Books written by Ray Sullivan

Thursday, 9 May 2013

A Bit of Blue

I found Bill Gates agreeing with me the other day.  That's not to say Bill and I don't see eye to eye all the time, but it was a rare occasion where I posted a blog entry explaining reasons why I think Windows 8 tablets will revive the Microsoft product line.  I banged on a bit about how only the Microsoft powered devices can be considered fit for business purposes.  Then lo and behold!  Old Bill pops up and makes pretty much the same statements.  Now I'm not suggesting that Bill read my blog and thought he'd steal the words - rather I suggest that the direction Microsoft find themselves on right now isn't accidental and both Bill and I decided to mention it at about the same point in time.

I did notice Bill failed to suggest that Apple should be making their products more like business machines, unlike my posting.  Probably so that I couldn't cite him as a plagiarist.

Anyway, it seems that a lot of people aren't as enamoured by Windows 8 as me and Bill are.  It seems that in part many don't like it on non touch-screen computers.  I looked at it being demonstrated on a computer without a touch-screen and although you do lose a chunk of the intuitive nature of the software, it still seemed like progress.  It would make me hark for a touch screen monitor, if used on a desktop, but it wasn't a deal breaker.  In fact I looked up my options to upgrade my Windows 7 laptop as soon as I got home and found that it was £100 to upgrade.  That was a deal breaker for me and I said so.  Microsoft need to incentivise the transition to non touch-screen devices now, in my opinion.

Another complaint from Windows 8 users and wannabees is the lack of the Start button.  Until Windows 95, the Start button didn't exist.  I've two favourite memories of this innovation, one from the papers, one from personal experience.  The first one is that to launch Windows 95 Microsoft wanted a strong Ad campaign backed by a strong musical hook.  So they decided on 'Start Me Up' by the Rolling Stones.  Now I'm of that generation and while I agree it's a great track, I hadn't heard of it when they launched.  To be honest, I don't think I even registered the song when the adverts came out even though I was eagerly awaiting any information about the new OS.  Anyway the story goes that Microsoft phoned up Mick Jagger, or one of his flunkys, and asked how much to use 'Start Me Up' for the advert and the answer came back in a heartbeat '£1 million' or some similar ridiculous sum.  It was intended to either get them to put the phone down or at least start the negotiation at a sensible number.  Apparently the Stones nearly fainted when the voice on the other end said 'OK'.  I bet Mick wished he's asked double.

The second story was recounted to me by the owner of a B&B in Kent when I was on a course with a bunch of other RAF guys.  Anyway, this guy explained that he'd decided to 'get into computing' and had bought a brand new Windows 95 PC from a  local seller who promised to set it up and get him going.  The seller turns up, shows the guy how to start the machine up and, once 95 had loaded, proceeded to make a big deal about how you used the 'Start' button to start just about anything.  It seemed sensible and really intuitive, so the seller left the house with our hero really pleased and playing with his new toy for a few more hours - we've all been there.  Then he decided he really ought to go to bed and spent an hour trying to find the 'Stop' button.

The 'Start' button did in fact cause a lot of complaints when it arrived - who needed it, we never had it before.  But people persevered - they had to, Windows 95 was a step change from Windows 3.11 and the Start button was an integral part of it, and now we have a generation and a half that believes it can't live without it.

So Microsoft have listened and now they are about to announce an upgrade to Windows 8, codenamed Blue.  The option to have a Start button is apparently part of that upgrade.  I hope it isn't compulsory - I'm not afraid of change and while I don't welcome change for change sake, neither do I like hanging onto redundant features like a blanky.

Another feature that is likely to be launched is the ability to boot into the legacy Windows OS screen - you can currently flip into it once you've booted into the Windows 8 tile screen.  I can see the benefit of being able to run to what is familiar, especially if you're struggling to complete some real work - remember Windows 8 touch-screen tablets allow you to do that - and you can't find what you're looking for.  I'm not saying I won't flip to the legacy screen when I start using Windows 8, but my intention is to move forward whenever possible.  Flipping once booted, if needed, will be fine by me.

I see the complaints to be similar to the ones I get all the time when people are exposed to Office 2007 when they're used to using the earlier versions.  I was an early adopter of Office 2007 - actually in 2007 - as the firm I was working for wanted 100 people worldwide to trial it.  I invested a working day to get my head around the ribbons and I've never looked back.  If you can't find something in Office 2007 and later versions then you're probably looking too hard - whoever decided what to put on the home ribbons really understood how real people use the products and put all the useful bits on that ribbon.

So to keep momentum going Microsoft are getting a bit blue.  As usual it will present an opportunity for them to iron out the inevitable faults that will be in the first production version, and that alone marks a good point in the development cycle, unless you're one of the unintentional beta testers who paid for the privilege.  But it also presents an opportunity for the less brave to take baby steps towards the future. 

Because although I think tablets are here to stay I'm not convinced that they will be the predominant technology in five or ten years time.  But touch-screen computing in many guises will be and the software needed to support that will need to support business uses too.  Hopefully Blue will be the version of Windows 8 that marks its general adoption.


                                                          Visit my Book Website here

        Visit Project: Evil Website here                                        Visit DLF Website here

        Follow me on Twitter  - @RayASullivan

        Join me on Facebook -  use to find me

No comments:

Post a Comment