Christmas gift for someone you hate: Windows 8

Suppose that you are an expert user of Windows NT/XP/Vista/7, an expert user of an iPad, and an expert user of an Android phone…. you will have no idea how to use Windows 8.

What are the best features of Android? A permanently on-screen Back button. A permanently on-screen Home button. Neither of these are present on the Windows 8 “tablet screen”. Every app developer implements the “Back” feature in a manner and location of his or her own choosing (Microsoft apps seem to put a big arrow on the top left of the screen; other developers used the bottom left; many screens do not have a Back option at all).

What is the best feature of iOS on the iPad? A permanent hardware Home button. It isn’t as convenient as going “Back” on Android but at least it facilitates re-navigating to wherever you were. The closest thing to a full-time Home button in Windows 8 is the “windows” key on the keyboard (but the whole idea is that the keyboard is not always available/required).

What is the best feature of Windows XP/Vista/7? Click right on an object to get a context-dependent menu of useful functions. Android copied this feature: touch and hold an item in order to get a context-dependent menu of options. The Windows 8 tablet interface lacks this interface standard.

Microsoft has had since October 2008 to study Android. It has had since June 2007 to study iPhone. It seems as though they did not figure out what is good about the standard tablet operating systems.

One thing that Android and iOS do not address is how to handle the requirement of offering a legacy Xerox Alto-style mouse-and-windows environment. Microsoft here integrates the tablet and the standard Windows desktop in the most inconvenient and inconsistent possible way. Due to the desperation of the average consumer to watch television at all times on all devices, the typical computer screen is fairly wide. One would think therefore that it would be possible to use traditional applications in the left-hand two-thirds of the screen while running a tablet environment on the right-hand one-third of the screen. Windows 8 does not allow this. It is either the old Windows XP desktop or the new Android-like tablet environment. As far as I can tell they cannot be mixed except that a tablet app can be set to appear in a vertical ribbon on the left or right edge of the screen.

A reasonable user might respond to this dog’s breakfast of a user interface by trying to stick with either the familiar desktop or the new tablet. However, this is not possible. Some functions, such as “start an application” or “restart the computer” are available only from the tablet interface. Conversely, when one is comfortably ensconced in a touch/tablet application, an additional click will fire up a Web browser, thereby causing the tablet to disappear in favor of the desktop. Many of the “apps” that show up on the “all apps” menu at the bottom of the screen (accessible only if you swipe down from the top of the screen) dump you right into the desktop on the first click.

Confused about how the tablet apps work and want to Google for the answer? You go to a Web browser in the desktop interface and can’t see the tablet interface that you’re getting advice on how to use. Keep your old Windows 7 machine adjacent so that you can Google for “How to use Windows 8” on the old computer and have the pages continuously visible.

The only device that I can remember being as confused by is the BlackBerry PlayBook. I would find this machine a lot more useful if it simply ran Android as a sub-environment and did so in the right-hand third of the screen. Comments from those who love Windows 8 would be especially appreciated.

To end on a high note, some of the supplied apps are wonderful, e.g., the Bing Finance app. Swiping back and forth on a 27-inch screen is a great way to get a comprehensive picture of a lot of information quickly. (Of course, this would be equally true if one had a similar app on a 27-inch Android tablet… it is just that there aren’t any high-res 27-inch Android devices of which I am aware.)

[This article is based on using Windows 8 on what may be the best current hardware: Dell XPS One 27 computer with a quad-core i7 CPU, 16 GB of RAM and a solid state hard drive accelerator ($2600). I will try to write a bit about the Dell hardware in a subsequent posting. The screen is beautiful. The supplied keyboard is tiny, as if made for a clown. The display tilts down easily, making it easy to get up from one’s chair to read a web page while standing.]

[Separate issue: Given how misguided the whole design of Windows 8 seems to be, why have tech journalists given it basically positive reviews? My theory is that journalists love anything new, different, and complicated. Windows 8 is all of those things.]

[December 6, 2012 update: A reader asked a question about DxOMark’s camera phone testing procedures. I went to the DxO site downloaded a PDF. Given the wide aspect ratio of the 27″ monitor, I expected to read the PDF in one window while typing my thoughts about it in the browser. From Google Chrome, I opened the PDF document and was immediately zapped into the Metro interface’s “Reader” app. My browser was gone. Although the screen is easily wide enough to display two pages simultaneously, the software elected to show just one page at a time, surrounded by massive black bars (see screen capture below). Instead of looking at a text entry box and the PDF simultaneously I would have to go back and forth between screens, trying to remember what was on each. I tried the same series of steps in Microsoft Internet Explorer and the result was the same.

Now I understand why Jakob Nielsen calls this “Microsoft Window”. (I would bet that this behavior can be fixed by installing the traditional Adobe Reader software, but that leaves open the question of why Microsoft shipped the operating system with this behavior as the default. Wouldn’t this typical use case of downloading a PDF and then wanting to view it while, say, typing an email have come up?]

152 thoughts on “Christmas gift for someone you hate: Windows 8

  1. Slightly off topic, but I can’t understand how one would find the new Lenovo Yoga (featuring Windows 8) tablet’s “tent mode” useful. Seriously, how or why would anyone need a “tent mode”, other than possibly when jumping from a rooftop like the cat-woman looking girl in their TV commercials…

  2. There are tools that will bring back the start button (some free). If your computer does not have a touch screen, the non-desktop mode is hard to use with a mouse. Going to corners or other places and then swiping is not intuitive. Windows 8 has made some changes to be faster.

  3. Give it time. I recommend that everyone evaluate Windows 8 for themselves. I know that a lot of people find Windows 8 to be confusing, but a lot don’t. I find it to be wonderful, and easy to use.

    I have been using Windows 8 Pro on a non-touch laptop since RTM. It was confusing for about 10 minutes as I recall, you do have to figure out the new paradigm, which will be harder for us old dogs than for younger people. (Probably the most important thing is simply attitude.) My 12 year old nephew picked it up instantly, and I hear that three year olds do as well…

    The desktop is a better Windows 7, Metro is fun and easy to use, and the two environments work together seamlessly. I particular love the context-sensitive swipe in menus.

    I have also owned a Surface RT since the day it went on sale, and it is the best device I have ever owned. I have been using it constantly for both work and play.

  4. I bought a copy to run in a VM for testing purposes. I’m now a Mac user, but I have years of Windows development experience. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who finds it confused. Almost like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were captured in mid transformation. I could get used to either interface, but this split behavior is terrible. They should have just switched over to the new tiled interface completely if it was good, or left the familiar XP interface alone.

    I hope you didn’t spend $2600 to try out WIndows 8. $2800 would have gotten you a similarly equipped iMac (which i believe you have said in the past are way overpriced [I agree in both the XPS One and the iMac you pay a lot for style]). I would pay a lot extra not to have to use Windows 8.

  5. I’ve been using Windows 8: DP, CP and RTM for almost a year. Some of your criticisms are valid, others may be just misunderstanding.

    “Home” key: All Windows 8 tablets have a dedicated Windows button. All Windows 8 keyboards have a dedicated Windows key. Pressing the button or the key is the same as pressing the “Home” key on an iPad.

    “Available only from the tablet interface”: You mention that “Restart the computer” is only available from the tablet interface: It’s actually part of the Charms bar, and is accessible from anywhere. If you’re using a mouse/keyboard, move your mouse to the bottom right corner and slide up: The Charms appear, and you can choose “Settings” to restart your computer and perform other tasks.

    Note that the corners are useful in a number of ways on a mouse/keyboard interface: Bottom left and slide-up shows currently running apps. Bottom right and slide-up shows Charms. Bottom-left alone shows the Start menu, and top-left alone shows the last app you were using. Right-click bottom left and you get a great power-user menu. Of course, these activities are differently if you are working without a mouse/keyboard: In that case, sliding in from the edges of the screen do the trick.

  6. Someone commented in an article that “Windows” should be renamed to “Window”, because that’s all you can have open in the new interface.

    I bought a Win8 laptop because it was available as a Black Friday special. I’m hard at work on turning it back to Win7. There is one invaluable application that will restore the start button and boot Win8 right into the desktop — Classic Shell. The price is also right at $0.00. There is another that removes the hotspots though for some reason I couldn’t get it working. Doubtless others will emerge.

    One of the biggest beefs I have with Win8 is that it is two separate environments in one… the “metro” environment which was written for touch, and the legacy environment which was written for keyboard and mouse. Win8 would have likely been OK if they had written the entire OS in the new paradigm, but it appears that they neither had the time nor the resources to do so. With the result that there is a thin tablety layer that is a nightmare on a non-touch laptop but always gets in the way.

    Also, with Win8 and EFI/UEFI/… it appears that the old BIOS boot sequence has also got upended. I’ve been struggling to get Ubuntu installed as a second OS on the laptop but have been unsuccessful at getting it to dual boot. I guess the Linux community needs some more time to get on top of the new BIOS and boot changes.

    I suspect that Ballmer/Sinofsky issued a memo to the masses that they must have a touch OS by some arbitrary deadline, and no one at MS had the guts to tell the emperor (and his former crown prince) that they were attired in pure hot air.

  7. John: Thanks for the vote of confidence! I admit that I have a lot more learning to do. But I don’t think of the Charms bar as “accessible from anywhere”. I have to do something before I can use Charms. And I have noticed the heavy dependence on “sliding in” gestures from the edges. The BlackBerry Playbook has that too and I didn’t like it but maybe that is just because I am accustomed to iOS/Android.

    Larry: Why did I pay $2600? I needed an extra computer and wanted the XPS One 27. The $1300 Windows 7 model probably would have worked fine but then I thought “I owe it to readers to write something about Windows 8” so that meant the $1600 touch-enabled model. Then I thought “Can I write a reasonable review of this if it doesn’t have SSD acceleration like my $1000 HP laptop?” So I ended up paying $2600 for a $1300 computer… consumers are stupid!

  8. I understand your frustrations! The new environment can be very disconcerting. I’ve been using Win8 on a non-touch laptop for a while, and a touch laptop for a shorter time. The “swiping back and forth” capability of a touch screen, like you noted, is so much fun and easy!

    First, to address your issues:

    Back button. I agree wholeheartedly. I have a Windows Phone, and I think it does a great job with the back button. I’ve often been annoyed at the getting to a place in Win8 where I can’t just go back. For instance, open a PDF attachment from an email, and when I’m done reading, I can’t just go back. How I go “back” depends a lot on how I got there. I can switch back to the mail app (or Outlook in Desktop), and there I am. Win8 by default will swap to the previous app when you swipe in from the left, and you can grab that same app with the mouse with an upper-left movement. Yeah, it works, but it take re-wiring to a “switch” mode instead of thinking of “back.” We don’t expect a back button in Win7 when apps open up, so I guess it’s the same thinking?

