The buzz surrounding the release of Windows 8 was initially one of excitement, finally, the aged operating system promised massive changes that would revolutionize the Windows experience providing a faster, safer and more modern user experience. This elation was soon replaced by disappointment, and soon, a solid hatred for the new, bulky and somewhat awkward operating system. But, what mitigated this change of outlook, and what about Windows 8 drew such complete outrage from long time Microsoft fan boys that many reverted back to Windows 7, vowing never to upgrade? There were several factors and features that played key roles in the cold receptions the new, revolutionized, Windows received.
The ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that was used with Windows 8 was one of the factors that affected its reception, as an operating system that was designed with the mobile device in mind, the navigation and layout was touchscreen friendly with large icons, scrolling and Android like navigation. This was a nightmare for desktop and laptop users, for whom the OS posed a steep learning curve and extra steps to achieve the same simple task, such as opening a program. The live tiles were an obstacle instead of a blessing and created a steep learning curve that many long time Windows users detested from the start.
Users who worked on desktops were forced into redundant clicks and processes that would be needed on a smart phone or tablet, but that made no sense on a large screen. With over 3 clicks needed to find a to run, and no clear idea of where newly installed programs went, the OS proved to be more of a hindrance than a help. The lack of efficiency and frustration resulted in an early boycott of the operating system by many lifers who openly expressed their outrage at the poorly planned, on size fits all, OS.
This steep learning curve garnered even more resentment from the over-50 crowd who found themselves floundering with the unfamiliar landscape and loss of key features they’d been using for decades. Unable to find where their programs went, how to open programs that aren’t added to the live tiles start menu by default created a sea of frustrated users who reverted back to Windows 7 almost immediately.
The loss of the traditional start menu was one of the features that had fan boys up in arms, and railing against the insanity that was this new, unrecognizable version of Windows. Why they would remove a feature that was so completely essential seemed to make no sense, and the new ‘start menu’, the Live Tile View, was difficult to maneuver with a mouse and made finding what you needed very difficult. This was especially frustrating for individuals who were not very computer savvy, but used their computers for entertainment and communicating with family, and led to a lot of confusion and frustration, and eventually surrender.
AS if the loss of the traditional Start Menu wasn’t enough, the Live Tile View replaced the traditional desktop, with programs, opening as full screen automatically, making it next to impossible to do two things at once. You see, opening a program in full screen on a seven inch screen makes sense, but doing so and a 21 inch screen has been just bizarre and difficult for users to manage. Although there was a way of nesting the programs to share a screen, this wasn’t an obvious feature and was too confusing and frustrating for many users.
To confuse matters more, although the desktop did exist, it did so as an icon on the Live Tile menu and seemed to disappear at will if you moved your mouse too far north on the screen. This seemingly erratic mouse behavior happened whenever your pointer contacted either top corner of your screen – with your desktop disappearing or being over-laid by some new Windows feature that users had no idea about. This meant learning Ninja like precision control of your mouse to avoid accidentally loosing your place or being forced to answer or dismiss some unusual prompt.
Even tasks as simple as exiting an accidentally opened Windows 8 program weren’t immediately obvious or easy to figure out. There were no obvious exit options, ‘x’ icons or right-click close window menu items to select. When something that should be as simple as closing a program or app takes a few minutes to figure out, you know that the UX/UI designer failed miserably when considering how desktop and traditional users would interact with the OS.
The almost complete rejection of the OS led Microsoft to rethink its methodology and developed a slew of major updates to help better the experience of desktop and traditional users. The updates provided major changes in the way the OS operated, including a Desktop Mode in which the system automatically booted showing the desktop and better nesting functionality for mouse users. This came on the heels of Windows 8.1 and lead to a slight uptake in Windows 8 users, although many simply refused to try again.
Users weren’t the only ones disappointed by Microsofts approach to the OS design and its features, Apples CEO joked about its attempt to create a combined mobile and desktop OS that would work across all devices. Comparing them to blenders and microwaves, the CEO made some good points. The fact is the features a touchscreen user needs are completely different from what is needed for a good desktop OS, and thinking you can make it all work as one is simply bananas.
There are many reasons Windows users hate Windows 8 including it’s touchscreen friendly approach which is redundant and frustrating to desktop and laptop users. The removal of key features, such as the Start Menu and initially the Desktop, led to a steep learning curve that many Windows users didn’t have the patience for. The approach to the OS as a combined mobile/desktop OS was not only ill thought out, but led to a horrible user experience and many migrating back to Windows 7.
With so many software options on the market today, people are finally beginning to wonder about operating systems, and whether or not it would be feasible to switch. Right now there are three main competitors for the operating system crown, those being:
While Mac OS has found its way into the main stream to a point, Linux has been somewhat left out in the cold for several years. The big question on everyone’s mind now: Is Linux better than Windows?
