As we get closer and closer to the release of Windows 8 Microsoft want to sell the idea that this is the operating system that everybody will want. We’ve also been shown Surface that is designed to run the system in all its touch screen glory. The big problem that has to be on everybody’s mind though is does the PC need a touch screen operating system when we rarely have touch screens for the computers we already own?
Of course this is not the only problem Microsoft are going to have as they sell their vision of the future to us. Companies like Valve who sell their games through their Steam system have already noted that the new operating system is bad for 3rd party companies dark storm clouds are starting to appear around Windows 8. For the user though what does is bring and will it be adopted like Windows 7 or hated like Vista?
User Interface Updates
The first notable change of course is Metro, although we won’t be calling it Metro for much longer as Microsoft have discovered problems with the name, so we await confirmation on what it will now be called. This user interface though uses blocks on the screen that are nice and each to touch for your fingers, much like the interface that is used on Windows Phones. This gives access to all your most used applications and shortcuts to anything you want to do on your computer.
If you want to stick to the more classic desktop though this is still available. This will fit the taste of people who don’t have touch screens. The main problem though with this old interface and in a strange move there is no longer a start menu, to move to other applications you have to go back to the Metro interface to switch applications. There is a task bar that you can pin applications to though, but for most people the start menu will be missed especially none touch screen users. People will get used to Metro (or what it’s going to be called in the future) though and to be fair it is an improvement to the interface.
The main feature that the average user will notice is of course the User Interface and the Application store where they can get the latest software that will integrate with the operating system. This is very much like how smart phones get new apps, which of course will integrate with the Windows Phone interface as Microsoft are trying to create a user experience over all their system (this has also been mentioned for the Xbox too).
Behind the scenes of Windows 8 there are also plenty of new updates that are meant to improve the user experience. An example of this is synching your settings through your Microsoft account, and a greater focus on hooking web services into the operating system and applications themselves. This can also be seen in their latest incarnation of Microsoft Office which of course is one of the first applications that will be used to show off Windows 8’s potential.
Services that will be integrated into the user interface will be social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook, but of course Microsoft will push their own applications to the forefront. This includes Xbox Live Games which has been around for the PC a long time but will now be fully integrated into the interface itself.
In terms of normal performance for desktop computers users won’t notice much more of a difference than Windows 7. There is a quicker load time on boot up though which is welcome. The user interface loads up fast on start and getting to the applications you want through the new menu system is fast and easy to do. It is quite annoying though to have to move from application to menu system when you want to flip between applications though which is a shame, it would be useful if the start menu could be brought back in future updates so that users can pick between the two with ease.
As always a huge change in the user interface is a very risky thing and it’s arguable that the PC community is not going to move onto touch screens just for Windows 8. This will of course create a problem for some as the user interface although intuitive and useful switching applications are going to be an issue. To have to move back to the Metro system just to open up something new is going to be annoying, and without a start menu a lot of people who have used Windows for many years will miss it. Adoption of the new operating system will be interesting to watch to see just who will buy it and how many non-touch screen users will accept the new changes.