    Home button. I’ve been a user of the keyboard home button for years, so that’s easy on a keyboard machine. On a touch computer, I know I can always get the Start button on a swipe-from-right, but I also expect it to be bottom-left when I swipe-from-left, and it is: EXCEPT when I have only one app running. Then I swipe, swipe, and then remember I have only one app, and then swipe from right to get it. It should always be available left or right swipe. On non-touch, I want to throw my mouse into the corner and click to get the Start menu. Not only because that’s what I’m used to, but because it’s fast. When XP expanded the Start button hit zone, removing the little dead zone that 95/98 used to have (remember that?), it made this motion so much more reliable and less picky. Now, to have to mouse down, wait, and then click? Too slow.

    Split-screen. This is actually useful. I’m a multitasker, and use Aero snap a lot to easily setup side-by-side views. I’m not sure if it has a name, but putting a “touch mode” app as you call it in the sidebar is a useful feature, for stuff that can fit in that mode. It’s chromeless, so it’s useful for running “touch mode” IE with websites that can squeeze into that format.

    Then, some suggestions that may help you:

    Configuration changes: I didn’t like the swipe-from-left behavior dropping me in the last app, because I started first with the mouse-to-upper-left which gives me a list of apps to switch to. To get that in touch, get to your “PC Settings > General” section and change the App Switching behavior. Once that’s changed, the swipe-from-left gives the list of apps, just like I expect like I get with WinPhone hold-back-button.

    Did you change your default browser? I thought that if IE is your default browser, then it’ll keep you in “touch mode” IE if that’s where you are, or in “desktop mode” IE if you’re in that mode. Having two IE modes is definitely confusing, but I got dumped in desktop mode only when I switched to Firefox as default, I thought.

  9. David: I did change my default browser to Google Chrome. Perhaps I should change back. Do you like IE on Windows 8?

    I wonder if part of why I find Windows 8 so painful is that I have been using Windows since the mid-1990s (I was formerly a Macintosh user but the Mac did not have a multi-tasking operating system and therefore would crash when attempting to run a Web browser) and believe that I shouldn’t have to invest time in learning anything new. On the other hand, I never did any formal training for Android or iOS and have not had much trouble using those devices.

  10. Windows 8 is not for low level, or hard-core Windows users, it’s for consumers, who all that they want to do is browse the web, or use Facebook.

    As a developer, and application user, I keep my hand on the keyboard over 95% of the time. Anytime I move my hand off the keyboard over to the mouse, it slows me down. With Windows 8, I now have to use my hand to interact with 3 devices: the keyboard, the mouse and now the monitor (if I have a touch screen, if not, it’s even extra use of the mouse)! That’s not productivity, not for me, nor for your real-computer-users.

    Also, looking back at Windows releases [1], the history goes like so:

    Windows 8 (I tried it and will not bother to upgrade)
    Windows 7 (love it, and have been using it since it was released)
    Windows Vista (very buggy, and slow)
    Windows XP (very stable, with good interface)
    Windows ME (very buggy, and slow)
    Windows 2000 (very stable, with good interface)
    Windows 98 (very buggy, and slow)
    Windows NT (very stable, with good interface)
    Windows 95 (early release was very buggy, but they stabilized it later on)
    Windows 3.1 / NT (very stable)
    Windows 3.0 (buggy)
    Windows 1.0 / 2.0 (buggy)

    You can see, every other release, Microsoft screwed up (i.e.: used the release to beta test in the field).


  11. Phil: I still use Firefox all the time, but IE is set as the default. This works because I never shut my computer down (sleep works very well), so I don’t have to think about which one to open. On the occasional time when I open a link from an email or such and it opens in IE, well, that’s fine too. I’m thrilled that the web has gotten to the point over that last couple years that it doesn’t really matter which browser I’m using.

    You mentioned history; that is what this is all about. Remember going from Win 3.11 to 95/NT? I was thrilled at how much easier networking was, but we had to run training classes to teach people how to use the Start menu. You mentioned you didn’t have formal training in Android/iOS – did you ever for Windows? When I picked up my first iOS device, the icons were of course intuitive, but where’s my right-click? I actually had to ask someone how to get out of icon-rearranging-mode. How many people know how to double-tap the home button to get a list of running apps?

    I think the problem is expectations. I didn’t expect iOS to work like Windows, and figured it out. Many expect Windows 8 to work like Windows, and it isn’t quite. My kids now expect every screen to be touch, and it confuses them when they’re not, so a touch-screen Win8 environment comes naturally to them. It’s us old guys that have the trouble 🙂

    Back to that example of moving to Windows 95. I remember how incredibly frustrating networking was in Windows 3.11, trying to shoehorn network drivers into a tiny bit of memory. IMO this transition is about touch. Windows 8 finally gets it right (for a Windows product), and I find that even in Desktop mode touch is useful, fun, and definitely not frustrating any more.

    I don’t think Microsoft got it perfect, but I think I understand what they’re doing, and agree with that.

  12. At least Dell has a nice 21 day return policy.

    Touch on desktop seems like a terrible idea to me. I can’t comfortably reach all corners of both monitors. I hate finger prints on my monitors, especially the ones with glossy screens. I spend a lot of time cleaning the touch screens on my phone and tablet. I don’t want to add the monitors to the list of things to clean daily. The mouse isn’t perfect, but it’s a better interface for a monitor positioned comfortably on a desk. I hope this isn’t the wave of the future. Man do I sound old.

  13. Minor point, but some Win8 apps support right-clicking. Namely, IE. Touch-and-hold to activate it with touch. But, it’s discouraged because so many users struggle with it and it’s not great with touch.

    Much of the pain right now is switching between the Win8 interface (I’m not allowed to say Metro 🙂 and the desktop interface. That pain will lessen as app developers create native Win8 apps, and Win8 will start to make a lot more sense.

    I think the new gestures are good, but they’re not at all obvious. When you setup Windows it gives you a little tutorial, but I don’t think most people watch it. Nobody seems to know that you can “flick” items to select them. They should add an interactive tutorial, the way modern games do.

    There are some new tricks with a keyboard and mouse. Right-click the lower-left corner or press Windows+X to open a power user menu. Drag from the top to the bottom to close a window. There’s lots of tricks like that, and unfortunately they’re mostly hidden.

    Well, I’m getting some comp copies of Windows 8 Inside/Out (the big Win8 book from MS Press) this week. Send me your mailing address ( and I’ll ship one off to you.

  14. I passed on your blog post to my boss Roger. He said he felt similar to you, but watched this conference video from one of the designers of Windows 8 and felt it did a great job explaining what they are trying to do. Changed Roger’s view 180.

  15. Phil, regarding duality of browser modes, IE designers choose implicit switch… when you are in the desktop, IE opens links in desktop mode and vice versa…

    Chrome (which is also dual-mode browser) designers choose explicit switch… in tools menu, you have an entry to switch mode. Once toggled, all links are opened in chosen mode. For example, if you choose modern mode, opening link from the desktop will send you to modern, full-screen Chrome…

    Snapping modern app next to 2/3-sized desktop works…

    Press’n’hold for context menu works on many places, but, granted, many apps are feature-sparse, so you may have no encountered them yet… while it seems contradictory, hidden menus which you get from edge swipes are there to combat “mystery meat navigation” issues… with idea that main interface can be uncumbered by navigation, but yet every action is easily discoverable…

  16. This might be out there, but I haven’t seen it yet, so some help would be appreciated. Is there a touchpad I can lay on my desk to act as the touch proxy for the screen? I’ve seen the Surface and the screen looked great, well until it started being used, that is. It got all mucked up after a little bit of use and there’s _no_ way I can use that on my work machine. So…. is there some way I can use a mouse pad as the interface (pinch, zoom, swipe, etc, etc) without having to touch the screen, I might be more willing to try it out.

  17. Um… you aren’t even using a tablet. The Dell XPS One 27 is a desktop that looks sort of like a tablet. Use Windows 8 on the Surface or some real tablet before reviewing it.

  18. What I see in many responses here and elsewhere is that you get a subset of users chiming in with all these helpful tips on what key strokes, key combinations or gestures you should be using to make your Windows 8 experience more enjoyable.

    This is precisely why Windows 8 fails and confuses people. Any experienced Windows user shouldn’t need to completely forget all they have learned to just use their computer like they were used to.

    Microsoft has over the past 20+ years developed a highly well defined GUI that everyone of its customers understood and could easily decipher with each new release. This time round they attempted to converge two very different technology GUI sets and GUI needs and failed miserably at it.

  19. I’m glad that people are articulating the inherent deficiencies of Microsoft’s new operating system in ways that we’re subconsciously aware of yet can’t define so well. Numerous experts and public faces have criticized a great deal of what’s wrong in this experience and Microsoft’s arrogant response is basically, “we say it’s better so learn to like it” and people that support the OS are basically saying, “I like it so you should learn to like it too.”

    Unfortunately no one at Microsoft has said, “We realize we don’t have the level of praise we should have and we’re going to resolve all these issues to make EVERYONE happy.” If Microsoft ‘got it right’ we wouldn’t be having these debates and it would be a minority of unhappy people rather than a seeming majority.

    I get that Microsoft wanted to introduce a unified experience for those who may own only Microsoft devices, but efficient desktop users are forced to suffer for mobile users when an intelligent person should realize that certain products should be enhanced for certain environments. A desktop user does not use his PC the same way he uses his tablet.

    At the end of the day, can someone tell me with a straight face that swipe | settings | power | shut down is an improvement overt start | shutdown?

  20. I do not understand why every release of every software program seems to require randomly scrambling the interface, other than as proof that some of the programmers did something visible (as opposed to actually making it work better underneath). “Let’s alphabetize the contacts by the third letter of their first name this time!” “Everyone is bored with the gas and brake pedals, let’s put them on the dashboard instead!”

    Touch makes a lot of sense for small devices where there is no room for a keyboard; it makes sense for a public-use display device too. For software and document preparation – like this comment – in a crowded office where you can’t have everyone doing voice recognition, the old-fashioned keyboard has its place.

    Most important: As the population ages, we’re going to realize that depending on clever swipes and flicks is a disaster. My father-in-law was a power user of business information systems and spreadsheets, but has trouble controlling his grandchildren’s iPhones because his fingers just aren’t as precise as they once were. It’ll happen to all of us if we live long enough.

