Windows 10

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MS Does It Again.

When MS released Vista, it was to almost universal disapproval.  If you hung around in XP for awhile, then gave Vista a try, you would have found it not quite deserving all the bad press it was getting.  On the other hand, you might have noticed enough deficiencies to regret the change.

Then -- just about when all the critics were giving up on MS -- out came Windows 7, a good product that should have swept up all the Windows XP addicts, and probably would have had it not been for the critical pounding given Vista.

Now we are in a similar situation.

Windows 8 was released and was immediately hated.  Not by everyone -- it did have its place and its abilities; but it lacked a few fundamental necessities.  The most obvious lacking was the Start Menu.  The old Start Menu -- around forever in various guises -- was a word-driven menu in the format of a file structure, launched by a single-click of the start button.  Its replacement was an icon-driven menu pretty much replicating the kinds of interfaces provided on smartphones.

It is likely that the development crew mistook the positive response the public had for the smartphone interface as a liking for the interface in general.  What they didn't consider was that trying to control a hand-held device with a word-driven menu was a royal pain:  the words were too small, fingertips too inaccurate, and the psychological distance from intention to objective too great.

The clues were there:  this instant popularity of the Voice-driven interface should have been the biggest signifier.  Even though the public apparently preferred spoken words to written words, the bigger message should have been that a whole lot of us really did hate those tiles.

But on computer screens and in public settings, verbal control can be impolite (to others who would prefer one shuts up) and indiscrete (to those of us who prefer to keep many of our thoughts and contacts private).  As for tile control, it blots the screen and requires more overall searching if the particular tile is a number of screens off to the right and happens to be one you can't quite remember the name of -- which seemed  to happen a lot more than the social engineers (if any) predicted.

Whatever the reasons, Windows 8 divided its users into lovers (for its cleaner and faster action) and haters (for its burdensome usage - to some).

Now the engineers have figured out that there is no reason that the user shouldn't be able to choose the interface.  With Windows 10, the user can do just that -- not only by establishing a default interface, but by having available at a single click, the ability to switch interfaces.  Yes, that is the way Windows 8 should have been, but who cares at this point.  As with Vista, the next step is what the previous step should have been ... but the step has finally been taken.

And as with Vista to Windows 7, the change from Windows 8 to Windows 10 includes a number of other improvements, many of them happening as the result of an unprecedented opening up of the preview of the product to the general public with an open-minded willingness to listen to criticism.

Which means Windows 10 is not finished yet.  In fact, if this ear to public response signifies anything, it might also bode well for the future.  Windows 10 might also be a work -- a good work -- in progress, in which the public is given a better way of providing genuine feedback (instead of checking off on a questionnaire with questions pre-set by engineers only interested in dealing with certain topics).

Perhaps the real reason Windows 10 is not called Windows 9 is that MS genuinely wants this new Windows to be two steps into the future.

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(c) Michael J. Carroll [March, 2018]