Windows 8 upgrade: Is the new 'modern' interface a good move?
Is Windows 8 an upgrade? Fans of the Metro or 'modern' interface say, 'yes!' But other users aren't so sure.
If you have Oct. 26 highlighted on your calendar, you're probably either an IT professional, computer geek, or technology reporter. That's when Microsoft debuts its much-ballyhooed rethink of the computer operating system, Windows 8. The company has released the final code to the original equipment manufacturers and they will flood the stores and Internet this autumn with a wave of new desktops, notebooks, and tablets.Skip to next paragraph
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The big deal about Windows 8 from a user perspective is the touch interface it will provide for touch-enabled devices. It's also the key navigator for traditional mouse-and-keyboard users. That interface — known for 20 months as the Metro interface until a German retailer threatened litigation — has served as a lightning rod for critics, occasioning more than the usual weeping and wailing from the tech community. Others maintain that it will be the neatest thing since sliced bread for both business users and IT departments.
Falling into the latter category is Peter Lee, engagement manager and desktop deployment lead at SWC Technology Partners, an IT consultancy. Lee thinks Windows 8 is a computing metaphor whose time has come.
But he doesn't forecast a wholesale migration to the new platform. The more likely scenario is that businesses will opt for a hybrid approach that mixes Windows 8 advanced security and mobile device compatibility with existing Windows 7 installations, especially as businesses move more to the cloud, virtualization and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) models.
Lee has been working with Windows 8 since the developer preview was released in 2011.
Much of the criticism of the new interface, which Microsoft now describes as a "modern" design, has centered on its presentation of a menu of tiles in place of the start display that has become second nature to veteran Windows users.
The desktop is not going away
"The Metro interface is not going to be the entire operating system," Lee told BusinessNewsDaily. "When people see the Metro interface, they think it's going to replace the desktop. That's not the case. It's similar to an Android device or iPhone where you have that initial first page before you get to any of the other landing pages. The Metro is not going away and neither is the desktop. You're one screen away from the desktop. It actually makes it easier for people to get at their own apps."
As time goes by and users become comfortable with the new interface, they'll begin to tailor to their own usage patterns and preferred apps since the interface is completely customizable, Lee said. The source of so much initial push back about the interface stems from fear of change, he said.
"People are really averse to change," Lee said. "In fact, people should be embracing this because it's the way they have been using Android and iPhones. It's what the consumer wants, but people are so afraid of change and they really associate Microsoft with the standard desktop."
Based on his extensive experience with the new operating system installed in all form factors — desktop, notebook and tablet — he believes that users will quickly adapt to Windows 8 and never look back.
Technologically savvy end users
"I think end users are just so much more technologically savvy than ever before," Lee said. "They've been using iPhones and iPads and Androids for so long, I don't think Windows 8 is going to be a hard adoption for them. What they're going to have to get used to is that they don't need to have two or three devices — one for work, one for home, one for play. They're going to have to get used to the idea that they can do everything from one device. And that will be — I don't want to call it a learning curve — a lifestyle curve."