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Windows 8 Pro Upgrade to cost $39.99 (windowsteamblog.com)
216 points by rkrishnakumar on July 2, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 198 comments

I wouldn't chalk this up as just a competitive response to the relatively low price Apple charges for its OS upgrades. I think Microsoft really wants/needs to accelerate the adoption of Windows 8 even if that means taking a hit on license fees. Whatever they can do to accelerate adoption of W8 in the enterprise and consumer markets will more than pay off in the long-term. A major reduction in legacy support requirements, enables them to innovate faster and will help improve the Windows brand that has been tarnished over the past decade. They essentially bet the farm on W8 being multi-platform at the core and need people to upgrade.

My guess is that it will take a long, long time for enterprises to move to Windows 8, with most sticking with Windows 7 for as long as Microsoft continues to provide security patches for it. If you're an enterprise with 10000 or 50000 non-technical users running Windows 7, the cost of moving to Windows 8 will be primarily IT staff hours, including all the support questions from users puzzled by the new user interface. What compelling benefits would there be for a bank or insurance company to move to Windows 8 that would offset the steep costs?

Microsoft is eyeing consumers with this announcement, and once consumers switch, they will adapt to the new interface. Once consumers adapt to the new interface, the overhead that you are talking about decreases, and companies can roll out Windows 8 without totally killing productivity.

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.

And what's to say that consumers will switch? It's not like the PC market is experiencing any growth. Sure consumers who feel they have to own a Windows PC will upgrade when they're existing hardware dies, but I'm skeptical that users will be queuing up to by a Windows 8 PC on launch day. And home users just don't upgrade existing hardware in any meaningful quantity.

To mythbusters:

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 lines will blur anyway. A Microsoft Surface combined with a TypeCover (assuming it works well), could be used as both a tablet and a laptop at different times. Does it then contribute to PC sales or tablet sales?

Form factor is generally insignificant; there's a big difference between a laptop or a workstation but you would still call them both PCs, even though the working patterns with each are quite different.

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.

Blurring is what Microsoft hopes to happen. But I don't see any evidence that this hope will be satisfied. It's like crossing a camel with an ostrich and hoping it can fly.

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.

PC market as viewed separate from tablet market is not experience much growth but when combined, they are growing. Don't forget that Microsoft is targeting the tablet market with this release as well.

What on earth are you talking about? This like saying "Linux doesn't have a very big stake on the desktop, but if you include its competitor windows, then its stake is pretty large".

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?

> It's not like the PC market is experiencing any growth.

Do you have a source for this? I'm pretty sure it's growing. Just not as fast as tablets/smart phones.

Exactly. Our law firm is almost -- almost -- ready to roll out our Windows 7 build. And we only have about 650 users.

Can you describe a little bit about what all goes into preparing for a Windows 7 deployment for a company of your size? I'm genuinely curious.

I'm a lawyer, not IT, so my answer may not be all that useful. That said, there are two major hurdles at law firms. First, the management structure is ridiculously flat, and the people running the show are usually the most senior attorneys. Just so happens, those are the people least likely to be using the technology.

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.

The number one thing is to make sure that all of the software is compatible without having to jump through a bunch of hoops. Law firms are notorious for using OLD software.

> The number one thing is to make sure that all of the software is compatible without having to jump through a bunch of hoops.

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.

Are law firms still using WordPerfect ?

I can't say my knowledge is global, but in the US I'm fairly comfortable saying no law firm of any consequence still uses WordPerfect.

I can give an in-depth explanation for migrating from Windows 2000 to Windows XP for a similar number of computers when I was a network admin at a school.

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!

That's the same in my University. And there is 20K students.

Windows 7? Most of them haven't even left XP behind.

So, three years after its release, Win7 has finally begun to overtake WinXP, an 11 year old operating system. And this article is quick to point out that Win7 may not yet have a true majority of PC users yet.

Who said anything about Windows 7 being adopted quickly? I was calling out the wrong information that OP was spreading about many people not having left XP.

