Ben Thompson has a piece up today with his reasoning for killing off the Surface, and even though I disagree with him — I also largely don’t give a shit what Microsoft does with the Surface — far more interesting to me is why Windows 8 failed so miserably.
Windows 8 seemed like everything users wanted, but yet, nope. I’ve been thinking on this for a few days now and I have a theory: Windows 8 failed because of the Windows third party developers. And while I hate to pin the blame there, I do think a large part of the blame should be heaped on them.
When you look at a Mac, or iOS app, you can usually tell that it is a Mac or iOS app. You may not know for sure, but there are telltale signs — and while many of these apps look completely different, you can still tell.
That’s because users of Apple platforms have no tolerance for shitty design.
Windows, on the other hand, has always been chockfull of shitty design. Some of the software that companies rely on the most still looks like they did twenty years ago. And therein lies a major problem.
Windows cannot advance its design and feature set unless it also pushes it developers to do so too.
Imagine a world where Windows 8 launched the same as it is today, but that the top 100(0) Windows apps also launched with fully redesigned UIs to match windows 8 and a touch interface to boot.
Imagine where the Surface and Windows 8 would be today had that happened. It would have been a gold rush if you ask me. Forget the failings of Windows 8, or why you might not use it, and look strictly at what most people use: shitty Windows.
Windows 8 is less shitty looking1 , but imagine if the software that only ran on Windows 8 was substantially less shitty looking. Man would employees be clamoring to get to use that.
In other words, to put this in terms you can relate to, Windows pre-8 was like the iPhone pre retina display, Windows 8 is like iPhone with retina display, larger screen, and iOS 7 all at once. Now imagine barely any apps updated for all three of those issues — you’d hate the iPhone if that were the case because it would be unusable garbage.
The iPhone only made those leaps because developers invested the time to make those leaps. So far, it doesn’t look like the same is happening with Windows developers, and that is a major issue.
I have a theory that many employees don’t want better software, because then they have less excuses as to why work is done. ↩