Windows 8 will start being available to the general public on October 26 and you will be seeing plenty of advertising from Microsoft. Forbes reports that Microsoft is rolling out a marketing campaign costing an estimated $1.5 to $1.8 billion.
But will all those ads make the average person want to buy Windows 8? It is a big change in the way the operating system works. Because I am a subscriber to Microsoft TechNet, I have had a copy of the final release of Windows 8 for a while. I also used the beta releases before that. My personal reaction is that PC users with the standard mouse (or touchpad) and keyboard setup are going to face a steeper learning curve than they are going to like. You will have to learn all sorts of new ways of doing things. Also, if you want to take advantage of the new touch feature, you are going to need new hardware. My personal feeling is that average home PC users should stick with Windows 7 for now or get an iPad.
At ZDNet, David Gewirtz puts it this way:
Microsoft, on the other hand, has decided that — rather than make some very minor interface nods to the billion or so users it has — it’s going to force everyone to change how they use their machines.
This is not change in a good way. It’d be as if Ford decided to yank out the typical comfortable interior of a car, and replace it with a motorcycle seat, handlebars, and control interface. One day, grandma would get up to go to work, get in her trusty Ford (which she’s been happily driving for decades) — and not know how to do anything!
Worse, since the motorcycle UI isn’t designed for the inside of a car, using it there would suck. People have tried it, and it’s amusing as an exercise, but it doesn’t really work.
Windows 8′s change to the Start menu is not amusing as an exercise. It’s an insult to all the billions of Windows users the world wide.
Here’s the thing. You get into Windows and it’s Metro. You click the desktop tile because you have real work to do — and you’re stuck. How do you launch apps? There’s no launcher or Start menu. If you don’t know to click in the corner of the screen, you ain’t doin’ nothin’. There’s no hint, no cue, no application, no Start menu. There’s nothing there, there.
Also, as this post relates, there are likely to be hardware driver issues until the manufacturers get around to writing new drivers for Windows 8.
One possibility for making Windows 8 more palatable is to use one of the third-party utilities that restore the Start menu. Several developers have come up with this type of fix. They are still in beta and I have just started trying one of them out. So far I am pleased with them although there are some bugs. I think a utility of this type may be what Windows 8 needs to make it more attractive to typical home users.
Suppose you need a new PC and don’t want to deal with having to learn how to use Windows 8? It isn’t clear yet what the OEMs are going to do but theoretically you should be able to “downgrade” to Windows 7. However, as was the case with Vista, the Microsoft hegemony means many non-technical PC users are going to end up with the new operating system whether they like it or not.
If I am asked, I am going to advise people to hold off buying a new Windows PC. This is standard advice for any new release of Windows. However, the early adopters have already begun pre-ordering the boxed Windows 8 software and Amazon reports brisk sales.
How about you? Are you going to start using the new system?