It’s no secret that despite posting 23% increased revenue Microsoft’s windows division was expecting a far warmer reception for Windows 8.
The fundamental issue here is that businesses are currently staying well away, mostly due to the half-assed user experience being split across two separate Gui’s.
From one perspective the system was designed for touch, the Metro interface presents users with links to their favorite applications with gesture based controls. Dragging down from the top will close an app, swipe left and right to navigate – simple and reasonably intuitive if you were on a tablet. The desktop is still there, accessed via an icon in the metro interface. There’s no start button – meaning getting to applications is first carried out by links from Metro, then later through pins and shortcuts on the desktop interface.
Some business class applications also have issues with Windows 8 – notably Cisco’s VPN client needs a few registry tweaks to work. There’s always something that breaks whenever a new OS comes out – but it’s an application used by thousands of businesses worldwide.
During the Windows 8 Beta there was an option to disable Metro, to turn off the touch based interface and keep the desktop. Somewhere along the line between beta and release someone at Microsoft made the stupid decision to force metro upon all users, regardless of whether they had a desktop or tablet, had a touchscreen or were using a monitor.
Windows 7 was a significant improvement over XP- there were clear advantages over Windows XP as well as a minimal amount of staff training required. Business users cannot afford to let their operating system distract from the far more important work they use it for. More importantly – if users have to re-learn the way they use a basic operating system then what’s the incentive to stick with windows? Linux or OSX could be equally viable alternatives, and in some cases with considerable cost savings. It’s also important to note that metro is also included as part of windows server 2012, and I’m not sure whether Microsoft were being lazy or arrogant to assume that Sys admin’s would prefer their metro interface over the default desktop environment they’ve been using for the past 20 years.
It does sound that someone may be listening, there are rumors that windows 8.1 due out this year will give users the option to boot straight to desktop as well as bringing back the start button.
Until then windows 8 will no doubt be given the same sideways glances from business that skipped Windows ME and Windows Vista.