More Windows 8 Drama

Steven Sinofsky’s untimely departure rather takes the fun out of trolling Microsoft, but I still wanted to do another round-up post with various Windows 8 hilarity that had accumulated in recent weeks.

Let’s start with Ian Smith’s “Week with Windows 8” project. Three tangentially related rants cover the Stockholm Syndrome among Microsoft developers, the inexplicable existence of Windows: The Official Magazine, and his new Dell XPS One computer. Finally, Ian concludes that Metro shows promise while the desktop part of Windows 8 is almost as good as the real Windows 7. Naturally, he’s still not going to upgrade…

Speaking of which, any published upgrade figures should be regarded with suspicion. Microsoft has some extremely cheap offers for existing Windows users, valid through January 2013. I bought the Windows 8 Pro upgrade myself since €30 was just too cheap to resist. However, this does not mean that I have installed or even intend to install the system – I’ve stored it away on DVD and backup drives until I feel it’s necessary to upgrade.

In other news, Paul Thurott was nonplussed to discover that several Metro apps shipping with Windows 8 show advertising. Ed Bott clarified that such ads only appear in a few showcase apps, intended to “inspire developers” and demonstrate Bing integration. While this explanation makes sense I think the critics do have a point: if those apps are really just intended for developers, why are they preinstalled on consumer systems? This is another case of inept Microsoft PR inviting negative headlines.

Meanwhile, the Surface RT which was supposed to showcase Windows 8 on tablets keeps turning into a laughing stock. Users found that the expensive Touch Cover splits at the seams within days, apparently because it cannot take the stress of repeated bending for which it was designed. This is less surprising when you consider that the actual production cost of this $119 accessory is an estimated $16–18! Speaking of input devices, Mary Jo Foley observed that her Surface RT is much easier to use with a USB mouse. She doesn’t seem to mind, but I consider this a total usability failure for a touch-screen tablet.

How did we get here, anyway? Scott Barnes’ Øredev presentation tells the inside story of Microsoft’s confusion when Vista failed, consumers flocked to iOS, and ISPs refused to buy into Windows Server. The last couple of minutes are especially instructive for .NET developers. You’ll learn that Silverlight was a “band-aid,” never intended to become as popular as it got, and that everything you have done for the last five or six years has just been an “experiment.” Scott is optimistic that Microsoft is now finally back on course with Windows 8 and WinRT, however.

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