It’s almost becoming a weekly reminder but Microsoft have once more come out to remind the world that the developer preview is an early build of Windows where a great many new features (if you remember that long list we were shown at the BUILD conference where they only showed us a handful of features) simply haven’t been finished yet.
Of these are many enhancements to the new Start screen, most of which seem to be coming about from user feedback and complaints from users. A great many usability changes are on the way for Metro, though it will largely remain the same due to avoid annoying all the developers Microsoft was trying so hard to woo a month ago.
It’s both surprising and unsurprising the venom some people have displayed in their reactions to the Windows 8 Developer Preview, it is truly an operating system that’s splitting opinion.
several insiders at Microsoft who publicly wish that people would stop talking about the Developer Preview. All of them though privately admitted to me that they’re frustrated with the way this release has been handled, and in some cases, that it was made public rather than just through developer channels. This is entirely, they told me, because of the press and public reaction the product has garnered so far.
There’s still no word yet on when the beta will be ready though there could now be pressure on Microsoft to rush it out, in an attempt to silence the seemingly ever growing number of critics. As someone with contacts in Microsoft, and as someone who knows some bits about what’s coming soon (sorry, can’t say) I really hope they don’t. In recent years Microsoft have fallen into a good one, bad one cycle with each alternate edition of Windows doing really badly. You only have to look at their track record to see Windows ME and Windows Vista doing badly while Windows 98, Windows XP and Windows 7 were hugely successful around them.
While Microsoft are repeatedly asking people to stop talking about Windows 8 until the beta, I’m really beginning to understand why, and have some sympathy with them for saying so. The Windows 8 Developer Preview is clearly nothing more than a simple Windows shell with all the functionality stripped out of it. That functionality is still to come and might change the game completely. The danger for Microsoft is that if it takes too long, or people continue to criticise Windows 8 in the way that they are, that people simply won’t be interested in giving it a fair chance when it finally appears.