Published April 16, 2013
Screenshot of the Windows 8 Start screen, as shown at the D9 Conference in 2011. (Microsoft)
The new Windows 8 Start screen. (Microsoft Corp.)
Microsoft demonstrated for the first time the next generation of Windows, internally code-named “Windows 8,” at the D9 conference. The company calls it a “reimagining of Windows, from the chip to the interface.” (YouTube)
PC shipments collapsed in the last quarter by almost 14 percent, analysts with IDC said last week, marking the biggest drop in sales since the firm started tracking them 19 years ago. The problem, said ZDNet’s well respected Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols, isn’t the designs from the likes of HP and Dell or the size of consumer’s wallets. It’s Microsoft.
‘Look at the numbers: Metro-interface operating systems have already failed.’
– ZDNet writer Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols
“Look at the numbers: Metro-interface operating systems have already failed,” Vaughn-Nichols wrote in an essay on the site. “Microsoft is betting all its chips on the silly notion that Metro will be the one true interface for its entire PC and device line.”
“Idiots,” he wrote.
While Vaugh-Nichols is clearly opinionated, his perspective was supported by IDC analyst Jay Chou, who told The Wall Street Journal a similar story last week: “The reaction to Windows 8 is real.”
Windows 8, released Oct. 25, 2012, transformed the traditional computer interface to reflect a growing dependence on tablet computers and touch interface. It wraps the “desktop” metaphor that most people have grown comfortable in a blanket of multicolored tiles that shift and twinkle, revealing bits of information and inviting the user to poke at them.
The problem: the vast majority of laptop and desktop users have no way to poke. Most users will find this new interface language as shocking (and hard to work with) as a bucket of cold water the face.
Vaugh-Nichols argued that users have responded to an operating system they simply don’t want by not buying PCs, turning instead to tablets. And Windows 8 tablets have yet to catch on in the market.
“Windows tablets don’t even rate a blip in the $64 billion tablet market,” he said.
Microsoft is likely to respond to the growing frustration of users this summer when the company releases “Windows Blue,” the first major upgrade to the OS, which is likely to become “Windows 8.1.”
An a developer event scheduled for June 26-28 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, the Redmond, Wash.-based company will unveil what’s next for Windows.
Enthusiasts familiar with unreleased early versions of that software say there is a “direct to desktop” mode that bypasses the new Start screen, an especially touch-focused part of the new operating system that has drawn the focus of unhappy users.
But that’s hardly enough for the likes of Vaugh-Nichols.
“Microsoft could continue to dominate the important, but no longer growing, desktop market for years, even decades to come,” he wrote.
“However, I don’t think they will.”