Whatever Happened to Windows 8?

With the release of Windows 10, Microsoft has announced (whether they want to admit it or not) the end of Windows 8 and in many ways a period of uncertainty for users who like and use it. While the heads of Windows were assuring they were not retreating from touch or hybrid devices many are in a mode of wait and see.

Others are openly saying Windows 10 is a major step backwards in terms of mobility.

Right now, I feel like we are too early into Windows 10 to say it’s a retreat. Realistically it is an acknowledgement that Windows 8 didn’t move every Windows user toward the mobile promised land. I hate saying it but Microsoft had to address the wants and desires of its customers that wanted a desktop in the traditional Start menu mold. Not having the menu was an issue hampering progress; in fact the debate between mobility, touch, and mouse and keyboard was a serious distraction.

So now we find ourselves on the march to Windows 10 and it begins by addressing the desktop. We also now are facing a reverse situation in which people who have embraced 2-in1s, hybrids, and Windows tablets wondering what is in it for them. People like technology reporter Mary Branscombe have been vocal on Twitter about the pull back and the seeming reduction in functionality of Windows 10 for Windows 8 users. It is an issue that is not only coming from enthusiasts but also developers who adopted the new Modern environment.

Right now we know little about Microsoft’s plans for touch in Windows 10. We know they will be overhauling the Charms bar (replacing it with an unknown new UI). We know that the designers at Redmond will be introducing Continuum which will switch a users’ device between being a laptop and being a tablet. Lastly, we know the gestures instituted in Windows 8 are being changed. Beyond the Charms bar, swiping from the left will bring up a new task switcher which will show all open apps and desktops.

I don’t know what to make of what we are seeing in Windows 10 from the perspective of a tablet fan. Windows 10 will make the changes from 8 palatable for some diehard keyboarders but not all. It could also alienate users who have come to embrace the benefits of Windows tablets and hybrids. People who have found benefit in having mobile devices that can be workhorses. The whole thing makes me concerned, only in so far, as I think the idea of the tablet being another form factor and not totally divorced from the PC is solid. It is just the execution that needs fine tuning.


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