7 types of Windows 8 users and non-users

When I was in Seattle earlier this month I visited the Microsoft Store in Bellevue. I nearly bought a Nokia Lumia 1020, but also observed an enthusiastic salesperson showing off Surface 2 (a pre-launch demo unit) to an older customer. She watched patiently while he showed how it handled pictures, SkyDrive, Office, Email, Facebook and more. At the end she said. “I don’t need any of that. Show me your cheapest laptop.”


Yes, it’s tough for Microsoft. The incident got me thinking about computer users today and whether or not they are in the market for Windows 8 (or the forthcoming Windows 8.1).

Here is a light-hearted at some categories of users. And yes, I think I have met all of them. For those that are saying no, what would change their minds?

1. The Apple fan.

Switched to Mac from Windows XP around 2007. Has Mac, iPhone, iPad. So much easier, no anti-virus nags, boots quicker, less annoying, always works smoothly. Occasionally runs a Windows app on Parallels but nothing non-nuclear would persuade them to switch back.

Buying Windows 8? No.

2. The Enterprise admin.

In latter stages of migration from Windows XP to Windows 7. Still a few XP machines running awkward apps or run by awkward people. Last holdouts should be gone by year end. Job done, won’t even think about another migration for 3-5 years. Next focus is on BYOD (Bring your own device); will be mostly iPhones and iPads with the occasional Android or Windows 8 tablet.

Buying Windows 8? Mostly no.

3. The older Windows user

Son thinks a Mac would be better, but Windows works fine, is well understood, and does all that is needed. No desire to upgrade but when PC conks out will look for the most familiar looking machine at a good price. Would prefer Windows 7 but may be forced into Windows 8 if those are the only machines on offer.

Buying Windows 8? Maybe reluctantly.

4. The PC guy

This is the guy who understands PCs back to front. Never saw the point of Macs, overpriced, fewer apps, and little different in functionality. First thing to do with a new PC is either spend 3 hours removing all the crapware, or reinstall Windows from scratch. The Windows 8 user interface took some adjustment at first but fine with it now, likes the slightly better performance, and even uses a few Metro apps on the Surface Pro tablet.

Buying Windows 8? Yes, best Windows yet.

5. The tablet family

Used to update the family PC every few years, but mum got an iPad, son got an Android tablet, then dad went Android too, and now they spend so much time doing email, games, web browsing, YouTube, Facebook and BBC iPlayer on the tablets that the PC gets little use. It’s still handy for household accounts but it won’t be replaced unless it breaks.

Buying Windows 8? Not soon, and maybe not ever.

6. The tried it once never again person

It was embarrassing. Used Windows for years, then a friend brought over a Windows 8 laptop. Clicked on desktop, but with no Start button how do you run anything? Clicked around, right-clicked, pressed ESC, pressed Ctrl-Alt-Del, but nothing doing. Friend was laughing. Now the sight of Windows 8 evokes a chill shudder. Never, just never.

Buying Windows 8? No way.

7. The “Make it like 7” person

Windows 8? No problem, it’s just like 7 really. Installed Start8, got the Start menu back, set it to boot to desktop, set file associations for PDF and images to desktop apps, and never sees the Metro environment.

Buying Windows 8? Kind-of, but will never run a Metro app.

7 thoughts on “7 types of Windows 8 users and non-users”