Err, 30% market share (potentially more based on methodology) and remaining the second most widely installed OS (or even the first based on methodology) sounds like an awful lot of "people not having left XP."

You posted a link that purported to dispute the OP's idea that users were still on XP. Yet the link you posted actually reinforced that a huge number were still on XP...

XP has an end of extended support date of a little less than 2 years now. Large corporation have either moved or are planning to move to 7. They won't jump straight to 8 due to needing to wait for the first SP and all that.

I don't disagree with you, but this is the exact argument I've heard with every Microsoft OS since windows 2000 (and no doubt it was made before then, too).

This time around though 7 is unbeatable. It just works. Okay it does (and never was) working as I wanted to be - much like linux, osx, etc. but aside from mine developer's perspective it just works for the rest of the stuff.

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.

IIRC there's some genuine awesome improvements for Win8. For example, file copying from a share/network is immensely better. I do this at work all the time.

> file copying from a share/network is immensely better

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.

:) Discussing ever-changing authentication schemes alone could (and does) fill a book. Then protocol changes. Discovery changes. UI changes. Better feedback on copy/delete performance. Pause/resume. Syncing and replication schemes. Performance tweaks. Metadata preservation. Filesystem specific concerns. And this is all before you step outside of the Windows world.

OK, but once you start your copy process, it should be straightforward.

What happens if the stream is interrupted? How long do you wait for it to start? When do you tell the user? What do you tell the user? What options do you give them? Do they even care? What if the disk you're writing to disappears? What if you're doing multiple files but only one of them fails? What if power cuts in the middle of a transfer? What if the destination directory gets renamed? What if the destination volume gets renamed? What if the write speed goes into a hole because the SSD decided now was a good time to start page compaction but the inbound data keeps piling up? What happens if the metadata doesn't come over correctly or is missing? When do you submit the arriving file for indexing? When do you submit the arriving file for security scanning?

Nothing is straightforward in software. It takes a lot of work to make it look easy.

Shouldn't all these problems be dealt with at the filesystem level? I mean, if your filesystem browser needs to be aware of file indexing and anti-malware, you are doing it very wrong.

Hasn't it been artificially slow since Vista?

2000 was a real leap forward. Everything since wasn't. I'd still be running windows 2000 if it ran on my hardware (and my software ran on it). I've never directly paid for a post-2000 version of windows, only got it on new hardware.

I beleive its both. If they are going to live up to their promise of more frequent, smaller OS versions then they'd have to come in at a lower price. Lets hope this is the beginning of a trend.

I'd also guess the fact that very, very few individual users have ever bought Windows upgrades at $100 a pop played into this, too.

Less a competive thing. More a looking at what Apple is doing and why and then taking what they think will work better. Validates Apple's approach.

Did MS ever make much money on upgrades?

I have a hard time imagining that many Windows 7 users are eager to upgrade to Windows 8 on their desktops and laptops, given the drastic changes catering to touch interaction, bringing them little apparent value at best, and significant lost productivity and frustration at worst. My Windows 7 box is for gaming and productivity (not necessarily in that order), and after all I've seen of it, I wouldn't touch Windows 8 for that with a ten-foot pole. I'll wait for Windows 9 Classic Desktop Professional Edition (Win7 tarted up with a new skin including 30% more alpha blending effects for some reason).

Have you actually used Windows 8? I don't make much use of the metro apps, but there are lots of smaller improvements that I appreciate, like the new task manager, file copy dialog, login screen, etc.

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.

I'll upgrade when they give us more than 2 inches to edit the PATH environment variable.

Amen. I've been using http://www.rapidee.com for ages though, with great satisfaction.

Does anyone have any answers why this has not changed over the years?

The profit motive. MS doesn't fix anything that doesn't make (or prevents losing) profit.

I'd assume it's some variant on: "if you need to edit / knows what the PATH environment variable is, you're likely not the sort of user who's going to be scared away by an unfriendly UI".

