This is response to Five Reasons why Windows 8 will be dead on arrival.
I imagine that in 2016 more people will be running Windows 7 than Windows 8 but despite this fact I doubt that Windows 8 will be a failure, in fact I expect it to do well. It might not be perceived as highly as Windows 7 was when it debuted but then anything following Vista would have been welcomed with open arms. Whilst on the topic of Vista I don’t think that Windows 8 will be anything like the PR disaster that Vista was despite what some some will have you think.
I really like Windows 7, it’s easily the best desktop OS I have ever owned and I expect it to sell well for several years to come alongside Windows 8. Microsoft has traditionally sold a new version of Windows alongside the previous version for a while and I don’t expect there to be any difference. Therefore, Windows 7 will continue to sell for the next few years increasing it’s market share from it’s current size of 525 million copies; I expect Microsoft to have sold over 700 million copies of Windows 7 before it stops being on sale.
Therefore in 4 years time, 2016, I imagine that Microsoft wont have sold over 700 million copies of Windows 8 as that would only have given it 3.5 years in the market compared to 7’s likely 4-5 years. Having said that though I expect that Windows 8 will do very well in the market as it certainly wont be dead on arrival.
So, why is Windows 8 destined to not be dead on arrival? Simple:
1. Windows 7 is basically a subset of Windows 8
Windows 8 will offer a desktop experience very similar to Windows 7 of today and even some new features such as faster booting, Storage Spaces and better multi-desktop support. Then alongside the traditional Windows 7 experience will be the new Windows 8 experiences such as “sharing” built into the OS and new UIs for accessing devices and managing settings and of course the new Start Screen and the ecosystem that it will bring. There will also be significant synchronisation mechanisms built into Windows 8 although it’s not yet clear how broad these will be.
Therefore, for whatever reasons people buy Windows 7 they will also be able to buy Windows 8 for the same reason. However, with Windows 8 they will get access to a brand new ecosystem, easier way to store and access data from the Cloud and a new UI and better UX for using Windows.
As everyone knows Windows 8 will come with a brand new default interface: Metro. Metro is more than just a UI though as it as much about a mind-set as it is about the placement of elements on a screen. Metro is about reducing unnecessary information and designs so that the content really shines and in doing so becomes the UI. The use of colours and text is used to allow users to quickly identify what something is without having to get used to what specific designs/images/indicators mean.
Some people have likened Metro on Windows 8 to Windows 1.0 because of its “gaudy colours, boxy designs and unresizable windows” however that is like saying that a modern day car is like a horse and cart. Sure both have 4 wheels and something that provides horse power but you can go far, far further and faster with a modern day car than a horse and cart.
There is perhaps an argument to be made that Metro offers a completely different way for interacting with a PC than the traditional Windows desktop but I find that to be a fairly weak argument. I have seen people fly through my Windows Phones on the first time of picking them up because the Metro UI is designed to be simple and easy to use. There are no real hidden things, everything is on display and descriptive enough to know what the likely outcome of pressing something will be, the same can not be said for the traditional Windows desktop.
3. The applications
Remember how I said that Windows 7 is basically a subset of Windows 8 well that is true for applications too. Therefore, any application that can run in Windows 7 on x86/x64 computers will also run in Windows on the same kind of hardware. What is not yet clear is whether ARM devices running Windows 8 will also be able to run the apps that can currently run in Windows 7.
I am unaware of anyone asking where the apps are for Windows 7 and I doubt people will really wonder where they are for Windows 8 either considering all Windows 7 apps will run in Windows 8. Of course, though, there will be a new ecosystem in Windows 8, one that works only in the Metro Start Screen, here might be a different issue. But again Windows 8 wont be without apps, the Start Screen might be but not Windows 8.
We will know by the end of February what kind of apps will be available for the Metro Start Screen when Microsoft releases the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and opens up the Windows Store, until then we really don’t know of many apps that will be available for the Metro Start Screen.
Developers who have spent their lives writing C#, C++ or even HTML applications can now all write apps for Windows 8’s new WinRT platform. This is the first OS to offer such a large selection of development languages to run apps and therefore allows more developers to write apps for the platform than any other ecosystem.
Let’s assume that Windows 8 sells as well as Windows 7 has done and that within about 2 years of it being on sale it will have almost 500 million users. That would make it a formidable ecosystem and any developer not working on apps for it would be silly, it would easily rival iOS and Android. But, for argument’s sake we could assume that Windows 8 doesn’t sell as well as Windows 7, it could still easily have several hundred million users which would still rival iOS and Android. I can’t imagine that many developers are ignoring the possibility of writing apps for Windows 8 even if they haven’t announced any plans.
Let’s not forgot though that there are currently many, many developers for Windows as it is and it wont take much for them to start work on WinRT apps even if it does require them to build apps from scratch.
One final thing to think about are the rumours that Microsoft is working on unifying its development platforms so that an app can be written once and with minor tweaking can run on Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox. Are there really developers who wouldn’t want to be part of that?
5. Smartphones and Tablets
There are rumours that the next major version of Windows Phone will sit on top of much of the underlying code of Windows 8 to provide consistency across the two platforms and allow apps to run on both as I mentioned before. We know that Metro works very well on touch screen devices and therefore I have no doubt that Windows 8 will be lovely on tablets just as it could be on smartphones if the rumours are true. Several analyst firms reckon that Windows Phone is on track to become the number 2 mobile OS by 2015 behind Android, if that is correct then Windows 8 will do well not just on traditional PCs but also on mobile devices too without even considering where tablets will fit in.
It wasn’t long ago that the iPad was the only real tablet but in the past few months there have been several very popular and competitive tablets released such as the Amazon Fire and several from Samsung. This shows that nothing can be taken for granted and that there should still be room for more tablets and why not Windows 8 ones.
If you add it all up it looks pretty good to me that Windows 8 certainly wont be dead on arrival. Sure there are many people who wont want Windows 8, mainly those who have recently updated from Windows XP to Windows 7 but having said that there are still a few hundred million people using Windows XP who could easily update to Windows 8 rather than 7. PCs with Windows 8 or Windows 7 will continue to sell and most consumers will want the latest version on their PCs because why buy something old? Windows 8 will offer pretty much everything Windows 7 offers but with some exciting new opportunities for developers and consumers alike. Windows 8 wont be dead on arrival.