Although I am normally a pretty good cheerleader for Microsoft, I do have to give it low marks on Windows 8. While I don’t disagree with the strategy of using it with smartphones and tablets, forcing laptop and desktop users into Windows 8 is a big mistake. The new OS fits nicely with smartphones and tablets. It makes no sense for laptops and desktops.
Already in late December reports indicated Windows 8 sales were very disappointing. I’m not surprised. Even in PC World’s initial review of the new OS, the cautionary flag was raised (Loyd Case, “Windows 8: The Official Review” November 2012, pp. 73–82):
“Windows 8 isn’t for everyone. If you’re mostly a desktop PC user comfortable with Windows 7, upgrading to Windows 8 is probably not worthwhile.” (p. 82)
I certainly agree. Windows 8 presents a radically altered user experience, the accommodations to selecting alternative user interfaces get clumsy, you cannot easily access multiple applications running simultaneously, significant hardware upgrades will often be required, and serious questions remain concerning how well current or even new software will run on the new OS. For Microsoft to force laptop and desktop users into a Windows 8 environment after having enjoyed Windows 7’s bliss is a crime.
I have computed through multiple OS iterations from Windows 3.x to Windows 98 to Windows XP to Windows Vista to Windows 7. Take my word for it—if you are happy with Windows 7, stay put for the long haul. Windows 7 remains in my book the very best OS ever. When it comes to a desktop or a laptop computer, I just can’t see jumping into Windows 8. That would only be a step backward in your PC efficiency and effectiveness. Tim Markoski, a reader of PC World, wrapped it up this way (February 2013, p. 9):
“Windows 8 is a product that no one asked for, that no one wants, and that no one will buy (in numbers that will make it successful).”
Tim, I couldn’t have said it better myself!
But it gets worse. David Pogue (New York Times personal-technology columnist) addresses what will surely be an ergonomic nightmare (“The Trouble with Touch Screens” Scientific American, January 2013, p. 25):
“There are three big differences between these handy touch screens and a PC’s screen: angle, distance and time interval. The screen of a phone or tablet is generally more or less horizontal. The screen of a desktop (or a laptop on a desk), however, is more or less vertical. Phone, tablet and kiosk screens, furthermore, are usually close to your body. But desktop and laptop screens are usually a couple feet away from you. You have to reach out to touch them. And then there’s the interval issue: you don’t sit there all day using a phone, tablet or airport kiosk, as you do with a PC. Finally, you’re not just tapping big, finger-friendly icons. You’re trying to make tiny, precise movements on the glass, on a vertical surface, at arm’s length.”
Pogue refers to the resulting painful condition as “gorilla arm.” I think Windows 8 will reveal many gorillas among us. Didn’t we learn our lesson with carpal tunnel syndrome? Wait until “gorilla arm” plays itself out.
Microsoft has had many good ideas. This wasn’t one of them.
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