Windows 8: How to make it a Generation Y success

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

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Desktop OSes will be less important in the future

    but there will still be some room for innovation and improvement.

    I'd like to see MS integrate more sensory input, especially a smaller-scale Kinect which could allow gesture control (3D "touch"?).

    Otherwise they should bring WPF into it's prime and nuture a new wave of immersive apps.

    Oh - and make it even easier for 3rd party devs to use leverage sandboxing/virtualization.
    • RE: Windows 8: How to make it a Generation Y success

      @honeymonster Been hearing for years how desktop OS's are going to be "less important". That magical statement hasn't yet come true, now has it? Why would I expect the same statement to come true anytime in the near future.

      Anyone who works in the industry knows two truths they won't admit to: Desktop OSes are here to stay because workplaces aren't going to magically drop everything to go to a mobile design, and the "cloud" is NOT the panacea Google and Microsoft wants you to believe. In 10 years, you're still going to see most people working in an office, behind a desk, using a full fledged OS on a tower system or a laptop.
      • I beg to differ, at least in part...

        @Captiosus... We have yet to see how Google's Chrome OS will pan out, when that hits the market then we will see if it is enough to start pushing computing to the cloud.

        Many mobile apps for iOS are merely web based apps with that have a client on them

        And aside from dev's I am willing to bet the average worker will have no more than a Pano-like device at their desk. Where all of the computing actually takes place once again in the data center.

        Hard Core gamers may stay with an actual tower, but even there most games are played on consoles, such as 360, Wii, and the PS3.

        There are only a handful of MMO's that I actually play on the PC, and even there I don't play it as often as I do my 360 and PS3. The dang tower throws off so much heat that it actually makes it uncomfortable to play. My tower can actually raise the temp of my upstairs portion of my 950sq ft apartment by at least 10 degrees, and quickly too.

        Specs for that is an Asus M32NSLI-Deluxe board, with an AMD X2 Processor, 600watt PSW, 4GB of RAM, Dual Nvidia 7900-GT video cards, and 2-250GB Seagate drives. All of which lives in a full size tower with 5 cooling fans.
      • RE: Windows 8: How to make it a Generation Y success


        "Many mobile apps for iOS are merely web based apps with that have a client on them"

        That's what I think is really happening - we're moving towards hybrid, to leverage the advantages of both the cloud and the client. I don't think we are headed towards 100% cloud.

        "And aside from dev's I am willing to bet the average worker will have no more than a Pano-like device at their desk."

        I beg to differ. It'll be more like an iMac. There are some advantages to keeping some level of client side computing. Low latency and reduced bandwidth costs come to mind.

        "Hard Core gamers may stay with an actual tower, but even there most games are played on consoles, such as 360, Wii, and the PS3."

        If we don't see a new generation of consoles come out soon (and no, I don't mean the same console in a smaller form factor), then I predict we may see an increased demand for PC games.
      • RE: Windows 8: How to make it a Generation Y success

        @Captiosus I honestly agree with this. I think a shift to the cloud now would be... well, dangerous, actually. If people really knew the legalities behind the Patriot Act, and how even non-US organisations working within the EU are vulnerable to this data intrusion, then it would never happen. I wish it weren't the case, but I believe what you have said to be completely on the ball and unfortunately a very accurate analysis.
      • RE: Windows 8: How to make it a Generation Y success

        @Captiosus Tony Burgess from Barbados West Indies
        make Windows 8 32 bit capable of reading more than four GB thank you
        Tony Burgess
      • RE: Windows 8: How to make it a Generation Y success


        Are you the guy who predicted that the mainframe was here to stay... well it did... but not the way IBM figured out it would.

        So yes... Windows XP is here to stay, but that and being as common place as today... are too different things... or else I would be typing this in my AS/400 terminal.
    • RE: Windows 8: How to make it a Generation Y success

      @honeymonster For people who use their computers as power machines and need to upgrade all of their components, including mobo, the desktop is the only way to go. I would never trade my desktops for laptops, not ever.
    • Maybe one day but not until Windows 8 has long come and gone

      As has been already said, people have been saying for sometime now that the Desktop OS is on the way out but the interesting thing is that not only hasn't it happened, at all, there is no genuine sign of it happening yet.

      Its kind of like saying that one day man will walk on Mars. It probably will happen one day, but even though we could actually manage it right now if we put the time manpower and energy into it, there simply isnt a good enough reason and we are still at a time when the risks and the hardware are not what they should be if we have any intention of doing it right.

      People who talk about the world moving to cloud computing and hand held devices are even of the same kind of thinking as those who avidly support going to Mars. At the very least its something they have taken a personal interest in for any number of reasons and they push the notion as if the world is ready for it. The world is not ready for it.

