Letters to Redmond
January Reader Letters: To Upgrade or Not To Upgrade?
Readers write in with feedback on recent articles.
Great article ["Windows 8: 4 Reasons Why You Won't Upgrade," IT Decision Maker blog, Nov. 18, 2011], but the other problems are around hardware and software: will there be devices that do Windows 8 touch correctly and (how) will software titles (new ones and our longtime, much-beloved ones, too) (ab)use Metro? The ISV and IHVcommunity has a ton of catch up to do and I wouldn't bet early on them getting it right the first time. Certainly, as a CIO or other tech decision maker, a quick move to Windows 8 is hugely risky.
Faulty Windows 8
Mary Jo Foley's "Why 'Windows 8' Isn't What I Thought It Would Be" garnered a ton of online reader feedback. Here's a sampling… I'm not sure why Microsoft doesn't just give you the option, when loading the OS, of which version you want. If you like the Metro, you choose the Metro UI and you get an "app" that allows you to switch if you need to. If you choose "traditional," then the opposite happens.
I believe Microsoft is right on target with its current Windows 8 approach. We're truly talking about an OS with a radically split personality, one of which can compete successfully with Android and iOS, and may surpass their capability in due time. I expect ARM and low-powered x86 systems implementing only the Windows Runtime and the Metro UI to be competitive with the next iOS and iPad crop right out of the gate. The core kernel, and now the user mode API, are efficient and can keep out of the way. All while maintaining full compatibility with prior Windows versions on more powerful x86 and x64 systems. And developers will love the platform because the development experience continues to be superior. I also believe in Microsoft's argument for pushing the new UI. I was skeptical at first, but using this UI on a tablet for a month has shown me the light.
They can't even sell Windows Phone OS on phones, you want them to put an OS that nobody wants, that has very few developers, onto tablets too? On what planet does Mary Jo live where Windows Phone is more desirable to the public than Windows proper? Windows Phone is such a limited platform from a developer's standpoint even compared to iOS. You can't run native code on Windows Phone OS. Compared to Windows 8, Windows Phone is useless; it's a toy with marginal functionality. Suggesting that Windows Phone could ever give Microsoft a leg up on iPad/iOS is idiotic.
John Posted Online
The first time I saw Windows Phone 7, I asked why Microsoft hadn't made a tablet with that OS. A full OS like Windows 8 may work, but after my experiences with Windows 7 and Tablet XP, I bought an iPad.
There's a lot of focus [from readers] on the UI, but one of the key elements in Mary Jo's argument is the dev platform issue, which is much more important, because it can lock customers to a platform. Microsoft's idea is that developers will write applications for a full Windows 8 tablet that they wouldn't write for a lighter-weight phone-style OS. That horse left the barn a long time ago: writing apps for a thick client OS is dangerous, as everyone who tried to upgrade Windows XP to Windows Vista and Windows 7 discovered. Most of my customers develop browser-based apps now, which will run on any client and lets them upgrade, stay in place, whatever, without affecting their ability to get work done and makes them quite platform-agnostic. I think Apple has laid that argument to rest as well. Compare the number of new apps written for iOS in the last two years with the number of new apps for the Mac and Windows combined. My guess is that there's a quantum differential. Developers aren't feeling much pressure to write apps for the thick client anymore and putting Windows 8 on tablets will do nothing to change that. So Microsoft would be better off with a great tablet OS, rather than porting an OS designed to support keyboard-intensive apps, such as Office, to it. That simply accelerates the shift away from the PC to the tablet, with no net gain to Microsoft.
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