And you would think they would have launched a fancy editor environment editor that was easy to reach and use.

setx /?

setx path "%path%;new_dir" /m

I installed Win8 last night on an old PC (Core 2 Duo 2.5GHz, 4GB RAM) with mouse and keyboard. I'm an OS X user and hate Windows with a passion, but I honestly, really wanted to enjoy Windows 8 and wanted it to be good (not that I would ever use it; but it would stop OS X from going more mainstream which is a good thing cause Apple can still "innovate" if not 95% of PCs are running Lion).

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?

The choppy animations can be due to your GPU (intel?) or driver. FWIW I do not experience choppiness with the Release Preview + Intel HD3000 (MBA 2011).

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.

Thanks for your response. As I'm a Mac user, I'd completely forgotten about the WinKey. And now that I think about it, I guess it was silly of me not to try alt,win-tab.

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!

That's kind of the issue, right? There's no way a big enterprise is going to be using 8 the day after launch. I suspect most will be hostile to it. MS's best bet is to get 8 into the hands of as many users as possible, so they'll push work to upgrade.

agreed, they definitely seem to be targeting the more "casual" audience. But who knows, if the whole "shared kernel" thing has some practical benefits for businesses, we might see more widespread adoption.

Spend a little time on Explorer, while you're at it. Just look at Explorer's View menu / task pane thing, and the icon size selector. It's a teeny weeny scrollable box (just barely big enough to fit up and down scroll arrows) with 6 items visible, but only containing 8 items overall! Just look at that thing!

? For me all 8 sizes are visible with no need to expand or scroll.

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?

The task manager is something I use to find the app that's misbehaving (usually Firefox) and kill it; I can't imagine much relevant improvement, unless it somehow allows me to do this faster. It would have to be faster than "control-shift-escape -> [start typing name of offending app until it's selected] -> alt-E -> enter -> escape" -- maybe using the "control" modifier instead of "alt" would be an improvement, or maybe assuming I'm only going to kill one process and exiting the task manager automatically after killing the app.

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.

Did you actually see new task manager? It is big improvement above old one... At the end, what nemo said is that there is no earth-shattering improvements in _any_ single area, but that overall you get something out of it, even if you do not use new Metro apps...

I honestly think my productivity is a lot better in Windows 8 then in 7. The updates to search are fantastic. You simply hit the start key and type what you are looking for. You get smart filters on the right that allow you to filter by type (files, apps, settings) and even by app. I have also found that managing multiple desktops (something I often do for work) is made a lot easier by the hover corner. Plus, everything just looks so much better. Once you get the smart tiles up and running to your liking, there is nothing like it. Sometimes, I just toggle the Start screen to see the weather, news, etc. Very cool.

On every version of Windows I've ever used, the search indexing service steals precious background disk and CPU cycles, and almost always causes issues with the two main things I use my computer for: gaming and music production. I can't even count the number of times that the search indexing service spun up in the middle of a gaming session and made my system start to lag. Of course they say it runs as a low priority process, but heavy disk access is going to give you performance problems in CPU/GPU intensive games. Making music is no different - heavy disk access makes it that much more likely that my system will have audio dropouts or in some other way ruin my recording session.

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.

Why would you use the start menu to get a run dialog? Windows key + R

I haven't had any performance problems while running games with search indexing on. This laptop doesn't even use SSD.

Anything you need a Run dialog for, you can just press the Windows key and start typing. Everything in your path shows up, with "recently used" suggestions on the right side, and quick feedback if you mistype something.

The Unity Dash in Ubuntu (12.04) works the exact same way.

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.

I'm not sure either lifted it from the other. The concept was around with third-party apps for XP and built into Vista, but it's a feature that's gotten so ubiquitous (spotlight, unity dash, windows search) that it's difficult to say who came up with it first, if anyone did.

Ah right, the likes of Launchy and Quicksilver.

My only OS-level experience with such a feature was in the Unity Dash, so had totally forgotten about those tools!

