Windows 8: A platform for selling Windows Live and branded content?

Discussion in 'Windows 8 Help and Support' started by Mike, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. Mike

    Mike Windows Forum Admin
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    I have reserved a great deal of time not passing judgement on Windows 8, but so far I am not as enthused as, perhaps, I should be. This is not to say that I have given up on Windows 8, but for me, the Consumer Preview just isn't doing it. The main problem, of course, for me, and I suspect many others, is not so much the lack of Start Orb, but the Metro UI itself. Please allow me to explain:

    Is Windows 8 a service, a product, or both?

    I have discussed this quite entangling issue to some length with others in confidence, and have found myself to be disappointed with Metro UI. Some concerns that I see myself and others having is the Metro UI as a service platform for Windows Live. It is clear to me that this is likely the reason that Metro UI has been embedded into the operating system. While its usability is no doubt optimized for touch screens and next generation human interface devices, I find myself frustrated with the pre-installed applications in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. In fact, I find myself quite annoyed, and in some cases, startled by what happens when you link your Windows Live ID to Microsoft Windows 8.

    In Microsoft Windows 98 SE, upon launching Internet Explorer 5, one of the first screens a user saw was:

    "Welcome to MSN Internet Access"
    "Get fast, reliable Internet access and e-mail from Microsoft."

    During that time, it was uncommon for someone to be on a LAN (local area network) using a router. A LAN would actually have to be manually set up, and so Microsoft attempted to use MSN as an Internet Service Provider to give you dial-up access to the Internet using a dial-up modem.

    However, this terminology is telling to me. The issues with Active Desktop from the Windows 9x series of operating systems have not been lost on me. In this context, I am mindful of the fact that Microsoft has attempted to control the desktop, and did make an early bid to control and monetize on the Internet, from its early ages. This is not so much condemnation of Microsoft as it is a realization that Microsoft is a business: just like Google and Facebook.

    But what was once seen as a massive attempt to take over the Internet by a corporation that controls the majority of the operating system market, now seems to be getting a welcome reception with bells and whistles from a new generation, corporations, media, and people planning on selling books off their review sites. Indeed, even Paul Thurrott threw me for a loop in one of his more recent reviews, when he concluded something like (paraphrase) "More soon... I have a book to write! (Windows 8 Secrets)".

    I have always admired Paul, and his contributions with reviews and early access to Microsoft software. In fact, I have nothing against the guy. But it is true. He has a book to write. About all of the secrets of Windows 8. Much of that review was spent explaining what certain features do. And why they actually may be relevant. To me, this was a sharp departure from highlighting some of the improvements that could be found in the OS or talking about faster benchmarks and better ease of use. What I saw was a middle-of-the-road exploration of features that are so difficult to interpret or understand, even though they are deeply embedded into the operating system, that he has to go around telling you what they are for.

    Most of the benchmarks performed on the CP show that there is a small performance blow in comparison to Windows 7, thus far. The system does not run any faster, but boot times have been expedited by code optimization. We have seen this before, with other Windows releases besides Windows 7. One major drag on the operating system seems to be battery usage. The results seem to be inconclusive in this realm, with one site showing better returns, and another site showing massive battery consumption compared to Windows 7. Even though memory deduplication is supposed to improve battery life, benchmarks show either less battery utilization, or much more.

    Better Battery Life:
    Hands on with Windows 8 CP: Battery life test | ITworld

    Less Battery Life:
    Windows 8 Consumer Preview: A Quick Look at Battery Life (Updated) | Your source for downloading popular benchmarks

    Then there is the whole idea of interest in this OS:

    windows 8 cp vs 7 vs xpsp3 benchmarks? - Neowin Forums

    Huh? What is going on here? Where is the main interest in the system that we saw with the likes of Windows 7 and even Windows Vista? Windows Vista was a major flop for Microsoft, and it was released years after Windows XP. Still, it offered robust security, and was a step in the right direction for many of us. This is because Windows XP was released in October 2001, and something had to go in the right direction after so much time. Now, with Windows 7 only a couple years old, one is left to ask whether they even need a new operating system. With five years of time between Windows XP and Windows Vista, we still saw big manufacturers like Dell and HP offering downgrades to Windows XP - which many businesses took to save money, at their own peril. But Windows 7 offered something its predecessor, Windows Vista, could not offer. And that was performance on par with Windows XP, a much more slick look, and virtualization technology that would allow anyone with a fairly decent computer system to run, not just a legacy Windows XP application, but the entire Windows XP operating system, in a virtual machine inside Windows 7.

