Yesterday was a big day, both Windows 8 and Visual Studio 2012 RTM versions have been released (RTM = ready to market) to MSDN subscribers. Obviously I’ll write a lot about VS2012 in forthcoming weeks, but for now I’d like to focus on my first impressions on Windows 8.

To be brief: it’s a very interesting product. But I’m not that sure that it will conquer the market…
But first things first…
Installation is very fast and straightforward, as wizards lead you all the way and I had no problems with hardware detection (the word "driver" didn’t even appear on screen) - and to be clear, the rig I’ve used to install Windows 8 is quite old (Centrino dual-core + 2GB RAM). Fresh Windows 8 works much, much smoother than fresh Windows Vista installation (that’s the system previously installed on the notebook mentioned).
What’s the general user feeling? What does really differ when compared to Windows 7?
  • New "Metro" (AFAIK this name is obsolete atm) interface is very usable and I like it, but … that’s geek’s opinion. I’ve managed to work with that without issues, but I’ve already spent a lot of time with WP7.5 tiles - I believe that someone who didn’t work with “Metro” yet could require some time to get used to it.
  • New interface is very clear and aesthetic, but does it bring any new quality? Something you were not able to do in previous versions of Windows? Yes and no. For sure it’s far more convenient for all the smearing and touching interactions - I can imagine it being very efficient and convenient on tablets. But for classical notebooks it’s not a gamechanger, just a shiny addition.
  • New software / applications that will distinguish Windows 8 (“platform sellers”) - none detected. That’s bad.
  • What’s new then? Windows 8 feels like … mobile OS:
  1. you log in with Microsoft Passport
  2. you can integrate data from various accounts (not only Microsoft ones) - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, etc.
  3. you can use geolocation features for personalization purpose
  4. you can integrate with XBox Live services
  5. application can be pinned down to Start screen as tiles - those play the role of widgets (can display some basic information in a dashboard-like way)
  6. the most important - there’s a Marketplace with Windows 8 applications
The last innovation is the most important one. Microsoft’s planning to change the way users utilize Windows - they want it more Google Play / Apple AppStore style - both to control the market (huuuuge slice of the pie) and content itself (quality and security). This will be the biggest factor of the potential success. But there’s no guarantee it will succeed.
Why?
  1. OS without good applications is useless.
  2. Microsoft has failed with all the earlier attempts on app marketplaces - quality in WP7.5 app marketplace is … well … yea, “inferior” seems to be a good word.
  3. This new marketplace will support only Windows 8 applications - those won’t be usable on older OSes. What does it mean?
  4. No “platform sellers” = low Windows 8 sales.
  5. Low Windows 8 sales = even lower marketplace transactions number.
  6. Low transaction number = low developer interest.
  7. Etc., etc., etc.
If Microsoft wants to succeed - they have to play va banque.
Either by:
  • Unleashing killer apps (“platform sellers”), but it’s very, very hard.
  • Or by attracting large number of potent developer groups with potential to create those killer apps - that can be hard as the new market is risky and it’s much safer to focus on Android / iOS.
  • Or by flooding the market with high quality but low price devices - but to do that, Microsoft tablets’ prices HAVE TO BE on the same price level as quality Android tablets - Fire or Nexus 7. And that means 200 USD for WinRT Surface. Is that possible? Well, it is, but it would be massive risk for Microsoft. Will they take this risk? We’ll know quite soon.