The Road to Windows 8 Part 1: It’s either awful or awesome.

This post follows up the article I wrote in June on what Microsoft needs to do the have a successful Windows 8 launch. A lot actually. A lot. Let’s look at how things stand today. The difference between June and August are minor, with only the RTM version releasing to partners and OEM standing out (but still minor because we know it was coming and feature no significant changes over the Release Preview)

A lot of people are negative on Windows 8, including some important ones like Gabe Newel from Steam, saying Windows 8 is a complete disaster and that users will go as far as downgrading to Windows 7.

He’s wrong, awfully wrong, and it’s probably because he dislikes the idea of Xbox Live coming pre-installed making for a daunted Steam nemesis. Another reason could be that he’s simply not fond of change. I’ve noted in earlier articles the fundamental human flaw that people dislike change. Still, I’m sure Gabe’s comments on Windows 8 will be automatically echoed by some Steam fans, who won’t even give Windows 8 a chance simply because Gabe said it’s bad.

Windows 8 is different, but I can tell you with confidence that Windows 8 has zero productivity loss, rather the contrary.  The desktop is there, it’s even much improved with a new version of Explorer to easily get things done which might’ve been hard in the past, enhanced multi-monitor support, revamped Task Manager, enhanced file copy, native USB 3.0 support, Windows To Go functionality and a boatload of enhanced back-end APIs.

Despite all this, I’ve been skeptical if not plain negative over Windows 8 lately. The Preview releases have been an underwhelming experience for me. Judging from the Release Preview I didn’t gave MS much hope, some fundamental Metro parts like Charms were broken for me, making me even unable to shut it down.  I tested the Release Preview on a 4GB RAM 15 inch Sony Vaio.

Now, I’ve been using the RTM version of Windows 8 on a much improved notebook, one with 16GBs of RAM and 17” display. The RTM version has all the bugs splashed, apps polished and runs snappy without any lag. The 17” Full HD screen makes for a wonderful experience where I use both the desktop and the new Modern apps together, sometimes side-by-side. At the same time I’m also developing several apps and discovering the richness of the APIs and app possibilities trough documentation, trial and error, and other apps available in the Store. I generally like it a lot, though I have to admit that it’s premature in some places, pushing you to the desktop to do more advanced things.

Reviews of the RTM bits have been mostly positive, and Microsoft says that some of the apps will be updated on general availability in October. Meanwhile Microsoft is updating its online Live services with new Modern UIs matching the look and feel of the Windows 8 People, Mail, Messaging and SkyDrive apps. This gets people up to speed with Windows 8 UI basics, and is a clever and timely move.

Still, Windows 8 will be either awful or awesome. Some people might have a hard time learning the new features, others might use old hardware that can’t really cope with it. I think many people will use the desktop, but I’m sure that one day people will use the new apps, perhaps side-by-side.

Right now, the bigger picture of the Windows 8 story is coming into view. Microsoft hasn’t met my checklist for a successful Windows 8 release yet by a long shot, but after using the final version for several days [which was WOW for me], I have a sparkle of hope that Windows 8 can succeed and soon be the new New.

To end, a nice quote from David Pierce over at the Verge, who seems very excited about Windows 8.

Windows 8 knows we use computers different now.

Thanks for reading and I promise a lot more and varied blog posts soon!

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