    My first point was about Windows 8 as a service, and that is where I also run into some difficulty swallowing the results. Windows 8, when connected with a Windows Live account, seems to want to download your life from Facebook. The "People" Metro application runs a Facebook-based application that, with your consent, downloads all of your information from Facebook and syndicates it to your Windows Live page and Windows Live Messenger. It then uses that information to help you find your "people", by literally just taking all of the data off of your Facebook account. Then, your Windows Live status page becomes something of a Facebook clone. You can find even more people by performing the same task on LinkedIn, and presumably, in the future, all other services, perhaps maybe Google. But what if they let you link Google as well? Then, you can just access everything from "People", which is your Windows Live Messenger status page. What incentive do those other sites have to continue to develop their own social networking sites?

    Next up was the product placement in Metro UI applications. When going to video, I found advertisements for popular television shows like The Walking Dead on AMC. It appears that you will eventually be able to purchase video content from this store, and watch videos on your computer. Where will this content come from? Microsoft, of course. This would not be a problem for me, if other services did not exist, like Netflix, for this very purpose. Then, going to Music doesn't show any advertisements just yet - but it does show a blank user library, where you can't add any music to it unless you go into the Desktop any way. Chances are this will be changed, but that doesn't discount the fact that over a decade of software development went into Windows Media Player, which has taken almost a dozen versions for any serious audiophile to even remotely take into consideration. Most will still jump over to iTunes, Winamp, and foobar. Does the Music app interact in some way with Windows Media Player? Is Windows Media Player being phased out? Is Microsoft going to offer its own music service now? We are left to try to figure this out.

    You may be wondering where this is going. For me, any way, controlling the presentation means controlling the content. I am very pleased that services have been created like Steam for games and Spotify for music. With these programs, you are able to purchase music as a service. You are also able to purchase and download the full version of games. This software is fantastic, has its own interface, and offers remarkable service when you create an account. You are free to buy stuff, or never do that at all. You can take advantage of social networking within these services. But the great thing about these programs, in my opinion, has always been that you can install and uninstall them at your leisure. Thus, I ask the question, why can't Metro UI itself, just be an icon on the desktop, and a component of Windows that can be removed at any time? After testing the Windows Live features in the built-in Microsoft apps, I am left to make a conclusion I don't really want to make. That conclusion is that because Microsoft could not market social networking to the masses on par with Facebook or Google+, and because the company could not market their operating system to phones and tablets, they have decided to use forced obsolescence to make sure that everyone on the entire planet that buys a PC desktop or laptop computer, besides Linux users, will be forced to interact with their online services like Windows Live and Bing.

    When I use the term forced obsolescence, I specifically state that Windows 8 is being designed to make Windows 7 obsolete - eventually. While the touch screen features are great, they seem to be an excuse for giving us a brand new version of Active Desktop. However, this time, everyone actually uses the Internet, and bandwidth/connection speed/throughput is no longer a major concern.

    I am left to imagine an Internet where everyone who used a Microsoft Windows computer signed up for MSN Internet Access in Windows 98 and never bought a router. What if everyone in the world was OK with Microsoft placing advertisements for their own or preferred online services in all of their applications years ago? Well, you'd never have Facebook, Google, Yahoo, or a number of other companies. Everyone would be using MSN Search (Bing), Windows Live, Windows Live Messenger, and Windows Live Mail (Hotmail). I am reminded of America Online.

    I have never really minded that Microsoft sells their online services to the world. Windows Live has always been something I considered a decent alternative to Google. However, I do have a problem with the operating system that I use also being designed directly to connect to a slew of services I do not use, and likely never will. This includes everything I listed above about Windows Live. This integration of applications that are dependent on Windows Live is a sharp contrast from Windows 7, and I, at least right now, would have major privacy issues divulging all of my Facebook information, online information, and handing it over to Windows Live. I like the fact that I can use multiple social networks, and that I have options. I use Windows Live for a variety of reasons, but I would never want it to be the only option on my phone. much less my desktop. I would want to be able to uninstall software applications associated with Live.