      Full on cloud computing always has and likely always will have one major problem. If you do everything from the cloud you have nothing once your connection is lost for any reason. Even with television now a days people for a long time have had VCR's, now DVD and Blue Ray players and even media computers now so when the cable goes down they are not nessesarily left starring at a blank screen until it comes back up.

      People who push cloud computing forget that people are still human beings and us humans rather like to have real ownership and control when ever possible. The idea of all your data and such being streamed back and forth through a required connection to have any contact with it is not that appealing for many.

      On our home computers now, without any connection most people who have a computer can look at and edit their photos, play games, do word processing and other office tasks as well as a great number of other things that currently don't require a connection.

      The long term outlook for cloud computing appears to say that you wont even need a tower of any significance because all your data and content will be in the cloud. What you will need is a connection. Its a system designed in the long run to keep you on the hook cash wise, ever more there would be ways to charge fees for services and applications, storage and just about anything else you might imagine that people can think of related to computing because someone else owns everything you need to do what you want to do on a cloud computer.

      Secondly, we all know hardware can fail and data can and is lost. That happens now a days and there is no sign in sight of failure proof hardware so one must expect its going to continue to happen. When it happens now, its your hardware, its your data, you own it all and its in your possession so its your fault and so as unpleasant as going through that as it is, at least it was all in your hands and up to you to keep things right. If a catastrophe happens in the cloud and you end up loosing something you feel is critical its a doubly bitter pill to swallow knowing you left it in the hands of another. While one would expect that any company providing for cloud computing would have quite a number of backup systems in place to prevent that kind of loss and that in most respects may be even safer then your own hardware, you just know if cloud computing ever does go big time mainstream, these cloud computing providers will be HUGE HUGE targets because if you knock them out for even a short period you also knock out everyone and anything that was depending on them supplying services by way of the cloud. I guess you could revel in the fact that misery loves company because there would likely be plenty of it.

      And already, right now today you have internet providers throttling traffic because some people use to much bandwidth. Well how is this going to be alleviated when everyone and their brother is doing pretty much every single thing by way of internet??? It wont. Simply put we will need a great deal more bandwidth if full on cloud computing is ever going to work. Keep in mind there are still plenty of people who only use dial up so what we are talking about is not going to happen on a large scale anytime soon.

      Cloud computing comes across with all the smell of a great sci-fi idea because it is something that while having that futuristic flavor its also quite doable and not something of pure far flung fantasy. But it hold some of the same kinds of perils that other sci-fi ideas have had. We have all seen the movies where mankind developed some new technology or way of doing things that ended up creating some predictable disaster, and I say predictable because most of those kinds of sci-fi movies end up making you ask yourself how the world wouldn't have seen the potential for the related big problem before hand. Its like someone convinced us to enter into some wild scheme and just ignore the obvious pitfalls.

      Cloud computing has some obvious potential pitfalls and until they are managed in some new and clever way the general public is not going to buy in en masse, and as those issues are some ways away from being solved don't expect the computing world to reside entirely in the cloud in the foreseeable near future.
  • RE: Windows 8: How to make it a Generation Y success

    (1) "mistakes - as I see it - will probably not be made again." - Part of the reason that Vista irritated the consumer so badly was that Microsoft had done the same thing with similar backlash when it released Windows ME. I believe if not windows 8 then Windows 9 will crumble similarly, with Microsoft trying too hard to move the entire OS into the cloud where it can be more closely controlled.<br>(2) "Application Store" - A Microsoft App store would have to displace several already existing services, like STEAM. In this regard they will find themselves in the same predicament they are in with the cell phone market. (Doing too little, too late) Then forcing app store use in new Win versions destabilizing the OS further.<br>(3) "Simple Backup" - Microsoft has built themselves into a corner with the Registry. Backup/Restore may look simple, but it never will be in a Windows environment.<br>(4) "Simplified User Profiles" - The convoluted manner in which user accounts are managed are part of the systems backwards compatibility. For many of the same reasons backup is never simple, profiles will also never be like Linux, for example where the entire user, apps and all, can be transferred and managed from a single home directory.<br><br>What I would like to see in Windows 8 is not to have a Windows 8; but instead rebuild the whole OS and start fresh on a linux kernel like Mac did with OS X. Maybe even do what everyone else is doing and standardize on a stable core Linux build and make that a the foundation, re-build from there.
    • Windows is already on a stable kernel.

      @Socratesfoot: Moving to a different kernel would gain them nothing and break backwards compatibility.
      • RE: Windows 8: How to make it a Generation Y success

        @ Socratesfoot

        As ye said already, Windows is already on a stable kernel.

