Two big myths about Windows 8 are doing the rounds.
Firstly, there is the idea that Windows 8 is so different from Windows 7 it is putting potential customers for the new version of Microsoft’s operating system off. It has even been described as Microsoft’s “New Coke” moment.
Windows 8 isn’t that different. Apart from the pretty tiled interface and the lack of the Start button, little seems actually to have changed from Windows 7.
True, some changes are not intuitive and need getting used to. And using the same OS for tablets and PCs is ambitious. But users always complain when popular software changes, even when the changes are mild.
Windows has had truly disastrous Windows versions in its history: Windows ME and Vista spring to mind. Vista was marred by some truly irritating features on release, but many of these were fixed later.
The reason Windows 8 may struggle is that Windows 7 is so good that there is little reason to change, unlike the move from Windows 98 to XP, or XP to Windows 7.
Secondly, the argument is that the computing market has changed so radically that people are not buying PCs, and not buying Windows tablets, so Windows will lose out.
Leave aside the tablet market for a moment. People may be buying fewer PCs but they are still buying PCs, though different PCs. Consumers may tend to contemplate buying notebooks rather than desktop PCs now, because these have come down in price substantially. But in the end if you want computing power at a reasonable price, you need some version of a desktop PC. Desktop PCs are still more easily upgradeable and more adaptable and notebooks and tablets are hard to use for many work purposes. I struggle to use my iPad for spreadsheet work and intense writing projects. I do use it for media consumption and some creative work. It tends to occupy the fun part of my life, and I’m happy to leave it that way.
Whether you use a notebook PC or a desktop PC you have limited choice in operating systems. Three operating systems jostle for your attention. Windows, Apple’s X OS, or Linux.
I would dearly love to adopt Linux and ditch Office. I haven’t yet had the courage. The big problem is that Linux users cannot easily run iTunes, all the Office applications, and many other Windows-based programs.
You can get Office for the Apple. Adopting Apple’s OS, however, means you have to change your hardware and buy into an expensive Apple ecosystem. Not all of us want to spend so much money, especially in South Africa, where Apple products command a bigger premium than in the US.
That leaves Windows, which reached a level of excellence with Version 7 that I admire. It is stable and user friendly. Microsoft has also made Windows less vulnerable to malware and viruses, and made available its own free anti-virus software, saving us all money and effort.
The success of Windows 7 will delay the adoption of Windows 8 by businesses, who might also have delayed the switch to Windows 7 from XP. In tough economic times, business have even more incentive to delay the adoption of Windows 8.
Microsoft is offering attractive pricing for people wanting to upgrade, especially since you can upgrade from XP or Vista.
I expect the noise about Windows 8 will die down after a while.
Of more concern is Microsoft’s new pricing model for Office. But that is another story.