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Tim Cook's Windows 8 Zinger Hit its Mark

He threw cold water on the idea of merging iOS and Mac OS while saying what a lot of us are thinking.

Steve Jobs was a master of one-liners. Like everything else Jobs did, his zingers were simple yet effective, done with just a few words but often devastating.

As it turns out, Tim Cook has a knack for this as well. Surprising, given no one ever thought he had Jobs' charisma. During the earnings call to discuss the results of the March quarter (outstanding as always), he was asked about Microsoft's decision to make one OS for PC and tablet.

It was a long-winded answer, but fortunately, he made his best point early.

"The problem is that products are about trade-offs, and you begin to make trade-offs to the point where what you have left at the end of the day doesn't please anyone. You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those things are probably not going to be pleasing to the user," said Cook.

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He's almost totally correct. I don't think Windows 8 will be a stinker for tablets. In fact, it could be quite nice, given it bears such a strong resemblance to Windows Phone 7 and the fact that Windows Phone 7 users tend to like it, including me.

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But as a desktop OS, my mind remains unchanged. This is a bad idea and the joke name "Vista 8" is looking more appropriate. Not that it will be a poorly designed and architected OS like Vista was, but it will be one that the public thoroughly rejects.

PCs and tablets are inherently different creatures and require different UIs. Apple knows this and keeps iOS on its handheld devices. Rumors of an iOS notebook remain just that, and probably wishful thinking. iOS is Mac OS X optimized for tablets. They share a common kernel and foundation, making sure the entire Apple ecosystem communicates seamlessly and porting apps is relatively painless.

Microsoft is making a critical mistake, and it's one that can be fixed. With Windows 8, Microsoft is suborning the PC to the tablet by making the Metro UI the primary interface and the Desktop is just another app, and a crippled version of it to begin with. After decades of being acclimated to the Start menu, taking that out is a huge mistake. So is the removal of the minimize, maximize and close buttons.

Windows 7 is approaching or has passed 600 million licenses sold. How many tablets are out there that don't have "iPad" stamped on them? To suborn the user experience familiar to people worldwide for the tablet, a market still in its infancy, is insane.

This PC World survey, showing half of all people who tried Windows 8 would not recommend it, should have set off panic alarms in Redmond. Instead, I'm seeing talk of a final preview and RC code.

If Windows 8 is to avoid becoming a flop, it needs at the very least to give the option of starting desktop, Metro or traditional, and it needs to return the familiar buttons.

Otherwise, Windows 7 will be the new XP and Windows 8 the new Vista.

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