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A Well Reasoned Windows 8/Surface Article: The real work of Windows 8 lies ahead

J515OP

Super Moderator
This seems to be a balanced article about where MS currently is with Windows 8 and the Surface.

The real work of Windows 8 lies ahead
Early impressions of Microsoft's newest operating system have focused on its touch-screen functionality and mobile devices. Helping transform the PC may be its bigger task.


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By André Mouton, Minyanville


When Windows 8 was released, last October, some early reviews were more memorable than fair.

One critic called it "a Christmas gift for someone you hate." Gaming executive Gabe Newell said Microsoft's (MSFT -1.07%) new operating system "is like this giant sadness." Auto-complete suggestions at Google's (GOOG +0.11%) search engine delivered comparisons to "a bad blind date." (Microsoft is the publisher of MSN Money.)

People talked about Windows the way they talk about Congress, and for basically the same reason. No one likes a compromise.

An important goal for Microsoft when it launched Windows 8 was to get its operating system onto tablets and other mobile devices. For years, PC manufacturers have been beating at the gates of mobile computing, experimenting with more portable designs like netbooks and ultrabooks, and finding only limited success. Windows 8 was to be the Trojan horse that got them in.

"The focus on touch-based computing in Windows 8 is huge," according to a review at the Verge.com. It's "easily among the best tablet user interfaces I've ever tried," says tech site AnandTech.

But while Microsoft has created a compelling alternative for a tablet market currently split between Google's Android and Apple's (AAPL -0.33%) iOS, Windows 8 might turn out to have an even bigger impact, as the driver of the evolution of traditional PCs.

The PC fights back
So far, PC manufacturers have yet to figure out which Windows 8 designs will sell, or at what price. But they understand the importance of getting this right. As things stand, the entire PC ecosystem is threatened by the growth in ultra-mobile devices like the iPad. Large companies like Dell (DELL -0.67%) risk losing ground to smaller innovators like Lenovo and Asus. If the PC dies, they die along with it.

That may be the most controversial thing about Windows 8. In the post-PC narrative, the personal computer isn't supposed to fight back. It's supposed to become obsolete; it’s supposed to be absorbed into the cloud or be replaced by the little gadgets we used to play Angry Birds on. Wild applause greets each new permutation of the iPad/iPhone, while every attempt to redesign the PC is met with head-scratching. The tech world has become as fixated today with mobility as it was a decade ago with megahertz.

There is a fundamental difference, though, between handheld devices that we all use for the same thing -- Twitter, YouTube, Google maps -- and machines that we customize and use differently.

How many of the PCs sold each year are intended to run enterprise software, trade applications or video games that most of us will never hear of? Versatility makes these computers useful, but it also makes that usefulness more specialized, less visible -- and less sexy. With Windows 8, Microsoft is arguing that there are uses for a truly adaptable touch-screen machine, even if we can't envision what they are.

The company has produced a few tablets to try to prove it. The Surface RT is largely indistinguishable from the competition, but the Surface Pro is something different. Like Windows 8, it is a compromise -- a marriage between a tablet and a PC -- and it, too, evoked some negative reactions when it was announced, last year.

The Pro doesn't compare favorably with other tablets on battery life, and its price/performance is not great for a PC. But these comparisons miss the point. Microsoft has never made the best products, just the ones that imposed the fewest restrictions. By combining performance with iPad-like portability, the company has produced what might be the most versatile digital device currently on the market. You can do practically anything with it -- that is, until its battery dies.

The real test will come once more products like the Surface Pro are available, and when metrics like battery life have improved to the point where they are competing on their merits rather than their shortcomings.

