Before jumping into trying to make sense of Windows 8, let’s understand that Windows as an OS is used by users across the entire spectrum of intellect and familiarity. From the basic user who never changes default browser, home page, desktop wallpaper, etc. to the power user who has scripts for every single task and is absolutely picky about where the icons are on the desktop and the taskbar. As a result, there is no single “user” of Windows, and also that means, for any change that is made in Windows, there is going to be some type of users who will feel they have been short-changed. It is futile to look at it from a user perspective, and it is better to view it from a usage perspective:
- Simpler devices: There is no doubt that we prefer to use simpler devices like iPad for our common uses. Not only are such devices simpler to use in general, they are also touch-enabled. Touch as a gesture is intuitive and easy to learn. Two or more years from now, there is a good chance we will do more on such simpler, touch devices than on “regular” PCs. These devices will tend to be cheaper, and as a result be changed/upgraded more often than PCs have been. Having an ecosystem lock-in, therefore, is crucial.
- Consumerization of IT: In businesses, with advancement in virtualization and fueled by smartphones, there is a growing trend to allow employees to bring their own devices to work (also referred to as “Consumerization of IT”). Sometimes it is not about being allowed to, it is about employees taking control of it, and living with self-supported devices at work. I am a prime example of such a trend: A few years ago, I ditched by company-supported Blackberry for an iPhone 3GS and after constant emails to IT, was able to get support and connectivity to Exchange. Last year, I did the same thing with my Windows Phone 7 device. The bottom line being, employees are bringing what they like, and IT is forced to oblige and allow such devices to connect to the network.
- Enterprise upgrade cycle: Finally, enterprises are typically always at least one revision behind when it comes to large-scale deployments of operating system upgrades. Most enterprises have only just implemented the Windows 7 upgrades, or are in the process of, or considering it. Going to Windows 8 across the enterprise will not be a trend for at least a year after Windows 8 launches. Enterprise usage of Windows 8, therefore, is not going to be worth discussing until late next year.