Recently, a slide deck was reportedly leaked from internal Microsoft meetings revealing several different features the company might be planning to offer in Windows 8. The presentation suggests that Microsoft wants to emulate Apple by making major improvements to the Windows user experience. It also mentions tablet support, energy efficiency and much more.
That said, there is little chance that many of the features mentioned in the slide deck will actually make their way to Windows 8. With each new iteration of the operating system, several rumors break out before Microsoft announces the new OS, and few of the supposed additions make their way into the software.
Plus, some of the features included in the slide deck seem a little too far-fetched for Microsoft. The company is about productivity, not bells and whistles. And many of the features in the leaked documents are little more than those bells and whistles. Here is why Windows 8 will lack many of the features included in the leaked slide deck.
1. It’s the same old story
Rumors suggesting Windows 8 will come with a slew of new features is nothing new. When Windows Vista was first released, Microsoft highlighted features that never appeared in the operating system. It did the same with Windows 7. With each new version of its operating system, Microsoft and the rumor mill make grand promises. With each release, customers are left to wonder where all the cool features went. Microsoft starts out with a blueprint and slowly pares it down to make an operating system. This is no different.
2. An app store makes little sense
One of the main features highlighted in the slide deck is the addition of an app store to Windows. Although there is no guarantee that the feature won’t be coming to the operating system, it sounds a little far-fetched. There’s little debating that app stores have become far more viable in the mobile market. But they don’t seem to fit in the desktop-based operating system space. After all, gadgets are already available for Windows, and most of the apps that users can buy in Apple’s App Store are already software products or accessible via the Web. An app store won’t be coming to Windows 8.
3. A faster startup has been promised for years
Microsoft has said with every new version of Windows that it will improve startup times for the operating system. Over the past few iterations, it has succeeded somewhat to make boot times faster than they were in the XP days. But they’re still brutally slow, and the chances of Microsoft finding a solution to the problem in Windows 8 seem slim. Even Mac OS X, which is touted for its boot times, can’t get users to the desktop in seconds. Windows 8 might have faster boot times, but don’t expect anything groundbreaking.
4. Facial recognition? No way
If the slide deck really did come from Microsoft, expect that facial recognition will be one of the ideas the software company scraps before Windows 8 hits store shelves. As a premise, facial recognition sounds like a great idea. But it would require that users have a Webcam in order to make it work. Plus, as earlier biometrics efforts have shown, most users are content to simply input a password to access Windows. And all that fails to mention the fact that few users actually password-protect their Windows installations anyway. Sorry, but facial recognition sounds like a bad idea.
5. Tablet support will come
One of the features mentioned in the slide deck was support for tablets. Although many of the services mentioned won’t make their way to Windows 8, tablet support will undoubtedly find its way to the new operating system. Thanks to the iPad, the tablet market will continue to heat up over the next few years. Microsoft, which currently hopes to have Windows 7 running on tablets, will need to improve Windows 8 to make it a real contender to the iPad and iOS. Exactly what the company has planned is unknown, but look for tablet support in Windows 8.
6. Support is a challenge
One of Microsoft’s alleged goals in the new Windows 8 will be to improve product support for the operating system. That could be a tall order. Although it needs to do a better job of supporting the operating system, Microsoft has said time and again that new versions of operating systems will be supported more effectively than previous versions. And every time, the company has come to the realization that with such a diverse set of customers and needs, it’s practically impossible to achieve that goal. It would certainly be nice if Windows 8 has better user support, but chances seem slim.
7. Identity management is a good idea-in concept
According to the slide deck, Microsoft plans to allow customers to bring their Windows 8 user profile with them wherever they go, by use of the cloud. The idea is that user files and data should be kept with the person, rather than on the product they’re using. It’s an interesting idea that could be key to any operating system in the future. But exactly how Microsoft will implement that is a big question mark. Azure might play a role, but it’s unlikely that the company will have an easy go at it. Identity management improvements could be more likely to come in Windows 9, rather than Windows 8.
8. Microsoft likes iterative updates
Microsoft just isn’t big on major updates that drastically change an operating system. The company’s last decision to update Windows more than normal, Windows Vista, was a disaster that it’s still trying to overcome today. Windows 8 will be a nominal, functional upgrade for Microsoft. It might add a few new things here and there, but the company’s success has ensured that Windows must maintain its identity in every version the company releases. Such drastic changes included in the slide deck run directly against Microsoft’s focus.
9. The future is in simplicity
With Chrome OS launching later this year and Mac OS X continuing to put pressure on Windows, Microsoft is quickly realizing that simplicity reigns supreme in the operating system market. Realizing that, the company might be hard-pressed to release several new updates for the operating system as the rest of the competition offers simpler alternatives. Windows 8 will undoubtedly be an improvement over Windows 7, but it won’t (and can’t) forgo simplicity. Microsoft needs to remember functionality. And throwing too many features at customers could hurt that.
10. Legacy support will come into play
As with any new Windows release, Microsoft will need to determine how it will support legacy programs and peripherals that users just won’t give up as they move from one version of the operating system to another. Based on how it plans to handle that, it could drastically change whether or not several of the features included in the slide deck will make their way to the operating system. Because of the limitations Microsoft must build into each new version of the OS, it gives it less time to build new features. Simply put, supporting Windows all these years is difficult. And that won’t be changing anytime soon.