Good questions, and not that easy to answer. But first things first, Microsoft’s Windows 8 Operating System could become a game changer, and if it does, that for us means learning yet another new OS to bring us screaming and kicking into the new paradigm.
Microsoft showed its first public demo of Windows 8 earlier this month, and it seems clear that the latest iteration is one meant to flow across phones, tablets and computers, so that the cohesion of the various technologies is ensured with the one OS. Mind you the touch screen is envisaged as being the predominant future for all of these, understandably for the tablet and the phone, but where does leave the computer if you are running a model without a touch screen?
Actually, no problem, that is if the change to the past 25 years of screen appearances does not bother you, but if it does then you are still able to have your familiar screen representation and use it accordingly, because it seems that the new ‘Metro’ version – as it is called – is still to a large degree a Windows 7 OS with the ‘Metro’ UI [User Interface] on top. Having said that, you will find that the traditional desktop still requires you to do things differently, particularly much use is made of taskbar and desktop because that is where you need to pin your applications rather than going to the startbutton and then on to ‘programs’ to launch your application, or alternatively type the application name, without having to return to the Metro UI to get to your app.
Basically whatever you want to do W8 shows you that Metro is the way, e.g. plug in a USB memory stick and up comes a box over your desktop with the available options shown in Metro fashion, including a start menu, and clicking/touching one of these opens another bar on the right hand side of the screen. Confused?
Bear in mind W8 was designed primarily for tablets, and touch screen, but it does makes sense in the real world of desktops and laptops too, and whilst the kind of touch movements used on tablets cannot readily be duplicated by the mouse you‘ll find the arrow keys will do the job for you.
I am unsure about further changes being made before Microsoft releases it as the final to-go version, but as it stands it has a lot going for it and even things like the traditional key shortcuts are retained. The major difference is the way Microsoft brings together the various technologies into one Operating System so you can seamlessly move from using your computer to tablet to phone, even across many brands, and that may become a major strength for Microsoft as compared to Apple.
It is, however, still early days, once W8 is on the market we’ll have a better idea of how it is received and the perceived strength and weaknesses, meanwhile W8 is first and foremost aimed at the tablet market, and since that is the growth market currently, it will surprise no one.
We’ll let you know as we learn more how things are panning out.