Felipe Cypriano

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Why Windows 8 Isn't That Great

Aaron Holesgrove wrote a response to John Gruber’s post about “Why Windows 8 Is Fundamentally Flawed as a Response to the iPad” telling his thoughts on why Windows 8 isn’t flawed at all. I recommend you read both articles to get the bigger picture before continuing here.

Aaron starts by agreeing with John about Windows 8 appearance which I also agree it looks really good. And just after this he begins to fire counter arguments to protect Windows 8 ideas at all costs. Not being fair in some points.

If Apple never released the iPhone, we’d be sitting here today talking about how if it weren’t for Android, those three companies [Nokia, Palm/HP and Microsoft] wouldn’t be making all of those same changes or something like that – the crippling of those companies was always inevitable. Or perhaps in your case John, you’d be saying it was the Mac and Mac OS X that proudly toppled those giants instead because Android wasn’t made by Apple and therefore doesn’t warrant the same amount of credit or boasting on your part.

This is fundamentally wrong because Aaron assumes that Android would have innovate in the exact same way as the iPhone did even if Apple never had released the iPhone. Android in 2007, before the iPhone, was more like the Blackberry, completely different than today’s version. It completely changed to the current form after the iPhone was announced and I believe Vika Gupta confirmed that change on the second day keynote of Google IO 2010. Hesaid at 2’45”:

He argued that if Google did not act, we faced a Draconian future, a future where one man, one company, one device, one carrier would be our only choice.

Since Apple showed how to make incredible useful multitouch interface the standard has changed from RIM’s Blackberry style to iPhone’s.

It’s impossible to assume that the IT industry would be in the same situation that it’s today without the iPhone. Apple reinvented the touch interfaces, without the iPhone we would be using touch interfaces as the secondary way to interact with cellphones and notebooks. Do you remember Microsoft’s first attempt to build tablets, those notebooks with reversible touchscreen and the terrible stylus? It was so bad UI and UX that I can’t believe we would have today full fledge multitouch interfaces without Apple’s first release of the iPhone.

Another mistake is believing that iOS is simply another version of Mac OS X with a touch interface on top of it. Just like Metro on Windows 8 seems to be.

Guess what Windows 8 for tablets is? You guessed it – the core of Windows – MinWin – with an alternate shell to Win32 on top that is touch friendly – the ‘Metro’ immersive shell we saw today.

Windows 8 is the exact same Windows as we know it, meaning a desktop OS, with a new separate touch interface called Metro. The interface is so separate that it looks like another program that can be installed on top of Windows. So I guess Metro is for Windows 8 what Windows 3.11 was for DOS.

Just because Mac OS X is based on Unix it doesn’t mean that it’s Unix. And just because iOS is based on Mac OS X doesn’t mean it is Mac OS X. Windows 8 and Metro aren’t two distinct operating systems with latter been based on the former, Metro is just a new UI on top of the plain old Windows.

Now on Office.

John, I don’t know what has you so convinced that Office has to look different in order to qualify that it belongs on a tablet. The ribbon interface was supposed to introduce bigger buttons along the top so that menu options were easier to find and I think a lot of users don’t want to re-learn how to navigate Office all over again – they just want it pretty much the way it is on the devices they want to use.

I love the Ribbon interface, really I think it’s great and it’s years ahead of the other Office tools. The Ribbon interface is really good and its options are easier to find, but this doesn’t mean that this interface is suitable for tablets and multitouch interfaces. At this point it’s clear that Aaron sees tablets as just touchscreen monitors.

What neither of those applications [iWork and Google Apps] are, though, is Microsoft Office – say all you want about Microsoft products but Office has no peers, particularly in the enterprise, and has three times the amount of features of anything else.

And then he stop talking about good interface for tablets and compares who has more features.

Aaron is defending Microsoft so vigorously that he didn’t notice - or didn’t mind - the flaws in his arguments. I don’t think Windows 8 will be a failure. What I wanted to show here is how wrong Aaron interpreted Gruber’s post.

If you’re curious about Grube’s response to Aaron: I Like My Odds in This Argument.