Windows 8.1 – change for the sake of change

I’ve now installed Windows 8.1 three separate times and used it on and off for a couple of months, and I can’t say I’m really warming to it.

The problem, as has been pointed out many times now, is that Microsoft seems to have decided that tablets are the future, and rather than build an OS specifically for tablets, they transformed their desktop OS to make it more tablet friendly, and in the process made it very desktop unfriendly.

Microsoft’s defenders (yes they do exist, though their numbers seem to be shrinking) tend to fall into two camps – those who insist that the changes in Windows 8 aren’t really that significant, so adjusting should be no big deal, and those who insist that the changes are indeed big, but will help you be more productive/successful etc.

My problem is that I see no evidence of the latter point.  On a desktop, the new setup means that everything requires more clicks, more steps and ultimately more time.  Perhaps it is true that the Start Menu is an outdated relic of a bygone era, but it’s more modern replacement is simply forces people to learn a new way of doing things, which even when learned is in no way faster than the old one.

As to the former point – that people are making mountains out of molehills – the reality is that the time and effort required to learn the ‘new’ way of doing things, even when it’s not especially different from the ‘old’ way – is non-trivial.  It’s also entirely unnecessary, since the changes are not tied to any fundamental differences under the hood.

Once again, Microsoft seems to be trying to make Windows its ‘jack-of-all-trades’, and the net result is a product that is worse, not better, for the vast majority of users.  To be fair, they have so many different sorts of users that catering to all of them in one product is basically impossible, but the correct response would have been to realize this, and segment their products accordingly, rather than the current ‘worst of both worlds’ approach.  Oh well, hopefully with Windows 9, the tablet fad will have receded and they will return to serving their primary (desktop) user-base.  In the meantime, I’ll continue to use Windows 8 as little as possible.

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