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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Windows 8 for desktop

I recently read these 3 articles about Windows 8:




They were all pretty negative about Windows 8 as an OS for desktop users. I haven't tried Windows 8 myself. Has anyone else tried it on a desktop PC? What did you think? Is Microsoft "throwing out the baby with the bathwater" and turning its back on its core market?
Andy Brice Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
I haven't tried it but I have three concerns:

1) The context switching noted in article 2 sounds like a bit of a nightmare. I'd like to be able to switch back to the old Start menu if I choose.

2) They're introducing an app store. Now we're seeing Apple move to make non-app store applications more difficult / scary to install on a Mac I'm concerned that both platforms with end up with gatekeepers stifling free enterprise much like IOS.

3) I don't understand where they're coming from with the Intel / ARM disparity. I understand both Intel / ARM will be able to run their new JavaScript applications but ARM devices won't be able to run traditional x86 stuff (i.e. all current windows software).

So it's an OS for both desktop and tablet but most tablets won't be able to run anything but applications designed for the new world.

Personally I don't see anything more than smaller consumer apps being written in JavaScript so basically the split is pretty much like OSX / IOS.

So what's the point in calling it an OS for both kinds of devices? Seems like a lot of consumers will be angry when they get their Windows tablet home and find out it can't run Windows software.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
I haven't tried it, but I read last night that Mary Jo Foley (?), a prominent MS blogger and supposed insider, has heard it might be possible to disable the Metro launch screen such that users go straight into the familiar Explorer-based desktop, which I think is where all the concern is coming from.  But it's still not known for sure (probably not even within Microsoft).
Doug Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
I hope you're right Doug, I'm prepared to give Metro a good try but I'm also prepared to find it really irritating in the end.

I guess it's worth keeping in mind that many people found Windows 7's "it's not a dock" irritating but personally I couldn't live without it now and constantly wish the OSX team would learn from its design.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
IMHO their goals for Windows 8 are extremely ambitious and their challenge is growing. It has to work on tablets, home PCs, small offices right through to massive corporate/government networks. And it has to run Office and Outlook. And be secure. 

I too could probably find lots of things to criticize in Windows 8 like I did for earlier versions, however now I just read the docs, use it and embrace the inevitable.  Customers are buying new computers, the latest Windows is installed, so we have to work with it.

Plus, I like the Windows Server/HyperV/VDI ideas and how it separates the data files and users from the device.  The desktop for a lot of people will be just a front end.
jz Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
I've tried it and have been fairly disheartened by what I've seen so far.

It's been said that Microsoft's efforts in the smart phone + tablet space have been handicapped by concerns that it would eat away at the Windows desktop + server + office profit machine and that using the same OS for desktop and hand-held device is a way to alleviate that.

But what they've basically done in the Windows 8 previews so far is destroy "Windows" for desktop users. I think for a touch device Metro looks pretty good, got no problems with it, but for a desktop user with a mouse and keyboard -- it's a disaster.

Metro for the desktop does not make one iota of sense. Applications opening in full screen mode by default? Having to scroll to the right of the screen just to get to different applications and application views...

I have 99% sure that for business users -- at the very least -- Microsoft will offer a Windows 7 skin. Microsoft might not know it yet, but they will.

Microsoft should have concentrated on making Windows Phone 7 work on tablets and then just concentrated on making sure that Windows desktop computers and Windows Phone and Tablets devices could communicate seamlessly.

On a somewhat related note...

I recently wrote a short article on the new PDF reader that that is being introduced with Windows 8 which is done in the Metro style.


I'm going to do a more in-depth review of it shortly, just need to leave sufficient time between booting's of Windows 8 to keep my blood pressure under control.
Rowan Hanna Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
>I think for a touch device Metro looks pretty good, got no problems with it, but for a desktop user with a mouse and keyboard -- it's a disaster.

That is the message that seems to be coming across. As someone who makes of his sales on Windows desktop, it is rather worrying.

