What it's like giving Windows 8 Talks

Mike Halsey MVP
Mar 14, 2012
Windows, Windows 8

As I write this I'm sitting in a hotel room in Bradford, West Yorkshire (UK) getting ready to give a talk tonight to a large IT user group about Windows 8.  This isn't the first Windows 8 talk I've given, though it is the first since the Consumer Preview version of the OS was released.  About once a month I'm asked currently to travel somewhere in the UK and talk about Windows 8, the new UI, the new features and what it all actually means for them.

In many ways giving talks to large groups of people is easy, I am a teacher by trade after all, but there are always uncertainties associated with these talks, and this is exacerbated further when you talk about a subject that polarises people quite as much as Windows 8 does.  I thought then that I'd write the experience up here so that you can get a better insight into what its like to give these talks.

The biggest issue with talks about Windows 8 is that people can be preoccupied by the new Metro interface and Start Screen.  The types of people who come to these talks are usually IT Pros and very commonly busy people who, because they're hesitant to change in their work IT environments, don't commonly download and install things like beta operating systems.  So they're getting their information from the newspapers and blogs that talk about the product.

In many ways this can skew a person's opinion and I always try and have a Windows 8 tablet that I can hand around the room.  This means that during the talk they'll all have an opportunity to actually have a play with it.  I may not be able to do this tonight but my Windows tablet will still be there for a live demo.

People are genuinely concerned about Metro but I've already written about it quite a lot here and I think you probably know how I feel.  There are a great many more things to discuss about Windows 8 though that are of relevance to businesses and IT Pros including Secure Boot, Hyper-V, Storage Spaces and so on.  So tonight I'll be concentrating on those.

It is always interesting getting questions from people at talks though because some of the misconceptions that people can get about things such as the Start Screen can be quite left-field and incorrect.  My role as a speaker is to make sure that the information they get is completely 100% accurate and that I give them a broad understanding of a product rather than just focus on a narrow part of it.

The general feedback I've had from people at Windows 8 talks though, and this is after I've had a chance to chat to them collectively and sometimes one to one, is that they feel Windows 8 simply isn't for them.  As a Windows MVP awardee I personally find this a bit disappointing, after all they're saying this after the talk that I've just given them.  But the product has to stand on its own merits and I have to be fair and impartial.

So in short it's actually quite tough giving talks about Windows 8, especially when there's still a lot we don't know about it or are just figuring out day to day.  We'll see how tonight's talk goes and what people say about it.  I've no idea, as is usual, who will be there so it could be anything, and it could get any reaction.


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  1. Jim said on March 15, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    I’ve got one word for you Mike, Kevlar. :)

  2. Leslie said on March 15, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Yes Mike lets focus our talk on functionality that for the majority of users is irrelevant.

    Seriously I for one do not care how efficient the filing system is or even *gasp* Secure Boot. You know why, because right now when I switch the machine on I am faced with a User Interface that is simply appalling.

    This is a very very serious issue which Microsoft and you propaganda merchants want to try and ignore. You want to try and appeal to the geek that apparently resides in each of us. Well guess what the UI is something I use every PC minute of every day and it is a total disaster. Until that is fixed then you are wasting your breath telling me about the other stuff because I am simply not interested.

    Do not get me wrong, they are no doubt nice to haves when everything else is hunky-dory but right now people like yourself should be yelling at Microsoft telling them we are not impressed and the little frilly bits we have done without until now will not overcome the damage already committed to the “User Experience”.

    From my perspective it is the Microsoft Nerds that need the talk far more urgently than we mere mortal users who are being treated with contempt as if we obviously know nothing.

    So how about this for a suggestion. How about you give a Windows 8 talk to Microsoft employees and tell them why they have screwed up and why Windows 8 is at best going to have serious take up issues. Well, what do you think ?

  3. Morely the IT Guy said on March 14, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Here’s a shock, Mike: People who do real work on computers do not, as a rule, do that work on tablets.

    So handing around a Windows 8 tablet makes less sense than handing around glasses of wine. At least wine would relax your audience.

  4. 40hz said on March 14, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Maybe I can ask you the same two difficult question my clients ask me – and which I don’t have a good answer for:

    1) Is there a single compelling and solid business justification for switching to Windows 8 from Windows 7?

    2) If Windows network administrators (many of whom hold Microsoft certifications) are so generally negative and worried about Windows 8 and Metro – why does Microsoft insist and acting like it’s (a) a done deal and; (b) imply they’ll be getting Win 8 whether they want it or not.

    (Note: at CeBIT, Microsoft’s Kevin Turner just about told the IT managers there was little they’d be able to do to stop Windows 8 and advised them to seriously think about “getting ahead of the curve” by not trying to prevent it from happening.)

    My answers to the above questions were: (1) None that I’m aware of; and (2) (a) Money – and – (b) “Just because. End of discussion.”

    What would your answers be?

    1. Mike Halsey MVP said on March 15, 2012 at 12:20 am

      @40hz, listen to Gonzo, he’s completely correct :)

    2. Gonzo said on March 14, 2012 at 10:35 pm

      My 2 cents:

      1 – No, at least not yet. As Mike implies it’s just too early and not enough is known. IT guys don’t want to be the guinea pig (not that they’re afraid of change).

      2 – MS is loosing the battle with Android and iOS in the smartphone and tablet arena on ARM devices. It’s only way back is via x86 devices. If the same apps you install on your Win 8 desktop can run on your smartphone and tablet then MS will surely be top of the heap. Hence the push to sell/force Metro on the desktop. And yes, take it or leave has been MS policy for years. It’s why most servers run Linux.

      Keep in mind that Mr. Halsey is a MS salesman (for geeks) as is Kevin Turner. No offense Mr. Halsey but I’ve been to conferences like the one you speak of.

      “Ahead of the curve” usually requires twice as many man hours and headaches. “Catching up” is cheaper and easier, my 2 cents.

      1. Mike Halsey MVP said on March 15, 2012 at 12:21 am

        @Gonzo, however I’m certainly not a mouthpiece for MSFT, never will be either :)

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