From Windows 95 to Windows 7, iterations of Microsoft’s market-leading operating system have been an evolutionary step forward rather than a giant leap in innovation. There’s a good reason for that, as Microsoft knew well enough to keep people comfortable with their computer interface. However, the pending launch of Windows 8 will revamp the entire user experience, creating a consistent and streamlined look and feel across Microsoft devices.
It’s not just about the desktop or laptop anymore, as everything from new-in-box computers to Windows Mobile phones and XBox systems will have a similar interface. The traditional Start button has disappeared, and instead users will see a tile system with a Start screen – Microsoft is thinking forward as more and more touch screens are used in devices.
The consistency isn’t merely superficial; Windows 8 has been developed side by side with Windows Server 2012 [Source: http://news.softpedia.com/news/Windows-8-Client-and-Server-Developed-in-Parallel-144120.shtml]. For a systems administrator, this means better sync and more functional integration across all systems in the network, be they a workstation connected via ethernet, laptop on WiFi, or mobile device out in the field. As touchscreen tablets continue to have greater penetration for a variety of organizations ranging from businesses to schools, usability has to evolve in parallel. With a consistent operating system across devices, all managed by a compatible administrative hub, data and application sharing are now seamless. This centralization, along with the unified user experience, streamlines things for the user, no matter what shape or size of screen they’re looking at.
On the back-end, system administrators can look forward to several new features that will make life easier. Refresh recovery restores system files to their original state while leaving settings and application files untouched. Reset recovery is a one-touch restoration of factory default conditions. Authentication can now be gesture based (similar to mobile phones), and file transfers can be paused or troubleshot during conflicts. All of these options open up flexibility over system logistics, allowing administrators to fix issues with fewer headaches.
The current release window (no pun intended) for Windows 8 is this upcoming fall. Of course, most administrators will want to apply the customary wait time associated with a new Windows release, as patches and bug fixes are deployed. That does, however, leave the bigger question – in 1995, Microsoft spent $300 million to market Windows 95 [Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/business/longterm/microsoft/stories/1995/debut082495.htm], including paying the Rolling Stones a big chunk of money to make Start Me Up its official anthem. Circa 2012, what classic song will now forever be associated with an operating system – and how much will Microsoft have to pay for its rights?