Why they would force people with a VDU+mouse (most users?) to use an interface designed for smaller touch screens is a mystery. A panic reaction to the success of the iPad?
Andy Brice Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
I do think it's a reaction to IOS in general and it's a very risky game. I don't think IOS provides competition to Windows' core market, I've never seen anyone successfully doing any "real" work with one. I wouldn't even use mine to post on BoS, way to slow trying to type on that thing.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
I think that it's a bold move, but it's necessary if MS want to keep being relevant. The only way for them to stop the iPad (and Android tablets) is to make a no-compromise tablet.

Today millions of people have no option but to keep using Windows for the apps, and because you know it's a PC and you can basically can do whatever you want.

Also, touch is the future, like it or not. When you see your children trying to interact with every piece of technology with their fingers you *know* that the future is touch.

I think that new devices (touch keyboards, touchpads, touch mouses, kinect sensors) will start proliferating replacing mainly the mouse and making it easier to use Windows 8+ in the desktop. And it is good for MS being there, leading the change, even at risk of alienating current users.
edddy Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
@Jonathan: Even when IOS does not provides competition to Windows' core market, when people start using a device at home, they want to use the same at work. It was the key to Windows (and Office) winning at the workplace.
edddy Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
@Andy: As someone who sell windows apps, you should be very happy. Win8 and the new App Store will bring life to the Windows native apps ecosystem (now stagnant)
edddy Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
Maybe I'm really old (I guess 32 is kind of old ;) ), but it just seems to me touch requires more work to do anything productive. A keyboard without tactile feedback is harder to use (for me at least). But then I don't even like using a laptop if I'm stationary. I guess I care about ergonomics more than I thought I did.

I wonder what would happen if you put an 11.6" Mac Air and an iPad in front of an office worker and ask them to do a days work (dealing with email, writing word documents, doing spreadsheets etc,). I bet many would pick up the iPad at the start, but most would migrate to the Mac after a while.

If anyone knows of a test like that I'd be interested to read the results.
Jonathan Matthews Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
You are thinking it wrong: Don't think how to deal with "current" email and other apps with touch, think about the new kind of apps that touch and portable devices are bringing to the market.

Probably in the future, an office worker will manage the email with the phone and do other work in a tablet, and only take the keyboard for more advanced work.

Of course some professionals (like developers or business analysts) will keep using the big screens and keyboard+mouse/touchpad, but we will be a niche market.
edddy Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
BTW, I'm older than you: 42 :)
edddy Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
It seems to me that touch is a great interface for content consumption (which is all I see anyone do on a phone or pad).  But content creation of necessity requires you to express many different thoughts and concepts to the computer, and thus requires a rich input interface.  IMHO, anyone that creates anything (invoices, documents, programs, games, art?, etc) will continue to use a keyboard and mouse because they're such a rich input interface.  Not even voice comes close in most cases.
Doug Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
I tried it. What struck me the most is that it is butt ugly. I really don't like it so far, but maybe I'll get used to it. For touch devices, sure, it'll work. For desktop - I hope you will be able to enter a "100% desktop mode" in the final version.
Jaywalker Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
I think we also need to keep in mind that businesses will not jump to adopt this OS ASAP. Many companies are still using XP and just transitioning to W7, so it could be 2 years before we see them adopt W8 and by then Microsoft will have had plenty of time to service pack the areas of concern.

Homes users is another matter though, so I guess it depends which market you sell your software in.
Smart Company Software Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
I've tested Windows 8 in VMware Fusion.  So far, Metro makes no sense to me on a desktop.  As an example, I ran a Metro app (Cut the Rope) but could not figure out how to quit it.  It turns out that you have to move the mouse to the top of the screen where the cursor changes to a hand and then drag down to "throw the window away".  This motion makes more sense on a touch device.

Switching to the standard Desktop was fine.  It looked much like Windows 7, except the Start menu is missing.  Finding out how to get back to Metro (where you have to go to log off and other things) was tricky: put the cursor in the lower left and wait for the "Metro" button to appear.

