There are many ongoing debates as to what Windows 8 represents for potential customers, how it is completely different from its predecessors and how the new development platform builds on a completely different foundation compared to the previous editions. Despite the controversy, Windows 8 is a bold move in the right direction. Here is why the new OS will eventually become a success.
The vast majority of users want a very simple environment, that gets the job done, and done well. The new Windows 8 shell offers just that, and it is one of the reasons why it is shown by default when the OS starts. Need an app? No need to fire up the browser, look for a reliable source to download it, then download it, run it through an anti-virus scanner, install it, make sure it does not come into a conflict with some other application and make sure that there is no weird toolbar that came in by default. Obviously, this is not a problem for power-users, but it is definitely a way for the "standard" users to get what they want without major trouble. No need to be afraid of an app that might brick the PC or do irreparable damage.
There is no doubt Windows 8 is much more secure out of the box, compared to, let's say Windows 7. And it's not only because the internal protection mechanisms went through a re-work, but because security tools come built-in. Windows Defender is there for those who use the desktop environment. The Windows 8 shell itself is much more secure simply because the apps that run there are running in a sandbox that has a regulated access to the Windows APIs.
Easier Monetization For Developers
As a developer, I know first-hand that one of the problems with delivering a quality software product is selling it to the user. Without a centralized store, the payment method should be setup through a third-party provider, you need to ensure proper processing and license retrieval. Or you could set up a donation page. Either way, it is a pain and not exactly efficient. With Windows Store in play, the inherent problem of irregular payments and potential high levels of piracy is reduced to the mininum - the developer can focus on building the product. The payments will be processed by Microsoft.
Also remember that the store is not only about native applications. Users will be able to find the proper resources to download desktop applications. There are millions of developers already creating applications for the Windows platform. Not everyone will start developing Windows 8 applications right away, but there is a huge potential carried by developers that already rely on the ecosystem as the base for their products.
With easier monetization comes developer interest. Google and Mozilla already try to push their browser that is compatible with the new shell. Why? Because they understand that Windows 8 carries a massive potential for adoption, and with Surface coming up, it's market share will hit areas it hasn't been too successful in before. My assumption is that a lot of Windows Phone developers will start cross-developing applications for Windows 8 as well, given the fact that they are used to a similar development stack (XAML/managed language).
Features you already saw in Windows Phone
Live tiles and push notifications - there is now a unified way how applications can alert you about ongoing activity. Granted, live tiles are only useful if you are in the Windows 8 shell and not in the desktop, but the push notifications will work regardless. For applications like calendar, stock tracker, news reader and messenger, you would want to see what's going on wiuthout launching the application, and Windows 8 excels at this. I can see how this is mostly useful for tablet PC users as the target audience.
Windows for mobility purposes, out of the box
If the Surface doesn't look fancy enough for you (I know it does), then you might want to know that Windows 8 is all about providing a great experience on moble devices, also known as tablets. Running it on a slate (Samsung Series 7 at the moment) is an experience worth a separate mention. I rarely switch to desktop mode and touch support the way it is implemented is just icing on the already delicious cake. Built-in support for the accelerometer, metered connections.
The Windows we all know
The standard Windows capabilities are still there. Although the Windows RT release will be a different story, the x86 build carries over the well-familiar feature set from Windows 7 - you can still run your old applications the same way you did in Windows 7, without any additional re-configuration (other than maybe setting the compatibility mode parameters for a select few "rebel" apps).
But what about the negative comments?
Just like this? Although I might be biased simply because I was using Windows 8 since its release, I do believe that Tim Edwards might be misguided, considering these points:
- Desktop is not treated like an app. It is the same old shell in a new environment. The desktop icon in the Windows 8 shell is merely a shortcut.
- If you really want to swap between apps on Metro, you can use Alt+Tab (given that you are not on a tablet). On a tablet, the gestures are fairly simple.
- Core apps are not only in the Windows 8 shell. If you so desire, you can download a similar pack, through Windows Live Essentials.
- No search in Mail? Have you heard that there is a new way to have a unified search trigger (charm) in all Store apps?
- The Windows 8 shell IE is the default browser? Not so fast. It is the default for Metro applications. In the desktop environment, you've got the desktop Internet Explorer as default, and you can change it too.
- OMG Ribbon. You had it since Office 2007. Complaining about it at this point is like complaining about the new Facebook timeline. It is just childish and mostly comes from people who try to oppose any change, even when it's for the better. UI changes over time and Ribbon is more efficient than the menu for the simple reason that you can clearly see your options rather than navigating through a cascade of submenus.
- There is no clock in the Windows 8 shell - are you sure?
Windows 8 is the next, altough different, step in the Windows history. For the most of it, people are afraid of radical changes, and Windows 8 starts that. Despite the doubts, Windows 8 remains a great operating system that simply added an innovative component to the already stable shell.
Will you use it mostly on desktop mode? Depends - I do on my desktops. The Windows 8 shell gives you a completely new way to look at your PC - although the first impression might be that it replaces the Start menu, it is much more than that. Even if you don't want to buy Windows 8 just yet, you can try it for free.