Sometimes the box in the start menu acts weird, like not understanding what I mean by Desktop\. The run dialog offers a popup with possible paths.

If I need something from my user directory, I always add ~\Desktop, just like Linux.

You need to upgrade to a solid-state boot and app binary drive already! There is no going back.

I'm pretty stoked about it actually.

I think the Surface Pro looks like a nice device, and Windows 8 makes perfect sense there. For my gaming rig/media productivity desktop with a large monitor, however, it seems detrimental to me. What has you stoked about it?

Much tighter multimedia kernel, which is a big deal for me. Downside: not on the ARM tablets. So paradoxically, the opposite of your pro/cons. I'm neutral on teh tablets; I have an Asus Eee pad and Android just got a major audio shot int he arm with Jellybean, so I haven't decided whether to stick with that platform or switch to Surface (or indeed an iPad). But for big projects, you need a desktop.


I'll use it in a VM until the dev tools I work with start to support it, then I'll go all in. It is always the same thing when a full OS update comes, this is not any diff from the others. I'll keep my linux machines handy on the side as always. I don't see what the ten-foot pole security counter measures bring to the table at this point.

The pole is to keep that cluttered ribbon interface away from my relatively clean Explorer windows, the touch-centric gestures away from my mouse-driven desktop, and to ward off the mental expense of context changes as my environment switches between the classic desktop with classic apps, the start screen and various metro apps.

Hey, I skipped ME and Vista, that is why the VM gets a whirl first. We shall see.

>The pole is to keep that cluttered ribbon interface away from my relatively clean Explorer windows

The ribbon is minimized by default.

What's cluttered about this more than Windows 7? http://techdows.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/expand-the-ri...

The most glaring offense is the poor organization and positioning of the elements. Notice the many different areas the groups of widgets are scattered.

Is this the "new" Microsoft? I generally like what I am seeing them do. Surface looks incredible. Not completely sold on the Metro interface on the desktop but understand what they are trying to do. In general there seems to be new energy and focus coming out of MS. I wonder what's going on inside.

For the first time in a long time, they are becoming underdogs. The surprising thing is that they are smart enough to start acting like one! http://www.theverge.com/2012/3/15/2874513/microsoft-internet... Most huge, old companies finding themselves in such a position prefer to pretend nothing changed no matter what.

The court oversight of Microsoft stemming from the antitrust lawsuit ended in May 2011. I don't think it is a coincidence that Microsoft's initial publicity about the new Metro stuff cam in June 2011.

Competition is great! I'm very glad that Apple has managed to exert some pressure on Microsoft here. I really don't think that this would have occurred otherwise.

I don't think it's related to Apple at all. I can't believe people are trying to give Apple some credit for it.

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.

If #1 is true in terms of past behavior, then expecting this price point to change that is doubtful. In my experience, the reason no on upgrades is because they then inherit all the cruft from their old install. I'm not sure that upgrading will ever be popular with the Windows crows.

#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.

Correlation does not imply causality. The burden of proof is on the inclusive case.

Windows upgrades allow fresh installs so that's rubbish.

So if a user is going to do a fresh install, they need to back up their existing data, perform a fresh install, restore their data, find all the old install disks from their existing software, install those. Look for the license keys for this software, fail since they bought the software ages ago, or pirated it from a buddy. Then throw their hands up in the air and get mad at MS.

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.

The experience you described regarding upgrade is grossly outdated. Have you upgraded recently? The transfer wizard (forgot the actual name) does such as awesome job of moving your data to new OS that I have seen even the cookies persist after OS upgrade without me having to do any tweaking.

> 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.

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.

Whether or not a business just buys new machines or upgrades their OS depends on a variety of factors. Coporations who have bought Microsoft Software Assurance can upgrade to the latest MS Software on any machine without incurring any new licensing costs. http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/software-assurance/new-ve...

Windows users consider the paid OS X upgrades blatant cash grabs for updates that should be free. They see it as charging for service packs.

