My laptop arrived with Windows 8. I’ve been dreading the day I’d have to migrate over from Vista. I had my first exposure with Win8 last Christmas when I purchased my son a new laptop and tried to set it up beforehand so he could be up and running when Christmas Day rolled around.
I made it through the HP set-up and then was greeted by … tiles! Flashing colorful tiles! WTF is this? I was overwhelmed. What was I supposed to do? Where was I supposed to go? Where the hell was the infamous Windows Start button? I gave up and shut it down to let my son figure it out. Surprise! A new operating system nobody knows anything about! Merry Christmas.
Well, six months have passed and I’ve watched a few videos, read portions of some books, on Windows 8. I believe now I have a vague understanding of it. So last night when I finished running the HP set-up and was greeted by the tiles, I wasn’t so intimidated. And I knew how to reach the charms, which would then take me to the Start button and Shut Down.
But the whole uproar of Windows 8 reminds me of another time when Microsoft released Windows 95. Win95 was a radical change from the familiar Win3 desktop everyone knew. Win3 was a simple GUI shell that overlay the MS-DOS core. It was almost primitive in its application. If I recall, you used the File Manager window basically opened a graphical representation of a DOS. Programs were listed alphabetically and you’d click on a folder, say MS Word, then click on the Word.exe, launching the program.
We’d laugh at Mac users who were isolated from the inner workings of their operating system with their GUI. Heck, we could still call up the “C:” prompt and get our hands dirty working under the hood if we wanted to.
And we liked things that way.
Then Win95 came out. I first saw it at a trade show where our software company was demonstrating their latest integrated manufacturing and business management software. I was a documentation specialist, which was a fancy name for a technical writer who also did the design, layout, and desktop publishing of the documents and allowed the company to pay us a lot less than if they had hired people to do handle of those jobs. But that’s neither here nor there. And no, I’m not still bitter about it. Thanks for asking.
My point is, I had my first exposure to Win95 at that tradeshow and I was aghast. Where was menu bar? What is this “My Computer” icon all about? And WTF is this “Start” button? What if my computer is already started? Where do I go to find my programs? And I see a start button but where’s the stop or off button?
Then the critics started asking: Why is it named Start? Why didn’t they name it Home, or Menu, or even Launch?
Back then, the introduction of the Start button caused as much anxiety, anger, and ridicule as the elimination of it in Win8.
And you know what? We learned how to navigate that new OS. Microsoft didn’t backpedal or cave in to public whining like they did with Win8. They left Win95 just as it was and we had to accept it. And after 18 years it had become old and familiar.
But the world was changing. The old OS was a dinosaur. There were touch screens and tablets and smartphones and Microsoft had to do something to keep up, to stay viable.
Win8 is it. So stop your whining and man up. Pick up a book, watch some YouTube videos. Learn. Accept. Embrace.
If this old DOS dinosaur can learn to use and appreciate Win8, then you young whippersnappers should be able to also.
Now get off my lawn!