Philip Greenspun: Microsoft’s Windows 8 is a Christmas gift for someone you hate

As Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber states, the following is “from a guy who’s so anti-Apple that he gives credit for the desktop interface to the Xerox Alto, not the Mac.”

Philip Greenspun blogs, “Suppose that you are an expert user of Windows NT/XP/Vista/7, an expert user of an iPad, and an expert user of an Android phone…. you will have no idea how to use Windows 8.”

“Microsoft has had since October 2008 to study Android. It has had since June 2007 to study iPhone,” Greenspun writes. “It seems as though they did not figure out what is good about the standard tablet operating systems… The only device that I can remember being as confused by is the BlackBerry PlayBook.”

MacDailyNews Take:

• We’ve tried to use a BlackBerry PlayBook. It was a dismal experience. It’s a total POS.MacDailyNews, January 3, 2012

• As anyone who’s ever tried to use DCW’s playbook can attest, it’s a wholly unintuitive piece of overpriced crap. Amateur hour, indeed.MacDailyNews, February 22, 2012

Greenspun writes, “A reasonable user might respond to this dog’s breakfast of a user interface by trying to stick with either the familiar desktop or the new tablet. However, this is not possible. Some functions, such as “start an application” or ‘restart the computer’ are available only from the tablet interface. Conversely, when one is comfortably ensconced in a touch/tablet application, an additional click will fire up a Web browser, thereby causing the tablet to disappear in favor of the desktop… Confused about how the tablet apps work and want to Google for the answer? You go to a Web browser in the desktop interface and can’t see the tablet interface that you’re getting advice on how to use.”

Read more in the full article here.

Related articles:
MKM Partners cuts Microsoft price target, estimates on lower than expected Surface, Windows 8 sales – December 5, 2012
Why Microsoft’s Surface tablet is doomed – December 5, 2012
App developers shun Microsoft’s Surface tablet – December 4, 2012
Microsoft Surface Pro to offer only half the battery life of Apple’s latest iPad with Retina display – November 30, 2012
Microsoft’s Surface Pro iPad killer to start at $899 – November 29, 2012
Microsoft’s Surface tablet flops, orders reportedly cut in half – November 29, 2012
TechCrunch’s Siegler reviews Microsoft Surface RT: ‘It’s time for a drop test – right into the garbage can’ – November 19, 2012
Slate reviews Microsoft’s Surface tablet: Too slow, mercilessly buggy; why is it so bad? – November 6, 2012
InfoWorld reviews Microsoft Surface RT: A disappointment; you’re better off with Apple’s iPad – October 31, 2012
Gizmodo reviews Microsoft Surface RT: Do not buy; inferior to Apple’s iPad; the worst of both worlds – October 25, 2012
The Verge reviews Microsoft Surface RT tablet: ‘The whole thing is honestly perplexing; who is this for?’ – October 24, 2012
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


  1. Or maybe they realized they shouldn’t clone their competitors or they’d end up in court. Android looking so much like Apple isn’t a good thing, it’s theft. Why are people complaining that Microsoft didn’t follow suit?

    1. I don’t think they’re complaining that Microsoft didn’t rip off Google or Apple, I think they’re complaining that the end result is so f’ing terrible. It’s okay not to rip others’ designs off, but if you’re MSFT, the result of your efforts ought to be usable at least. I think that’s the gist of it.

    2. Not complaining about that (actually, I don’t use it, so I’m not complaining at all). I actually have a good deal of respect for Microsoft for trying to do something different, and I genuinely believe Windows 8 Phone can be successful. The problem is with Windows 8 and the changing between Metro and traditional Windows desktop. Each is fine on their own, but together they’re terrible. They fell into the trap, even though Apple warned the entire industry about it.

    3. As the others have said, it’s the non-functional model they created that’s a failure. And then they open themselves up to criticism by spending (so far) $1.5B marketing it rather than investing in R&D to come up with a functional model.

    4. I have been giving Microsoft credit for trying to come up with something different and not either blatantly copy Apple or simply copy a Windows desktop on a phone/tablet.

      However, the real problem lies in Microsoft’s DNA: It can’t ever leave legacy apps/code behind, and Microsoft has encoded in its DNA that its OS must be able to do everything any user could ever want to do.

      Thus, we have Windows 8 Metro UI, Windows 8 standard (old) UI, and completely different apps for ARM and Intel processors that look the same, but can’t run the same apps.

      Clint Eastwood called this kind of planning a clusterf*ck, and there isn’t a better word to describe it.

  2. Maybe Apple threw a wrench into Microsoft’s copier when they licensed patents and placed that little anti-cloning statement in the agreement. This time they covered the legal side…

  3. Every other windows release is really bad so this one fits the bill nicely. XP and Win7 are usable so maybe Win9 will be too. It will take them another 2 years to get that out so in the meantime most businesses won’t bother upgrading and Win7 will be the default OS.
    I feel sorry for the poor consumer plebs who buy PCs and have Win8 foisted on them. Take that back I don’t feel sorry for them at all. They should have bought a Mac.

  4. Although not as rabidly Windows Apologist as usual, the comments after the story illustrate the problem with Microsoft software “design”.
    Multiple commenters posted long lists of helpful work-arounds and swipe methods and keyboard tricks and reconfigurations to get Windows 8 to do what people want.
    That’s the the problem;
    Sure, one might be able to eventually do what one wants. But if one must go to engineering school to attain the knowledge get these tasks done, I’d say the operating system is a failure.

    There, I said it. Windows 8 is a failure.

    (Well, of course it is. It’s a computer product with the word “Windows” attached to it, but still … )

    1. …don’t forget NHL it should just be ‘Window’ now, no plural.

      I think the next version of the Surface will configure with twice the memory allowance since with W8 gobbling up half the memory, and all the downloaded work arounds taking the other half, the present memory allocation will have gone up in smoke. Without more memory the thing will go into permanent meltdown and skate off into the sunset with a big grinning frozen picture of Ballmer showing his customer the finger. Note customer (no plural) and finger (no plural).

      Its all singular now in M$ land.

  5. I just sit back and laugh at these people that just to save a few bucks, buy the cheapest windblows box out there, and later look as if somebody broadsided them with a bus. Oh well, stupid is as stupid does…the rest of us use Mac’s.

  6. The blackberry Playbook was a very good easy and very entertainment device… let me go look at the basement for it and once I find it under the pile of other crap I put it I’ll show should be near the very good and modern android devices I brought and store after 15 minutes of use.

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