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#OtvTech: Windows 9 will shine because of Windows 8’s failings

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I know it’s a little crazy to talk
about how well a future operating
system will do, especially when
Windows 9 hasn’t even been
officially announced yet. But we do
already know a fair bit about
Windows 8.1’s successor and that, I
think, is enough to build a
reasonable case.
Windows 8.x is a flop. As much as I
love it, I’m a realist. The operating
system has taken 20 months to grab
just 12.54 per cent market share.
Windows Vista, the previously used
example of a failed OS, was at
19.82 per cent in the same time
frame. Windows 7, which followed
Vista, has been a great success, and
there’s every reason to think
Windows 9 will do much, much
better than Windows 8.x has.
Microsoft intends to re-introduce
the Start menu into Windows 9 (or
“Threshold” as it’s currently being
referred to), on desktop systems at
least. Although it’s unfair to single
out a solitary reason for Windows
8.x’s failure, the lack of a
traditional Start menu has proven
to be a rallying cry for haters of the
new OS. The Start menu we get in
Windows 9 likely won’t be the
same as the one in Windows 7, but
rumours suggest it will be highly
configurable, with the option to
include or exclude Windows Store
apps, and that should be enough to
win over a decent number of
desktop users.
Of course it’s not just the absence
of the Start menu that people don’t
like – the Modern UI isn’t hugely
popular either.
ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley says the next
version of Windows will look and
work differently, depending on the
hardware it’s running on. The
Modern UI (or a variation of it at
least) will remain front and
centre on touch devices, but will be
relegated to a supporting role on
desktop systems. Two-in-one
devices will allow switching
between the different user
interfaces.
Foley says: “Microsoft is basically
‘done’ with Windows 8.x.
Regardless of how usable or
functional it is or isn’t, it has
become Microsoft’s Vista 2.0 –
something from which Microsoft
needs to distance itself, perception-
wise. At this point, Microsoft is
going full-steam-ahead toward
Threshold and will do its best to
differentiate that OS release from
Windows 8”.
I think she’s hit the nail on the
head. Windows 7 is, essentially,
Vista done right, and with Windows
9 Microsoft can use all the lessons
learned from Windows 8.x – and
the tech giant has a lot to take
away from the bruising experience
– and build something that works as
users would like it to, in different
ways on different devices.
So how will Windows 8.x’s failure
help Windows 9 to succeed? By
providing a solid foundation.
A desktop-first approach for
keyboard and mouse PCs will help
to win over all those users still on
Windows 7 and XP. Sure, some of
them won’t move on to a new OS
regardless of what Microsoft is
offering (the fact XP still has a 25
per cent market share, despite
having reached its end of life
months ago is testament to that).
But a large portion will be tempted
to move to Windows 9 if there’s a
good enough reason to do so.
For Windows 9 to succeed,
Microsoft needs to get its core user
base back onboard. If it can do
that, then it can work on building
decent share for Windows tablets
and hybrids, something it’s
desperately failed to do thus far.
The biggest alienating part of
Windows 8.x is the new UI. Move
that into the background on
desktop systems (to the point where
you need to really seek it out to use
it) and there’s a good chance
Microsoft can get people to make
the leap.
The tech giant won’t, and
shouldn’t, completely jettison the
Modern UI. The problems that
greeted “new Windows” at launch –
an unfamiliar interface and a lack
of quality apps – are no longer
issues. People know what Windows
8.x looks like, even if they don’t
use it. The Windows Store is still a
long way from offering the depth of
quality apps found in the Apple
App Store and Google Play, but it’s
decent enough now.
Keep the UI on touch devices, and
hint at it on desktop systems, and
you’ve a recipe for success.
Familiarity is a big part of what will
help Windows 9 thrive. Make it
familiar enough to users of
Windows 7, and familiar enough to
users of Windows 8.x – without
alienating either party in the
process – and that might just be
enough.
Productivity
Earlier this week Satya Nadella
published a long letter to Microsoft
employees that is intended as a
rallying cry but lacks anything
close to substance. However, one
thing that does stand out is where
he talks about productivity.
In a pull out quote he says:
At our core, Microsoft is the
productivity and platform company
for the mobile-first and cloud-first
world. We will reinvent
productivity to empower every
person and every organisation on
the planet to do more and achieve
more.
That’s interesting to me because
with Windows 8 Microsoft
produced an operating system
designed to do the opposite. Instead
of letting you multitask with loads
of programs and multiple windows,
as we were used to doing, the new
OS switched the focus to working in
one full-screen app at a time.
Instead of quickly firing up a new
program from an unobtrusive
menu, it made you stop what you
were doing, leave the desktop
entirely, and play Where’s Wally on
a colourful, and frankly confusing
full-screen UI that was awkward to
use with a mouse.
Windows 8 slowed you down, and
reduced productivity. Windows 8.1
addressed some of those issues,
and the recent..read more.

Article credits: Wayne Williams, BetaNews.com.,  Hardware News and Itproportal.com.
Image Credit: Andy Dean
Photography /Shutterstock.

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