Maybe I’m missing something, but I just don’t see how Windows 8 is even remotely the disaster some of the technology pundits I have read say that it is. I suspect it has more to do with the pundits themselves than the operating system, which makes perfect sense if you understand tech people.
There are three things I have found to be true about tech people, especially those focused on desktop operating systems, which may flavor their opinions on Windows 8, or any other new version of Windows for that matter.
1. They are human.
Sometimes I think that they would rather not be, based on comments to this effect that I’ve heard from my tech colleagues, but that option is currently not available (as far as I know). Anyone who works in any kind of customer service capacity knows that people are prone to sharing negatives more than positives. The most-often-cited statistic is that people are 10 times more likely to tell others about a negative experience than a positive one. People prefer to share the negative. Tech pundits are people. Tech pundits prefer to share the negative. They are only being human, until another option becomes available.
2. Strong troubleshooting abilities.
A keen ability to troubleshoot is one of the things that can lead to becoming respected in the tech community, especially in the operating systems arena. The ability to be pessimistic is an absolute requirement for effective troubleshooting. People who don’t believe that things are ever broken just don’t do well at figuring out what is wrong when something breaks. This results in the Venn diagram of Tech Pundits and Pollyanna Optimists being two circles with no intersection (see diagram). When it comes to optimism vs. pessimism, tech pundits are not a representative sample and their opinions naturally demonstrate that.
3. Preference to work with machines.
Did I mention that some tech people would prefer an option other than being human? As a group, they tend to prefer interacting with machines to interacting with people. A new user interface is going to cause lots of non-tech people to have questions. When they have questions, they will call the operating system experts. The operating system experts would rather interact with machines than people, so questions from people are a bad thing. As a result, changes to operating system user interfaces are guilty until proven innocent. Windows 8 has a lot of user interface changes, so I would expect a lot of anticipatory negativity.
I’m having a little fun here extending our internal banter to the outside world, and my tech colleagues will have a little fun with me in return, I’m sure. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. In many aspects of my job, I am by all accounts a tech person. But I’m a bit of an anomaly. I like to think of myself as more of a people person, who happens to be pretty good at figuring out technical things and explaining them to people who would much rather interact with humans than computers. There is going to be plenty of explaining to do with Windows 8 because it is new and different. The key to being effective in doing that explaining will be to understand how the changes can help people become more productive. More on that in future posts…
In my view, Windows 8 is headed in the right direction. It begins the process of providing a single interface for use across devices of all sizes that are used for both business and personal purposes. Mobile business users will likely be the most enthusiastic early adopters, but consumers should also appreciate not needing to learn different interfaces for different forms of devices. It will, just as iOS and Android devices have, generate questions as people learn how to use it. It isn’t perfect. The next few years will be interesting to watch.