Did Microsoft pull the trigger on Windows 8 too early? Weigh in

Did Microsoft pull the trigger on Windows 8 too early? Weigh in

Summary: Intel's CEO allegedly has said he considers Windows 8 to have been deemed finished before it should have been. Do you?

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There's a September 25 Bloomberg report out of Taiwan claiming that Intel CEO Paul Otellini privately told Intel staff that Windows 8 is being released before it's fully ready.

win8surfacemsimage

My first reaction: No operating system release from Microsoft or any other vendor is ever really "done." Anyone remember this infamous memo -- dating back to the Windows 2000 days -- from a Softie admitting there were thousands of bugs (63,000, to be exact) left in the "finished" product? Hotfixes, updates, service packs are all meant to continue to patch and fix operating systems until a new version is released.

My second thought: Is this sour grapes? I wonder whether Otellini is trying to soften the blow when ARM-based systems come out of the gate beating Intel Atom ones on battery life, performance and other specs... But that's just pure speculation on my part, since none of us independent reviewer types have gotten any real hands-on time with ARM-based Windows RT PCs or tablets at this point.

Microsoft, predictably, isn't conceding anything. A company spokesperson sent me the official statement that's going out to all reporters asking about Otellini's alleged remarks:

“With over 16 million active preview participants, Windows 8 is the most tested, reviewed and ready operating system in Microsoft’s history. We’re looking forward to making Windows 8 available to the world on October 26th.”

All that said, I'm not giving Microsoft a blanket hall pass on this one.

Windows 8 is more like a brand-new operating system, rather than a fairly minor update to an older version of Windows -- like Windows 7 was/is. It's going to take some time for drivers to materialize; for applications optimized for it to make their debut. And without more help and how-to guidance -- beyond a very short navigational tutorial built into the OS -- many users are going to call Windows 8 buggy and unstable just because it is very different and unfamiliar.

As I've said repeatedly, I'm skeptical about how well Windows 8 will be received by less-technical users and consumers when it "launches" on October 25. (More tech-savvy users already have had access to the final bits since August.) I don't consider Windows 8 the best choice for non-touch PCs and laptops; I think Windows 7 is the better option on those systems. I'm hoping Windows 8 and Windows RT work well on the new generation of hardware optimized for the operating system that will start shipping this fall.

I'm not the only one saying this, by the way. Even though there've been positive reviews of Windows 8, there has been plenty of criticism, too. I don't think CEO Steve Ballmer will have a leg to stand on, this time around, if he tries to claim the beta testers didn't warn him about Windows 8 -- something he said after Vista made a very bad showing.

So what's your take? Did Microsoft declare Windows 8 "done" too early? Would waiting another month or three -- leading to the company missing holiday 2012 -- have made a difference?

Topics: Windows, Intel, Microsoft, Tablets, PCs

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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185 comments
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  • No, I think it needs to be released

    Though there are a few things that could be ironed out more, I think waiting would be a bigger problem than the few minor problems. Using Windows 8 as my daily work computer, there really aren't many problems with it. I'd like to be able to run multiple modern apps on my multiple monitors and it is a little jarring when a desktop app on another monitor causes the modern/start screen to switch to the desktop.

    If Microsoft waited much longer, they'd be falling behind rather than pushing tech forward.
    grayknight
    • I agree, with the first sensible cross platform release, they can't wait.

      Their mobile OS has only recently approached par, their tablet os actually has a touch friendly layout that is familiar to desktop; considering how far they are behind the mobile competition, not releasing hardware native to the OS in time for this years holiday's is simply not an option.

      Also, unless i've missed something here, what bloomberg called "bugs" actually turned out to be driver support? and some software titles... So not the OS really.

      I won't lie, i'm still not sold on the start menu; don't get me wrong I like it fine, and i'm looking forward to the tablets... I litterally don't like the cross over to the desktop from the start menu... But that's just my taste!

