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Windows 8 is the New Windows Vista? That’s a Bad Thing?

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By now everyone will have read the reports of internal Microsoft teams comparing its latest operating system, Windows 8, with Windows Vista. For those who don’t know much in the way of Windows-related lore here are the details.

Released in 2006, Windows Vista was the successor to Windows XP. Although it had originally planned to move on from Windows XP with a very forward-thinking operating system with next-generation file management features and more, Microsoft was forced to cancel that project and begin anew. That replacement project became Windows Vista. Although it introduced dozens of new features, including a refreshed Windows interface and huge list of Microsoft-made utilities for managing photos, videos, mail and more, it never escaped its reputation as a bad operating system.

windows 8.1

It’s that baggage that industry watchers and users who aren’t fans of its new interface, app store and more are looking to heap on Windows 8. I get it. The notion to relate to a product based on experiences with other products is irresistible. Its how people relate to things they don’t understand.

Read: Even Microsoft is Labeling Windows 8 as the New Vista

Look. I’m not saying that Windows 8’s new interface isn’t sometimes strange to use, and I’m certainly not guaranteeing every Windows 7 user would like Windows 8 if only they gave it a chance. Such declarations are useless, people are going to go with their immediate gut feeling.

The problem here is that, like with Windows Vista, it’s a complete mischaracterization of reality.

Windows Vista received no end of criticism for hardware drivers for printers and devices not working with it. That’d be a fair criticism if it was the operating system’s fault. Unfortunately, many people seem to forget that it was actually hardware makers who failed to create Windows Vista era divers for their hardware despite them having been notified about changes years in advance.

It also received no end of criticism from people who were fans of Windows Access Users Control, a pop-up that would ask user’s for permission before changing features on their computer. UAC was a reaction to the rampant security issues that plagued Windows XP. It may have annoyed users a bit too often, but it kept them safe. The operating system also introduced tons of quality of life improvements like a centralized back up system and centralized search.

The parallels of the two operating systems are very similar. Windows Vista was vilified for the decisions hardware makers made. It ran slower on entry-level machines thanks to Hp and others putting it on hardware that wasn’t equipped with the horse power it required. Like Vista, Windows 8 suffers at the hand of Microsoft’s hardware partners. It’s these partners that force crappy apps to the Windows 8 Start Screen. It’s these hardware makers that insist on not cleaning up their touchpad drivers so that using gestures in Windows 8 isn’t as satisfying as it should be. Its also these hardware partners that load Windows 8 on half-baked convertibles and tablets without any accessories or ecosystem to speak of.

How to Add a Slideshow to the Lock Screen in Windows 8.1  (5)

The new settings app works well for devices with touch screens and virtually every other method of input.

Windows 8 introduces things that make the Windows platform better. Its centralized app store ensures that user’s apps travel with them. SkyDrive puts user’s settings and files at every user’s finger tips. Its back up utilities allow it to save the user’s files and refresh Windows to factory settings without having to back up that information to an external hard drive first. Yes, Windows 8 does embrace touchscreens along with keyboards, mice and other input devices too.

If Windows 8 is Windows Vista and to be considered a failure, it’s not because of the operating system itself. It’s because of the failure of Windows buyers and Windows machine makers to grasp that progress is a good thing. If Windows 8 is a failure, it’s because of everyday men and women embracing progress and new interfaces with an Apple logo, but failing to understand that to stay relevant and to stay modern they must sometimes use new interfaces and allow software makers to create new paradigms on the PC.

If Windows 8 is the New Windows Vista then it’s also because of Microsoft’s failure to educate users on the features and benefits of Windows 8 versus previous Windows products.

What’s sad is that Microsoft will likely do to Windows 8 what it did to Windows Vista. Repackage it, as it did Windows Vista with Windows 7, and users will flock to it in droves.

Travis Pope is a Reporter-at-large for GottaBeMobile. He's currently enjoying a romp in the dangerous quicksand that is Microsoft's Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and Xbox ecosystem.

