Three Reasons Why Hatred of the Windows 8 UI is a Good Thing

There seems to be a lot of negative sentiment about the Windows 8 user interface (the interface formerly known as Metro). It might be counterintuitive but I think this is ultimately a good thing.

First, mainstream OS user interfaces have stagnated, and I like that Microsoft is thinking about what the next steps might be. I also like that they’re thinking about it in a different way than other OS vendors, especially not emulating Mac OS’ ridiculous skeuomorphism. Trying to maintain some common interface elements between desktops, laptops, and mobile devices seems like a good idea, too.

They’re obviously not done thinking about the problem, otherwise they wouldn’t have left the desktop in Windows 8. That’s the main problem people are complaining about, even if they can’t articulate it. We’re stuck between two Windows UI worlds right now, both mediocre & crippled.

Second, people attempting to deride Windows 8 compare it to Vista. The problem with that comparison is that it ignores the technological changes that went into Vista, like a new driver model, Aero, etc. Vista was ultimately a testbed, and its unpolished mediocrity begat Windows 7’s excellence. I see the same thing happening with Windows 8. Perhaps we should just plan on a tick-tock OS release pattern: tick to introduce new features, tock to introduce stability & refinement.

Third, Microsoft could use some serious competition, and this opens the door for Mac OS and other OSes to steal some market share. Competition means better pricing and better feature sets, and it’ll probably mean shorter release cycles, too, with greater application & driver compatibility between releases. Perhaps we’ll even see some decent applications ported to Linux distributions, though I won’t bet money on that.

Overall, considering that familiarity breeds contempt, I suspect that the number of people complaining about Windows 8 is a sign of its success. In fact, the number of people griping might be more than some OSes’ entire installed bases. Somehow, I think Microsoft will survive, and I’m hoping that we’ll all be better off because of it.

3 thoughts on “Three Reasons Why Hatred of the Windows 8 UI is a Good Thing”

  1. Microsoft failed with Longhorn. It should have been done in 3 years, 2001 to 2004. Instead in 2004 they ditched 100% of the code, took the code in Windows Server 2003 and spent 2004 to 2007 to create Vista. Windows 7 is what Vista was mean to be. But Microsoft put it out WAY before it was done.

    Microsoft has one major license for businesses called “software assurance”. It operates on the principle that instead of paying X every 3 years, paying 25% of X every year is better. So in 2001 businesses signed up and paid for 3 years of software assurance. In 2004 no new version of windows. Businesses signed up again. In 2007 when they were due for another sign up, the situation would have been 2001, 2004, 2007 at 25% of the product price = 75% + 75% + 75%. If windows sold at $200 a copy and company A had Software Assurance from 2001 to 2001 (payments in 2001, 2004, and 2003) that would be $450 for the next version of Windows. Company B went without Software Assurance, would just go out and spend $200 when the next version of windows was out.

    Microsoft had to ship a new version of windows for Software Assurance customers before then end of 2006 no matter what. Thus Vista was available in late November 2006 for Software Assurance customers.

    Windows 7 in late 2009 is what Microsoft should have shipped in 2004 but they missed the mark. The next best thing would have been to keep selling XP till 2009 and then ship Vista when it was ready. The “technological changes that went into Vista” were equal parts Awesome and Fail in 2006. It should not have shipped. It was not a testbed, it was a stopgap measure.

    I skipped it. I was not about to pay Microsoft $200 to be a beta tester for their software.

  2. “the number of people complaining about Windows 8 is a sign of its success.”

    More like a sign of a monopoly forcing people to do things that they hate.

    With the exception of Windows 7, I have only ever used Windows begrudgingly and as a last resort, and always because I’ve been forced to by some application that I either really need or want to use.

    • Possibly, though I think that’s changing, and part of my point was that if people don’t like Windows 8 they’ll leave. That’s a good thing. Besides, I feel the same about Mac OS & Linux on the desktop. 🙂

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