Since 1995 there has been only one really major change in the Windows world, and that was the transition to the NT core with Windows XP. Even with the core change, the interface has remained largely the same since 1995.
Taking this even a bit further, desktop OSes (including Mac and Linux) really haven’t had any major change in style since the introduction of the GUI and mouse.
Don’t get me wrong, the operating systems on PCs have added CD-ROMs, better graphics, support for 16/32/64-bit processors along the way, and other such revolutionary changes… but in they have basically had a similar work-orientated feel since their inception.
The mouse, GUI (Graphical User Interface), and the Internet were in fact the game changers that made the PC move away from just being a research and education tool, giving it a real chance among less technically-inclined individuals.
Now Windows 8 is one of the first operating systems to attempt to radically change the way the OS works, the last successful attempt at this was the introduction of a GUI, technically first accomplished by Xerox, but popularized by the Mac, and later Windows.
So how is Windows 8 creating such a revolutionary change that I would compare it to the revolution of text-based OSes to graphical OSes?
The gamble that Windows 8 is taking is to evolve PC operating systems into devices that operate at a more casual-friendly level than traditional desktop OSes, in addition they are bringing new ways to interact (in a change similar to the introduction of the mouse).
With Windows 8 we know longer have a desktop graphical interface, but instead a touch-centric graphical interface, which in itself is a pretty large departure from the last decade and a half of computing.
Naturally any time that a major change is made in the way PC technology works, there is going to be some resistance to change.
There are some technically inclined folks that are saying great things about Windows 8 and others that are bashing it, this really draws me back to the very late 80s.
I still remember having a debate with an Uncle who was in the IT field. My position was that a GUI was better because it meant that you didn’t have to remember tons of commands and could just ‘click’ what you needed.
He argued that it would slow things down, hog resources, and that with text prompts you really had more control over every element of the OS.
My point is even during the Text-OS to GUI-based OS transition, there were some folks that just didn’t want to get aboard.
These days few would argue that text-based operating systems are better (okay, maybe some very old school UNIX users might), and yet it was at least somewhat an issue among some of the tech-world back in the 80s.
On the less-techie side though, the GUI was massively embraced with welcome arms because it made their lives easier.
If Windows 8 can take the ease-of-use from a mobile experience, combined with great apps, could they have a new revolution on their hands? I am not sure yet. I simply brought up the comparison to text/GUI changes because the change is somewhat similar (though not completely).
Whether or not Microsoft will have success with this change or not, only time will tell. Do you consider the new changes in Windows 8 a worthy comparison to the text/GUI transition of the late-80s and early-90s, or is it an unfair comparison?
Which side of the Windows 8 fence are you on? Do you support it or think the changes won’t work out? As always, share your thoughts below.