Windows 8 may be great, but it’s not what we want
Microsoft is really pushing this Metro bonanza hard. Not only is the interface on phones, but now it’s on the Xbox, the Internet, PCs, tablets, laptops….
I don’t know if Microsoft has entirely thought this through. The promise of a tablet PC that can do everything a desktop or laptop can do is beautiful, yet flawed if it’s not done correctly from the beginning. The concept of a tablet that can literally replace my desktop is a tantalizing one, but Microsoft appears to be removing key features that could make it killer.
Windows on ARM was initially heralded as full-on Windows on a Tablet PC. Then, it was slightly backpedaled from that. Actually, Windows on ARM is limited; you can’t run third-party applications on the desktop.
Ah, all right, everyone sighed. Metro is the future anyway. Businesses will adopt these in record time, unlike the slow-but-steady adoption of the iPad in the enterprise. Actually… WoA devices can’t be managed by domains…. And there’ll be no tools to manage them in the enterprise.
So… Windows 8 tablets are essentially as limited as iPads, with basically no hard-hitting applications in the catalog (that could change, but Windows Phone, which has been out for a year, is still touting 2009’s Angry Birds as a killer app) and their biggest advantage is a “fully featured” Office suite. But, we still haven’t seen that Office suite outside of demonstrations. Microsoft is being incredibly coy on what a “fully featured” Office suite actually is. Not only that, but those applications aren’t even Metro-based.
Is there something wrong inside Microsoft where the company can’t work between departments, and the marketing department can’t keep a leash on their developers’ mouths before they go promising something that actually won’t be delivered?
Microsoft promised, and almost delivered, the company’s “three screens” strategy, which entails mobile devices, desktop computing, and entertainment devices all working in tandem, flawlessly.
When Microsoft announced that they had ported Windows to ARM a few years ago, I had mad delusions of being able to get rid of my desktop entirely, replacing it with a nice-looking dock and retaining just my screen, keyboard, and mouse. It seemed like the future was upon us.
While Windows 8 is a great step toward syncing everything everywhere, it’s not quite right. It doesn’t really sync to Windows Phone (Apollo is another untold story that Microsoft is desperately trying to keep secret), and it certainly doesn’t play nice with the Xbox (outside of the “Play to” button). The framework is there, but the devices just don’t cooperate yet. Apple’s already got this mostly complete. iCloud synchronizes everything important to you between your Mac, iPhone, and iPad flawlessly. Applications install across different platforms, and music is downloaded to all your devices in one click.
That future, it seems, isn’t this year. And that future doesn’t seem to be in Microsoft’s tea leaves further down the road, either.
Microsofties will cry afoul of this — and they have when I’ve aired some of my opinions on Twitter. They really believe Windows 8 is going to be the shit, but if the Release Preview doesn’t clear up how unstable and unimpressive the Consumer Preview was, I don’t know what there is to brag about here.
As Apple drifts closer and closer to having a unified tablet and desktop OS and ridding itself of the “half desktop/half tablet” monstrosity that Microsoft has birthed, perhaps they are drifting toward finally snatching away some of that precious market share Windows has held onto for so long.
I don’t even own an Apple computer, nor do I own an iPad or iPhone, but it’s obvious from afar the company knows where they are going already. Everything just works, and it’s “just worked” for over a year now.