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Windows 8 - Five things Microsoft should fix to prevent another 'Vista'

Windows 8 - Five things Microsoft should fix to prevent another 'Vista'

New Microsoft OS Windows 8 has a lot of innovative features, but it also has a few fatal flaws

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Windows 8 marches on toward its inevitable release - not yet confirmed, but expected sometime in early fall. Judging by the Windows 8 Consumer Preview release, though, the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system has some fatal flaws that could turn it into another “Windows Vista” scenario, and cause users to cling to Windows 7 as they’ve clung to Windows XP.

As a Microsoft MVP, a fan of Microsoft in general, and a lover of Windows 7, I have looked forward to Windows 8 with great anticipation. But, the more time goes on, the more concerned I am about just how successful the launch of this OS will be, and I’m not alone. There are many bloggers, analysts, and experts out there who have Microsoft’s best interests at heart, and feel that Windows 8 as it stands today is not ready for prime time.


Of course, the Windows 8 Consumer Preview we’re using today is a pre-release version that isn’t intended for prime time. But, there’s also a reason Microsoft isn’t calling it a “beta”. Microsoft is still making tweaks and adjustments, but in general the belief is that the Windows 8 Consumer Preview is essentially “feature complete”, and the final version will not be much different than what we have now.

That could be a serious problem. Here is a list of the top five things Microsoft should change or fix in Windows 8 before the official release if it doesn’t want to have another Vista-style debacle:

1. Default to Desktop

The Metro interface is awesome. It’s a unique and innovative approach to interacting with Windows - on a tablet or smartphone. On a desktop or laptop, however, it is just awkward and tedious. Windows 8 should default to the desktop mode when installed on a desktop or laptop, or at least offer the option during installation to let the user choose which interface to default to.

The Metro interface can still be there as an option, but desktops and laptops use mice and trackpads and keyboards for navigation, not touch. Wes Miller of GetWired.com says, “Personally, I believe that Microsoft needs to significantly strengthen the capabilities of the OS for mouse-bound users. The current user interface that we’ve seen from the Developer Preview through the Consumer Preview has been touch-first.”

The majority of applications I open and tasks I perform in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview forces it into desktop mode anyway. Microsoft should cut out the cutesy layer and extra steps and just let desktop and laptop users experience Windows the way that works best for those hardware platforms.

2. Allow tiles to be grouped

When it comes to the Metro interface, Microsoft should enable users to group tiles together in “folders”. If you add the Administrator Tools to your Start menu, or install Office 2010, you end up with a whole slew of new tiles. My Windows 8 Consumer Preview Metro interface is currently at three pages of tiles, and I haven’t installed that many applications.

It would make more sense if all of the Administrator Tools were grouped together inside a tile called “Admin Tools”, and if all of the Microsoft Office programs and utilities were merged together within a tile called “Office 2010.” Microsoft should add the ability to just create a “folder” tile by dragging a tile and dropping it on another one a’ la iOS.

3. Limit the tiles

While we’re on the subject of tiles in the Metro interface, Microsoft needs to pare down the tile collection. The default Windows 8 installation adds a little over a page worth of tiles. Onuora Amobi, editor of Windows8Update.com, stressed: “Make sure the number of introductory tiles in Metro aren't more than one page wide. If I want to add more, I will.”

I agree. It would be much cleaner, and aesthetically pleasing if Windows 8 started with just one page of tiles out of the box. Windows 8 should exemplify simplicity on the initial install, and leave it to the user to introduce the level of complexity they’re comfortable with.

4. Enable WOA to join domain

Microsoft has already stated that Windows on ARM (WOA) tablets are intended for “unmanaged” environments — Microsoft speak for “won’t attach to a Microsoft Windows network domain.”

We’ll have to wait and see what vendors come up with for Windows tablets, but that puts a huge burden on tablets built on the traditional Intel/AMD architecture. Tablets like the Apple iPad, and Samsung Galaxy Tab are built on ARM hardware and provide better performance and longer battery life.

WOA tablets will be the most direct competitors with the existing tablets that dominate the market. But, having a Windows 8 tablet that isn’t capable of joining the Windows domain and being managed by IT with the rest of the environment will take away the primary advantage of Windows 8 tablets.

5. Bring back the start button

When the Windows 8 Consumer Preview drops into desktop mode, it basically looks and feels like Windows 7, except the Start button is gone. To get to Start you have to sort of hover in the lower left corned where the button is normally found until a thumbnail of the Metro Start menu pops up.

Removing the Start button from the desktop view seems like one of those changes Microsoft is often accused of - moving things for the sake of moving them just so it seems “new”. I don’t generally subscribe to that theory. I assume Microsoft does what it does with intent, and as a result of testing and user feedback.

