However I feel there are a few potential problems Microsoft are going to have to overcome in order for Windows 8 to take off on the scale Windows XP and Windows 7 did. One of the huge advantages of those two operating systems is their ease of use and Windows 8, in my opinion, is extremely easy to use. However it took me a little while to step out of “Windows 7 mode” and embrace Windows 8, I was simply too used to reaching for the start button and using Windows 7 to fully use Windows 8′s power and functionality.
If you had never used Windows before and you then used Windows 8 it would be easy to get used to, however most people will be used to XP/Vista/7 and, frankly, people are stubborn when it comes to change. A large proportion of people will see the completely new start menu and its interface and be instantly horrified to find their beloved start menu from earlier versions of Windows is pretty much gone (or at least it’s not what they are used to).
The more tech-savvy people will adjust but for the typical office and home user who sees their computer as an annoying machine that rarely does what they tell it this will make things ten times worse as they now have to learn an entirely new way of doing things, even if this way is far easier and more efficient. Not to mention convincing IT departments that upgrading an entire network and teaching all of its users how to use Windows 8 is worth the hassle.
That’s my first problem: convincing people that Windows 8 is better for them in the long run and that they should upgrade and reap the benefits. This is a marketing problem that Microsoft can easily address themselves however my other issue is not so straightforward for them to solve. For anyone that upgraded from XP to Vista not only were they horrified by Vista but to make things worse they then found out their favourite applications were not compatible with this new operating system.
Windows 8 actually has a Windows 7-like interface, it’s near enough the same excluding the ever-visible start icon and minor UI improvements, so any applications that work on Windows 7 will likely continue to work on Windows 8 in this familiar area. However to an extent this defeats the purpose of Windows 8 as one of its most impressive features is the native full screen apps. An example can be seen above which shows you the mail app. Not only does it look amazing but its extremely functional.
If you’ve ever used an iPhone you’ll notice applications open and are ready to use almost instantaneously. This is exactly how Windows 8′s apps work and it’s a massive improvement to programs like Outlook which can take an ages to open sometimes. I’m sure not all of the applications will work as quickly as this, I can’t see any of the Adobe Suite doing so, but the vast majority should.
This brings me nicely around to my problem: vendors updating their applications to work with Windows 8. Naturally they should work in the Windows 7-like interface but that defeats the point. I’m sure most large vendors will update their software to work with Windows 8 as a full screen-enabled tile on the start menu but this is going to take time. If you went out and bought Windows 8 on release day I can’t imagine there will be many programs that have been updated to work on Windows 8. This would lead you to use Windows 8 as you would Windows 7 which obviously defeats the purpose of upgrading.
It only takes a friend who has upgraded to moan about how their upgrade was pointless as it’s the same as Windows 7 to put that person off upgrading. If the technology sites agree there are compatibility issues they too will inform their users which will naturally hurt sales. This is pretty much what went wrong with Vista, when you look at the user interface it’s not all that different to Windows 7; the problem with Vista was compatibility.
To summarise: I am impressed by Windows 8 so far and I can only hope that the issues I believe exist above are ironed out before release. It would be a real shame if such a brilliant operating system is hindered by these issues.