  21. I’m a software developer for a very small vertical-market ISV, and we are hearing from our customers (who typically have no IT department) that they’re not even willing to move up en-masse from Windows XP to Windows 7. Windows 8 is not even on their radar yet.

    However, what is going on is that the PC hardware and software world is morphing into something new. Remember when we called this stuff “IBM Compatibles?”. Then IBM exited the PC market, and now it’s “PCs” which is supposed to make it clear that we’re not talking about Mac, leading to that weird world where Macs, which are definitely personal computers, are nevertheless “not a PC”.

    Well, even a PC isn’t going to be a PC much longer. Windows 8 is confusing on classic PC hardware because it was designed around some new piece of hardware, that you don’t own. You have the very latest hybrid semi-dinosaur computers. I’m using classic PC style Dell workstation running Windows 8, and I’m using Win8 in a completely classic non-touch manner. I find the experience jarring, but not totally unusable.

    Where I believe Win8 will make some sense is on a Surface Pro, whenever those come out (January 2013). I see no reason to put up with Win8 unless you also get a touch screen with a hardware home button (they have a windows logo on it), and you like to be an early adopter. I believe Microsoft will sort out the navigation troubles.

    I agree with you 100% about all you said about what sucks about Windows 8. However it’s also a fresh concept. You’re criticizing them for not doing what they’ve always done (slavishly copying everybody else). That’s because they’ve actually put some thought into doing some new things. There are a lot of holes in their new system, especially when you use it anywhere other than the Surface devices, and the other designed-for-Win8 devices from ASUS/ACER/lenovo/etc, which are the only devices out there that make sense with Windows 8.

    Note that I didn’t include Dell in the list. I don’t see one bit of Dell hardware out yet that I’d want to own, and that includes that flippy-screen-thingy with a name like “Duo”.


  22. It seems that the Windows 8 lovers are taking notes from the “linux desktop” movement.

  23. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I could not agree more with your review and would even add to it:

    – Requirement of a single Microsoft Account per profile. This is the WORST idea ever. Not only can you be locked out of your account (how many times do people forget their hotmail password? now this is linked directly to your windows profile!) but you also can’t have 2 accounts for separate interests. Business or family/friends Skype with a different hobby Xbox account? Can’t run those at the same time!
    – Visual clutter. Tiles that are constantly changing backgrounds and shifting locations based on what else you install makes it virtually impossible to read. Microsoft “Ribbons” have the same problem. It just looks like visual clutter and gets in the way of efficiency. Text menus may be boring, but they’re damn effective.
    – Forcing one style of interface onto a user, this is more a Win8 issue, but for some time now I’ve used Launchy as my primary interface. It indexed my programs, had calculator functions, interfaced with my calendar/task program beautifully, hooked into my gmail/firefox, extendable, and compatible with Linux/OSX so I could operate the same way on all 3 systems. Now due to that @#$%^ forced “start screen” Launchy is useless.
    – Bugs. OMG bugs. (Again Win8) Hit the back button in Help? Crash. Download the first 13 patches? System becomes sluggish to the point of taking up to 30 seconds to open the control panel on a brand new i7 system (haven’t isolated the exact patch that causes this yet). Try to convert a local profile into a Microsoft account profile? Undocumented error 0xd0070005. Use the “Add/Remove Windows Features” or “Reset” button in IE10? Breaks those features (try Removing IE10 then adding it back again and using the Reset – not only will it crash from then on, it’ll require a full system refresh)
    – Memory hog. Win8 came installed on my system, 15gb. Installed a couple free games (I’m an achievement whore), uninstalled them from the local profile and installed them to a Microsoft Account profile – no download, no install, it was just there: End result: Once an app is installed, you have to manually find the files and remove them to free up the hdd space. I’d hate to see what this is like on a tablet.
    – Administrator doesn’t have read privileges on some directories? wtf? TrustedInstaller has more privileges on the system than Administrator does and it’s a bloody freaking headache trying to change that.
    – “Buy” an app on one profile? Can’t use it on the other.
    – Uninstall McAfee completely? It is allowed to leave the “SiteAdvisor” service on automatic startup

    It just goes on and on. Upgraded to Windows 7 as soon as possible, and since this is going to continue to be the direction of Windows for the foreseeable future (with their oh so moronic yearly releases), I think this will be enough to make me switch to Linux as my primary OS once and for all.

  24. “Suppose that you are an expert user of Windows …”

    Stop right there. I personally don’t believe the target audience of Windows 8 was the expert user. There are very few “experts” in the world in proportion to non-experts. The intended audience was your mother (or grandmother) — the casual user. The first time I gave my mom a computer she picked up the mouse and waved it around in the air. Big, colorful buttons with just a simple set of obvious (email, web browser) is all she really needs.

    You (and everyone else) cursing Windows 8 need to realize that you have the “curse of knowledge”. They ran Windows 8 through 1.2 BILLION HOURS OF USER TESTING. Quantifiable usability data says much more than what opinions we, though we may think ourselves experts, may have on the topic.

  25. I’d have to agree with most of the comments above…the Windows 8 experience is essentially schizophrenic when using it on a traditional laptop/workstation platform. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks on a Dell D6530 – and whilst you can actually get things done fairly quickly – I’ve found that in order to jump between apps efficiently you end up using combinations of the Windows key + *typing* in the first few characters of the application name. (This is for starting the apps of course – not just switching between them).

    A major flaw in it which is highly annoying is how a tablet/touchscreen metaphor such as a “gesture” can be accidentally stumbled across whilst trying to use the OS in a standard mode. (I know you can switch this stuff off…but it’s a good example where a hybrid approach doesn’t really map well onto all the available form factors).

    I’m an exclusive Android user/developer on my mobile devices – and something as simple as a “back stack” implementation might have made Windows 8 more intuitive.

    Overall it’s a fairly poor attempt at bridging both worlds – but I assume that MS are hedging that traditional workstations etc…will become the secondary device for most people. (Quite how people are going to actually do any serious work in that world is an open question).

  26. I bought into the MS upgrade for win8 pro and got both 32/64 install DVD’s. I –upgraded xp to win8/32. The hard drive I was using is 40 gig. After install got hard drive full message, so I thought well I’ll install to 80 gig ssd (fresh install). Works ok, however I can’t register new copy with MS due 40 gig version already installed and registered (I know…). So read up on backup and create image and restore to get around problem. I’m a retired IT pro/code monkey who has a fair understanding of hardware/software, but creating and restoring from win8 is the ultimate nightmare. Won’t restore from blu-ray, won’t accept image (doesn’t see blu-ray), seems to keep generating multiple images on one blu-ray without prompting, won’t backup to any media but hd that is equal or larger in size. Have not given up yet. So I await my new 3tb SATA drive and will try restore from the 80 gig and keep the 40 pristine. Just in case… Can’t wait to get back to my mint distro. MS has made windows such a big PITA over the years. I teach PC/Internet to seniors and it is a windows world out there. Ugh.

  27. Want to shut down in desktop mode? Alt-F4, shutdown, done. That was difficult
    hey MIT guy, heres a clue learn useful shortcut keys that have been with Windows desktop since god knows when.

    Win-X all the settings you’ll need.
    Win-C charms bar
    Windows key

    and if you’re using a Tablet and never want to see the desktop, find apps that’ll get the job done in the Modern UI and never open the ‘desktop app’ aspect of the OS. if you do open it once and awhile, drag the desktop to the bottom of your screen and close it, if you don’t want to see it while switching apps

    I mean i’m not as smart as this guy but figuring out 8 was pretty darn easy

  28. eLabs: It may not be a ‘proper tablet’, but it’s using supported features on a supported machine. If that’s not working great then it’s worth reviewing as such. If one of the criteria of a successful Windows 8 experience is that it only makes sense on certain hardware then that’s something _critical_ to be reviewing and explaining, not glossing over!

  29. I see 5 year old in stores playing with Windows 8 tablets with no problem. I think our age has gived us false expectation of how things should be, and when they are different, we call them unusable. Microsoft didn’t build Windows 8 to convert Apple and Android users, they built it to be usable and customizable for each person’s taste. This is a catch-22, if Windows 8 was similar to Apple or Android products, you’d call it a clcone or rip-off. Because it’s different, you call it unusable. Just say you hate Microsoft and everything it stands for and save us all a lot of time by not reading your biased opinions. If you prefer the required process dictated by an “Apple Genius” then buy an Ipad. Be free and think for yourself.

  30. I have Windows 8 on may desktop and agree that no hardware back button is damming. Windows Phone 7 has a hardware back, home and camera button and it is great! How can they miss like this for their tablets.

  31. Bob:

    Let me stop you right there: The metrics they used developing Win8 are completely flawed. From the UI designer for Win7 (was chatting with him on IRC the other day): “Our metrics showed that users used programs in full screen/maximized 95% of the time”. So this informed their choice to make everything full screen. Well lets think about that for a moment, yes, most people tend to run maximized – but key data is still available when maximized vs full screen. Open programs, time, system tray, easy access to the desktop, etc.

    What about that 5% of the time? Try comparing two spreadsheets/documents by alt+tabbing vs re-sizing the windows so you can view both. Try maintaining an active IM conversation on 1/5th of the screen while working in another document or even watching a video while you chat. Sure you may not spend a lot of your time doing these things, but the ability to do so when you need to is important. And yes, you can still do these things in Desktop mode, to an extent. You cannot do them with apps though. Something simple like playing a game of solitaire while chatting? Nope, can’t do that – solitaire is an app now so it must be run full screen. Sure you can alt+tab between the two but that is not efficient, you have no visual cues to let you know you need to switch either.

  32. “You (and everyone else) cursing Windows 8 need to realize that you have the “curse of knowledge”. They ran Windows 8 through 1.2 BILLION HOURS OF USER TESTING. Quantifiable usability data says much more than what opinions we, though we may think ourselves experts, may have on the topic.”

    No you need re-read that statement. It’s not 1.2 billion hours of quantifiable usability data, its pre-release testing hours. This means 0 in terms of how well the users actually enjoyed or understood their experience.

    Microsoft is incredibly myopic when it comes to gathering real useful data from business and power users and captured for this release a massive amount of data that is of the least common denominator. It’s a shoddy interface transition and sadly off the mark.

  33. “Stop right there. I personally don’t believe the target audience of Windows 8 was the expert user. There are very few “experts” in the world in proportion to non-experts. The intended audience was your mother (or grandmother) — the casual user.”

    You stop right there. Why should expert users then be subjected to a dumbing down of the interface? Why should office workers, programmers, designers, or anyone else who actually uses their pc for actual work be forced to endure it?

