Picking up a tablet PC with Windows 8 makes an iPad feel immediately out of date. The ability to run two apps alongside each other allows this to be more than a consumption device, with full keyboard and mouse support and a desktop operating system hiding in the background. It’s a hybrid, but one that might just work for Microsoft. The software giant knows it has to work in order for Microsoft to enter a new era of mobile computing and still remain relevant to consumers and even businesses who are continually looking at other options.
Windows 8 is a beautiful operating system and one that feels incredibly personal once it’s customized. Microsoft has a huge fight on its hands now to ensure developers create beautiful apps. Some of the best Android and iOS apps are created by organizations or individuals who have showed little interest in Microsoft. If the software maker can change people’s perceptions of Windows, from viruses to bluescreens, into one of speed and style then the apps will flow and Microsoft has a hit on its hands. If innovative developers ignore Windows 8 then Microsoft’s cash cow faces an uncertain future. Microsoft has laid down some solid foundations here, but as Ballmer has said many times before, it’s developers, developers, developers.
Not only is the review surprisingly positive, it verges upon glowing.
Personally, having dabbled with Windows 8 in various virtualization clients on my Mac, my reactions are steeped in ambiguity. Judging the hot corner functionality for mouse-driven interactions in a windowed environment is simply an unfair gauge of effectivity. Moreover, given the software limitations, it's difficult to effectively test gestures, performance, and so on.
Still, I've seen enough to be walk away with positive sentiments toward the overarching Windows 8-style interface, but with stern reticence aimed at the lingering Desktop, the lack of developer support, and the obvious pandering toward touch interactions, regardless of the near-ubiquitous presence of a mouse and keyboard.
As Mr. Warren and many others have intimated, however, Windows 8 introduces a clear trajectory toward a touch-dominated experience. So, given the fact that I have yet to experience Windows 8 on a touch device, I feel that I must withhold my full judgment until I have a chance to do so.
Accordingly, I'm going to pay a visit to a local Microsoft pop-up location on Friday to dabble with the Surface. I expect I'll have a much fuller comprehension of the operating system thereafter.
For now, though, as I've written over the past few days, I tend to infer a great deal of admiration for what Microsoft has — at the very least — attempted to do with Windows 8. Looking beyond various teething issues in developer adoption and the baffling lack of communication regarding Windows RT, the consensus regarding the Windows 8-style UI (i.e., the Artist Formerly Known As Metro) appears to be overwhelmingly positive.
Well, positive from an idealistic perspective.
At the moment, as I've been guilty of in the past, my judgment of Windows 8 resides within the bounds of excessively-optimistic nerdery. I've subconsciously looked past the handful of gaping flaws in the operating system in favor of a critical appreciation of Microsoft's intentions.
In a technology industry increasingly characterized by a perception of slowing innovation, with Windows 8, Microsoft has sought to do something altogether different. For me, that is a recipe for praise.
For the pragmatic realist, however, that's a recipe for well-deserved skepticism.
So, for Windows 8, the true test of its mettle will come with time. As the Surface arrives at market, developers adopt the platform, and consumers are dragged — willfully or otherwise — into the Windows 8-style ecosystem, only then will we be able to effectively assess the success and implications of Windows 8.
John Gruber has often spoken of "grading on a curve" when it comes to non-Apple products. In many respects, I find myself guilty of precisely such a feeling concerning Windows 8. And I suspect I'm not alone. But that is not reason enough to justifiably decry Windows 8 at this juncture. In my eyes, Microsoft is doing something admirable that it certainly can pull off. It's still early days for the new operating system and, accordingly, I'm willing to give it some time to breathe in the open marketplace.
It may well prove to be a catastrophic failure but, as a person with a vested interest in a progressive and innovative competitive landscape, I'm quietly hopeful that, in practical use, Windows 8 may prove more combative, exciting, and endearing than many would've thought.
Then again, I'm a hopeless idealist so take my opinions with a grain of salt.