    Because Microsoft controls the operating system market, they have decided to expand their business and compete in other areas. This includes gaming consoles, phones, and tablets. I have never taken issue with this, but I do take issue when these services are being bundled and forced down my throat in an OS release. I am reminded of how, on nearly every operating system installation I performed for years, I would have to be sure to remove the "Online Services" section from Microsoft Windows. These "Online Services" included America Online, AT&T WorldNet, CompuServe, and Prodigy.

    Today, the desktop is being phased out. Many Windows 8 Consumer Preview users have found this to be a difficult issue to deal with. They claim they prefer the traditional desktop and Start Menu. I find that to be true, but for different reasons. At the click of a few buttons, in order to use the People app in Windows, Microsoft downloaded nearly the entire contents of my online Facebook account. They downloaded my data from LinkedIn. And they turned it into a Windows Live service. When I go to the Videos app, they're trying to sell me movies and TV shows when I already have Netflix. When I go to the desktop, I'm led to believe that the entire concept is a legacy feature. When I want to access a web browser, I don't want it to take up my entire screen and use 20% of my entire monitor to show me what my browser URL is. What happens when I actually need to do some real work? What happens when I need to bypass all of this junk?

    For me, it will probably be easy. I have worked in IT and trained myself on how to get around almost anything. I have learned, over the years, what services are not essential on a Windows desktop, and how to install, manage, and maintain all kinds of different services. But for a person who is basic to intermediary with computers, they will never get passed Metro. They will have their content presented to them in a way Microsoft can control. And instead of the Internet being divided up into different areas operated by different corporations and public interest groups, it becomes very clear to me that Microsoft will showcase a heavy hand in controlling all online content, including multimedia, browsing, search, and social networking. Whereas before people didn't use their services because Google or Facebook may have had an edge, tomorrow people will be led to believe that this is much easier. With no off switch, Metro UI becomes a platform for delivering "online services" as part of the computing experience itself. And in so far that Microsoft could not put a dent in the multi-billion dollar online advertising network run by Google, or take advantage of the benefits of data mining that Facebook has had with their one billion users, they will now use their operating system platform to scoop up hundreds of millions, if not billions of new Windows Live members. To me, this matters.

    While I have never had an issue with Google managing my e-mails and search, they also don't control the presentation of all the apps on my desktop. And while I may rely on their online services, I would never purchase an operating system released by them for just that reason. And that brings me back to Metro UI, and the reason why, at least right now, I can't tolerate it.

    Here will be my test: If Windows 8 is even significantly slower or more resource intensive than Microsoft Windows 7, I will likely have no reason to upgrade. With a big magnifying glass being placed on my online presence through the integration of Windows Live into my operating system, I won't want to. If my computer boots a few seconds faster with Windows 8, I'll still breathe a sigh of relief that someone isn't trying to sell me zombie flicks directly on my desktop with no off switch.

    I won't have as many privacy concerns as others will. If people were upset that Microsoft was going overboard with including Internet Explorer with their operating system, they will be infuriated by the massive takeover of the desktop with intrusive data-collecting applications that make up the Windows 8 Metro UI interface on install. While Microsoft was once a software development company that released products, they have now concerned themselves with maintaining a strong and marketable online presence on the web. They want people using their services on every phone, every gaming console, every desktop, every laptop, and every type of device in existence that uses a micro-processor. For me, this is overboard, and not what I'm interested in spending my money on.

    I would have liked if Microsoft came out with an option for consumers: Pay a $100 annual subscription for feature improvements to the operating system. That is a service I would have been willing to buy. And under those circumstances, I'm willing to bet I'd be promptly allowed to uninstall Metro UI and delete the shortcut to it off my desktop; something that will never happen once you examine the changes that have been made between the Windows 8 Developer Preview and the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.

    When discussing the new OS with even some of the most technically minded individuals, a guy who designed a Skype app for Windows Phone before the official one was even announced, I found these types of comments:

    "Im going to place a shortcut to shutdown.exe -s on my desktop. Although I have my power button assigned to turn it off too."

    If that's not being "Vista'd" I don't know what is. But perhaps here are some other considerations:

    If this is the most advanced operating system in the world, is it going to even detect whether or not you have a touch screen monitor, and adjust the situation to compensate?

    As one other expert put it, why do you have to do "double-backflips" to shut it down?

    If the Windows 8 installation asked if you wanted to install Metro UI, would the majority of desktop users currently say no?

    Does the operating system showcase more opportunities to market Microsoft online services than it does actual improvements to productivity, usability, and computing power?

