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BLOG: Windows arise! 4 hopes for Microsoft's survival

Robert X. Cringely | April 19, 2013
To help Redmond find an answer to the Windows 8 problem, Cringely cites four Microsoft products worth resurrecting

Windows is dead, kaput, finito. It is pushing up daisies, it has joined the choir invisible, it has ceased to be. Like Margaret Thatcher, Jonathan Winters, and Annette Funicello, it has shuffled off its mortal coil and moved on to a better (or in Thatcher's case, hotter) place. Windows' death has not been exaggerated.

OK, maybe a little exaggerated. But not according to my esteemed colleague Steven J. Vaughn-Nicholls over at ZDnet, who composed Windows' obit earlier this week. Sayeth Steven:

Most people in our recent debate over the future of Windows 8 thought that the operating system could be saved. I'm sure many people in 1491 thought that the Earth was flat, too. ...

It looks like Microsoft is betting all its chips on the silly notion that Metro will be the one true interface for its entire PC and device line. There's only one little problem with this idea. Sorry, but I have to say it again, look at the numbers: Metro-interface operating systems have already failed.

If nothing else, it's a brilliant way to stir the pot and drive traffic during an otherwise slow week in tech news. Kudos, SJVN. His debate partner, the effervescent Ed Bott, took the opposite view, of course. But even he found flaws in Microsoft's abandonment of a UI that Windows users had grown accustomed to, like partners in a bad marriage who cling together despite the pain because it's still preferable to divorce. Ed writes:

It's tempting to compare Windows 8 to its predecessors. But I really see it as the first Windows release in a new generation. ...

Windows 8 is more like a living organism, made partly from familiar bits that have evolved over the last two decades, with several new strands of DNA tossed in. It's due to be updated for more often, and it's part of a much larger hardware-apps-services ecosystem that is also changing quickly.

Oh my God, it's alive! Save yourselves -- run for the hills!

Usability is only skin deep
As I write this, Microsoft is readying Windows "Blue" (not to be confused with Google's Gmail Blue), otherwise known as Windows 8.1. Rumors are flying that Microsoft might just maybe bring back that Start button, the lack of which has utterly flummoxed many longtime Windows sufferers, and allow people to boot directly into Desktop mode, bypassing the tiles-based don't-call-it-Metro interface entirely.

So much for that experiment in modern UI design. Personally, I didn't have a problem with Metro or whatever it's called. It took me all of two minutes to suss out that I had to tap or click a tile to get to the Desktop. But while not-Metro might be a fine interface for a touchscreen device, it's a stupid to way to run a desktop, as I've pointed out before.


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