Like the early versions of Windows, Windows 8 may have to prove its worth

Let me tell you a true story. In the old days, at the time when Windows was starting to become mainstream, I visited a company in order to install and let them evaluate one of the Windows applications that the company I was working for provided and that I had personally wrote.

The person responsible for the evaluation of the application was a very nice young lady.  She showed me to a PC and we sat down together at its desk. I installed the application and she immediately began using it.

The first thing she noticed was that she could start the application from Windows, but not from DOS. The PC she was using, along with other PCs in her company, booted to DOS. Then the user, if she wished, could load Windows by typing “win” in DOS.  Actually, this was a method that most companies used at the time. The PCs booted to DOS and could load Windows when the user instructed them so.

So, the evaluator noticed that the Windows application she was evaluating could only work under Windows and not under DOS. She specifically had to load Windows in order to use this application. And the worst part was the other applications that she and the other people in her company used did not have this problem. You see, all the other applications they used were DOS applications.

So the young lady told me that my application had a major shortcoming. You could not run it on DOS. You could run it only on Windows. All the other applications they had for their business could be started on DOS or on Windows, wherever the user happened to be at the time. That my application could  not be run under DOS was irrefutably a productivity inhibitor and a showstopper. Irrefutably. This was obvious to her.

I tried to explain to her the merits of the Windows applications, why they will be the future, why DOS will go away and why my application had this shortcoming. She did not “buy” what I told her. She kept her position that my application should have behaved like all the other applications (DOS applications) she and the rest of her company were using. In her eyes and mind, I was trying to give them a sub par application. In her eyes and mind, I was trying to give them a sub par application that could fool no one.

Two decades passed since then and this is the present time. Windows 8 is out and a dual mentality is back, with desktop applications and newer, start-screen, previously-named-metro, modern UI, touch-centric apps.

Yes, we have the desktop (like the DOS of old) and the start screen (like the Windows OS of old). And with the advent of Windows 8.1, where you could have, if you wish, boot-to-desktop functionality, you  could boot straight to desktop. So the situation starts to resemble that of the old PCs: you could boot straight to desktop like the old PCs booted to DOS. There will be the old “trustworthy” applications, whereas the new apps will be “over there” in the start screen.

Actually, I don’t expect any user to mind (although you can never be sure!)  I think this time things are easier to explain, since switching between start screen and desktop is easy. Also, Microsoft is not a pioneer in this field. People already know and use touch-centric apps from other platforms. So, yes, I am not that afraid that a customer will think I con her when I present a modern app to her (but as I previously wrote, you can never be sure!).

Since the customer is always right, newer technologies, paradigms and interfaces like Windows 8 and 8.1 have to prove their worth to their customers. And in this case, customers are mainly not the IT professionals but the end users.

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About Dimitrios Kalemis

I am a systems engineer specializing in Microsoft products and technologies. I am also an author. Please visit my blog to see the blog posts I have written, the books I have written and the applications I have created. I definitely recommend my blog posts under the category "Management", all my books and all my applications. I believe that you will find them interesting and useful. I am in the process of writing more blog posts and books, so please visit my blog from time to time to see what I come up with next. I am also active on other sites; links to those you can find in the "About me" page of my blog.
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