Is Microsoft About To Unleash A Kraken Of Suck On Consumers?

Is it as bad as it looks?

Microsoft went years without making too big of a stir with updates to its Windows operating system, but with only days left to the unleashing of Windows 8 upon the world, the early word is that some people will not be please with all the changes.

The new look of Windows 8 is supposed to tie it together with the Windows OS currently running on some tablets and smartphones, which may be the big problem, as Windows Mobile users are only a fraction of the mobile market dominated by Google’s Android OS and Apple iOS devices.

From the AP:

Instead of the familiar Start menu and icons, Windows 8 displays applications as a colorful array of tiles, which can feature updated information from the applications. For instance, the “Photos” tile shows an image from the user’s collection, and the “People” tile shows images from the user’s social-media contacts…

The familiar Windows Desktop is still available through one of the tiles, and most programs will open up in that environment. But since the Start button is gone, users will have to flip back and forth between the desktop and the tile screen.

“There are many things that are hidden,” said Raluca Budiu, a user experience specialist with Nielsen Norman Group. “Once users discover them, they have to remember where they are. People will have to work hard and use this system on a regular basis.”

One early tester tells the AP that not only did Windows 8 fail to speed up processes on his laptop, it required him and his family to re-learn many things they had spent decades using on previous versions of Windows.

“It was very difficult to get used to,” he tells the AP. “I have an 8-year-old and a 10-year-old, and they never got used to it. They were like, `We’re just going to use Mom’s computer.'”

And it looks like just about all PCs released after Windows 8 hits the street on Oct. 26 will comes with the new OS installed. This is just in time for the busy holiday computer-buying season, which means we’ll quickly get a feeling for how well millions of people are adapting to the changes.

“We’ll know a lot more about this 90 days from now,” says the CEO of Intel, which claims the response to Windows 8 has been universally positive for people who have tried it on ultrabooks with touchscreens.

For the remaining millions of us without touchscreens, we’ll be waiting to judge and hoping some of the early reviews are just being too picky.