Windows 8: How to make it a Generation Y success

Summary:If Vista was a screw-up and Windows 7 tried to make up for past misgivings, could Windows 8 be the crown jewel in the Windows family? What do you want to see in Windows 8?

With the summer holiday fully in swing, you can bet your bottom dollar that while you are away enjoying the sand, the sun, or more likely the part-time job waitering at your local bar, your university network is taking advantage of the quiet and undergoing 'major maintenance'.

Because Windows Vista was so widely criticised - and rightfully so, even if it did suit the needs of many including myself for a while, one cannot escape the feeling that perhaps Windows 7 was created to neutralise the sting that Vista left behind.

It worked, in my opinion. Though the foul taste still remains at the back of the technology throat, lessons have been made and mistakes - as I see it - will probably not be made again. Criticise companies all you like; negative stories do get taken into account.

You could never believe that the future iPhone 5 would have a similar major defect built into its design, could you? With the lessons learned from the Vista belly-flop, it could be conceived that Windows 8 will make up for previous misgivings.

So what should Windows 8 include to, not only add the jewel to the crown of the next-generation operating systems, but appeal to the younger, more impressionable market who's influence could change the future workplace?

Application store

An underestimated technology, Apple's App Store has propelled the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad into a league of its own. It kick-started an entire revolution of mobile application development and open platforms. One can only guess as to why Microsoft hasn't tried doing this with its world-leading operating system.

Windows users have the Windows Marketplace and now the Microsoft Store - which is all good and well, but it doesn't have the appeal of the Apple App Store. Windows 8 is expected to include provisions to get support for an entirely new marketplace, allowing trusted applications to be downloaded, installed and guaranteed to work.

Of course, the expected Application Store may not be appropriate nor even used by enterprise users, ie. those using a public PC on a university campus network: the applications will be rolled out in mass and not individually. Though, this will appeal no doubt to the student consumer, and perhaps sway younger users into paying for software instead of downloading illegally.

Simple system recovery

Windows 7 has a good system restore function. You can image your entire computer to an external drive, install an entirely different operating system, massively screw it up, pop back in the Windows 7 DVD and restore your machine exactly as it was before. It truly is pretty cool.

But it's not as seamless as it could be, nor is it a function widely used by content-hungry students. Frankly, more often than not a backup is never done, nor is the computer restored in any way. 'Windows rot' sets in, and it's plugged until it's full and replaced by a new computer; usually coinciding with the end of the academic year.

I should know. I now take backup extremely seriously.

Windows 8 should make recovery and the resetting of the operating system far simpler and easier than before. Perhaps with Application Store integration, it can make recovery of an operating system far simpler and more inclusive, than separate and modular.

Truly portable user accounts

A password was once all you needed; one single code to allow you into your computer, and that satisfied most needs. Though with web services, social networking and multiple identities over vast numbers of websites and online applications - all combined with the 'mobile' student, keeping track of your identities isn't easy nowadays.

One hope is that online accounts could travel with the user as and when they need it, instead of having to be remembered. The Windows identity could act as a universal, gateway identity which logs into websites on their behalf automatically, with data stored securely in the cloud.

These are just three ideas which would make a great deal of difference to the younger market. Remember, nowadays many companies are targeting at the younger audience in the hope they will transport their 'allegiance' and knowledge into the future workplace. It spreads out their customer base and increases the chance of enterprise deals, which is where most of the money is earned nowadays.

What other features would you like to see in Windows 8? Leave a TalkBack, and have a great weekend.

Topics: Software, Apple, Data Management, Operating Systems, Windows

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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