At the moment there's a lot of buzz surrounding Windows 9 because rumor has it that Microsoft will unveil the new operating system in a preview towards the end of next month, with the full release due for next year.
Will the changes be enough to make this Mac defector go back to Windows?
Because there are a lot of NDAs floating around – I am not under any NDA but I know others are and I don't want to spoil the fun – I'm not confirming or denying anything in relation to this.
While professionally I still keep up with Windows, and use it in a limited fashion in my work life, I have in the majority switched over to OS X as my primary workhorse platform. I've covered this switch in detail before, so I'm not going to go over that ground again (if you want to know more I suggest you read this and this). Many of my reasons for making the shift come down to Windows 8, so with Windows 9 just around the corner, I'm curious to see if the changes are enough to bring me back to the platform.
So, let me outline what Microsoft needs to do with Windows 9 to win me back.
Stop messing around
The fact that Microsoft went and made huge changes to Windows between Windows 7 and Windows 8, and then backtracked on some of those changes in Windows 8.1 gives me little confidence that the company knows what users want from a platform.
Windows 8 was so roundly and comprehensively blasted by usability experts that I can't imagine what possessed Microsoft to make these changes in the first place. I can only hazard a guess that the changes were driven by people who knew little or nothing about user interface design, and I feel that these changes went ahead despite protests from people who knew better.
I want Microsoft to stop messing around for the sake of messing around. Making users embrace a wholly different – and broken – way of working in Windows 8, and then expecting them to have to adapt to more changes in Windows 8.1 was just a waste of time and money.
If someone at Microsoft wants to make huge changes to the user interface, changes that potentially have a massive impact on productivity – then I want these to be thoughtfully done and carefully executed. I don't want to end up using what feels like the first crazy design that someone came up with, only for that to change within a few months.
Stop wasting my time
I get the overwhelming feeling that Microsoft feels that "me using Windows" involves me staring at screensavers for hours on end, checking out the news and weather using simplistic apps with a low information density, and being WOWed by cool on-screen animations.
Umm, I hate to break it to you Microsoft, but I work for a living.
If I want to see grand vistas, I'll look out of the window. If I want to check out the news or weather, I have websites for that, not annoying apps that crave attention like an exasperating child frantically waving its arms in my face. If I want to be wowed by on-screen animation, I'll watch the next Transformers movie – OK, maybe not that.
I think that somewhere along the line Microsoft has forgotten that an operating system is supposed to be a platform to help users get work done, not a source of irritation and endless distractions. I have stuff to do. When I'm sitting at my computer, I want to work. When I want distractions, I'll tap into that strata of unwatched episodes of Bitchin' Kitchen, Mythbusters or Rifftrax shorts that I have waiting for me.
OK, I accept that maybe there are people who want to be distracted, in which case give me a simple – preferably a "couple of clicks" simple – way to get rid of these annoyances.
Smoother update mechanism
One of the things that always amazes me when I come back to a Windows system that I've not used for a few weeks is just how many updates I have to install before I'm ready to rock. And sometimes these updates spawn more updates, and then there are the inevitable reboots.
A little bird that has access to leaked builds tells me that the latest builds have a pretty slick feature where you can upgrade between builds with a single click. That would certainly be a nice feature to have in the final release, but we'll have to wait and see.
Get OEMs to drop the crapware
The fact that Microsoft continues to allow OEMs to litter its operating systems with crapware before sending them out to buyers beggars belief.
Seriously Microsoft, getting my head around Windows 8 is hard enough without adding in the crapware freakshow.
People buying new PCs deserve better than this.
Clean up the Microsoft Store
Because it is a mess in there. Sure, a bolted-on app store adds value and brings convenience, but when it puts people in such close proximity to low-quality junk apps, its value has to be questioned.