The title of this post was inspired by Paul Thurrott’s tweet from the Windows Build conference and it pretty much sums up my own impression of what I saw Microsoft present on Tuesday. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting from the keynote but what I did see was above and beyond, and without question Microsoft made a big statement – that they are back in the consumer game!
A few months ago I was having a conversation with Mike, a friend of mine, about how I believed that Microsoft had lost their way in the consumer space. My rationale was that Microsoft had given their competition, such as Apple, a massive lead and that I wasn’t sure they could regain the lost ground. Mike made a statement that I thought was interesting but I didn’t read too much into it, he said that Ford had done a similar thing, however always had a plan and today, are back in pole position. I’m not really a car guy so I didn’t want to debate, however me being me was certain he was wrong – and on Tuesday, Microsoft proved his point for him.
Before I go further, I do want to take a side track and make note to a blogger who I respect quite a bit but am afraid this time I have to somewhat disagree – John Gruber. John published a post titled All His Life Has He Looked Away, to the Future, to the Horizon. Never His Mind on Where He Was. What He Was Doing which was pretty critical of Thurrott’s tweet in that he disagreed that comparison could be drawn given the early stage of Windows 8. The post went on to talk about how Windows 8 was not due for another year and that the Samsung hardware provided to attendees of the event was not up to the quality of the iPad – fair point on the latter. Another statement the post made was that Apple do not provide hands on with their products this early and that when they choose to make releases, the goods are pretty much complete.
The first point I would like to highlight here is that Microsoft don’t make hardware, they make software and their product is Windows 8, not the Samsung device. What Microsoft were showing off at the event was Windows 8 and its feature set and the fact that attendees got hardware was a nice extra, but wasn’t the focus of the show. If we compare Windows 8 as it stands today (in the tech preview stage) to iOS, putting hardware aside the operating system is already more modern, more flexible, easier to develop on, less restrictive and more feature rich; and Microsoft still have a year to work on it. Don’t get me wrong, I like Apple and am in fact, writing this post on a MacBook Pro, however when it comes down to comparing apples with apples (excuse the pun), one has to tip their hat to Microsoft at this stage.
Lets also realize that Apple do in-fact release product considerably before completion for example the beta’s of OS X and iOS for example. The first few releases of the Apple operating systems were not stable, lacked features and were not complete just as is the case with Windows 8 now. Its true that Apple may not release their hardware until production ready and that’s fine but remember that Microsoft are not in the hardware business.
One of the first things people notice (largely because its in your face) on Windows 8 is the Metro UI – this is simply beautiful. There is no doubt that this is original and there are certainly no fan-boys who can claim that Microsoft have copied someone else with this. The Metro UI is way ahead of any other vendor in the mobile space and it is obvious when using it that they have put a lot of time and effort into understanding the user, this has really paid off.
I’m still playing with the tech preview of Windows 8 so am somewhat engrossed at the moment but will most certainly be making a number of posts as I explore the operating system in more detail; for now I wanted to quickly put out my initial impression – superb!