Windows 8 may indeed be the new Vista -- in a good way
Despite the current crop of prerelease complaints, I'm not at all concerned about Redmondageddon. First, Microsoft has proven that it can survive a single badly received OS such as Vista. Its successor, Windows 7, is selling off the charts and is loved in both the enterprise and consumer markets, so Microsoft has that to fall back on in terms of retaining market share -- especially on the desktop, where Windows 8 is essentially Windows 7. Just as enterprise consumers didn't love Vista and stayed with XP, those who don't like Windows 8 will stick with Windows 7 until Microsoft works out the visual kinks with "Windows 9."
Obviously that kind of reception isn't Microsoft's goal. Any team leader who claims it's OK if this one doesn't sell well, because we'll make it up on the next one should be fired. But you can't ignore the fact that enterprises now typically wait until a new Windows version is ready before they update to the prior one. Look at Windows 7: Though it's well liked, most enterprises are only now deploying it, with Windows 8 imminent. As in the case of Vista, individuals will adopt Windows 8 quickly because it will be forced on them when they buy new PCs. They don't have the option to get new PCs with an older OS as enterprises do.
Windows 8 will certainly follow that pattern. After all, there is no way IT administrators will deploy an OS so radically different that their business users freak out over the lack of a Start button.
Microsoft doesn't have to get it right with Windows 8. Instead, Windows 8 can be a new Vista -- in a good way. We forget that although people strongly disliked the new UI in Vista, Vista introduced significant security improvements to the OS that were sorely needed and of major benefit to both individual and corporate users. Windows 7 kept such under-the-hood improvements and cleaned up the UI, but it's really the Vista platform underneath. Windows 8 can follow the same pattern, introducing the core capabilities for tablet and multidevice computing that over the long term will make Windows both strong and beloved. If Microsoft needs to ship a prettier version later to get that love, fine.
The bottom line is that Microsoft is making a bold move, which I believe is not such a big risk compared to doing more of the same. Some of the radical changes will be disquieting and perhaps uncomfortable initially. Microsoft will make some poor choices in that reimagining, which it can later address. Do I like the hover option, the lack of a Start menu, or the green background in the tiled Start screen? Not in the slightest. But I will adapt, and hopefully I'll be able to say I love it in much the same way I now do the ribbon UI.
We all need to give the changes a chance and applaud Microsoft for pushing Windows forward in new ways to keep it fresh and relevant in our fast-moving technology world.
No pain, no gain.
This article, "Windows 8 is the new Vista -- and that's a good thing," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.