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Windows 8 and the Future of Operating Systems

I am a Mac user. I use a MacBook Pro and I loved using it since I first got it. The main reasons I started using a Mac were because I got an iPod Touch a year earlier and loved that, and because I was using a Windows Vista laptop as my main computer when I decided to make the switch. One great thing about the Mac is that it is really easy to use and I was able to figure everything out when I took it out the box it came in. The Windows user interface felt more familiar to me at the time but that was mostly because I had been using Windows computers for years and I knew what I was doing. To figure out how to use a Mac, I watched a few YouTube videos and then I found it easy.

Windows 8 Screenshot

When Microsoft first introduced Windows 8, I wasn’t really a big fan of the Metro UI. I think Microsoft could have done a better job with Windows Phone 7 and that bring Metro to the next major release of Windows is a terrible idea. However, the Metro UI is also good in some ways. For a start, by giving the desktop and mobile versions of Windows the same user interface, new users will only have to learn one user interface to be able to use the other operating system. Another good thing about Windows 8 is that while many people say it is a terrible user interface if you are using a keyboard and mouse, Windows 8 will be installed on tablets and for the average user, a computer with a mouse and keyboard won’t be necessary.

Another good thing about the Metro UI is that it is programmed in HTML, CSS and JavaScript. That essentially means that it doesn’t take much processing power to generate the user interface than it takes to generate a website, possibly even less, since it doesn’t require the use of Flash Player or Java. In other words, the Metro UI, even with all its animations, will not slow a computer down if it has decent hardware. However, more importantly, the Metro UI might mean web app versions of Windows programs. While most people use Windows anyway, having web apps as an alternative to full desktop apps will allow people to look at their stuff on somebody else’s computer whether they are looking from a PC, a Mac or a Linux based operating system.

While Windows 8 is a great operating system for newbies, it is not good at all for power users, or even for people who like using their computer with a mouse and keyboard. Touchscreen computers might solve the problem for people who simply want a physical keyboard to type on but even then, not many people are going to throw their six month old computer in the bin and get the new HP TouchSmart. Basically, the only people who will buy Windows 8 are probably people buying their first computer. Even for those people, Windows 8 isn’t going to be the best experience and I can see people switching to Mac.

To be honest, I think that with a bit of work, the Aero user interface from Windows Aero could be good on touch screens. In fact, I think it would be better for certain things such as multitasking. If Windows Phone had a scaled up taskbar that you could bring up with a swipe from the bottom of the screen, I think that would be better and that it would make more sense than holding down the back button. I don’t think Windows Phone should have a full Windows Aero desktop and window management system, but my point is that Windows Aero could be made touch friendly with some tweaks but the Metro UI isn’t very usable when it is being used with a mouse and keyboard.

Posted on Thursday 1st March 2012 - Leave a comment