MS is betting the house on Windows 8, but they know there will be growing pains. This $40 upgrade strategy is one way to mitigate the risk of alienating corporations by driving adoption in the existing consumer market.
Yes, when you combine a non-PC (the iPad) with the PC market there is growth. When you subtract the non-PC from the "PC market" there is negative growth. Trying to make the iPad's success somehow a sign that the PC market is growing is the funniest thing I've read on HN to date.
And sure, the Surface might invigorate Microsoft, and prove a worthy competitor to the iPad, both in terms of sales, as well as in terms of capability and usability. But regardless of whether it succeeds, it has no bearing on growing the PC market, nor on whether current users of PCs will upgrade to Windows 8.
The important difference is 'internet/media consumption device' (iPad) vs. 'general computing and productivity device' (PC, Surface?). I believe the growth and shrinkage of their respective markets indicate the typical consumer's desires.
Microsoft failed in previous tablet efforts by trying to graft the desktop environment onto a touchscreen. Failed miserably, and not because of hardware immaturity. In contrast, Apple has succeeded immensely by discarding the desktop metaphor and embracing the touch environment exclusively. Microsoft is trying to straddle the two environments solely to prop up Windows, not because it's a better UX. This to me, dooms it to failure, just as Microsoft failed in its previous tablet ventures.
The reason tablets are separated from the PC market is because tablets are a different and competing product! And make no mistake, this OS price is not for tablets. What Metro tablet am I going to buy that doesn't... have metro on it?
Do you have a source for this? I'm pretty sure it's growing. Just not as fast as tablets/smart phones.
Second, most of our software is custom/old-as-dirt. Upgrades require direct participation of vendors who have us over a barrel, and for that reason, no incentive to move quickly. It's an extremely painful/slow/expensive process.
IMHO - Big Law is due for disruption in this area. NetDocuments appears to be making some headway. Unfortunately, lawyers and, thus, law firms, are extraordinarily risk averse. Startups will have difficulty capturing this market.
This is the killer. I'm part of a large (6,000+; 1000+ in my state alone) engineering firm; our IS team are currently about to roll out Win7 at the end of the month. We have a lot of software—particularly drafting and modelling software—that we rely on (with few alternatives), and all of their related plugins.
It's not that we don't want to move forward, but the cost of buying new tools (that may not be compatible with our clients'), re-training staff, etc - is possibly greater in terms of lost productivity than just dealing with XP.
Hardware isn't a problem though, as any PC from the last 5-6 years can run Win7 in an "office" environment; a bit less if you need to run modelling software. We usually upgrade on a 2-3 year cycle and a lot of staff are now moving from C2D/4GB/HDD machines to i5/8GB/SSD machines. Everyone loves the SSD's.
One of the initial blockers was hardware - we were updating our computers in cycles rather than all at once, so many of them were simply not powerful enough to run Windows XP. You could easily forsee a delay of several years due to this alone.
Then you have the domain controllers. We actually stuck with Windows 2000 Server on them for a while, but really they should have been upgraded to server 2003 to be properly managing Windows XP clients. Upgrading the server OS means training your network admin staff, moving over any configuration or scripting that relies on deprecated things, re-creating your software deployment chain to use the latest features available to you, and so on. For us this was maybe a couple of man months of work.
Upgrading the server OS in the MS stack typically means you're simultaneously upgrading a lot of the other software too, such as the email server, so there's all the testing you would expect from such an initiative.
Next you need to re-create your base image that will get installed on all the computers. This could require months of testing because it's quite hard to get a base image running on all of your computers if they aren't identical hardware. This part also covers the sort of things you would expect in doing an upgrade on your personal computer, such as finding new device drivers (probably not an issue going from Windows 7 to Windows 8). I think this part took us 5 or 6 iterations, which worked out as about one man month of work.
Also on the desktop side your admins have to know how to use the new OS - a lot of the control panel changed in XP for example so we had to learn all that. (Of course by this time XP had been out a while and we knew most of it quite well already)
Once you have a working base image you need to update your group policy, as a new OS brings new settings, so you have to ensure everything is suitably locked down.
