My Thoughts on the Windows 8 Preview

By now many people have seen the Windows 8 preview video and I’ve read several comments about it on Facebook, Twitter, and many other sites. I watched the video too. And I was impressed to see the different type of thinking that was happening up in Redmond – right up until the 3:06 mark where they finally show that all of this new stuff is just a layer on top of the old Windows.

When the video started I had such high hopes that Microsoft was really going to do it this time. They were finally going to step up and do a Windows 95-esque type change to the PC computing world.

Let me just mention one feature from the video and explain how I still see an issue with how they’re still thinking. The tiles have no consistency. Microsoft simply does not understand consistency. Sometimes the tiles are big. Sometimes they’re small. Sometimes they have a photo. Sometimes they have an icon (but that icon might be small, large, left, right, top, bottom, full-color, or white). Some tiles have text – but that text can be small, large, left, right, under an image, etc. Sometimes you can have 9 tiles to a screen sometimes you can have more. Some tiles are animated. Some of them are orange.

I look at the screen as a whole and the first thing that I see is confusion. There is no consistency. I have to start reading each tile to see what it is for, what it does, and what it is telling me. This reminds me of so many changes that Microsoft labelled as “innovations” that forced me to re-learn my way around the computer. I know I personally didn’t find them innovative. I found the changes annoying. And I could name a lot of other people who did, too, but I won’t.

I totally get that each person has their preference, which is why I said “I look at the screen…” instead of “Anybody who looks at that screen…”. But I feel that Microsoft is trying to catch up to Apple in all the wrong ways. In other words, I don’t think they’re realizing what truly matters. I think they’re overlooking it completely because they’re driven by what they *think* matters.

It is so interesting to me that I just wrote “Microsoft is trying to catch up to Apple” just now. If this were 5 years ago, I would have said the exact opposite thing. Isn’t it remarkable what is possible in such a short time?

A friend of mine posted the Windows 8 video on Facebook with the comment “Wondering why Apple pre-announced iOS 5? Wonder no more.” I actually disagree with that, for a couple of reasons.

First, Windows already has so much more market share in the desktop and laptop PC world than Apple does that it’s not even a real comparison. Second, Apple has a mere fraction of the number of products that Microsoft does.

Even taking that in to account, however, Apple has more revenue and profit (as of the last quarter reported) than Microsoft does. All I’m trying to say is that I really don’t think Windows 8 worries Apple in the slightest. Because based on what I saw in that video, Microsoft will primarily accomplish two things:

1. Introduce a new version of Windows that will sell a gazillion copies and keep the cash cow going – but won’t affect Apple at all.

2. Release something that barely, if even, stays current with competitors.

I predict no significant change in market share over the next 5 years except to say that I bet Windows will have less then than it does now, by whatever the percentage.

I say the following with the senior leadership at Microsoft in mind, not many of my friends who are brilliant, passionate, and wonderful people who work there. That said, the way I see it, it has become useless for Microsoft to simply do better than itself, because “itself” is stale.

I reiterate what I’ve said several times over the past couple of years. It is time for new leadership at Microsoft. And I’m not only talking about Steve Ballmer.

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