Microsoft and Windows 8: An interview with Martin Brinkmann

One of the reasons I actually started tech blogging was my admiration for the folks at

Their professional layout and Windows 7 news made me think that blogging at this level was not only possible but relatively easy to do.

Over the last year or so, I have spoken off and on with one of the founders of that site – Martin Brinkmann.

Since he runs one of the other premier Windows 8 sites, as part of this interview series I thought it would be fun to get his feedback about Windows 8.

Here it is folks, my Windows 8 interview with Martin Brinkmann:

How did you get started with blogging and writing about Microsoft products?

My journey started in 2005 when i launched the Ghacks Technology News blog. It was not really about Windows in the beginning, the focus was the Internet and Google mainly. That changed quickly though and the focus shifted to Windows. I was always fascinated with the operating system, the software that was developed for it and the opportunities it offered. That’s the main reason why I started the Windows 7 News blog with Everton.

We started to cover the development of the operating system, leaks, new features, everything that we could get our hands on. It was an exciting time, especially since Vista was not that popular and everyone knew that Microsoft had to do it right. It felt only natural to create a Windows 8 site as well once Windows 7 was released to offer the same depth of coverage.

Out of all the features you have come across that might make it into windows 8, which ones do you think are the most exciting?

I do not know a lot about the operating system yet. Yes, there were some leaks but it is not clear if those features will make it in the final product. Regardless of that, I’m most excited about two of the features:

  1. Multibooting: This technology can be used for specialized experiences. It can load a specialized operating systems first on boot so that the wait time for the user is reduced. An example: If you enter a video DVD, it loads a core system with the media player so that the video can be watched right away without loading the Windows desktop and all of the OS first. The rest of the OS is then loaded in the background while the DVD video plays.
  2. Sensors: I think it was called My PC My Way when it leaked. Windows 8 could make use of sensors to identify users or adapt the brightness of the display based on the room’s lighting situation. Pretty exciting.

I personally love windows 7, what do you think were the deficiencies if any that windows 7 had? What do you think needed to be addressed in windows 8?

Microsoft has created a great operating system. The market share and user responses speak for itself. It is a mass market product though and it is always hard to please all users. I personally think that Microsoft needs to include some form of software repository in Windows 8, which they might do with the planned app store. This should include automatic driver and software updating options for popular third party devices and products.

I’d also love more customization options. I never understood why there was not an option to add custom links to all areas of the start menu, or the sidebar in Windows 7. It is the little things that bother me, which again demonstrates the quality of the operating system.

One last thing, the gaming integration is mediocre. Something like Steam, without the cloud-based approach is missed dearly.

What do you think about the potential for Cloud Computing integration in Windows 8? Where do you think that could go?

I’m excited about the possibilities and hope that Microsoft gets that right. I just read that Microsoft plans to integrate Windows Live IDs so that it is possible to log in with those credentials. My idea for Microsoft would be to offer users the option to store a copy of the user profile in the cloud, so that they can load it on other Windows 8 machines. Imagine the possibilities.

I’m not a fan of hosting core parts of the operating system in the cloud. While it has advantages, especially security and stability wise, it moves again in the direction that users are no longer master of their computer, or operating system.

One thing I would like to see is a cloud based backup option integrated into every version of Windows. Make backups as easy as possible for all users.

Do you think that the Kinect will play a major role in Windows 8?

I highly doubt that. The problem with Kinect in its current form is that it needs space to function properly. If you have ever played a Kinect game on the Xbox 360 you know that you need at least two to three meters of space between the player and the Kinect hardware. That alone makes it impracticable for PC usage. Sure, you could probably improve the device and concentrate only on the movement of the upper body, but even then, it feels more like a plaything than a useful PC technology. And do not forget the additional costs and that it needs to be placed somewhere on the desktop.

What’s your take on the amount of time between OS refreshes from Microsoft? Do you think 2012/2013 is about right or early?

Microsoft is in a dilemma right now. Windows 7 is selling really well, and news about the upcoming Windows 8 could jeopardize those sales, as some users would make the decision to wait for the next OS instead. Microsoft already mentioned that they plan to release the next OS in three year’s time after the release of Windows 7. I do not have a problem with even shorter OS refreshes, providing that they introduce new features or improvements that justify the upgrade. I personally think it will be 2012, and not 2013.

From an enterprise perspective, what do you think Microsoft need to do with windows 8 to compel weary IT managers and execs to (once again) open up their wallets for an os refresh?

Microsoft needs solid arguments, especially if they want to convince IT Managers who just invested in Windows 7. I think that they will mainly target the remaining 2000, XP, Vista user base with Windows 8 than the companies that already switched to Windows 7. But, if they add killer features that improve the workflow tremendously, add time saving options, better power management or other features that give IT managers enough of an incentive, then they could convince at least some to switch again.

What mistakes do you think Microsoft have to avoid with Windows 8?

I think Microsoft should follow their philosophy, and avoid applying changes just because Apple, Google or other companies do. I’m not saying they should not look left and right, but they need to concentrate on their strength and ability to innovate first. I do not think Microsoft will make big mistakes like they did with Vista.

I’d also like to see more interaction with the community, e.g. do polls to get user opinions.

What are the top 3 things you would like to see in Windows 8?

  1. More options to customize the operating system. I’d really love to customize the start menu and Windows Explorer.
  2. Multiboot, as mentioned above, especially for my next laptop.
  3. Free online backup space for user profile data and other important files.

What’s your take on Steven Sinofsky’s project management style?

The “we talk when it is done” philosophy is something that I do not like, but understand. As a blogger, it is frustrating as it leaves only leaks and indirect information as news sources. I do not think it would hurt to reveal information about the development every now and then.

What are some of the most common misconceptions/ignorant comments about Microsoft that piss you off?

If you are a blogger, you need to learn to live with negative comments. I personally do not like it if people post negative comments just because it was Microsoft. Every large company has to cope with those comments, it is just part of the world wide web. I personally could do without fanboys, since that is not possible I do the next best thing, I ignore them.

The worst comments are from people who claim that Microsoft steals everything from other companies. They obviously do not have proof for those claims but they can be very damaging nevertheless. I also dislike users who think that Google and Apple are the good guys, and Microsoft the bad.

My thanks to Martin for his time.

You can check out his (among others) work at the following sites:

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