Then you have to actually test doing mass roll-outs of that image and applying the policy and make sure it works across your entire spectrum of hardware (multiplied by number of policies you have if they differ across some hardware, multiplied again by differing user policies).
Next up is making sure all your software actually deploys correctly on your new images. This is a great opportunity to upgrade to the latest versions of any software that's lagging behind a little (which may well be necessary if any of your software fails to run on the new OS). This was probably the most tedious and frustrating part, especially when applications aren't available as .msi installers as that makes the process for deploying them far lengthier.
Then of course you need to test all the software you deploy to make sure it still works.
Finally you can train users, decide on a good downtime window to do the deployment (and make sure you have a rollback plan for when it inevitably goes wrong), and then roll it out!
7 in terms of stability perception is like XP - I still have XP on my Mac Book dual-camped partition.
And we had real problems with Vista - rendering, certain apps not working, slowness overall.
How can something like that have room for improvement? Copying a file from one place to another is and has been a solved problem for decades now.
Nothing is straightforward in software. It takes a lot of work to make it look easy.
Did MS ever make much money on upgrades?
The sight of the new start screen incites revulsion in most power users, but try to remember that you won't be spending much time there. Treat the start screen like what it really is: a fancier start menu.
Like me, you'll probably spend most of your time on the desktop, so Windows 8 really feels more like Windows 7.2. So I think your "ten-foot pole" proclamation is a little unjustifiable.
setx path "%path%;new_dir" /m
It was bad. So bad I can't articulate its dreadfulness...
Animations were jumpy, to open an app that's not in the "start screen" you have to right click and press some button to go to another screen, to switch apps you have to hover your mouse on top-left corner and wait 400ms for the list of open apps, there's no way to "search" for apps.
If you're in the (classic) desktop mode, you have to click on bottom-left to go back to start screen, then right click on the screen and click on "more" and manually select the app you want to open.
It took me 3 minutes to find a way to turn off the damn thing (you must hover on top-right, wait for a kinda contextual menu, go to "Settings -> Power -> Turn Off".
I played an AVI movie, and the default player (I don't know what it was, but didn't look like Windows Media Player) was sooo bad it's not even funny. Whenever you move the mouse, on-screen controls appear and you have to right click two times to get rid of them, and I think there were no volume controls either. And by on-screen controls, I mean on-screen, in the sense that it dims your movie, places a gigantic status bar and some buttons in the center of the screen, and doesn't respond to keyboard commands.
The PowerShell is a joke. I accidentally right clicked on it and for exactly 2 minutes, it was displaying errors. Even simple commands like "ls" were slow (like you're using telnet on a dial-up modem).
Internet Explorer was very nice.
The Finder (don't remember what it's called on Windows) was much better, but that Microsoft Office 2007-like bar on top was a little buggy and confusing (You click on items to open it, but if you want to close it, you can't click on the same items again. You have to click on a button that's appeared in the right side).
I'm an Apple fan, but I can assure you, I really, really did want Win 8 to be good, even though I would never use it. But it was worse than what I expected, and now I'm certain that it'll be worse than Vista for MS. After all, when someone like me (who was an advanced Windows user up until 4-5 years ago, and is very comfortable with computers) was confused by the changes and the stupid UI (with many mistakes is usability), how would average users react to it?
To open an app that is not in the start screen, type its name. This also searches for apps.
Switching apps can be done with Win-tab or Alt-tab
Use the winkey to go to the startscreen.
Winkey+I = Settings
There are a lot of other shortcuts.
PowerShell 3 (ISE and normal command window) are pretty quick for me. What errors did you get?
Agree with you on the default video player. These apps still need a lot of work. Media Player is still there. VLC and XBMC are just a download away.
