Microsoft set out to build a new tablet-type interface for Windows 8 that could compete with the rapidly growing slate market that the iPad recently ignited. Microsoft’s problem was that they currently service approximately 95% of the worlds computers with their operating system, so keeping those customers happy and satisfying tablet customers with a UI that’s meant for touch is not only tricky, but was thought to be impossible.
Enter Windows 8. If you’ve read Mike Halsey’s post here on Windows8News, then you have no doubt seen that Microsoft is using a mix of Zune, Windows Phone and Media Center (Metro) to achieve their tablet UI, but interestingly, also includes the classic version of Windows which is always present. Some users, like Joshua Topolsky from thisismynext.com are intrigued by the UI, but disappointed by the addition of the classic Windows desktop. I feel that Microsoft’s “have your cake and eat it too” approach can and will work if they can get the two UI’s to work together seamlessly and from the looks of it, they’re just about there.
Think of it this way – imagine having an iPad that was fully iPad, but had a mode hidden away for running a full version of OSX if you wanted it to. You wouldn’t necessarily have to run OSX or even see it if you didn’t want, but I imagine Mac users would find this “compatibility mode” an extra feature that would make the iPad even that much more useful. And desktop users need not worry. If you don’t want the tile user interface, then you can easily move to the classic mode.
I think this approach makes sense for a company that needs to stay relevant with “old school” Windows and also needs to enter the tablet game with a viable option. Windows has always been about having the choice to what hardware, drivers, software and components you wanted to use. Doesn’t it make sense that you continue to have a choice over which interface your version of Windows uses as well? With Windows 8, you don’t have to settle for one or the other, you have the option and that’s kind of the point.
Is it the right move? Does Windows 8 look like a viable tablet option while not alienating the desktop? Let us know what you guys think of the new version of Windows and whether Microsoft’s approach is the right approach.