In the blue corner, we have the new look Windows 8, and in the grey corner we have Mac the underdog. But if we look into our crystal ball, Mac may need to learn a new left hook for a stab at the title. Or will he?
Thankfully, the ashes from the wreckage of Windows 8, the computer technician’s latest nightmare, have now settled on the ground in the form of Windows 8.1. The main problem has been the new Windows 8 Start Menu. Affectionately named “Metro” and then quietly un-named, as a German company already owned the title, the start menu’s interface was so unfamiliar that it has been frustrating home and business users alike. Windows 8.1 is the first step on the road to fixing the frustrations of PC users, who have been battling publicly the new Windows Start Menu tooth and nail.
We can now see that in Windows 8.1, Microsoft has reversed some radical changes it made to the Windows 8 platform. This seems reminiscent of the introduction of the Mercedes Benz controlled by a joystick in place of a steering wheel, showcased every few years, but never quite reaches the mainstream market. This is strange behaviour, you might think, to make such fundamental changes to a machine and then… just change it back. What is perceived as progressive change, in reality contradicts usability and effectiveness. Arguably this is why Apple is succeeding.
How has Microsoft dealt with this? Well this is an example of, get ready for it, “people power”. Yes, Microsoft is attempting to avoid the mockery of inventive new names for Windows 8 such as “My Fisher Price Windows” and “Windows Hate”. With Windows 8.1 flying out to the consumer free of charge on wings of gold, to systematically fix computers worldwide in an incredibly clever PR stunt, they appeared to have humbled themselves and bowed to the will of the consumer. Buyers being thoroughly disappointed with their new operating system could not have come at a worse time for Microsoft in 2012 who, reeling from record profits of Mac sales, needed desperately to prevent the “I’m not a computer person” from jumping ship to Apple. In an extraordinary time in the history of the company, Microsoft is actually listening to their customers and listening well. They have paid attention to the needs of their customers and PC retailer ‘s and have obliged. Is this not what we want from all companies whose products and services we use?
What this means for this computer repair technician and more importantly the home and business user, is that you can now set up your brand new computer or freshly upgraded operating system in a familiar way, without having to learn a whole lot of new mouse clicks. It means that you are not paying me for an hour of computer support to make your new machine user friendly. This allows you to use your computer in the intuitive way you have been for the last 20 years. It used to require some Googling and a little computer confidence, or a call to your local computer support service to affect the change, so this move back to the traditional style is most welcome to all.
When it really comes down to it, the price is also hard to beat. You still can’t buy a Mac for less than $750 and that’s for the basic run of the mill low performer. For that sort of money you can look at a custom built computer running the new Windows 8.1 which will out perform an iMac starting at $1600. That is a huge saving for a little adjustment in getting used to a new operating system, and let’s face it, changing to Mac is no small adjustment in itself. It will take you a lot longer to get used to Apple’s operating system OSX, than it will to get used to Windows 8 as there are clear differences in the way things work. Don’t go thinking that because you have an iPhone that you will instinctively know how to operate an iMac. Macs too have a potential to boggle any new users mind more so that Windows 8 and some have reported, after some measured complaint, that they are now used to the new Windows 8 interface and actually quite like it. Also, unfortunately with Mac, you don’t have a lot of choice between models and because of this, Windows 8 will support much more powerful hardware than apple, so if you are a musician, architect, graphic designer or the like, Mac is no longer the premium option for performance. Windows 8 will run any computer you can think of and, in fact, will noticeably improve the performance of older model PC’s increasing their value drastically.