Great Debate: Is Windows 8 headed in the right direction?

Moderated by Jason Hiner | September 19, 2011 -- 07:00 GMT (00:00 PDT)

Summary: Ed Bott and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols debate whether Microsoft's next operating system is headed in the right direction.

Ed Bott

Ed Bott

Windows right


Windows wrong

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Best Argument: Windows right

The moderator has delivered a final verdict.

Opening Statements

Squarely in the right direction

Ed Bott: There are a billion PC owners in the world. If you think they're going to toss their systems in the trash and replace them with tablets overnight, you're dreaming.

If, on the other hand, you think that people worldwide will be using an increasingly diverse variety of computing devices over the next 5-10 years, you've got a much firmer grasp of reality.

That's the vision of Windows 8, which replaces the traditional PC core and user interface with a lighter, faster alternative that should work comfortably on small, medium, and large devices, with or without touch capabilities.

The biggest improvement in Windows 8 is that it's simpler overall. That makes it better for developers, businesses, and consumers alike.

Windows Vista was the wrong direction: bigger, slower, overly complex. Windows 7 was a much-needed course correction. Windows 8 is aimed squarely in the right direction.

Direction is more of a death spiral

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols: Microsoft sees Windows 8's Metro interface and applications as the future. When I look at Metro, I see gaudy colors, boxy designs, apps that can either run as a small tile or as full screen with no way to resize or move windows. Where have we seen this before? Windows 1.0!

If Metro was just a tablet interface, I might pass it -- except that Android and iOS already have better, more usable interfaces. Besides, bread-and-butter Windows users already know the Windows interface. Sure, you can use a more Windows' like interface, but Microsoft really seems to want everyone to move to Metro.

Windows developers can't love this either. After years learning .NET, WCF, WPF, etc., now you have to learn WinRT and Jupiter/XAML? And since you'll need to rewrite your app for the more traditional Windows-style desktop, your workload has doubled.

Microsoft is headed toward another Vista-sized fiasco.


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  • RE: The Great Debate: Is Windows 8 headed in the right direction?

    Microsoft is on the right track, but needs to act fast because of the competition of iOS/Apple and Android . Also, the lack of compatibility between ARM windows 8 and x86 Windows 8 is a serious but unavoidable drawback.
    Reply Vote I'm for Windows right
    • RE: The Great Debate: Is Windows 8 headed in the right direction?

      @Andries02 Agree that MS needs to act fast because of the competition but I am also with their approach of focusing on quality not release date, which is what Steve Jobs' Apple always does.
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • iPhone 4?

        @kentchen Quality not release date? I'm not saying windows hasn't done this (Vista) or Google (Honeycomb) but we can't forget the iPhone 4. Delaying the white version because "it looks to yellow" doesn't make up for it.
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • OS X 10.0?

        @kentchen Remember that? Definitely not quality over release date.
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • What do you mean? Apple really takes long time to do thing, but they do try

        @Akilestar: to make them good. If Microsoft lately is capable of similar approach, then it is good thing everyone (except for Apple, which already can not mock MS for Vista any more since W7 release).
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • RE: The Great Debate: Is Windows 8 headed in the right direction?

        @kentchen - MS does need to act fast, but cannot sacrifice quality. Vista was actually fine as an OS but it was the quality of the user's experience that killed it. Windows 7 proved this.<br><br>Regarding Linus & SJVN's comments about "breaking" the UI:<br>a) How is it that Apple can break OSX' UI to create iOS and the world sees it as "magical"? <br>b) The UI isn't broken - existing apps work just as they always did, but you get a new start menu & new environment for new apps to run in that's safe, reliable and touch friendly.<br><br>Windows 8 is both business as usual and the biggest single shift in OS UI design since the move from DOS to Windows.

        Or, to put it another way, Windows 8 is a mullet - it's all business up front, but there's a party going on around the back ;)
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • Metro makes no sense on the desktop... on a tablet sure..

        @kentchen ..but on a desktop it is just idiotic and a huge step backwards.. agree with Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols the only reason that MS is doing this is to trying to desperately hang on to their Windows/Office cash cows and status quos.. frame it any other way and it just doesn't make sense.. it's certainly not about user experience at least on the desktop because it is definitely a worse experience..
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • RE: The Great Debate: Is Windows 8 headed in the right direction?

        @Andries02 While I would agree that Microsoft needs to step up their game......putting a metro gui on Windows 7 and calling it a new OS is NOT the answer. <br><br>There really isn't any real business reason to upgrade from 7 on the desktop. Yes Microsoft does need to come up with something for the tablet market and this is not it, 2012 will be really late to the table and seriously over priced due to the hardware requirements of Windows except for the starter version and that is a failure in its own right.<br><br>Microsoft should have worked on merging them (a very good idea, but, not in one windows version (ie from 7 to 8). The roll out of this Windows 7 sp? gui update does not deserve a new version designator and most people are looking for ROI and not just to upgrade a gui.....Microsoft has a real management problem with either too much change at one time or too little. Vista was too much and as a result it failed for all the documented reasons dispite being an excellent OS once SP1 rolled out....then 7 rolled out and fixed a lot of the issues with Vista and people bought it Microsoft thinks they can change the gui for the tablet market and call it another major improvement......NOT, not even deserving of a SP designation unless there are substantial improvements over Windows 7 which I seriously doubt. In Android this is called changing your "launcher" and costs $3 or the burning question is "this justifies a cost of more than $100 how?"<br><br>Where is the vision that Bill Gates gave us...missing in action...this is nothing but more of the same failed business model we have been subjected to for some years now. What we need is a change in management and some new vision not the same old failed also ran idea's.
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
    • Compatibility

      @ Andries02

      Judging by the Visual Studio 11, this is mostly a one-way problem. Windows on Arm won't run traditional x86 apps, but Metro apps written in .NET (e.g. C#, F#, VB) or JavaScript are (by default) architecture-independent. This isn't surprising since .NET is only Jitted to machine code at install time or run time, and JavaScript is only Jitted at runtime. That's why .NET and JavaScript are already architecture independent today.

      For Metro apps written in C++, it looks like they'll be architecture-dependent, just like traditional Win32 apps. For well written code, compiling for multiple architectures is easy, but if I were a developer targeting both Arm and x86, I'd probably use .NET and/or JavaScript rather than C/C++.
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
    • RE: The Great Debate: Is Windows 8 headed in the right direction?

      @Andries02 . I am more of a neutral person as I do lot of Win32 - low level stuff - for a living. However, I have seen many 2 or 3 year old kids use an iPhone, iPod or iPad WITHOUT EVER SEEING A USER GUIDE OR MANUAL. I have seen some kids pick up the same app in an iPhone and an iPad without any hesitation. If MS can do that, then they will succeed. Stevie Wonder just recently praised Steve Jobs for Voice Over, he said that the iPad/iPhone leveled the playing field for the blind. Is Windows8 similar to iPhone/iPad? Can people use it without ever looking at any guide or manual? Remember, all Windows users currently have been either taught the initial steps by somebody or read a user guide/manual.
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided