You wait ages for a new operating system then two come along at once. After the rather poorly received Windows Vista, the follow up Windows 7 seemed to repair Microsoft’s reputation for building great operating systems but before you know it, another one has come along, Windows 8 (actually Windows 7 was released in 2009, three years ago; I’m stunned, I thought it was only last year!). I did download and test the early adopters release of the new operating system earlier in the year (now I know how long ago I started using Windows 7, I’m not sure it was only this year I tested Windows 8, such is my obvious grasp on time!) however it didn’t have the controversial Metro interface enabled at the time, so my testing didn’t really amount to much.
With Windows 8 now being shipped on new PCs I thought I’d see what all the fuss was about whilst at an electrical store on Friday. Sure enough a number of the machines on display had the new OS installed and ready to play with, all having Metro enabled. Metro, for those who aren’t aware, as well as being a newspaper, an underground railway and a supermarket to name but a few is a rather dumbed down interface that presents the users with a number of tiles, these boxes pointing to specific applications, shortcuts, or URLs. In many ways, this idea has already been used successfully on various mobile devices, which they are ideally suited for, however for a more feature rich and powerful machine, it does seem a little simplistic. I suspect that Microsoft are trying to get us all use to this way of working to aid in the sales of their recently released tablet offering, Microsoft Surface. Whilst not evident on the PC I tried, I’m hoping the Surface will more closely mimic the Window Mobile phone I played with earlier in the year which seemed to integrate all social services in a much closer manner, so that instead of thinking what the service was you wanted to use, it was much more data-centric which is ultimately be where technology will lead us. At the moment, we either telephone, Instant Message, Email, post to someone’s facebook account or tweet – each seeming so indistinct from the other… I do hope, when it comes, there’s a setting to automatically not answer any or all of these.. not so much social networking as anti-social networking.