This week I am going to take a look at Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows 8. You may have seen the TV adverts showing off some of its features, but should you believe the hype?
When you start using Windows 8, it becomes clear that the platform is designed for touch screen technology. It has large icons which can be personalised, and responds pretty intuitively to finger movements. However, the challenge for Windows 8 is to deliver an operating system which can cater for PC, tablet and mobile but without taking too much functionality away from any of these devices. Developing a mobile and desktop operating system is not unique to Microsoft – the Mac OS and iOS are becoming increasingly blurred (and has attracted its fair share of criticism too!).
I have used the PC and mobile version of Windows 8, and it takes a little time to get the basics right without using touch, i.e. using a keyboard and mouse. However, it must be remembered that humans are on the whole pretty wary of change. Even if Windows 8 is better, it certainly is different so it will take some time for users to adjust.
What operating systems are hoping to achieve is the possibility to start a piece of work on one device, and for the user to change the device but still work on that piece of work with a seamless transition. An uninterrupted experience would be a huge step forward from the user’s perspective and there is no doubt that Windows 8 is capable of doing that.
Windows 8 has been designed to be web developer friendly. People are well aware of the benefits of apps on their mobile devices, but Windows 8 will allow apps to be developed for PCs too – if you use Google Chrome, you will know how handy apps can be on your computer. This is a big deal – making Windows 8 easy to develop means that programmers will be keen to work on it, a key factor to the success of any operating system as it means a constant stream of new content.
So, what does the future hold for Windows 8? I think that it will be a success – it has gimmicks such as facial recognition like the X-Box, and is easily developed by programmers. Initially the success will come from consumers – it is much easier for consumers to adopt a new operating system but businesses will be a lot slower to take it up (due to the time, cost and complication of introducing new operating systems).
The challenge for Windows 8 will be how quickly it can persuade people to leave their current operating system behind – if they can do this, expect to see Windows 8 on a screen near you soon.
Have you used Windows 8 yet? What did you think?