That's because they don't use OS X. No service pack has ever made the kind of changes an OS X upgrade has, period. Anyone who spends time in both operating systems knows that's a ridiculous sentiment only spouted by the most ignorant users. I've also never heard it from someone who has ever actually used OS X for any real length of time.

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.

Lets be clear; this has little/nothing to do with apple. You can't spend $40 to switch to the latest OSX on your regular PC, so it is just not direct competition.

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.

> Lets be clear; this has little/nothing to do with apple. You can't spend $40 to switch to the latest OSX on your regular PC, so it is just not direct competition.

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.

I completely reject that anyone who would have paid $x for a windows upgrade has then decided not to because of the price of OSX upgrade. It's either worth it for them, or not. Lowering the price simply increases the number in the first category.

And your forced car analogy is seriously flawed.

The analogy went some way to showing how the argument based on there being "no direct competition" is a fallacy.

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.

If you've ever owned a Mercedes, Volvo, or Porsche,* I don't think that you would find the logic underpinning the auto parts analogy particularly plausible.

*912, 914, 924, and first generation 944 parts sourced from VW excepted.

If Porsche were charging less for parts than Chevy...?

Changing from an automatic car to a manual may save some money when you buy your next car - if you want to learn manual.

For many people, changing OS is probably similar to learning manual when they're happy driving automatic.

Except this is the upgrade version, so this requires a previous version on Windows too.

The Mac OS X price is essentially also an "upgrade" price because you can only install it on Macs (which already have OS X installed).

Except that I can install OS X on a blank hard drive when needed (which I've needed to do twice).

You can install the MS upgrades on a blank hdd too, can't you? It's been some years but I thought they just used to ask for a disk from the "qualifying upgrade" product to be inserted during install.

The parent was specifically replying to

> 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.

Usually, you can do following:

- 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.

Wait, you install the old Windows version, then the upgrade, and then reformat? That doesn't sound right to me...

No. If you have any Windows installed on the machine, then you just start upgrade process from it, then after EULA screen, you choose Custom Installation and then reformat the disk and continue with installation.

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.

I see, thanks for clarifying.

Not with the latest versions of OSX. Lion...maybe. I think you can USB it. As far as I have read Mountain Lion is download only.

Exactly, you download it and then burn the disk image to a DVD or whatever media you'd like to boot from.

You can do that with Windows 7 upgrade disks too, albeit with a small bit of hackery.

True, that is an advantage! I was just speaking in licensing terms.

It's like Xbox versus PS3, you pay for XboxLive! but the Xbox is cheaper or (when new) you paid nearly $1000 for a PS3 but got PS3 Network free, either way you're paying.

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.

There is also the fact that a point upgrade in OSX is almost never as significant as a new Microsoft OS, that MS provides free service packs, and that (IIRC) apple allows upgrades to multiple macs with one purchase. So, really, they need to be assessed on their own merit.

Since the first OSX, all upgrades were point upgrades and all of them were very significant. They were also more frequent than Windows upgrades.

You put point upgrades and significant in the same sentence. Just saying...

The upgrade between Snow Leopard and Lion was a point upgrade. Every OSX release is a 10.x release.

I assumed it was common knowledge that Sony offered the PS3 at a huge discount retail <-> production costs to make Blu-Ray the industry standard (which did indeed succeed). e.g. Samsung Blu-Ray retailed @ $1000, PS3 retailed at $599.

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.

This is huge for webdevs. With MS making upgrades to Win8 (and therefore IE10) so cheap/easy, the death of OldIE is that much closer.

Despite the heavy criticism on your comment, I actually agree. It's just another step closer to finally getting rid of all the garbage browser people still use on XP. Despite loving XP until Windows 7, when people get off of XP and onto something a lot easier to developer for (IE10).. I will be a lot happier.

If. Enterprise and Chinese pirates[1] might not be able to upgrade anytime soon.

[1]: http://www.troyhunt.com/2010/08/aye-pirates-be-reason-ie6-ju...

