet interface first and foremost. And frankly it is this piece of undeniable fact that is going to piss off a lot of desktop users. But as l alluded to above, this operating system is not for you so they wont listen to your whining and crying. Microsoft can forgo your mula and yet still make money from real tablet users. By the time we get to Windows 9, tablet numbers running Windows 8 will be up, they will be a platform to contend with and still making money from Windows 7.

Then when they make Windows 9, and make it as brilliant as Windows 7. They will tell us they listened to our crying and whining are making a return to a desktop only operating system. But by that time, people are used to the Metro interface. they will integrate Metro more and more into the interface. They will make sure they make the enterprise customers happy by making it possible for example to disable or completely remove metro. But out of all this they will now have a serious competitor to Ipad and the whole list of Android Tablets. Basically they will still be relevant. And make the same money they are making today. But what matters is not money, its how relevant are you to the industry?

I believe this is a brilliant strategy. This will without doubt work very well. As people are busy complaining that Windows 8 on desktop is unusable, tablet users will be crying with joy that they have found something that works for them.

And from here in Africa, well, we really wont care. Tablets to us are toys and will remain as such. No-one here is building customized apps to include IPads in their workflows. No-one here is using their IPads except for internet browsing and taking a few notes when in meetings. Directors and chief executives are buying IPads because they don’t want to be left out and feel out of place in meetings. They are more of prestige toys than useful gadgets.

Let me just add my voice to those that are complaining about Windows 8. Windows 8 is pain to use. Its a pain to even imagine how i retrain my neighbor how to use the new OS. Its a pain to constantly having to switch between two conflicted interfaces when clearly i want to spend time in the other one. In this post i’m castigating Windows 8, but i might change my mind in the next one. After all, that’s the two faced problem that is Windows 8.


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