This week Microsoft announced the release of 90 day free trial of Windows 8 Enterprise targeting developers. I had a chance to play around with it and thought I will share my first impressions here. My thoughts will be both about consumer experience and enterprise. If you have played around with Windows 8, I would love to hear your feedback.
First, some basics
If you want to download and install the 90 day trial, please keep in mind that it is a non-renewable 90 day trial (you can’t buy a license and continue using this software after trial period). If you upgrade your main machine, you will be forced to re-install Windows from scratch. I suggest that you use it on a spare machine or a virtual machine. Take my review with a pinch of salt. I ran Windows 8 on VMware Fusion 4 running on Apple OSX Mountain Lion. The experience may not be optimal on this setup. Nevertheless, whatever I am saying here is still valid because I am not talking any benchmarks.
- This is a great user interface and the underlying platform changes are pretty good. However, this interface is not suitable for desktop (Laptop) experience. It will be solid on tablets, smartphones or any touch interface. It may even be decent on Kinect interface. Tiles as UI is not a desktop interface period. This adds an unnecessary steep learning curve (for non techy users) and it is not worth it. If Windows phone with tiles was dominant like iPhone, you can expect people to embrace the interface overwhelmingly but at the current dismal rate of Windows phone adoption, a steep learning curve is unavoidable.
- I sense a disconnect between the Tiles interface and the interface underneath it. It looks like Windows just changed the start menu on their existing user experience than integrating the Tiles interface more deeply. In the absence of giving a more integrated experience, the steep learning curve demanded by Windows 8 is a put off. Non Microsoft employees, correct me if my observation is wrong (keep in mind these are my first impressions after playing around a bit). I have a bad taste that the Tiles overlay is an afterthought than something meant to give a more integrated different user experience.
- The above two points can be linked to something in Microsoft strategy which I criticized in this post. Instead of accepting that tablet experience is different from PC experience, they are claiming to bridge the gap. I have a gut feeling that Windows 8 experience on desktop (laptop) is a result of this thinking. If they keep pushing with this strategy, they are going to fail. Instead, they could use Windows 8 for touch devices and use their cloud offerings to give a seamless experience on desktops. Someone please tell Microsoft management that they have more to lose than gain by doing this.
- I love the user experience of some of the applications like Evernote, Box, Skydrive, etc. and just for this experience alone I will be buying Microsoft Surface tablet when it comes out. This is how a touch interface experience should be. I think Apple and Google has a lot to learn from Windows 8 platform when it comes to building a platform for “touch generation”.
- With all the “steep learning curve” factor and the fact that many enterprises just upgraded to Windows 7 makes me wonder if Windows 8 will be a flop show in the enterprise space even with their $40 pricing strategy
These are my quick thoughts and I would really love to hear from you on your Windows 8 experience.
- Brace Yourselves – Windows 8 is Coming! (beanstalk-inc.com)
- Windows 8 RTM: What You Need to Know (pcworld.com)
- Bring back the Start menu or go with flow? (stuff.co.nz)
- Living with Windows 8: Initial impressions (pocketables.com)
- Windows 8 vs. Windows 7 Benchmarks: Microsoft’s Latest OS Put to the Test (techspot.com)
- Windows 8 Review: Part I (lockergnome.com)
- Actually, Not Every Review Of Windows 8 Is Horrible (MSFT) (businessinsider.com)