Windows 8 – No Thank You – I’ll Pass!

imageRudyard Kipling, in his Barrack-Room Ballads wrote“East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”, to describe the disconnect between two cultures – but, he might just as easily have been describing Microsoft’s attempt, with the development of Windows 8, to wed a Desktop/Laptop operating system and a Smartphone/Tablet operating system.

No doubt, Microsoft deserves a ton of credit for being adventuress and taking risks with the development of Windows 8. But, in re-imagining Windows “from the chipset to the user experience”, to quote Windows division president Steven Sinofsky – they have failed to meet their own target, which is, according to Microsoft – to give “users the same great experience whether they are on a tablet or on a desktop.” The experience, from my perspective is not so great.

Windows 8, developer preview (expires March 12, 2012) , was released yesterday for download and of course, I had to take the opportunity to test drive Microsoft’s latest OS offering. I’ve been running Windows 8 in a production environment for roughly 12 hours, so I’ve had an opportunity to develop some short term views.

The Windows 8 user interface is a radical departure from the traditional desktop UI and as such, it fails to satisfy my basic requirements. Since a desktop is my primary work unit, I have little interest in swiping features, keyboard shortcuts, slider menus and  an OS navigation system designed with a Tablet PC, or a Smartphone, in mind. As one of my friends observed – “ If I wanted my desktop to have the look and feel of a Tablet, I’d buy a Tablet.

Installation on a test system running Windows 7 (on which I kept settings), was smooth and flawless, with little user interaction required – much like a Win 7 install.

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Following startup and login, the surprises came in bunches – starting with the new Metro GUI. Super on a Tablet, I expect – but on my desktop – Yuck!

All application can be viewed as tiles, and are reachable with the click of a mouse, or accessed with the touch of a finger. The desktop, (shown on the far left tile in this screen capture), has been reconfigured as an application.

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The desktop (which I setup like my old Win 7 desktop), can also be accessed by cursoring to the left edge of the GUI – and voila! However, this is not an instinctive move.

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To take full advantage of Windows 8, users will need to develop a solid background of mouse gestures, and keyboard shortcuts.

Keyboard shortcuts include -

Alt-F4 – closes applications.

Windows key – switch between GUI and running application.

Windows key + R brings up the Run dialog box.

The Start menu has been replaced by the following virtually useless abomination – just look at what’s missing here. Including access to – shutdown. What were these guys thinking!

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Shutdown – Restart can be reached by clicking on Devices, which brings up the following – click on the power button and you’re out. In theory that is. Despite repeated attempts, I could not shutdown the system. I had no choice but to put the system into sleep mode.

Truthfully, I had to Google search “Windows 8 shutdown” to get a grip on the shutdown command – and, I can assure you, I was not alone. How sad is that in a new operating system.

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In my attempt to become familiar with Windows 8 as quickly as possible, I found myself relying on Windows Explorer more than normal – only to find THE RIBBON, has been incorporated into this venerable piece of Windows.

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This would have been a perfect opportunity for Microsoft to improve Windows Explorer with the addition of dual panes (very handy for geeks), but instead – we get the ribbon.

There’s little doubt that back behind the GUI, Windows 8 advances computing technology in a number of very substantial ways. Especially in that most important of areas – system security. But, this hybrid just doesn’t work for me.

Given that this is a developer preview, and at least one of the reasons for its general release is the feedback necessary to fine tune the system, I’m hoping to see a final product that more adequately reflects the “real” needs of desktop users.

In the meantime, within a day or two, Windows 8 on my test system will be deep sixed in favor of Windows 7 – in my view, the best Windows system to come out of Redmond.

If you are interested in checking out Windows 8 developer preview – you can download it here.

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30 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Freeware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows 8

30 responses to “Windows 8 – No Thank You – I’ll Pass!

  1. I’m glad I’m on Linux, Bill. :-)

    • Hey Paul,

      No kidding! :) Funny thing is – when I was checking out this OS, it came to me that if a Linux distro was released which was as poorly done as Windows 8 – we’d never have heard the end of it. The anti-Linux legions would have come out in force.

      Thanks for weighing in on this.

      Best,

      Bill

  2. TRY

    I’m totally with you on this Sir! Looks like the lure and quick success of Tablet OSes has caught the fancy of MS, that Metro GUI has a ugly and cluttered face to it.Microsoft has always been a bully and they think what they do is right for everyone, they should have taken a cue form Apple’s success.Even after a strong protest from the users community dislodged against their horrible ribbon interface they choose stick by it showing no care or concern for the customers.My love affair with Windows seems to fading fast and now I’m strongly inclined towards buying a Apple Mac Airbook or Win 7 laptop instead of Windows 8 notebook also the Win 8 looks like a dressed up Win 7 interface with fast dual boot.

    • Hey TRY,

      You’re right – this OS is targeted at the Tablet and connected devices market. I agree with you – Microsoft has failed to follow Apple’s sterling example of how this could have been done; much more effectively. Sad really.

      It’s back to Windows 7 for me.

      As always, I appreciate your input.

