Windows 8 Represents a Radical Change

Given anticipated updates a steep learning curve may be in store for Microsoft users on Oct. 24.


In my last article, I introduced many of the innovative improvements in Windows Server 2012 (WS2012). But business people care about the computer in front of them, not the one in a closet or the administrator’s office or the data center. If they work in a Windows shop, they use computers running Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7. They will soon experience Windows 8 (W8) when it ships Oct. 24.

W8 will be a radical change for most of us. Some will see it as a breath of fresh air and quickly adapt to the new interface. But I think most of us will face a long learning curve. Why would Microsoft make such a huge change and risk alienating its customers?

Perhaps Microsoft wants Windows to stay relevant in the age of rapidly advancing innovations with smartphones and tablets. W8 is the first Windows operating system designed for touch instead of mouse and keyboard. Learn to use it on a PC and you’ll feel comfortable with it on a tablet or smartphone. In contrast, Apple has a separate operating system on the Mac versus iPhones and iPads. They work together, but they are optimized for their hardware differences. I prefer Apple’s approach, but as Windows smartphones are in the minority and no W8 tablets exist yet, time will tell which strategy will prevail.




The Learning Curve

But unlike Windows 7, Windows 8 will require getting over a steep learning curve. For example, when W8 booted to a pretty wallpaper screen, it took me 10 minutes to figure out how to get to a login screen. I happened to briefly hold down the left mouse button and drag the wallpaper screen upward a bit, revealing a screen behind the wallpaper. The effect is like raising a curtain on a stage. I dragged the curtain up and the login screen was revealed. No visual cue told me the login screen was behind the wallpaper.