Recently I purchased a laptop for my son. He needed a computer for school and the one he had was so old and slow that he was resigned to using my wife's four year old netbook instead, which was also a little past its prime. He needed something portable for use around the home but wasn't prohibitive in cost. Fortunately, there are laptops available that don't cost an arm and a leg but are powerful enough for general use. So, I went shopping for laptops.
Most of the notebook computers we looked at were quite adequate for its intended use, and several were priced within my budget. There was just one problem. They were running Windows 8.
Now, I've been a Windows user since the days of Windows 3.1, and before that I worked in DOS. I wouldn't call myself a Microsoft fanboy by any stretch of the imagination and if you've been listening to The Force Field Podcast for any length of time you already know it. I've used other operating systems including Linux and I own an iPad, which I really like and have come to rely on for a number of applications. However, I am most comfortable on a Windows machine and am particularly fond of Windows XP and Windows 7. This is what makes what I am about to say all the more painful.
I don't like Windows 8. I don't like it at all. I won't go into all the reasons here, because they have already been expressed by a multitude of other Windows users who are of like mind and for all of those reasons collectively. I am just one more Windows user who has made it official: Windows 8 is a terrible operating system. It's even worse than Windows Vista, which was previously considered the worst operating system since Windows Millenium, or Windows ME.
About five years ago I attended a Microsoft Partner event held at their Charlotte, NC campus. At the time, Vista had recently been released to market, and the Microsoft execs were eager (or should I say, somewhat desperate) to generate some real support for it from partners, because for the most part, there wasn't any. They even gave away a copy or two in a drawing during the event, and somehow I wound up winning a full retail copy of Windows Vista For Business. Where is it now? Still sitting on the shelf behind me, still sealed in its original package, gathering dust. I disliked working with Vista so much on my customers' computers that I never installed it on my own PC. I never even cracked open the plastic case.
Since then I have had an opportunity to check out Windows 8. It didn't take long for me to form a new opinion of Vista: It is now only the second worst OS. In my humble opinion, Windows 8 is the worst operating system ever.
My son is no stranger to Windows. He has been around computers since he was old enough to walk. He spent his pre-school years in my computer store all day, often sitting at one of the demo PCs at the front of the shop. Customers would walk in while he played his games and watch him operate one of my branded, custom-built computers while marveling at the idea that such a young child could figure out how to operate a device that they themselves struggled with. Needless to say, my son helped me sell a few computers.
Since the new laptop was intended for my son, I thought it was only fair to let him decide which operating system he wanted to use. So, when shopping around, I took him along and asked him to try it out on the demo units in the stores. It didn't take him long to conclude that he didn't want one with Windows 8.
I had to hunt around for a laptop with Windows 7. Unfortunately, that was a difficult order to fulfill, thanks to Microsoft, who demanded PC makers pre-install all their new computers with Windows 8 and refused to allow customers to downgrade to 7. Essentially, Microsoft is forcing customers to buy Windows 8 instead of giving them a choice, something I resent. After searching around, I considered purchasing a Chrome based tablet for my son instead, but I realized that if I did so, most of the Windows-based software he already had would be useless.
He did get his laptop. When we drove down to Orlando at the end of the year, I found a Windows 7 notebook in stock at CompUSA (TigerDirect) and snapped it up right away. Now he's happy, I'm happy and all is well. No thanks to Microsoft.
Now I need to upgrade my production PC. I need to be able to just build it, turn it on and start working on it. I have neither the time nor the patience to re-learn the operating system. I know Windows, and I like Windows 7. There is no learning curve and no lost productivity due to re-training. The operating system shouldn't be the focus of my attention while at the computer. I should be focused solely on my work, because that is why I am sitting in front of the computer.
My attention should be on what I am creating on the computer, not on the operating system. The purpose of the OS is supposed to be the platform from which I can work, not the work itself. It is supposed to be somewhat transparent in that sense. Windows is not, and should not be, the reason I own a computer.
The Windows team at Microsoft, and Steve Ballmer himself, seem to be trying to make Windows the centerpiece of the computer instead of what it should be, just the platform from which to operate it. They seem to have completely lost touch with the original purpose of the operating system and all the reasons why Windows has been most popular OS in the world for over twenty years.
Windows 8 is a mistake, and everyone seems to realize this except Microsoft. The CEO is telling the world that users "get" and "like" this convoluted code while blogs are bashing it, Twitterers are tearing it down and the company's stock is taking a dive. Windows 8 is a huge fail and Ballmer should acknowledge that obvious fact. He should admit it and back it up by doing the right thing: Either allow users to downgrade their new PCs to Windows 7 or simply recall Windows 8. Based on what has come from Redmond already, it is doubtful Ballmer and company will ever rescind their previous mandate demanding users have this horrible piece of junk shoved down their throats (for a premium price, I might add), so the only other choice is to issue a recall. Since they have yet to do it on their own, I formally demand one now.
Dear Steve Ballmer,
I find Windows 8 to be the worst operating system ever, and I formally request you recall it immediately. If you do not do so, and if I am not offered a choice to purchase a new computer with Windows 7 by this spring, my next computer may be running OS X.
Sincerely, A former Microsoft Partner.