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Windows 8 launch: three year user backlash predicted

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(happygeek)
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Microsoft knows it has to do something in order to claw back some kind of market position, not now but five years into the future. The culture of computing is changing amongst the young and hip consumer, and it's moving away from the Microsoft Windows-centric vision of the past. While Microsoft remains buoyant within the enterprise, powering business globally with plenty of success, the Seattle tech giant would do well to realise that even this core part of the corporate plan is not immune to the generation now effect. What consumers want today can, indeed almost certainly does, influence how enterprises react tomorrow. And that's where the real problems are for Microsoft and the launch later today of Windows 8.

windows8 The latest version of Windows has changed beyond all recognition, or at least it has from the Microsoft perspective. Truth be told, it's pretty old news for the tablet toting, screen swiping, design desiring, cloud-based trend setters of today. I heard Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, talking up Windows 8 on the radio earlier today and he spoke excitedly in terms of how this is as big as the first IBM PC for example, and how Microsoft is re-imagining the world from the world up with Windows 8. Certainly it needs to be a success if Microsoft is to get a proper foothold, even at the very bottom of a very tall ladder, on the smartphone and tablet market where Apple with iOS and Google with Android rule supreme right now.

According to analysts Forrester, the Microsoft share of the personal device market, which includes PCs as well as tablets and smartphones, is around a third today. A few short years back Microsoft enjoyed a 95% stranglehold over the then dominant PC market, before the boom in touchscreen mobility. So can Windows 8 save Microsoft? Many think that's a big ask. Heck, even the timing of the Windows 8 launch could hardly be worse, considering the headline space stolen by Apple with the launch of the iPad Mini at the start of the week and the headlines criticising the Microsoft Surface in reviews this week as well. Not a good springboard from which to launch the platform that Microsoft has everything pinned on.

The radical overhaul of Windows 8 is such that it could even have got away with being called something different, in fact something different might not have been a bad idea; an opportunity for Microsoft to move away from the past and launch itself as a new brand, a new player in the market of tomorrow. A change of name might also have prevented the inevitable problems that many users of Windows 7, and perhaps more tellingly the versions of the OS that came before, who upgrade and find themselves in totally alien territory will experience. Isolating a big lump of your own, loyal, userbase is no way to encourage that loyalty to continue. One of the biggest design specialists in Europe, Foolproof, carried out research with real users to find out what they thought of Windows 8. The results were less than encouraging for Microsoft, with typical user comments including:

"I feel like a baby again. I can’t do anything…” and "That wasn’t a natural place to go look for search….”

John Waterworth, a senior practitioner at Foolproof, says the research "highlights the huge pain barrier that even the most experienced user will have to go through to get to grips with the Windows 8 UI. Even assuming it takes the average user a - highly-conservative - couple of hours to come to terms with the changes, this would imply the loss of more than 300,000 man-years of productivity worldwide. Microsoft will need very broad shoulders to weather the likely backlash from consumers on social media, which we believe could last as long as 2-3 years.”

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Davey Winder

I'm a hacker turned writer and consultant, specialising in IT security. I've been a freelance word punk for over 20 years and along the way I have seen 23 of my books published, produced and presented programmes for TV and radio, picked up a bunch of awards and continue being a contributing editor with PC Pro - the best selling IT magazine in the UK .

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billcondie
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You said it all. Well done. I could hardly believe the WSJ's praise and muted criticism

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Tekmaven
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Windows 8 rocks. Have you ever used a Windows 8 machine with a touchscreen? It's a life changing experience.

(Sent from my Microsoft Surface)

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Reverend Jim
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I freak whenever anyone touches my monitor screen. It was bad enough at the office with a glass screen. It's even worse with a laptop. I got so fed up with cleaning fingerprints off the display that my response now is (when the perp is wearing glasses) to remove their glasses and plant a great greasy fingerprint in the middle of each lens. It gets the point across. Occasionally when I get a "well that was rude" response I just reply "and what you did wasn't?".

So I have to wonder how bad things are going to get with the proliferation of touch screen technology. I understand there is a lot of research being done to create surfaces to which body oils will not cling but we're not there yet.

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happygeek
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I use an iPad and a laptop connected to a large Dell touschscreen on a daily basis. Can't recall the last time I cleaned either, to be honest. Mind you, my eyesight is so bad I probably can't see the fingerprints and smears :)

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khakilang
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I am not worry about touch screen. It is the virus I am worry about. They are hard to beat sometime.

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happygeek
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Erm, and what has that got to do with anything? Are you worried that Windows 8 is likely to be more susceptible to virus infection? The security measures in Windows 8 have been ramped up once again, and look like being more effective than in Windows 7 which, in turn, was a huge improvement over Vista. Of course, there light always be problems early on if you are using security solutions which are not 100% Windows 8 ready, and there is always going to be the initial flurry of attention from those looking for zero days to exploit. However, given that Windows 8 will not overtake Windows 7 in market share terms for some time, and to start with it will represent a fairly limited attack surface in terms of bums on seats when compared to other Windows versions, it's unlikely that too much investment will be made from the malware perspective just yet.

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chris.stout
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This is very well written. Thanks for posting it.

