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This article was published on February 9, 2012

Windows 8: Not your idea

Windows 8: Not your idea
Alex Wilhelm
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Alex Wilhelm

Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]

With the Consumer Preview (beta) of Windows 8 set to be unveiled (and likely distributed) on February 29th, talk abounds concerning the upcoming operating system.

On NeoWin, a trusted source of Microsoft news and also a sounding board for the larger Microsoft fan community, a question was asked today: “I’m a PC and is Windows 8 my idea?” It’s not an idle thought. Windows 7 was heavily marketed under the idea that users had influence on its design, in a way making it theirs.

That concept made good sense. Windows 7 is the decades-long culmination of Windows design direction. It’s the essential Windows build, and perhaps the last of that breed. Windows 8 intends to tear down the traditional Windows model, add all sorts of functionality (for good or ill is up to your discretion), and mold the entire code base to fit any form factor, not just desktops and laptops.

Here’s the issue: for Microsoft to make such a massive change in its core product, it had to forge ahead with revisions that no normal consumer would have, let alone could have, come up with on their own. In a way, there is no way for Windows 8 to be the operating system by the everyman, as it is a bold (sorry Newt) new take on what Windows can and should be.

So yes, I would say that Windows 8 is most certainly not an idea of the people. This is exactly as it should be. Microsoft had to take on a changing computing world, and to do so had to shift its foundations. No consumer would sign off on that: ‘can we fundamentally transform Windows – now that you are so content with Windows 7?’ The Ford quote is useful here:

If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have said “a faster horse”

Microsoft had to make a move. It did. It’s called Windows 8. Will the bet pay off? No one is sure yet. Heck, Microsoft is essentially hedging its bet by pushing the enterprise towards Windows 7 as long as it can, implying that it understands the risks that it is taking on with Windows 8. What’s interesting is that Windows 9, whatever comes next, can be ‘your idea.’ Once Microsoft has its transformed Windows product in place, it can then solicit the sort of feedback that helped craft Windows 7.

You heard it here first: Windows 9, it’s your idea. Windows 8, on the other hand, is all Microsoft.

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