On walkabout in life and technology

Windows 8 Launch MIA

So I sat back today to watch the live stream of the Microsoft Windows 8 launch. I was excited, this is the first Windows launch that interested me since Windows 95. And I waited for them to show me the product, its features and its pricing. And I waited, and waited, and then the show ended. Information about Windows 8 was missing in action at the launch.

Now I know that the press has had it for ages. I know I have been running a Windows 8 preview in the VM for ages, and so have most developers and corporate IT departments. And I have also used it on a Samsung tablet. But most customers have not touched, seen or played with Windows 8. Maybe I assumed, incorrectly it seems, that the launch audience was potential Windows 8 customers, just like the audiences for Apple and Google’s launches are. Maybe I assumed incorrectly that the purpose of a launch is to talk about the product and then show it off, its features and pricing. I must be incorrect because the Windows 8 launch did none of that.

Instead, Steven Sinofski came out and talked and talked and talked. He talked about the past, he talked about the three things he was going to talk about (Windows 8 Upgrade, Windows Store, and Windows RT), he talked about new boot times and touch, he talked about the new store, he talked about the existence of RT and its walled garden. And then he was done. As far as information was concerned, he never left the 10,000 foot view, did not show a single screenshot. No product details or features. He mentioned the $40 upgrade price, that’s it!

Ok, next came Chip and Dale (not their real names), the two most excited and perky people ever to grace a stage, to demo Windows 8. Yay, now I will get to see some of the great new product features. Uh, no. One showed her tablet and swiped the Metro screen left and right, the other showed his laptop and installed Wikipedia. And then they spent the rest of the demo acting like characters from the shopping channel gesturing wildly at partner products on stage and jabbering incessantly. Not a demo as much as a pair of chipmunks discussing nuts.

Then out sauntered Ballmer. And he talked and talked and talked and talked. And walked up and down the stage like a caged animal. I sat there with pen and paper, ready to take down all the great information he was about to share, all the points and facts and stuff about the product that they were there to launch. Remember, Windows 8 Launch. The Purpose of the whole thing! I didn’t want to miss a single thing so that I could write an excellent blog post about the product.

Zilch, nada, nothing. All marketing speak. No data. No specifics. Eh?

So what did I learn from this launch, other than how awful it was?

  • Windows RT runs on ARM chips and joins the walled garden model where you can only buy apps from the App store
  • It boots faster, it boots faster, it boots faster (I guess it needs to boot a lot)
  • You can plug in a printer to a Windows RT device and most should work
  • A lot of companies make devices that Windows 8 runs on

That’s all. Nothing about the product, nothing about how to choose between Windows 8 and RT, nothing about built in apps, features and what makes Windows 8 just great.

I came expecting a product launch, I heard a lot of talking, I saw a lot of gesturing at stuff on pedestals on stage and I watched Uncle Fester blather on and on and say nothing. I know just as much about Windows 8 after the launch as I did before. Waste of Time!

Oh and Microsoft, I repeat, 12:01 AM tomorrow is not today!