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.