When the Chinese pirates upgrade their system to pirated Windows 8, they will still have IE10 preinstalled, so it's even going to work for them.

You are overlooking the fact that MS is introducing yet another browser variant that web devs have to accommodate. And also the QA dept. And also customer service. And also internal IT.

On second though; Yes, this will be exciting! ;)

True, it's another IE version, but an auto-updating, mostly-standards compliant version. IE 10 brings IE into the "modern browser" realm.

It doesn't matter how wonderful IE 10 is until over 70% of IE users are upgraded to it. For a period of a few years there will be a flood of IE 10 users because this is what their computer came with. There will still be too many other IE users for commercial websites to ignore. So there will have to be a lot of web code bloat and complexity to accommodate them. I was a professional web developer before IE 1.0 and am speaking from experience.

Web development is somewhat different these days. OldIE support is being gradually dropped, primarily due to schedule and/or financial pressure or just web developers being more transparent about costs (eg. "IE6-7 support and testing will be an extra $X, and take an additional two-three weeks")

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.

At 'dot com' start-ups the matrix effect is a significant factor in engineering time/friction and causes gotchas for the users.

For consulting and enterprise work I agree, it is just "extra $X".

This is all about the app store. Remember Microsoft can make a good chunk of profit from each app purchase and nobody will be developing let alone buying apps if Microsoft cannot get eyes on it.

Citation needed? Apple's app store isn't a huge revenue source by any means [1], let alone profit. I've seen no evidence that App Stores can be any kind of profit center.

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-apple-revenu...

Sure, Apple doesn't generate a lot of earnings or revenue directly from each of their app stores, but the indirect revenue is what matters. Apple is a hardware company first, a software company second. App store purchases reinforce user stickiness as well as improving the overall purchasing experience. The bottom line is what matters, not the line item profitability.

The guy they probably took the data from: http://www.asymco.com/2011/06/13/itunes-now-costs-1-3-billio....

Apple has consistently stated that they don't make much money from their App Store (or iTunes content in general).

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.

I would wager MS wants to foster a stronger Windows App ecosystem and not necessarily App Store profits.

What no-one has mentioned that I find interesting, is that Microsoft are calling this a 'promotion'

"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?

They can say that the retail price of the upgrade is $139, then with each sale they can take a $100 "promotional" expense off their taxable income.

I was under the impression the value of the promotion is based off production and transport cost, not equivalent sale price. Is this not true?

Often legal will ask for this kind of wording so they have an out if they want it later. So it may be more future proofing than an expectation of price changes next year.

All such deals are offered as "promotions" to the start of the next year. They merely get extended ("through January 31st 2014") as a legal formality once the date is hit.

Essentially it's the Legal department's requirement.

Apple has historically made its profit through selling hardware, investing into the software to make the hardware and software work well together but extracting negligible returns on software. What would pursuing this type of upgrade pricing mean for a company like Microsoft, which relies primarily on software for revenue?

Historically Apple (remember Apple from 1985 to 2001) has been a severely under performing company, in the last 10 years they've made boatloads of cash by optimizing their supply chain and extracting huge volume discounts on the latest technology.

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.

It's possible they've realized that your average person isn't interested in spending $100-200 to upgrade Windows; so they're making the price more palatable. More upgrades, less people stuck on old Windows, easier for developers to consider targeting newer Windows APIs (who then buy new copies of MSVS). Everyone wins.

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.

A move to hardware? The recent surface demo and this as a hint of a more Apple like MS to come.

I would guess most of Windows' revenue comes from selling with new PCs rather than upgrades.

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.).

Good price. I genuinely can't argue with that!

The more I think about this, the more the protestations that Apple had nothing to do with this seem bizarre. A price drop of this magnitude - $120 for the cheapest Win 7 upgrade to $40! - does not occur without competitive pressure. Can you imagine Adobe doing this kind of upgrade price drop on their (essentially competitor-less) creative software? If the iPad were not taking a serious bite out of the consumer PC business, Microsoft would be in no such hurry to spread the platform to existing PC users (who they've been happy to not-so-subtly push to a whole new PC in past years).

