I don’t get it.
They obviously went to a lot of trouble to design a new touch-based interface. But because they need backwards compatibility as well, they have a “traditional” apps isolated into a kind of “Windows 7 ghetto”, something that looks just like Windows 7, and with no visible trace of being integrated into the whole Win8/touch thing… And this is for traditional PC’s. On my PC, I’m apparently going to have to choose which environment I’m using currently, because there’s limited interaction between them. And both worlds are going to suffer from that.
But why did they do this? A traditional PC doesn’t benefit from a touch interface. So on a PC, they went to the trouble of providing a new, shiny-looking UI, which doesn’t integrate well with what a PC needs to do, or with the apps that already exist on a PC.
And on tablets? Well, they’re most likely going to use the infamous ARM port of Windows, aren’t they? And that means they won’t be able to run existing applications anyway. But they still get to drag around the entire legacy desktop “ghetto” UI. Why? So that they can run the PC versions of Excel or Visual Studio (assuming an ARM port exists)? Yeah, that’ll be hilarious to use.
From what we’ve seen so far, Microsoft has managed to produce a good touch-based UI — something that might actually give them a fighting chance in the tablet space. And they’ve got a good keyboard/mouse-based UI already. (A good command-line based UI is still MIA, of course) — and at the same time, Windows Phone makes no attempt at compatibility, and lives in its own little world.
I suspect that one of the keys to Apple’s success is that they’ve exploited each platform’s differences. They didn’t try to make OSX run on the iPhone or iPad. They wrote iOS for that (admittedly with a lot of code reuse, but as separate beasts with separate APIs and UIs). The result is that every iPad app is written for iOS and for touch. Every OSX app is written for OSX and for the “PC” platform, for mouse and keyboard.
Trying to make every device do everything, as Microsoft is seemingly doing, sounds like it will merely give us the “traditional” Windows experience, the feeling that every app is written in another era, for a very different platform, with no attempt at fitting in. So our mouse-based apps on our tablets will get a fresh brush of paint, and then they’ll be let loose on the WinTablet. We’ll get touch-based apps designed for tablets, running on PC Windows, and trying to coexist with Excel, Visual Studio, Minesweeper, Notepad and Outlook. And no matter where the user turns, he’ll be faced with apps designed for a completely different UI paradigm. But for what purpose? Does Microsoft seriously think people will buy their tablet over the iPad because it runs MS Word? And are people going to buy a Windows 8 PC just so they can, using a mouse, play a port of Angry Birds or another touch-based game?
I don’t understand the attempt to make both coexist on every device. Neither PC’s nor tablets need both. Do they? Both seem to be weakened by the presence of the other. Can you honestly say that you’d like your iPad more, if it allowed you to run OSX apps out of the box, without requiring the apps to be rewritten and redesigned for touch? I doubt it.
I don’t get it.