Microsoft's strategy makes no sense to me.
Paul Lefebvre Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
I write Windows desktop software exclusively. I have not tried Metro yet, I have only read about it. I think that it is just one of those new Microsoft technologies that turns out to be a fad. It won't be the first. They are trying really hard to promote it in Windows 8, but before long, I predict they will realize that no one wants to use it on the desktop, and by Windows 9, it will be relegated to tablets only, where it belongs. Or better yet, tablets will run Windows Phone and Metro will be defunct. So for the forseeable future, I have no plans to develop anything in Metro.

I agree that it's stupid to force a touch interface onto the desktop. Touch is not the future, and for that reason, tablets are not going to ever completely replace desktops. Touch can probably replace mice for a lot of people, but it won't replace keyboards. And everyone types, even if they don't realize how much they do it. I love being able to use my phone (touch keyboard) to send quick emails when I am out and about or on the toilet, but I will invariably wait to write anything longer than a paragraph until I can get to a real computer with a real keyboard. I'm sure most other people feel the same way.
Shawn O'Hern Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
So simple. Maybe the Windows team (or the manager who overrides everything anyway)  just lost its mojo...

PLAY - Great with METRO, surf, lean back on the sofa, run around with it to capture easy input or ... actually kill some pigs. Consume! Great with a finger or two.

WORK - Great with AREO and the current desktop. You want to be fast creating content, dealing with a lot of stuff. With a keyboard that is. I usually yell at people who touch my monitor - fingerprints, yuck!

Trying to combine two usage behaviors squashed within a single UI is like trying to hammer a square peg in a round hole: both (hole and peg...) get damaged and the user gets injured.
Hans Fremuth Send private email
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
"When you see your children trying to interact with every piece of technology with their fingers you *know* that the future is touch." -- What the?  When my 3 kids (all under 5) want to use my PC, they are touching my mouse and keyboard, NOT my monitor.  They know what to do.
Startup Send private email
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
@Startup: had you exposed your children to a tablet or a touchphone _first_, they would have tried to touch the icons on your desktop (and would be surprised that it did not work as they _expected_.)  I've seen this myself.
Dmitry Leskov Send private email
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
I'm not a design guru, but form does follow function (or is it the other way around?)  Anyway, Microsoft tried shrinking their incredibly successful (90% market share!) desktop UI to work on mobile devices (Windows CE), and it didn't work.  You can't comfortably edit a Word document on a smartphone.  or PDA.  Now Microsoft is trying to go the other direction, they are taking an UI designed for mobile devices and expand it to a desktop.

First off, there is a mobile device that works very well with either the existing Windows desktop UI or the Mac desktop UI, and that's called a laptop/notebook.  For the same cost as a smartphone, you get way more power and for most computing tasks, way better ergonomics and a vastly better user experience.  Notebooks do suck as telephones and cameras though.  So smartphones have their place. 

When it comes to digital photo frames, a tablet doesn't take up as much space as a notebook on your coffee table or kitchen counter, but then you can get the same benefit from a dedicated digital photo frame for a lot less money.  So there is no place for tablets, and 5 out of 6 long-term  iPad owners that I know hardly ever crack the cover on their iPad.  The sixth one doesn't have a laptop and uses her iPad to check email and Facebook when she travels.  That's it.  I have never met an iPad owner who uses a paid iOS app on a daily basis.  When Nintendo releases the Wii U, the tablet market is toast.

We've already seen the design ideas behind Metro in Windows Phone 7, and WP7 is showing every sign of being just the latest Microsoft failure in smartphones.  Everything I've seen in the last 9 months about Windows 8 is that it is a port of WP7 to the desktop UI.  Except they  expanded it enough to work on a tablet, and if you have a real computer you are going to be stuck with Windows for Tablets. 

