Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Windows 8: Gimme Some Ribbons! (Oh, and an App Store!)

Microsoft is due to release Windows 8 sometime in 2012. Wait - what?

Yes, yes, I know. It's been only a scant two years (July 22, 2009) since they came out with Windows 7... but Windows 7 was really a response to the horrible, detestable, unusable, P.O.S called "Vista" that debuted in November of 2006.

I mean, come on - they had to do SOMETHING. Even they knew Vista was crap - and, more importantly, businesses were not paying them their ransom licensing fees for the new operating system. They were just fine with Windows XP - and most of them had finally got all their drivers working and all their users on to a unified version of Internet Exploder so that all their expensive ERP software would run.

This worked well for corporate America - not so much for Microsoft. They had to do something...

Now, personally, I actually like Windows 7. It's a huge improvement over Vista (actually a typewriter would be a huge improvement over Vista) - and, in general, it's very well-behaved. So, why would Microsoft spend so much time and money trying to come out with yet another new version of the operating system so "soon" after Windows 7?

One word: Apple.

They are jealous (along with the rest of the Fortune 500) of Apple's success in the phone market, the tablet market and the mobile operating system space. Oh yeah, and their new, all-digital application delivery marketplace. And their market capitalization. And their developer mindshare. And... well, you get the idea.

It's sort of like when the whole "Internet thing" appeared - and they got caught with their pants down by not having a web browser. They scrambled around, licensed Spyglass Mosaic source code (for a quarterly fee plus a percentage of Microsoft's non-Windows revenues) and unleashed Internet Explorer into the marketplace. Eventually, because of their huge installed base, IE became the defacto browser... 

Enter 2011 - and the i-everything. Apple surprisingly ate everyone's lunch in terms of mobile operating systems - and that really goes up Microsoft's backside - sideways. I mean, after all - they are the "inventors" of the modern operating system. They should be the #1 mobile operating system. They deserve the continued love of OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) who bundle their operating system on their devices and on their computers.



So, they are now doing what they always do - ripoff and copy "embrace and extend." Only the world is a much different place than it was years ago. People are more sophisticated and can spot the fact that they are playing catch-up and struggling to remain relevant... and they don't want to look stupid by blatantly ripping off Apple's paradigms (again!) - so they are "innovating."

According to a post on Microsoft's Building Windows 8 blog - they have come up with just the right thing to ensure that everyone with XP or Windows 7 will just drop everything and upgrade to Windows 8. Wait for it... YES! You're right! They're adding that stupid ribbon to the file explorer! YES! FINALLY!

Oh, and they're not going to give you the option of turning it off - and going back to the current, non-ribbon interface.


You think I'm kidding?

I mean, I get that Microsoft is in love with the whole Ribbon thing. They have scads of information on usage patterns based on the fact that most people don't uncheck the "send anonymous useage to the mothership" checkbox on install. They can justify it all they want - but I think it BLOWS. Here's some images from their blog that shows the evolution of the File Manager - from DOS to Windows 7:

Now, here's what the new Windows 8 File Manager will look like:

I know, right?!? Sheesh.

Oh yeah, and they'll have an App Store... and it will run on a wider range of devices - including those with ARM processors (read: almost all non-Apple mobile devices)... AND one MORE killer feature - they're completely re-thinking the... wait for it... the file collision dialog(!) YES! HOORAY! I can see how spending millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of man hours going from this:

To this...

... is totally going to make everyone in the universe toss out all their tested, verified, digitally signed, secure installs of Windows XP and Windows 7 to upgrade!


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