Windows 8 is a Step in the Right DirectionThe success of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system will depend not as much on the sales numbers or customer appreciation for what it is, but the path this shift will ultimately lead us down. I know Windows 8 will be a love/hate OS for the majority of its users. It’s important to look past the short-term and see what Windows 8 will mean in the long-term.

Either you will enjoy the new interface and introduction of the modern UI, or you will dislike the removal of the Start menu in favor of something that is clearly better suited for touch screens than a keyboard and mouse. Either way, Windows 8 is the first draft of a long-term evolution Microsoft has foreseen in the computer market for over a decade.

Tablet surfaces are growing in popularity, and Microsoft as a corporation has long been invested in seeing this evolution take place. Granted, its early attempts to bring Windows to a tablet fell drastically short. Obviously, it was too early and the technology hadn’t quite caught up with Microsoft’s lofty goals.

Today, thanks to iOS and Android, the viability of a touch screens and simple tablet form factors in modern computers is clear. The computer of tomorrow won’t be plugged into the wall but held in your hands. Presentation and productivity will eventually find its way to these smaller and infinitely more adaptable devices. The age of tower PCs and bulky laptops is coming to an end, and that end will happen in the next five to 10 years.

The tablet computers of tomorrow will most likely look and feel differently to the ones we use today. After all, any first generation of technology looks very different from the second, third, and fourth generations. Cellphones are a great example of this. What started out in a suitcase eventually evolved into the small pocket-sized portable media centers we carry around with us today. Smartphones are a modern example of this technology. It only stands to reason that even this form factor will eventually be replaced by something even more remarkable down the line.

Windows 8’s Users Will Be Pioneers, Not Fools

I can’t wait to start receiving email or reading comments from OS X or Linux users that state people using Windows 8 are fools. It already happens to Windows 7 users, as it does to people who use any technology others may disagree with. Technology isn’t a religion, so let’s look at it from a factual standpoint.

If Windows 8 is the first step in a new direction bringing desktop operating systems to tablets and smartphones, then its users are pioneers. They’re beta testing and offering feedback on what will ultimately be an evolution in the Windows operating environment that will reach maturity in Windows 9 or 10. Just as Windows Vista was the initial test for changes that appeared in Windows 7, Windows 8 will likely not be a smashing success out of the gates. It will be the unappreciated stepping stone on which a “good” Windows release will be based in the future.

Does this mean that you shouldn’t try Windows 8? Not at all. I, like many proud early adopters, accept the fact that I’m part of a large (paying) test pool of users that will try and offer feedback on Windows 8. The operating system to come from Microsoft after that will undoubtedly reflect this feedback.

I’m also proud to be able to be one of the first to see the first major commercial operating system designed from the ground up for mobile and desktop computers alike. It’s a huge step, and one that’s headed in the right direction.

Windows 8 Will Be Successful Because of What It Will Become, Not Because of What It Is

So yes, there are things to hate about Windows 8. Users will be frustrated, and IT departments will undoubtedly refuse to install the OS on production machines. This is natural. It’s an evolutionary step and I wouldn’t recommend anyone hop on board unless they were really ready to do so.

OS X fans (I’m one of them, too) boast how much “better” their operating system is than Windows. That’s great, but what major changes have happened to OS X in the past 10 years? During that same amount of time, Windows has evolved from Windows 2000 to the glossy and modern OS it is today. Love it or hate it, it’s evolving considerably fast. Windows 8 is just a small part of that evolution.

Before you declare Windows 8 another miserable failure of Microsoft, consider what it is that Windows 8 is setting the stage for five years from now.

Images: Microsoft Windows 8 Release Preview and Windows 2000