We will also, over the next few months and years, find out what other doors have been opened with the introduction of Windows 8 as manufacturers experiment with new form factors like tablet PCs. Whether you love what Microsoft is doing or hate it, there's no denying it's exciting.
Source: The real work of Windows 8 lies ahead- MSN Money
 

gpstrucker

New Member
Good, realistic article. I also see the real evolutionary potential for Win8, which is the reason I started using it in the first place. I will admit that I am a long time Linux user who had little love for Windows until Win8 was released. To me, Windows 8 is a truly revolutionary and logical direction for operating systems to go as the majority of personal computing certainly will be centered around portability in the very near future.
 

Russ

Active Member
JP --

That's a good article. Thanks for posting it.

It is, as you say, balanced. I am so pitifully tired of the so-called "critics" bashing Microsoft, just to get their names in the news. They leap on the tiniest imperfection in an MS product, yet they get positively orgasmic if Apple changes the color of the iPad buttons from Light Grey to Dark Grey. Probably it says more about them than it does about Microsoft.

I will confess to having been a Microsoft enthusiast for over thirty years, and I still am one. Just for a challenge, try to think of a company that has contributed more to worker and personal productivity in the last fifty years than has Microsoft. Guaranteed it will be a short list.

Recently, Editor Jon Phillips of PC World wrote an intriguing article called "Why PC Users Hate Microsoft." I could have explained it in a lot less words, but they would not have been complimentary. I tried, in vain, to find the article on line, but could not -- even on PC World's web site. So, I gave up and made a PDF of it, which you can find here:

Why PC Users Hate Microsoft

In so doing, I have probably violated everything but the Village Virgin, but I don't mind as long as it doesn't get the forum in trouble.

Take care,
Russ
 
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J515OP

J515OP

Super Moderator
Just try getting a Microsoft Signature device sometime. The experience is so much better than getting a standard bloatware PC.
 

Russ

Active Member
Just try getting a Microsoft Signature device sometime.
JP --

I never had one of those. The last "signature device" I had was a "Woz Apple II GS" that I bought for my Wife. It actually had the "Woz" signature on the cover. She thought it was so cool, and was dismayed that her friends didn't understand. Useful to know here is that we were both "California electronics people" before moving to Georgia.

re: "bloatware PC" -- Never had one of those, either. I started building my own PCs before the bloatware practice became so prevalent. I can't even remember the last time I bought a PC for myself. We bought a lot at the company, but I always built my own.

Take care,
Russ
 
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J515OP

J515OP

Super Moderator
Russ, good story :) MS signature device doesn't actually have a signature it just strips the bloatware and other things OEMs do to the Windows they put on their PCs as well as some optimization. Makes for a very clean install that runs well. It is the only way to go really (Vizio does this with their PCs by default). You were actually doing your own signature versions of Windows PCs by taking care of it yourself.

As far as the article though, the Microsoft Signature devices really go a long way towards that end. Which is what they promote on devices in the Microsoft Stores (including the online store). Unfortunately most people will never see a Microsoft Store.

We handpick the best PCs and accessories
At the Microsoft Store, every computer we sell passes our high-standard test for top performance, so you really have only the best of the best to choose from when buying a new PC. And that's according to the experts.
Get the most out of Windows 8
When you buy your PC from the Microsoft Store, it’s got our signature on it – something we don’t take lightly. That’s why every PC you buy from Microsoft Store is best way to get the most out of Windows 8. We call this Microsoft Signature.

Love during everyday use
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Computers - Microsoft Store Online
 

Arizona Willie

Active Member
Russ, it helps to remember when reading articles about Microsoft equipment / software that that fruit company gives tech writers free equipment and sometimes cash to write articles badmouthing Microsoft.
 

Russ

Active Member
Russ, it helps to remember when reading articles about Microsoft equipment / software that that fruit company gives tech writers free equipment and sometimes cash to write articles badmouthing Microsoft.
Willie --

Yeah, I know. What's funny about that is that my first "real" computer was an Apple II. I have been through all the steps, and all the mistakes -- "Windows Vista?," what about Apple 3, or Lisa? Nobody wants to talk about them, because it would detract from Steve Jobs' Papal Infallibility. The simple fact is that Steve Jobs was a gold-plated, certified, [insert common colloquialism for rectal orifice]. Yes, indeed, he was a brilliant [insert common colloquialism for rectal orifice], but anyone who was around the SF peninsula when Apple went public, will understand.