But, if I’m desktop and laptop users are going to spend most of their time in Windows 8 within the desktop view, and it looks and acts like Windows 7, what harm is there is leaving the Start button, and access to the functions on the Start Menu where users are used to finding them?

There you have it. I think Windows 8 is already on a mostly pre-determined development schedule, and I believe Microsoft has no intention of making any major changes, so I won’t hold my breath. But, if Microsoft would make these changes it would make Windows 8 a much better OS, and greatly reduce the possibility that it might flop when launched.

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Comments

  • minimi re Start button - you do know that you can press the Windows key or if you do not have it or do not want to you can press CTRL ESC And you do that with your left hand while moving the mouse with the right so by the time the Start menu pops up your mouse pointer is already thereor better yet try this combo ctrl esc type your program name first letter -gt wow its a live menu search filtering only relevant programs -gt THEN click your application or better yet press Enter if its the first one in the list or down arrow and Enter when youre above the desired programin conclusion what are you nagging about a missing button that should not be used anyway because its faster NOT to use it
  • Ezz1r63 We also loaded one of our home computers with Win 8 fortesting and were appalled This is a sad pathetic attempt by MS to satisfythe tablet desktop users My 82 year old mother who is very windows savvy 95 xp win 7 and now android found it to complicatedand that was after tweaking it to show the taskbar to giver her a betterfeel This is a dejavu of vista
  • Me I have seen both the developer and consumer previews and as it stands have no intentions of going over to Win8 as I only have desktops and laptops to worry about
  • Rich its only WOA tablets bob
  • Bob As an IT manager the number one reason I would consider using Windows 8 tablets over Apple or Android would be the ability to join a domain and manage them along with other domain systems If a windows tablet cannot join the domain there is no advantage in a business setting to going with Microsoft It would be a terrible decision on their end to disable tablets from joining domains
  • Desktop User I think Classic Shell is doing a good job by releasing the 35 versionIt is a good replacement for that annoying start up hiding buttonTake a look to theire new update of 31-03-2012 below httpclassicshellsourceforg
  • Adas Weber JohnFor folders I suggest a concept called Live Folders orCustom Hubs These folder tiles could then display the contents in a live way such as cycling through any live tiles and showing each one for a short period of time This solves the problem of live tiles being hiddenThe other reason why folders are useful is when you want to organise a lot of documents Lets say you have hundreds of PDF files such as datasheets which you want to organise into several levels of sub foldersFolder tiles would therefore be a very efficient way of doing this without cluttering up screen real-estateIts all about giving users the choice to organise data in a way which is best forthe userand not in a way that best suits MicrosoftAnother suggestion is for the semantic zoom to be with the middle mouse button rather than having to go to the bottom right corner and click
  • Frank To most of the ordinary users the start button is their window to their applications Remove this button that everyone is already accustomed to is mind bugling
  • John Default to DesktopWindows 8 Server does this even though it has a metrointerface Im quite hopeful that this can be enabled through group policy forthe enterprise Allow Tiles to Be GroupedTiles can be grouped my arranging them together and givingit a label I have already done this on my Windows 8 installation Howeverputting those into folders are does not achieve anything useful other than hidethe tiles and you lose live updates Why not group amp pin only the apps youuse to the start screen The other occasional apps can be started by typing orthrough the All Apps iconLimit the TilesThe consumer preview has a host of pre-installed apps sothat one can get a taste for metro apps These are previews only and will notbe available as default in the final version So you end up with a cleanerstart screenEnable WOA to Join DomainWindows on ARM is meant to function as a mobile device withthe focus on long battery life and mobility The primary function of WOA is asconsumer devices therefore joining it to the domain makes no sense Think of it as Windows 7 Home which cannot bejoined to the domain Having a device joined to the domain requires that the DCis contacted every couple of days and the policies and membership refreshedThis will be a waste of resources for a purely consumer device This does notmean that WOA tablets cannot be managed They can be highly manageable throughMicrosoft System Center or third party tools Bring Back the Start ButtonHonestly how many times a day so you click on the start button Dontmost users already have short cuts to their often used apps on the desktop ortask bar Even if one does use the start button the metro start screen has beenby far the quicker way for me to access my programs Rather than navigatingthrough the start button and find my app buried deep within its folderstructure I can simple hit the windows key and click on the tile Due to thelarger surface area that a tile covers as opposed to the tiny icon on the startmenu I am able to start the application faster If the start button is so important to youthen Im sure there will be a multitude of third party apps you can install
  • Desktop User Microsoft must fix these issues if not startbutton in win8 then killOSwin8
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