I believe Microsoft’s strategy to include two versions of Windows 8 is a smart decision. Windows 8 will reportedly include a version that looks much like Windows 7 does, in addition to another version with a UI named Metro that is suited for tablets, phones and other touch-screen devices — including touch-screen desktop PCs and laptops (Esposito, 2011).
While Windows 8 may not immediately be popular with most desktop PC and laptop users using non-touch-screen hardware, Microsoft likely realizes many of these users will inevitably upgrade to newer technology at some point that could feature a touch-screen monitor. At that time, these users might like to trial the Metro UI features which could offer enhanced productivity and an overall improved user experience. On the other hand, with or without a touch-screen monitor, some users may still prefer to use the Windows interface they are familiar with and have been using for years. The two versions of Windows gives the consumer/business user options where they can select the best one that meets their needs and objectives.
From my perspective, Microsoft may not feel the user is ready to make a ‘hard switch’ to the new interface so wants to make a soft transition with the two versions. Ultimately, I believe Microsoft will phase out the current Windows 7-style interface and go exclusively with the Metro UI interface. This transition may not occur until many years in the future but would be a logical track in light of hardware and software vendors pushing towards ‘the cloud’. Many of the leading software companies are porting all of their desktop applications to the Internet to streamline usability, accessibility, updates and security. Hardware vendors have started to reduce the dependency of a physical hard drive (for applications and user file storage) by introducing netbooks such as Google’s Chromebook and hardware overall is becoming thinner and lighter. Apple has already removed the CD/DVD drive in their MacBook Air model.
Microsoft undoubtedly wants to tap a greater share of the smartphone/cloud-based application market that exists with Google Android devices and Apple iPhones. An eventual forced move to the Metro UI version would help the company monetize this area and the benefit to the consumer/business user is it would allow them to have instant access to cloud-based applications on their computer with all the benefits. For instance, the user would no longer need to worry so much about backing up their data, applications, etc. if it is all stored online. Access from any Internet-enabled device is also a desirable benefit to the user.
Developers currently would need to develop an application for both versions of Windows 8 which requires additional time and resources (Bradley, 2011). This negatively impacts the rate in which the Microsoft Windows 8 could become popular. If developers only had to program one application and developer tools could instantly port that version for the traditional interface and the Metro UI version, Windows 8 would be an instant win in my opinion. In order for a product to have success, developers and the end-user need to be happy. One could argue that if it took less time for a developer to push applications to both versions of Windows, more users would be attracted to Windows as more applications would be available to them, no matter what version they decide to use with access to the same core benefits of the O/S.
Bradley, T. (2011, Dec. 8). Windows 8: One OS to rule them all? Retrieved from http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/245756/windows_8_one_os_to_rule_them_all.html
Esposito, D. (2011, Nov. 14). Win 8: No need to panic. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/docview/904423994?accountid=3783