    Maybe gramma doesn’t need a pc but I don’t need a tablet.

  34. “They ran Windows 8 through 1.2 BILLION HOURS OF USER TESTING”
    Tested on who? What did they test? what were the results? People actually chose to have windows 8 the way it is? Maybe these people were lobotomized beforehand!
    I hate to tell you BOB, but put windows 8 in front of a person who has never used a computer before and they will struggle. Hell I’ve been using computers since 1993 and I couldnt figure out how to shut the damn thing down! (yes I did figure it out after a few mins, but is that really th e way its supposed to be? , am i meant to have to figure things out? It should damn well be intuitive!!! Obvious!! straight forward!! Less Clicks!!! I could go on . as for keyboard shorcuts – i like them but default system action should all be mouse driven!! Cant believe how belligerent Microsoft’s attitude is on forcing the new OS UI on us!

  35. Wider screens may have been driven, at least initially, more by manufacturers than consumers. Since screen size is measured diagonally, increasing horizontal size allows them to advertise a larger screen even as the actual area, and therefore manufacturing cost, remains the same.

  36. It is amazing how much effort Microsoft is putting into Astroturing to have people post idiotic and often incoherent defenses of why Window8 is great.

    Its much easier to use and very intuitiv meets You can just press the windows key and ctrl whatever to do what you need. This dual defense in itself shows how little sense Windows 8 makes.

  37. There is a 22-inch high-res Android Tablet:

    The ViewSonic VSD220.

    And, at $400, a bit cheaper than your Dell.

  38. Mike in comment # 3 wrote ” It was confusing for about 10 minutes as I recall, you do have to figure out the new paradigm, which will be harder for us old dogs than for younger people. (Probably the most important thing is simply attitude.)”
    In my experience “us old dogs” have what many “younger people” do NOT have – time and patience. For the younger market, the simpler the interface, the better the prospects of success. Time to learn and not looking foolish in front of your competitors -er, friends, make this ESSENTIAL.

  39. I find myself in LOVE with Windows 8… and I dont mean the UI!

    I had tried it in the beta’s then the RC’s and was pissed off when they decided to block the registry entry to bring back the start menu! I even planned on not purchasing it and discouraging others from it as well!

    Happily however, I have found, and have now happily paid for “StartIsBack”, which ANYONE can find and TRY (30 day trial) or buy for pocket change at:

    That being said, I fired it up, disabled everything Metro related I could find, and am now enjoying all the OTHER improvements that Windows 8 brings, because the UI, while being horrid is in-fact only 1/8th (see what I did there?) of what Windows 8 is!
    Got my boot to desktop and Start Menu back, file transfer times are faster then I have ever had, and I normally reinstalled every 4-6 months, when I remembered that is, everything feels smoother, the Task Manager is more helpful then ever and I almost don’t need System Explorer anymore (a wonderful app I use). There are MANY other vast improvements in Windows 8 over Windows 7, the UI, however, is NOT one of them! Thankfully, after a 2 day trial run, and then a $3 purchase, I am now enjoying Windows 8 and everything it has to offer, and nothing it has to shove down your throat (the UI).

    I will however be sticking with Office 2010… There is no fix for Office 2013

  40. Android is not a good table OS. Apple reigns supreme in the tablet category because they frameworks for their OS make it easy to make tablet appropriate Apps. 90% of the apps I’ve ever seen on tablets are phone apps scaled up that look terrible and waste the extra screen real estate afforded by the tablet.

  41. Hello folks. First off this is version 6.2 of Windows. The significance of that is that Vista was version 6, and Windows 7 was 6.1 so… What do you really expect for this? You would be better off taking Windows 7, modifying it as you like with all of your desktop icons, short cuts to (fill in the blank), and then running the Easy Migration Wizard to make a backup of your profile. Windows 8 has the Easy transfer wizard. Use this to bring it all in on the new machine. Much friendlier than the OOBE (out of box experience).

  42. To DNS in comment 39. Proving I am far from the market, I actually have my wide screen monitor turned 90 degrees to view web pages and documents in their entirety. As a side point, it allows those marketing banners on the side of the page to, oops, not in the viewable range. 😉

  43. Geez, are Microsoft astroturfers EVERYWHERE?? Here’s this little blog trashing Windows 8 and before you know it “Mike” has appeared to tell everyone that everything Microsoft is excellent all the time, in perpetuity, throughout the Universe.

  44. I’m using Windows 8 on a Surface RT, which should at least be a slightly more cohesive experience (given that it’s supposed to be a tablet, primarily, and not a desktop with touch.)

    I have to agree with Philip though – the OS is a dog’s breakfast of a mess, and it’s not because of issues at the margins. The whole Metro/non-Metro split is a disastrous and ungainly solution. It’s like making a smart phone by duct-taping a cell phone and palmtop together.

    Microsoft just didn’t have the institutional courage to make the hard decisions necessary when you attempt to move to a new paradigm. It’s obvious that some portion of the team “gets” that there is a paradigm change going on, but they couldn’t get support for dropping the old interface (and from the looks of it, it was the Office team that balked.)

    A decade from now, we’re going to look back on Windows 8 as (at best) an abortive half-breed that marked a transitional period in personal computing. Less than half of new computers now shipped run Windows, for the first time in two decades, and that trend is accelerating. Clinging to the past is not going to help Microsoft secure their future position.

  45. @George

    Your buggy/stable alternate release argument breaks down when you consider that NT/2000 was a different kernel/architecture to 95/98/ME. The two only merged in XP IIRC

  46. I just built a NAS with Windows 8. I did contemplate using something like FreeNAS or WHS. The problem with FreeNAS is it sounds overly complicated and I’m not much of a Linux guru. At least I can fix Windows if it breaks. I couldn’t use WHS because stupidly Microsoft removed the only reason anyone ever bought it, for the storage pools. This feature is available in Windows 8 as storage spaces. Unfortunatly RDP isn’t available unless you get Pro or higher. So UltraVNC it is. Fine.

    The user interface is worse than I remember from the customer preview now that I’m actually trying to seriously use it. As with other PCs I build I went to go do it with just the keyboard. This new interface is not friendly at all to that. I can do pretty much anything I need to on Windows 7 with just the keyboard. So I finally just broke down and started ferrying my only USB mouse back and forth until I could get UltraVNC up and running.

    It really feels like they did a half ass job making the start menu a faux tablet interface. I don’t need a start menu to take up the entire screen. Its very annoying and somewhat disorienting. Fine put in a full tablet interface. Just give the customer the option to turn it off like in all the previous versions like the classic mode start menu.

  47. Any tech blog that has some respect for themselves has written that basically, Windows 8 is a turd. Even Gartner reported the Win8 interface an awful one for desktop PCs. If anyone is writing rave reviews, they’re MS shills.

    In fact, Windows 8 was the final nail in my 16-year mostly-Windows period. (Ok, there were a couple of years where I used mostly Linux.) I was checking out a new laptop, but I despise the win8 Fischer-Price UI. So I went for a MacBook Pro instead, getting the satisfaction of having access to both regular desktop software (like MS Office) and a UNIX-ish OS. Windows has been relegated to a VM on this laptop, and it will probably be the way it’ll remain.

  48. I live in the Linux world and this Windows 8 fiasco reminds me of the GNOME fiasco.

    However, unlike Windows prisoners… err, customers… we have choice. I’ve been happily using a desktop environment called XFCE for the last 10 years and it’s great. Its developers don’t gratuitously Change The World with each release; they just concentrate on fixing bugs and improving the polish.

    So my long-established muscle memory for performing UI operations still works.

  49. I forgot to add that a big motivation for me in trying out Windows 8 was to see what touch applications were available to delight a 3-year-old girl. I may do a separate posting about that. So far the applications that I’ve found have been lame compared to iOS/Android.

  50. I run Windows 8 on an all-in-one desktop (an iMac) and I like it a lot. I shared some of Phil G’s criticisms at first until I realized they were inaccurate. Like, shutting down is two clicks from the desktop. Yes you can dock metro apps on either side of the desktop.

    There aren’t any awesome metro apps to speak of yet. So… it works just like Windows 7 until those apps are written.

    I just wish Apple would ship PC hardware with a touch digitizer + retina display. And I can’t wait for Haswell tablets. But as a platform agnostic who does indeed enjoy change, I think windows 8 is awesome.

  51. A couple of comments have mentioned that Windows 8 is really targeted to consumers, and not “experts.” I don’t see Microsoft or any mainstream hardware vendors offering any alternative OS for experts.

    Some vendors are still shipping 7 on certain models, but most newer machines come with 8 preinstalled now. If you want to switch back to 7, you need to spend even more money and some of your own time to get there, and then hope the UEFI Secure Boot won’t block your installation from running.

  52. Phil, 4 things:

    1) take a deep breath
    2) watch this video:
    3) for pro tips, check his blog:
    4) Win8 is new & different, give it some time

    As a developer who uses OS X, Win8 and Win7 all on a daily basis (VMs on MacBook FTW) I have to say I find Win8 to be superior from a productivity perspective in almost every way over Win7, at least once you’ve learned a few basics.

  53. whistl,

    I agree. This is just Microsoft pushing a new OS on everyone including experts. They’ve neutered WHS 2011 for the enthusiast. Windows 8 Pro adds the ability to join a domain and use bitlocker? Who other than experts are going to use those features? My grandma doesn’t have a domain to join.

  54. David LaRocque said: “On non-touch, I want to throw my mouse into the corner and click to get the Start menu. Not only because that’s what I’m used to, but because it’s fast. When XP expanded the Start button hit zone, removing the little dead zone that 95/98 used to have (remember that?), it made this motion so much more reliable and less picky. Now, to have to mouse down, wait, and then click? Too slow.”

    David, I think you’ve been misinformed about how Windows 8 works. Getting to Start works exactly the same as Windows 7 (and XP). You throw your mouse in the corner and click. There is no waiting or aiming. It’s the easiest thing you can possibly do with a mouse (thus why the UI is designed that way).

    Mark – Almost nothing you said is true. Tiles never, ever, ever move around on their own. Only the user can rearrange them. You absolutely can use multiple Microsoft Accounts. I use two on a daily basis. One is my primary, of course, and is what I log in with and use for purchases across Windows/Phone/Xbox. But I have no problems using the other for e-mail and other services, for example. You absolutely can buy an app on one profile/account and use it on others. Uninstalling apps very much uninstalls them (one of the primary goals of the new app model is that apps always uninstall cleanly, a task at which it’s been very successful). However, if other users still have the app installed, then of course it will still be taking up space on your disk (until all users uninstall it).