      There will be bugs; it's a new OS release. At the end of the day only the foolhardy replace thier primary OS in the first month. I shall be installing on release day, but as ever i'll be dual booting 'till the worst of the bugs come to light.
      MarknWill
    • Released with minor bugs and SP1 follow shortly

      Agreed with your comment. If MS waits to fix all bugs, it might wait forever. Windows 8 requires new hardware, MS must take the risk of having it tested by a great number of users. I think users will be more forgiving. After all they too need to learn the new GUI. If SP1 is released quickly this should be OK.
      RelaxWalk
      • Agreed, get it out the door already with caveat

        Windows is already a little late to the big dance. Any further delays would only give Apple and Google, and Amazon more time to make inroads. Really the problem for Windows 8 and Microsoft in general is their reliance on other companies to provide compatible drivers and software. These partner companies are slow and lazy and sometimes don't even start moving until the product is on store shelves and customers are complaining. I spoke to Lexmark a couple months ago about software and driver support and it was like they had never even heard of Windows 8 or Windows RT. Pretty scary stuff. Delaying won't accomplish anything other than giving Microsoft's partners time to delay and not do anything. At some point you have to just pull the trigger and get the ball rolling. Microsoft gave all their partners plenty of time, if they're not ready it's their own fault.
        cool8man
        • Lazy Partners

          Poor buy-in from their hardware partners is exactly why Microsoft has got into the hardware game with Surface. The OEM's want to have their cake and eat it too. Poor support but no competition.
          gr1f
          • I agree and too many computer models

            OEM's have a seemingly never ending number of desktop, notebook, and netbook models with lots of different options for each one. That causes them to have a hard time keeping drivers up to date when new OS versions are released. Time for them to get their acts together or go out of business. I am tired of having too many options and models to pick from. How can I pick the best system with the features I a want when there are so many and too many specs to pay attension to. OEM's have been using the to there advantage for to long. They need more features standard to drive the costs of these features down.

            Just like the automotive industry. You cannot be an automaker with 100 different starters for a single model year and compete again other automakers that have 5 different starters. Windows PC's to many models and options verses Apple models and options.

            You also cannot sell cars without A/C like they use to. Is is not standard equipment and to cost to the automaker for A/C in a car is now less than it was when it was optional. What version of USB does each model have, what out graphics memory, or video out ports? This is all stuff cosumers should not have to worry about. All computers should have USB 3.0, with at least a medium amount of graphics memory, and HDMI mini port. Guess what, if that is the standard the hardware accessories become more standard and the whole windows plateform is better for it long term.

            Windows OEM's just don't get it.
            rmark@...
          • Well, yes and no!

            Apple is certainly able to better control this inventory and their costs by supporting a few models with even fewer options but Apple cannot meet specialized needs with their line-up.

            That said, Windows OEMs often stretch themselves too thin with a large number of similar offerings which end up on discount shelves. They would be much better off by selling fewer platforms with more expandability than offering a platform for everybody and selling them at premium prices.

            Cars are a good example - the Japanese car makers sell 2 or 3 models of each platform with each model having a different options package. No mixing and matching.

            American auto makers sell 3 or 4 options packages with each and every model which can be mixed and matched at will. The buyer can pick any combination there of PLUS they can add any single option the buyer wants. The problem is that to get what the buyer wants, they have to order it from the factory.

            The Japanese auto dealer has at least one of each on the lot. No muss, no fuss. And if you want a different color, they will get you one from another dealer.
            M Wagner
          • Too many choices? Buy an Apple product!

            Apple seems to have figured this out better than the others and is thriving. Getting a few limited edition models right is much better than a dozen half-assed versions. Techies, such as those reading this forum like “choice”, but ordinary consumers prefer simplicity and quality.

            Techies study “spec sheets” for impressive numbers, but ordinary consumers look at reliability, service and being able to do with the device what it was designed for. Windows 8 has impressive specs and is technologically sophisticated, but it tries to be a Swiss Army knife, rather than a focused tool. There should be 2 versions. One specializing for desktop use and productivity, as well as another one focused on touch, data presentation and mobility features, such as long battery life. A Swiss Army knife can fulfill all of its functions, but many of them are very much compromised compared to the specialized tools they are trying to emulate.
            arminw
          • Not really, no

            Consumers prefer choice, especially along a price continuum. Macs are not the reason Apple is making so much money right now, the iPhone and iPad are. If those products stop seeming as glamorous, Apple's in trouble, because their computer business is just a drop in the bucket. More Windows PC's are sold in 6 months than Apple has sold of its Mac line in its entire history, just FYI.

