Some time ago I decided to install Windows 8 Release Preview onto my laptop, which is not a touch screen. It’s significantly improved over the developer preview. But I can’t shake the feeling that Microsoft has discontinued desktop OS development in Win 8.
I can’t speak to how 8 plays out when you have a touch screen device. I have a Windows 7 phone, so I’m already comfortable (happy) with the Metro UI. But surely the purpose of something like Windows 8 would be to bring touch and desktop together so that Microsoft can improve the app store for Win 8 devices.
My big complaint with my Win 7 phone – compared to my Android experience – are that the apps, when they exist at all, absolutely suck. Maybe if you’ve never used an iPhone or a ‘Droid, you might think the apps were ok. Most of the navigation software doesn’t do turn-by-turn. I recently bought “gMaps Pro”. It’s OK. But it fails at the most critical parts of navigation software. #1: no speech, #2: each time you reach an itinerary point, it refreshes the itinerary, so as you go into a busy californian junction, yer borked if you weren’t fast enough reading the directions.
The Garmin software costs an arm, a leg and your soul. In return, you get passable GPS software with always-out-of-date maps that require you to raise a farm of small children, chop them all to itty little bits, and spoon-feed them to your GPS in order to pay for update subscriptions. That’s right, if you don’t pay, you get reverted to stock. I won’t take the time to properly berate Garmin’s software, it’s just the combination of $49 price tag + absolutely shite software that I wanted to underline.
Beyond this, your options are very few. There’s “Turn by Turn Navigation”, but I believe it gets its directions from the old guy playing chess on the corner of 5th who is actually a lookout for the mafia and is just trying to get rid of you for as long as possible.
People just aren’t developing for Windows 7.
So it would seem that Microsoft is counting on Windows 8 to unify their platforms and bring the value of the Windows desktop legacy to those who develop for Metro/8.
Except, it would be an understatement to say that Win8 defecates on that very legacy.
It’s also possible that Microsoft just plain fail to understand what provides the value in their own product line. The fact that people will switch from Windows to MacOSX demonstrates that it’s not about the UI. Rather, it’s about the availability of high-quality software that meets the consumers’ needs in a meaningful and engaging way. The Windows ecosystem has been stunted and stagnated for years now, the old fear that “if you make it, MS will come” still persists: it’s a pretty risky proposal to get entrepreneurial under Windows :(
I think desktop users are going to be best advised to stay with Windows 7 and wait for Windows 9: either Microsoft will come to their senses and re-target the desktop user or they will develop something that does a better job, or they will decide to continue Windows 7 support indefinitely to phase out the desktop PC…