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.