Windows 8: Can this OS be saved?

Moderated by Larry Dignan | April 8, 2013 -- 07:00 GMT (00:00 PDT)

Summary: Windows 8 was a bold bet by Microsoft to link PC, tablet and phone interfaces. Is it too soon to say the bet flopped?

Ed Bott

Ed Bott

Yes, it can be saved


No, it can't be saved

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Best Argument: Yes, it can be saved


Audience Favored: Yes, it can be saved (54%)

Closing Statements

'I’m not dead yet!'

Ed Bott

My worthy opponent has only two arguments, which he repeats in every answer.

First, Windows 8 PCs aren’t selling. Second, the “Metro UI” is awful.

The current slump in PC sales is not a verdict on Windows. It’s the economy, Steven. In Q4, Apple said Mac sales declined roughly 22 percent. Is the MacBook Air dead? Hardly.

My opponent cites Gartner’s projections but ignores their more recent numbers: 1.7 billion Windows devices of all types will be sold in the next five years, including 250 million Ultramobiles - the kind of hybrid device that Windows 8 was designed for. Not dead yet.

Critics of the Windows 8 UI are loud, but there’s strong evidence that people really like it. If the missing Start menu bothers you, try Start8, which my opponent admits has been downloaded 3 million times. Fixed.

Six years ago, my opponent called Windows Vista “the walking dead.” Sound familiar? But the Aero interface he loves so much debuted in Vista and matured in Windows 7.

Windows 8 is solid at its core, and Microsoft today is far more disciplined than in the Vista era. With some usability tweaks and some hot hardware, it will survive to torment Mr. Vaughan-Nichols for years.

Causes of Windows 8 Death

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

The subject, Windows 8, is a not quite seven month-old operating system. According to witnesses , it was born with a congenital defect called "Metro." This fatal flaw, combined with other factors, such as partner poisoning, led to its premature death.

I said at the start that this wasn't a debate, it was an autopsy and I've seen no reason to shift my position. My worthy opponent has been trying to recast Windows 8 from being a stand-alone product to be taken on its own merits to being only part of an evolutionary chain leading to the sure-to-be-much-better Windows 8.1, aka Blue. Balderdash!

I've been hammering on Windows 8's market numbers, which are far worse than Vista's pathetic  numbers, because while most issues in operating system discussions can be a matter of opinion the simple sad truth is that Windows 8 has failed to find an audience. With all the advantages of essentially owning the desktop market, with having years to roll Windows 8 out, Microsoft was still unable to talk users into using it.

I'm reminded of the baseball New York Yankees or football's Manchester United in their worst years when they'd spend more than anyone else in their sports, and still fail miserably. You can talk all you want about how the next season, or the next version, will be better. That's fine. But, just by doing that alone, you admit that today's team, today's product has failed.

Maybe Blue, this next evolutionary step, will be better. We don't know. But Windows 8.0? It can't be saved because it's already dead and there's no emergency room that can shock it back to life. 

Bloodsport and a good show

Larry Dignan

This debate was arguably our most entertaining one yet. It captured the bloodsport that is the Windows 8 debate.

Ed Bott had a strong argument with many nuances to note. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols had two tricks---the UI stinks, and tablets and smartphones trump PCs---and they were damn good tricks.

Personally, I think Microsoft is going to need Windows 9 to put Windows 8 behind it. But I had to put aside the crowd's comments, the vote and my personal bias to judge the arguments on the page. On that front, I have to give the argument to Ed, but found Steven's Metro happy rebuttal blistering and comical at times.

Overall, hats off to both for a good show. Ed gets the win. 


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  • Windows 8

    In my opinion Windows 8 was dead before it even started.
    Reply 60 Votes I'm for No, it can't be saved
    • +1

      We all knew this garbage would be dead out of the water and it's gonna take all those OEMs who rely on this garbage down too
      Reply 39 Votes I'm Undecided
      • I feel sorry

        For the OEMs actually, or maybe it is their wakeup call so they stop betting the farm on a single player.

        Anyway Microsoft is too preoccupied with their marketing messages to hear them. Creating such a monumental failure takes a lot of time, effort and meticulous planning…or simply some really bad management.
        Reply 24 Votes I'm Undecided
        • Those OEMs have tried introducing Lunix into their products multiple times.

          There are no other alternatives buy UNIX or Linux. If your single player has a 92% market-share, it is hard to justify investing much time or money into alternatives.
          M Wagner
          Reply 9 Votes I'm Undecided
          • Just trying…

            …by just installing an OS on the machine is one way, but then it leaves the users having to make sure that this machine fits their workflow. I think a targeted approach like Dell’s Steam+Ubuntu bundle is a more focused and promising approach.

            Like Samsung that is using Android and then adds a whole set of apps on the top to make it more relevant to the user’s needs.

            But I agree with you that this is not an easy task and it needs time and perseverance. At the end of the day Microsoft does “help” the situation with gems like Vista and now Windows 8 :P
            Reply 5 Votes I'm Undecided
          • Pointless arguments.

            Android apps are toys, Windows 8 means business.
            Reply 5 Votes I'm Undecided
          • Translation

            Translating Ow[l1]*net:

            "Android means loss for Microsoft, Windows 8 means business for Microsoft".

            And the untold

            "Microsoft fans of the world, unite! Buy your Windows 8 license today!"
            Reply 2 Votes I'm Undecided
          • If Windows 8 really meant busines...

            I would allow for a native MS Windows functionality, if at the least in the professional version. Windows is a business operating system, which is why so many companies are not prepared to consider alternatives - their software is Windows and Windows only. And these companies are not going to spend thousands of dollars to change their hardware to something more accommodating to this "pretty" tablet friendly, not desktop/laptop friendly OS. The fact that Microsoft has refused up to this point to provide a desktop and traditional start button option, even to the professional version, is what I consider the biggest downfall to this OS. It is the number one reason why I, as an IT manager, refuse to deploy it in my company. I'm not prepared to have to spend that kind of time training.
            Reply 13 Votes I'm Undecided
          • The voting system is not working.

            There is something wrong on the voting on these comments. I marked "No, it can't be saved", and it shows "I'm undecided." I see so many of these that say "I'm undecided" from commenters who clearly feel otherwise.
            Reply 6 Votes I'm Undecided
          • You have Windows functionality now!

            Your said "I would allow for a native MS Windows functionality"
            Is that what you want? Well you have it now.

            I have run Windows 7 next to Window 8 for 6 months running the same Desktop programs, there is no difference, but 8 seems a little faster.

            Just do three simple things:
            3 easy things to do to get back the Start menu and to make you realize that it is just a faster, more responsive Windows 7 with a Modern front end that you never have to see unless you want to see it. Also, the front end is useful even if you don't want to use Apps.

            1. Download the Classic Shell Start Menu and choose Windows 7, Vista, or XP style and choose if you want the Windows Key/MS Key to bring up the Modern Menu or just bring up the Start Menu like it has always done.

            2. Download a new free Picture Viewer like Windows Photo Viewer or other free photo viewer program like Google's Picasa, or IrfanView (both great programs). That is so when you click on a picture, you are not shot back to the Modern front end to view the picture.

            3. Automatically load any Windows 7 type program at start up, I happen to use StickyNotes. That way you will bypass the Modern front end on start up and be right at the Desktop (you could also create a task using task scheduler. Step by step directions here:

            That is it. You can use the Modern Start Screen to have you less used programs and techie programs available a tiles so you don't have to search for them and you can play with some apps and see if you like any of them.
            Reply 11 Votes I'm Undecided