Windows 8 Reality
Windows 8 is a Tablet OS first and foremost. Microsoft is designing Windows 8 to run on any type of form-factor, but its roots will be the slate or tablet style of interface. Personally, I know it will be hard for me to adapt at first, but it is time for a change. And if we think of the Windows 8 OS as a New OS and not just an upgrade from Windows 7, you may be surprised how much easier it is to accept the new look and feel of Windows.
Windows 8 is now available in Beta. Remember, that is Beta. This means that Microsoft is not done puttingthe final touches on the user interface and features under the hood. So, before you start screaming that"Windows 8 doesn't do X," or "Windows 8 doesn't have Y," keep that in mind. What you see now may changea bit before product release. Aside from what each of us would like Windows 8 to be, let's take a step back andanalyze what Windows 8 is really supposed to be.
I don't believe that Windows 8 is really a successor to Windows 7. Numerically that is the case, but user interfacechanges suggest otherwise. The Windows 8 Metro interface is so different, that it will stir up quite a bit of frustrationfrom the existing users of Windows 7. Is that a problem? Not really. Most organizations have only juststarted switching to Windows 7. Do you think they are going to jump on Windows 8 immediately? Of coursenot. Windows 7 will still be kicking around long after the supposed demise of the PC. If you like Windows 7 onyour desktop or laptop, keep it. That's the form-factor that Windows 7 was designed for in the first place.
Windows 8 is a Tablet OS first and foremost. For their own reasons, Microsoft is designing Windows 8 to run onany type of form-factor, but its roots will be the slate or tablet style of interface. It's what we've been asking for, isn't it? We have all been beating Microsoft up for letting Apple take over the tablet market and providing veryfew alternative options of their own. How many of you have tried to use a Windows 7 Slate or Tablet device.with your finger? Frustrating isn't it? The buttons are too small, and the menu options are impossible to select.That's why all of the Microsoft Tablet devices come with a stylus - essentially, a glorified mouse.
Couldn't Microsoft just have designed a finger-friendly overly for Windows 7? Sure, but what about all of thehard-coded dialogs and menus that would eventually pop up and require precision instead of fat-fingering?Besides, they already tried that approach with Windows Mobile 6. The various hardware vendors put their ownfinger-friendly menu overlay on top of Windows Mobile, and the results were mixed. Everything was just fineuntil you hit the dialogs and menus that required you to whip out the stylus.
Windows 8 isn't just a Tablet OS from the user interface (UI) perspective though. They had to design the OS torun on much lighter-weight hardware, in less memory than Windows 7. Once again, simply retrofitting Windows7 wouldn't work. Microsoft has completely redesigned the boot process, memory management model, andwhat happens to applications that are running in the background. This is all to satisfy our want to have Windowson a tablet device comparable in weight and price to an iPad or Android tablet.
Personally, I would rather have seen Microsoft design a Tablet version of the Windows Phone 7 OS and keep thedesktop grade OS as a separate branch. However, I understand Microsoft's position on this. They find it hard to justify two different code-bases that they ultimately have to develop and support. This is especially true whenthe desktop and laptop market is expected to gradually shrink in the coming years.
What about Windows Server 8? Why does it need the Metro UI? The answer, once again, is the Tablet. No, wewon't be running our servers on Tablets, but we sure will be managing our servers from Tablets. Many of youare doing that now, but are none too happy interacting with the standard Windows interface through a fingerfocuseddevice. Windows Client 8 Tablets have a new version of the Remote Desktop client that allows forMultitouch and access to all of the Metro UI features from a remote Tablet device.
Even so, I believe that most organizations will not be jumping right on the Windows Server 8 bandwagon, withone exception. Those organizations that are already using Hyper-V, or are looking to switch to Hyper-V, will find that the new Windows Server 8 version of Hyper-V has a huge new set of features that will give current VMwareshops much more to think about when license renewals come up.