If you like Windows 8, you'll like -- maybe even love -- Windows 8.1 "Blue." But if you're a denizen of the old-fashioned Desktop world without a yearning for touch and/or you don't want your PC to act like a smartphone, Windows 8.1 will disappoint -- big time.
InfoWorld's detailed proposal for a new, better Windows 8 -- called Windows Red -- has sparked accolades, criticism, outrage, hundreds of comments, and more than a few very good suggestions. The New York Times's David Pogue said, "It's solid. It's doable. The only serious downside to splitting up Windows is the huge servings of crow and humble pie that Microsoft would have to consume." Time Magazine's Harry McCracken said, "It seems highly unlikely, however, that Microsoft will buy into Windows Red's overarching design principle: disentangling the Desktop and the Metro Start screen so that nobody’s shoved into a radically new interface against his or her will."
Microsoft’s Windows 8 strategy has gone down in flames.
InfoWorld has a plan to rescue it from the ashes.
But it's not just high-profile tech pundits who've shared their take on Windows Red. Here's the best of the best of what we've seen to date.
The Windows defenders
Some of those commenting love Windows 8, and they look forward to Windows "Blue" 8.1 with enthusiasm.
Liam Proven: "Microsoft is trying to bridge the world of the iPad and $45 Chinese Android tablet, because that's the way that personal computing is manifestly already going. [With Windows Red], you're trying to reinforce the split. You want to keep the old WIMP desktop that you, as geeks, know and love. Well, ordinary people don't know it and don't love it -- that's why iOS and Android is selling so well."
MCTronix: "No! Microsoft needs to stay on track. They have the right idea."
The Windows critics
Others took to the boards to vent their spleens at Microsoft's failures.
David Golani: "Microsoft doesn't understand the market. Data integration and sharing is important, not a unified OS. Apple keeps its desktop and tablet interfaces separate, but there is a lot of integration between the two. Playing a a movie on your tablet and sending the video output to your Apple TV is a snap, for example. You do not need to have both running the same OS to do this!"
Wishkitten: "Looking and behaving differently is necessary, but not sufficient, to demonstrate innovation. Microsoft's ill-advised foray into convergent design is simply arrogance."
Cory78: "Metro imposes limitations in usability model, but also in API functionality, and above all in freedom of distribution model, which is the key for attracting so [many] different developers and to create a rich software ecosystem."
Crgibson: "I think it is amazing that a little company like StarDock is so much better in touch with what users want than giant Microsoft, and so creative as well. "
MightyMoo: "There just comes a point where you have to take a piece of software out back behind the barn and end it's misery. Windows 8 reached that point early on."
Macnstuff: "You can just imagine all the Microsoft execs listening to all the negative feedback [about Windows 8] and standing there with their fingers in their ears, eyes tight shut, and shouting, 'One OS strategy! One OS strategy! One OS strategy!'"
The Windows Red critics
Some people felt that Windows Red doesn't solve the real problem in Windows 8 -- and several took us to task for taking the Metro environment off PCs, for taking the legacy Desktop environment off tablets, and for designing Windows Red to force a reboot when moving between the desktop-style Pro and Metro-style Mobile versions when using a hybrid device.
Adrian Werner: "Separating Metro and Desktop is a terrible, terrible idea. What's more ... it's a completely backward one that could [have made] sense 10 years ago, but not anymore. "
Yoyoegg: "A reboot when you snap on a keyboard to the tablet? C'mon, son!"
Duuuude: "Your proposal works fine for desktops, laptops, and tablets. Your proposal fails for the most interesting device, the hybrid laptop/tablet."
Jeff Stucker: "[Re-booting on the switch to Mobile] is not only inelegant, it's absurd. I've been using pen- and touch-enabled Windows tablets for five years now (XP, Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8) -- mostly in Desktop mode, but also in tablet Metro mode when traveling. It's the grab-and-go nature of Windows 8 that I like. "
The Windows Red fans
Others believe that Windows Red hits the nail on the head.
LordZordec: "if Windows Red was a real product, I would upgrade tomorrow."
Alcamtar: "This article describes what Windows 8 should have been. "
Pko66: "Windows Red Pro could be usable in a corporate environment without some crazy upgrade and training investments that make Windows 8.x unfeasible in any medium or larger company."
Ricky: "If only you guys ran the Windows division" -- a fate I'm not sure I'd wish on my worst enemy.
Where people thought Windows should go
There were lots and lots of suggestions for moving beyond Windows 8.
Sergmis: "Windows 8 (or any unified touch interface) won't catch on till we get rid of the keyboard and mouse. See the desk in the movie 'Oblivion'? It's already here. The interface can scale to the size of the device maintaining core GUI elements across phone, tablet, and desk. Microsoft should make this desk, then license the technology. Apple will probably do it before Microsoft does."
Dennis Barr: "The demise of the Windows 'standard' for desktops ... there's no evidence that this is changing. What is changing is the place of the desktop at the apex of the computing space; that spot is under threat as more and more mobile devices come into use."
Jason Charnov: "Microsoft is trying to exit the desktop OS business without losing the desktop application market. It can see that the future is application ubiquity and that the platform doesn't really matter and needs to get out of the way."
Shizuppy: "Keep in mind that Windows 8 is less of an OS and more of a marketing platform for the Windows Store. Windows 9 will be even more so. Understand that and you'll understand everything."
Ben Snyder: "You got the branding all wrong. Nobody cares about the Windows brand anymore. It's been ruined since Vista. The last Windows version people loved was XP. XP actually has cache. They should rename Surface to Window and have it run an OS called XP."
Mcswell: "How about Microsoft Office Red? With menus, instead of hieroglyphics."
The New York Times's Pogue summed up what Microsoft needs to do first: "But you know what? Ask the makers of New Coke, or Apple Maps. Sometimes, the best thing for your customers and your company is to admit you've committed a colossal blunder -- and set to work undoing it."
This story, "We love it! We hate it! Here's what we want! Windows Red reconsidered," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.