View Full Version : 'Fess up, Microsoft: Windows 10 is merely a rebranded Windows 8'

27-06-2015, 06:37 PM
This may ruffle a few feathers among the ultra-committed Microsoft fan elite, but now that a good number of preview versions have passed through the IT community, it's an easy summary to make: Windows 10 is so similar to Windows 8, you can see why Microsoft isn't charging anybody for it – it's almost the same thing.

I sat in the audience at Microsoft's Build Conference in 2014 and saw that famous sneak peek of a new Start menu at the end of the keynote, at the time rumoured to be a Windows "8.2" upgrade. At the time, it just felt like the company finally seeing the light and deciding to give users those simple things they'd always wanted – a Start menu, and the ability to run everything on the one desktop instead of an inherently weird split environment which could see such bizarre phenomena as two versions of Internet Explorer (Win 32 and Modern) running simultaneously.

But as the "Threshold" rumours were revealed as Microsoft's shark- (and version) jumping Windows 10 plan, it became obvious that what we were seeing here was simply a very carefully operated PR campaign to get millions of upset users back onside.

There were various technical developments such as the apparent acceleration of the Windows NT core development kernel. But with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella claiming a 90 per cent API overlap between mobile, desktop, laptop and Xbox even back in 2014 – before Windows 10 was even announced – it seems clear that little actual work needed to be done under the hood to create the multi-device Windows 10 dream.

But back to the plan: once the hype around the "it's so good we're skipping a number" news had sunk in, it was time for the anger and recriminations. How could Microsoft dare to charge us again for what was meant to be a .2 upgrade?

Computing ran into a spot of bother after asking a customer this very question just after the Windows 10 reveal – had Microsoft had any words with them about Windows 10 so soon after they'd installed Windows 8? No. Then, weren't they worried about added cost down the line? A bit.

Some of Microsoft's PR guard dogs weren't happy with us asking such insolent questions of its customers, but they needn't have worried – only a short time later Windows 10 was announced as "free for a year" after installation on top of versions 7 and 8 anyway.

Then just two weeks ago, that offer was updated: Windows 10 will be free for the duration of its useful lifespan for anybody who bought Windows 7 or Windows 8.

In other words, Windows 10 is the ultimate apology for a UI gone wrong. A new lick of paint for an old OS.

But Windows 8 isn't that old – it only came out in mid-2012. And this is the big secret: Windows 8 actually isn't all that bad. In fact, it's actually pretty good.

Sure, it's often annoyingly conflicted with itself. It tells you to "touch here" when you're using a mouse and keyboard, and tries to teach you all manner of strange gestures to reach things hotkeys are perfectly happy retrieving anyway. There's that insane split UI stuff to overcome. Most of this can be avoided or circumvented after just a few hours' use, however.

But on a functionality level, and on a legacy compatibility level, it's a huge improvement on anything that came before it. Under the hood, it worked brilliantly at launch, and continues to do so. It talks happily to neighbouring devices, sharing profiles and Onedrive content happily. It streams all manner of media to my Xbox at the click of a button. It interacts with mobile devices in its family much more seamlessly than, say, Mac OS and iOS could ever hope – seeing as Apple hasn't even bothered trying such a thing.

That 90 per cent API compatibility across the ecosystem was already in place when Windows 8 was maligned across the world for its poor UI. When IT departments refused to touch it on the grounds it was "too different" or that "the jury was still out".

It seems trite, but Windows 8 simply fell down on account of having a really bad menu system. And now it's being fixed. There is little more to be excited about as news outlets and Microsoft blogs pour out breathless extra feature lists every time another new preview build emerges.

In a few weeks, you'll be clicking Start again to access all your applications. And you'll be doing it for free – that's pretty much all that matters.

Microsoft has played a savvy hand in effectively relaunching an OS that has been unfairly maligned for three years, and you can call it whatever you like if it makes you feel as if you won that particular hate campaign.

The company also waited far too long to patch a UI that has put off more enterprise upgraders than perhaps any OS before it, not to mention causing more than its share of heavy data loss and general confusion for utterly bemused consumers.

source (http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/opinion/2412117/fess-up-microsoft-windows-10-is-merely-a-rebranded-windows-8?utm_source=taboola&utm_medium=referral)