Windows 8 plans leak – has Microsoft missed the point

It was all over the web this morning – well, the techie sites I visit – about Microsoft’s plans for Windows 8 and how they’ve looked to Apple for inspiration. The slide that demonstrates the Apple-ness of what Microsoft are trying to do is the first on the page (image is here), and is where I think Microsoft have lost it.

Microsoft have rightly caught the “it just works” from Apple, and want to integrate it into Windows. The problem is though, they are likely to screw it up by not completely understanding how Apple does it. It’s “high quality, uncomplicated” yes, but as soon as Microsoft start to implement it, it will become complicated.

Here’s a typical scenario – installing a printer:

1.I need to install drivers to get the printer to work.
2.The drivers are located on the CD that came with the printer. So, insert CD.
3.Go through a few installation screens, just click “Next” (so why bother have the screens?) until I get to the screen where it asks to install a toolbar for a search engine! Untick that selection and carry on.
4.Untick the options to have the software add a desktop icon (why would I need that for a printer?).
5.Computer finds printer, so print test page just to make sure.

Compare this with the Apple experience:
1.I need drivers to get the printer to work.
2.My Mac notices the printer, installs the driver, and then I print.

Did you notice how much easier it is on a Mac? This is where Microsoft will get it wrong, as there will be no central place to get the drivers I need. What will be implemented (probably) is that there will be a place to download the software from, but all it will be is a different distribution method (a download, not a CD) instead of a more pleasant user experience.

I’m not sure if this is how Apple does it, but a good way for Microsoft would be to have a central repository of all software (drivers, office suites etc), and allow the computer to go get the files it needs. If the user has to pay for the software, direct them to a web site where payment is taken. Otherwise, just get the software and be done with it.

This is the “it just works” method that Microsoft needs to adopt for it to succeed.