8.1: Microsoft Doubles Down on Stupid

A century ago the typewriter was invented, and because of a mechanical problem, the makers of the typewriter designed the keyboard to be hard for people to learn and use.  A few decades later, the Dvorak Keyboard was introduced. designed to be much easier to learn and use, and yet people were so used to the old “qwerty”,  has never gone out of style, because people are used to it.

Windows 8 was an attempt by Microsoft to change the way PC users use their PC.  According to them, touch screen, is the wave of the future, and everyone should embrace it.  While touch screens are a great way to ACCESS content on a TABLET.  Nothing can beat CREATING content on a PC like the keyboard and mouse, and everybody knows this!  Windows 8 has been by every definition, a failure because of this truth.

In trying to get people back on board, Microsoft announced Windows 8.1, the answer to everyone’s complaints about Windows 8.  “We are bringing back the Start Button!”, and everyone cheered.  Guess what: All the start button does is bring up the ugly start screen everybody hates.

I found this review of Windows 8.1 helpful, except two points that are incorrect.

After spending several hours with devices running Windows 8.1, it remains unclear to me whether a touch-based environment is what traditional Windows users want to accomplish the productive tasks for which they’ve come to rely on Windows.

It is not unclear, I can already tell you. a touch based environment is NOT what traditional Windows users want. It’s a Dvorak Keyboard: might be easier, but we are used to what we are used to.

The issue is that there are over a billion personal computers that use some version of Windows as it existed until last October, when Microsoft unveiled Windows 8. All those PCs are responsive to mice and keyboards, not the touch screens and other input methods like voice and gestures that represent the future of computing. Making it easier to cross that bridge is one of the goals of Windows 8.1, a preview version of which Microsoft released Wednesday.

Voice and gesture do not represent the future of computing!  They represent marketing gimmicks that everyone is already sick and tired of.  I have an xbox with kinect, I have tried using gestures to negotiate a screen.  It gets old fast. If it is going to take longer than a couple of clicks to negotiate a menu, I grab my controller and do it that way.  The best known voice interface is “Siri” on the iPhone.  It is mostly a joke.  It is kind of cool, but does anyone really use it except maybe in the car?  According to a recent study, you should not even use it in a car.

Voice, gestures and touch screens on PCs are only useful for gaming. For actual productivity, especially in a work environment, the keyboard and mouse is never going to change.  One hundred years of “qwerty” proves it.  We went from typewriter and paper to keyboard and screen fairly easy, because it was an easy transition and an improvement in how we do our work.  Voice, gestures, and touch screens will never be used in the work environment,  and Microsoft had better figure that out soon, or we will all be using OS X and Linux.

11 thoughts on “8.1: Microsoft Doubles Down on Stupid

  1. T June 27, 2013 / 8:45 pm

    I build Pc and sell em on Ebay (http://www.ebay.com/sch/worldwidecomputerstudios/m.html)
    and I never plan on selling or including 8 on any machine…I have tried it..I tried on one machine to install a wireless Internet Connection..tried for over an hour no luck. And becouse of the windows 8 interface…I could not figure out (even though I have used and built Pc for over 20 years) how to change much in the way of the settings…you can find the control panel for example, but what happened to the “Wireless setup Wizard” did they delete it from Windows 8 as I can’t find it any where….

    I just hope they go back to something close to 7 for Windows 9….But I doubt it, as I think the real reason they switch to something like Windows 8 is they wanted a OS that basically works on all there platforms.(Xbox, Phone’s, Tablets, PC etc) which lowers there cost to make each OS even though they still charge about the same price to purchase it…(I don’t like it on the Xbox 360 either)

  2. Ai Austin June 27, 2013 / 11:39 pm

    I a, seriously annoyed that I cannot do the simplest things in a professional environment with Windows 8,… so much so that I have postponed buying two further machines leafing to loss of business not just for Microsoft but those building the hardware this OS is meant to facilitate and I am considering a change of platform for the servers we need. Microsoft have lost the plot here, and should realise that there can be touch screen and flashy consumer versions with 30 holes to push advertising and weather (!) content at a machine that in reality sits on a multi-way KVM (!!!) and serious use versions with different styles.

  3. Damien (@Morteus) June 28, 2013 / 4:39 pm

    Oh boy, windows have scored a home goal with this one. All windows XP users are aware that support is being dropped as of next year. If Windows 8 is the only viable replacement OS from microsoft there’s going to be a big potential market for an alternative. Mind you, if it turns out I have to choose between Windows and Mac OS… nope, don’t even wanna think about it. Nah – popular demand (and the danger of lost revenue) will drag Microsoft kicking and screaming back to it’s senses… surely?

