This challenge doesn't make any sort of sense.
And here is why: we live in a multi-OS world, it is false that people are stubborn to adapt because that is exactly what they have been doing for the past few years. We now have people using Windows XP, Windows Vista and 7, smartphone OSes such as iOS (non existent before 2007), Android (non existent before 2008), and the increasingly more featured console OSes.
People have not shown they are stubborn, much the contrary, they are willing to embrace solutions when they make sense for any given use and they use them concurrently. Pretending to have an isolated experience is as artificial as it gets. A new OS has to have its merits and be accepted when being used in the real world, competing with other solutions, not in some isolated corner of the earth. What you pretend to do is a sort of rehash of the Mohave experiment, where people got to use especially prepared Windows Vista machines by Microsoft, in a controlled environment, that is, they didn't get to use the OS as they would on a daily basis, with all the compatibility and driver problems and sluggishness, and where the conclusions were skewed to Microsoft's objectives. I'm not drawing a direct point for point comparison, as is obvious, but the objective is the same and the basic premise is the same - test the OS in an isolated environment.
But let me get back to people embracing new solutions for any given use: this is why Microsoft's Windows Mobile marketshare shrunk rapidly as soon as a company named Apple showed that you could actually bring to market a device with a decent touchscreen you could use with your finger(s) with a proper touch optimized UI (and not the sort of half baked mess Microsoft delivered in response with Windows Mobile 6.5, and let's be honest, with Windows 8, where it throws touchscreen users back to the desktop for many configurations - something it had to address with Windows 8.1), and then Google did the same thing for the masses in 2008 what Microsoft had done in the 80's and 90's for the desktop. Android, contrary to iOS, is actually an open platform, where you can run the software you want. Microsoft is following Apple's footsteps instead of Google's, betraying its past.
Here is the thing: Windows 8 is a late attempt from Microsoft to try and leverage the Windows brand to try to get into those same markets where it seemingly always has the first versions (Windows Mobile smartphone, Windows XP tablet), but where the usage scenario / ergonomics is subtly but fundamentally different. And in the case of Windows 8, it is just making a big mess in a desperate rushed attempt to say "me too" before it's too late. The problem is that the implementation is a mess, and to some degree Microsoft recognized it by launching Windows 8.1.
I will refrain from going into details as to why I think it doesn't work because I've written countless times about it (see the link in my sig, for example), but let's just sum it up like this: the modern environment is still separate from the desktop. Even with Windows 8.1, with the same background picture showing in both the desktop and Start screen, there is still pretty much a divide and lack of coherency in the experience. Context switching and all that it means to a user's attention is only the beginning of the problem: it's that there is no real mingling between both environments - you can't bring modern apps into the desktop, drag and drop a file into them, have them reside on the taskbar like any other application for quick and unified access, and as soon as you enter the modern environment the taskbar disappears and with it the chance to quickly switch between your running applications or even see if any of them require your attention (blinking icon), if a file copy operation has finished or if there are file conflicts waiting your input, or even if Windows Update or your Anti-virus requires your attention. And as to the search feature, it is far and away inferior to Windows 7's solution. Windows 7's search allows you to perform any file actions you wish, including drag and drop anywhere, instead of Windows 8's simple start the program / view the file, not to mention Windows 7's solution allows you to save search results to browse later.
But even despite all of that, I do know how to use Windows 8, I just don't like it. You don't have to like something even if you know how to use it. Many of the solutions they found as a rushed compromise to make an all-in-one just don't make sense, tamper with my productivity and remove options that shouldn't have been removed (Aero for window borders, 3D effects on windows and scroll bars).
But that isn't the only reason many people like me don't like Windows 8: As I said, firstly, it doesn't work properly as a desktop OS, but secondly, and just as important - it clearly shows the direction Microsoft is willing to take for the future, and I, as an informed consumer, do not agree with it and thus will do everything I can to seek alternatives.
First off, they now call desktop applications "legacy apps". I mean seriously, you have to know what the word "legacy" means to know what their long term objective is.
Countless new versions of well known and not so well known desktop applications and utilities are being released as we speak, so their statement is nothing but revolting for someone who is developing applications in the current "Microsoft does not get to say what can run on your OS nor does it get a 30% share of your sale" model. They are declaring the free to develop for desktop model dead in advance, which in itself is an utter disrespect for developers and users on the platform, so it can push it's own 30% cut from each store app sold business model.
Add to that they shoved the Start screen into people's faces with Windows 8, and specifically went to lengths to disallow methods the preview versions had of booting straight to the desktop. Seeing the backlash, they now implemented an option to boot straight to the desktop in Windows 8.1, but they still want to shove the store in people's faces by providing a system wide OS update through the store instead of the logical venue to deliver OS updates - Windows Update.
And then there is Microsoft's general erratic and sometimes anti-consumer behaviour:
- competing with itself with a games console meaning it doesn't release its own games for the PC nor make any sort of investment in the GFWL platform since 2008 (soon to be discontinued, and never was more than an annoyance);
- the console means it also no longer invests into bringing the PC into the living room, which is pretty much apparent by making the Media Center software a paid add-on you can only get if you have the most expensive version of Windows 8 / 8.1;
- in addition to not really knowing where it's headed in general as it seemingly thinks it can (or should) just leverage the Windows brand into things (Windows Phone, Surface RT) that have very little to do with the Windows experience or even with the concept of "windows" in general;
- all the while alienating their loyal Windows 7 (the best selling OS ever) desktop customers by saying bad things about it like 'Aero is cheesy', as possibly the lamest excuse to remove most of it from Windows 8, when the real excuse is that tablets benefit in battery life from less sophisticated effects. In any case, the real problem here is removing options, you can customize the level of transparency or turn off Aero in Windows 7 if you like, and by simply suggesting people just disable the gadgets platform on Windows 7 because of alleged security issues - all the while Windows 7 was the current platform, meaning they should be providing support for it and not simply suggest people remove features they paid money for - of course at that time Windows 8 and its tiles - which functionally replace gadgets (although you can't get them on the desktop), was soon to be released, so why continue to support the current product when you will soon want to sell the next one ?
As you see, it's not only that Windows 8 has many usability issues, it's that it's the perfect product to showcase what Microsoft thinks the future of PCs will be - and I and many others don't want that kind of future.
Speaking of alternatives, in fact I installed Lubuntu the other day on my Netbook - the whole installation fits on a CD-ROM (or a 1 GB flash drive in this case), and it runs just fine, even recognizing the special keys (like having the media / wireless, etc functions mapped to be active by default on the same keys used as the function keys). I also tried Linux Mint 15 Olivia xfce on a desktop (this is the OS I originally intended to install on the Netbook, but the live installation didn't quite fit on the 1 GB flash drive I had available, although the ISO file itself does fit) recently and it also runs just fine and I had no trouble adapting to either of them.
Edited by tpi2007 - 9/30/13 at 11:45am