Windows Blue Leaves Me Feeling That Way

I have seen the Windows Blue overview and its left me feeling, well… blue.

Windows-9I’ve been using Widows 8 since the release of the Developer’s Preview. I’ve written comprehensive reviews of both the Consumer’s Preview as well as the RTM version of the new Microsoft flagship operating system. I feel I know it well enough to voice a justified opinion.

 

I’m waiting for Windows Blue.

I don’t want to say that I’m hanging my hat on the next release because Windows 8 is unusable. It is usable, but that usability comes with some serious caveats.

 

  • Pick an interface – ModernUI or Desktop Mode. Mixing both in a single computing session or experience is confusing and leads to a disjointed experience.
  • Desktop Mode is where most 9-5-er’s are going to be productive – ModernUI apps just aren’t there yet, nearly a year after Windows 8’s release
  • The touch metaphor doesn’t work on a PC without a touch screen – This seems like a no-brainer to everyone else OTHER than Microsoft. Hello..! A touch pad is NOT a touch screen and can’t sub for one.

The list goes on. The OS itself isn’t bad. It’s fast. Its stable. The problem Windows 8 has is that its UI really sucks. It’s a drastic step back to Windows 1.x. Seriously. Those of us that can remember what THAT convoluted mess was like have been likening the flat, inefficient screen usage and what appears as a massive step backwards in UX (user interface design) experience between the two computer experiences. It’s confusing, really.

Windows, codenamed Blue, is the latest release of Microsoft’s PC operating system. I initially typed, “desktop,” but that’s not really the case anymore. While it’s not clear yet if Windows Blue is a service pack for Windows 8, or if it’s supposed to be Windows 9, it was generally thought that there were supposed to be some serious UI changes in the OS…and there are. Unfortunately for those of us that don’t like ModernUI, the changes are disappointing.

Windows Blue really reinforces ModernUI. It tries to improve on how the UI works; and perhaps it will improve the experience, but Windows 8/Windows Blue still has some very serious issues. The bulk of Windows compatible software available is still written for either Windows 7 or for Windows 8’s Desktop mode. The Windows 8 software store is relatively empty. The apps available there aren’t very good or don’t provide the value that legacy apps do.

With the “improvements” to ModernUI, Settings, Charms, etc., users are still going to continue to swap back and forth between the two interfaces as they spend more and more time relying on ModernUI to handle more of the OS level tasks.

According to my good friend, Paul Thurrott of The Windows Supersite, the release of Windows Blue sheds a great deal of light on the strategic direction Microsoft is taking Windows in; and it involves the complete elimination of the classic Windows Desktop.

To quote Paul, “Microsoft still sees the touch-centric Metro environment as the future of mainstream computing.”

This means that they have not addressed what many pundits in the tech industry have called a serious schism between MS-based touch-centric computing – ModernUI – and where hundreds of millions of Windows PC users are productive every single day. If you remember, Microsoft did this to us twice before with WindowsME and with Windows Vista. Both were supposed to place new user experiences on the desktop and both were a serious flop. They moved things. They changed the way people worked. The cry went up unto Redmond and Microsoft heard the wailing and gnashing of teeth and “corrected the problems.”

They either don’t seem to care or don’t seem to want to at this point. This combined OS that they seem to think is good for both a tablet and as a tool to get serious work done isn’t working. It just isn’t. I’ve been a Windows user since Windows 1.x, and a serious proponent since Windows 3.x. I was on their technical beta team from Window 95 through Windows XP (That includes Win95, Win98, Win98SE, WinME, Win2K, AND WinXP); and I can tell you, When Windows Vista hit, it was a train wreck.

The difference here is that Microsoft took what the industry and their users were saying into account. It’s clear that they have made a conscious choice to stop listening; and it’s sad. Which is why I noticed that Windows blue has left me feeling that way…Blue.

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