Yes, there’s the wonderful “Metro,” tile-based interface that Microsoft first made available in Windows Phone 7. And, yes, Windows 8 is the friendliest operating system Microsoft has built for those who use touch-based navigation. But the “To Do” list of items that Microsoft needs to fix between now and general release is critical. Here are a few of them:
Skype integration: Microsoft didn’t agree to shell out $8.5 billion for Skype for nothing. None of Microsoft’s strongest competitors -- not Apple, not Google -- have figured out to provide PC- and device-based voice-and-video calling like Skype has. It would be nice if Microsoft built one-touch access to Skype calling, Skype instant-messaging and Skype contacts throughout Windows 8, beginning with the application tiles on the Metro interface;
Cloud integration: Frankly, it’s inexcusable that Windows 7 doesn’t have as strong a cloud integration as Mac OS X or even Ubuntu (which has its nifty and integrated Ubuntu One service) for that matter. With Windows 8, it’s even more baffling. Windows 8 should provide the option of simply saving to Microsoft’s SkyDrive (like you would save to a hard disk drive or SSD) or integrating with Office 365, but it does not now. If Microsoft developers need any convincing as to how serious a need this is, they need only wake up on the morning when Apple makes its iCloud service available, and wait to see the market’s reaction;
Xbox and Facebook: Xbox has arguably been Microsoft’s most successful property over the past five years, and Facebook right now is its highest-profile investment. But the Windows 8 Developer Preview shows not even a hint that these services will be accessible from the OS out of the box;
One-button security: Windows is still the hacking world’s number one target platform, and don’t count on that changing with Windows 8. It’s about time for Microsoft to put security front and center, and make it as simple as possible. Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 have never simplified the process of adding and running anti-virus/anti-malware solutions, but it’s time to correct that. Microsoft should devote one of its prominent, default Metro tiles to a one-stop, customizable security center.
Yes, it’s still early and Windows 8 isn’t even beta testing yet. But the stakes have never been higher for Microsoft and every release of Windows 8 will make a strong statement to the market -- about its thinking, about its effort and about its focus. The “To Do” list for Windows 8 may not be long, but it’s serious.
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