Much like what they did with Windows 7, Microsoft are offering a Consumer Preview of the latest incarnation of their desktop operating system, Windows 8. Although it’s now designed to work on tablets/slates/mobile PC devices too. And thanks to Virtual Box, I get to play too, despite using a Mac.
It’s certainly a bold attempt at moving things forward, especially with the iPad single-handedly disrupting the entire PC market, but I don’t think it’s going to work too well. The problem is that it’s trying to offer a ‘no compromise’ fusion of the desktop and tablet experience, trying to please the pixel-perfect mouse and keyboard crowd whilst also reaching out to the touch-screen newbies. But you can’t have your cake and eat it: the reason iOS works is because it has been stripped back and reimagined for finger input, not because it tries to shoehorn in the Mac OS graphical user interface. Windows 8 tries to do both and it’s just a bit of a mess. I haven’t tried a touch-screen device but using a mouse and keyboard is decidedly unsatisfactory and sometimes completely confusing (such as trying to work out how to get back to the Start screen. Using touch it’s a swipe in from the right but using a mouse it involves hovering the mouse near the bottom right corner of the screen – not very intuitive!).
Once you’ve gotten the hang of actually using it, it seems very much like just the skeleton of a finished product, perhaps like the original iPhone when it was first released. Only this is 2012 not 2007, perhaps proving Steve Jobs correct that Apple had a 5-year head start with the iPhone. No doubt Microsoft will be able to sell lots of licences with new PCs, but perhaps it’ll get downgraded to Windows 7, much like what happened with Windows Vista.
(Image from thefoxisblack)