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No. Just No.

Some things get my goat on both a philosophical level and an end-user frustration level. If the above wasn't a deal breaker, each of these would be.

  1. Anyone willing to pay the fee to sign their application (because, frankly, if you are forcing a new walled garden UI on everyone, Metro apps should damned well all be signed) to create a Metro app. That includes browsers This is a dick move on Microsoft's behalf. I don't give a fig what their excuses for this behaviour are, before I put a single dollar into Windows RT, Microsoft needs to stop trying to restrict competition by turning away people who make a better mousetrap.
  2. No browser plug ins? No, No, and hell No. I am periodically exposed to the internet without shields; it isn't pretty. Why would you do this to us, Microsoft?
  3. Remote support for Metro to be completely reconsidered. Using Metro from RDP, Teamviewer, or any other remote-access or support application is horrific. Metro is a burden on support desk staff. Better client design can help, but I'd like to see the OS itself handle being windowed better than it does.

Living in the past

I realise that eventually you have to let go of the past. One day, even my beloved home XP VM will have to go. For some of us, however, living in the past isn't a choice.

Given how much out there is still completely reliant on XP, it would be a fantastic olive branch if Microsoft would extend downgrade rights to include downgrade all the way to XP. Application compatibility is still an issue for some of us. Many are dependant on applications from companies that have gone out of business, or don't have the wonga to re-purchase some $50,000 application that nearly broke the bank the first time.

Alternately, take advantage of Windows 8's Hyper-V to offer both "XP-mode" and "Windows 7 mode." This allows an interesting alternative to altering the downgrade rights; if you don't want to offer downgrade rights all the way to XP, then allow the operating system to be booted directly into either the "XP-mode" or "Windows 7-mode" VMs.

Call me paranoid…

I take issue with Microsoft's lack of engagement with the community regarding many of the more common complaints. I am not friends with their licenceing department. In short: I don't have faith in Microsoft.

For a while there, Microsoft was the good guy. I really felt they had changed; that as a small business admin, they had my back. I thought they were opening up to the open source community, that their move to open APIs meant a future of interoperability and mutual trust. I championed Microsoft when others derided them. That's gone now. Today, I rarely feel that Microsoft's decisions are taking the company's products in directions that work out well for me. I've thought a lot about what it would take to restore my faith.

Here it is:

  1. A switch in the operating system to restore the classic start menu and remove the hot corners. Simply licensing Classic Shell would do fine. If this is technically or politically impossible, then I will accept a binding commitment from Microsoft not to block Classic Shell (or similar programs) from working at any point in the future. I have had several people ask me "since Netscape, when has Microsoft actively tried to prevent applications from working?" The browsers thing above seems dangerously close to me. Even if that doesn't count, I still simply don't trust Microsoft not to turn around and block Classic Shell if the phone sales numbers don't pick up.
  2. In the same vein, I'd really love a binding commitment from Microsoft to maintain the classic desktop in all future versions of Windows for a minimum of the next 12 years. I don't buy Metro (especially with the 33/66 limitation) as the interface of the future. Given the decades-long lifespan of some applications - particularly those licensed at $50,000 or more per seat - for the first time I have concerns that there may come a time where a future version of Windows will simply not be able to run them, no matter how much tweaking is tried..
  3. A legally binding commitment from Microsoft to produce a Desktop version of any primary software they produce for Metro. Nobody cares about $widgety application. I mean things like Office, Lync, RSAT, Skype, etc. Critical productivity applications aren't amenable to 33/66 restrictions.

Why I'm walking away

It's no secret that the reason for forcing Metro on everyone was to acclimate us to the UI so that they should shift more phones. (Talk about abusing a monopoly in one area in an attempt to gain a dominant position in another!) I grok this. I can even respect it to a limited extent.

Unfortunately, as a "power user," it leaves me feeling as though I've been thrown under the bus in order to facilitate Microsoft's quest for piece of Apple's consumer pie. There really isn't anything quite like the stark refusal to give you even a hidden registry-setting "off switch" to make you realise how irrelevant you and your concerns truly are.

My views are unpopular, especially amongst tech journalists, analyst and large enterprise types who rely on Microsoft for their bread and butter. I accept that a lot of my concerns will end up being pretty niche. As a power user I live on the edge of the curve, not in the middle.

Like it or not, Windows 8 has a good solid technological foundation. If the biggest gripes that can be mustered are "look and feel," licensing and corporate attitude, then - power users or no power users - Microsoft will do just fine. There's no longer any margin in it for Microsoft to cater to folks like me. Ultimately the reason I'm walking away because what I need from a computer is not what Microsoft wants computers to become. ®

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