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.

It's great to see Apple really sticking it to MS. Apple has no need to make money off their OS upgrades since the cost of the OS is already built into the hardware, but for MS, Windows is over 25% of their total revenue.

Plus this is great news for web developers. Hopefully this means that IE6-8 will be going away much faster than was previously anticipated.

Why is it great? Apple is worse than MS in so many other ways. In a few years you are going to see Apple being the person that everyone hates. Now, people seem to like it.

Because Apple's cost cutting has increased competition. Increased competition is usually better for consumers.

While I agree that increased competition is better for consumers, Apple hasn't cut costs for the consumers -- they've merely absorbed the cost of the OS into their hardware.

If the average price of hardware hasn't gone up, which it hasn't, then they have cut costs for consumers.

Regardless of where they handle the accounting on their end, cost of ownership has gone down.

Eh? Next you'll be telling us W8 is going to be the nail in the coffin of Appple?

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?

How is it a "DIRECT result of Apple's usual $40 upgrade pricing" if the two OSes don't even run on the same hardware? A user won't be purchasing a Mac because his OS upgrade cost is $60 more (or however much Windows upgrades originally cost).

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.

>if the two OSes don't even run on the same hardware

Macs are some of the best windows laptops out there. Tons of places buy MBPs then install windows.

When Windows 7 launched, early adopters could upgrade for $50. I doubt Apple had little to do with it. Microsoft always has a huge incentive (regardless of competition) to move consumers to their new OS.

It's a smart price but I suspect that Microsoft has burned too many bridges for most people to ever consider upgrading their computer's operating system. For the average person a (Windows) operating system upgrade has traditionally been cost prohibitive and often not a smooth process. That's going to scare a lot of people off even at $39.99 I'm also not convinced Microsoft has found a compelling way to sell Windows 8 yet. There's no one button buy/install option here. People will have to go seek out the software and justify the price tag to themselves. That's going to be an up-hill battle. I'm betting the percentage of users upgrading will be about the same as previous Windows releases.

For the average person a (Windows) operating system upgrade has traditionally been cost prohibitive and often not a smooth process

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.

I've been waiting for MS to wake up to cheaper (and more frequent) upgrades for a long time and I am happy to upgrade at that price.

This price feels to me like a lack of confidence in the product. Microsoft needs adoption rates of 8 to be high. $40 might not be much, but anything is too high when the OS feels like a UI downgrade instead of an upgrade.

Look at the lessons learnt cutting the prices of videogames in the Steam store. Lower prices can spur people to buy your videogames in ways that are actually much more profitable than pricing it higher.

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.

You have to figure that people who are running XP and Vista weren't going to spend much to upgrade so this part of it doesn't cost MS much in lost revenue.

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.

Outside of enterprise, I suspect that a lot of people still running XP may be short of the hardware to run Windows 7/8. So it's largely a feel good gesture in those cases - and perhaps an indirect marketing boost for Microsoft's hardware partners.

Here's the thing: if the Windows 8 upgrade was free I wouldn't take it.

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).

Different people, different wiggles I guess.

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.

This might actually make me upgrade!

That's a lot go charge for crippling my desktop UI by trying to turn it into a mobile UI.

Everyone remember to wait for SP1 to be released before using this on important systems.

should we upgrade, or wait for the initial reaction from the public? So far, its only the tech crowd that has commented on Win 8, and it seems that people either hate it, or love it

Unfortunately, negative public reaction is heavily influenced by word of mouth. Will you lose anything by not upgrading? Not immediately, but over time yes. Will you gain anything by upgrading? Possibly, depending on your needs, leaning more towards yes over time.

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've also been playing around with it a bit (my excuse was that I needed to use Windows for some work stuff), and have had a similar experience. That is, I mostly just use the standard desktop and only see the launcher rarely. For me, it's basically just Windows 7 but very pretty. (I actually think that Microsoft now has the best graphical design with Metro.)

