The Story of Windows 8 - Part 1
A Short History of Windows
Windows is the most used desktop operating system of the world. Recent researches show that about 90 percent of computers use Windows as the primary operating system. This is a very remarkable figure, considering the huge user base of computers all over the world. Windows 95 was first operating system of Microsoft which created a paradigm shift for computer users. Windows 98 was an iterative step for Microsoft in terms of operating systems rather than being revolutionary. Critically acclaimed Windows XP was the revolutionary step. Windows XP replaced old windows kernel with modern NT kernel. Windows XP became incredibly popular and sold more than 400 million copies in about five
Windows XP was followed by Windows Vista. Vista released five years after Windows XP with high expectations. However critical reception for Vista was a mixed bag. There were lots of people who liked Vista, however there are also many people who hated it and they were very vocal about it. Vista wasn't a failure in terms of sales, because it sold more than 400 million copies. However it was the first Microsoft operating system which got so much negative critical reception until that time. Microsoft executives made a serious move and appointed Steven Sinofsky as the head of Windows Division.
Windows 7 has been prepared under the command and vision of Sinofsky. It shares the same foundations with Windows Vista, however it solved many problems that Vista had and people complained about. Even some people humorously called it 'Windows Vista Fixed'. Windows 7 became incredibly successful in terms of sale figures and critical reception. This success was enough to make Windows 7 is the most successful operating system of Microsoft history.
Windows 8: A Whole New Approach
Microsoft was very popular at personal computer side of the market; actually they were dominating the market. However things weren't the same for mobile computing market. Apple was dominating market with IOS operating system which is used on Iphone, Ipad and Ipod Touch devices. Google was another big player in the market with Android operating system. Android became extremely popular especially in emerging markets. Blackberry was taking another remarkable market share in the market. Contrary to these success stories, situation was not too bright for Microsoft. Its mobile operating system Windows Mobile was constantly losing market share.
Microsoft wanted to do something to gain market share in the mobile market immediately. They decided to use their biggest strength to do that: their desktop OS. They came up with the idea of combining desktop and mobile operating systems and create one operating system that fits to every platform. Microsoft had the vision of using same operating system on desktop computers, notebooks, all in one computers, tablets and mobile phones. They thought that this would increase the scope of Windows ecosystem and this will attract more developers.
One Operating System for Everything
To create a hybrid operating system was not an easy task because of the limitations of both mobile and desktop systems. User interface guidelines that are widely used in desktop systems are created for traditional input systems like mouse and keyboard. They are not very useful in touch screen devices. Actually Microsoft tried touch screen controlled OS before with Windows XP and Windows 7 respectively. They were very successful at desktop market, but both failed miserably at touch screen market. Microsoft learned a very important lesson from this situation. They had to design the whole operating system from scratch with touch screen controls in mind
The design of Windows 8 reflected a simple philosophy: to create one operating system which can be used on everywhere. This design philosophy firstly affected the user interface. The traditional interface of Windows operating systems that we knew since Windows 95 has dramatically changed. Icons are replaced with tiles which are automatically reflects the updates. Contrary to static nature of icons, tiles offer regularly updated info bits all over the interface.
However the biggest change is the disappearance of start menu. Start menu has been a very integral part of Windows operating systems since the introduction of Windows 95 at 1995. It was an iconic part of Windows operating systems. Also it increases the OS usability and user productivity. However when it comes to the systems with touch screen input, its usability dramatically decreases. Microsoft was aware of this fact, so they wanted to replace start menu with something which could be used at traditional and touch screen input systems with ease. So the idea of start screen has been born. Start screen contains live tiles of installed programs on a big, single page. Since tiles are considerably bigger than icons in terms of size, it is much easier to select them on touch screen inputs.
Story of Windows 8 - Part 2