Windows ecosystem explodes in the last year…

Since October of 2012, millions of people have switched over to Windows 8, Microsoft’s new tile-oriented OS, and they have not been quiet about how they feel.


The first, loudest, and most persistent outcry was for that focal point in all previous Microsoft operating systems… the Start Button.  This single feature being removed seemed to be the number one issue across the board for any discussion about Windows 8.  That has not been the only complaint.  Users also did not like the tile motif, the search functions, and many other new (or changed) features.  Part of this can be chalked up to having to learn a radically different interface and navigation system.  But some were legitimate complaints about efficiency and ease of use.


Not all blame can be placed on Microsoft however.  Part of the problem facing users is the simple change in what defines a PC these days.  In these times hardware and its abilities are changing almost as fast as the seasons.  In just the last year, the lines between desktop computers (or laptops) and phones and tablets have all blurred and blended together.


Phones with more processing power, bigger bandwidth, and better connectivity are taking over traditional duties performed in the office (just ask any salesman who uses CRM on the road through his phone app).


Tablets not only have large enough screens to write on, but with the release of the Surface last year (and its detachable keyboard), people honestly don’t know if they should call it an overpowered tablet or a stripped down laptop.  In fact, my co-worker uses his Surface as his only office device.  He can take it on the road… or dock it in the office and power 3 monitors off it.  (Check out the pic.)


PC sales have been down this last year, but Windows devices have gone up.  More and more users are looking for mobile options instead of the traditional “box under the desk.”  This has led to an increase in hybrid solutions and a plethora of new offerings from hardware/software designers.  There are more 3rd party apps today and we in the industry expect to see an explosion of those with the release of 8.1 later this month.  (Keep an eye out for the 8.1 Mail app… it’s going to be a vast improvement.)


Many people have rejected Windows 8 due to the disappointing and confusing initial experience they had.  (The good news for them is that Windows 7 will be supported for years to come.)  Some of that frustration comes about due to the hardware they used to run Windows 8.  Microsoft’s new OS does not really come into its own until it is experienced on hardware designed specifically for it… namely those devices with a “touch-first” interface.  When you go from a touch screen monitor to other devices with touch interfaces (such as tablets and phones), the entire philosophy of Windows 8 becomes clear.  Microsoft’s goal of sharing of apps, matched settings, data/file syncing between these devices to create a single ecosystem across the entire technical spectrum suddenly makes sense… and after using it in its proper state you will wonder how you ever got along without it.


For those who have older PCs, the change to Windows 8 may not make for a good experience.  But as old hardware is swapped out and mobility becomes more important, Windows 8 will continue to creep into every corner of the technical ecosystem to create a viable unity across all devices.