The time for change is coming, and it starts in late 2012.
No, I’m not talking about the rumored end of the world, instead I’m talking about the target launch time for the final version of Windows 8.
So why does launching yet another Windows OS change anything? Well, Microsoft isn’t content with pushing out minor updates anymore (or so it seems) and Windows 8 is shaping up to be a product that is certainly different than recent OS releases.
I’m not talking about throwing away the Windows-code and starting from scratch (though I could probably argue why they wouldn’t be THAT bad of an idea), but instead making a shift of focus from traditional PC users towards the newer casual users.
This is a similar shift that we’ve seen in the gaming world with the Nintendo Wii and recently the Xbox Kinect.
Don’t get me wrong, Windows 8 will still be a powerful tool for businesses and power users, despite rumors and arguments we are hearing about it otherwise.
Microsoft will not ditch its older/traditional users completely, but they understand that the average PC user doesn’t know the difference between a 3.0GHz P4 and 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo, in fact they would probably guess that the P4 is better because the number is higher. To be fair, PCs used to be a lot less complicated.
There was a time that a 100MHz processor was likely faster than a 60MHz processor, but in a world of multi-cores and other changes, it just isn’t that easy anymore.
The average user doesn’t care about complicated things, they just want a PC that gets them to their apps, browsing, and any other needs they have. Windows 8’s METRO interface is all about having everything you need within easy reach (if you have a touchscreen).
Now, I will admit that Metro isn’t (yet) ideal for keyboard and mouse use, but it really isn’t as bad as some would have you believe.
Will Metro become the ONLY option for users in Windows 8? No, you can honestly have a perfectly enjoyable experience in Windows 8 without hardly ever messing with Metro.
I also believe it might be possible to disable it officially through an option when it releases, though for now that remains unseen.
You may have noticed I am focusing on the word ‘casual’, not tablet users. Yes, Windows 8 will focus on the tablet market too, but again this is more of a casual market focus in my opinion. The entire Metro interface is about ease and simplicity, as is the Windows Phone interface.
Now is Windows Phone a bad business option? Of course not, it actually works quite well in this capacity. Will Windows 8 work better with touch monitors, Kinect cameras, and voice? Very possibly, and again because casual users are more likely to enjoy such interfaces.
Should we be throwing out the trusty keyboard and mouse altogether in Windows 8, though?
Don’t expect such a mass change until at least another couple iterations of Windows (maybe Windows 11?). So what do you think? Is Microsoft’s changes in Windows 8 reflected by an overall strategy for creating products that are more casual-user oriented or was Metro chosen only to promote its tablets?
I honestly think that the truth is probably a mixture of both of these statements, but I do think that our more casual PC/electronics age is also inspiration for the changes. As always, share your thoughts below and let us know what you think.