First as tragedy, then as Windows Blue
For Microsoft, Windows 8 is more than just a transition of an OS interface. The move was more about the company coping with the rapid development in computer technology and the emerging new mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Windows 8 was probably a desperate attempt to keep up with the two leading companies Google and Apple in the tablet smartphone market.
Let's be honest here, the way the outcome of new Microsoft ecosystem has been is not as good as expected or even plain bad. Things have just been overall sloppy designed before being brought to the market. For instance the Windows Phone development. The first Windows phone was so unfinished and undone, the early versions lacked one of the most important functionalities in modern computing, the good old Copy-Paste function.
From my own experience of owning a Lumia 800 (Mango, which even had Copy-Paste) switching from Android, it wasn't just about the app ecosystem. Honestly the interface was amazing, for about a month every time I picked up my black Lumia 800 and unlocked the screen my mind was blown away by the Windows Phone beauty and fluidness. Microsoft had done what many had thought was impossible, creating a beautiful user interface with spot on intuitive menus having the Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak stating that Steve Jobs might have been reincarnated at Microsoft.
Bud sadly Windows Phone wise, that was about it. My Lumia 800 was beautiful and intuitive device, and yes! it really was built around people definitely being an inspiration for the new Facebook Home. But the functionality was almost a catastrophe for a smartphone. I know it's quite a huge statement, but from a multi-billion dollar company like MS you would and should expect more. At the end of the day, the product that you are paying them for is not free.
Here comes the interesting part, the part which recently has been called the greatest failures since Coca-Cola in the 1970's. It is so sad and depressing when you clearly see how Microsoft has rushed through this OS. But lets talk about the positives first. Yes, there actually are good things despite the media bashing of Windows 8. I am using Windows 8 for about a year now, and it really feels and is faster than Windows 7. I like the flat desktop theme and how they have eliminated the 2000's Aero Glass theme (which probably was created in the first place to just to show off). Some useful shortcuts have been added and some unnecessary functions like the windows-tab toggle have been removed.
Now comes the fun part. Metro, Modern UI or whatever you want to call it. An approach from Microsoft to modernize it's OS, making it easier to use for touch devices, probably tablets and convertibles. The user interface is similar to Windows Phone which shows how Microsoft wants to integrate and bring together a common design language for all products in it's ecosystem. But at some point it was inevitable for Sinofsky and co. to stumble upon the problem of transition from an interface used by over a billion PC users who are already used to the famous mouse/keyboard with the desktop interface. Here comes another part which show Microsoft desperateness in its software and Windows 8 design language. Personally the hot corners in Window 8 are not a problem for me, but pressing the darn start corner and a flash screen covering your entire screen with totally different icon designs from another dimension bugs me every single time. Yes, my laptop has touchscreen, but why oh why are the icons for the desktop apps not "Modern" in Metro? this makes the start menu look hideous! Why isn't the desktop mode more metrofied in design, or on the contrary why isn't the Metro more dektopified. Reports are showing that Windows Blue is going in the latter direction but how couldn't anyone have not thought about this before? I get it, late to the touch and tablet party, but with windows 7 being a success they could have waited at least one more year.
The solution to the design language is simple, go one way or the other, and stay with only one design language, just don't stand in the middle. Do not force customers to switch back and forth between two totally different design worlds just to run an app. Metro is better for touch and quick fast access like windows phone, it is modern and beautiful. Desktop is better for productivity and end users, it's a no brainer. It actually is possible to solve this dual design problem at Redmond, people in forums and tech sites have shown great examples and solutions. The problem they have is that they are not decisive enough. The argument is that the user has a choice to stay in desktop or metro, but once in a while you have to switch between these places for settings or starting apps and vice versa for running desktop apps such as Office and Adobe apps. This is annoying for home users and even companies don't fund it necessary to educate a the whole staff for these simple stuff.
There are a lot more details to analyze and take into account, the market, the developers, the competition, ecosystem and so on, but the idea behind this new approach from Microsoft has been interesting and innovative. In my opinion the main problem has probably been an internal management problem at Redmond. Being late to the party should not make you panic and make a mess, it should make you be more bold and decisive. This is what we are seeing in the new Windows Blue leaks, more desktop functionality and more metro design (hopefully less desktop icon and interface design).
to be continued...