Intel’s Ultrabook campaign is quite rapidly transforming what consumers can expect from a PC laptop. They’ve driven prices and weight down, and performance and features up. I’d argue that PC laptops are looking the best that they have in recent memory thanks to Intel’s Ultrabook project. But that’s just the hardware. On the software side, we’re still dealing with Windows and the same frustrations it’s shown us for several years now. Can Microsoft up the ante with Windows 8 to bring software quality in line with Ultrabook hardware?
I recently got my hands on an Asus UX31 Ultrabook. This is a sleek machine that blew my prior several-year-old laptop out of the water in every way — weight, power, thickness, heat, resolution, and battery life. Not to mention that the design is far more slick than my old laptop. This is all wonderful, but the ‘ahead of the curve’ feeling only lasts until you boot up Windows.
In fact, the only place where the UX31 doesn’t have an edge on my old computer is through Windows (thanks to a clean install on my old computer vs. a factory install on the UX31). Thanks to unnecessary bloatware and pre-installed utilities, I get bugged with beyond-confusing error messages, here’s two fun ones:
Windows has long been ridiculed for being complicated and not very user-friendly. When you see the simplicity of mobile operating systems that allow us to accomplish ever more complex tasks right from our pockets, the bloat of desktop operating systems becomes readily apparent. At this point Windows feels clunky and can be downright frustrating at times.
Intel has done a great job of guiding Ultrabooks toward hardware that feels futuristic, but inside Windows can make things feel prehistoric. If Microsoft is to hold up their end of the bargain, it seems to me like they need better control over the experience that Windows provides to end-users.
For a long time Windows succeed simply because it had the programs (not to mention that most of the business world adopted Windows) — the majority of software was being written for Windows. In recent years, Microsoft has had an absolute monopoly on the desktop gaming market. Vertical markets are dominated by Windows.
Windows thrived on an ‘open’ program approach where anyone could write, run, and distribute applications on their platform. It didn’t really matter what interface-guidelines those programs followed, or whether or not they were particularly safe, or even if they worked as intended — it was a free for all, but it apparently worked at the time.