Windows 8 is due to drop in late 2011 or early 2012 and the grapevine is buzzing about what's in store. Will Microsoft go big and overhaul Windows 7 or will Microsoft play it safe?
Unlike most everyone I know, I didn't hate Windows Vista. I didn't wish it dead. I didn't refuse to install it and most importantly, I didn't voluntarily downgrade to Windows XP after having installed Vista.
In fact, I have to say that I rather liked Vista (as much as one can like an OS). I ran it for a couple of years on a couple of laptops. I traveled with those laptops. I connected those laptops to many different networks. I installed all manner of software - paid as well as freeware - and not once, not once did I think "I can't wait for a new version of Windows." (Well, not as a Vista user anyway; as a Windows book editor, I'm always itching for the new version of Windows to drop since new versions of Windows equal more book sales).
And I'm almost afraid to admit this in print, but I'm still running Vista on one of my laptops. I'd love to be running Windows 7 on that machine, but I see no reason to spend the dough upgrading to 7 when my laptop is getting so long in the tooth. I figure I'll upgrade to 7 when I buy a new laptop. For now, it's chugging along just fine even though it's running the much maligned Vista. I've edited many books on that laptop and it's performed like a champ. Perhaps I'd feel differently if I didn't have 7 running on a couple of other machines. It really is an elegant and stable OS.
I'm telling you all this because as much as I enjoy giving the stinkeye to Redmond (and I really do) I also know that much of the Vista bashing was just that - bashing for the sake of doing it. I'd be willing to bet that a good percentage of those Vista haters out there really didn't have an issue with Vista. Just like many other things in life, we often just follow the herd, doing what it does.
Did Vista have it's problems. Yep. Has every version of Windows (including 7) had its problems? You bet. And was Windows 7 an improvement? Absolutely. But was Vista a stinker of an OS? That's debatable. I do think it had some initial problems that were fixed through Windows hotfixes and service packs. For the most part, however, Vista was a solid OS and wasn't deserving of the rampant hatred it received. (Of course, I know it had its real problems for corporate users).
This is the long way around for me to tell you how just how amused I am with the articles and blog posts that are starting to appear as we get geared up for Windows 8 (projected for late 2011 or early 2012). In some of these articles, the writers are saying that they want Windows 7 again with just a few tweaks. That's fine by me - Windows 7 is a good OS - but I'm thinking that Microsoft is in something of a no-win situation. Can we really expect Microsoft to not make big improvements? Really? Won't the "Mikeys who hate everything" among us skewer Microsoft through it's little liver if it did that? I think so.
So, I think Microsoft's charge with Windows 8 is going to be darn near impossible to meet. Now that the world has Windows 7 and the majority of the herd loves the dickens right out of it, Microsoft now has to decide whether it wants to tread water and just improve an already good product, or do they go hog wild and make major changes, risking another Vista experience? Either way, I think the relative peace and quiet the tech industry has enjoyed since the release of Windows 7 (and its ensuing record-breaking sales) is going to be broken. It's going to be hard for Microsoft to win here.
If you were Microsoft, what would you do?