        Here is what windows 8 should be:

        There should be a windows 8 home edtion that is like a windows 7 second edition

        Then there needs to be a windows 8 Professional edition in which they strip out all of the backward compatilbity. Make it as streamlined as possible, make it so it only works with next generation software. Take all of the "crap" out of it.
        If you must run legacy, then you can run a VM inside of windows 8 PRO.
        That I think would be very awesome.
      • RE: Windows 8: How to make it a Generation Y success


        Stable, yes, not secure. I understand where Socratesfoot is going here - LINUX and XNU (the UNIX derivative favored by OSX) both do a nice job of separating user-space from kernel-space. I'll say as I did above your comment, however, that Singularity is far, far, far more advanced than anything conceived by LINUX programmers.
      • @mikroland: I can see the merits in what you're saying

        @mikroland:<i>"...Then there needs to be a windows 8 Professional edition in which they strip out all of the backward compatilbity."</i><br><br>I can see what you and ye are both trying to say, but i would tend to lean toward your notion more.<br><br><i>"...Make it as streamlined as possible, make it so it only works with next generation software. Take all of the "crap" out of it."</i><br><br>You contradict what ye said: i mean, you can't do that without starting again from scratch - which basically means a new kernel. That said, i don't think a new kernel design is such a bad thing.<br><br><i>"...If you must run legacy, then you can run a VM inside of windows 8 PRO .."</i> <br><br>Another very good idea. I think breaking away from the 'backwards compatibility' mentality can only be healthy for MS in their collective thinking for W8. I'd also go along (to a degree) with what Rifleman says in his post later on this blog about MS considering using a BSD-based kernel. The entire notion of separating user-space and kernel-space is brilliant in both concept and practicality.<br><br>I firmly believe that MS has the luxury of being able to look at a number of kernel-design concepts that depart from their legacy roots. Personally, the idea of making a fresh start with a kernel that is BSD-based sounds great to me. <br><br>Lastly, if backwards compatibility is the sticking point that leaves their most lucrative customer-base 'a little edgy' (i.e. corporations / enterprise) than perhaps two completely different versions of W8 might be feasible - as you've already suggested: one that allows backward compatibility and one that is either a complete departure from previous Windows versions or is near enough to it.<br><br>Sincerely.
    • RE: Windows 8: How to make it a Generation Y success

      @Socratesfoot I see your point and to some extent agree with you - but Windows 8 won't. I strongly suspect that the succeeding operating system to "Windows", regardless of version, possibly 'Midori' or 'Singularity' (check Mary Jo Foley's codetracker - this offers more information) will be worked on co-in-sync with Windows development until such a time where the next-generation post-Windows is ready to enter beta, and thus RTM. I don't think there will be a Windows 10.
    • RE: Windows 8: How to make it a Generation Y success

      @Socratesfoot "<b><i>What I would like to see in Windows 8 is not to have a Windows 8; but instead rebuild the whole OS and start fresh on a linux kernel like Mac did with OS X. Maybe even do what everyone else is doing and standardize on a stable core Linux build and make that a the foundation, re-build from there.</b></i>

      Mac OS X is built on "FreeBSD" a free Unix. Not Linux. Linux is replete of standards. This is why there are so many Distro's of Linux.

      FreeBSD on the other hand... is built from the ground up with security as job one. Mac massaged FreeBSD and added their own and familiar G.U.I. This is why viruses have attacked the Mac. They have actually made FreeBSD less secure than it's designers intended by working it over.

      If Windows 8 were built on a Linux Platform, we would be in more trouble than we are now. If Microsoft is considering this approach, I would hope they would use a Unix underpinning the likes of FreeBSD.

      I for one will run Win-8 in "VirtualBox" under PC-BSD to enjoy the safest use of Windows since Vista 64-Bit.
      The Rifleman
      • RE: Windows 8: How to make it a Generation Y success

        Berkley UNIX was a success for a while, but then Sun dropped it to go to the AT&T flavoured Solaris. I don't see why Sun would have invested in making that change without reason. If MS really want to make a real OS, I would think baseing it on AT&T UNIX would be a good place to start.
      • RE: Windows 8: How to make it a Generation Y success

        @The Rifleman

        Max OS X used parts of the FreeBSD/NetBSD operating systems, but it is based on NeXTStep/XNU, as noted in a previous post. (FreeBSD uses a monolithic kernel, whereas OS X is hybrid based on the Mach microkernel.)

        When it comes to 'NIX style operating systems, there's also compatibility to consider, and very few systems comply with the Single UNIX Specification: AIX, HP/UX, SCO, Solaris and Mac OS do meet the specification, but FreeBSD, its descendents and GNU/Linux do not.


