From the very first moment my eyes were opened to the world of possibilities computers offered us in 1994 I have used software released with the Microsoft name. First it was DOS, then Windows, then Office, and the list has grown substantially since then. Even today on my Mac I have a number of pieces of software written by Microsoft, including a Virtual Machine of WinXP that is used only while at the office. This may change very soon, though, as the wife and I move more towards a Microsoft-free family.
Over the last few days I've had the opportunity to communicate with a number of people who, like me, are moving away from Google. While this sort of geek march is not very interesting to anybody1, what is interesting is the number of people I've seen considering dropping their Android-powered phones for something that is not under Mountain View's control2. The problem they'll have, though, is a remarkable lack of choice when it comes time to pick up a new smartphone. There are only two viable options for people who want to walk around with a little computer in their pocket while avoiding Google.
Paul Thurrott recently wrote about Windows 8's sales figures over the holiday season and the numbers are quite interesting. Shoppers are voting with their dollars about which products should play a role in their lives and, oddly enough, Microsoft's role is shrinking faster than ever before. Mr. Thurrott goes on to posit his theory about why Windows machines aren't flying off the shelves like they used to, claiming that the lowly netbook has completely changed buyers' expectations of what a computer should cost. I completely agree.
Today I had the opportunity to play with Windows 8 at the local Sofmap for a full 30 minutes. Displays were set up in two locations for people to get a little hands-on time with Microsoft's newest operating system, one with tablets and the other with desktops. There are quite a few differences between Windows 8 and the previous versions as well as a lot of familiarity. That said, after half an hour with the heavily-marketed product I came away with a single conclusion: it's better with a mouse.
Microsoft has been making a lot of waves this year with their push towards cloud services, Windows 8, mobile devices, and fun in the living room. The introduction of their new design is, if memory serves, the single-most cohesive attack they've made across all of their product lines ever. Metro is not for everyone, but it's certainly unique. It's also being forced down a bunch of people's throats in the near future as people are kicked off Hotmail and directed towards Outlook.com, Microsoft's new mail portal.