Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Thoughts on Windows Vista 8 - You Have to Have a Place to Start

Way back when, I wrote a book called The Network Documentation Workbook. It has sold very well. It's not perfect, but there has only been one criticism of the book that really hit home with me: Where do you start?

My brother Manuel Palachuk is a business coach and a bit of a genius when it comes to process analysis. When he first saw the book, his reaction was "Where's the Start Here button?" In other words, where do you start documenting a network? From the desktop? The server? The Internet connection?

When I released The Super-Good Project Planner for Technical Consultants, I decided to have a "Start Here" campaign. I printed up a thousand round stickers in bright orange and handed them out at the conference where I launched the book. Inside the book, I worked hard to make it clear how a project is started (and managed, of course).

I think Microsoft had a similar experience. Windows 3.1 had no place to start. You even had to run Windows itself from DOS. Then you had to run a Program Manager to get it to do anything. Then you had a screen full of icons to choose from. Microsoft solved this problem with Windows 95 by adding a Start button. The Start button made life easy in Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7.

That's eight years of helping people figure out where to get started. Then in Windows 8, the Start button went away. The standard Microsoft response is, "The whole screen is a start menu. You don't need a start menu." Okay, fine. But that really puts us back to Windows 3.1, when all we had was a collection of icons to choose from.

Windows 3.1 and Windows 8 have one thing in common: User don't feel like there's one place to go to get everything. There's no comfortable place to start where you're sure you're seeing everything. There are lots of programs that simply are not on the Start screen.

People like to have a place to start.

I haven't liked the interface since I started using it in the developer's beta. But I chalked that up to the fact that I'm a geek and a power user and not the average person working for the average business. Well, now that interface is being given the blame for killing PC sales.

See this article on Fox News and this one on ZDNet.

Let's see here . . . 160 million PCs sold worldwide . . . times a 14% decrease is . . . Billions of Dollars lost by manufacturers!

I am confident that HP, Dell, and other desktop manufacturers will convince Microsoft to fix this problem. The fix might be adding a Start button and eliminating the Interface Formerly Known as Metro. But my guess is that the fix will be to sell machines that let you choose between Windows 8 and Windows 7.

Ever since Windows NT 4.0 was released, Microsoft has had one core challenge in selling their newest operating system: Their strongest competition is their existing install base. People freakin' love NT 4.0 - It's still all over the place. They love XP. We're still replacing XP machines seven years after Microsoft released its replacement.

Windows 7 is a great replacement for XP and will have a long, healthy lifespan. Windows 8 will soon come to be known as Windows Vista 8.


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