Microsoft’s new technologies
In a prior post I touched briefly on my experience thus far with Windows 8, Microsoft’s new operating system, released to the public on Oct. 26. Veteran Windows expert, technology writer, and blogger Paul Thurrott has called the OS a “mess,” a view with which I largely agree. Windows 8 is a weird combination of new technology (like a fresh new main interface inspired by the Windows Phone OS) grafted on top of old (like the classic desktop environment that’s seen only minor modifications since Windows XP).
Don’t misunderstand me; I like Windows 8 a lot. It packs in a bunch of cool new niceties like the ability to reinstall the operating system directly from within Windows itself. But I think focusing on the desktop edition of the software misses the real innovation behind this release.
As I also mentioned in another post, Windows 8 is the first version of Windows to be specifically designed with touch in mind. Microsoft launched the Surface, a line of tablets that runs a derivative of Windows 8 called Windows RT, and is aimed to compete with the Apple iPad. Windows RT runs on the same kind of processor you’d find in an Android tablet, so it can’t run software written for traditional PC’s.
To some, that may sound like a tragic flaw. But it’s not. Windows RT comes with a fully functional version of Microsoft Office, unlike the iPad; although versions of Apple’s comparable iWork suite are available for the iPad, they’re not really good for anything more than minor editing. Aside from Office, Windows RT devices can’t run apps other than those from the new Windows Store, but this limitation won’t be much of an issue as Windows 8 grows more popular.
Speaking of popularity, though, that may be a problem for Windows 8. According to a post by Mr. Thurrott on his blog, the OS has been—and will continue to be—adopted slowly because of many complicated and interrelated factors.
But, when Windows 8 comes into its own, I think we’ll have a winner on our hands. Like Apple’s competing offerings, OS X and iOS, we may soon see a “merge” between the Windows and Windows Phone operating systems. Microsoft has set itself up to truly compete against Apple, and that’s a very good thing.
Luke can be reached at luke.jensen1981(at)gmail.com