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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Few Expectations from Windows 8



I hope Microsoft does more than give a pretty facelift to match its smartphone OS. Among the things that have unnecessarily bedeviled PC users since the days of '95 we may count:

- Plug & Play that doesn't. Few experiences are as frustrating as finding your new hardware isn't recognized properly by the system. If 8 can standardize minimum-spec code built in at the OS level to recognize the most commonly seen devices maybe we can finally kiss goodbye all those memories of unrecognized peripherals ruining your day.

- Thin is in. As slick as Win 7 is each new build brings with it unnecessary baggage. The inclusion of ancient bundled apps like Paint is, simply put, an embarrassment. In an age when a modern linux distro can fit on a modest USB Windows is straining to fit onto DVDs. Make the next OS boot up in ten seconds flat and load secondary system files later as needed.

- Easy networking and sharing. If I, a guy who's been in IT now for two decades, still get mortified when trying to interconnect computers how does that bode for grandma? Why is it that sharing my C drive is cloaked in umpteen security layers and then still cross-your-fingers and hope that it'll be useable on the other side?

- Why does Windows expect me to do things its way? Every time I want to download a file it insists, despite thousands of repeated redirections to my desktop, to stick it in some nested document folder I never use. Why is it that my desktop icons so often switch places for no good reason? A 21st OS should adapt from my patterns of usage.

- Stop being so greedy. Having a half dozen version of the same OS leads to confusion and ill-will. If you have to have multiple versions at all separate from consumer and server versions. That's it.

- Go cloud. The MS business model is too tied to physical media and pay-per-license. I ditched Outlook years ago for Gmail because there was no such thing as an online version of it. Google docs, free for all, is tempting me to ditch Office for the same reason. How about an online backup service built into the OS so I don't have to rely on a 3rd party? This is an essential mission of any OS.

- Innovation. I struggle to think of a single truly breakthrough Microsoft invention. Ok I take that back, let's give props for the Kinect. But in terms of OS for me to be wowed by Win 8 it has to have more substance than a gussied up GUI. I want to have a truly novel way of locating and organizing my files. I want to do what I want to do with speed and with the OS being invisible until I need it. I want more resiliency, not just stability, so that things don't stop working seemingly for the hell of it and, likewise, less dread thinking of what will go wrong when I plug in a new widget or install a new app. It'll be magic the day the whole thing just works without a too-long wait or too many nag screens or some other if and or but.

Remember MS, Windows is an OPERATING SYSTEM. It should perform three core functions: connect the machine with its various parts and peripherals, provide a platform for software and file management. The company should concentrate on optimizing that core experience and recognize that the bundled apps are at best gravy and at worst bloatware that gets in the way.


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