    Secondly, it is a terribly idea to change permissions on system files. Every OS has the equivalent of system files where Administrator-type accounts are by default denied access. There is absolutely zero reason for you to ever change this arrangement and doing so is likely responsible for many of the error messages you say you encountered (it is not a “bug” in the OS if you actively engage in breaking it and then it doesn’t work).

  55. Philip,

    I will agree with you that they did miss the boat when it comes to integrating mobile and desktop. The only reason I am purchasing a Win8 (not RT) device is because I can run Windows applications on them.

    One place you seem to contradict youself is with the Windows Button. Every windows 8 devices I have seen has the Windows Button below the screen and it is equivalent to the Home Button on an iOS device. If you happen to only have one on the keyboard but the device is a desktop anyway I don’t see what the problem is there. Nevertheless, I do much prefer have the hard menu and back buttons like on Androids.

    I installed Win8 on my desktop. While there are some tablet OS annoyances that you spoke of, I find that 99.99% of the time it is no different than when I was using Win7. Since Win7, you can just press Start and type the name of the application or file or whatever you want to open and that’s pretty much how I always used the Start Menu in Win7. In Win8, even though it brings up the Tablet Windows Tiles screen, I can still simply start typing the name of what I want to open and click enter so while I see a different presentation, I am doing the same actions and getting where I want in the same amount of time.

    As for the Power and Reset complaints… this is Windows not iOS or OS X. If you have a problem you can fix it youself which should mitigate most criticism. Is simply created icons on my desktop to perform those two functions.

  56. So… I mean this in the nicest possible way, because you ended on an open and hopefully honest request for comments, but this post reads like a mixture of frothing at the mouth and forum trolling. I’ll try to set some of the worst of them straight:

    Every Windows RT device (the ones that are supposed to be used as tablets in particular) has a hardware Start button. There’s your Home bottom. Most x86 tablets do too (I haven’t seen one without this in years). On a non-tablet, you have the Windows key and the Start button (yes, there is totally a Start button, it’s just hidden until you move the mouse to the lower left corner). As a side note, every Android device I’ve seen has a Home button too; not sure why you implied (by omission) that this wasn’t the case. Also, the vast majority of Windows Store (tablet-style) apps use the upper-left Back arrow; that’s where it’s located on the developer templates. An Android app can choose to completely ignore the Back button if they want to, of have it do something totally weird, incidentally; it’s not some guaranteed feature of the OS.

    The app bar (that thing which shows up at the bottom of the screen) is context-sensitive. You can display it by right-clicking, even. Yes, it’s inconvenient with a mouse, but it works. Why are you using “modern” apps with a mouse anyhow?

    Speaking of the app bar, in addition to right-clicking and swiping down from the top of the screen, you can also display it by swiping up from the bottom. You seem to think this would be the intuitive option, so I’m confused (on the assumption that you were serious, and not just a giant troll) as to why you printed a blatant lie claiming that you can’t.

    The approximately 1/5 of the screen for that “ribbon” of a tablet app is plenty for many purposes (chat window, email, web search, monitor stocks, play music, etc). Apparently you were in such a rush to dismiss it out of hand (while asking for a 1/3 split, as though that makes all the difference in the world) you didn’t even consider what it might be useable for.

    You can totally start an application from the desktop. Use the Run command, the command line, or just a taskbar or desktop icon (you know, like Windows “experts” have been doing in one way or another for over a decade). Additionally, you can launch a program by hitting the Windows key, typing the first few letters of the program name, and hitting Enter… all before that oh-so-dreadful Start screen (it’s full-screen; SO WHAT?!?) has time to finish its very short fade-in animation.

    You can also use the control panel from the desktop. Right click on the Start button (or hit Win+X; not very discoverable but an “expert user” should know to look up the shortcut keys) and select Control Panel from the menu that appears. You can also select things like “Command Prompt (Admin)”, “Programs and Features” (Add/Remove Programs, for those who can’t think past Windows XP), “Computer Management”, and “Run”.

    As a side note, that menu is accessible from anywhere, including tablet apps. This is handy because the last option on it – right where you’d click if you simply hit the right button followed immediately by the left one – is “Desktop” and will take you back to your beloved desktop should you somehow find yourself facing the horrors of a full-screen app.

    How long is the comment limit? You posted an awful lot of stuff that needs refuting…

    Assuming you don’t have a second monitor to run your web searches on, have you considered using the “Pin to Left/Right” feature with a web search app (either the built-in Bing app or any half-competent one from another search provider) and using that while simultaneously looking at the Windows 8 app that you’re confused about? No, of course you didn’t; you were in such a hurry to dismiss that feature I’m surprised you even noted its existence. As a side note, this is something that no other tablet OS offers at all. At worst, Win8 is jut as good as iOS or Android at this kind of search. In fact, it’s actually a good deal better, especially if you are using a keyboard (Alt+Tab being a much baster way to switch apps than any tablet OS I’ve ever seen offers).

    Did you consider that tech journalists may have been giving Win8 positive reviews because they actually tried using it, instead of searching for things to complain about in it (to the point of committing blatant falsehoods to print)? I don’t know where your bias comes from, but it’s increasingly hard to believe there isn’t one. You talk about “expert users” at the beginning of your post, then fail to do any of the things an expert user would actually do when faced with a new system, like try things out or look up what’s new. You’re embarrassing yourself.

  57. I find myself agreeing with GumbyDammit! This set of comments, that has been /.ed should be seeing a large traffic boost.

    On some sites, (such as IMDB) you know how long somebody has been a member for and you know if they are “Shills” or not.
    “Mike” -> Total astroturf
    “Christopher Cilley”
    “Bob Tabor” (who actually gave a URL, and he sells training for computers. The “mom waving mouse in front of the screen” REALLY its 2012, mice have been a known meme since 1992 20 years ago, So I have to assume that you are over 40, so maybe when you were 20 this happened to you, but I doubt it.
    “Eric” -> Did you even read the article, or are you paid to write the things that you do. After studying for many years Android and Iphone, you couldn’t have come up with some thing even a little bit better? My daughter is almost 6 and has had no problem with the iphone since she was 3, so your idea of a 5 year old using Win8 doesn’t impress me. The “Think for yourself” meme is also WAY over used and shows who is thinking and who isn’t.

    I know that Phil did a great job here, and to my untrained eye, the rest of the comments here were very well thought out, and brought up good points both good and bad.

    I test software at work so on my desk are two computers, one XP and one win7. I find myself using the XP machine for almost everything that I do. I cannot get used to the win7 even though I use it 4-5 hours per day. My co-workers are so used to me jumping up in the middle of the day with a “damn you win7” that it has become a joke. (I say this to let y’all know that I have significant problems with change, and so am biased)

  58. isn’t there some iron law of weblog/slashdot/windowsOS reviews – the first month are pans, the reviews after SP1 are grudging it might be ok, the revs after SP2 are, why did we not appreciate the beauty…..

  59. Week 1 – 3 on my Lenovo x60 (non-touch) tablet. OK…a little hard to get into. This was the consumer preview. Now I just updated with release and I like it and it runs great. No driver issues. This tablet came with XP originally BTW.

    A couple of weeks on a MacBook Pro–the touchpad functions were cool but then I gave the mac back. But it also ran great.

    So, 3 weeks ago I jumped ship and built a new workstation (3 monitors – work machine) and installed Win 8 and Office 2013. Week one was frustrating but maybe more about all the deeper changes – I am a SysAdmin.

    Learn a few basic shortcut keys and you will be fine.

    Now I love it and only switch to my Win 7 desktop because I have not installed all my admin tools yet.

    Give it time, really.


  60. I think the key to Eric (#33)’s statement is the word play. I have no problem PLAYING with the Win8 environment either. It’s fun to swipe around on and look at the new interfaces. Where it falls short is WORKING. I rarely if ever work in a maximized application and if I do, it’s because I’ve connected a second monitor to run everything else in. I need file windows, reference documents, web browsers and various other windows available to make things efficient.

    I don’t find it impossible to work in Win8, I just find it difficult and unpleasant.

    A better solution for the Win8 interface would have been to simply work on inventing a better application launcher, not a new paradigm.

  61. Surprise. Another article that sticks the knife into Windows 8 – typically these articles go:

    “ZOMGZ!11!!11 NO STARTZ BUTONZ!!!11!!11!

    That about sums it up.

    Really? Get over it, that line is getting tired. The Tiles ARE the start menu. It’s fluid, easy to organise, and simple to use. Sure, there’s a few tips-and-tricks that help – much like every other OS, Microsoft or not.

    As a Windows 8 user in a BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT for the last three months (as soon as it went RTM we got it through the Partner Program), I’ve got nothing but praise. I’m using it on a 2.5 year old desktop, and I’ve noticed:
    – it’s fast and snappy.
    – a heap of great under-the-hood improvements, e.g. task manager is much improved, and better battery life on laptops.
    – no compatibility issues with LOB applications.
    – built in mail, messaging, and social applications.
    – Skydrive integration.

    When Microsoft brought standardisation kicking and screaming to the PC platform with Windows’95 there was an equal amount of wailing and moaning. Then Microsoft did the PC industry a favour.

    Sure, it’s different now, MS are working on bringing a standard experience across multiple platforms – Xbox, Windows Mobile, Tablet, and Desktop. So far I like it.

    Even though Mr. Greenspun finishes on a positive note, there’s an underlying tone of sarcasm. Not a read read overall.

  62. This is my experience as well. I was able to play with an RT tablet in Best Buy while my gf was getting an Iphone – it was painful – there was no way to figure out how to do something unless you started rubbing the screen with one or two or three fingers, fondling it stroking trying to see what would turn it on.. – then if you opened the picture app there were no pictures except the nice ones they provide and I wanted to see all the interesting pictures that people take with the pad in Best Buy because its an adventure – but no luck then I stroked over to the camera app I could tell it was a camera app because it looked like an old timey camera from the olden days which blossomed into a picture of me looking down and the lovely rafters and the back of a ladies head – l found the pictures eventually because I am plucky and I try hard it was because I noticed that a small spot looked sort of like a picture of me looking down from some rafters I pressed and viola! lots of interesting Best Buy people a longish ten or so stream of pictures then I dont know what I did but some how I did something with one of the pictures maybe I cropped it or deleted it- I am sure I was confused absolutely positively sure I was completely confused and annoyed by windows rt.

  63. I just bought a new laptop for my daughter who is in her first year of college and it came with windows 8. Like everyone else, I find many things annoying, and some things OK. I think the biggest problem, both functionally and from the point of view of MIcrosoft’s attitude, is the nixing of the start menu from the desktop view. It is blatant attempt to force people to use the Metro view for certain things whether they use and Metro apps or not.

