When we wrote about Windows 8 in March and in August, we slowly started to see Windows 8 in our advisors’ offices. As Darren Tedesco wrote in his August post, it hasn’t really surged in popularity like Microsoft had expected. In fact, it hasn’t surged in popularity like I had expected. People aren’t upgrading because of the general perception of Windows 8—because it is a change away from what people are used to and because of the reputation it has gotten from online reviews.
Windows 8 is a fast operating system (OS). It’s very fast. Everything on your computer is indexed so that you only need to know a word or phrase that is in an e-mail or document to be able to search for it. In addition, Windows 8 starts up faster than any other Windows system, and Windows 8.1 is even faster! The OS is an updated and streamlined version of Windows 7. It’s faster to run and easier to visualize which programs are installed, arrange them however you want, and place them in an area where it’s easy to access your favorites. If you’re an XP or Windows 7 user, you’ll probably appreciate being able to pin your favorite programs to the taskbar for quick access.
Heck, nowadays you need a web browser, some Microsoft Office applications, and (for most people) iTunes. Why click to your Start menu or your desktop to get to them? Just pin them to your taskbar and eliminate some steps to get to them. Why go to Start > My Documents and find the folder your documents are in? Why not just start typing the name of the document and have it pop up? Or, better yet, pin your documents folder somewhere easily accessible—and pin your most used documents to that folder! It’s fast. It’s easy.
Windows 8.1 is a definite improvement over Windows 7 and Windows 8, but can it get out of the shadow of the public’s perception of Windows 8? Despite all of the features I mentioned above, people will still focus on Windows 8’s two very distinct sides to the OS. There is the Desktop side that we are all fond of, but there is also the Metro side, which nobody seems to like.
This is where people’s perceptions come into play. Getting to the Metro side and navigating around was a problem for Windows 8 users who were used to XP or 7. Those who have used an iPad, iPhone, Android device, or a Windows tablet have nothing to worry about. In fact, I would even say that it’s more intuitive and easier to go back and forth between your mobile devices and your desktop or laptop because of Windows 8’s layout. The Metro interface is like accessing apps on an iPad. They are tiles, and you can scroll through them until you find the “app” you’re looking to run. They’ll open on the desktop, or, if there is a “Metro version,” it’ll open like an app on your iPad. Very cool. People just don’t like change. This change sent (unnecessary) shockwaves through the business community and has caused a panic in those who haven’t even used the OS yet.
The panic started because, when you boot your computer in Windows 8, it automatically booted to the Metro side of the OS. In order to access the Desktop side of the OS—the side that people were used to—you had to use the Windows key on your keyboard or click the Desktop app. Heresy. But in Windows 8.1, Microsoft has brought the Start button back, and you can boot to the Desktop side instead of the Metro side. So now that you can boot to the Desktop and use the Start button, Windows 8.1 is more like a streamlined version of Windows 7.
Perception is everything. Windows 8.1 is faster than its predecessors. It’s more customizable and easier to use. The biggest perception issues have been fixed and addressed, but is it enough to get people to make the switch and go through the learning curve? I think so.
Windows 8.1 is available for download on October 17, 2013, as a Windows Update to Windows 8 and is available in stores on October 18, 2013.
Will you be making the switch?