Monday, November 19, 2012

The problem with Windows 8

If you were in any doubt that the desktop computing model was dead, Windows 8 proves the point. The new Metro interface is designed to work with touch screen mobile devices (more so than the desktop) and the option of being able to login with your Microsoft account and run cloud apps is there too.

Great! We're in the future! Only we're not really. This is still Microsoft desperately trying to keep us buying the bloated windows operating system, designed for running executable files that we've come to love and loathe since 1995. In practice, Metro is little more than a new start menu that runs on top of Windows 7 with a bunch of full screen 'apps' that make it feel more usable on a mobile.

On the one hand Microsoft have recognised an important change. We use mobile devices. On the other hand they have failed to notice that maintaining a bloated operating system like this on mobiles as well as desktops holds very little appeal for the average end user, let alone a system administrator.

Windows requires lots of maintenance and updates, namely because of it's extensive legacy. On installing Windows 8 I had to wait an hour for a number of important updates to apply, only weeks after its release. Not something I'm desperately keen to see happen on my mobile phone or tablet device.

It really doesn't need to be like this. Android and iOS have shown that you can operate in a much leaner way. Moreover, devices that run on these systems recognise that control is with the end user rather than the IT department.

This is why I think Windows 8 will ultimately fail. Buying a bloated operating system that only needs to access web services seems like a wasteful expense. Maintaining it across hundreds of devices is an even greater one that companies don't want or need to take on any more.

So what future for Windows? I think we'll see a free, low maintenance, lightweight fork that ditches the legacy bloat designed for running .exe files. It will be engineered for web apps and will guide you towards their web subscription services. Windows as we know it is a dying operating system and anybody with eyes in their head can see that, even Microsoft.