    The long term problem I see is that the crippled “desktop” in windows 8 reminds me of “DOS mode” in windows 95 and 98. Microsoft was compelled to put it in to remain compatible with existing apps, but there was a very clear, if unspoken at the time, message of “you had better migrate your apps away from DOS – consider yourself warned”. The desktop in windows 8 smells of something that is there for now because most apps still need it, but that barring *major* backlash from users, will disappear in the next or second-from-next version of windows, forcing everyone into the all-apps-run-full-screen-one-at-a-time Metro paradigm. Microsoft is forcing PC users into a smartphone/tablet paradigm that most of them don’t want simply to try to leverage their monopoly in the PC to gain more success in the mobile market where they have been failing.

    With the possible exception of the X-box, MS has done poorly at almost every market they attempted to compete in without already having an existing lock-in based monopoly. Now, rather than competing on merit, they are attempting to use their monopoly on the desktop (which is damn near unshakable due to the app lock-in) to breed a higher level of acceptance of their mobile products, at the expense of their PC users who have no choice but to acquiesce because they are locked in to the platform by their apps.

  64. Phil,

    You know what your problem is, Phil? I’ll tell you what your problem is: You keep trying to fix stupid. Windows 8 is what it is. Learn to embrace the stupid, Phil.

    All kidding aside, I use Windows 8 every day. I started playing with it the first week in June. My reaction to the product back then was similar to your own. After that, I got a little bit smarter about “how to deal” with Steven Sinofsky. I started using Win8 in earnest (every day) the first week in August (RTM became available on MSDN). The very first thing that I do now after installing Windows 8 (or Windows Server 2012) is to download Classic Shell from SourceForge and install it on the machine. After that, voila, the Windows 8 box becomes a better Windows 7 box than Windows 7 ever was. The infinitely customizable start orb/menu implemented by Classic Shell is a vast improvement over what we had in Windows 7.

    That’s not the only improvement, either. I am now a regular user of Windows Defender (good-bye McAfee, Symantec, Kapersky and all you other security leaches and your overpriced products). My files are ALWAYS backed up (automatically in a seamless fashion) with Windows 8 File History. And I am learning to make great use of the synchronization provided by SkyDrive for my OneNote files, my Outlook contacts list, etceteras.

    As of November, I shifted into wholesale migration mode. I am migrating my servers to Windows Server 2012. I am migrating my laptops to Windows 8. Very shortly, I will be trading in my iPhone 3GS on a new Nokia Lumia 920 (running Windows Phone 8). I plan to hang-on to my Android tablet a bit longer — at least until the Win8 tablet/convertible market sorts itself out. (Many of the better offerings will not be available until 1st or 2nd quarter of 2013.

    So why would I DO such an “insane” thing. Simple. I am an employee of a large manufacturing corporation. No matter what I think and no matter what I like, the enterprise will ALWAYS be running low cost Wintel boxes. Some of these boxes run MS-Windows. Some of these boxes run Linux. But ALWAYS cheap, commodity Wintel boxes. There is not an Android device (company issued phones are Balckberries), or an Apple device ANYWHERE to be seen (at least, within the environment that I am forced to work in everyday).

    Before mid-year in 2013, I will be operating in an environment that is nearly ALL Microsoft (with some Linux activity being the only outlier). I am hoping and expecting that this approach will make my life more than a bit simpler.

    Maybe this kind of an approach won’t work for you or a lot of your readers. That’s okay too. I’m a firm believer in “live and let live”. You’ll have to admit one thing though — Microsoft got a bit smarter about how to deal with Steven Sinofsky as well.

  65. “They ran Windows 8 through 1.2 BILLION HOURS OF USER TESTING.”

    And how many confessions DID they get from the prisoners at GitMo when they were done?

  66. I’ve been using computers since 1961. All of these keyboard shortcuts are things that you (1) can’t discover by looking at the screen and (2) require memorization. Surely one of the principles of UI design was that things should be ‘discoverable’? Learning to use Win8 reminds me of learning DOS; you have to memorize magic incantations.

    Oh, and my keyboard doesn’t have a Windows button.

  67. To Dutch Uncle, I would point out that iOS has superior support for people with disabilities. You can use assistive technologies like braille displays, a screen reader, etc. There is a menu for people who can’t perform all the gestures. Siri can help you avoid having to type etc. It gets better every year too.

  68. It took me all of 5 minutes to become totally familiar with the Windows 8 interface. It really is very easy.

    I suppose if you’re stuck in the Windows 95 interface paradigm (which I consider not much different than Windows 3.1x) then you may have trouble adjusting. People are familiar with it, it’s comfortable – even though most of it’s interface decisions are almost arbitrary and don’t make any sense.

    I’ve seen lots of people shy away from OS X and Linux for not being able to adjust away from Windows.

  69. W8 is very fast. IE10 is very, very fast. As for shutting down, you probably don’t need to shutdown all that often. As an alternative, why not just put the device / desktop into sleep? It wakes up even faster. Go to Control Panel > Power Options > On Press Power Button > Sleep. Now, that’s easy.

    I’m running W8 on a nettop with a 19″ screen. I have zero problems navigating the Start Screen and Modern UI apps. The desktop is one click away, and the only real change is the Start button is now basically a big start screen. And you have the right-click, power user menu off the lower-left Start Screen.

    Finally, I had everything I needed to know figured out in 10 minutes, but unfortunately MS did mess up by forcing people to go through the Start Screen into the desktop. Had they given people the option to choose, this would have been an entirely different deal.

    Honestly, though, this is one of the worst reviews on W8 that I’ve read. There’s no way that you spent much time trying to find out more about how W8. It’s a shame, because W8 handles both the desktop and touch experience equally well.

  70. Speaking as someone who has been a computer hobbyist since before it became “plug and play” to build your own system, I don’t think I could agree with this review much more.

    Some comments have mentioned (to paraphrase) that “Windows 8 uses a new paradigm…” but they neglect to say how badly flawed this “new paradigm” is.

    Canine breakfasts the world over feel insulted by the description of Windows 8.

    Microsoft, as with many other groups and companies, are missing a few key points:
    A desktop computer is not a touch-based tablet or a cell phone.
    All three require different methods of access and use, and what works great on one does NOT work well on another.
    End of story.

    This may well be Microsoft’s “swan song”, folks. Each alternate release of Windows has not only been bad but generally also relatively worse than the previous one.

    If Windows 9 is not a huge success, we may never see a “Windows 10.”

  71. You guys have it all wrong. This has nothing to do with consumers and everything to do with getting a product out the door to please shareholders. Microsoft stopped caring about you all long ago, time to move on.

    Microsoft is old news. After years of malware and virus activity, secret backdoors and the general middle-finger on productivity and simplicity; I have moved on to Linux. Xubuntu (Linux) to be specific, and I have never been happier and more free.

    You guys can keep your tablet UI, your virus nonsense and keep taking it in the buttocks all you please. Microsoft is of no concern to me, or the Millions of other users leaving their Monopoly. If you had any sense, you would move on as I did.

  72. I’ve always been a Windows and Microsoft fan. Now, the last few years, Microsoft lost its way a little bit and they suffered some kind of identity crisis. As I’m a web developer, I switched from using just Windows, to both Mac and Windows. I even switched my server from Cent OS to OS X Server running on a Mini, which doesn’t make noise and doesn’t eat energy at all. And as I’m actively involved in mobile development, I have been using a lot of Android and iOS devices. I owned an Android and switched to iPhone 5. For the tablet I never had a doubt and I bought an iPad straight away. The devices stick out in user friendliness, far above Android. Android suffers from the Windows disease: it has to be supported by far too many devices, so that it just can’t run perfect on any one of them.

    Now, coming back to Windows, which I installed from day 1 on all my computers, is just another way of looking at things. I have the feeling that Microsoft has made a new start. They are back in business, believe me!

    To start with, Windows 8 is robust. When installing my Windows 8, I configured my SSD to carry Windows, and a regular HDD to carry the Program Files and User data. During a few tries creating junction links and such, I accidentally restarted my Windows without any Program Files or User data present and guess what: not a single error. A real fast boot instead and of course a pretty empty Start screen. 🙂

    But now everything is running, I really see the big picture. It’s not just a pc and a buch of devices which sync through the cloud, that’s so 2010. And to be honest, that’s what all Apple products are about currently. No, I have my Live account which is linked to my Facebook, Twitter, GMail, LinkedIn, … and my Xbox 360 of course and I log in with it! And that is where a great deal of all the power is, really!

    Xbox is a WII U, it’s a PlayStation Move (without controllers), it’s Apple TV, it’s a media extender. It’s competing not only with Sony and Nintendo, but also with Apple and Google and they don’t even have such a device. And yes we’re still talking about the 360. Features are added constantly. The regular WII didn’t make no sense anymore as soon Kinect was there. With Xbox Smartglass for example, you can interact with your Xbox using PC’s, smartphones and tablets (and not only Microsoft ones), so WII U is already beaten to the ground by the 360 again.

    Last, Windows Azure is the cloud platform on which even iCloud runs, together with Amazon. So even there, Microsoft has all cards in their hand.

    My opinion is that Windows 8, together with Xbox and Live, is just the beginning of a new era. Where Apple was the first to invent the “app” concept, Google just copied that. They made a mobile OS which was a clone of iOS, because iOS worked. But Microsoft on the other hand, did the same as Apple and invented a new concept. I think it’s terrific, but I also think it still needs to mature. But even if Microsoft has a far more advanced model in mind, they have to gradually introduce it to the public, you can not just throw things over.

    So it’s not about that single device anymore, it’s about the whole. My two cents.

  73. Responding to those who responded critically of my previous comments. I hope we can still be friends. 😉


    First, 95% of the time sounds like a pretty good indicator to me of how most people use their computers. I mean … c’mon … 95%.

    And second, for those 5%’ers … you can use the Snapping feature to use both your chat & Solitaire or your Word doc and video at the same time, assuming the developers of each app followed the Design Guidelines. Here’s the video I created on Channel9 showing developers how to add this feature to their apps:


    You asked why should experts have to deal with a dumbed down UI? You don’t have to deal with anything. Stay on Windows 7 if you like. Nothing forces you to upgrade if you don’t feel like there’s a benefit. I stayed away from Mac OS X 10.7 until I (a) let everyone figure out where the issues were and they were address by Apple, and (b) I needed the functionality in newer versions apps I relied on that forced me to use Mac OS X 10.7. Anyway, most of the time I work in VMs and have multiple builds for different situations. I suspect most experts do the same, right?

