Windows 9

Windows is coming. 

Gesture recognition! Cross-platform app compatibility! Free upgrades! These are the rumors that swirl around Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 9 operating system (OS). The combined volume of the anticipatory whispers is almost loud enough to drown out criticisms of Windows 8 and its most recent incarnation, Windows 8.1. SLICE has heard it all and we are excited to pass it on to you!  On the eve of Windows 9, we give the rumor mill a spin and ponder where things may have gone wrong with Windows 8/8.1.

Why Windows 8 Did Less than Great

When Microsoft released Windows 8 in 2012, the technology titan guaranteed its latest OS would expedite the PC boot-up process, simplify security, and generally take convenience to another level. It is a testament to the fast-paced nature of the technological industry that less than two years later, many have dismissed Windows 8, even in its refined 8.1 form, as a failure and are looking to Windows 9 to deliver on Microsoft’s promise of a near effortless future. Below, we list the factors that may have contributed to the downfall of Windows 8 and rendered Windows 8.1 an insufficient improvement.

1. An Interface for Radio

It is not nice to judge based on appearance, but we all do. Even in the technology world, where function is valued above all else, aesthetics play a significant role in determining whether a product is successful or not. Microsoft learned this the hard way when reviews panned Windows 8’s Metro user interface (UI). Whereas earlier Windows interfaces require users to scroll through a vertical list of applications, Metro features a “Start Screen” that displays links to apps in a rectangular formation. One critic compared Metro’s look to a “dog’s breakfast” and others have complained that the UI’s design is distracting, especially when stretched across a desktop computer screen.

2. Makes Multitasking a Herculean Task

Like most technological products, Windows 8 was advertised as a  way to make users’ lives easier and more productive, but its convoluted design makes the OS the antithesis of efficiency. On displays with resolutions lower than 1366x768, Windows 8’s “Snap” feature, which allows users to view two apps simultaneously, does not work, making it impossible to perform actions as basic as “Copy and Paste,” not good for an OS intended to revolutionize business.

3. A Touch Ahead of its Time

While Windows 8 can be used with a traditional keyboard and mouse, its system of “Swipe In” commands and overall sensitivity make it better suited for use on a touchscreen device. In an article for Time, Tim Bajarin discusses why this design was a huge mistake.  According to Bajarin, Microsoft designed Windows 8 to capitalize on the current popularity of the touchscreen without considering three crucial things. First,  a touchscreen is most appropriate for smartphones and tablets because one’s fingertip is the perfect size for controlling such small devices. Second, that a large sector of Microsoft’s target market uses traditional PCs and laptops. Finally, that it would take said customers time and effort to feel comfortable using such an intuitive OS on a straightforward machine. Bajarin explains that:

Most PC users over 16 have been trained to use keyboards, mice and trackpads and are very comfortable with these forms of input. Nobody in our research has said, “Boy, I sure wish I could touch my PC or laptop screen to get things done.” Their use of keyboards, mice and trackpads has become second nature to them. Adding touch means that they must learn a new form of input.

Instead of inspiring PC and laptop users to learn this new form of input, Windows 8 just frustrated them.

4. Trusted in a Tablet Takeover

For the last few years, the tablet has been touted as a sleeker, less expensive alternative to the laptop and Microsoft’s much-maligned decision to make Windows 8 touchscreen friendly was no doubt influenced by the company’s faith in a tablet takeover that never came to fruition. While many purchased tablets when they were first released, the device’s popularity was short-lived. It seems consumers have found that the tablet’s affordability and portability is not enough  to compensate for the device’s impracticality for business and sales are on the decline.  Unfortunately for Microsoft, the drop  in tablet sales coincided with the release of Windows 8.

Latest Still Not the Greatest

It is not unusual for Microsoft to release updated versions of its latest OS, but the Windows 8 backlash practically necessitated the creation of Windows 8.1.   Windows 8.1 corrects a few of Windows 8’s aforementioned flaws. For example, it presents the Metro UI as an option and its display of apps makes Windows 8.1 more conducive to multitasking than its predecessor. Despite this, Windows 8.1 has received less than stellar reviews. Instead of seeing it as a step above Windows 8, critics consider Windows 8.1 to essentially be a rerelease of Windows 7, causing many to question why consumers upgraded in the first place.

9th Time is the Charm?

In the wake of the failure of both the original and polished versions of Windows 8, it is unlikely that Microsoft will go through with its alleged plans to release Windows 8.2.  The company will probably skip straight to introducing Windows 9, an OS that many have high hopes for.

Though expected to make its debut in early 2015, Windows 9 may be revealed as soon as September 30th.  This time around, experts speculate, Microsoft will ease users into the future by providing them with plenty of options. Rumor has it  Windows 9 apps will be compatible across multiple platforms, thanks to Microsoft’s three-pronged initiative in which Windows is tailored to the primary input used with a device: mouse-first (for the traditional laptop/desktop experience), touch-first (for smartphones and tablets), and voice-first (for devices that connect to a television).  Customers may even be able to control Windows 9 through gestures. Best of all, Windows 9 may be completely free for users of Microsoft’s older desktop OS models!

If even some of the rumors are true, Windows 9 should enjoy more critical and commercial success than Windows 8 and 8.1. SLICE will be watching Windows 9 coverage closely, ready to update you on all that unfolds! 

 

 By: Alannah Dragonetti

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