Those of you who read my articles regularly know that I like to use hyperbole and humor to draw attention to the ridiculous amouns of hyperbole used by the more mainstream media to highlight their points. This bring us to the title of this article: A New Concept From Microsoft?
Now, I have been guilty of over the years accusing Microsoft of being stale in their UI design, in their feature sets and in how they approach innovation. However, over the last year or two I must have had someone slip me some of that extra special Microsoft kool-aid, because I get it. The appoarch is one of well architected systems that for the most part interact with one another quite smoothly. I will not claim that they are the first people to come up with this idea, after all, the first time I saw someone plug a printer into a iMac (circa 2000) and have it just work I was shocked and amazed. The trick Microsft has up their sleeve is a slow and steady approach that I think will yield some great results in the long run.
People ridiculed them for trying to compete with Sony and Nintendo in the video game market. However, it wasn’t XBox Live that got hacked and crippled for going on a month now. And it wasn’t Nintendo or Sony that finally delivered on the promise of controller free gameplay (yes, I know that Kinect is unfortunately named, but it works and the games are simple and fun and get you off the couch). The Zune was also one of those things that left a lot of people scratching their heads, but in the long run they’ve build themselves a great subscription based service (and left us with one of the most awesomely bad music players ever: the Brown Zune).
This bring us back to Microsoft’s bread and butter: Windows. It is a lovable and hateful thing, this Windows. I can thrill you with what it lets you do, and can also frustrate you to no end due to its complexity. If you have to provide support for it to non technical people, it is just that extra bit more frustrating. Just imagine trying to explain to an elderly family member who is not technical that they need to go to Windows Explorer, not Internet Explorer (on a side note, Microsoft, please rename one of those so I can stop having to explain to people that they are 2 different things).
Windows 8 looks promising to me, a simple UI that is touch enabled for the less technical users, and the ability to pull back the veil and use the UI we’ve come to love for those of us who are into that kind of thing. The whole thing about being able to run on ARM and NVidia chips is also interesting as I would definitely trade in my current Dual Core netbook that gets 5-6 hours of battery for a lighter and long lasting NVidia quad core netbook that could in theory even run faster (my current netbook chokes and makes death noises if I ask it to play 1080p video, so…).
Finally, I think they are finally starting to get it, people like their stuff and as much as we love buying things in this country, it is hard to get most people to understand that they need to buy a new computer roughly twice as often as they change their cars to maintain a pleasant computing experience. I understood that Vista and 7 would need more ponies under the hood than XP, but I had a very difficult time explaining it to friends and family who were confused why running Office 2007 on Vista used more resources than running Office 97 or 2003 on XP.
So, here’s to you Microsoft, good job of catching on to some market trends that have been forming for the last decade or so. Now please, please, do not screw this up, I would really like to get less tech calls that I have to do pro bono (no, I do not charge my friends and family for installing drivers or gettings their keyboard layout back to what it was when they put it in Dvorak).