The jumpiness I was mentioning is hard to explain. But it's not my graphics card, I'm sure. Most animations are just fine, but when you 'snap' an app from the top and drag it to the middle, there's an odd jumpiness in the way the window scales up. In 150ms, it goes from 20% to 50%, then instantly (less than 10ms) scales to 90% and then it takes another 100ms to fill the screen. It's just not natural IMO.
But, still, I guess most (naive) Windows users aren't familiar with WinKey and alt,win-tab and must be "educated" beforehand, and that could be tough for Microsoft to do adequately, and it could lose them significant market share. Win8 on a tablet is of course completely a different situation and could be nice and pleasant.
With your shortcuts, I think I can manage to use Win8 (for the very limited tasks that I need it, a few times a week) after all. Thanks a lot!
edit: I guess it depends on your window size - if you shrink it horizontally it does only show 6 items. Though I'm not quite sure why there need to be so many layout options anyway - what exactly are Tiles and Content view for?
Other than that, I've got the login screen bypassed on boot and file copying has not been a problem for me; I don't see any value here.
I don't need to put up with any of that other stuff; I'm happy with Win 7 the way it is.
I've disabled search indexing in every version of Windows. In Windows 7, it even makes the start menu almost non-functional because you have to make 3 clicks just to get to the Run dialog.
I haven't had any performance problems while running games with search indexing on. This laptop doesn't even use SSD.
I'd be curious to see if they lifted this from Ubuntu, or the other way around.
It's a bit of an adjustment, but after a couple of days of usage opening a Run dialog just feels so primitive.
My only OS-level experience with such a feature was in the Unity Dash, so had totally forgotten about those tools!
The ribbon is minimized by default.
What's cluttered about this more than Windows 7?
Two real things:
1) No one ever buys Windows upgrades, so this is a motivator to shift to Win8. Consumers and businesses just buy a new PC and large businesses get licenses automatically.
2) They now have the opportunity of upselling inside the operating system (which they've been playing with for a long time - since 2007!).
That is it. No pressure from Apple.
#2 is also doubtful for the same reason. If users are faced with 900 versions of Windows to choose from while upgrading, they'll choose the cheapest. And if they find out that Feature X requires them to pony up more money through the MS Store, they'll be supremely irritated.
And you haven't really given any evidence to show that it's not related to Apple's pricing.
Windows upgrades allow fresh installs so that's rubbish.
It's a fact of Windows in the consumer market that upgrades just don't happen. Consumers almost always run their computers into the ground, then get the latest version of Windows when they purchase a new PC. This is something you stated in your post, yet you seem to think that MS will magically change this behaviour with this price point. I see no evidence to support that.
Additionally, the MS Store is almost a direct response to Apple's App Store on OSX.
Maybe I'm in a very small minority, but I have bought Windows upgrades. I don't buy prebuilt computers, but still have reason to keep a Windows box around. Plus, my Mom gets my retired boxes, so I need a couple additional installs at her house. One of those is still an XP box, so I will definitely be taking advantage of this upgrade deal for that.
Ignorant OS X users tend to consider Windows upgrades overpriced. That's not true either. It's just a different release strategy. Microsoft can't work on that kind of incremental release schedule without upsetting enterprise customers.
The only real difference is Apple has stuck with the original OS X UI and chosen to refine it, whereas Microsoft throws out the old skin for every release and designs a new one which makes updates seem more drastic. That's just the UI though. Behind the scenes, OS X has made as much progress between 10.0 and 10.8 as Windows has between XP and 8.
I can only assume they think this way is how they will get most money from selling to end users, and I wouldn't be surprised at that being the case. No doubt they make most of window's licence money from OEMs.
I can't use Chevy parts in my Honda, but if Chevy started charging 1/10th of what Honda is charging for similar parts, Honda would need to lower prices if they wanted me to stick with them for my next car, or to use genuine Honda parts instead of third party parts to repair my current Honda. That's because Chevy's price would help recalibrate my expectation as to what kind of prices are reasonable, making Honda look overpriced.