My feeling on this matter is that I would never want a 'tablet' interface for my desktop. I know people say the desktop is dying, but I don't personally plan on abandoning mine in the foreseeable future. I have no problem with the interface on my desktop being different than on my tablet. And if I did want an ugly, clunky tablety interface on my desktop, I'd go back to the loving arms of Gnome 3.

Rev. Jim, I absolutely love your reaction to people touching the screen. Given that it's a pet peeve of mine too, I will have to make a habit of adopting this approach.

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Ancient Dragon
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I installed Windows 8 the other day on my tough-screen computer, this morning it installed an update. Guess what? CRASH! I can't even boot it, I was using the IE10 when I got about 15 error messages about hard drive problems, then let it scan my hard drive. Lots of problems shown. Now the computer won't boot at all.

My suggestion to others: don't bother installing Windows 8, it isn't worth it.

[edit]The hard drive problems are soooo bad that Windows 8 install disk can't fix them. My only real option was to wipe the hard drive clean and start all over again with a clean computer, losing all my files. Thankfully I have backups of the important files.

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Ancient Dragon
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I have discovered that the problem I had may have been caused by incompatible anti-virus program, not Windows 8.

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caperjack
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windows 8 has built in antivrus program ,"windows defender" ,work and looks just like windows securith essencial, and I have been using win8 for about 3 months now and nothing go in yet .and I download and run a lot of program people who come to this site looking for help have installed , I install them to see if I cand reproduce the problem they get from the software .alls go so far .
as for the start screen I just by-pass it and go right to my desktop .I put a shortcut to windows explorer in startup,to open the startup folder go to RUN and type in , shell:startup .

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Reverend Jim
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For $5,StarDock is selling Start8 which can disable the Metro screen and restore the Windows 7 style start button. I expect they will be selling quite a lot of copies.

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caperjack
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personally I don't want to stop it all together ,just want to bypass it and use when needed

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Reverend Jim
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You have the option, for example, you can configure the start button so that CTRL-Click brings up the Metro screen. Start8 has a lot of configuration options.

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koolbob
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There is nothing wrong with Windows 8. This week, I upgraded both of my laptops to W8, and am very happy with the results. The Windows 8 UI is clean, looks good, and works as advertised. I don't undestand why the author or the article is so down on Microsoft. It looks like they have a winner, especially with the $39.99 limited time upgrade. That is a deal!

Apple has an insignificant market share in laptop and desktop systems. They rule the tablet world, but that may not be for long. Apple does not have a reasonable value proposition in computers for work and play. It is only in the tablet end that they excel, and it turns out that the value reveived in an iPad is illusory, too. I have an iPad, and the device is usless for real work other than browsing and surfing. Yeah, sales guys are carrying them around, but all they are used for is checking inventory or order status.

Apple's momentum is being blunted by the millions of Android devices flooding the market. It makes Apple look silly when you can get a $50 Android with the features of an iPhone. You can get cheaper iPhones, now, but they are all old technology.

Windows 8 is totally compatible with the dominant computer operating system, Windows 7. If Apple were going to really increase their market share, they should be able to go after the millions of desktops still using XP. But, that is not in Apple's marketing plan. They know that their devices do not fit in a market where value counts. That's why Apple will never have significant market share in the enterprise market, except with some soft applications that require only reading, not working or creating.

Believe it or not, I am not a huge Microsoft fan. I have learned to respect Microsoft for what they do well. For example, the computing world would not be where it is without Windows, Office, and dotNET products. Apple, on the other hand, is not a techonolgy company, they are a marketing company. That's what has propelled Apple past the others in total market value. It was not computers that did it, it was a dressed up mp3 player that started their renaissance.

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tigerbright
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The desktop and start menu is customizable regarding pinning and placement of shortcuts, including to the task bar. The start menu is instantly opened and closed by the Windows key button - I fail to understand the ongoing consternation by some , although I support their right to express angst

atularunpandey
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we are most like to use windiows 8 but really suck with old hardware performance and not have bucks to upgrade the hardware requirements. So try fot windows RT version which is far better than windows 8 in performance speed. Sure tell more about it to me and I am witing for replies.

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caperjack
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I thought this site had spell check ,lol

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ktremblaydean
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I just bought a laptop with Windows 8. I've used every version of Windows including prior to 95. I do feel like this windows is alien-like. Things that drive me insane: the start menu is not there, the windows button brings you to the apps. It is hard to get the pop out menu to appear to shut down or change settings unless using the Internet where it won't stop popping in. And why is the address bar at the bottom for the Internet rather than the top? That is minor but i spent a few minutes figuring that one out. I love learning and challenges, well I certainly got more than I bargained for! After two weeks of daily use, I still feel like a newbie. I understand the comparison to the tablet, i was exited to try it for that reason, however my thrive tablet is more like using a previous version of windows. I will keep using it because i know someone will eventually ask me about it, and i prefer to be as knowledgeable as i can.

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Reverend Jim
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I was browsing a local computer store. I saw an ipad and an HP computer running Windows 8 touch-screen. First time I'd seen either. I picked up the ipad and ran a few apps. Each app had this small faint white ball. I could drag it anywhere on the screen. When I tapped it I got a menu that allowed me to get back "home", terminate the app, etc. On the HP machine I started one app then spent 5 minutes trying to figure out how to end it or get the menu back (the keyboard was not available). I finally gave up and walked away. How long is Microsoft going to keep chasing Apple, trying to duplicate their products and failing miserably?

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