New Windows

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When I opened my email this morning I was startled (eye roll) to find another scathing review on Windows 8. Sigh. Why? Well, it’s stuff that I was thinking like a year ago but didn’t really feel the need to get into why Windows 8 is like New Coke. Why? Because there’s no testing, review, discussion, debate, analysis. Just….New Coke…and a rehash of everything I already know. Anytime someone releases a product and it gets compared to New Coke what are they trying to say? Is it a bad product or poor marketing? Or a little of both? It’s not a bad comparison. But what is the comparison trying to tell us? To be completely honest I’m not really but if you read an article with those words and Windows 8 in you can probably get a good vibe, or indication, that folks are none too please that they took away their precious Start menu. Well, kind of. But not really. What? Never mind. Let’s continue.

As much as some would be disturbed to hear, I actually remember drinking New Coke and going “eh, this ain’t bad. I “guess” it’s a little better than the original thing.” The takeaway I had was that it was what by today’s standards, and probably those back then as well, it was a gimmick. So are they saying that Windows 8 is how you say, gimmick. To me, at least, they’re insinuating it. But that’s not what I saw from CNET’s article. Who, I most certainly trust and have been around for years now. The article has, what I would call, good tagging (linking), by actually linking their statement, claims, expressions with an actual hyperlink. Something you see less and less of and you don’t get in a newspaper article, except for footnotes on page C7. This is smart and probably just something that they know and promote. It’s also not engaging in what Microsoft mentioned in their blog post on “staying centered”, referenced in that same CNET article, about hyperbole. Or what I like to call “anecdotal evidence” that are merely musings, scratching’s, expressions… Basically, opinions; points of view, reactions, subjunctives(?), narratives, nuances… Because it’s something basically saying, “here’s the dirt on Windows 8, not happy with our criticism, click on this link for more” That’s my preferred way to handle something like this. Because you need to get the good, subjective, content on what people are actually saying. Like a doctor or an auto mechanic trying to diagnose a problem. The more human you can make it the better chance you’ll have of going “oh, yeah, I remember another customer with an issue like that” So, I don’t think there’s a problem with the way folks are blogging and what they’re saying. Hyperbole? Yes. However, for some (like me) it’s good for because I’m so technical and on the backend of things with my career path, more on the server and virtualization, that I miss the boat sometimes on what customers, sometimes referred to callously as end-users, think. But to me, an “end-user” is simply a number tied to a real person. They’re employee number xxxxxxx, but they’re also Joe Finkelsteenmen or something (fictitious name). They’re a number, and a human being. It’s just their “claim” not their “name”.

In my opinion, sometimes folks who buy software feel a little patronized perhaps? Perhaps someone saw a help article calling them a user and got offended. Like that

But my reaction typically to articles on software is, well, it’s software! It’s not hardware, something you can physically pick up.

You can’t really compare a can of Coke to a computer program right? Well, yes and no. While you can’t compare the physical can of Coke you can compare it to a soda machine selling New Coke, especially if all the buttons on the machine are, you guessed it, NEW COKE buttons!!! So, that’s the rub here. That Microsoft promoted it’s new operating system and now folks are going “sigh” and “give me my Start button back” like some angry teenager from the ‘90s screaming about why MTV doesn’t play videos anymore. Hello? Nelsons. Market research! Actually, I’m just kidding, but I do watch AXS now. Oh, wait. I’m not even watching TV anymore, but I still follow AXS. There’s nothing on MTV that interests me except for a cartoon from ‘93 that I can get on Hulu.

But what about Bob? Yes, what about that Bob character. That’s an OS that should be taken to the woodshed. I’m still not “going there” yet with Windows 8. I’ve actually liked some things about Windows 8 and I’m typing into Live Writer on a Windows 8 box now. I’ve only “dreamed” about what Bob would have been like or Window ME. I never got to use that either. But, I had a neighbor who had it. Don’t recall any Coke or Pepsi references, but I’ll have to check my memory. Sure something is bound to crop up.

