In a recent piece, I talked about how Windows 8 could very well be the beginning of a big revolution that could end with the death of the traditional Windows desktop.
Microsoft has stated that they want the PC experience to no longer feel like a PC-experience, instead it should be easy to use, without a lot of maintenance and technical steps required, more like a mobile device. This is, for the most part, a good move, at least in my opinion, because we are dawning on an age that truly departs from the old way of PCs that they were tools for techies.
Alright, so since the dawn of the Internet more and more, non-techies have been using PCs, but how successfully? The tech-world probably loves that casual users use PCs because it means they can market products towards them, such as repair service, repair software and anything else, and they won’t really have a clue if they are paying for something they don’t need.
Back in the early 90s and 80s, there were PC repair shops, but many PC owners had the technical expertise to do the smaller tasks themselves. Today’s crowd can barely even install a stick of RAM without taking it to the store and paying $30-$50 just for the install… something that takes just a few seconds of time.
While the casual crowd is now dominating the PC world, the PC itself is still more of a techie-tool. It’s gotten easier to use, but at its heart it is more designed towards the technologically advanced crowd. Microsoft understands that shifting the way the operating system works is the first step in truly making the PC cater to the casual crowd that now dominates it. I truly believe that the death of the desktop is necessary to make this transition.
This brings a second question though, what about us techies? We aren’t going to get a Metro-free experience, that much is clear. Luckily, we can still do all the nerdy things we love through the desktop mode. The business world also needs this more-tech-oriented desktop mode to be truly productive. While I think for SOME business sectors Metro can eventually become the de facto for business productivity, things like programming probably can’t.
The solution? I’m not sure, but part of me thinks that maybe a fork of Windows should appear in the near future. This isn’t needed for Windows 8, but let’s say Windows 9 (or more likely 10) does away with the desktop for most editions.
Should it have a “Programmers or Technical Professionals” edition that has all the same Metro-focused (or whatever UI MS goes with by then), and a desktop for legacy and technical stuff? Or maybe make a fork of the Server version that is for programmers and other power users?
This is certainly food for thought. The age of change is coming, and forking Windows to have two version that cater to two crowds might be the best way to handle it, but there is one major flaw in that idea – fragmentation.
If Microsoft has to support the server edition (which I doubt will go all-Metro anytime in this decade or even the next), a Technical Professional version, and the casual Metro-only versions- will that really be an efficient way to go forward?
I am excited for the future, but there are some pretty big questions worth thinking about at the same time.
What are your thoughts on the future of Windows, going beyond Windows 8?
I know this is all speculation, but that’s part of the fun, I think.