Windows 8 is another Vista says Samsung memory guy: is he right?

Samsung’s Jun Dong-soo, president of the memory chip division, has likened Windows 8 to Vista and says it has failed to boost PC sales.

”The global PC industry is steadily shrinking despite the launch of Windows 8. I think the Windows 8 system is no better than the previous Windows Vista platform,” he said in a press briefing in Seoul, as reported by the Korea Times. [The link no longer works for me, though the article lives on in Google’s cache].

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Is he right? I suspect that the tech world from the perspective of a memory chip manufacturer looks different than it does, say, from the perspective of someone considering Microsoft’s Windows strategy more broadly. Has Windows 8 stimulated demand for PCs, and therefore the memory that goes in them? Generally, no.

Equally, just as in the days of Vista, there is plenty of folk wisdom out there advising people to stick with the previous version of Windows, since the new one is more trouble than it is worth.

The parallel is not unreasonable then. Look a bit closer though, and there are as many differences and likenesses. I wondered if this could be expressed as a table, though no doubt there will be debate over the detail and other things that could be included.

  Strategic reasons for failure – necessary annoyances Long-term goal
Windows Vista User Account Control – usability and compatibility problems. Annoying and confusing prompts. Better security in Windows, better behaved applications
  Performance issues, high memory demand caused by Desktop Windows Manager Rich hardware-accelerated graphics, taskbar thumbnails etc
  Bugs and mistakes  
  Stuttering audio caused by poor drivers  
OEM vendors release Vista on underpowered hardware, laden with usual trialware rubbish  
Windows 8 Strategic reasons for failure – necessary annoyances Long-term goal
  Combining new tablet platform with old desktop jarring and confusing for users. Absence of Start menu from desktop disorienting. Establish Windows as a viable tablet platform and one that can plausibly converge with Windows Phone.
  Create ARM build of Windows, locked down so that no new desktop apps can be installed. Windows tablets that benefit from ARM efficiency, are not weighed down with legacy app compatibility issues, and which are more secure and less prone to degrade over time.
  Bugs and mistakes  
  Release Windows 8 with poor Windows Store apps pushing users to desktop alternatives  
  Windows Runtime platform not really ready, too difficult for developers to make great apps  
  Failure to get Windows OEMs and retail channel to understand and promote it as a tablet platform  
  ARM machines including Surface RT too slow; really needs next generation eg Tegra 4  

The point of the above is both positive and negative for Microsoft. On the negative side, it has nobody but itself to blame for some of the problems around the launch of Windows 8. The Windows Runtime platform should have been in a better state for launch, the built-in apps should have been better (especially Mail), and despite ample evidence of the difficulty new users had when first encountering Windows 8, little regard was paid to the problem. OEM and retail partners then compounded the error by simply turning the handle and putting out a bunch of laptops with Windows 8 in place of Windows 7. I regularly see “Windows 8” displays where there is not a single touch-capable machine, which is extraordinary given that support for touch was the primary new feature and goal.

On the other hand, if you look at the pain points in Vista that were strategic rather than blunders, you can see that they did, eventually, succeed. Windows 7 builds on Vista and by general consensus is the best ever version of Windows. While I prefer 8 for various reasons, including its better performance and some useful UI improvements on the desktop side, Windows 7 has the more coherent and satisfying user interface.

The further implication is that the Windows 8 pain may yet prove worthwhile, if Microsoft can fix the annoyances and improve the Windows Runtime platform, and if OEMs can grasp the demand for Windows tablets when done right.

The difficulty with the above is that when Vista came out there was really nowhere to go, other than to the Mac for those looking for high-end personal laptops or desktops (and Vista was generally helpful to Apple). Windows 8 on the other hand has appeared at a time when the PC ecosystem seems under threat from the surge towards mobile and towards Android and iOS tablets. Even if Microsoft gets it right next time, it is unlikely to dominate as before.

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4 comments to Windows 8 is another Vista says Samsung memory guy: is he right?

  • Niclas Lindgren

    I think one similarity between Vista and Windows 8 is the tech perception it has received. Both OSes were much better than their reputation, and Windows 8 more so than Vista.

    Samsung’s statement is confusing as the competing OSes aren’t really what has driven the market either, especially not for tablets.

    It is the HW manufacturers that drive the demand with intriguing designs, and this is where the PC market really has stalled for years, Microsoft shouldn’t have to build a HW signature device and on their first try they bring many improvements, I have yet to hold a tablet the breathes so much quality as the surface RT.

    I have had a Windows 8 tablet for little over a week now, and I am pleasantly surprised, I thought it would be much worse than it is if you judge by the press. Very quickly you realize how much windows needed something that removed the desktop mode for tablets, you really don’t want to spend any time in the desktop mode on a tablet, it is a completely different experience than windows 8 on the desktop.

    If I could have made a change it would be to make WinRT apps run as windows in a desktop mode and bring all the tools a normal use needs to the full screen WinRT on tablets (file manager, all the control panel setting etc).

    I think though, that the long term goal to merge them will pay off, my advice for something that hasn’t tried windows 8 on a tablet is that they should, it is a very pleasant experience, fast and fluid is really true.

  • Other tech blunders with Surface are the screens
    - RT has low screen resolution, comparable to low end Android tablets and old iPad
    - Pro has halfway good resolution, leading to blurry old apps when scaled. They should have gone for double 2700×1500 instead, retina class which would have allowed 200% sharp scaling of old apps (as Apple did)

    The same issue applies to just about all Win8 laptops.

    Also Metro UI on a 22″ desktop is insanely problematic, and let’s face it, Aero-less Win8 desktop is not stylish or clean, it is just plain ugly.

  • Alex Atkin

    The difference is that despite the fact Vista introduced something nice, Aero, it had far too many negatives to really have anything good to say about it.

    It ate RAM, was slower than XP, and just generally there was no good reason to upgrade to it.

    Windows 8 on the other hand might have annoying aspects in trying to force WinRT on us and the hassle of having to change the default application to desktop ones instead of WinRT.
    However it has NONE of negatives Vista had, on the contrary it actually REDUCED memory usage, improved power management, is more efficient than Windows 7 in general.

    I’m not aware of a single thing Windows 8 has actually broken compared to Windows 7 (except the sidebar), not like Vista did.

    On the contrary, if you buy a Windows 8 x86 tablet it IS an improvement over Windows 7. I am speaking as someone who has used Ubuntu, WinXP, Win7 and Win8 on tablets and by far Win8 is the most flexible. I also still currently have a huge dislike for Windows 8, but I can see its merits once I finally get a proper modern x86 tablet, which sadly I cannot currently afford so I am using Win8 on my Acer convertible laptop.

  • Burak KALAYCI

    > Windows 7 builds on Vista and by general consensus is the best ever version of Windows.

    I think you are very wrong about this one. XP is the best ever version of Windows.

    Even something simple like changing the time sucks big time in W7 (and did in Vista I assume). Running both OSes, I do take breaks to think about how something can be designed this bad, especially after XP. People who designed Vista, 7 and 8 probably never used XP -which I do find surprising- but after eliminating the impossible, this remains as the truth.