      Best,

      Bill

  3. Hey Bill,

    I was just going to email you and ask you if you had checked it out. I downloaded and installed it. I have to say, I was really disappointed. I may not be a full fledged geek but I guess because I have never worked on a tablet before or anything other than a desktop, I found myself sometimes scratching my head trying to figure out how to just do simple things, like you said, Just closing out an open app…..There is no close button. I don’t see how this OS will take off with everybody. I think it will leave the older generation of people behind. I am not even in that generation I think I am being left behind.

    Don’t get me wrong, It has some nice features to it as well. I like the advanced view of the task manager but these are minor things compared to not being able to figure out how to do the simple things like shut down the computer.

    I am going to have to take a training course just to know how to operate it…I don’t think that should be the goal of a new OS. I love and hate the ribbon in explorer at the same time. I like the idea of the ribbon with the big buttons, but as far as I know, there is no way to customize the ribbon to your liking. You take what Microsoft thinks you need there. I know you can customize the quick access toolbar but the icons are so small for crying out loud.

    Ok, I am done ranting

    Thanks for the review

    I still don’t know if I like the new GUI or not…..

    TeX

    • Hey TeX,

      Rant all you want to ….. :) I expect that you’ll have lots of company as this OS gets greater exposure.

      As you have experienced, this OS makes “easy” – hard, and “hard” – impossible. Having to dig to find a way to shut down an OS is just ludicrous. While running Windows 8, I felt as if I had followed Alice down the rabbit hole. Very, very weird.

      Glad to get your views on this.

      Best,

      Bill

  4. Hi there Bill ~ It’s the expression of a corporate, one-size-fits-all arrogance. When Disneyworld opened a European outlet it imposed American values ~ so the visitor Disney experience was alcohol free… That’s no wine, in France, with food! The French almost had a second revolution right there.

    One of my great pleasures in life is eating out with amusing & interesting people ~ no corners cut. The rise of the chain restaurant & the chain pub & the chain coffee shop has begun to chew away at our list of worthwhile, distinctive venues that serve food & drink with the customer placed first. The supply chain mentality is firmly entrenched now & it’s become a game of portion control, table turnover & off-site food preparation without even a nod to the local supply of fresh produce, the change of the seasons & respect for local customs.

    If Microsoft had been in existence 100 years earlier it would have bought the first horseless carriage patent & released HCv1 with a tiller for steering borrowed from yacht design. Around HCv6 we would have seen the introduction of the Steering Wheel User Interface [SWUI] to general applause. We are now approaching HCv8 & MS has decided that future sail boats will have to have to have SWUI to line up with the horseless carriage. Never mind that the two technologies serve different purposes & need to be controlled differently for each to be optimal.

    PC = Content production tool
    Tablet = Content consumption tool

    Rant over

    • Hi Michael,

      Rant on Durango!!! :) BTW, I surely remember the outrage vis-a-vis – no wine. Pathetic.

      You have (once again, I might add), nailed the issue squarely:

      PC = Content production tool

      Tablet = Content consumption tool

      In a nutshell, that’s the truth of it.

      Just by chance – as I write this – I’m watching a program Customer (Dis)Service which emphasizes the lack of communication between the customer and the service provider. The development of this inadequate OS (at least on a Desktop PC), is a perfect example of – “how would you know what I wanted, when you didn’t ask”. It’s such a 1970’s way to do business.

      I have a suspicion that Microsoft’s arrogance – as you so rightly point out – in this case, will bite them in the ass.

      Best,

      Bill

  5. Wow Bill, it almost sounds like the Redmond folks have conceded the future of computing to tablet-like devices, and have just made the new OS “sort of” backward compatible to keep the ignorant masses on board. They’re never gonna shake their “Borg” reputation this way, but then they’ve never appeared to care about that very much anyway.

    • Hey IzaakMak,

      Glad you brought out this point for discussion – “it almost sounds like the Redmond folks have conceded the future of computing to tablet-like devices”. It does – doesn’t it?

      It seems as if Microsoft doesn’t bother to pay attention to the forums, boards, or comments to articles, in which the topic is – “the death of the Desktop”. If they did, they would surely be aware that by an overwhelming margin, computer users reject the idea that the Desktop PCs will soon go the way of the Dodo bird. But then, MS is well know for ignoring the customers’ wishes – as you so rightly point out.

      Good to hear from you on this.

      Best,

      Bill

  6. Hii Bill..
    ————-
    Well iwant to give you a big thanks for saving my time , iwanted to install windows 8 on my laptop which has win 7 on it but it seems it doesn’t worth the effort and i am already happy with my win 7.
    it is not the time for a change yet !
    Thanks for the review,
    with my best wishes.
    Ahmed.

    • Hey Ahmed,

      As you know, Win 7 is a terrific OS and I fear you would be most disappointed with Windows 8. Hopefully, the first release candidate will have addressed the “clunky” UI issue. That may be the better time to give this a run.