  1. Hi there,

    the post gave me a chuckle or two. But I think it ignores one of the main dynamics around Windows 8: the hardware and touch first interfaces. Windows 8 is meaningless without hardware that supports touch. I have been on a Mac and various Linux distributions over the past years and through work I came back to Windows. I got a Surface RT, a Lenovo X1 Carbon and a Lumia 820 (among many other devices and platforms). I got so used touching the screen all the time on the Surface or the X1 – and even in desktop apps – that I have to stop myself from trying to touch, scroll or pinch my MacBook Pro screen all the time. I prefer browsing the web on the Surface to using the iPad Mini I own. Windows 8 boots way faster on my old Dell desktop machine that originally came with Vista than Mac OS X does on my faster MacBook Pro. On the old desktop machine, that doesn’t have a touch screen, Windows 8.1 allows me to boot into desktop and the start screen can be customised and organised way better than the old start menu which didn’t use the screen real estate efficiently and I hated looking for a menu entry through multiple sub menus. Anyway, coming from a Mac, I never missed the start menu as I never used it anyway. The fastest way on a Mac to start a program was to hit the shortcut for Spotlight and start typing the name of the program. WIndows 8 finally offers the same through the Start Screen. Just start typing the name of the app or program you want to start and select it from the real time search results as you type. Even faster than on Mac.

    As for “Metro” apps (a better term is modern apps or Windows Store apps if you will), I thoroughly enjoy them on a touch screen device. The store is starting to see more interesting apps. Some of the apps are actually fun to use on a non-touch device like my old desktop machine as well as they make better use of screen real estate and have better content layout, less clutter from the desktop environment and such.

    I think most people trying to pass on Windows 8 haven’t realised yet that there is no way back for Microsoft from the path it’s on now. A future Windows 9 will still follow the same approach to modern apps through the Windows Store and touch first. If anything, the desktop will become more meaningless in day to day use. You said it yourself in your blog post, the family with each members owning a tablet hardly uses the desktop machine anymore. Windows 8 offers the foundation for such a tablet experience while still offering the traditional desktop, but most time of users is already spent in non-desktop environments on other platforms. Windows 8 is taking that into consideration.

    1. Hi Tobias

      I mostly agree with your points – except that I find Windows 8 fine for keyboard/mouse too – but they don’t directly relate to what I was trying to get across, which is the difficulty of getting people across the chasm. “Show me your cheapest laptop”. It must be possible but it is a hard sell.

  2. The one missing for me is “Uses whatever their company provides them with.” Noted that obviously the purchasing decisions aren’t made by these folk, but it strikes me that the success of the Windows platform long term is with them, and them adapting from previous versions…

  3. We are in a transition period towards a different style of application. Much like the days of migration from DOS to Windows this new generation will take time to shift. Windows 8.1 addresses some of the usability gaps for Windows Store apps while enabling better co-existence with desktop apps. The tipping point in which Windows Store apps become the default choice is still a ways off — if I were Microsoft I would be looking to do everything possible to drive that tipping point even faster including supporting the build of reference apps of all types (LOB, consumer, etc…).

    Hardware wise touch devices are now becoming easier to obtain at multiple price points which is nice, but for users who don’t have their key usage scenarios nailed in touch it remains a moot point. When major apps like Office are ported and we see some good examples of LOB apps then the enterprise momentum will start to pick up pace. For the consumer space it may, however, be too little too late.

    As a Surface, Lumia and MacBook Pro user the touch experience is nice and missed in ways when using my MBP. That being said there are still basic scenarios missing in the Windows Store apps side that keep me tied to the desktop – i.e. file management, enabling browser enhancements such as password management, Outlook in Windows Store app mode).

  4. I think your article about the types of users is pretty close. I’ve seen all those users, sometimes mixed in the same family and always mixed in the business.

    My only thought would be careful propagating the myth that Macs don’t have viruses. Because of that myth we are seeing a rise of viruses using Macs as an entry point to the network because they have no AV, and then it spreads around the network. More Mac infections in 2013 than I ever remember.

    Thanks for a good article (read on Zite on my Nokia 928).

  5. You left off the tech journalist who fears that praising anything that isn’t apple means he won’t get a shiny new iPad when the next one comes out.

    Will they buy Win 8? No, and neither should anyone else.

  6. I think you left out the genuine non-fanboy tech-enthusiast category which I belong to. The one who really likes to try out anything new, and realizes it’s stupid to adhere to a particular company or a product religiously. Windows 8’s touch focus, and the emergence of the hybrid form factor is a big deal for people like me. I use Windows, Ubuntu and and iPad — and Windows 8 excites me for that reason.

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