Windows 8.1

After a long day debugging access to Windows App store, spent the night downloading Windows 8.1 to my primary workstation.  A risk I know.  I typically download and test on another system first.  However, since I’ve been migrating work to Office365 Small Business I’ve less content to worry about losing, so I can focus on the applications that are on my desktop.  Sad to report Sony Movie Studio and Pinnacle Movie studio applications hang now and do not get past the startup splash.  I’ll remove and reinstall to see if 8.1 install corrupted any files, later today.

In the meantime, lost of IE add-ons no longer work, but the browser has sped up.  The UI is not much different and the “start button” in the lower left corner is interesting but I find I’m not using it much.  What will be more impressive is when/if Office applications become fully integrated into the new UI/UX.  In the meantime this weekend I’ll get back to book and office remodel

Windows 8 UI/UX and other service delivery issues

Had Windows 8 support reach out to me on Saturday to fix Windows App store issues.  After about an hour of the support rep. remotely managing my system, he escalated to level 2.  They scheduled a call for between 2-5 same day.  However, no reply call came. I expect they are pouring over the several system reports level 1 created to figure out the problem.  Interestingly enough, wife’s new Windows 8 laptop is now having the same problem:  Have internet connectivity as indicated by Outlook and IE browsing, but Store App reports no Internet access.  Been looking at the various forums and chat rooms since; seems to be a common problem emerging.

In the meantime after the last automatic windows update several of my applications do not load now.  These are mostly video applications: Sony Movie Studio Platinum 12 and Pinnacle Studio 16.  These were working the past year before the update, so I expect whatever crunch Windows App store may have also zapped my video applications.  Not going to be too happy if I have to rebuild the system again to fix this.   I can see why average end users, outside of Redmond, are not upgrading and switching to services like Google and closed systems like Apple.   Something’s broken in the design and delivery system.  I expect one of the causes maybe Microsoft’s success; the fact that there are some many products now and configurations, its hard to keep control of it all.  Justification for having Enterprise Architects and Configuration Management Databases (CMDB) and focusing on IT Service management (ITSM).

I was going to work on building a Server today, however, I think my time is going to be better served developing my own ITSM system for my home infrastructure.  Well at least MS Access works, so I’ll start inventorying my hardware and software this week.  Maybe I should consider starting an ITSM service for small business as I don’t see Office365 filling that role either; there are other critiques that point out that Office does not cover all of the office functions people do.  I was disappointed that Business Contract Manager and MS Accounting products were deprecated as they had almost enough functionality when integrated with the rest of Office to create a working small business infrastructure.

Change Challenge Part 4

Its been several months now since I started using Windows 8 and about a month using the Surface/RT. I upgraded my Dell XPS9000 tower to Win8 and added a Logitech Touchpad T650 (on the lookout for large format touchscreen). I’m still a bit clunky using the UI (patting your head and rubbing your stomach) however my productivity is starting to improve on the content creation side. On the content consumption it was almost out of the box that I was more productive.

I think once ability for people to pipe information to live tiles is an option, the concept of desktop will change radically: Lenovo Ideacenter hints at such. I can see myself buying a very large screen touch display to use as dashboard/control center for home & office, another for a working top (replace all my white boards), linking it all to SkyDrive / SkyDrive Pro and then using a Surface/RT & Smartphone for day to day activities when I’m not in my office or at home office.

Also ordered a Fitbit {monitors physical activity, sleep, pulse, etc.} this morning which will link up to my windows phone and home pc. Should make putting together and monitoring a healthier lifestyle easier. Hopefully there will be an integration option to HealthVault so I can consolidate all my medical/health records in one place. Have discussed this with my current doctor, could save all of us a lot of time.

Change Challenge Part2

Today is second day using the Preview of Win8 and Office15.   I’m focused on learning the new UI.  I feel a little clumsy as I poke-around the interface.  Despite having used an IPhone and then switching to a Windows Phone this year it is still a learning curve.  I can see that once I get the hang of the UI I will be zooming around between my most common apps and tasks faster, not only because Win8 operates faster than Win7, but the UI cuts down a lot of intermediate steps.

I bought a Kindle eBook today by Jack Dunning, Misunderstanding Windows 8, to help me over the initial learning curve.  [I’m typically a hardback book fan myself.  Something about the eBook UI/UX that just is not right with me yet.  But figure once they nail it my Amazon bill will triple 🙂 even at the lower price for ebooks.].  He is obviously not a Windows or Microsoft fan as he states up front.  However, Win8 seems to be winning him over.