5 Comments

  1. David

    01/21/2014 at 8:18 pm

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  2. GoogleGagga

    01/22/2014 at 6:01 am

    i was one of the people who constantly bashed Windows 8 whenever possible..
    however.. i was running Windows 7 at the time..
    and only briefly toured Windows 8..
    being fully set up in Windows 7..
    i was hesitant to spend time re-configuring, re-learning, etc..

    until i was forced when my Christmas present came with Windows 8.
    then i decided to try and use it..

    a few weeks in..
    i made a complete 180..
    Windows 8 is my main OS..
    and i like it very much..

    stable, faster, more responsive than Windows 7.
    the naysayers are missing out..

  3. Martin

    01/27/2014 at 9:22 am

    I agree that windows vista was judged unfairly, I still use vista quite happily on one of my PC’s. However the lack of driver and other 3rd party support that hurt vista is not applicable to windows 8.
    Windows 8 is and was always going to be a failure because of a poorly designed user interface experience.
    I remember using the pre release candidate for win 8 and thinking they still had a lot of work to do, the split personality’s of the OS are frustrating for me and I’m an experienced PC user. For the average person windows 8 never had a hope in hell.

    Windows 8 should have been a more refined version of win 7. Tablets should have had the metro UI exclusively and desktop/laptop PC’s should have run the familiar desktop but with the gadget features of win 7 replaced with the metro apps of win 8

    Metro apps arranged on the right hand side of the desktop with full windows explorer frame features ie the X button would have moved users into the new apps more gently and allowed OEM’s more time to perfect the touch interface. Windows 8 as it is now would have been more suited to a windows 9 release. A time when the Modern Apps are appreciated and embraced by users.

  4. James Bond

    01/27/2014 at 4:06 pm

    I disagree with your belief that Windows 8 is being evaluated unfairly. Without a doubt Windows 8 has been a complete train wreck. First, Windows 8 attempts to merge a traditional desktop O.S. with a mobile O.S. without looking at the broader ramifications. A desktop user generally wants more autonomy over his/her device. Windows 8 automatically forces users into a pseudo mobile platform with an interface that lacks originality and most importantly functionality. With each new release of an O.S. new and USEFUL features are added that are easily accessible. Windows 8 does not achieve this with it’s terrible interface. Sure, there are some new additions welcomed, but they are buried in an interface that is not intuitive.

    For example, if Windows 8 has been revolutionary, why did they have to release 8.1 which added the button for a desktop? That should have been an easy addition to the original launch. Users don’t want to have to do extra steps to accomplish basic tasks they easily handled with a 10 year old O.S. That seems far from evolutionary.

    Second, Windows 8 is predicated on the assumption that everyone will be using touchscreens to interact with his/her PC. Sure, for a touch screen laptop it is manageable, but just barely. Illogical swipes and lack of quality apps make the touchscreen more of a novelty act than anything of substance. For instance, the Surface Pro has an amazing stylus that replicates natural writing. However, that feature is reserved for the Surface Pro and hardware. Using a $500 or $600 doesn’t give me that feature. Sure, Apple doesn’t have the feature on Ipads, but once again Microsoft failed to differentiate their product from the competition. More importantly, there aren’t any apps that push Windows 8 into becoming a relevant product. Do I really need Windows 8 to run Office?

    As I sit here and write this on a Surface Pro, I can unequivocally say Windows 8 is the result of Microsoft being arrogant and trying to jump into the mobile market without understanding the basic purpose of introducing a NEW O. -improvements and efficiency for the user. I cannot wait until the next version of Windows finally puts Windows 8 into the grave.

  5. Kremer Kremer

    01/28/2014 at 8:19 am

    I used Windows 8 for several months. It was awful. It set the status quo back to pre-XP.

    Before Windows XP, if the computer was shut down wrong, it had to perform a disc check on the next startup. It was slow and annoying. After XP, you could shut it off by ripping it out of the wall and it would be fine. If you are forced to do that on a Windows 8 machine, have fun, and be sure to have a repair disc handy.

    At first I thought it was a UEFI problem, but after purging 8 and moving over to pure Linux, I was greeted with total boot reliability. I’m now duel booting Windows 7 with Ubuntu Server, and I have the same reliability, so it wasn’t a duel boot issue either.

    Windows 8 destroys the boot.

    Not to mention that the UI is hell and most certainly does not embrace the keyboard and mouse. These are some tiles that embrace the keyboard: http://i3wm.org/ These aren’t: http://cdn.ientry.com/sites/webpronews/pictures/AolWindows8Pic5.jpg

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