The Trouble with Gerrold: Windows H8
August 15, 2012 —
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Related Search Term(s): Windows 8
Microsoft has announced October 26 as the release date for Windows 8. Based on the evidence of what happened with past upgrades to the world’s most popular operating system, here’s what will happen in October:
The computer magazines and websites will churn through several gigabytes of articles about what’s in Windows 8, how to use it efficiently, how to tweak it, how to turn various things on or off, and all the hidden secrets that aren’t really hidden, just not immediately obvious to the casual user.
The pundits—some of them well-informed—will churn through even more gigabytes explaining what Windows 8 means to Microsoft, to users, to the computer industry, to the marketplace, and of course to the evolving paradigm of personal computing.
Some people will love Windows 8, some will hate it. Some will complain about the changes. The blogosphere will churn with even more gigabytes of yadda yadda. But ultimately, most of the yadda yadda will be more about the person writing it than about the software itself. Useful information about how to get the most out of Win8 will require some serious spelunking, something that most users don’t do. That’s why there are so many articles about how to get the most out of this or that or the other thing.
Ultimately, any operating system is a personal experience. The more you use it, the more you design it to suit your own wants and needs and opinions about how a computer should work. In the end, it’s subjective; that’s why the arguments about operating systems are so ferocious.
Windows 8 discussions, like all other discussions, are going to be rooted in the most essential of all human questions: “What’s in it for me?” If I tell you that the sun was going to burn out in 3 billion years, your first thought will be, “What’s in it for me?”
So let’s look at it from that perspective. Windows 7 users will be able to upgrade to Windows 8 for US$49. That’s a very attractive upgrade offer, but the pertinent question still remains. “What’s in it for me?” What am I getting for my half-Benjamin?
Because of all the attention given to the interface formerly known as Metro, Windows 8 is perceived as an OS for tablets. More insightful pundits say that it is Microsoft’s attempt to unify the PC, the tablet and the smartphone, with the OS providing a consistent experience across all form factors. And that’s true too. Windows 8 is clearly designed for total integration with Microsoft’s Surface tablet (with built-in keyboard).
But for those of us who work on desktops and laptops, “What’s in it for me?” is still the operative question.
This is the real battle that Microsoft has to win—converting the existing customer base—because if Win8 is not perceived as a useful upgrade, users are going to do the Vista dance all over again when buying a new machine, they’ll have it downgraded to the previous OS, in this case Win7.