Windows 8, another Windows Vista.

Reports are rolling in that the expected 7% downturn in PC sales has turned into double that: 14% lost year or year sales. (1) The finger for the extra 7% loss is being pointed squarely at Microsoft's Windows 8.

I have been using Windows 8 since it went into Beta and converted my main development machine soon after release to Windows 8. There have been a few bumps in the road (my scanner wasn't supported, my printer and camera supported only with the built in driver, losing features over the official vendor drivers in Windows 7). These kinds of things are expected and all of my gear now has official drivers and works great.

The big buzz of Windows 8 was centered around the Metro (now renamed to something so bland I can't recall its official name, nor do I care to use it if I did remember it). I have downloaded a total of three Metro apps and use none of them. The Metro store is devoid of interesting content, despite valiant efforts on Microsoft's part to court developers with revenue assurances (2).

As a decision maker regarding a large corporate network and someone who advises on information technology in general I simply can't recommend Windows 8 for PCs as it currently stands. It isn't so much what Windows 8 does (which can be safely ignored once you discover that the physical Windows Key replaces the start menu and does so quite well once you adjust to what you are seeing) but it is what Windows 8 doesn't do.

Simply put, Windows 8's mild incompatibilities and odd start experience bring no features that I find useful in a corporate environment over Windows 7 SP 1. During the day I see the Metro UI in brief flashes as I press the Window Key, type a few letters, click on a program and return immediately to the desktop (because every program I run is a Windows Desktop application). It has become so fast that most don't even know I'm running Windows 8 because I have pinned my main software to the taskbar or created desktop shortcuts. In short, I absolutely ignore every Windows 8 "feature" and simply use it as Windows 7 SP N+1.

Does this shake my confidence in Microsoft going forward? Not really: Vista was a disaster as well but it paved the way for the excellent Windows 7. I suspect that Windows 9 will offer a classic desktop experience better than Windows 8 currently has (and that isn't bad) simply because the native apps are not arriving in the Windows Store and I have seen hardly a blip in the corporate environment for Metro apps.

Part of that is likely do the the way that Metro applications are restricted in distribution. Metro apps can only be delivered two ways: via the Windows Store (where you get a *cut* of revenue and are presented to potential users in whatever way Microsoft feels like presenting you) or in corporate environments via cumbersome active directory configuration. Microsoft touts this as a "feature" that gives an iOS like App Store experience for the client.

This is substantially, worse for me than my current ability to deploy features and fixes immediately to my clients, many of whom operate outside of Active Directory environments. Instead, I would have to wait a day for the Microsoft Approval Process to update my App Store application and it could be removed at any time, "for any reason, or no reason" (3) [section 2 L] leaving my clients high and dry as they even reserve the right to uninstall it from my client's machine.

I wonder if that is why Adobe isn't making Windows Store apps and instead has listings for their desktop apps in the Windows Store (a much less devastating loss if Microsoft decides they are too much of a competitor again).

Of course, there is the dystopian future option for Microsoft, where Windows 9 ejects the desktop applications or reduces them to something like XP compatiblity mode. As unlikely as it seems, sharpening up skills in non-Microsoft technology sees like a good idea. Just in case revenue capture of every unit of software sold is too strong of a lure... after all, that is where Windows RT already is today.