At AllThingsD’s D9 last week, Microsoft showed off a preview of Windows 8. Wow. It’s obviously a radical departure from previous versions of Windows, and is somewhat similar to what Mac OS X was to Mac OS 9. The UI is moving towards Windows Phone’s Metro UI, although the revealed screenshots of the new Start menu look more like a different implementation of Windows Media Center than an actual operating system. On the whole, I like where Microsoft’s heading. I’ve always been a fan of Metro, and even though it gives off a little bit of a bare, unfinished look, the emotional response of cleanliness is good.
I’m slightly concerned that this might be too big of a change, though.
I don’t want it to be. I really don’t.
But it all comes down to the ability for developers to adapt. And if such a heavy emphasis is being placed on touch, hardware has to be both ready to support Windows 8 and widespread enough to make it worth the investment. That brings us to the classic Apple argument – it may be a bit stale by now, but it’s true: they control their own hardware. If they want to migrate OS X over to a touch interface, it’s much easier than Microsoft having to wait around on manufacturers to catch up. Yes, there’s a legacy mode to run apps Windows 7-style, but the end goal shouldn’t have to be dependably held up by backwards compatibility that’s used more than the new features. However, I suppose the argument could be made that by working closely with OEMs, revealing early (as they did), and forcibly delivering by a certain date, the OEMs will be forced to keep up.
I certainly hope that’s the case.