Mobile // Mobile Business
Commentary
12/7/2013
09:06 AM
George Baroudi
George Baroudi
Commentary
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

What Windows 8 Needs Now

A game made Windows 3.1 users fall in love with the mouse. Now Windows 8 needs a game as satisfying as solitaire.

You've got to admit that Bill Gates or whoever came up with the concept of solitaire for Windows was a genius. Users at the time were conditioned without knowing it by the hand-eye coordination demands placed on eyes, hands, and a mouse. Solitaire was the magic for that teaching. We played it until the Pavlovian bell rang, happy to watch a complete deck of cards flow across the screen informing us we had won the game. How do you erase such deep training from the minds of users? The mouse is not dying.

Businesses are comfortable buying PCs and desktops because there is no reason to switch to a new platform. Change management is a topic that everyone talks about, particularly in the geek world -- but no one embraces it when it comes to his or her own shop. People claim the reason they are maintaining PCs is security. They say the tablet is a fad and that applications won't work. They say that when Service Pack 1 arrives, they will adopt it. They claim massive disruption to their day-to-day information systems. But now Windows 8.1 is out and no one is screaming, "Let's deploy!"

Are these assumptions accurate or are they simply a deliberate method of procrastination of wait and see? Let's close our eyes and the world will be fine tomorrow and the tablet will be just a fad. Not too long ago, it took the IT world (the allegedly progressive world) almost 10 years to get rid of Windows 98. Will it take another 10 years to get rid of Windows 7?

[ Let us count the ways users are staying away: 8 Reasons To Hate Windows 8.1. ]

The question for Microsoft is this: How come Windows 8 didn't come with a game that allowed us to stop using the mouse and start using the finger? That sort of conditioning is a prerequisite for change management. Could Microsoft's need to maintain a revenue stream have prevented it from recognizing that?

In the meantime, Delta ordered 11,000 Surface tablets. I was kind of surprised, so I kept reading the press release and realized that in combination with the 11,000 tablets the company also purchased 19,000 Nokia phones with Windows 8 on them. It occurred to me that Microsoft is trying to offer another Pavlovian experience by normalizing the way we use every Windows device. So, if I have a nice experience with a Windows phone with little squares of windows with different colors, I can go to my desktop and identify the same interface with the same little squares.

But how can Microsoft extend this approach beyond its Delta deal? Will its incoming CEO turn up the heat on marketing by figuring out how to get everyone to see the beauty of the seamless interface between devices? Apple cannot presently offer the elegance of having the same experience on your MacBook and on your iPhone; the only common interface that spans iOS and Mavericks is the iBooks app and perhaps iTunes.

My advice to Microsoft's incoming CEO is to come up with a game and follow the original leader, Bill Gates, in creating a wonderful rewards-based method of interaction to build an affinity for the new Windows -- even if that means killing the mouse.

Interop Las Vegas, March 31 - April 4, 2014 brings together thousands of technology professionals to discover the most current and cutting-edge technology innovations and strategies to drive their organizations' success, including BYOD security, the latest cloud and virtualization technologies, SDN, the Internet of things, Apple in the enterprise, and more. Attend educational sessions in eight tracks, hear inspirational and industry-centric keynotes, and visit an Expo Floor that brings over 350 top vendors together. Register for Interop LasVegas with Discount Code MPIWK for $200 off Total Access and Conference Passes.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
Michael Endler
50%
50%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
12/13/2013 | 2:45:04 PM
Re: no game need it
For some people, nothing's wrong with the scenario. But I think that's the problem-- it's only tenable for some.

I have a Surface Pro, and I find it useful only in specific scenarios. If I tried to do the majority of my typing (let alone all of it) on the Type Cover, I'd lose my mind. Depending on your use cases, convergence devices can be stellar, but they can also present compromises-- which is one reason (besides how Microsoft presented Windows 8 in the first place) that 2-in-1 devices are so divisive.

This limitation can be mitigated, of course. If you combine the Surface Pro with the Surface docking station, a USB mouse, a full-size keyboard, and a monitor, you'll have a very decent desktop replacement that also works as a (somewhat heavy) tablet and a (somewhat small) laptop. But collecting all that gear involves a fair amount of expense, which limits the market (especially the non-commercial market) to which the device appeals. I like the Surface line, as I've written a few times, but unless you fall into specific use cases, I still think they're too compromised to be used as primary devices and too expensive to recommend as companion devices.

I appreciate that you're defending touchscreen laptops, though. I don't think touchscreens add a ton to the experience (in fact, if I were going to buy a laptop tomorrow, I'd buy a MacBook Pro), but it's nice to have touch when you want it. After using the Suface Pro, I sometimes catch myself swiping at the screen when I switch back to a tradiitonal laptop. As I heard one of HP's PC guys argue recently-- even if you only use the touchscreen once per day, you'll be happy that it's there when you do. Some actions, such as swiping up or down a webpage, are much smoother with touch. That said, you can get a number of the same benefits on an Apple machine via their peerless trackpads.
mak63
50%
50%
mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
12/10/2013 | 5:47:32 PM
Re: no game need it
Yuschick

I don't get why point and click and touchscreen devices -as you say- should be separated. You can use any input @ any time according to your needs of the moment.
Let's suppose you're sitting comfortable on your cubicle with your new Surface Pro. While @ your desk, you might be using the type cover keyboard and a usb mouse. Let's say you need to attend a management meeting. You'll just take the Surface with you and use your fingers or a stylus.
What's wrong with this scenario?
mak63
50%
50%
mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
12/10/2013 | 4:24:47 PM
Re: no game need it
Horrido

I'm sorry, but the availability of touch-enabled PCs does not prove anything.


