10-Years Ago Today: Microsoft Surface and Windows 8

Friday, October 26, 2012 Microsoft Corporation 245,12 -5,08 -2,03% released The Surface RT, their first computer running the also introduced this day Windows 8. Windows 8 was a radical change to the look, feel and use of Windows. This was great for mobile users, but hated by many desktop users.

Windows 8 represented the most dramatic transformation of the Windows interface since Windows 95. While that operating system introduced the Start menu, Windows 8 removed that iconic menu in favor of a Start screen filled with “live tiles” that functioned well on touchscreen computers like the purpose-built Microsoft Surface, but frustrated desktop PC users. It led to heavy pushback from the press, and PC sales continued to decline.

Despite its drawbacks, some aspects of the Windows 8 interface predicted how we use tablets and other mobile devices today, including some features (like side-by-side apps and screen edge swiping) once considered too complex that Apple later adopted on the iPad. Necessary refinements aside (such as restoring the Start button for desktop users, which happened in Windows 8.1), one could argue that Windows 8 was ahead of its time, or “too much and too soon,” as Sinofsky puts it in the interview below.

At some point I want to say in summer of 2013 (was prior to the October 17th 8.1 release), I replaced a Windows Vista machine which was only a couple yeas old, but with major hardware issues. I ended up getting a Gateway PC with Windows 8. I had found an app that restored the Start Menu to Windows 8 and also started the OS in desktop mode instead of the default Metro (tile) mode. In the fall of 2015 I replaced both my parents’ PCs with Lenovo running Windows 8.1 which had the start button. I remember that Window 8.1 machine were being phased out as Windows 10 had just launched that July. We had looked at Windows 8 touchscreen machines, but opted to stick with Windows 8 desktops. Also recall having to remove the GWX update (malware) from both their systems as they had no interest in Windows 10 at that time. Of course now both my systems a 2017 Lenovo Yoga and 2020 HP Omen are running Windows 10.

Microsoft the company that taught the world to turn off their computers off by pressing a button marked ‘Start’… [Vista Sucks – Blimp TV]

Looking back the original Windows 8 (not 8.1) was great on touchscreen PC’s (which was the only type of PC’s that should had the tile interface), but certainly a major turn-off for traditional PC users. Again, it made sense for their mobile devices: The Surface and Windows Phone (released in October 2010), but not a desktop PCs. Non-mobile PC users had been so accustom to the start menu for the past 17-years. Looking forward it took Microsoft almost a year to “fix” Windows 8 with the Windows 8.1 update in 2013 adding back the start button. However, Microsoft made another blunder with the controversial Get Windows 10 aka GWX (malware style) upgrade campaign starting in 2015/2016. It seems Microsoft has learned their lesson when it came to Windows 11.

via Ars Techncia