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 :).

I agree though I particularly like using the Messaging app snapped to a side while using classic desktop. Know what I mean? Pretty legit.

"The only time I see $UI is when I hit the windows key, type "chro" and hit enter to launch Chrome. In this use case, $UI isn't anything more than a bigger start menu"

  $UI = [Metro|Ubuntu Unity|DWM/dmenu]
Strange how these changes all come along at the same time. Does Mac OS have a text based launcher at all?

Spotlight. 2005.

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.

Spotlight is a text based launcher. Cmd-Space amd start typing.

I do the same thing on my Ubuntu PC at work. It does seem like we're in the age where launchers and menus are meaningless. At least Microsoft is doing something to keep icons relevant; live tiles are a godsend on my phone.

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".


Thanks all three parent posters, I had tried to put Spotlight out of my mind (iBook G4 with the appropriate upgrade). I imagine it works a lot faster now.

So that is all three main end user desktop/laptop OSes using type and go interfaces.

In addition to hardware improvements, Leopard also brought speed improvements for app launching in particular.

The pnly plus for me is that MSIE6 installation base will be contracted. For those who already paid over $100 for WinXP->Win7 upgrade, this $40 figure looks ugly.

Can you upgrade if your computer doesn't support "Secure Boot"?

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 support is only required for Win 8 ARM, so yes, you can upgrade with out secure boot (unless you've some how gotten Win7/XP to run on ARM)

Why wouldn't you?

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.

"As currently proposed, Secure Boot impedes free software adoption. It is already bad enough that nearly all computers sold come with Microsoft Windows pre-installed. In order to convince users to try free software, we must convince them to remove the operating system that came on their computers (or to divide their hard drives and make room for a new system, perceptually risking their data in the process).

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."


I get the argument from a purist's perspective, but it's a minor problem when compared to the set of impediments "normal" users face if they decide to install a Linux distro.

If you're technical enough to be buying old computers to work around it, I bet you could figure out how to disable it when the option is right there. :)

That still hinders FOSS's world-domination / year of the linux desktop plans.

Fedora will support booting on secure boot hardware: http://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/12368.html

>Can you upgrade if your computer doesn't support "Secure Boot"?

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.

Have they announced the price of a new copy? Would be nice if it was similarly priced.

My bet is that someone's bonus is tied to licenses sold rather than sales revenue.

"$39.99 in 131 markets" - sounds to me like this is for emerging markets only (?)

The main complaint I hear is the change of start menu behavior, but most people I know use a keyboard based launcher anyway. If you're typing the name of the thing you want does it matter if it's going into Launchy, the Win7 start menu or the Metro interface? As long as you quickly get to the app or file you want, the interaction (typing) is pretty much identical.

It's not the most frequent method for launching. According to MS, their metrics indicate pinned task bar items are, or are trending to be, the most frequent method.

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.

For most people the "All Programs" menu quickly turns into a circus. Curating it is a chore.

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.

I used to curate the All Programs menu. What that did was mess up uninstallers, because they could no longer find shortcuts to delete them, so I ended up with lots of dead shortcuts that needed clearing out.

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.

This is sensible legacy behaviour. Future installers should be a bit smarter about pinning.

Not all of them. It seems to filter some of them.

I'm a Classic Shell user myself. It's great for point-and-click navigation, but searching for applications is faster for many people.

So...does that mean you're looking forward to Win8 because the start screen items are much easier to position?

Windows 8 start screen right now has a sideways scrollbar scrolled by the mousewheel! It's a sad joke. But I'm sure that aspect will be cleaned up somewhat before release.

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!)

It's certainly not the most common method; I'm sure point-and-click is. But the kind of people who use keyboard launchers, the ones who are sounding off the loudest on their tech blogs and sites like HN and Reddit, surprise me. I'm sure the average user might be confused, but for me at least, I'll do what I do with Win7, OSX, or Ubuntu: Super + typing + Enter.

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