            More importantly, though, Apple has no fallen behind the curve and begun to make mistakes. The iPhone 5 is a mediocre upgrade that still lacks an HD screen, now trails behind other smartphones (notably the Android Galaxy S3 and the Windows Phone Nokia Lumia 920) in numerous areas, including screen quality, pixel density, resolution, brightness, touch sensitivity, camera quality and integration with online services.

            Sure, iOS 6 plays catchup with Windows Phone from 2 years ago, finally getting Facebook and Twitter integration (twitter in 5, of course), but they've made some serious missteps. Abandoning Google Maps in favor of their own half-baked solution was a big mistake, and Siri...well, we all know by now it doesn't work as advertised. Apple has now become the company of "iteration" while everyone else is innovating and breaking new ground, particularly Nokia and Microsoft.
            jasongw
          • Intel themselves

            Intel has a case to answer itself they released core I3 first gen and then few Months Later Released 2nd Gen Come on some of these First Gen Laptops are still for sale as new all over the world
            mayres
          • USB is a dead-end though

            Thunderbolt has superior performance, and you only need one port (daisy-chaining)
            meski.oz@...
          • Daisy chaning sounds good!

            But has it's own problem, in early networking daisy chaining was common. Can be harder to fault find, having multiply cables is messier but easy to fault find and fix.
            martin_js
          • Actually

            USB isn't going anywhere any time soon. More importantly, USB has supported daisy chaining up to 64 devices off of a single port since the late 1990's :p.

            Thunderbolt is a nice interface, but it's hardly what one would call "ubiquitous." USB 3.0 isn't quite as fast (5Gb vs 10Gb) but it's totally backward compatible and is rapidly replacing USB 2.0 as the defacto port standard.

            I expect TB will stick around for a long time, and I hope it'll eventually become common in every PC, but it's just dishonest to call USB a dead end.
            jasongw
          • in what sense?

            Or have you not noticed that there are DOZENS of new Windows 8 PC's announced, most of them with touch screens, some with multitouch trackpads, many as tablets that dock into full blown laptops.

            I do think many of their partner designs are "meh" (though Surface looks brilliant), but there's no way to argue that there is a lack of hardware support for Windows 8. There are DOZENS of models from which to choose.
            jasongw
        • Lexmark

          A lot of friends had problems with Lexmark when Windows Vista came out and they still don't have drivers for 7. Lexmark is abandonware, they make their products and then forget about them
          ahumeniy
        • Lexmark not a good example

          If you're talking about Lexmark printer drivers, maybe you missed the news last month that they will stop making inkjet-printer hardware altogether and focus on software and imaging. I wouldn't bank on Windows 8 printer driver support.
          JavaJobber
          • Couldn't happen fast enough

            I have owned just one Lexmark printer and vowed never to buy another.
            eye4bear
    • I agree also

      I was very wary of this OS on a Desktop environment based on early complaints. I have been running it in VM on my main desktop PC and it is really growing on me. The performance is exceptionally good even within my VM. Only complaints I have are app related and I fully understand that these are not the final products, so I certainly see no reason to delay the release.
      Thomas Kolakowski
    • You assumption

      is that users really want the Metro start screen and look/feel. I dont think they do at all...or the majority does not.

      So now you have most people that dont even like the metro look/feel or the start screen, and they add another layer frustration with the back and forth between the two and stuff like two versions of IE, one that does work with plugins, one that does not.

      You end up with a nightmare of a product that is destined to fail big time.
      JeveSobs
      • Too early for 8

        When is 9 being released, though? We've an opportunity to sleep through 8 - 7 is good enough. Send 8 back to Microsoft with a 'fail'
        meski.oz@...