For people who have been reading my blog for a while, it might not be completely shocking that I do support Microsoft. Am I a fanboy? Hmmm… I think it has more to do because of having worked with their environments for so long, that it grew on me. I do tend to favor things from Microsoft faster while other producers need to do a little bit more ‘proving’ before I agree with them. So, sure, I am not un-biased at all. And when I mention something to be good, always remember, that it is my opinion. I try to keep my opinion on here as objective as I can, but I cannot guarantee that I am completely objective.
…I like Windows 8.
Yeah, yeah, I have written that before here and here. And online there is now this whole controversy going on between the usual Windows, Apple, Unix users and now also within the Windows arena itself. And this is nothing new, it has been always that people like a certain version of something better.
So, what I am going to write here about is why I actually prefer Windows 8, and right now have upgraded all my machines to the new OS, including my phone. And this has nothing to do with how the start screen looks, or how the live-tiles are so nice and square.
The reason why I like it, and within the course of a couple of weeks upgraded every machine I own is simple; Windows 8 is the very first OS that I have worked with that is ‘mine’.
What do I mean by that? What makes the start screen very powerful, is that it is fully customizable, and it provides right away an exact insight in what I am working on, what I should pay attention to, and what is important to me.
Was an operating system first a thing that gave you the opportunity to launch everything that you needed, this version actually presents you everything just how you like it, what you need to know, in a way you tell it to.
In other words, you control what it does. It is like opening apps halfway, just enough to see what is going on.
And instead of doing the same thing with opening a lot of applications in another OS (because, let’s be frank, in the end, they are all more or less the same) that takes a lot of time, and resources, it gives you this one page with full oversight. And you control it completely. There is nothing you cannot kick out of it. Microsoft is not forcing anything anymore to your personal experience with it.
So, that is where my liking started for the OS. I did get confused though by the use of the desktop and the start environment. Not so much because of the difference in functionality and look and feel, but because I did not understand what that start screen really was.
And now I do… the start screen is actually your windows, and the desktop is simply one of the environments you might want to use.
Now, I had been using Windows 8 from the moment it was released, and tried not to work with it when the preview releases were provided. And the confusion still got to me a little bit. And I have used all these systems, different platforms, for the last gazillion years. And there was still this bit of confusion going on. Not a lot more, but still.
Until things got suddenly clear when I received my Windows Phone 8. Because here it was absolutely clear what Microsoft’s vision was; make it a user’s phone. I have had iOS, Android, the old Windows Mobile, 6.5 , 7 and all of them came somehow more or less delivered how the manufacturer wanted it. Some apps could not be removed, some where simply forced on there. My Android phone was terrible, because I could not even remove certain games simply because of the deal that Verizon struck with the game companies.
It is MY phone, I pay for it, give me the ability to do with it what I want. But that was not completely the reality, it appeared. But now, I played around with the Windows Phone, and it made simply sense. All the crapware, which was not even a lot, was able to be uninstalled. And then, you have full access to the home screen, organize it, tell the phone what it should show, if it should update, how big the buttons should be, etc, etc.
So, now, when I open my phone, everything that is there is what I wanted. I am not in any way confronted in any way with anything I did not to have on there. And it checks your settings and contacts from Windows 8, Xbox Music, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and just makes it work immediately.
Now, Windows is two things. The interface is one, the technology is second. The technology has been greatly improved, and one of the reasons I have installed it on all my machines is simply because it works faster than even Windows 7. The user interface is simply, well, something you get with it.
I think that what Microsoft tries to show, is that your computer should be ‘yours’ again. You pay for it, it is your thing. This matches with their actions of enabling the ‘Do Not Track’ feature in your browser (only on the Start screen though) to make sure that no-one can by default get your information, unless you explicitly approve it. And it did that even with so much negative feedback.
And again, this is not about the design. You can like or hate the tiles, the start screen, you DO have to appreciate it that it actually looks like Windows 8 is built for the user, not for the advertising corporations.
And in the corporate world, this would work out wonderfully… network administrators simply can provide the start screens for the employees, even tailor made for the departments they are working in. Gone will be the days of starting things they have no business running, without being a ‘big brother’.
I think it will take some time before this new concept will sink in, but I think eventually even Apple, and maybe even Linux distributions will follow. And don’t get me wrong, they will also do a great job, maybe even better. I don’t know. But at this moment, Microsoft has shown to have a concept, that maybe we all don’t yet fully understood.
For me, it was like learning to drink coffee. First you hate it, then slowly you create the taste, and after a while that is how you start the day, even without noticing.