    @Jon … here’s the article … I’m not privy to the details of who / when / what / how / etc. I’m sure with a little googling you could find more details:

    Furthermore, most non-experts never turn off their tablets or their computers … they just let them go to sleep. I’m the only one in my house who goes through that exercise. My wife and kids never turn their computers off, and I can’t remember the last time I turned off my iPad or iPhone. But admittedly, yes, I had a problem turning off the computer … for the first two or three times. Then I found where / how to do it and I moved on with my life.

  74. Whoops … missed on …

    @Joe … “It’s not 1.2 billion hours of quantifiable usability data, its pre-release testing hours. This means 0 in terms of how well the users actually enjoyed or understood their experience.”

    I agree that not all 1.2 billion hours was strictly around usability. However I do know that (a) Microsoft builds a lot of telemetry into their applications, so I imagine they know how long people spend hunting and searching for things on their computers, and (b) at the build conference in 2011, they did show a video of the process they went through with inviting non-experts into their testing lab and asking them to perform different tasks without any prompting or help to see how and how long it took them to figure out what to do. They used that to guide their decisions about where to put what on the UI. I’m sure they probably have that posted somewhere.

  75. “Some functions, such as “start an application” or “restart the computer” are available only from the tablet interface.”

    “Restart the computer” is available via Alt+F4 when the desktop has focus – just as it has been for any recent Windows version I can remember.

    Starting an application is not really a problem either – whether you prefer Desktop/Taskbar shortcuts, the minimalistic “Run As” dialog (available via Windows Key + R) or just using the Windows Explorer (e.g. create a library that merges %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu and its %programdata% equivalent for easy access).

    Maybe these functions are not obvious to a novice user but they are available without having to use the Metro interface.

  76. You are clearly a moron. I’m in desktop mode 95% of the time. If I want to open an app I hit Windows key and just type, Boom. Opens up. If I am just being lazy, I’ll stay in the Start Screen and catch up on my big ass bulletin board which is what the Start Screen essentially is. I get my info on the latest headlines, sports, stocks, whats on sale, and may play my favorite pinball game. When I am ready for some real work I go back to the desktop. Its real simple folks.

    Desktop – Work
    Start Screen – Leisure, fun.

    We all separate the two in our lives, why should Win8 be any different?

  77. Interesting comments, but did any of you participate in the opening rounds of going from win 7 to 8. Probably not, but this is supposed to be the first for the corporate enterprise that has had no business input. This was “for the next generation” of computer users. A takeoff on android for business. And to relate the computer, the desktop,the server, and the handheld into one operating style, not system.
    They took the best of apple, a unified system, in theory .took the best of anderoid, the apps idea, used the best of their business acqumenen, and said lock down the different so they don’t interact, oddly, And cooked up this. Remember this is not for you, someone intellegent, i smirk, but for your children, your students, and for the future of microsoft. Not Apple, or Android. They are competition, and can “piss off”.
    This is one a person, a small business, a researcher, a school district, etc, can use on their system, their handheld, their home system. And interact.

  78. I am surprised nobody mentioned Jolla / Meego ( I find that user interface as seen on Nokia N9 and on the video demonstrations just the best. I mean, N9 has no home button and you can switch, close and open apps by swiping from the edges of the screen towards the center. Or go back / forward by swiping inside the screen from the center to left or right edge. It is just ingeniuos. Also long press works as well. The buttons wether hardware or onscreen just make the touch thing less intuitive.

  79. Concerning George’s comment yesterday on the Windows history:

    Also, looking back at Windows releases [1], the history goes like so:
    Windows 8 (I tried it and will not bother to upgrade)
    Windows 7 (love it, and have been using it since it was released)
    Windows Vista (very buggy, and slow)
    Windows XP (very stable, with good interface)
    Windows ME (very buggy, and slow)
    Windows 2000 (very stable, with good interface)
    Windows 98 (very buggy, and slow)
    Windows NT (very stable, with good interface)
    Windows 95 (early release was very buggy, but they stabilized it later on)
    Windows 3.1 / NT (very stable)
    Windows 3.0 (buggy)
    Windows 1.0 / 2.0 (buggy)

    Windows NT was originally started as IBM’s OS/2 and was a new product from the ground up. It became NT when MS and IBM went their separate ways. NT/2000/XP/Vista was a completely separate product from Windows 3.1/95/98/ME and were developed by two separate divisions. Vista was built on XP but was slow because they overbuilt it for the hardware at the time with too many “oh wow” goodies. Windows 7 is what Vista should have been.

  80. I do development; currently there are twenty windows open across three monitors, two of which are VMs that are themselves running multiple applications. Not a one of those windows is full screen, nor is it desirable to have any of them that way. If I had physical desk space for more monitors I’d have ten of them and still nothing would be full screen. It seems patently obvious W8 isn’t targeted at me, yet it’s people like me who write what everyone says will make W8 great and shiny. I’m not seeing how they’ll be using W8 to do that, nor what company outside MS itself would have the impetus. If they are shipping an OS for the masses who need Google to spell computer, they are by default preventing adoption by anyone who would move the platform forward in the real world.

    I’m more than a little intruiged by Kerry, who claims to have jettisoned the Teletubbie pastel interface entirely, when so many say critical system functions are not available anywhere else. I’d say that bears more investigation, but it’ll be far, far simpler to avoid W8 like anthrax (ala Vista) and hope the next version is usable.

    As long as they cater to folks who find more than one window confusing I hold out little hope for improvement. In twenty years I’ll be retired, and if the children coming into software find more than one window is too much to bear, more power to them. On a phone one window is a necessary evil. On a real computer used to to real work, with over six million pixels at my command, one window would be akin to drinking beer with an eye dropper.

  81. “Separate issue: Given how misguided the whole design of Windows 8 seems to be, why have tech journalists given it basically positive reviews?”

    I’m sure that you can see the fallacy in this statement. Your impression of Windows 8’s design as “misguided” is somehow the baseline assessment, while the impressions of your peers are to be judged in light of that…

    It’s all subjective. Some reviewers like it, some dislike it. Even your comparison to features you consider to be positive on other platforms (i.e. Android back button) are regularly criticized for their own implementation and inconsistency. I find a lot to like about all the tablet platforms, and of course, your mileage may vary.

    The blog post itself doesn’t bother me. It’s reading through the comments and finding accusations of astroturfing and the suggestion that any reviewer giving Windows 8 a rave review is a shill. Grow up, guys. It’s a strange sort of paranoia when you assume that someone who doesn’t share your opinion must have been paid to do so.

    Again, I’m speaking as someone who likes a lot about Android, iOS and Windows 8 and also dislikes a lot about these respective platforms.

  82. I installed the free start button on a virtual windows 8 and never see the touch screen interface– it looks almost like windows 7, even to shutdown the machine.
    On the other hand, I already have windows 7 machines, so I really don’t see any need for windows 8.

  83. the article doesn’t mention that the “apps” give away your privacy and would have been classified as hacker malware.

    Pretty heavy price to pay for metro for most of the same info you can get from a website.

    Otherwise I like the OS if you install something like start8 to get your start button back and banish the metro and firewall it.

    check disk and file transfer is better to name 2 things- the search is isn’t as good as it was in xp.

  84. Frank D: you obviously don’t understand how OS interfaces affect productivity. A large screen with multiple windows displayed or multiple monitors results in higher productivity. The more information you have at a glace the better. The whole premise of Win8 is that apps be run in full screen. This means you can’t tile and information must be bounced between which requires additional time for flipping back and forth since most people don’t have very good short term memories.

  85. The astroturfing seems to follow a script. Alt-Windows button-B-Function key 2…just that easy! I’ve been using it since forever and it’s sooo awesome! ETC.

    Anyway…I really wish this was a good OS–I’m not a MS hater–but Win 8 is laughable awful. MS is apparently scared out of their mind that PCs are going to disappear, so they took a risk pushing out this touch-friendly half-baked win 8 os. Maybe it will translate better for kinect style gestures??? Augmented reality is coming soon and MS does appear to be in the best position to take advantage.

  86. Some folks are diplomatically suggesting that Win 8 is not meant for experts, but for “joe sixpack” who will benefit from the ‘metro’ interface.

    I disagree, simply because MS in its infinite wisdom ALSO forces this interface on the SERVER version of Win 8. Who in there right mind is going to need, want or use the metro components and options on the SERVER version of Win 8?!?

  87. While I’ll grant you that RT is probably pending “dead on arrival” status simply for a lack of good software titles, I think you’re totally missing the UI philosophy in Windows 8. I *hated* it for about 20 minutes. Once I began to figure out that sliding “inward from off-screen” opens up a whole world of new gestures, I fell in love. I’ve been playing with the Toshiba 925t quite a bit, and aside from it being a ridiculously bulky “tablet” (It’s a hybrid ultrabook) it’s an amazingly *fun* device on which to browse the web. After about an hour of getting comfortable with the swipe gestures, it feels so natural I find myself trying to “flick” back a page or between apps on both my iPad and Nexus 7.

    I understand the frustration with switching between tablet and windows UI modes but, that should die through attrition for most consumer facing apps in very short order as new versions are released.

    With all due respect, the tablet universe is only a few years old, I want as many vendors exploring the new interaction possibilities a tablet interface can offer as *possible*.

  88. I have mixed feeling on Windows 8, however on the whole it is a step forward and the positives out-way the negative for me.

    There are two points I would like to make.

    1) Nothing has changed for the desktop!
    On Windows 7 I didn’t use the start button, ever. I clicked start (or more often hit the Windows key) and started typing; Cmd, Ping google, outlook, sound, whatever it was and it would get me the link, no going through menus. For those applications I use all the time they were pined to my start bar.
    On Windows 8 I still don’t use the start button, ever. I click in the bottom left (or more often hit the Windows key) and start typing; Cmd, ping google, outlook sound, whatever it is it will get me the the link – although I now have to specify settings for sound. For those applications I use all the time they are pinned to my start bar still.
    Nothing has changed, except Windows 8 is faster.

    Now with a converged device I image I might start to use Windows 8 Apps (read Metro), and wow do I want to except they are pointless on a 24″ monitor. Why can I not have 1 third of my screen an full screen app and the other the desktop, why oh why cannot I not build a tile of apps so I can see Mail, Caladner and Contats at the same time.

