Windows 8: Mobile First

Editors Note: This was originally posted by me on the Verge in the Microsoft Tribe Forum “And This is a Job for Metro

Today is a reminder of why Windows 8 is coming. We can bicker about whether Windows 8 fits on your desktop all day but this right here is why Microsoft is doing what it’s doing. Now to me Windows 8 is a mobile first OS, not in terms about phones, but in the terms of built for portability. Windows 8 isn’t about the hardware that’s out today but the stuff that comes out tomorrow. So too is the Metro interface built around future computing scenarios.

Look at the numbers of PCs sold in comparison to iPad sales (Which are not an indication of Windows sales because its software). What it shows isn’t the death of PCs but a redistricting of their importance in mainstream computing. People are not using PCs in the same way they were a decade ago. A person can do just fine with a laptop, a phone, or even a tablet depending on need. And this segment is growing. Every time Apple or even Google makes a case for a mobile computing experience, the PC side takes a hit. Right now that effect is minimal; we still need full featured OSs but even that has an asterisk. If you are power user then you want to control or tinker with every little part. But if you are regular user, you just want it to work, and that changes things. That’s why we have GUI interfaces to make it easier for people to use computers.

Apple is aiming to make the iPad the next form of computing the literal Post-PC. They are going to do it by putting the PC concept in a box; a niche category only requiring a few people. It’ll be like how they changed the way they made products streamline the process and move it to the side. And it doesn’t involve direct competition with Microsoft. They’ll just outgrow its partners. We may need so called real systems to work, but not everybody does. Plus they make hardware people want. They are the BRAND (like Nike).

And this is the future (or present) Microsoft faces. Boxed in like Linux (for certain tasks) and irrelevant to consumers writ large. So in order to mitigate this we get Windows 8. Now lets cut the BS and discuss what Windows 8 is and isn’t.

Win8 is a tablet OS. It is an OS that can be used on a laptop. It will not give you (at this time) the experience you have on a desktop (so quit harping). Windows 8 and Metro were built for mobile scenarios; in business users who need to be in the field and need a secure environment. People who have uses for tablets (doctors, business). Its built for people looking to buy tablets. Metro is built to handle a future where data influences the interface. Right now its not meant for your Multi-monitor setup Batman, but could in future. Windows 8 is Microsoft’s showcase for its platform; where Office, Xbox, and Server can come together. Windows 8 is Microsoft’s solution for users who want both a touch environment and a desktop experience.

The no compromise stuff is about user choice not how well its implemented. Having a desktop allows for more control on a touch device; it allows you to have that element if and when you want/need it.

A lot of us need to realize that the VAST majority of computer users (who grow by the minute) are not going to invest their time learning the ins and outs of a computer. They will learn enough to work it and to fix minor problems. So yes Metro obscures certain computer tasks. It also takes the nature of computing forward in terms of interaction. Making a computer smarter by allowing information to be shared between applications.

Today is a reminder that the computing world is changing, Windows 8 is Microsoft’s response. You don’t have to like it but this is the way it is.

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