As crazy as it sounds, Microsoft doesn't really lose with Windows 8.  Think of it as a beta test/market study for some new ideas (never mind all the free publicity).  Only if Microsoft quits selling Windows 7 upgrades will they shoot themselves in the foot.  Then in three years or so, when Microsoft needs to release a major service pack for Windows 8, they can start promoting  Windows 9.

We've obviously seen this before with Vista, and the only people who got ripped off were those who bought hardware with Vista pre-installed.  It really isn't any different than pre-installing evaluation versions of software, with the idea of getting upgrade revenue a year or two later.  And I bet Microsoft's conversion rate is much better than Symantec or McAfee.
Howard Ness Send private email
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
This sort of thing plays out elsewhere: Web pages.

Backin the Olde Days, we had terminals that communicated with central computers.  That is really not very different from the Web.

These terminals did a certain amount of local validation of data.  Many Web pages that I have seen do not have this.

Data entry on the terminals was fast.  On a Web page, it often takes quite a bit longer than in a non-browser app.

Data entry Web pages are a step backward as commonly implemented.

I am working a Web form handler that will be reasonable for head-down data entry.  It is surprisingly difficult to do.  The language fights me.  I can do the same thing a lot more easier when coding for a workstation app.


Gene Wirchenko
Gene Wirchenko Send private email
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
>So there is no place for tablets

I disagree.

The iPad is fantastic for web surfing or checking facebook while sat in front of the TV, for example. It is also great for casual games. As long  as I don't need to type more than a few characters or need a big screen, I will pick up my iPad in preference to my laptop.

I was on holiday last month and I saw a lot of people using tablets. I saw at least one family where they had a tablet each!

Desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones all have their place.
Andy Brice Send private email
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
The Wii U handheld unit is a bit bigger than a Blackberry Playbook, but then it has gamepad controls on it as well.  You can use in conjunction with a HD TV to play games, stream online content, or browse on the big screen, and if the parents need the TV back (or you prefer to leave the power on the TV off), you can do all of those things on the handheld display.  The handheld unit is a touch tablet, independent secondary display and/or game controller.  It might be the most expensive Nintendo platform ever, but even if it comes in at the same price as an iPad, you get a wireless 16:9 touch screen in easier to handle dimensions _and_ a revolutionary game system.

Don't buy the iPad3, save you money until Nintendo releases the Wii U, possibly in time for 2012 Christmas shopping.  I would bet on Nintendo finding a game-changing hardware sweet spot before a Jobs-less Apple.
Howard Ness Send private email
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Gene, I hear you.  Back in the Really Olde Days, the availability of "visual" terminals with enough buffer memory to store 40 lines of text was enough of an attraction to make students bring their sleeping bags to the Computer Services computer labs.  Just because terminals now have 24 instead of 1 bit colour, doesn't mean I want to go back to the Really Olde Days.  Dual core desktop computers can run circles around the System/370 or Amdahl V7/V8 mainframes we used in the Really Olde Days, and use about one millionth of the electricity.  But because programmers would rather have a framework auto-generate HTML instead of writing original code to paint a window, we get stuck with one million web apps designed for pretty, but dumb terminals.
Howard Ness Send private email
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
It really impresses me in a bad way that here we are in the mostly-GUI world where supposedly appearance is important, and Web page forms typically do very badly at this.  The company that I work for uses a bit of cloud.  I have been told that, with that system, it takes about twice as long to enter data as it would with a desktop app.

Much of my form handler is back-end code.  It generates most of the code, and that code has appropriate settings.  All one really has to do is define an object with the datatype, size, validation, labelling, etc. for a data item and then put the appropriate control on the page with, for example:
and that pulls in the rest.  By the time I finish with this, I expect some rather small pages as measured by how much was entered to define that page and yet, it will have proper handling.


Gene Wirchenko
Gene Wirchenko Send private email
Thursday, March 08, 2012
"I have been told that, with that system, it takes about twice as long to enter data as it would with a desktop app."

I've worked for companies that saw the same thing when they went from dumb terminals to Windows PC's.
Ducknald Don Send private email
Saturday, March 10, 2012

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