OSes aren't as interchangeable as cars, but a Microsoft upgrade price significantly higher than Apple's upgrade price might convince more people to stick with what they have until it is time to buy a new PC and get Windows 8 bundled, rather than buying an upgrade, because Apple's prices lower the expectation of what an OS upgrade should cost.
And your forced car analogy is seriously flawed.
I find it very hard to believe that MS hasn't had a good look at Apple's OS X pricing strategy before making this move. It mightn't be that they feel pressured into lowering the price so much as they've just seen what Apple has done and think it's a good idea to get as many people to upgrade as possible.
*912, 914, 924, and first generation 944 parts sourced from VW excepted.
For many people, changing OS is probably similar to learning manual when they're happy driving automatic.
> you can only install it on Macs (which already have OS X installed).
It wasn't an attempt to compare OS X and Windows installations.
- Install Windows retail SKU, but do not activate it. You can borrow disk or download ISO for this.
- Start installing upgrade version, then reformat partition, supplying upgrade key in the process.
At the end, you will have Windows upgrade installed and activated, fully functional.
For Windows 7, if you have machine with empty disk, then you start installation of upgrade version, but do not provide product key and uncheck 'Activate' checkbox. This will install Windows in trial mode. Then, start upgrade setup again and let it 'upgrade' OS... After that, you have activated Windows on the machine.
For Windows 8, I am not sure if process of double installation will work.
The old options was buy a lower priced computer with Windows but pay more for the OS/upgrades or buy a very expensive Apple computer but $40.00 for an OS upgrade.
e.g. http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2006/11/isupply_ps3_com/ ~ costs the PS3 components at $850 vrs the $599 retail price.
As for this topic: I don't think it's aimed at consumers, at all. Many companies still use XP as their back-bone, let alone 7. It's aimed at the software producers, akin to why some games companies are developing purely in DX11 now to reduce costs having to support DX9 ~ MS are making a switch to producing content for W8 as 'attractive' as possible.
On second though; Yes, this will be exciting! ;)
Most IE6 users that I've spoken to are accustomed to sites looking bad anyway, since most places do only cursory testing on old browsers.
For consulting and enterprise work I agree, it is just "extra $X".
How are Microsoft (and Amazon, whose entire $199 Kindle Fire pricing) going to make money in this market?
No doubt they want folks on the store, but I question whether this is the reason behind the $40 upgrade pricing.
"This upgrade promotion for Windows 8 Pro both online and at retail runs through January 31st, 2013."
I wonder why this price is only temporary, and what the price will be afterwards?
Essentially it's the Legal department's requirement.
Microsoft needs to figure out how to get its hardware and its OEMs hardware prices inline with Apple. If MS and their OEMs put pressure on manufacturers they'll no longer be able to offer the same discounts to Apple.
OEMs, VARs, volume licensing holders already pay close to this price for windows and make up the bulk of purchases. Making Windows available to retail at ~$40 will not have a significant impact on revenue.
Not dealing with Apple's competitive prices on phones and tablets will spell death for MS. MS at this point could give a shit about cannibalizing Windows retail upgrades for desktop operating systems. The key is to leverage their desktop OS, developer base and corporate relations into something thats competitive in mobile and tablets.
Also, I'm under the impression MS charges OEMs much less than the retail price for Windows licenses. I doubt they're taking much of a loss, if any.
It's mostly power users that that take the pain to upgrade OSes(risking breakage). Most regular users seem to think the upgrade is not worth the hassle of things breaking.
I've seen this attitude even in enterprises. The OS(and even Office) is almost never upgraded on the same machine, but if you get a new machine, it comes with the latest Windows and Office(provided it's compatible with the apps/network etc.).
PC makers can't be too happy - OS upgrades might not represent much of a buying cycle, even in the consumer sphere. If anything, Windows 8's improved performance across the board might extend the life of old PCs.
I don't say any of this to damn Microsoft, who are doing good work but are against bigger forces. It is fascinating watching the sudden commoditization of a once revered, culturally central product.
