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Five things Microsoft should fix in Windows 8 to prevent another 'Vista'

New Microsoft OS Windows 8 has a lot of innovative features, but it also has a few fatal flaws

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Windows 8 marches on toward its inevitable release - not yet confirmed, but expected sometime in early fall. Judging by the Windows 8 Consumer Preview release, though, the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system has some fatal flaws that could turn it into another “Windows Vista” scenario, and cause users to cling to Windows 7 as they’ve clung to Windows XP.

As a Microsoft MVP, a fan of Microsoft in general, and a lover of Windows 7, I have looked forward to Windows 8 with great anticipation. But, the more time goes on, the more concerned I am about just how successful the launch of this OS will be, and I’m not alone. There are many bloggers, analysts, and experts out there who have Microsoft’s best interests at heart, and feel that Windows 8 as it stands today is not ready for prime time.

Of course, the Windows 8 Consumer Preview we’re using today is a pre-release version that isn’t intended for prime time. But, there’s also a reason Microsoft isn’t calling it a “beta”. Microsoft is still making tweaks and adjustments, but in general the belief is that the Windows 8 Consumer Preview is essentially “feature complete”, and the final version will not be much different than what we have now.

That could be a serious problem. Here is a list of the top five things Microsoft should change or fix in Windows 8 before the official release if it doesn’t want to have another Vista-style debacle:

1. Default to Desktop

The Metro interface is awesome. It’s a unique and innovative approach to interacting with Windows - on a tablet or smartphone. On a desktop or laptop, however, it is just awkward and tedious. Windows 8 should default to the desktop mode when installed on a desktop or laptop, or at least offer the option during installation to let the user choose which interface to default to.

The Metro interface can still be there as an option, but desktops and laptops use mice and trackpads and keyboards for navigation, not touch. Wes Miller of says, “Personally, I believe that Microsoft needs to significantly strengthen the capabilities of the OS for mouse-bound users. The current user interface that we’ve seen from the Developer Preview through the Consumer Preview has been touch-first.”

The majority of applications I open and tasks I perform in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview forces it into desktop mode anyway. Microsoft should cut out the cutesy layer and extra steps and just let desktop and laptop users experience Windows the way that works best for those hardware platforms.

2. Allow tiles to be grouped

When it comes to the Metro interface, Microsoft should enable users to group tiles together in “folders”. If you add the Administrator Tools to your Start menu, or install Office 2010, you end up with a whole slew of new tiles. My Windows 8 Consumer Preview Metro interface is currently at three pages of tiles, and I haven’t installed that many applications.

It would make more sense if all of the Administrator Tools were grouped together inside a tile called “Admin Tools”, and if all of the Microsoft Office programs and utilities were merged together within a tile called “Office 2010.” Microsoft should add the ability to just create a “folder” tile by dragging a tile and dropping it on another one a’ la iOS.

3. Limit the tiles

While we’re on the subject of tiles in the Metro interface, Microsoft needs to pare down the tile collection. The default Windows 8 installation adds a little over a page worth of tiles. Onuora Amobi, editor of, stressed: “Make sure the number of introductory tiles in Metro aren't more than one page wide. If I want to add more, I will.”

I agree. It would be much cleaner, and aesthetically pleasing if Windows 8 started with just one page of tiles out of the box. Windows 8 should exemplify simplicity on the initial install, and leave it to the user to introduce the level of complexity they’re comfortable with.

4. Enable WOA to join domain

Microsoft has already stated that Windows on ARM (WOA) tablets are intended for “unmanaged” environments — Microsoft speak for “won’t attach to a Microsoft Windows network domain.”

We’ll have to wait and see what vendors come up with for Windows tablets, but that puts a huge burden on tablets built on the traditional Intel/AMD architecture. Tablets like the Apple iPad, and Samsung Galaxy Tab are built on ARM hardware and provide better performance and longer battery life.

WOA tablets will be the most direct competitors with the existing tablets that dominate the market. But, having a Windows 8 tablet that isn’t capable of joining the Windows domain and being managed by IT with the rest of the environment will take away the primary advantage of Windows 8 tablets.

5. Bring back the start button

When the Windows 8 Consumer Preview drops into desktop mode, it basically looks and feels like Windows 7, except the Start button is gone. To get to Start you have to sort of hover in the lower left corned where the button is normally found until a thumbnail of the Metro Start menu pops up.

Removing the Start button from the desktop view seems like one of those changes Microsoft is often accused of - moving things for the sake of moving them just so it seems “new”. I don’t generally subscribe to that theory. I assume Microsoft does what it does with intent, and as a result of testing and user feedback.

But, if I’m desktop and laptop users are going to spend most of their time in Windows 8 within the desktop view, and it looks and acts like Windows 7, what harm is there is leaving the Start button, and access to the functions on the Start Menu where users are used to finding them?

There you have it. I think Windows 8 is already on a mostly pre-determined development schedule, and I believe Microsoft has no intention of making any major changes, so I won’t hold my breath. But, if Microsoft would make these changes it would make Windows 8 a much better OS, and greatly reduce the possibility that it might flop when launched.


