Microsoft has plenty of reasons to worry about Windows 8. Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars the company is spending on marketing, initial surveys of IT buyers suggest a reception that’s cool at best.
Last quarter, about 24 percent of more than 1,200 North American and European hardware purchasers said they had no plans to migrate to Windows 8, though they expect they will at some point. David Johnson of Forrester Research, which conducted the survey, said only 4 percent of respondents intend to upgrade in the next 12 months.
Most IT shops are still in the midst of Windows XP to Windows 7 migrations, and Windows 7 is good enough for most. But, could there be an even more fundamental problem with the new OS that’s literally staring us in the face?
That candy-colored interface that Microsoft is so proud of has left some tech veterans scratching their heads. For consumers, a colorful home screen full of pretty photos, friends’ smiling faces, Twitter updates and weather reports may be just the thing, but for office workers in a world built around files and folders, and who’ve seen that world mirrored on their screens for the past 20 years, it’s hard not to wonder whether the tile-based approach is relevant to their daily needs. Even Steve Jobs liked files and folders, after all. And while you can opt out of the tile interface, it never really goes away.
I’ve spent many years in offices full of files and folders but, sad to say, I’ve never worked in an office full of candy colors and constantly smiling people.
Meanwhile, Microsoft should also be concerned that Jakob Nielsen, widely regarded as the final arbiter of all things interface-related, gives Windows low marks.
One of the worst aspects of Windows 8 for power users is that the product’s very name has become a misnomer. “Windows” no longer supports multiple windows on the screen. Win8 does have an option to temporarily show a second area in a small part of the screen, but none of our test users were able to make this work. Also, the main UI restricts users to a single window, so the product ought to be renamed “Microsoft Window.”
Neilsen says he has “great hopes” for Windows 9 on mobile and tablets. Windows 7 was “Vista done right,” so he believes it’s likely that Windows 9′s touch-screen version will be ‘Windows 8 done right.”
That leaves us to ask Microsoft when it thinks Windows 9 might be ready for a sneak peak.