Plus this is great news for web developers. Hopefully this means that IE6-8 will be going away much faster than was previously anticipated.
Regardless of where they handle the accounting on their end, cost of ownership has gone down.
There's NO question that the W8 upgrade pricing is a DIRECT result of Apple's usual $40 upgrade pricing.
BTW: Lets see how easy it is to update WXP to W8 - a single click in the Microsoft Store?
Microsoft knows that people will have little incentive to migrate from Win7 to Win8, so they are doing all they can to encourage that. This is not a response to Apple's pricing structure.
Macs are some of the best windows laptops out there. Tons of places buy MBPs then install windows.
I'm firmly in this camp. I've done clean installs of Windows 7 on both VMs and physical hardware and it was flawless every time. I have no doubt clean Windows 8 installs are also easy. But I would be afraid of an in-place upgrade.
My PC at home is an old HP with an AMD Athlon. It runs XP. It does everything I need it to do. I will never upgrade the OS, even if Windows 8 were free I would not consider it. When the time comes, I will buy a new computer and migrate my files, but until then it will keep on as-is.
Around 10% upgrading per year isn't bad considering how big a jump it is from XP to 7. 7 to 8 is less of a jump and this announcement makes it much cheaper.
Pirates will always try to rationalize themselves to a reason to pirate software. Microsoft is doing a great job of making Windows 8 an attractive upgrade to people.
I was personally planning to hold off on buying it, but that price tag is extremely compelling, so I'll probably buy it, shortly after any launch kinks are sorted out.
For users running Windows 7 I don't see the rush to upgrade even at the low price. You have a good OS in W7. Most will figure if it's not broke, don't fix it.
It's a nice gesture from MS that won't cost it much. For myself, I have an old dual-core Vista notebook that may now get an SSD and Windows 8 just so I can have the latest OS available. That's one more developer that stays current with the latest Microsoft OS which is where I think they see the payoff.
Not because I have any great hatred of Windows 8-- I got bored one night and played around with it in a VM, it seems nice enough-- but Windows 7 works fine already.
Windows is the thing that I have to run on my computer so I can run the things I actually care about using. As long as it stays out of my way and doesn't have lots of bugs or security issues, I'm happy with it.
Until I'm forced off 7 due to incompatibilities I see no reason to switch.
(for the record, I still run Snow Leopard on my mac for similar reasons).
I'm running the Release Preview as my main OS now, and I'm just amazed at how much faster and smoother everything is.
When this preview expires and I'm forced to go get Windows 8 proper if I want to keep using it, I'm pretty sure going back to Windows 7 wont be an option for me.
Just like going back to Ice Cream Sandwich isn't an option once you've tried Jelly Bean. There are just so many small (and some major) incremental improvement all over the line.
For me, I'm getting Windows 8 for sure, and I like the news about it not going to cost me a fortune.
I've been using it 100% for a few weeks and spend 90% of my time in desktop mode (due to using Chrome, AIM, and Media Player Classic). Most of the time I forget I'm in Windows 8, it feels just like Windows 7. The only time I see Metro is when I hit the windows key, type "chro" and hit enter to launch Chrome. In this use case, Metro isn't anything more than a bigger start menu.
I did try some of the metro apps. It was a little weird--it wasn't immediately obvious how to close the metro app--but fairly nice over all. The preference for scrolling sideways is a little odd, but not difficult to get used to. The problem is that the app store doesn't have anything I actually need at the moment--the only moderately useful app I've found was the Wikipedia one, and I usually just use my browser for that. Of course, I basically live in Chrome and Emacs, so I'm not very representative :).
So, as far as design and usability goes, I'm content. However, I've had a major over-arching problem that eclipses everything else--stability. After any extended use, the computer just freezes up and most things stop working, forcing me to restart. It's probably a driver issue, but it's very annoying nonetheless.
I've had some other similar problems (for example, regedit did not work until a couple of reboots), but they do not recur often, so I can forgive them in a beta product.
In short: it's very pretty and entirely useable, but also somewhat unstable. And still not as good as Linux :).
