I'm ashamed of Microsoft, can I hang out here for a while?
Hello everyone. I have been a Windows user ever since Windows 95, and before that, I used to visit a friend who had Windows 3.1.1 on many occasions to play some adventure games and the wonderful Wing Commander: Privateer on DOS.
With the exception of Windows ME, I upgraded to all major versions of Windows and for many years I didn't even consider other platforms. It was only during the Vista years that I began to broaden my horizons slightly, and testing some Linux distros, seeing some of the things that were capable with their interface, and how I felt that at the time, Windows had fallen behind in terms of innovation in their desktop GUI.
Then I got a job for a small web-design agency, that worked exclusively with Macs. I thought it wouldn't be too big of a deal adapting to it, and it wasn't. After a few months of using it, OSX slowly started to gain my heart, and became my preferred Operating System, even though I still used, and still use, Windows Vista/7 every day.
Fast-forward to today, and I was able to afford a Macbook Air, my first "workhorse" Mac with which I do most of my work and web activity, and my Windows computer has been designated mostly as a gaming machine. I respect both platforms, and I think that there are equally as many things that OSX does better than Windows, as there are things which Windows does much better than Mac.
Windows has much better driver support (though, admittedly, drivers are less of an issue for most modern operating systems these days). OSX has a much better interface (at least in my personal opinion). Windows has immensely better graphic drivers. OSX has a terrific integration between the core apps of the system and their iDevices. They're both great operating systems, for different reasons, and for different needs.
But something has changed lately. Microsoft, for some reason that bewilders me has, in the past couple of years been making a huge push to try to usher a new era of Windows devices. Devices that are built for fun and work. Devices that are reliable, portable, have the intuitive interface of a tablet, but the versatility and strengths of a full-fledged operating system. It's a promise that seems great and that I was all for when I first heard about it, but then I saw how they intended to bring that strategy to the market.
They started taking away features I use daily from Windows 7's desktop, and moving them to their new UI. Then they implemented menus that are most easily accessible with gestures. Now I don't know where most Windows users have been living the past decade or so, but last time I checked almost all of the Windows touchpads available in the market are horrendous or, at the very best, decent. Whereas with Apple devices, touchpads work flawlessly and seamlessly, and I have never considered bringing a mouse along with me when I leave the house with my Air.
I have two very high-end competitive gaming mice, the Razer Mamba and the Razer Naga, and they are not good input devices to use with Windows 8. I'm not going to buy a new input device for WIndows 8 to work properly on a desktop. Even though I'm trying to be as least rude as possible, after trying out Windows 8 for a couple of days, it's blatantly obvious that they put very little thought into making sure it operated properly with a classic keyboard and mouse. It's not impossible, but I'm certain that the experience of using a mouse and a good touchpad for Windows 8's whatever-they're-calling-Metro-UI-these-days is worlds apart.
Windows has always been a liberating platform that allowed users to customise it to meet their needs. Windows 8, at least when it comes to their new interface is everything but that. Maybe I'm being reserved, or old-fashioned, but I do think that the way with which Microsoft is trying to motivate people to use their new UI is by forcing them to.
When you boot Windows 8, you are greeted by the Start Screen, not your desktop. When you press the Windows Key, you get the Start Screen, where you can find all of the things you had on your Start Menu before, but you have to dig deeper to get to things that would usually be a click away.
After seeing how Microsoft transformed the Xbox from something simple, very accessible tabs with easy access to all parts of the content I wanted, into a Metro-inpired UI in which 75% of the section options are adverts, even if you are paying for Xbox Live, I find it a bit hard to swallow that this is something Microsoft is doing because it believes it's the future of computing. To me it seems that they are trying to bully themselves onto to the tablet market. It makes sense, from a commercial standpoint, that using this tactic would be the best way to reach their goal.
They have a gargantuan user-based on the desktop operating system (over 75%). If even a small percentage of current Windows users upgrade to Windows 8, suddenly Microsoft could become the world's most popular closed media-consumption operating system.
When Apple tried to sell the idea to users, that they could use the Mac Mini as a great media-center device. They installed an application on OSX called Frontrow. If you only used your Mac as a desktop operating system, you might not even tell it was there. But it wasn't widely adopted, and eventually Apple phased it out of OSX. If Apple booted OSX into Frontrow, a lot more users would have adopted it, or at least realise it existed, but it would also have made their usual interactions with the operating system a bit harder, and I'm sure it would be heavily criticised by both the media and the users. Yet, this is precisely the type of thing that Microsoft is doing with Windows 8. They are forcing people to go through Metro, whether they want to or not, giving the promise that you can always go back to your "legacy desktop" and do things exactly as before, but things over there aren't exactly as before, and in some ways the functionality of the "legacy desktop" has been compromised.
The Microsoft I appreciated and grew up with has turned my original OS of choice into a dictatorship of user interface, and application ecosystem, whether your computer has the proper input devices for it or not. Many of the very things that Windows users have accused Apple of doing like: being monopolistic, using proprietary ports, closing down their platform, dropping support for old platforms, etc. are being repeated by Microsoft in a much more noticeable and harsher manner than Apple has ever done, and it seems that almost none of them realise this, or if they do, they just ignore it.
Apple introduced FrontRow, no one was forced to use it. They introduced an App Store, but no one is forced to use it. They introduced GateKeeper as a way to try to make the system more secure, but no one is forced to use it. But almost everything about Windows 8 is forceful, if you decide to upgrade. You have a compromised classic Windows experience, and a compromised tablet experience, and you can't change that if you go with this version of Windows.
When Lion and Mountain Lion were announced, with the App Store built-in, and the optional Gatekeeper functionality, a lot of people lauded it as the "beginning of the end", but when Microsoft announced how restrictive Windows 8 would be, I barely saw blinking from Windows users' eyes.
The beast that Microsoft fans have been describing Apple as, is less of a monster than what Microsoft has become.