On the day that Windows 7 was generally released in October 2009, Microsoft announced that it was "simplifying" the PC. It was a long awaited, much appreciated response to nearly three years of wrestling with the sea of sloth that was Windows Vista.
My review of Windows 7 was both notorious and, even in hindsight, correct. I called it "Vista without the crap." For that review, I ran a scientific test which produced this real-world calculation: Windows 7 expedited the Web browsing process for folks who use Web apps and browsers for their full-time work (like myself) by three-and-one-half minutes per hour. That's 385 hours of productivity regained per year, which is enough time for my company Ingenus to produce one book and rake in a nice heap of cash. I suggested to Microsoft that it use the following slogan: "Use Windows 7, Get Six Weeks of Your Life Back."
I look at the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 and I fear I may lose those six weeks again.
All through the Windows 7 promotional tour, Microsoft demonstrated the many ways that the new operating system simplified the PC. Product managers and executives gave the following explanation: They watched the way people work in the real world. They realized these people want to take fewer steps to accomplish the things they do most often. Users don't like to be told what to do, or led into one way of doing things that the designer of the software may prefer. People feel better about their computers when they're not thinking about them as computers - when they can concentrate either on their work or whatever they may be having fun with. The operating system should say hello, welcome, and then get out of the way.
If these things were all true as recently as 2009, what manner of cataclysm upset the balance of the universe so horrifically as to have made black white, and to replaced Windows 7's design philosophy with that of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview? As I run through these examples with you, as an exercise, imagine explaining them to your mother.