Microsoft, have you lost your mind again?

For years I've been using MicrosoftCopyright products. I thought as the maker of the most well known operating system, Microsoft would ultimately get it right. I thought wrong, and here we are. Before we go any further, let's start at the beginning. (I'll omit some OS versions I deem less noteworthy for this exercise.) Let's pretend that Microsoft is in charge of building cars, in addition to operating systems. Below are some very brief reviews of the Microsoft operating systems over the years from a user's point of view, as well as their automotive counterpart:

Windows 3.1

  • The Good: For those of you who don't remember, Windows 3.1 was the new thing by grouping files in these things called Windows. The Apple Mac did the same thing really, but I won't argue the differences, technically or legally.
  • The Bad: Still in its infancy.
  • The Car: Basic 1966 VW Beetle. Does the job, but not too flashy or powerful.

Windows 95

  • The Good: This was the game changer. Some of the new features introduced were the Start button, the Taskbar, and desktop shortcuts. Simple to use and efficient.
  • The Bad: Stability was so-so. Needed more functionality.
  • The Car: 1966 Mustang. Flashy, cool, and powerful. Could use more uumph all around.

Windows ME

  • The Good: The only saving grace was that it still had the look and feel of Windows 95.
  • The Bad: Complete train wreck. This OS had more bugs than a NYC sewer. It got to the point where I actually began reading the text on the Blue Screen of Death because I saw it so often.
  • The Car: AMC Pacer. Functional, in between its frequent falling apart episodes. (Side note: Pop had this car and loved it. I called it the leper car because everything I touched fell off.)

Windows XP

  • The Good: At last, a stable version of Windows 95, Start button, Taskbar, and all!  I ran this OS as long as possible with nary an issue. Then, wanting to be on the bleeding edge of technology, I did the unthinkable. I bought Vista, and boy did I bleed.
  • The Bad: Nothing.
  • The Car: Corvette Stingray. Cooler, stable, and more powerful. More uumph found.

Windows Vista

  • The Good: Aero glass effect was introduced. The Start button, desktop shortcuts, and Taskbar, remained intact. USB RAM also introduced.
  • The Bad: After two long weeks of being stymied by countless security pop-ups and various other incompatibilities, I had had enough. Vista was garbage from Jump street. Out it came. This is what I should have done with Vista.
  • The Car: Undercover police cruiser, starting and stopping constantly. Not allowed to do anything. Had power though.

Windows 7

  • The Good: Aero glass effect still alive, as well as the Start button, shortcuts, the Taskbar, and the USB RAM. The ad campaign focused around the user building Windows 7, and it worked. It looks like actual users had input into this version. Best OS to date.
  • The Bad: Nothing.
  • The Car: BMW 3 series. Luxurious, stable, and powerful.

Windows 8

Well, here we are. Look at this screenshot for just a moment and really soak it in.

  • The Good: Faster boot time. Incorporated touch screen technology for supported devices.
  • The Bad: No Start button. The Taskbar is "hidden." The tiles are intrusive and annoying.
  • The Car: The Partridge family's bus. Looks funny, not easy to drive, but has power.
    windows 8.jpgbus.png

Let's take the new OS apart piecemeal:

  • Where's the Start button and Taskbar? These were introduced in Windows 95 and caught on quickly. Everyone loved them and every Windows OS since has had them. The removal of the Start button and Taskbar from the home screen in Windows 8 is like having built a new car and replacing the steering wheel with voice commands! I have to re-learn steering? Really?
  • Tiles as the home screen? This looks like my computer threw up! Anyway, tiles are supposed to provide you real-time information on just about anything from news to weather to sports scores. Do I need all of this information at once and in my face? I think not. Brain still works, don't need a computer for the obvious every second of the day. And what's with the random colors of each tile? Do the colors mean anything? Can I change them?  At first glance it looks as though Picasso had a cubist moment.
  • Where are my desktop shortcuts? Better still, where is my desktop?! Right-clicking the home tile screen solves the shortcut mystery, to a degree. Nothing is obvious though.
  • Desktop found, sort of. There is actually a tile for the desktop. Opening the desktop brings you to a half-@$$ Windows 7 view where you can view these things called windows. The problem is, you can't access your programs from the desktop tile without going back to the home tile screen first. Useless waste IMHO.
  • For an OS called Windows, all I see are tiles. Minimize, maximize, and close buttons? Who needs them? Umm, everyone. Put them back please.
  • The touch screen interface is cool, but not very practical for home or work computers, especially since we still type. The mouse is just too darn easy and efficient. Granted, we'd all love to have that cool holographic computer in Minority Report, but we're just not there yet.
  • A computer is not a tablet! People have to be more than entertained by their computers. They need to be productive.
  • How do I close apps short of launching the task manager?
  • Even turning the OS off is perplexing. You have to now navigate to Settings > Power > Shut Down to accomplish this minor miracle.

Linear thinking meets a fork in the road.

Windows has improved on itself over the years by adding new features and retaining the successful ones (ie: The Start button, the Taskbar, desktop shortcuts, etc.) They've also learned from their mistakes (the more stable XP replaced ME, the less restrictive 7 replaced Vista). After looking at Windows 8, I think Microsoft will have a great deal to overcome. I suspect "Windows 9" will look quite a bit like Windows 7 after the Windows 8 dust has settled. Whoever took the lead on this project (probably the same joker who introduced the ribbon to MS Office) hit a brick wall (most likely tiled).

Don't force us to relearn everything again and again.

Remember the ribbon episode with MS Office? Well in their infinite wisdom, Microsoft decided to put the ribbon in Windows Explorer for Windows 8. (I lost a lot of time and work because I couldn't find my file menu items because of that enormous idiotic ribbon - believe it or not, people can still read.) Build upon your successes Microsoft, add to them. Don't change them. Here are some tips just for you, Microsoft:

  • Don't remove features people like and use by replacing them with things you think are better. They're not. Remember Vista? Didn't work out too well, did it? I'm sure you'll catch a lot of flak for killing the Start button and killing our desktop with tiles. Be ready with a serious update, and soon.
  • Talk to a wide variety of your customers. Find out what they want, like, and dislike.
  • Let the user decide what's best. Everyone is different. Provide options, not requirements.

All signs are pointing toward world domination.

Windows 8 is now on computers, tablets, and phones. And that's fine. I'm sure they all work well together. But does that benefit the consumer? For me, it's all about control. If I cannot get what I want, I will go somewhere else. This is precisely why I ditched my Windows phone for an Android. Hopefully Microsoft will learn from this and actually get to know their customers like we do here at SolarWinds. Try less domination and more innovation Microsoft. But that's just me.

The Bottom Line

Microsoft took the least popular phone OS and threw it on a computer, with a Windows 7 knock-off lurking somewhere in a tile. The new OS upgrade costs $15-40. Take that money and grab a beer or 12. It would be better spent at a bar making jokes about Windows 8 with your geeky friends.