Microsoft is changing its face. It no longer presents the well-known layout that we have come to expect in the last 20 years. This year marks its most profound departure thanks to a faster-paced Microsoft that pushes for innovation. Everything has changed, beginning with the corporate logo and website. In this year’s letter to shareholders, Steve Ballmer wrote: “It’s important to recognize a fundamental shift underway in our business and the areas of technology that we believe will drive the greatest opportunity in the future.” In the letter, he also announced that, in 2012, revenue grew to a record $73.7 billion. This is immense growth, considering the downfall that many are predicting with Windows 8.
I’ve been using Windows 8 on a daily basis since I downloaded it from MSDN on August 1. Unlike many of the users who complained about the missing Start Menu and other radical updates to the interface, I welcomed all of the changes. Modern innovation rests on the willingness to accept changes. Windows 8, which is coming to market on October 26, 2012, represents Microsoft’s shifting priorities in grand fashion; it’s not necessary to repeat what these changes entail as countless editorials, filled with personal opinion and speculation, have been written about the new face of Windows.
The Start screen replaces the famous button that sported the ubiquitous four-colored flag. Now the four primary colors have been replaced by a light turquoise, angular flag. Notwithstanding this visual update, the pleasant color scheme of red, green, blue, and yellow is present in the Microsoft logo. Looking at the 2012 annual report — and numbers never lie — these changes have so far inspired a sense of hope for even greater revenue.
As a life-long user of Windows, I understand the implications that change can have, especially on the less-experienced users. After all, they represent the large bulk of the consumer market. In order to avoid confusion, let’s define “less-experienced” as people who have no interest in learning advanced computer applications. They just want their devices to perform greatly as the one thing they believe is their function: to make their lives easier. Windows 8 makes everything easier, but doesn’t compromise on versatility.
Since I’m always susceptible to change, I never question the ways that a new product version has changed from the old; change is to be expected. It’s a matter of impressions and how it feels. Windows 8 feels good to me, because it’s smooth and incredibly efficient with my hardware. For the record, I have a three-year old Vaio laptop, with no touch capabilities whatsoever. As someone who uses this computer extensively for a variety of tasks, including gaming, I can say that the performance gains with Windows 8 are more than just a feeling. They’re palpable.
With the Surface tablet, Microsoft is also expanding its foray into hardware beyond keyboards, mice, and webcams. It wants to focus on devices and services centered around the Windows and Office ecosystem, of course. Both have been renewed from the ground-up; not one brick has been left unturned in this venture to reinvent the company that made software a mainstream business. The result, I believe, is a great improvement across the board.
Unlike so many “power” users on Internet forums, the missing Start menu will not present as much of a problem as some proclaim. People aren’t completely intellectually limited, and are able to read some simple instructions. After a little while, it’s apparent that nothing has really changed, apart from the way to shut down the computer. This, I admit, will need some getting used to. The leaked Windows 8 ads already give an indication that Microsoft is aware that a learning curve must be diminished as much as possible.
On October 26th, the world gets its hands on Windows 8. Microsoft is very committed, proven by a slew of updates this week, including a massive 169 MB update. Yet the new operating system is only a small piece of the puzzle, as Microsoft also unveils the Windows RT Surface on the same day. The reinvention of Microsoft starts now, and after using Windows 8 for two months, I still believe it’s for the better.