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What about Vista? This is a comparison I would agree with. But with that said, if you have the right hardware, the real problem with Vista in my opinion, then it should “perform” as designed pretty reliably provided it’s fully patched on a clean install. OEM pre-built images and hardware were the major problems in Vista, but just blaming an end-user (person) for not having their equipment up to snuff, when the software company may not exactly point out, or broadcast, that you may need to. Here’s what’s funny though, Intel does! And, if you watch commercials now it’s all about what device loads what OS and with what apps and yadda yadda yadda. The major difference between Windows 8 and Vista is the device choice and platform independence model that they’re hoping to achieve with Intel, AMD, and ARM. A very wise move. One that makes me not hate Vista so much. But that’s not to say we still can’t kick the tires on that old car every now and then. C’mon, it’s fun right? (crickets)

For what it’s worth, Microsoft does have a better resource to find hardware now than they did on Vista. Check out PC Selector – Microsoft Windows – Microsoft Home Page …

So here’s food for thought. Check out www.coca-colacompany.com and look under brands. They have brands. Today. That’s right. Pretty diverse selection. So what was the lesson in this exercise? What’s the purpose of the fishing expedition. Not much. Just me blogging about something I take an interest in. But mainly the fact that sometimes we don’t see the forest through the trees. For the actual individual, consumer, purchasing Windows 8 or a company for that matter, they’re living in the now. Which is, as a business, or just a single information worker, employed or not, probably the best perspective to be in. It’s what I would expect any rational person to think. If they want their start button back, put it back.

But the focus of tech companies is much more focused on bleeding edge technology, keeping up with the Jones’, the future landscape of technology. Does that mean they’re leaving their consumer base in the dust? From a philosophical standpoint, yes. From a marketing perspective, no. They’re still promoting their vision of the operating system across all platforms and the cloud. If a customer is not in on that philosophy TO-DAY, then my best suggestion to a customer would be to look elsewhere. But, with a warning. With all the new mobile device, online streaming videos, music services, etc… it’s almost silly to think a company other than Apple or Microsoft would be a wise solution to maintain some sanity across devices. So in this case, it’s similar to comparing Coke and Pepsi, because you can find them at fine retailers throughout the world. Much like Apple and Microsoft, only in a software sense. But the soda, or vending, machine in this case is simply the web (Apple.com, Microsoft.com, Amazon, CDW) and large software resellers such as Best Buy, Staples, and Walmart. The good thing with going to Best Buy or Staples is that you can see the devices now side-by-side and ask the staff to help you make a decision.

What would I tell someone to buy if someone complained to me about the Start button? I would ask them a few follow up questions: Have you upgraded to Windows 8 yet? If not, are you considering going to 7 at least? If you’re on Windows XP, have you thought about trying an iPad or Surface or Google book? If the consumer is seriously that upset with the Start button and they haven’t tried Windows 8 yet, have them try it out in the store. Compare against other brands, etc… But for me, do NOT, try to add hyperbole to the exchange about Windows 8 or Apple or Google. Or weigh one versus the other. The main thing I would point out to any consumer is the point of the Start key on the keyboard, which has always been there, the new Start thumbnail you get in the lower left on desktops, and the fact that you can pin a majority of your applications onto the Start screen AND the Taskbar. I like to encourage pinning of both websites, by adding to Favorites, and programs. But also show them the Charms menu, keyboard shortcuts for search….Okay, I’d be biased since I have more experience with Windows than the others, but you get my point. Have them try it against a Macbook or a Kindle Fire, Nook, or something. Surface RT is another option for tablets. But RT is a bit of a confusing topic. It’s simply Windows for the ARM chip devices. But for consumers/end users, it should really be noted that Windows RT is not Windows Pro. But, the contrast in experience is negligible.

So, without trying sound to bitter and overly narcissistic (no, never) and a tad bit neurotic, let me just close with a trip down memory lane with those old jingles in a newer form.

OSX is the RC Cola of operating systems. Droid is the Orange Crush of Operating Systems. Ruby: The programming language of a new generation! Ruby is for the birds, literally. (Hey, that last ones not fair! What could I be trying to say about that?) Stay tuned. I’ll add links to those jingles as I see fit. I wouldn’t want to be accused of spoon-feeding my readers, would I?

As someone who works on the more technical side of things, if they are going to add the Start button back, I just hope it doesn’t break the good things and ruin the good experiences I’ve had with Windows 8 so far:

  • Hyper-V support. Be warned however, you need SLAT support on your device.
  • Performance telemetry. Windows 8 suggests programs and background processes to kill to improve performance
  • Live tiles. Live updates on your Start menu. Nice to have on mobile devices if you arrange your tiles correctly.
  • File downloads over file shared via Explorer (SMB protocol) now give you a download manager with a pause button. Thank you!
  • New Task Manager. This was a good idea to upgrade. It’s more like Process Explorer and allows you to expand. Also has a button to open Resource Monitor, which I strongly encourage people on Windows use for performance benchmarking and troubleshooting performance issues that arise.
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