If I think my Wife was beautiful doesn't necessarily mean that I think that your wife is ugly. Why can't they both be beautiful? That is a deep, philosophical construct that is quite beyond today's "reviewers."

Take care,
Russ
 

Chubnut

Member
Can I just add this review to this post as well? In my mind it's in the same vain as J515OP's post above. Very well balanced and objective about the RT's pros and cons especially as the writer appears to have had a plethora of "i" devices prior to purchasing the RT. I'll post the link because it's fairly long

A month with my Surface RT » Encosia
 
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J515OP

J515OP

Super Moderator
Can I just add this review to this post as well? In my mind it's in the same vain as J515OP's post above. Very well balanced and objective about the RT's pros and cons especially as the writer appears to have had a plethora of "i" devices prior to purchasing the RT. I'll post the link because it's fairly long

A month with my Surface RT » Encosia
Definitely a good review. Too bad ones like this were't the ones mass circulated early on. The time for the "review makes" has come and past and they are on to new products. Now it is on to word of mouth and people actually using the device sharing review like this to get people interested.

Unlike the Windows Phones which are largely also rans (let's face it they are just "phones" after all) by not offering a substantially different experience than other smart phones, the Surface tablets are game changers. They offer more PC like functionality than any other tablets on the market and that is something people have been looking for since the iPads first came out. Once they understand they can actually have PC like workflow in a tablet form many people will probably pick these up at an accelerated rate that the Windows Phone market simply can't match because of lack of functional differentiation. Not only that but Surface isn't the only such tablet in the game. Other Windows 8/RT tablets will fill the same gap between PC and mobile and create a bloom in tablet adoption for this category that should easily match the Apple and Google tablet efforts in a very short amount of time.
 

kristalsoldier

Well-Known Member
Interesting! The only point that I would contest in that analysis is the author's views on the RT. If anything, I think the RT is the more revolutionary machine as compared to the Pro. Why? Because the Pro allows one to fall back on the tried and tested computing paradigm whereas the RT compels the user to try and do the usual tasks in a different (and in some cases, new) way. Of course, as we all know, the RT also has the desktop, but it's core function is to provide a platform for Office, which is still situated in the traditional space (the exception, of course, is OneNote). Once MS is able to transition Office into the reworked space, the full impact of the RT will be felt (and, by extension, that of Win 8 too). You see, I think (based on just my observation across three continents) that more than 50% of the computer users waste more than 75% of a full-fledged (modern) computer's processing capabilities. What are the main uses? Office, Web, Gaming, Communications. Effectively, these functions don't require the computing power that modern computers possess. All this can be done on smaller - by smaller I mean less powerful - machines and the RT seeks to transform that specific space by weaning off those >50% of the users who use 25% or less of the capabilities of their current crop of machines from the traditional desktop and to place them within the Modern UI space. This is also the reason I think the RT is the more interesting machine - well, aside from the fact that I own one too!!!!!:wink:
 
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J515OP

J515OP

Super Moderator
Yes, but... why lose all the extra functionality if you don't have to? Even if 90% of the people aren't using a PC to its full capacity it is better to have the capacity than not. I think that is the much stronger human nature than the to accept change because you have no other choice. After all, how many people need the performance of modern cars? How about 4K TVs? I can't even tell you how many people I know still use RCA cables or tune into non-HD channels on HD TVs and are happy with the picture and think they are watching HD. Yet they all still want more.

I have a hard time seeing the majority of people choosing a lower performance restricted device over one that offers everything when all other things are equal (if Intel power use comes down to ARM levels and Core chips get 8+ hours battery life). Already people are clamoring for Tegra 4 RT's and way more powerful top shelf gaming power Pros :D

JP
 

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