Windows Client Migration
Migrating Your Users to a Radically Different UI
I ran into Bill Gates back in 1984, coming out of a session at IBMs introduction of its first 80386-based desktop computer, the IBM AT Model 339.
That session was about TopView, a character-based menu system from which users could launch applications without having to use the command-line C-prompt in DOS. I asked Gates what he thought of this and how it compared to his soon-to-be-released Windows user interface (UI).
Bill said that he and Microsoft werent concerned about TopView competing with Windows, because it was simply a character-based menu, whereas Windows was a completely graphical environment. As he continued speaking for 45 minutes (glad we werent talking about something he WAS concerned about ), hundreds of other attendees gathered around us to listen.
When Windows was first introduced, it was a welcome and hotly anticipated change from the command-line prompt. Most users were confused by the command-line and seldom knew exactly what to type into it, so being able to point and click at what you wanted was a huge leap, just as it had been at the introduction of the Apple Macintosh earlier in 1984, and its predecessor, the Apple LISA.
Windows chapter 2
Windows, it its many incarnations from Windows 3.31 to Windows NT, became the standard user interface for a decade until the introduction of Windows 95. With its new Start button and accompanying menus and taskbars, Windows 95 was greeted by most people as the most radical change in the Windows interface since version 1. By this time, many people were frustrated with some of the clumsiness of the folder architecture in Windows, and they were ready for a change. The new Windows 95 was welcomed warmly.
And now, here comes chapter 3
Windows 8 will bring the third major incarnation of the Windows UI. Weve already reported in this blog on the reset or refresh upgrade capabilities, but in this post, were going to focus on the user migration.
Many analysts have observed that Windows 8 does not seem to be designed for desktop computers, or even laptops, for that matter. They see it as being ideal for use on a touch-screen tablet. Users, of course, will likely reverse-engineer this by obtaining a Windows 8 tablet and then adding an after-market keyboard, as many iPad users have done.
It may be that the iPad and its competitors will end up having paved the way for users to become comfortable with Windows 8 touch-tablets very quickly. But for many users, not having a desktop is inconceivable.
The Metro User Interface
Anyone who attends Microsoft events will have noticed by now that every PowerPoint presentation is produced using a Metro-motif. Everything comes up in tiles. Just as drop-down menus, mouse-pointer, and the enigmatic icons were all new to users in 1984, tiles and screen-swipes will be the new round of conventions for us to master.
Microsoft often points to the Metro interface on the Windows Phone 7, and clearly, this is a strategy that will help to unify the two platforms. But what is now called the Metro interface began life as the interface for the ill-fated and basically unsuccessful Zune portable entertainment device.
On a touch screen, the user will be able to pinch, squeeze, slide, rotate, swipe, and otherwise manipulate tiles to show information. Tiles will give display some initial data, like widgets. It has been reported that the design specification for devices planning to use the Metro interface must provide at least five finger-points of contact, so expect some pretty esoteric gestures to be available.
Planning your user migration
Windows 8 is scheduled for beta release this month, so you should consider how to prepare users for the migration to this radically new user interface. You may want to let users experiment with Windows Phone 7 or perhaps even Zunes. Larger shops may be able to obtain and implement the Windows 8 beta for select pilot users.
No matter what your strategy, the time to start planning is now.