Am I the only person on earth that thinks that Microsoft has made the same mistakes that the Gnome project made when they came out with Gnome 3? I had been using Fedora since the first version, but when I upgraded to Fedora 16 and tried to use the new Gnome 3 interface that came with it I wound up giving up and switching over to CentOS 6. I haven’t regretted that decision from a functionality perspective. I do regret it from the perspective of I like to have an opportunity to play with the new new stuff in Fedora, though. But I digress, on to Windows.
My initial impression of Gnome 3 was that it was intended for tablets and smart phones, not desktops or servers. Likewise, Windows 8 has been explicitly designed to have the same interface across Windows Phones, Surface Tablets, and PC’s (Microsoft even forced an update to my X-Box 360 changing the UI on me for no good reason). I understand what Microsoft is trying to do (and what Gnome was trying to do). It’s a good idea in theory. Make it easier for people to transition from a tablet to a phone to a computer to a server. But in practice, it has only ever been an unmitigated disaster.
People relate to a touch interface differently than they do to a more traditional keyboard mouse PC interface. It’s just that simple. If Microsoft wants to be successful, I would recommend building in the backend that they have for Windows 8 to move across the platforms, but instead of forcing the UI on PC’s, I would keep the Windows 7 interface and gently encourage PC makers to build more tablet PCs.
The market is going to decide who is right. Gnome has lost huge amounts of market share in the Linux universe with their ill thought out jaunt into insanity. Microsoft doesn’t stand to lose the same way. My guess is that Windows 8 will be another Vista like debacle on PC’s. How it does on tablets and phones is anybody’s guess. I suspect that Microsoft can make some large inroads into the marketplace in that area by being more business friendly and easier to integrate into existing Exchange servers.
If I was Microsoft, I’d already be working on Windows 8 SP1 where PC users get the option of reverting to the standard Win7 interface. If they gave that option, I think they’d really have something.