Unfortunately this question needs to be taken from a certain perspective. For example, if you look at the majority of applications, you will find that they are coded exclusively for Windows and Mac OS. Some would speculate the reason for this is the instability of the Linux operating system. To understand this, it is important to understand exactly how Linux Works.
The Workings of Linux
First of all, there not one ‘single’ variant of Linux. When you look at the Windows operating system you will see version numbers ranging from 1.0 to 3.11, to 95, and several in between. Right now we are sitting at 8.1, though many still choose to use Windows Vista or 7. If you take a look at the Linux variants, they are entirely different. In general, the only thing you will find similar among the Linux variants is the Kernel, which is the heart of the operating system. Because the Kernel is open source, the operating system can be built around it, and anyone with the proper programming knowledge can easily go about doing this. In fact, there are several DIY tutorials online that can walk an individual through creating their own distribution.
So what woes this mean exactly? Where does it leave us? It actually leaves us with a number of different Linux distributions, some of which are arguably better than others. The following are a few examples:
-Fedora(Red Hat derivative)
-Gentoo(Compiled from source)
The question you might have is how so many people are able to use the Linux Operating system without consequence and the answer is the GNU License Agreement. With the Linux Kernel and most Linux based software published under the GNU, anyone is allowed to use the software for free, rewrite it, and even resell it if they so desire. The major question now is quality control, or whether or not it exists in every distribution. That being said, software manufacturers cannot necessarily guarantee that their products will work under every single variation of Linux, especially the minor offshoots. The best option would be to allow the user to compile the software from source, and many manufacturers will not take that risk. Are there positives to using Linux? Plenty, actually. We have compiled a list of outstanding advantages that Linux can claim over Windows:
-Faster Boot Time
-Free to Use
-No Disk Fragmentation
-Infinite Customization Options
The other major benefit that has been seen with Linux is the community efforts to create alternatives to the most popular commercial programs. For example users of Microsoft Office will find that Open Office or Libre Office are outstanding alternatives. In addition to that, Photoshop users will be able to take advantage of GIMP(GNU Image Manipulation Program) which has many of the same features. 3D modelers will also find a home here using Blender, which is a free version of what was once a commercial modeling program.
The problem however is that these free programs are not industry standard and with that being the case, many do not consider them to be up to par. Whether or not you choose to use them however is a different story altogether.
Linux as a Server
While it does not fare so well on the home front, Linux is quite nice when it comes to server applications. If you take a look at the Windows Server suite, you will find that it costs about $900+ to purchase. If, however, you use Linux, it will be free of charge, and it is often regarded as more stable than Windows. The difference is support. If you use a free variant of Linux(not commercial) then you will find yourself in a bit of a rut when it comes to resolving problems. Purchasing Windows Server Edition gives you access to the support you need, and that being said, it really depends on your level of knowledge, as well as your IT team. You have to make the choice here, no one else.
Linux and the Cloud
When it comes to home users there is a clear advantage, especially if they are not gamers, or simply want a PC that ‘just works’. Linux is certainly becoming more user friendly, especially with the introduction of the Cloud. With the Cloud users are able to use popular applications such as messengers and word processor right inside their web browser. There are in fact a few computers(Chromebook) designed specifically for the cloud, and that use the Linux Operating system. The truth is, however, that proprietary Linux operating systems are becoming more popular because they support the manufacturer’s needs.
Linux and the Gamers
Gaming is one area where Linux is taking leaps forward. In March of 2014, GOG.com, a popular digital distribution platform announced several games would now be compatible with Linux. In fairness, many of their games were quite dated and could already be run on Linux using DosBox. Still, the fact that the company acknowledged Linux was a massive step forward.
Shortly before that announcement however, Steam(www.steampowered.com) announced that it would be releasing the SteamOS, which would soon grow to support many of the games in its current library. This would also apply to many future releases, eventually pushing for a move from Windows to Linux. There are some gamers who see this as an outstanding leap forward while others view it as a method of control, which Valve Software has exercised over the gaming industry for nearly the past decade. Still, there is the a silver lining here which lies in the fact that Linux does not require any sort of online activation. For gamers who are constantly rebuilding their systems and re-installing their operating systems, this comes as a great relief.
Which is Better?
The question of which operating system is better still hangs in the air, but right now, for the sake of confirmation, we will say that Windows is still better for most practical purposes. Gaming, 3D modeling, and Graphic design all fare much better on the Windows platform than anywhere else.
On the other hand, the causal PC user will find that Linux is much more stable, and provides most of the same functions as Windows. With instant messengers being pushed by the wayside and in-browser social networking becoming the norm, it is becoming more and more popular to go with the lightweight solution which is ultimately cheaper, and of course, faster.
In the end it will be up to you, but the most important thing here is to avoid going with popular opinion. Research each operating system thoroughly, and choose the one that will give you the best productivity. Most importantly, keep up with the market. There are many changes coming, and it is impossible to say how each operating system will improve or decline over the next few years.