Microsoft users struggle with Windows redesign
By Bill Rigby
SEATTLE (Reuters) - As Microsoft Corp prepares to show the world what its new Windows 8 can do on the next generation of high-powered tablets, initial reviews of the new operating system on existing hardware underscore the challenges the company faces with the radical redesign of its flagship product.
The world's largest software company says millions of people are already using a downloaded pre-release version of Windows 8 on PCs, laptops and touch-devices ahead of its full introduction this autumn. At a media event in Los Angeles on Monday, the company is expected to discuss its plans to take on Apple Inc's all-conquering iPad this holiday shopping season.
So far, most reviewers have praised the look and feel of the touch-friendly "Metro" style of Windows 8, which is based on colorful squares, or "tiles," that depict applications such as email, and update in real time. But they have also stressed how difficult it will be for users to move away from what they know and trust.
"It's a bit of a struggle for people who are deliberately oriented on a PC, that are used to a mouse feel," said former Microsoft strategist Al Hilwa.
Now an analyst at tech research firm IDC, Hilwa has been trying out the latest demo release for two weeks. "Without a touchscreen, I struggled with a mouse to do certain things," he said.
The new Metro interface only runs programs written for it, so users have to switch back to the traditional desktop to do certain tasks, like listening to music on Apple's iTunes.
"The thing that really infuriates me is that it seems like Metro apps, and apps running in the normal desktop don't have any knowledge of each other, " said Forrester Research analyst David Johnson. "There's no easy way to navigate between them, and I'm not quite sure why that is."
The latest test version is not yet finished software. And outside of a few industry testers, no one has tried out Windows 8 on a tablet powered by ultra-efficient ARM Holdings chips, which is the closest Microsoft will come to challenging the iPad. Continued...