This week Microsoft officially launched its new Windows 8 OS to the masses along with its new Surface Tablet. Pop-up Microsoft stores have been appearing in malls everywhere trying to get people to come in and try out the new stuff. I have to admit that the early Windows 8 demos looked very cool and innovative, but how would people actually react when it was out in the wild? Early reports suggest that people find the interface very confusing. I actually expected to hear that kind of reaction because its such a radical departure from the design that people have been used to for decades. People don’t want to be bothered to learn something new, hence all of the “Where’s the Start button” comments. I guess Microsoft was anticipating this as they’ve added an option to switch back to a more traditional Windows design. If people need to learn something new anyway, why not just make the switch to a Mac?
I was actually willing to install Windows 8 on my Mac, but after three unsuccessful attempts at installing the consumer preview on a BootCamp partition, I gave up. I wasted a good hour and that was all I was willing to put in. I do a lot of browser and html email compatibility testing so I’ll probably still get a copy now that the official release is out and a few updates have been made.
So who is this update supposed to be for? Enterprise isn’t going to be chomping at the bit to upgrade computers even though Windows 8 will supposedly work on any PC that can run Windows 7. The general consumer may be interested if they’re willing to get used to the new interface. I personally think the new design is better suited for mobile. People are used to the touch interface on their smart phones so the Surface Tablet and Windows Phone have the best chance of striking a chord. This especially rings true with the enterprise as companies start ditching their Blackberries and looking for other options (Microsoft sounds like a much safer choice to IT departments than Apple or Google.)
I think it’s great that Microsoft stopped playing it safe, took a chance and came out with something innovative (well… besides Xbox Kinect). The upgrade price is pretty reasonable and most new computers will be able to run the new OS. Will it be enough to lure back the people that abandoned them years ago? Only time will tell if their gamble pays off.