  4. Vanessa Blaylock June 28, 2013 / 5:53 pm

    I’m happy on Win 7 and haven’t really looked at 8. 8 looks pretty, that’s about as far as I’ve gotten. For me Mac & Linux are really nonstarters for me. Both my desktop and laptop are pretty new so who knows, perhaps my next machine will be a Win 9 machine.

    You make an additional interesting point in saying that touch IS great for Access on a Tablet, not for Creating on a desktop. You’re probably right about the interface, but also the idea that a tablet is not a complete creation platform. Every since Steve Jobs pronounced “the era of the PC is over” peeps have been replacing general purpose PC’s with tablets. I can’t deny the sexy functionality of eg iPad, but it also is in large measure an old media content delivery device.

  5. thewazaa July 11, 2013 / 8:06 pm

    ” It’s a Dvorak Keyboard: might be easier, but we are used to what we are used to.” I dissagre. It isn’t it. My screen is not a touch screen. I cannot move icons with my fingers, I cannot scroll in horizontal (mouse is thought to scroll in vertical). I cannot do nothing if I’ve not a small computer with a touch screen. It is not Dvorak. It is slower and harder to use. Not easy, cause to adapt, I’ve to expend extra money.

    Funny point: Windows Server 2012… works with metro, too. More easy? no. Clearly no.

  6. mo__ July 12, 2013 / 11:36 pm

    While I agree that Microsoft has taken a number of pretty stupid steps with Win 8 and 8.1 (which luckily don’t effect me, since I’m on Mac OS since before the failure that was Windows Vista), I think you’re going a little too far with your main point. Yes, voice, gestures or touch are not nearly as productive as mouse and keyboard yet, but that does not mean they never will.

    Your blog posts reads a lot like the cries from a couple of centuries before that ‘printed books will never replace hand-written ones’, and a couple millennia before that Socrates’ statement that ‘writing will never be as useful as remembering things in your head’.

    Personally, I prefer mouse and keyboard over any other form of input, both for productivity as well as gaming (playing a shooter with a gamepad? Please …), but I don’t believe the next generation will necessarily do the same.

    • lylebot July 14, 2013 / 12:55 pm

      On the one hand, I totally agree with the idea that we don’t yet know how gesture/voice input will improve over the next few decades. After all, it took the mouse about 30 years from its invention in 1968 to be widely adapted. I’m in my mid-30s and I clearly remember the shift to mouse-based input that happened in the mid-90s. (Though personally I still prefer to keep my hands on the keyboard as much as possible.)

      But on the other hand, I remain very skeptical about voice and gesture input. The thing is, those are slow modes of communication. They have a lot of redundancy built in. Their purpose is to help humans understand each other, not to help machines understand humans. They are not optimized for speed and efficiency, they are optimized for creating and maintaining social ties.

      Perhaps when computers can pass a Turing Test it won’t matter. But I think that day is still pretty far off.

      • arianeb July 14, 2013 / 11:47 pm

        All the various forms of input can be measured, and the most important measures are comfort, convenience, and accuracy.

        For simple input, say doing a google search, convenience is the most desirable. Voice input is very convenient, but not all that accurate, but accurate enough to handle simple requests for information. On the other hand, writing or even simple data input, and voice input loses its utility. Speech to text is simply not accurate enough (and probably never will be) to input information without having to do major revisions later.

        Touch screens are also a “convenient” input choice for menu selection, or even basic editing or object manipulation. But because the tips of our fingers are round, touch is less accurate. Some touch screens get around the round finger restriction with a stylus pen.

        The biggest negative of touch screens is comfort, especially with long term use like writing, drawing etc. Long term touch screen use is not comfortable unless the touch screen in question is lying flat on a desk or table. For simple touch screen input, lifting your hand and touching the screen is convenient, but doing this longer than 5 minutes is uncomfortable unless the screen is lying flat.

        The keyboard and the mouse have be adopted because they are both comfortable and accurate. Voice input and touch screens may win the convenience factor, but due to their simplicity, the keyboard and mouse are not inconvenient.

        Hence, they are always going to win in any scenario where you have to spend a lot of time on the computer, such as the work place.

  7. Dutchman August 7, 2013 / 6:10 am

    I agree than so far Windows 7 is way better to use on desktop and laptops.
    Put back start buttun without the menu is again stupid, not do i plan to use apps on a desktop that are way behind their desktop parts. I also don’t like full screen apps as i do more tasks.

    Also to much they try to depends on internet and cloud.

    Yeah right! not with my files.

    Windows 8.1 is Fail No 2.

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