Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Unmitigated Disaster That Is Windows 8 -- Part Deux

Previously: On Windows 8 (January 1, 2013)

I upgraded to Windows 8.1 preview on my home machine. It's an improvement over 8.0, for sure. The ability to actually scale Metro apps dynamically finally makes me feel like Metro has finally reached the equivalent capabilities of System 7. Maybe even GEOS.

The inspiration of this post was that I wanted to point out just how far Microsoft has gone to preserve their broken vision for this product.

1) The "start" menu

The return of the "start menu" in Windows 8.1 is no less than a pro-troll by Microsoft. 

When you click this idiot button, it gives you the same full screen crap you got in Windows 8. Just to give you an example of how ridiculous this is: let's say I have utilized Windows 8.1's split screen to set up Netflix in full screen IE on one half of the screen and Desktop on the other. When I click this "start menu" button to launch a desktop app that I might not have pinned, it stops playing my movie and takes me out of everything.

Long story short, the "start" behavior is just so, so broken. Metro has no place in the Windows desktop experience unless a user wants it there. But Microsoft doesn't care what you think. They're so convinced that this experience is right that they added back "the start menu" to troll you.

2) IE's new sandboxing breaks tons of stuff

Good news everyone, IE now has some sandboxing features that make it more secure. Bad news: people won't be able to use any legacy stuff. DirecTV, Cinemax... anyone with a custom player and DRM-y validation won't work. It also defaults to 64-bit and is (impossible?) to force into 32-bit mode. So I have not yet been able to play a video on any of my subscription TV sites through IE. Only Netflix works. 'Cos it's Silverlight, yo.

Thing is, you might think that Windows 8 is important. It's not. It's not to anyone but Microsoft. No one else cares about this thing.

We're now close to the year anniversary of Windows 8 being released -- the RTM was published on August 1, 2012. And yet if you look in the Microsoft "store", you'll see there are no official apps for tons of stuff. But one that sticks out is Facebook. Uh, isn't Facebook a partner of Microsoft's? Didn't, like, Microsoft invest in them? And yet there is no official Metro app?

So the more likely outcome of something like the above IE sandboxing is that DirecTV and Cinemax will just tell people to install Chrome. Customers who ask Facebook for an official app would probably just be told to invest in an iPad or just use the web browser. Customers who are fed up with the Start menu crap will just start buying Macs. Microsoft's vision is so poor that they're making choices that actively push people and developers towards the competition.

Truth be told, it's too late for Microsoft on this one. They needed to throw Windows 8 and its vision under the bus immediately like they did Vista. Instead, keep betting everything on it. Windows 8.1 is an attempt to actively alienate customers who hate Windows 8 with that pro-troll Start menu. They've already lost $1bn on Surface, but they're probably on the cusp of releasing another one. Their commitment to the "vision" of Windows 8 borders on zealotry.

Enterprises actively rejected Windows 8. My thought is that if Microsoft wants to hold onto any enterprise market at all through this, they do have some choices. One is that they could open source the CLR/BCL on the Apache license. At least then .NET and all of the tools that have been written on .NET would survive this whole thing. But as long as Windows and .NET are intrinsically tied to each other, and Microsoft continues to shove Metro down people's throats, the more likely even their enterprise customers are going to start jumping ship into something more reasonable. I would never recommend any company use Windows again for as long as this is their philosophy. Macs and web tools for the win right now.

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