He points out a few tips and tricks that a “New to Windows 8” video would be great for and help many get a jump on becoming productive almost immediately with the new UI.  As I go through page by page I try these tips out to build up my muscle memory.  Breaking my old habits and creating new ones is a challenge, but I find I like the new UI/UX.  I cannot wait for the Surface Pro to come out.  I am not prone to stand inline for buying the latest and greatest, but I may have to reconsider that this time.  I expect I will get two Surface Pros. One for my wife, one for me and a plain Surface for my son who is drooling over the prospect of getting my Win7 Phone when the Win8 phone comes out. .

–Breaks over time to get back to work on a new White Paper I’m writing on how IT organizations can plan for an uncertain future.

Change Challenge

Downloaded Windows 8 and Office 15 Previews yesterday as part of our internal “Dogfood” initiative.  As noted I am working for Microsoft again, and yes employees enthusiastically sign up all throughout the product development process –and after to test it before it is release to market.  Internally they call this “Eating Our Own DogFood”.   My role in the corporation is to think about the future of IT and develop strategy, architecture and guidance for customers so they can realize value from their Information Technology investments.  Basically helping enterprises use their information technology and other informational assets better; change management of a sort. 

With that as a professional focus over the years, one would think I could change how I do things at a drop of a dime.  Not so.  Like others I am working through the new graphical interface that is a key feature of Windows 8.  The rational for the change was to create simplicity for the end-user much akin to the “apps” on smartphones.  I love the idea.  Intellectually it just makes sense.  If you look at our world today it’s a mass of complexity.  We have created so much capability at our command through a host of product features.  However, the price of all that capability in the world is an ever growing complexity.  With all that is going on, people have become overwhelmed by all the details in front of them.  Several years ago I wrote an article on Information Overload aka “InfoGlut”.  The phenomenon was just starting to surface.  Military and Civilian organizations that I had been working with had started to notice that all the additional information constantly bombarding us was causing extreme distractions while performing a task.  In some cases staff were turning off systems as they only provided noise and interference when accomplishing a task.  A decade or so later user interface simplicity is the goal. 

A term thrown around in the information architecture circles is “removing all the chrome” harkening back to the 1950s when automotive manufacturers put chrome on almost everything which did nothing for performance of its main function.  The new Windows 8 and Office User Interfaces (UI) are a well thought out [my opinion].  However, that does not make it any easier to switch to a new model of interaction.  Today, I am in a mass of confusion as I poke around trying to accomplish several tasks I use to do almost blindfolded.  Friends and colleagues consider me reasonably intelligent, maybe even smart, so it become all the more interesting as I step back to watch myself in this condition.  Knowing I am going through a change process does not make it any easier to accomplish, other than realizing that is what it is.

One might theorize that its some hidden subconscious resistance to the change, however, I doubt it.  On an intellectual level I see the benefit.  If fact I had actually done a cost benefit analysis on upgrading my entire household to the new technology when it becomes publically available.   [I’ll be buying a Surface Pro, Upgrading to Windows 8 and Office 15 and using Office 365 to store my content]  The numbers do not lie.  Having made that rational decision myself.  If it makes sense why is it a challenge for me?  Is it some dead emotional conflict; Doubt it.  If it is not an intellectual or emotional resistance reaction it must be something else.

From the research I’ve done over the years some interesting ideas come to mind: muscle memory.  When one practices a task whether physical or mental those patterns are etched into the neurons in our brain.  The more we practice the more they are reinforces.  This enables us to execute these patterns quickly almost without thinking.  Consider typing as an example.  When I starting using a keyboard I was literally a hunt and peck typist.  Over the years I have developed the muscle memory so most of the time I do not require looking at the keyboard or thinking to type.  Bringing this back to my current change challenge I see similarities.  I have practiced using the previous UI to accomplish tasks that it is well etched in my mind.  The intellectual decision to change makes economic sense.  However, adoption into how I do my everyday tasks will take time and opening up how I can exploit these new ways (innovation) will take a little longer as I discover the possibilities.

This brings me to the pondering of whether much of the change management we talk about is focused on the wrong areas.  Maybe organizations and people it them are as ready to change as I am, but are caught with the fact that they have spent years doing things one way creating “Enterprise Muscle Memory” and need a way to practice the future state to develop a new muscle memory?