Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): Will it Alienate People with Radical Windows 8 Look?

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has received critical acclaim for its transformative new operating system, Windows 8, which is slated to be released to consumers in October. While many critics and tech geeks are embracing the new interface that is designed for touchscreens on tablets and smartphones, perhaps the most important stakeholder – the consumer – has yet to really be tested on this new OS.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)

Consumer sentiment will be important for the company, as well as for investors in the company, including hedge-fund managers like Seth Klarman of Baupost Group.

After all, for years, and through every incarnations of Windows – the Start button (pictured here) has been omnipresent, and in some ways, omnipotent in terms of a user’s ability to utilize the computer. But now, with this new version, the Start button is gone – replaced by tiles on the home screen. The question now is, while this new operating system is a radical departure from past Windows versions, how will it be received by consumers? Will they easily embrace it, or will they get confused and thus not be interested in working with Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) devices ever again? After all, by the end of this year, every Microsoft device will run Windows 8 or Windows 8 Phone, so users could be left with having to buy older models of devices if they don’t embrace the new OS. How consumers handle the new system – depends on who you ask.

“At least for some tasks, the usability is worse,” said usability expert Raluca Budiu of the Nielsen Norman Group. “Users will need to remember two different interfaces. They will learn Windows 8, but won’t be able to forget Windows 7. And they will need to keep track of which app goes with each framework. [It’s] definitely a cognitive burden, but not an insurmountable one. … the learning curve is going to be steep.”

On the other hand, other reviewers gushed about the new creation from Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT).

“I love it,” wrote Gizmodo’s Mat Honan after seeing the Consumer Preview six months ago. Then, the Release Preview came out, and he took his platitude to a new level. “The new Release Preview is an iterative update, inching us closer to final release. It’s more mature maturity, increasingly refined, and already possesses a subtle elegance.”

Fans at The Verge feel similarly, writing that it is “smoother, faster, and more reliable than ever.”

And PC World called it “highly usable,” adding, “the whole affair seems to hang together pretty well.”

Guess the only next step is to poll the consumers and get their take after the October release, to see if Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) hit a home run with users or just a two-hopper to the shortstop.