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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014
The Microsoft Gamble
Rajiv Makhni, Hindustan Times
November 03, 2012
First Published: 19:29 IST(3/11/2012)
Last Updated: 19:37 IST(3/11/2012)

Headline 1
Windows 8 demand outpaces Windows 7: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
(Windows 7 is the best-selling version of Windows so far, selling more than 675 million OS licences)

Headline 2
Little demand for Microsoft’s Windows 8, says poll
(52 per cent hadn’t heard of it, 61 per cent had little interest in buying a new Win 8 device and only 35 per cent believe it’ll be an improvement)

Yes, both headlines are about the same product and yes, both contradict each other massively.

And in the World of Technology, that is just another normal day at work. This is centre stage and ground zero in what is going to turn out to be the greatest gamble the world of technology has ever seen. Microsoft Windows 8 is as big a deal as Bill Gates and the first time he introduced Windows to the world. Very rarely does a company completely reboot its biggest cash cow from the ground up. This is one of them!

Smooth operator: The verdict on Windows 8: It’s slicker, faster and overall you feel good after you’ve given it a twirl. It’s also much cheaper – with better security.
The questions on Win 8
So what is Windows 8 all about it? Why is Microsoft spending a billion dollars to make sure you hear about it? What’s so new about it? What’s all this hoopla about radical new devices that run Windows 8? Why is everyone so excited about the touch capabilities? Is it better than Win 7 or even XP? And of course, the big one, should you be rushing out and buying it? Lots of questions, very less space to answer them. So let’s get down to it.

The OS itself
It’s very nice-looking, it’s a breath of fresh air, design cues and nice touches abound all over, and there’s overall smartness everywhere. Your Windows 8 device comes on instantly, the lock screen itself has a huge amount of live info on it (email, news, social stuff), passwords can be pictures and gestures, once logged in, you go straight into the live tiles area (apps and services constantly updating in a very neat and colourful way), even your desktop is an app window, gestures work very well, each corner and side of the screen is smart and has functionality, the touch part works well and is very intuitive, the learning curve is minimal and getting started is easy. It’s slicker, faster and overall you feel good after you’ve given it a twirl. It’s also much cheaper – with better security.

The Devices
This is the even bigger deal. Windows 8 has spurred some fantastic innovation into hardware makers. It’s like each of them got a serious jolt of creativity and are now out-gunning and out-thinking each other. Due to the unique mix of touch, apps, live tiles, desktop, gestures and traditional computing, almost every Win 8 device has some new trick up its sleeve. There are transformers, hybrids, convertibles, screens that swivel, keyboards that slide, desktops that lie down flat and become computing tables, tablets that can become ultrabooks, covers that are full-fledged keyboards – it’s a riot of form factors out there. Add to that better battery life, better screen displays, instant on, fast reboot and a whole lot more. Face it! For the last 10 years, computing has looked boring and nauseatingly insipid. Windows 8 may just change all that dramatically.

A new spin on computing: Due to the unique mix of touch, apps, live tiles, desktop, gestures and traditional computing, almost every Win 8 device has some new trick up its sleeve.
However, it’s somewhat restrictive. You have to boot into live tiles, you don’t have a start button (this, more than anything else, has people staring at the screen wondering what do next), after the first 30 minutes you do have some OS fatigue setting in as it has too much going on, it’s like mastering two OSes cobbled into one, it’s also trying to pander to too many form factors with one OS (tablet, hybrid, notebook, desktop).

And as you spend more time with it, you realise that there is a learning curve to go to the next level. Keyboard combinations are new, windows can’t be resized everywhere, not all the major apps you needs are in yet, you get booted to Win 7 if something isn’t compatible, the aero look isn’t as refined, the move from the live tiles area to the desktop isn’t seamless, some of the apps don’t have the full functionality of their desktop versions (Internet Explorer for example) and at times there is a wastage of screen space. Also, the difference between Windows 8 (the full-fledged version) and Windows RT (mainly for tablets and low power consumption devices) is still quite confusing.

Time to get down to brass tacks. Is Windows 8 for you? I would say an unequivocal yes! This is an OS that you need to try out for sure. This is Microsoft shedding its fuddy-duddy cloak and getting in some true slickness. It’s the realisation that they were becoming redundant in a world where smartphone and tablets users were rejecting its traditional Windows approach. No, it’s not perfect and no, they haven’t got everything right. But strangely and rather uniquely, for a major reboot, they’ve got most things right. Give it a twirl and tell me if you believe the greatest gamble in the world of technology has worked out or not! Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, CellGuru and Newsnet 3. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at twitter.com /RajivMakhni

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