Windows 8: a failure, or just an annoyance?

Preston Gralla, writing in today’s Computerworld, detailed how it’s possible that MS has admitted that Windows 8 is its worst OS ever.  He described how it appears that Microsoft is going to ditch the tile interface of Windows 8 (and Win 8.1) for the next generation of Windows, due in 2015, which will adapt itself to whatever kind of machine you are using, a tablet-like interface for tablets, and a desktop-like interface for traditional PCs (what I predominantly use in my Win 8.1 Toshiba laptop).  In the new Windows OS, code-named Threshold, users won’t have to see the Start screen (the tile interface) unless they want to.

He then goes on to compare Win 8 to some real dogs, such as Win ME and Win Vista, both of which I’ve had the pleasure (not) to use.  While Win 8 is annoying, especially in the way it handles photos in my photo library (displaying them as it sees fit), it’s more of just something I work around than something that’s bothersome.  It does work, although since it’s really designed for a touch screen, it’s somewhat clunky.  I just generally avoid using the Start screen and its tiles.  I don’t use the force-fed search (Bing), the force-fed travel, or e-mail (I don’t have an Outlook account, and don’t want one), the force-fed weather, sports, news, and any of the other force-fed apps that MS has placed there.  I just go right to the familiar desktop, and use that, just as I always have.

Win ME and Vista were terrible.  ME didn’t work, I constantly received the “blue screen of death,” and back in November 2002, went through an entire weekend trying to recover from a memory dump (it’s a good thing I can read hex!).  But I still was on the phone with MS and with Gateway (it was really a Gateway issue – no wonder they went defunct) for probably a combined 4 to 6 hours, not including the re-install of the OS, that weekend.  Vista had even more problems – it constantly crapped out, and I eventually replaced it with Win 7.

But here’s the real problem with Win 8:

The consequences of Windows 8’s problems will haunt Microsoft for far longer than Vista did. Windows 7 largely fixed what was wrong with Vista, and as a result Microsoft suffered no serious long-term losses because of it. Not so with Windows 8. Windows 8 came out at a time when Microsoft needed to make a splash with tablets. But because its tablets were forced to run an operating system built for both tablets and traditional computers, Windows 8 has never been a great tablet operating system. As a result, Microsoft fell behind even further in mobile.

So as a company, going-forward, MS has some real issues on its hands, issues it’ll be tough to overcome.  As a user, I’ll just keep going straight to the desktop, and except for managing my photos, just keep using the desktop interface as I am on my Win 7 box at work right now.