The wait for Windows 8 is finally over. While many of us have been using a preview version for months, we've been doing so on machines that weren't built for the full Windows 8 experience. The vitriol that early adopters, enthusiasts and reviewers have poured over the new OS has been because of the somewhat in-between experience you end up with on a regular PC or a notebook. The missing Start button and the sometimes awkward Modern UI have also dominated discussions. I'll admit that even I am yet to come to grips with parts of the new interface, especially the amount of horizontal scrolling required and the screen space that's often wasted. Such quirks are irritating and will bother most. Users I've shown the system to have expressed shock at not being able to do things they did easily on older systems. However, once you show them how something is done, or even revert to an older way of doing things, they do get used to it.
That's the thing about Windows 8; it comes with a significant learning curve. But will users spend the time and money needed to get over it? We expect any revised version of an operating system to work straight out of the box intuitively. If there is the slightest change from the expected course of action, we are frustrated and irritated all too easily. Over the next few weeks, you'll see this play out in full, with more users and reviewers pouring out their annoyance on various forums, tech magazines and portals. While I agree that there are annoying aspects to the approach Windows 8 takes, I can also see the advantages of getting past them. I think Windows 8 is a bold and courageous step, and you will see it evolve rapidly over the next year or so as a pretty solid system that transitions beautifully from tablets to Ultrabooks and even smartphones. It gives us the continuity we desire with all our older software, while attempting to bridge the gap that exists when we move to other mobile devices. By giving you familiarity in the form of a traditional desktop environment with an option to switch to the Modern UI, Microsoft is hoping you see enough of the good to hop on this journey towards a more unified experience across devices.
Windows 8 is here!
For a moment, just think what it would be like if one operating system and integrated cloud service scaled seamlessly across all your devices. You'd stop worrying about file systems, extensions, where what is stored—all of your music, documents, photos, games, apps and utilities would be accessible at any time from any device. More importantly, you would access all of them using the same familiar commands and interface. You'd have to buy apps only once, and that license could then extend from device to device, because it is part of the same platform.
Are we there yet? Not even close. But Windows 8 is a step in that direction for the majority of users who will contemplate replacing their PCs and notebooks with tablets, hybrid Ultrabooks or smartphones in the coming months. For now, do read our full analysis of Windows 8 here.