*Windows 8 will be a success with younger people than older people statistically speaking, although many older people will enjoy it.
I've been waiting to post this for a month or so now, as we're approaching October's Windows treats. And as that happens, debates will be spurred again. I offer my take.
One year ago this month, I think about this week, Microsoft unveiled to the world the future of Windows: the Start Screen. Many initial reviews claimed the design was the most innovative and freshest thing from Microsoft in years. There was also a picture of a Windows tablet PC running the Developer Preview that showed what makes a tablet PC better than an ipad.
It is clean, it is modern, it is different, it is Windows 8. The new metro UI doesn't have anything of the past GUIs that Windows used to have: no Aero, no blur, no gloss, no 3D, no "fakeness." It is digital authenticity. 30 years ago when the GUI took place, back then we needed things like a Desktop that has these folders and icons that looked like filing cabinets and floppy disks and rubbish bins to make personal computing something that is understandable to use when before the DOS UI was standard place for computing.
Windows 8 breaks that tradition. Although one click away brings you back to that (maybe because it's a transitional UI and it could be a way not to shock people too bad, a way to wean off the old and onto the new) one click back and you are faced with the new. Need your calendar? You click on a simple icon that looks like a calendar, not a flip book with pictures and dates in a 3D perspective. Email? Find the icon with a letter on it, not something marked with postage stamps and flying letters. News feed? Look at the tile that has the latest headline and a little simple newspaper icon, not a little exclamation mark and some weird newspaper cover with gradients. Simplicity. The new UI moves past the old "guiders" of the UI that took real physical objects and rendered it on a 2D screen in a 3D perspective. We're smarter than that, simply put. The new UI uses "digital authenticity." Now this sounds ridiculous to some and doesn't make sense to others. It's a design concept that shouldn't be thought of superficially. I think it's so simple it's complicated. It's about letting a pixel be a pixel. A little pixel on your screen renders either red, green, or blue to display pink or orange and so on. It doesn't render by default a blur, or transparency. That's what the metro design is all about. That's why everything looks so flat, pixels are being pixels. No need for visual flair. It's like ending the practice of making a piece of metal look like a piece of wood.
Windows 8 also breaks another tradition of computing. Before, a PC was a beige block that sat on top of our desktops (the Desktop UI here) with a little monitor attached and didn't have a thing called the internet. Even the first "portable" PC was merely a keyboard and screen built in to a block that you could carry or weight lift. Form factors changed, and the clamshell laptop was introduced, then the tablet computer, then the smartphone and the niche form factors in between. Interestingly enough, the latest computing innovations of the past decade had a touchscreen. Microsoft's tablet PC, the iphone, the ipad, and smartphones. All touch powered and touch designed. Portable, light, a condensation of 30 years of computing technology in the palm of your hand. Touch is also something that people that lived through the past decade have used or encountered in their life. At the ATM, at the self check out, on your phone, on your phablet, on your touch AIO PC running a version of Windows that had built in touch input before any tablet came along.
Windows 8 changes the future of Personal Computing. The days of the mouse that Xerox executives scoffed at are nearing a near end probably this decade. The days of immobile computing are changing. It will of course stay on, but it won't be the same as today. (the computer on the starship Enterprise wasn't a tablet) Today, more and more younger people are buying smartphones and are more intrigued with touch and tablets than ever before. They're more cooler than a desktop. Features like NFC support will change the way we shop online and make transactions more secure. Features like a touch keyboard might ward of keylogging malware. Of course desktops can still have those features, but most of us that need hardcore power will need that form factor.
Some research has been done on the behavior of Millennials and 20 some year olds. Interesting things have been found. They're much more inclined to rent a house than own one like their parents as you're not chained down to one place and therefore can pick up and move some where else to a better job or better place to live. They're more likely to buy smaller, practical, fuel efficient cars unlike their parents' status symbol cars that were gasaholics. They're more inclined to live in the city where they can walk or bike to where they need to go. Some even refuse to have a driver's license and some only have one because their parents forced them to. Many are thriftier than their parents and hav ea tendency to save rather than to spend so much. Basically, younger people seem to be more practical, less wasteful, and more into smaller is better less is more type of mentality. THIS, is where Windows 8 powered tablet PCs will shine the most. Many younger people have a smartphone, and a number of them have a tablet like an ipad or an android powered one. The problem with those is that they will need a laptop PC (as most don't buy desktops anymore because of space, design, portability, ect...) to do the things their tablets can't do, like simple college work such as multiple paged essays where PROPER spellcheck is needed, or comprehensive spreadsheets that needs charts and graphs or equation input for sciences. They also will need a PC to sync content to their smartphones or tablets as those devices aren't standalone devices. But they will use their phones or tablets to browse through content as it just feels better and more natural to flick through a list than it is to scroll, and to have a screen closer to you as to make the feeling of content immersion that more powerful.
THIS, is where a Windows 8 PC will shine: content creation and content consumption in one device. A tablet PC (not RT) does it all. Apps that can be on your phone are on your PC. The things you need to do to get work done is a tap or click away. It is touchable, it is clickable, work, play, draw, read, write all in one device. No need for an ipad and no need for a separate laptop. All a young person will need is a smartphone (obviously a Windows Phone 8) and a Windows tablet PC. Young people are more inclined to be practical, a tablet PC is practical. And with the new UI, it pairs modernism with practicality.
You see, a 23 year old doesn't know what a Rolodex is and probably hasn't seen one--I seriously thought it was a brand of watch. They don't have a book full of contacts. They probably could do without a calendar (I haven't bought one in two years). Windows 8 doesn't render these "things of elder years." There aren't these posh icons that are there to make the transition from reality to GUI computing easier. They don't need that. To many altogether, it's almost intrinsic what a metro icon represents. Heck, even my technological challenged mom can navigate through my Windows Phone and find where to call and how to find a contact. I never even had to show her, mind you she was using cassette tapes in her car six years ago.
It's simple. It's modern. It's intrinsic. It's practical. It's unique. It's personal. That is the Windows 8 and this is why I believe it will do well in the younger group.