The Lost Track

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Kinect is the best innovation from Microsoft in recent times. I say the best because it was finished. Completely ready for the market, had a great pricing, became available and sold like anything. Ask any one who doesn’t use kinect including myself –they’d readily agree that it is the coolest thing they have seen from Microsoft after Windows 95.

When Windows Phone 7 launched with the Metro UI it was again that moment where we knew they had taken something original and built the most beautiful interface. Make no mistake it is still one and much much better than any Android experience in the market. But it wasn’t done yet. Understandable for a Mobile OS to be never finished it can just be competitive. It is to a good extent. Apps for that new OS was one major reason.

Microsoft recently announced Windows 8 and then went on to bring on the Surface – their take on the hardware – to the market. Now when they built the phone – it was not their time as the market was too competitive and the platform was devoid of apps. It was definitely not their best moment yet. With the Desktop OS Microsoft has got to deliver the best. Why? Their strength, their moneymaker. Did they? No. And here is why.

Surface is a confusing paradigm. You have a tablet that is not as good as any other 10 inch tablet because of its aspect ratio and the incomplete portrait feel. The moment you call it a tablet it would be judged by other tablets and Microsoft would immediately fall low into that category. Surface with Windows RT is. The only selling point for that is that it has Office and can be used with that keyboard. It cannot be used like a laptop while waiting for a flight at the gate nor can you use it continuously as a tablet like you do with your say Nexus 7 (I am avoiding apple here). Your best productivity comes when you have to carry it around to a room and essentially place it on a table. Ultrabooks do. You have your market that can fill that.

Microsoft should have really skipped the Surface RT altogether this year. Launch Windows 8 alone.

What would that mean? What should they do next? Developers.

How many apps have been written for the Metro UI till date? Very few. Microsoft also said their phone and the desktop OS share the same kernel. Which means much like OS X you are developing on the same platform with different UI paradigms. One for the mouse and other for the touch.

What they really should have done is gotten a way to port a Windows 7 Desktop app first to “look like” windows 8 Metro UI. Say this one button while building an exe that would replace all the elements of a legacy look and feel and put a Full screen Metro UI. But still run on your desktop. That means Microsoft has prepared its developers to build the first step in making their apps Windows 8 ready. (of course I am also by that means asking MS to re do their office with Metro UI along with their explorer and any other visible interfaces – like file copying window)

The next step would be to have them optimize their code to work better on this unified Metro UI and provide guidelines on what they can do to make it work on a Phone or tablet world.

One year of making Windows Desktop App developers port to Metro UI for Windows Desktop and next year – you are ready for Surface without Kickstand or a Keyboard. 10 inch MS Surface and a Windows phone with a great desktop OS as well. This was the time to back them the desktop OS developer is also onboard with their Windows 8 UI. Standardize it. Including Microsoft.

That puts me next to the Desktop Paradigm itself. How many of you – especially at work would want your primary screen to be the Windows 8 home screen with live tiles? None. You want multi windows open say an office, while you are monitoring a conference chat among your colleagues on a discussion switch to emails and say work on some files from the explorer (Typically my day). (If you use anything from apart from Windows 8 – you know what I am talking about) The primary place is your desktop with multiple apps. There is a reason why LaunchPad in Mac OS X is not the primary screen. The Home screen is definitely a best place to replace the Start Menu and the Task Bar probably but not the primary screen. It is like using Comic Sans in Pink color on your official document. Your biggest strength is enterprise and you cannot demolish their work paradigm.

Land on to desktop. Your open apps come from the bottom up in a contextual way with Squared tiles representing the objects on your taskbar today. Your Home screen would be split into 2 with Live tiles from taskbar and program list (a.la the second screen of the windows phone). How hard was to think this way? If I could come up with this as I write an article MS can definitely do better.

I think Microsoft rushed into doing everything they can but missed out on streamlining it. This is their Windows Vista Moment and I can only think (hopefully) they get better over the time when the best things work and the worst things are left out. They have shown they can get better at innovating, can make hardware and can deliver them both. Now they have to get on to their wiser period in doing everything right.

The point is when you start investing on something new you got to capitalize and serve to your strongest base. You either Snipe, shoot from a pistol or spray bullets using an automatic.

With Google around, i really want to see MS succeed as much as apple did. They are bringing something new and i just wish it doesn't get lost.

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