With the RTM version of Windows 8 being released, I’ve had a chance to dabble in the interface and spend some time ‘working’. It’s really quite nice. It’s very usable and intuitive OS for day to day use and Windows 8 has all of the winning components from the previous generation and quite a bit more.
The Windows 8 user experience, formerly known as Metro, is beautiful to look at. The graphic approach to the user interface and chrome is current, user friendly, and honestly, a very relevant solution for both powerhouse desktops and tablets alike.
What has really captured my attention is the integration between Windows 8 and their peripheral platforms. The tablet platform, Surface in particular, seems like an ideal pairing that extends the desktop as a platform and may completely replace it. Windows 8 Phone is also an impressive offering. Despite the smartphone market being well serviced by iOS and Android, I think this new scrappy platform might still have a shot.
I think that for the first time perhaps a decade, Microsoft has a truly innovative solution that can be an ideal platform for Creatives. Crazy as this idea seems, for those who produce content for a digital audience, Windows is a producing an almost ideal offering for writing, designing, developing, and supporting big digital ideas.
The desktop environment itself serves many purposes for the creator (as in content creator). Traditional applications can be run in keyboard and mouse mode and now, through large touch screens and hybrid overlays, users can select, scale, move, draw, paint, and otherwise interact directly with the user interfaces via touch screens. For additional or supplemental input, Windows 8 tablets can be paired with desktops to extend the display or used as a touch input like a Wacom Tablet-ideally suited for creative teams.
That same tablet is an ideal portable interface for capturing ideas. Photographing from life, drawing, writing, recording audio and video can all be done on the device and acted upon using the same software that’s run on the Windows desktop. Content can also be synchronized and used immediately on a desktop interface if additional computing power is required (video being an example of such an instance).
Windows 8 Phone offers another example of a similar scenario. Smartphones have become our planners, wallets, health centers, cameras, notebooks, and sketchbooks. Having a truly synchronous environment would make the lines between these platforms irrelevant and hurdles of the past.
I’m looking at Windows 8 as a bit of a reinvention for Microsoft and would like to see people really consider it as a contender for their workstation. This is a chrysalis moment for Microsoft. Although they have a market majority, they have lost some of their relevance to companies like Apple and Google. This new crop of software is something that shows a renewed attention to users and a serious shot to stay connected to the market they helped create.
I think there is real opportunity for Windows 8 to find a place as a Creative workhorse. As OS X starts to show a move towards a very consumer oriented experience via Mountain Lion, Content authors will need heavy-lifting, high end workstations to create videos, web sites, manuscripts, mobile apps, and new media creations. The new Windows 8 experience can bring much of the user experience offering to users and also support a multi-window, heavy-lifting, experience at the same time.