“If someone accustomed to the first Macintosh in 1984 got into a time machine, traveled to 2012, and tried to work on a MacBook Air running Mountain Lion, that person would have a surprisingly short learning curve. Sure, the desktop is colorful, dimensional, and there are loads of unfamiliar features, at first glance. But the fundamentals of the point and click interface that Apple pioneered then are still very much still in place, and learning to use more than one app at a time will come soon enough,” Gene Steinberg writes for Tech Night Owl. “Contrast that to the layout in Windows 8, where Metro, on the surface at least, disposes of all the conventions that Windows users have grown accustomed to over the years, conventions that, as you realize, were largely ‘borrowed’ from the Mac.”

“Now I understand the desire to make things better. But what Microsoft has done may be close to building a car without a steering wheel, or brake and accelerator pedal. Sure, you can click, or touch the interface to prowl beneath Metro to see a slimmed down Windows-style interface, but all that does is make for a bi-polar experience, where you can become lost real quickly,” Steinberg writes. “It doesn’t mean that the traditional graphical user interface that has been tried and tested all these years is necessarily perfect. I’m sure many of you can build a large list of how OS X needs to change to improve usability, particularly for tens of millions of customers who discovered Apple by way of the iPhone and iPad. Certainly navigating the file system intimidates many. And it doesn’t mean there aren’t more elements of the iOS that can be integrated into OS X without throwing out the baby with the bathwater.”

Steinberg writes, “But Apple understands that jarring changes with little or no discernible benefits can just confuse customers. They got justifiably attacked when making changes to the default scroll bar and scrolling behavior in Lion, which is carried over unchanged in Mountain Lion. But they also made it possible to open System Preferences and turn things back. Despite all the iOS elements that made their way into 10.8, it’s still a Mac OS, and, based on what Tim Cook has said in a very emphatic way, it isn’t going to be thrown away in place of a desktop version of iOS.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple, in contrast to Microsoft, has the right idea.

What we wrote ten seconds after we first heard about Microsoft’s plans for Windows 8 works just as well today as it did over a year ago, if not better:

Our initial impression is that Microsoft, in trying to cram everything into Windows 8 in an attempt to be all things to all devices, will end up with an OS that’s a jack of all trades and a master of none (which, after all, ought to be Microsoft’s company motto).

By the time this hybrid spawn of Windows Phone ’07 + Windows 7ista actually ships, one can only dream where Apple’s iOS and Mac OS X will be! For Microsoft, it’ll be more like a nightmare. Perhaps Microsoft will someday put some scare into Google’s Android/Chrome OS, but only time – and a lot of it when measured in tech time – will tell. We simply do not see the world clamoring for the UI of an iPod also-ran now ported to an iPhone wannabe that nobody’s buying to be blown up onto a PC display.

From what we’ve seen so far, Windows 8 strikes us as an unsavory combination of Windows Weight plus Windows Wait.

Not to mention that probably no one on earth knows how much or what kinds of residual legacy spaghetti code roils underneath it all (shudder). Is Microsoft giving up on backwards compatibility? If so, people might as well get the Mac they always wanted. If not, then Microsoft’s unwilling to do what it takes to really attempt to keep up with the likes of Apple or even Apple’s followers. No matter what, if Microsoft’s going to ask Windows sufferers to “learn a whole new computer” (and that’s exactly how they’ll look at it, regardless of how Microsoft pitches it), millions will simply say, “Time to get a Mac to match my iPod, iPhone, and iPad!”

As if they needed it: More good news for Apple.

Related articles:
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Microsoft’s downfall: Inside the executive e-mails and cannibalistic culture that fueled Microsoft’s lost decade – July 7, 2012
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Fox News: Copier Microsoft is doomed to fail with Surface tablet – June 19, 2012
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Microsoft’s Suicide, er… ‘Surface’ – June 19, 2012
ZDNet Sr. Tech Editor Perlow: Microsoft’s Surface has catastrophe written all over it – June 19, 2012
Microsoft previews own ‘Surface’ tablet – June 18, 2012
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ZDNet’s Kingsley-Hughes: Microsoft’s Windows 8 is an awful, horrible, painful design disaster – June 8, 2012
Analyst meets with big computer maker, finds ‘general lack of enthusiasm’ for Windows 8 – June 8, 2012
Dvorak: Windows 8 an unmitigated disaster; unusable and annoying; it makes your teeth itch – June 3, 2012
The Guardian: Microsoft’s Windows 8 is confusing as hell; an appalling user experience – March 5, 2012
More good news for Apple: Microsoft previews Windows 8 (with video) – June 1, 2011