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Friday, October 26, 2012

Windows 8 Launched Today

Windows 8 officially launched today but there are some problems and some unknowns.

Blizzard, famous for games like World of Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo, Valve, company behind the Steam gaming community, and Notch, creator of Minecraft, have all stated their displeasure with the new Microsoft OS according to this and other articles.

But why? The new Windows 8 has many new restrictions along with its new user interface. As many of you may know, Windows 8 has a new UI known as "Metro" that uses tiles instead of the traditional Windows UI that has been files, folders, and the like. The new UI uses Metro instead to allow more tablets and other touch screen devices. The restrictions with the OS are made to restrict developers from doing things like creating software that allows files to be downloaded. This directly attacks Valve's Steam service which has been providing gamers with a way to purchase and download games from the same machine that they play on.

It is uncertain whether Microsoft will change policy or respond to the criticism of its operating system. If Microsoft doesn't respond positively, it could be the end of the Windows era that has dominated the personal and business sectors for the past decades.

While this operating system is huge news to many, it is not new. For some time, Linux has been offering its users "apps" that we've come to know and love. However, it wasn't until Apple released the AppStore on their iOS devices in 2007 that they became more popular for the average user. Thereafter, Google followed with its Android OS that also utilized apps. (Ironic that both mobile OSes are built on Linux kernels.) Apple later released an AppStore for its computer lineup and now Microsoft is following in the footsteps, trying to keep up with everyone else with Windows 8.

The difference between all of the OSes has to be with how the parent companies of the app markets. Google and Linux have been praised while Apple and now Microsoft have been criticized on the issue of closed-source methods. Linux and Android have been open sourced and both seem to be very open to developers, developing on their operating systems. Apple and Microsoft have been closed to the idea and very restrictive with developers as to what they can and cannot develop on their operating systems. Without getting too off track, this post is mostly about Microsoft than the competition. I may dive deeper into closed-source and open-source at a different time.

Microsoft can go either way. They can go the route that seems to be more progressive and be more open or they can continue trying to restrict and see if they can survive. There is a third option, and perhaps, Microsoft might be able to pull off doing both at the same time. Microsoft has been a strong and smart company when it comes to decisions such as this and I'd like to see it play out.

To survive, Microsoft must do something to help along developers. Gamers are a huge portion of the users of Windows but there are not the only users.

As I stated before, personal computing and business computing are and have been a huge percentage of the Windows population. Personal computing is more than just gaming which can also include students and home/small businesses.

It's no secret that things have been bad for our economy and this has resulted in thousands, perhaps even millions, losing their jobs and sole sources of income. During a time like this, new opportunities arise and the internet and computing have become one of those options. Many have begun starting small businesses at home and much of their business depends on computers and the internet. The way that Windows 8 plays out can mean the difference between a good, solid business or one that may not be as strong. There have been questions and uncertainty as to how non-Metro UI will work or if it even comes shipped with Windows 8. Students are another big part of the personal computing but this change may benefit students the most.

In many of my college classes, I see less and less laptops and more iPads and some other tablet-like devices. The tablets have become more valuable for students because they are lighter and easier to carry. There's usually no keyboard to get in the way which also keeps the device slim. Many other great pluses come to aid students that laptops could never accomplish so there, the Windows 8 Metro may succeed alone.

Another percentage of the Windows users includes in the business sector. Depending on how Windows 8 operates and what type of business will utilize it will vary the results as time progresses. On the one hand, for some businesses, they may not need all of the extra goodies that Windows 8 can provide like entertainment apps, but perhaps, businesses can find some use somewhere in the OS that can specialize in its own unique ways.

In previous Windows versions, we've seen Microsoft create special editions like Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate which have some features enabled and others disabled depending on performance. I haven't been able to find out if there are different versions of Windows but if Microsoft has, there may be hope for them yet. But with the economic decline, and even prior to it, businesses have not usually been the types to update every system to the latest OS versions as previous versions work just as well for their basic needs with little to no change.

For me, personally, I've been excited for the new OS until seeing what devices run it with what hardware specs. I recently upgraded my laptop from 4 GB of RAM to 8 GB and have been doing some heavy gaming. But with most devices running Windows 8, they run on 32-bit ARM processors with very little RAM, little memory, and no CD/DVD/Blu-Ray drive. While it is true that tablets use little to none of these features, I have always used them and found a need for them. While I can always buy a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray adapter or use things like CloneDrive, I still am unsure of if any Windows 8 computers will have 64-bit processors, full keyboards, and run just like a normal laptop. If not, I'd like to continue using my Windows 7 laptop or switch completely to another OS like Linux until things change. I would very much enjoy a touch-screen and have longed for one on my Windows 7 PC but that, alone, isn't enough for me to switch.

We have yet to see the full line of computers/tablets/devices that will come out in the lifetime of Windows 8 and until then, we leave it up to speculation and what we witness.

I have yet to try the beta but I have demoed the OS in a Best Buy on Tuesday with a touch screen. I enjoyed the few minutes that I spent playing with the computer and would like to see it used to its full potential.

Have you tried Windows 8? Beta or final? What are your thoughts on it? What do you use Windows for mostly? If you game, what do you think of Valve, Notch, and Blizzard not supporting the OS? Do you have faith that it will do well or be Vista 2.0?

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