Microsoft has just released its Windows 8 Consumer Preview edition at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, holding out the promise that the new platform is on target to ship by the fourth quarter of this year.
But while Windows 8 looks set to give Microsoft a boost in the tablet market, there are things about the platform that make me think it may not be quite so successful elsewhere.
In fact, I'm starting to wonder if Windows 8 could be the next Windows Vista.
Don't get me wrong - I know there are some compelling new features coming in Windows 8, many of which V3 listed in our recent Top 10 article on the subject, but Microsoft is implementing a great many major changes all at the same time in Windows 8, and the last time they tried this was with Windows Vista.
Among business customers, the Storage Spaces support for virtualising storage and the new Resilient File System (ReFS) coming in Windows 8 must look like a dream come true in terms of the capabilities they will eventually offer.
Meanwhile the Refresh and Reset features could potentially make life much easier for IT helpdesk staff.
However, Microsoft previously tried to introduce an ambitious new file system - Win FS - during the development of Vista, but ended up canning it because it was simply too ambitious.
At the same time, Vista introduced new developer APIs that broke compatibility with many applications, a new security model, and overhauled the user interface.
In other words, there are striking parallels between Vista and Windows 8; the latter is bringing huge changes to the Windows platform like Vista did, and unlike Windows 7, which essentially delivered much-needed refinements to Vista and fixed many of its bugbears.
One industry analyst has already told V3 that he expects many large enterprises to skip Windows 8 altogether. This is partly because many customers are only now starting to roll out Windows 7 across their organisation, and will not be looking to perform another such upgrade for maybe five years or more.
But another issue with Windows 8 is that Microsoft seems to be determined to optimise the new platform to deliver the best experience on tablets, to the potential detriment of everything else.
Take the new Metro-style user interface. I for one don't relish the prospect of having to use a collection of brightly coloured kindergarten tiles to interact with a laptop or desktop PC, and it seems I'm not alone.
What took them so long?
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