Windows 8 as New Coke? That's an insult to New Coke

Windows 8's new nickname is catching on, but unlike Coca-Cola, Microsoft isn't about to admit its mistake

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Yet, Microsoft is still just talking about maybe possibly restoring the Start button or booting directly into Desktop mode at some point in the future. A public preview of Windows 8.1, which may or may not have those new old features, will be released six weeks from now. Hello? Anybody home?

SOOS (save our OS)!

Microsoft really can't just go back to Old Windows. But it could have easily read the writing on the Facebook wall and offered users free updates to the OS months ago. The only reasons for not doing that and putting the whole argument to bed are stubbornness and/or stupidity.

The problem with Windows 8 is not the missing Start button or the interface changes. The problem is that, in a world infatuated with sexy Apple products and come-hither Android devices, Windows 8 is the dour old spinster wearing pantyhose and sensible shoes. There's nothing especially new or appealing about it. In fact there are really only two reasons to upgrade to Windows 8:

  1. You run a big Windows enterprise shop and want to wean your users away from their infatuation with iOS and Android so that you have only one OS to support across desktop and mobile devices. (Good luck with that.)
  2. It was time to buy a new PC, Macs are still too expensive, and Windows 8 was your only choice.

And that's it. There's also a third potential reason that doesn't apply here: You've decided that as painful as it is to be married to Windows, divorce would be worse, but the last version of Windows was so unbearable you'd gnaw your own leg off to get unshackled from it. That was the case with Vista, but not so much with Windows 7.

If Microsoft wants to play in this game it has to do more than offer a touch-friendly interface with live tiles. It has to do something truly innovative and cool, something we haven't seen before, something that makes people stop obsessing over stupid OS names like "Honeycomb" and "Ice Cream Sandwich."

The other thing Microsoft needs to do: Spend some of its billions in profits on building innovative apps. As I've noted a few times in this space, I have a Windows 8 phone. For a while, I used to check to see if my favorite iOS or Android apps had arrived on Windows yet. I've stopped doing that. I've given up on ever seeing a Pandora, Sonos, or Roku app on my phone.

Why isn't Microsoft churning out apps that blow Apple's and Android's away? It certainly has the R&D budget for that. Why isn't Microsoft trying to do something that's worth paying attention to?

I have a guess. I'm betting any truly innovative ideas that bubble up at Microsoft are immediately quashed by Redmond middle managers who've been drinking the Ballmer Kool-Aid for too long. The funniest part? It tastes just like New Coke.

Can Windows be saved? And more important, should it? Post your thoughts below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "Windows 8 as New Coke? That's an insult to New Coke," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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