Why I think Windows 8 will be a great success

Having used Windows 8 now for roughly a year and watching it come together in the time immediately following Windows 7, I wholeheartedly believe that Windows 8 will be a huge success. There are a number of amazing enhancements to the existing functionality of Windows 8 and the tablet experience is the most unique of all the tablets out there.

In this blog post, I’ll touch on a few areas that I’m very impressed with in Windows 8 and will also talk a little bit about tablets in general.

Windows 8 Fundamentals
The fundamentals of Windows: performance, stability, and all other associated quality measures have been incrementally updated. We now have nearly instant boot, improved suspend and hibernate, everything feels snappier, improvements to battery life, lower memory requirements, faster network connectivity most notably with file transfers.  The list goes on and on actually.  For the first few months of development all that we talked about internally was about how much better the Windows fundamentals are and various feature enhancements that should make IT organizations and the enterprise very excited.  Which leads me to the next point, the desktop experience.

Desktop experience
Many people have been concerned about how the start menu has changed. I emphasize changed because there has been some confusion assuming that the start menu is gone.  You launch applications in a different way and it can seem like you’re leaving the desktop experience to launch apps.  It took me a while to get used to and I was shocked when I first heard about it, but I have started pinning all the desktop apps I use to the taskbar and I’m actually more productive in Windows 8 on the desktop than I am in Windows 7.

As discussed before on the Building Windows 8 blog, there is a new file manager, IE10 is coming, and there are tons of new features and enhancements to the Windows desktop that you don’t notice at first but once you go back to 7, you begin to miss them.

Cloud and connected services
Windows 8 integration with the cloud is unlike anything else out there.  The key integration point is roaming.  You roam your settings from PC to PC.  Something that surprised me the first time I saw it was I changed the start menu background color and pattern on one PC and the changes were reflected across all of my PCs.  There’s also app roaming, where you can start using an app on one PC, load the same app on another and you pick up right where you left off before. In Windows 8 you have to set up and configure once, then settings and all other choices you made sync up to the cloud and down to all your devices.

Tablet and touch first experience
Windows 8 is a fine desktop OS but it also now has one of the best tablet experiences out there.  I love the keyboard, particularly the split keyboard, the web browsing experience is compatible and quick, and the touch experience on web pages is smooth as butter.  There are tons of app features such as charms, and the “edges” experience where you slide in from the sides of the screen is awesome.  It will be very exciting to see what developers create using the new and completely fresh touch/tablet experience.

Developer experience
Nobody dose developer tools like Microsoft, nobody.  This means that not only will more apps be on Microsoft’s platform, but also the best apps will be on Microsoft’s platform.  Stack tracing JavaScript in Visual Studio is mind-blowingly simple.  Getting the right version of kits and tools is flawless.  Everything just works, smoothly, and cleanly.  The remote debugging experience in VS11 is freakishly cool – I should make a video post about it. When developing apps, you can debug on secondary monitors and run in the immersive experience on your primary monitor – you can debug on a desktop and run on a tablet.

App ecosystem integration
Apps can work together through charms and extensions like never before.  If someone implements a share contract for Facebook, for example, all apps get that for free.  This philosophy is carried through the OS experience in a way that other platforms can’t touch.  I anticipate that similar functionality will appear in competitors’ platforms before long.

Bringing it all together
Windows 8 brings together functionality that really will make it stand out in the market.  With all of the tablets that will be out there, you will have Windows underneath.  This means that you can run your old apps, will be able to use your Windows 7 hardware, and you get a real, full-featured OS, as opposed to an OS reduced for tablets.  Having all your apps, legacy and new, on a single device is extremely awesome and it ensures that the core OS experience, doing things like copying files over the network, playing back media, managing files, running scripts, all things that require apps on other platforms, can be done simply and consistenly on Windows tablets and desktops.

Will Windows 8 be as big of a success as Windows 7?  It depends on how well the market can embrace the changes, but I expect it to be a stepping stone to the future of Microsoft, and I anticipate that when it comes to market, there will be tons of new Windows fans who may have sworn it off when Android and iOS-powered tablets started showing up in the market.