I’ve said this before, and I will reiterate it now. Windows 8, in general, is not perceived in a positive light. Not necessarily because of the lack of features, or even due to the touch first interface, but because from the start people did not buy into the paradigm. We can argue over why that was, and the specifics are likely different for every individual. But a big part of that was that Windows, which has had a familiar interface since Windows 95, had changed dramatically in look, feel, and general use. The traditional mouse and keyboard PC and notebook is a big part of the Windows user base, and especially at the beginning, Windows 8 did not cater to that crowd. While there were certainly improvements to the desktop, it was not enough to overcome the negative feelings of many users in regards to being productive on their PC. I say this as a fan of Windows 8.1, and I say this despite the positive review from this site. Windows 8 was an OS that worked, but had a steep learning curve that many people did not want to bother learning.

One of the biggest issues facing Windows 8 was just how much people liked Windows 7. Windows 7 was seen as the savior to Vista, and fixed many of its issues. But a lot of the initial problems with Vista were due to a major change in the driver model as well as the security model, which caused a lot of compatibility issues with older programs which expected administrator rights, as well as many hardware devices needed driver updates. With Windows 7, all of those changes were in the rear view mirror, allowing 7 to be a tweak of the overall UI and functionality rather than a rebuild of the OS from the ground up. With Windows 8, the move to touch first caused another dramatic upheaval. This time, rather than incompatible programs and hardware, we got a new Start Screen, a new runtime in WinRT, and a new app model with the Windows Store. For reasons that will never be made clear, the familiar start button was even removed, with the designers relying on hidden functions such as the hot corners to navigate around the OS with a mouse and keyboard. Luckily this change was reversed for Windows 8.1, with the start button returning, even if it still opened the Start Screen. With the Windows 8.1 Update, the system was made much more usable for a mouse and keyboard with the return of the menu bar to close apps, rather than dragging them down off the screen, and several other changes as well which brought the balance back somewhat to cover both touch interfaces as well as the mouse and keyboard.

Windows 8 at launch in October 2012

With Windows 8, Microsoft tried out an operating system which would work with a single interface across a breadth of hardware, from small form factor tablets, up to 30” monitor desktops. While they certainly succeeded in creating an interface that worked across all of those platforms, it was not ideally suited to any of them. With the tablet mode, the new Start Screen worked very well, and the charms menu and app switcher were fairly easy to use. But many of the settings and programs would be on the desktop, where touch only worked sparingly. Some desktop applications, such as Office, were created with a touch mode to increase the size of the onscreen elements, but overall the experience was subpar. Similarly, on the desktop, the touch interfaces were not ideal, and the hot corners certainly had issues especially on multi-monitor systems.

Windows 10 Technical Preview at launch

But now we come to Windows 10. Windows 10 is ditching the “One Interface to Rule them All” mentality, and moving to a more user friendly model of a single store across all platforms, and multiple interfaces to the same OS depending on the current usage model. We have not seen all of this in practice as of yet in the Technical Preview, but Microsoft has demonstrated their solution to this change in input mode with a feature they are calling Continuum.

The goal is that those that are on a keyboard and mouse based system will have the traditional start menu and desktop, with apps in windows, but if you are on a touch based device, or if you go on a 2-in-1 from keyboard to touch, the system will switch to the Windows 8 style start screen with full screen apps.

One of the keys to having this experience is an app model that allows a developer to target this different user interface paradigms. Microsoft’s solution to this is Universal Apps.

Universal Apps and the Windows Store
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  • justausername - Friday, November 14, 2014 - link

    Anyone know if Windows Server will get similar updates and changes?
  • Brett Howse - Friday, November 14, 2014 - link

    I have not had a chance to check out server yet, but this is the preview: http://blogs.technet.com/b/server-cloud/archive/20...
  • phantom505 - Saturday, November 15, 2014 - link

    Wow, "despite our good review on this site.." I like this site, have since 1998ish. HOWEVER, who the hell are you to make such a strange comment like "people did not want to bother learning." You can kiss me where the sun rarely shines.

    The interface is garbage. The search was garbage. Even 8.1 didn't really fix it sufficiently.

    How about you respect your readers a little more, eh?
  • SlyNine - Monday, November 24, 2014 - link

    You act like their not allowed to disagree. They were not talking about you.why you choose to feel butt hurt is a mystery.

    In my case it's exactly right. it was an interface I had no desire to learn when it offered no real advantages.
  • Whiznot - Saturday, November 15, 2014 - link

    Microsoft is losing me by including the useless store and by removing Windows Media Center. WMC is the only reason I'm not running Linux on my HTPC.
  • Zingam - Saturday, November 15, 2014 - link

    "Microsoft has already had to deal with people being stuck on Windows XP, and they must be wanting to avoid that with Windows 7."

    Hahaha, Microsoft, maybe you won't price it in $$$ range then!!! Windows costs more than many people would pay for hardware. :)
  • Zingam - Saturday, November 15, 2014 - link

    So they seem to have finally removed that useless border around the windows!!! That's something I like!!!
  • Zingam - Saturday, November 15, 2014 - link

    I also like the gesture features with Windows 8. Dropping would be a wrong step but they do need a tweaking and an improvement, so that they feel confortable with the mouse!
  • SinceWin3.1 - Saturday, November 15, 2014 - link

    using 8.1 on newly built desktop. no problems at all. due to a botched office install i had to put new operating system on my laptop. choice: 8.1. problems galore! wifi issues, which now seem to work after connecting multiple times to hot spots i usually use. install borked the first time and now updates won't update. win7 on the 2 year old laptop never had a single issue. i think the problem for MS is that Win 10 seems destined for power users in general. i really think there should be a WinLite 10 that works and doesn't have so many features that ultimately compromise the system and hardly anyone will use. i've even had horrid install issues with office on two computers in the last month. can't anything work anymore???
  • Zingam - Sunday, November 16, 2014 - link

    An advice from another User of Windows since 3.1 :D
    Laptops should never be upgraded to a newer OS. Just use the one that came was pre-installed on it, the one that they were certified for. Since I use laptops exclusively for 10 years now (I haven't bought/built a desktop since 2000), I can't even use Linux, because of that. Once I installed XP on a laptop from CD that I used to intall Windows on other PCs but I got all kinds of problems on the laptop. Then I reinstalled using the installation disk that came with the laptop - no problems at all.

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