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Peter said: Lets check out what feedback the voices of sanity are providing Sameauthor samearticle far better amp more independent source devoid of fanboy BS Lets see how many you can count who as youd love to putspeak up from their ass Here you go dear httpwwwpcworldcombusinesfuck you very much

Jeremy Bell said: Let me reply one by one to your suggestions1 Default to DesktopThis suggestion shows you dont understand the new start screen The start screen is not some separate metro UI It is the start screen It is THE new way to launch applications in windows 8 either desktop style or metro style applications The start screen replaces the old start menu which is a broken UI on any computer sold in the last 8 years If you dont believe me then we can setup a smoked by windows phone style shootout with you on a windows 7 PC using the start menu and me on a windows 8 using the start screen and we can race to launch a series of randomly picked apps installed on the system and see who can launch them faster on averageSo it doesnt matter whether you start showing the desktop or start showing the start screen Youre going to have to go to the start screen to launch new applications which is the first thing youll want to do when you start up So why would you want to start with the desktop first Youre just going to have to go back to the start screen to launch your app anyway This suggestion just doesnt make any sense at all The start screen is better than the old start menu Just get used to it and move on2 Allow tiles to be groupedYou do know you can already do this right You dont need folders Just zoom out to view all the groups at once click a group to jump right to it Quick and simple Just drag tiles to the group you want to move it to or to create a new group Done3 Limit the tilesWhy Whats the point This would only make it seem like you could only pin a single screen of tiles on the start screen which isnt true Also one screen of tiles is meaningless when your screen size can be anywhere from 10 tablets to 40 HD screens3 Enable WOA to join a domainOK Ill give you this one Although a lot of the management features dont really make sense anymore on a locked-down WOA device with limited customization and no third party desktop apps Exchange integration intranet file access and access to your private corporate app store using domain credentials is pretty much all youd need4 Bring back the start buttonOK Ill give you this one too but it should be optional and only on by default for desktop PCs not tablets Oh by the way you can always just install Start8 by stardock which brings the start button back and even lets you make the start screen open up in a non-fullscreen popup of configurable size

davepermen said: and geeks fail to see that metro can be the best thing geeks ever had too much geeks fail to learn and explore new stuff instead of dismissing it but the learning was once what made them geek

davepermen said: the points you list just show one thing you have not understood win8 yet desktop is just another app mot having a start screen not launging into it is thus consistent and only logical you WILL use metro on the desktop oncethe appavailability is theresame for domains not needed for mobile devices they will be like phones today outside the work network capable of accessing it on the go and at work they will be configured like BYO devices joining a domain is useless for them anyways no desktop apps and security policies work already without domain joining for example in mail

steffenjobbs said: Microsoft can never go wrong There are too many fanbois who worship all things Windows There are claims from Windows fanbois that even the hated Vista wasnt all that bad but merely got bad press However I dont think that lots of people will be in that much of a rush to upgrade to Windows 8 merely because Windows 7 is pretty solid for desktop and notebook use so why bother to upgrade Im sure Microsoft will be able to sell tens of millions of copies of Windows 8 no matter how unnecessary it is to upgrade Fanbois absolutely cannot pass up on some shiny new Windows OS because if it comes from Microsoft it has to be goodI already see some fanbois commenting on how great the Zune was and how great Windows Phones are Sure they were great products but got killed by bad press and even worse marketing I guess consumers will never know how great MS products are due to bad press All Microsoft has to do is open up a couple of hundred more MS Retail stores and maybe they can pack them with Microsheeples I cant wait to see how MS markets Windows 8 Windows 8 on anything and everything will be hard for consumers to resist

Travis Brown said: The Zune hardware might have failed but the software is alive and well thriving even Its second to iTunes in online video rentals Its also alive and well on the Xbox 360 The original statement linked the metro interface tofailure as if to say that the UI was the reason these products failed and the same fate would meet Windows 8 due to this Thats just ignoranceIts clear that youre someone who is against anything Microsoft so anything I say no matter how logical it may be wont make sense to youIm sure you cant even explain why you believe Windows Phone 7 is a waste of public time money energy and resourcesEither way even if you can those who have actually used the product instead of speaking from their ass without first hand knowledge would likely disagree Thanks for your input

Epsoo said: Yeahwhatever Point is itfailed in the end An ultimatedisasteramp wastage of publictime moneyenergy resources So please do us all a favour stop justifying failure with your lame-duck-excuses and keep all this pseudo-pro psychoanalysis upto yourself Thank you And they say People First really my footMS always only put people first whenever people put down their latest amp greatest into dumpster andkeepusingwhat they currentlypreviously been usingCouldnt agree more with you Tony Criticalobservation amp advice at very crucial stage before too late and fubar

Wikileaks is Democracy said: LOL Admin Tools This article is written by a geek for geeks not consumers which Metro targets hence its Metro default

Travis Brown said: Zune didnt fail because of its design The design of Zune was universally praised by virtually all the technology websites Zune failed because of marketing and a terrible stigma that developed when the product first launched The same can be said about Windows Phone a product that hasnt failed

Donald Michael Kraig said: The Metro interface is awesome Its a unique and innovative Excuse me isnt Metro basically the same as the UI on the failed Zune Isnt it also the same as on the failed MS Phone 7Dont get me wrong both the Zune and MS Phone 7 are good products they just have been failures in the marketplaceSo how is something awesome if so few people want it Do you mean to use that term as in It was an awesome disaster Apples Newton was also unique and innovative but few people wanted itTony mind your hyperbole

Andex said: Nice post and suggestion I agree with all

Weiser said: Dont comment till you test it I for one love Win 8 it so much its my default OS on laptop tablet and 2 PCs with twin monitors Win 7 even though I love it too is my back-up OS in the event of a crash but that hasnt yet with Win 8 and Iv had a few crashes with Win 7 Time for you all to move with the times Windows 8 metro is the way of the future so get used to it

Jpd002 said: Havent yet tested Win 8 myself However I fully agree with all points made above I consider some of the points ie defaulting to desktop start button or equiv and supporting ARM-based platforms as must-haves Introducing the remaining points would likely also be highly appreciated by many potential buyersI subscribe to the notion that MS does things for a reason not merely for the sake of introducing changes arbitrarily Regardless of what these reasons might be I believe by now it should have become quite clear to all vendors that any attempt to force the market to adjust to some new fad is bound to fail resulting in lower sales as potential users would opt to stick to their current OSs

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