We'll see where the market is heading after the holiday season. In any case, the laptops and hybrids with touchscreen didn't come to light the way we're seeing it right now thanks to Linux or OS X, did they?

Am I correct to assume that you don't own a Windows 8.1 computer with touchscreen? You can try use it for a while. You might like it

 
Michael Endler
50%
50%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
12/9/2013 | 5:16:16 PM
More than a game needed
A great game certainly couldn't have hurt, but it wouldn't be some kind of panacea. As some have pointed out, Microsoft didn't really need to condition people to touch; Apple had already done that. But Microsoft did need to familarize users with Windows 8's particular brand of touch-- e.g. "charms" menus that need to be swiped into view, and so forth. And Microsoft did a pretty terrible job in this regard.

That said, I think that Windows 8.1 and the new Windows 2-in-1s are much better embodiments of the hybrid concept-- but as I've written before, I still think convergence is as much as compromise as a convenience. If you're one of the groups that can really benefit from a hybrid device, then more power to you. But I don't think those groups rise above niche status.
Thomas Claburn
50%
50%
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
12/9/2013 | 3:24:33 PM
Re: Game
>The game was developed in 1989 by then intern Wes Cherry, who famously received no royalties from his work, like Windows, Gates ripped off as many people as he could to make millions

 

Was he really ripped off, or did he just sign an agreement without really thinking about the consequences? Content creators often sign bad contracts. A good attorney or a close reading of the terms might have helped.
Horrido
100%
0%
Horrido,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/9/2013 | 9:47:15 AM
Re: no game need it
I'm sorry, but the availability of touch-enabled PCs does not prove anything. PC sales are slumping and manufacturers are desperate to prop up sales. They're hoping against hope that Windows 8 and a touch UI will turn things around. It won't; sales will continue to slide. (BTW, sales of touch-based PCs only represent about 10 per cent of total PC sales.)

While a touch UI is suitable for mobile devices, it is an ill fit for desktop PCs. Metro flies in the face of the desktop paradigm that allows you to see several application windows across the screen. This is why the paradigm was first chosen over 30 years ago–it supported multitasking well. We mustn't forget what Metro was designed for: to manage apps on a small screen (ie, handheld devices), where multiple application windows cannot be practically displayed.

Yes, there is a desktop mode in Windows 8, but this only highlights the schizophrenic nature of Windows 8. Bouncing between Metro and desktop mode is highly inelegant and jarring.

Yes, you can configure Windows 8 to avoid Metro altogether, but as ZDNet's Ed Bott points out, the process is more complicated than it needs to be, thereby scaring away potential adopters. In other words, for desktop users, Windows 8's "out-of-the-box" experience is terrible.

And finally, the ergonomics of Metro for desktop users is awkward. Raising your arm repeatedly to poke at the screen, even on a laptop, is undesirable (not to mention fingerprint smudges). Like I said, on a mobile device, this is suitable and even necessary. On a touch-enabled PC? I'm willing to bet that most users don't like it.
mak63
50%
50%
mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
12/9/2013 | 4:05:30 AM
no game need it
I think Windows 8 by itself is a game changer. Pun intend it.The stream of touch enable PCs and hybrids are proof of that.

I can't believe the array of comments talking trash about Windows 8, specially on the second page.. I thought I was reading comments from last year. Touch enable PCs, Windows 8 touch interface (aka Metro) and touchscreen input are here to stay. Deal with it.

 
Li Tan
50%
50%
Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
12/9/2013 | 12:25:34 AM
Re: What Windows 8 needs
This game looks interesting and I do like the point in the post - yes a fancy but simple game is the best tour guide for new Windows 8 OS. Compared to its Windows ancestors, Windows 7 do change a lot and provide a fantastic UI. But Windows 8 is not that surprising when it first comes to public. With a good game, we should not have much procrastination on adopting Windows 8 widely.
anon0450725016
50%
50%
anon0450725016,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/8/2013 | 10:39:36 PM
Game
The game was developed in 1989 by then intern Wes Cherry, who famously received no royalties from his work, like Windows, Gates ripped off as many people as he could to make millions
anon0450725016
50%
50%
anon0450725016,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/8/2013 | 10:39:36 PM
Game
The game was developed in 1989 by then intern Wes Cherry, who famously received no royalties from his work, like Windows, Gates ripped off as many people as he could to make millions
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
InformationWeek Elite 100
InformationWeek Elite 100
Our data shows these innovators using digital technology in two key areas: providing better products and cutting costs. Almost half of them expect to introduce a new IT-led product this year, and 46% are using technology to make business processes more efficient.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest - September 10, 2014
A high-scale relational database? NoSQL database? Hadoop? Event-processing technology? When it comes to big data, one size doesn't fit all. Here's how to decide.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.