STEVEN J. VAUGHAN-NICHOLS
Leap into the Dark Microsoft is insisting that Windows 8 is the best thing since sliced bread, but there’s a lot of yeast in that hype.
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was cutting-edge and 300bit/sec. was a fast Internet connection—and we liked it! He can be reached at email@example.com.
T’S BEEN reported—and Intel isn’t denying it—that Intel
CEO Paul Otellini told his Taiwanese staff that Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system is being released before it’s fully ready. This is shocking only in that it suggests that there were people who thought otherwise.
Yes, it is somewhat shocking that Intel is talking smack about its biggest partner, though Otellini softened the blow by adding that he was sure Microsoft would patch Windows 8 up to acceptable levels after its release. But then you consider how Microsoft has been treating all its hardware partners lately. Surface, the tablet that Microsoft is manufacturing and selling itself, is a slap in the face to all of its Windows 8 and RT tablet partners. Phone makers were thrown under the bus when Microsoft announced that no current phone hardware would support Windows Phone 8. As for Intel, it’s got to be annoyed that Microsoft is now supporting Windows on ARM processors. But Otellini’s assessment itself isn’t shocking. Even if every bit and byte in Windows 8 were rock solid, who outside of Windows fanatics—the ones who probably have Microsoft stock in their 401(k) plans —really wants Windows 8 in his office? If you haven’t already, take a long, hard look at Windows 8. You can do it; even if you don’t have a Microsoft Developer Network or TechNet membership, the Windows 8 RTM code is free for anyone to try. It runs quite nicely in Oracle VirtualBox or VMware Workstation, so you don’t even need to dedicate a PC to it. You’ll find that the interface formerly known as Metro is a disaster on the desktop. Your office PCs probably have nice, big screens, but they can hold only one Metro application. It’s a tremendous waste of space. Do you usually open applications via the Start button? Well, guess what—it doesn’t exist in Windows 8. Ev-
erything that everyone on your staff ever knew about how to use Windows is gone. Windows 8 is not a Windows upgrade. This is not a misstep like Vista, to be followed by a real step forward, as happened with Windows 7. This is a giant leap into the dark. Microsoft, of course, is insisting that Windows 8 is the best thing since sliced bread, but there’s a lot of yeast in that hype. For example, Windows 8 was supposed to be the most secure Windows ever. What’s this, though? Windows 8’s Internet Explorer 10 had an enormous Adobe Flash security hole before it was even officially shipping, and Microsoft took its own sweet time about admitting to the problem and patching it. Here’s the bottom line. Windows 8 is going to cost your firm a lot of money, both in direct costs and in training time to familiarize employees with a desktop that will only get in the way of their longhoned Windows skills. For that investment, you get no appreciable benefits. Want something that will work well for you and your company? Stick with Windows XP. It’s supported until April 2014. Or move up to Windows 7. You can still buy it on new PCs, and it’s supported until at least January 2020. Want to try something different, better and cheaper that won’t require as much retraining as Windows 8? Then take a look at Google’s Chrome OS. Whatever you do, stay away from Windows 8. Your IT staff will thank you, your employees will thank you, and, perhaps most important of all, your CFO will thank you. n NOVEMBER 2012