With Microsoft having unveiled Windows 8 finally, and reality setting in, I wanted to share my first impressions about Windows 8 and the general direction of Microsoft and technology in general.
Also, I had argued that the desktop is not irrelevant. I recognized the resurgence of powerful browser applications, but no Windows is not dead.
Having seen what Microsoft intends to do for Windows 8, I wanted to share some of my thoughts, with a good dose of reality around how this will pan out.
- This is not a resurgence of C++ in the real world. Sure there will be that niche of applications that will find C++ useful, but with ever increasing hardware capacity, and WinRT being so light, the benefit of writing C++ vs. C# will quickly erode. Most business apps will prefer to use C# or HTML5.
- The world still runs Windows XP or Windows 7. This means, for your average business apps, all that cool stuff shown off, is not applicable just yet. And won’t be for a few years. Inertia is a bitch.
- Metro UI is sweet, but you will get bored of it too. Remember rounded corners and shiny reflections? Everyone went overboard with it. MetroUI is the next rounded corners and shiny reflections. There is one thing in Metro UI that is indeed ground breaking and not just UI glitz – and that is live tiles. Those are actually very very useful. But, it isn’t a paradigm that cannot be ported to the next big thing as far as UI goes. As much as MetroUI makes the Windows XP teletubbies look absolutely childish, I think Metro UI is something you will get bored of in 3 years, and there will be time for the next big design. Except, Microsoft has baked it into the OS now, and that won’t be easy to change.
- It is a changed paradigm.
- Ribbon will stick around, but I think better paradigms have evolved. I said it before, and I’ll say it again – I never thought Ribbon was a hot idea. Full screen apps is a hot idea. The problem is, we use wide screens and ribbon consumes too much space. And are ribbons necessarily intuitive? You will find a lot of people disagreeing to that. Lets just say, it’s subjective.
- Apple has a reason to worry. In 2007 when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, I used to carry the hot phone of that time – Verizon XV6700. How bad was it? It was laden with buttons, connecting to WiFi was a conscious choice I had to make by sliding a button. What’s worse, my commute was about 1.5 hour then. I left home with a full charge, and I had to recharge soon as I got to work. THAT is how bad it was. And it would freeze, get hot, and miss calls because it was frozen. THAT is what the iPhone was competing with. A bit like a B2stealth (iphone) bombing Neanderthals. It wasn’t much of a fair competition lets say. Fast forward to today, Android is quite compelling, iPhone 5 will be quite compelling, and frankly Mango (WP7.5) is also quite compelling. While you can argue which is better or worse, you cannot argue that Apple’s lead over competition has reduced significantly. We have fair competition again. My personal view, Apple still does Media better with airplay etc., but WP7 with Windows 8, are better in overall experience, app store, and enterprise readiness. All 3 a big big deal. I find a lot of my clients asking me not to write iOS apps, and atleast today favoring Android over iOS.
- Apple has a reason to worry – part 2. Apple’s huge advantage over their competition is their integrated manufacturing process. It makes them less flexible (i.e. you can’t run MacOS on Amazon EC2 for instance), but it gives them a huge advantage on cost, and general sexiness and integrated appearance of their devices. I think this advantage will be subsumed by huge advances from Intel in 3D transistors etc. Just look at Ultrabooks. I’d pick the Asus UX21 over Macbook air any day. That said and done, Apple is a very secretive company – god knows what they have up their sleeve next. But I’m perplexed, I can’t think of anything they can offer to regain the lead they had in 2007 with iPhone and 2001 with iPod. They do need the next paradigm breaker, and they need it fast.
- We all know Microsoft’s v1 release pangs. Windows 8 will be v1 for Metro. As sexy as it will be, it will not be fully baked, all the APIs wont be there, and it will take 1-3 years for the paradigm change to set in.
All in all, I am absolutely thrilled at what Microsoft has just released. ABSOLUTELY THRILLED.
But, I doubt we would have seen this happen unless there was a Firefox, Chrome or iPad or iPhone.
So, I really hope Apple and Google have some surprise up their sleeve to out do what Microsoft just showed. But, somehow, I think Microsoft is playing with a strong hand here.