The fall of Windows 8

Paul Thurrott:

Windows 8 is not well-designed. Its a mess. But Windows 8 is a bigger problem than that. Windows 8 is a disaster in every sense of the word.

This is not open to debate, is not part of some cute imaginary world where everyone’s opinion is equally valid or whatever. Windows 8 is a disaster. Period.

This is a pretty stark contrast to where we were when Windows 8 was shown at the BUILD conference two and a half years ago. The most over-the-top gushing piece had to be this one by Zach Epstein at The Boy Genius report. According to Epstein, only Apple bloggers couldn’t see the stunning coup Microsoft had pulled off.

…Apple bloggers were apparently so flustered by the platform that they resorted to bombarding Twitter with jokes about cooling fans and Silverlight instead of stopping for a moment to realize that Microsoft is showing us the future of computing

Apple paved the way but Microsoft will get there first with Windows 8.

It’s either a really long road or it’s not just snarky Apple bloggers that are too stupid to appreciate Microsoft’s vision, it’s their own customers. Even at the time it was pretty obvious the things Epstein was talking about weren’t realistic. You can’t use a tablet to run Photoshop on dual monitors and get all-day battery life. What are you even talking about?

But, hey, even I called Windows 8 “my favorite version of Windows ever”,¬†although that was damning it with faint praise. It was also probably a bad sign as I’m the last person Microsoft should have been trying to appeal to. First and foremost they needed to appeal to their users. And this gets us back to their “all-in-one” decision.

We can argue about the technical merits of that decision, but what is unarguable is that Microsoft’s path alienated its existing user base. Microsoft (and Epstein) fell victim to their pie-eyed optimism that all people wanted to do was run Office on their tablets. That they could take away the Start menu and solder Metro onto the Windows desktop and have an operating system that worked crappily with both touch and a mouse and it would be OK as long as people could get “real work” done which they apparently do while dancing.

Nobody cared, and now they have to try to unroll the damage they did and figure out where to go from here. On the plus side, Microsoft’s a much more interesting story than Apple right now. If not for very good reasons.