    How come the only way to close an app is to hit ALT-F4 or CTRl-ALT-DEL, but the option to download TV shows seems to be fully developed? Is this thing like a hotel room menu or something?

    Is this OS release inspired by a spur of new innovation or a desire to compete more directly with iOS, Android, Google, Facebook, and Apple?

    Does Windows 8 outperform Windows 7?

    I'd love to read your comments.

    (These are my opinions and they do not reflect on anyone else here at Windows8Forums.com. They are subject to change, of course. Here's hoping Microsoft gets it right.)
     
    #1 Mike, Mar 9, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2012
    3 people like this.
  2. Joe S

    Joe S Excellent Member

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    Mike
    Excellent post I don't see any reason to replace Windows 7 until I get a new PC. I don't use hand held devices and am not into Facebook and all of that.
    Joe
     
    1 person likes this.
  3. OldTimer

    OldTimer Banned

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    Rather than fill another page with text, I'll just say..........."Ditto".
    Hows that for saving bandwidth?

    :cool:

    PS: I'm pretty sure that Windows XP-Pro-SP3 will still be on my C: drive, on my main PC, the day they shovel dirt on my casket.
     
    #3 OldTimer, Mar 10, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2012
  4. Medico

    Medico Senior Member

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    It's a puzzle for you to play with when you are not working on your desktop. I was able to arrange my Start Menu in some semblance of order, but since on my Desktop I have few icons in my way and enjoy looking at pictures while not actually working in an app I do not enjoy a Start Menu cluttered with large tiles to open apps. This is why I will spend little time in the Metro UI. I will go there on occasion to do something but for the most part will be on the Desktop.

    I have customized my Desktop so that there are exactly 6 icons showing, but can access most of my apps, my Links, my Favorites, my browsers, about everything I need from my Taskbar.

    Because of some problems I had to reinstall my Win 8 CP from scratch this afternoon. This was a complete clean install including all apps and customizations and creating a disk Image in just a few hours. And here I am back posting. Win 8 CP seems to be getting easier as time goes on.

    Now if my clean install will solve the stability problems I had after the upgrade install I first did I will be a happy camper.
     
  5. Joe S

    Joe S Excellent Member

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    Mike I've got a fairly clean Desktop too. 8 Icons up the left side and 4 on top and a folder with other Icons that don't get used as often. I took care of the Metro all that's left there is Desktop Explorer And Control Panel. I'd gladly get rid of Metro altogether.
    Joe
     
  6. davehc

    davehc Microsoft MVP
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    I think mine takes the cake! lol. I have had sarcastic comments from my own family! I access everything through my customised menu.
     
    #6 davehc, Mar 11, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 11, 2012
  7. Drew

    Drew Banned

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  8. Medico

    Medico Senior Member

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    I have heavily customized the Start Menu on the Metro UI. I have reorganized the tiles to what I consider some semblance of a logical order. I have gotten rid of many of the tiles that don't work well or I don't use, and still it's just a jumble of ugly tiles:

    RevisedMetro.

    On the other hand, my Desktop scrolls through many different Landscapes that I enjoy looking at when I'm not working on something. The icons that are on the Desktop are small and unobtrusive, and most of the access to my apps are done from the Taskbar that hides between uses:

    DesktopView.

    This UI just looks nicer and works better. I still have access to the System Power User Menu (Win Key + X) My Favorites, Links, and app Shortcuts (see Toolbars pinned to Taskbar). I can switch to the Start Menu easily (Win key) to do whatever functions I wish there. How much easier can this get?

    I am sorry the screen shots are difficult to see detail on.

    Screenshot of just the Taskbar with large icon to show more detail:

    Taskbar.
     
    #8 Medico, Mar 11, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 11, 2012
  9. Drew

    Drew Banned

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    Well, I know I, for one, agree, Ted... it's not hard, @ all. Naming common blocks of tiles on Start, is kinda alright, too.

    As for the OP... doesn't seem ood that companies try to keep ppl or lure ppl to their stuff & products... that concept is everywhere, from a recipe from Kraft that suggests it can only be made w/ their ingredients to Internet browsers that point you to their offerings. Doesn't mean anyone is obliged to bother w/ it or be sucked into (certain) stuff.
     
  10. Drew

    Drew Banned

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    Pretty much as many variations as End Users :joyous:
     

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