Windows 8 Radically Changes the UI–Some Developers Don’t Like Change
The following discussion about Windows 8 was born from a comment, in reply, to a very nice fellow in the comments section at LifeHacker. For his inspiration, I thank him; he provoked a number of thoughts worth sharing.
As a long time Systems Engineer, I share people’s concern about the radical change Windows 8 represents. As we’ve learned more about Windows 8 over the last few months, I’ve noticed a number of common themes appear in discussion, representing concerns and reactions from various people, from programmers to engineers to fanboys of various products. Among these include fears about programming for the new multiplatform model, designing for a new UI, adapting to using Metro, applicability of touch or voice to present business models, and that most esoteric of worries, whether the world “needs” a new user interface paradigm. Based on what I’ve read and heard, my sense is that virtually every fear and reaction is, at best, misguided, if not downright neglectful of the history of computing. Read on past the break for some discussion on Windows 8 and the revolution you may or may not want.
Let’s Talk Industries and Paradigm Shifts
A complaint I’ve noticed on many forums is that most industries aren’t “suited to” using a touch based interface for computing. But whether these industries are able to perform their functions via touchscreen (or for that matter, voice) is merely a function of the fact that they’re 30+ years embedded in the keyboard and mouse paradigm. Similar arguments were made in the early years of PC’s (prior to Windows, even) that many businesses weren’t “suited” for carrying out their work on expensive little boxes with screens sitting on employee’s desks. And indeed, they weren’t.
But ultimately, this only meant that business models hadn’t yet evolved to to incorporate the computer, or put another way, no one had yet considered the kinds of ideas that would ultimately leverage the capabilities of the computer and GUI/Mouse/Keyboard paradigm to make much business sense at that point. In those early days, where most everything was command line/DOS/Unix based, or where mainframes programmed by stacks of cards were still somewhat common, even the mouse was considered by many to be a useless or unnecessary imposition. Confused or intimidated users were frequently joined by IT professionals, all of whom shared a fear that significant change would mean they’d be out of a job.
Be sure to check out Part 2 of this series later today!