I’ll be honest, I don’t like Windows 8. Version 8.1 and onwards helped a bit, but since Windows 7 was pretty good, it still felt like they were trying to fix something that wasn’t broken. I’ve had Windows 10 preview for a few months now and my impression is that if Windows 8 hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be as well disposed towards it as I am.
Importantly for many, a ‘proper’ Start Button allows you to get to your programs directly again via a mini popup Start Screen. It is a bit cluttered compared to previous versions, but usable and a further click gets you the full Start Screen experience if you want it.
If you have a laptop or Surface Pro that has a detachable keyboard, Windows 10 will switch between the tablet friendly Start Screen and the keyboard and mouse oriented Start Button, depending on whether you have your keyboard connected. Very nice but therein lays the fundamental issue Microsoft is facing.
In my opinion they have been attempting the impossible in trying to get a consistent user interface from the Windows phone all the way up to a full-size desktop. Whilst the keyboard/mouse interface is still the most common on anything other than tablets and phones, that just won’t happen. People get used to how they work and feel resistant to being made to change unless there’s a compelling reason.
And that is why I have seen an increasing number of clients switching to Apple computers. They may already have an iPhone and/or iPad so think it can’t be a great stretch to get a MacBook or iMac. Funnily enough the biggest problem they have other than not being able to get Mac versions of programmes they are used to on Windows, is using the Finder to access their files. Apple have a habit of hiding important functions so you do really need time, Google and advice from someone who uses a Mac to get used to them.
The way the two companies approach design of the user interface is not only interesting to techies, it effects all of us. Should designers change things radically like Microsoft have, or evolve with smaller incremental changes like Apple. People tend to prefer small changes but Windows 3 was a massive revolution when it came out. On such decisions large corporations fall.