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Windows 8 wrestles with PC's legacy

<b>opinion</b> On a traditional PC, Windows 8 Metro is a solution looking for a problem.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read
I spend precious little time in Metro when using a traditional laptop.
I spend precious little time in Metro when using a traditional laptop. Microsoft

I'm by no means the first one to say this but Windows 8 and older PCs make an odd couple.

But let me back up for a second. Before the release of Windows 8 on October 26, I tested Windows 8 on tablets only, such as the Intel-based Samsung slate that Microsoft sold in its stores. And I was impressed with Metro.

That was then. Windows 8 Pro 64-bit is now installed on my Dell Adamo laptop. And I rarely venture into the Metro UI unless if I'm forced to.

Of course if you're one of the relative few who have a tablet like the Samsung slate or Microsoft's Surface or a touch-screen laptop like Acer's Aspire S7, yeah, then Metro is front and center, as it should be.

But on a traditional laptop it's problematic. That's why Apple, probably the biggest single force behind the rise of the touch interface, hasn't done something similar with its OSes.

Making iOS the launch point and default interface on Macs would not go over well, Steve Job's edict nixing the idea of touch on laptops notwithstanding.

So, Microsoft is going where Apple won't. Intel -- still Microsoft's single most important hardware partner -- is going there too, by the way. The chipmaker said recently that it has chosen Windows 8 "as the standard operating system for Ultrabooks and tablets in our enterprise environment."

But I don't think -- despite Microsoft's upbeat announcement about Windows 8 licenses -- the hundreds of millions of users out there with plain old PCs will warm to the concept of a touch-based launch UI.

Acer's president, Jim Wong, stated this concern rather bluntly to Digitimes this week. The Windows 8 interface could "dramatically delay adoption by consumers," he said.

I'll expand on that by saying that until touch-based laptops and hybrids are both plentiful and cheap, Windows 8 may not gain much traction. And that may take a while.

Let me close on a positive note, though. I like Windows 8. It's faster than Windows 7 on my Dell and more stable. That's good enough for me.

And Microsoft should spend more time pitching these straightforward Windows 8 merits until touch becomes mainstream.

64-bit Windows 8 Pro on my Dell Adamo.
64-bit Windows 8 Pro on my Dell Adamo. Brooke Crothers