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In The Not-So-Distant Future Will Windows Need To Split Up Into A Casual And Technical Version?

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.

Please Leave Your Comments Below...

  • 1234568

    I think MS need to move on quickly from WinRT and x86/x64 versions as the difference in functionality is likely to cause confusion. Here’s what I would love to see:

    Windows Consumer
    This would be a purely metro experience that is uniform in behaviour across Arm and x86/x64. It will not have legacy program support.

    Windows Ultimate
    This should be like Win8 will be, by that I mean a hybrid between desktop mode and metro, with legacy program support. It should have a lot more features than the consumer edition but still remain useable to home users. Most importantly though you should be able to link computers running Windows consumer to a machine running windows Ultimate. This could be done via their license key or a system like blackberry pin codes. This linking would allow the machine running Windows Ultimate to act as a private cloud for any linked devices, as well as be used for remote management of said devices.

    Windows Server
    This would be designed for the IT professional and not home users.

    I believe this would help MS maintain their dominance in businesses.

    • Timiteh

      Hi,
      This is not too far of what i think but i will add the following differences:
      For the consumer version:
      1) I think that the desktop mode will be needed as long as there are not enough Metro apps or that Metro apps are not powerful enough to enable the consumers to
      completely avoid the use of desktop. Ironically, Microsoft could have fixed a part of the problem by enabling the user to be able to do whatever he/she want from the
      Metro environment. Unfortunatelly, it is still not possible up to now.
      2) Even though, Metro should be the default environment, i am not too sure that the flat aspect of Metro please everyone (i am personnaly hate it), thus it would be
      interesting to offer a high end/more pleasant version of Metro more AERO like for the consumers with higher end hardware.

      For the ultimate version:1) This version should be fully customizable
      2) The desktop mode should be the default mode

      For the Server version,
      Nothing to add besides an improved support of VDI, to enable people with the consumer version to be productive through the use of VDI.It would be also great if VDI or remote desktop become fully usable trough internet without need of VPN.

      • Randal

        #2 Could be impossible. Microsoft already spent large amount of money designing Metro. In fact, they are even removing the Aero in desktop mode.

        • Timiteh

          This is why i am still wondering if i will use Windows 8 on my next desktop and on my next laptop as both will be workstation level PC.
          And i seriously think that Windows 8 is not and will never be really taylored of them. Though i will wait until RTM, as even Release Preview will not be close to final enough, to take my final decision. 

  • Timiteh

    I think that Microsoft should have split its windows line in two since at least Vista.Consumers and business users do not have the same needs.However business users can have some need of business users.Therefore Microsoft needs 3 versions of Windows:
    Windows Essential:—————–Which would be for consumers and would have a full Tablet mode which would be the default mode for tablets and would be the only mode for pure slates.Thus this version should have 3 modes:* Tablet mode* Consumer mode* Thin Client ModeMicrosoft can continuously and often upgrade this edition with a major (and not free) major upgrade each 3 years.
    Windows Pro:————Which would be for business users and enterprise.This version should have 4 modes:* Tablet Mode* Consumer Mode* Application/Multimedia server mode which would work with the Thin Client mode of the Essential edition* Professional ModeThe switching from a mode to another should be ligthning fast.Either the user or the IT staff should be able to disable the Tablet and the consumer mode.Each mode should be self sufficient and should enable the user to do whatever he needs to do without needing to switch to another mode, besides of course for
    features specific to another mode.Each mode should be update with a different schedule.The whole O.S should have a major upgrade each 5 years, with a release 2, 2 to 3 years after a major upgrade.However the Tablet mode and the Consumer mode should be updated at the same time as Windows consumer for free, unless it fit with the major upgrade cycle of the Pro
    version.
    Windows Server:—————This O.S would be similar to the current Windows server but with one major version each 5 years and a release 2 at least 2 1/2 years after each major version.

     

  • Damian Klop

    Yes, I totally agree. With tablets people have got used to simple and easy to use computers. Before computers were designed for computer junkies, now the successful tech is designed for the average joe that doesn’t want to think too much. What still irritates me about Windows 8 is that it is still too complicated when it comes to control panel. Some things you go to control panel, some you have to click ‘other options’ and you have too many icons in the control panel menu. Dumb it down to 10 icons (Sound, screen, devices, network, internet, security, update etc.) in the control panel. There must be no thinking as too what the icon is really about. It must be in your face.

  • Larryalobo

    I think you have a good point. Once more of us get used to the Metro configuration and learn what we can do with it and Microsoft develops it more (not just more apps but of course we need more apps) Businesses can become more effecient with this configuration as well as what Office offers. If Microsoft can come up with a way to let enterprise and others who have existing applications (there hare hundreds of thousands if not millions) be able to use them on Metro, that would be the trick (some kind of code or some way that can let them be accessable and used on Metro without having to rewrite them completely)
    Two types of Windows? Could be a good point for security reasons but people still want to use their own stuff at work – there could be a way to let them do this and protect businesses while workers get their work done. We’ll see what Windows 9 & 10… bring us!