Skip to main content

Here comes Windows 8...

Once the first Windows 8 advert surfaced, I immediately posted it to my blog (opens in new tab) because Microsoft needs all the help it can get.

Before I go on complaining that Windows 8 is too weird and screwy to have ever seen the light of day, let me first grumble about this "leaked" ad. How many of today's modern marketing efforts are now dependent on leaked photos, leaked ads, or leaked PowerPoint presentations?

Is the press stupid enough to believe that any of this is genuine leaked intelligence or do we accept the fact that this is a blatant attempt to dupe everyone? I will complain about this until the word "leaked" is replaced by "planted." This video was planted, not leaked.

Okay, I got that out of my system.

So let's look at what we got and what can we learn from it…

Well, we see a tablet OS, not a desktop OS. We already knew that for the most part, but this just confirms that Windows 8 is going to suck on the desktop. There is no getting around it.

In the ad, we also discover that Microsoft wants to emphasise its unique live tiles. When I was playing with Windows 8, I paid some attention to these tiles, which segregate various aspects of the computing experience that are constantly updating or changing.

(opens in new tab)Essentially, Microsoft took some old ideas and decided that, despite the fact that they didn't work well in the past, they might work well now. We get a defunct product from the 1990s called PointCast, which fed the user up-to-date news feeds as a kind of screen saver. It was ever-changing and apparently used too much bandwidth to succeed in its era.

This was followed in Windows 95 by the Active Desktop, which was a cool idea but simply did not work for reasons never explained. It was completely dropped in subsequent versions of Windows.

The Active Desktop, which I actually used, allowed you to put all sorts of updating data on your desktop as segments of the wallpaper. I had a couple of video feeds of local traffic as well as a satellite feed of the weather. This was in 1995!

So now, 17 years later, Microsoft takes another stab at the Active Desktop with these live tiles. It will probably meet the same fate, from what I can tell, but maybe not. After all, I did like the Active Desktop way back when, so why not now?

Will I be able to show a real-time weather satellite feed? Will I be able to turn tiles into video windows so I can monitor traffic? From what I've seen, the answer is either no or maybe.

Thus far, the live tiles are lame. One of them cycles through personal photos stored on the device. For many people, this could be embarrassing. And what's the point of a slideshow you did not request?

I get the sense that this is another cool idea from Microsoft that is poorly implemented. We shall see.