        Singularity and Midori were written using the well-known notions of design-by-contract, pre- and post-conditions and invariants, which were most famously promulgated by Bertrand Meyer's language, Eiffel.

        While Eiffel and Spec# (a .NET/CLI implementation of an Eiffel-like language used to implement Singularity and Midori) can make software more robust, they do not necessarily make it more "secure"; that depends on the implementation, which is currently no better or worse that any other Microsoft .NET language. Static checking of invariants and pre/post-conditions can only do so much.

        If you really want security, you might be better off going back to the almost defunct Occam programming language. Occam introduced the idea of project specifications, written in a mathematical notation called the Z-notation. This allowed an Occam-coded implementation of a Z-specification to be proven with mathematical rigour.

        The Occam compiler and even the target hardware (the Inmos Transputer) were both proven to meet their Z-specifications! (I don't know whether the cross compiler was proven correct.)

        If this research and technology had been picked up in the early 1990s then I doubt whether viruses would even be a possibility today. Certainly, the tediously common buffer overrun infection route would have been blocked before any software saw the light of day!
    • Do what "EVERYONE ELSE" is doing? LOL!

      Let me don't use Windows, at least not in places where you are not compelled to use Windows.

      And do what everyone else is doing?? Ha! Thats laughable in so far as any kind of rational argument goes. Everyone else in this case is like 10% of the marketplace. Not a particularly compelling argument to be sure. I suggest this, if Microsoft ever completely looses their minds and follows that line of advise, they just signed their own death warrant as the company that supplies 90% of the worlds operating systems. You might ask why (not if your thinking at all though). The why is because I wouldn't expect Microsoft to start selling there OS for the price of free. If Windows becomes a Linux based OS then I expect pre-Linux Windows applications wouldn't run on a Linux based system so there goes any reason to upgrade to a Linux based Windows OS.

      In fact I would let my Windows 7 run long in the tooth and then just go to free Linux and be done with it. What do I, or anyone for that matter want with a Linux based operating system?? Particularly if MS wants you to pay for it? Linux can be had in any one of a number of flavors for free and if I'm going to loose the use of my apps and games because Windows went Linux they have lost me as a paying customer because I can get the same mess for free elsewhere.

      Windows sells for real cash because it works. It works easy and simply with my old and new hardware and software. It works with a few simple clicks and its enormously stable. When I read these kinds of posts that appear to be trying to drag the public kicking and screaming to the Linux OS it becomes ever so more apparent that far too many Linux users just don't seem to understand the majority of the Joe Average computing public at all. Its gone right over their heads for whatever reason.

      Unlike much of the public I used Linux (SUSE) for a while some time ago. I get Linux and generally I like it. But its not for the average person. For too long now Windows has proved that you can build an OS that installs all sorts and kinds of hardware, new, old and that not yet built, with nothing more then a couple of clicks. Software goes in just the same, click click done. They made Windows so user friendly that even the slickest Linux OS pales in comparison.

      So, as good as Linux is for what it is, its not good enough to be Windows.
      • RE: Windows 8: How to make it a Generation Y success

        @Cayble The Mac O.S. is FreeBSD with the familiar Mac G.U.I. You see "Installing FreeBSD" when the installer is a bit lazy. While the AT&T Unix is a better choice, it is not currently engineered with a G.U.I. like the BSD family is. (Unless you know otherwise) Apple charges for their O.S. However, under the G.N.U. and G.P.L. Licenses, they can only charge for the proprietary value they add. Which is why the price of upgrading the O.S. has come way down.

        I stated in my reply above that basing Windows on a Linux Distro is just plain bad news because of the lack of standards. The lack of standards is why there are, at last count, 386 different Linux Distros! Imagine 386 different Windows releases! - 386 different Mac O.S. releases! This is the root of Linux confusion and why the everyday User doesn't adopt Linux as an alternative. That's the very reason I write this from PC-BSD Unix! I also run Windows Vista 64-Bit and love it! I'll never go 32-Bit again!

        If Microsoft were ever to consider a different underpinning for its G.U.I., it should be a Unix flavor. Where the BSD family already has worked out pinning a G.U.I. to it, this would be a good place to start. Microsoft wouldn't have to release anything until they came to terms with weather to stay with the BSD Family or adopt the AT&T Unix as a final solution.

        Linux and Unix both, should never be thought of as Windows. After all, the FreeBSD underpinning of the Mac is never spoken of in Mac circles. They all think they are running a real Mac O.S.! That's how well hidden FreeBSD is and should be.
        The Rifleman