$UI = [Metro|Ubuntu Unity|DWM/dmenu]
Windows 7 is likely my last version of Windows. All I use it for now is occasional gaming and I can't see developers dropping W7 support for a long time unless they're heavily incentivised for some reason by MS. Even at $40 for W8, I'd personally be throwing that money away.
When I go from W7/W8 at home and Ubuntu on my PC at work to my XP work laptop, it's just an incredibly frustrating experience. I hear people say the only thing that's changed is the looks, but there are a lot of usability upgrades in the newer OSes.
In all the modern OSes I don't need to know what this app is named or what that setting is called. I can just start typing what I think it is and fuzzy matching figures out when I type "resolution", what I really want is what they call "display".
So that is all three main end user desktop/laptop OSes using type and go interfaces.
If so: 1) Buy a box with no OS 2) Install an older Windows 3) Upgrade.
Permanent path to 8 without secure boot?
Secure Boot is a root-kit protection mechanism; and Microsoft has required OEM partners to provide a way for users to disable it in the UEFI/BIOS.
I think you're either trolling or hugely misinformed.
With Secure Boot, new free software users must take an additional step to install free software operating systems. Because these operating systems do not have keys stored in every computer's firmware by default like Microsoft does, users will have to disable Secure Boot before booting the new system's installer. Proprietary software companies may present this requirement under the guise of "disable security on your computer," which will mislead new users into thinking free software is insecure."
You've got it completely backwards. Windows 8 will boot on any machine, regardless of secure boot.
It is the machines that will come with secure boot enabled by default (which you can disable via the firmware setup screen) and may not be able to boot Windows 7 in the default config.
When I don't remember the name of the thing I want to launch (which is quite frequent), I rely mostly on positional navigation through a customized start menu. That is, I don't remember programs by name, I remember them by where I left them. Windows Vista / 7's start menu was a major regression for my use case (the scrollable treeview with expandable items destroyed absolute screen positioning); I had to replace it with Classic Shell to get usability back.
They are messing this up in Windows 8, as every time you install a application, including desktop applications, all of its start menu items get pinned onto the start screen. I'm afraid most users will never bother to unpin them.
So now, I create a bunch of category folders (Work, Development, Entertainment, you get the idea) in the Start Menu profile folder (rather than the Start Menu\Programs folder), and copy the handful of app and applet shortcuts that I actually need in. I leave the All Programs menu to fester and ignore it. With Classic Shell, this works well; the classic start menu, in XP mode, shows my folders as top-level expanding menu items.
I'm not looking forward to Windows 8 because it's a mess; it jams together two completely different idioms, tablet-oriented full-screen apps with legacy desktop apps. But as it is with Windows 7, I don't run any - none at all - applications maximized, not even VNC or RDP connections. I have a minimum of 5 windows open at all times across multiple monitors, in a cascaded configuration for quick access. The idea that a maximum of two apps with a fixed split position is workable? Only for tablets and, maybe, laptops. The full-screen idiom is a complete non-starter.
So I'll be spending most of my time in Windows 8 in the legacy desktop. I don't think it would be a big development hardship to have a floating start menu emulator in the lower left corner to avoid doing a big dramatic transition to a full-screen menu just for launching an app. So I'm not too concerned about my personal productivity.
But I am concerned for MS. I don't think Windows 8 is going to work. It's a classic power-play; trying to leverage an existing monopoly to invade a new market. By forcing a tablet UI on all desktop users despite their protests, MS hopes to prime the market somehow for their tablet (Surface etc.) offering. But I think it's a step too far; I don't think they have the leverage they think they have. They certainly have built up contempt for their users to try and pull it off, though.
(Have you tried the preview in a VM? It's shockingly bad for something allegedly going to run on people's desktops. The discoverability of the Metro UI is abysmal. I was in the IE browser, it took me a good 5 minutes to figure out how to enter a URL, because "helpfully" everything was hidden. It was complete desperation that I right-clicked!)