      Best,

      Bill

  7. Hey Bill
    Great review. I was planning to reblog this but your like button is still not working.

  8. Hi Bill,
    I’m going to give it a chance, but right now it is unusable. But we’ve become accustomed to having developer previews that just work, thanks to WIn 7. This is a radical departure from previous Windows releases and so it’s no surprise this one isn’t even close to ready, yet. But the new features they promise like quick boot times, easy re-imaging, and few others are very good news. We will be able to use classic WIn 7 mode if you prefer, currently that is a hack which can brick the OS.
    I heard several Windows bloggers say this release is buggy and not worth bothering with so I’ll see what the first or second beta look like.
    I’ll bet it’s getting beautiful up there by now!
    Mark

    • Hi Mark,

      Yes, there are major improvements under the hood which will make this OS worthwhile – provided the UI gets sorted out. I haven’t yet removed it from my system and I will say, I’m getting more used to the clunky UI.

      I saw that UI hack and decided to give it a pass – just in case. From you’ve said, I’m happy I did.

      The change of season is definitely on the way. You might remember that I live on a river, and I can tell you, the Ducks are actively practicing their long range flying these last few days. I’m always amazed that the Birds, Bears and the rest, are so tuned to the change in seasons. Ain’t nature grand! :)

      Have a super weekend.

      Best,

      Bill

  9. Ben

    To get back the old Start menu, explorer, etc., you can make a change in the windows registry. Follow the steps mentioned in this article: http://www.addictivetips.com/windows-tips/get-windows-7-start-menu-explorer-and-task-manager-in-windows-8/

  10. g

    I’ve been trying to find time to download Win8 but after reading your review, I think I’ll pass. I personally am a desktop type of guy and do not really like the concept of tablet computing as it requires extra steps to navigate. Simply put, it just isn’t really all that efficient. The reviews I have read for Win8 remind me of my smartphone. I couldn’t imagine trying to get any work done in a timely manner with my smartphone OS. Am I missing something here? For now I’ll stick with Win7 (and XP on my laptop lol).

    It keeps coming up in reviews this is a “radical shift” in terms of the Windows operating system. A shift toward what end? I don’t really grasp the greatness Redmond is feeding us right now.

    • Hey G,

      It seems to me that this “radical shift” has a single purpose – Microsoft’s continued existence in the OS market.However, they have forgotten this is not 1995 – the competitive players now in the market are in overdrive.

      At this stage in the development of Win 8, they have thrown the baby (the enterprise – you and me) out with the bathwater. Unless there is a “radical shift” which includes a focus on enterprise useability, this OS may well be the next ME or Vista.

      To prevent that from happening – listening to the customer would be a good first step.

      Best,

      Bill

  11. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    Seems they have realised that the “I’m a PC” rubbish in their adverts was just that. Clearly they’re not even going to bother to try to convince people that they listen to the consumer any more.

    I’ll be staying with Win7 for a while yet.

    Kind regards
    John

  12. Max

    Your experiences with Win8 mirror mine exactly, Bill. I installed in on a VM so I could check it out, as an IT professional I will have no choice but to learn how it works so I can service it in the future. I just kept thinking about all the elderly and otherwise slow to adapt customers I work with. These people are going to have no clue what the heck is going on with their computers. I’m also embarrassed to admit this, but I too couldn’t figure out how to shut it down. What on Earth are they smoking in Redmond?

    People barely, I mean BARELY know how to use their machines as it is. Keyboard shortcuts? Forget it. I regularly encounter people who treat me as some kind of wizard when they see me use the ctrl-v command.

    The question is, what happens when the unstoppable force of MS’s arrogance collides with the immovable object that is Win8’s crappiness? I’m praying they don’t change a thing, I made (and continue to make) so much money backgrading PC’s to XP after the Vista fiasco. Please give us another Vista, my bank account needs that cash infusion.

    • Hi Max,

      So, I wasn’t alone in being unable to figure out how to shut down Win 8. Since both you and I had to deal with this, I think that shows MS is following an illogically twisted path with this GUI. Bizarre really.

      Couldn’t agree more – “People barely, I mean BARELY know how to use their machines as it is.” As a front line service provider, who would know this better than you? Developers need a better understanding of how it is, users interact with their computers. That of course would mean, that MS and others would need to research this question. The Win 8 GUI shows that MS has not done so and, in their arrogance, is unlikely to do so.

      You may be right, in your assessment, that Win 8 is another Vista in waiting.

      Great comment.

      Bill

      • Max

        Thanks, Bill. Did you ever see that old Simpsons episode where the kids got new futuristic desks in the classroom, that were obviously horribly uncomfortable, and the teacher reassures them “over time, your bones will change.” That is a lot like how the MS response has been regarding any Win8 criticism. We’ll supposedly be so much more efficient after we change everything about the way we use our computers.

        Microsoft is the most bipolar corporate entity I’ve ever encountered. They make a pig like ME, then serve up a true workhorse with XP. Then it’s back to crap again with Vista, then we get 7, which is pretty much everything Vista was supposed to be. Whether they break the cycle with Win8 remains to be seen, but they’d have to turn on a dime to do it at this point to do so.

        • Hi Max,

          LOL!! Yeah, I remember that episode. Good analogy.

          You’re right, the OS release record seems to be; hit – miss, hit – miss, hit – miss. Your description of MS as a bipolar organization seems like a reasonable conclusion. :)

          Bill