  89. The sleeper feature of iPad is when you put it next to a Mac (or Mac clone.) You have 2 screens, and you can do things like run a Web browser on iPad and Web development tools on the Mac, or do research in the iPad Web browser or book reader and have your writing tools always frontmost on the Mac. One downside of the Mac interface’s overlapping windows (which the Alto did not have) and multitasking of applications (which the Alto did not have) is that often your most important app (say Photoshop for a graphic artist) might be sharing the screen with many mini-apps, or with a Web browser. It’s much better to move the browser and mini-app work over to an iPad and leave Photoshop running in front. You can also use the iPad as a touch interface for Photoshop, for Logic, for many Mac apps. It’s like the Mac app expands onto the touchscreen.

    So when I hear people say that Windows 8 solves the problem of carrying 2 devices, I always think, carrying 2 devices is not a problem. Most can get by with just an iPad, but if you cannot, and you need a Mac (or Mac clone) then the Mac will be more effective if it has a touchscreen computer next to it for all the little stuff.

    When I look at the Windows 8 devices, it always strikes me that even if you are really into Windows, you are probably better off with a cheap Windows 7 notebook and an iPad mini, for about the same money as one Surface RT. That’s if you really have a need for Windows at all.

  90. I agree with your assessment even though I am a Microsoft fanboy!

    I do like what they have done to the core of the OS in terms of better resource management and speed but this whole disjointed experience of living in tablet mode and desktop mode doesnt work.

    When I installed the very first copy of preview edition of windows8 my initial impression was, ok this is different but what we need is a choice at the installation step which says.. do you want tablet mode or desktop mode set as default UX.

    It should install UX based on my default preference but also give me option of going to other mode if I like. What microsoft have done now is they are forcing people to use modern design format and I think it works in consumer mode but not when you are advanced user.

    I understand that windows8 is still work in progress like any UI change, it took microsoft 2 releases to sort out UI change from 3.11 to 95 and I suspect same thing will happen now.

    I am not disheartened about it, but excited knowing that a great UX awaits around the corner.


  91. The only way I’ve been able to cope with assessing W8 for work without flying into an apoplectic rage is to ignore what’s happening on screen, hit the WinKey and type the name of the application.

    The inspiration for the UI is not a tablet, it’s an invisible console, or a typewriter.

  92. Windows 8 has so many improvements under the hood that it is sad that its UI has been butchered in such a way. The schizophrenic environments (Metro & Desktop) are mixed in no logical ways. Win8 UX is unfinished, the proof is in WinRT that still has a Desktop when it does not need one.
    I use Win8 since the RC, and I’ve basically unistalled all Metro apps, only the app store is left. I installed ‘Start8’ which was free at the time, now I use ‘ClassicShell’. I boot straigth into the desktop and I never see the Metro environment. Now, MS better re-enable the start menu in some future update and give users the choice to boot into Desktop.

  93. George, you missed Windows 98 Second Edition. That one was just about perfect. When Win98 was released I ran into all kinds of issues where it wouldn’t install on computers that had shipped with 95B. Clean installs, not upgrades. 98SE got that all sorted, would install without a fuss on new PCs and most PCs made from late 96 and later. My own personal Personal Computer at the time was still running 95a because 95B had unresolvable issues with something in the hardware. So did 98. 98SE went on without a hitch and had drivers for everything but my printer. Of course I didn’t settle for the lame-o basic support of the Microsoft supplied drivers, downloaded and installed the ones from the various component manufacturers.

    Windows ME, oh what a feeling, of being shafted. That one took a lot of fiddling to get rid of the stupid default settings so it’d be standable to use. Then it was buggy and crashy, but eventually Microsoft threw enough patches at it to replace nearly all of it and got it stabilized. Never did get a service pack rolling up all the fixes.

    The legacy of WinMe is that horrible scrolling Start Menu that’s the default in Vista and the only one in 7. People who only install a few programs don’t see how bad it is. Professional/power users who install 50, 60, 100 or more things can’t stand it because it gets in their way, takes more time.

    Someone at Microsoft has been determined for more than a dozen years that we should be forced to have to search for our programs instead of being able to launch anything from the Start button in two single clicks. *click* *navigate automatically opening sub menus* *click* Takes 2 or 3 seconds, even with three full columns in the Start menu. Microsoft pretty much stuck the landing on that in 1995 – and has been doing its best to ruin it ever since.

    I’ve 30 years experience with computers. Used DOS since 2.1, Windows since 3.0, Mac since 7.1. Also dabbled a bit with older versions of the three just for fun. My first computer was a TI-99/4A, second was a Xerox 820-II, third a PCjr and fourth I upgraded from jr to a Model 5150 IBM PC.

    I’ve seen just about every flat out *stupid* thing programmers can do with a user interface and other software gaffes and goofs. (One of the all time dumbest is writing a program that can’t open some file formats it can create and save. Seen that in graphics editors, 3D modeling/rendering, and word processing.)

    What the UI formerly know as Metro most resembles is… WINDOWS 1.0!

    How anyone with long term computer experience or an interest in computer history can’t see the resemblance… I don’t know.

    They both have tiles with active content that can’t be overlapped. In Win 1.0 they could be resized and rearranged. I haven’t yet personally experienced Win 8, can its tiles be rearranged and resized, shrinking when one is enlarged, just like Win 1.0? If not, then its tile implementation isn’t even as good as Win 1.0.

    Formerly known as Metro of course has more colors and more pixels and expands the theme to multiple screens, but the core design principle is still 27 years old.

  94. Sunny Nagi. Yeah, it was a big change going from Windows 3.x to Windows 95, but the basic element, doubleclick an icon to run a program, was the same. The titlebar, menubar, all that stuff basically identical.

    The major change was replacing Program Manager with the Start button and menu. Quite obvious that’s what MS did, especially when doing a 3.1x to 95 upgrade because it converted Program Manager groups into Start menu submenues.

    What was a huge mistake in 95 was putting the window close button in the corner where the window maximize/restore button was in 3.x. I lost so much stuff, especially documents I was working on, getting used to that. I bet almost every other person who’d been a 3.1x user for a long time had the same issue.

    “I’ll just maxi… @#%@#%! Why is CLOSE where MAXIMIZE is supposed to be?!?”

    That bit of stupid is why the are you sure you want to close this and not save what you’ve spent hours creating dialog box exists.

    Untold millions of hours of productivity lost while people were forced to make a completely unnecessary change in how they used their computer. Could all have been avoided simply by putting the new button to the left of the existing two buttons.

    As for the tiny “dead zone” below and beside the Start button and taskbar, XP only eliminated that with the Luna theme. Switch to Classic and you also get the Classic dead zone. That inactive area should never have existed, but stuff like that happens when testing is done under precisely controlled conditions where people move the mouse or trackball to position the pointer in a controlled manner instead of whanging it around the screen and “throwing” it at the edges of the screen. I’ve seen many people literally throw/slide their mouse, give it a shove towards the Start button or taskbar and let go. Then they have to grab it and slide it up a little if they’re using Classic XP or any previous Windows.

  95. To put it bluntly:

    If an operating system forces you to use more than one UI paradigm against your will, it is by default, a failure of design.

    If the UI introduces a significant change in how it works, compared to the previous UI, it is a failure of design.

    If the operating system forces you to use not one, not two, but three different input types to get anything done, it is a failure of design.

    If people have to explain esoteric tricks to actually use the UI in a new operating system, then it is a failure of design.

  96. Truly accurate review. But much kinder words that I would use to describe it. I am a software developer and I do not want a tablet OS on my desktop PC ever! I want and need multiple windows open, its a multitasking operating system on a powerful desktop I don’t want to be thrust back into the days of DOS running one app at a time if you will, but with faster switching and lack of state loss. One should not be forced into a using a tablet UI on a desktop, its not how I operate. Perhaps I’m just not its intended target audience, which is fine this is the final nail int he MS Windows coffin for me as I move on with OS X and Linux. Now if I could just get my embedded development tools on one of those platforms I would never have to use Windows again ever, but as long as they support Windows 7 I’ll be ok.

  97. The PlayBook confusing? For maybe 2 minutes. There are only 5 gestures to remember:

    Swipe up from bottom to get to ‘desktop’
    Swipe down from top while in an app to get to preferences
    Swipe diagonally from either top corner to get system options
    Swipe diagonally from bottom left to get onscreen keyboard
    If the PB is sleeping, swipe across its surface to wake it up.

    That’s it. Took me less than a half hour to be completely comfortable with it. That’s not to say that it’s everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s not exactly rocket science.

    To go back OT, great article.

  98. Well yes, i generally find your points valid (except the fact that there’s a windows button on all windows devices). I didn’t like the idea of turning my desktop into a tablet, and i’m sticking to Win 7 till Win NT 7 is released and they undo this permanent metro crap.

    I don’t understand how M$ could have been so deaf to concerns people have been shouting at it for over a year. They literally had to do three things:

    1) leave the start menu in place for the PC version

    2) Boot to desktop in the PC version

    3) Make metro like Media Center, it’s there but you don’t have to use it.

    They would have probably converted the entire Win 7 user base to Win 8 before January 31st 2013 had they done this. But no, they went out of their way to make it difficult for people to restore the start button. (BTW try Start8, they sell a start menu for $5, it’s apparently sold 100,000 licenses so far, or so i’ve read).

    I also fail to understand why they’d keep a common PC/tablet OS and a separate phone OS, when common sense and standard industry practice keeps the mobile/tablet OS’ the same while having a different one for the PC (e.g. Mac OS X and iOS, Chrome OS and Android).

    To the “old-timer” comments: I’m 19, been using windows since i was 5, have an iPod Touch, tried linux (ubuntu and fedora), have an Android phone, am a fairly good programmer, currently studying electronics engineering and work as a freelance tech journo. I don’t like Win 8 at all, and though i might have gotten used to it, the initial impression was that it felt jarring. It felt fine on a tablet (and the fact that win 8/RT tablets have a proper visible file system is GREAT) but on a proper PC it was odd…i felt trapped. First intution was to clock on “start” but well, it wasn’t there. Metro opens up, and i was like “what do you want me to do now?”. So meh. Win 7 has extended support till 2020.

    Final point: Metro IS NOT the start menu, as many might have you believe (including M$). It’s a replacement for the explorer shell, the reason the desktop is now an “app”, and the real reason to boycott Win 8. If we let them get away with this, Win 9 probably wont have the desktop or explorer AT ALL. That’s my main concern, because i completely dislike Mac OSX (too dumbed down), and linux is simply annoying, or too rough, i couldn’t tell.


  99. I disagree, strongly.

    Although I do find that there is a learning curve to windows 8 as there should be whenever new technology is presented to the public, I don’t think it is all that difficult. As a TRUE test to the actual complexity of Windows 8 vs. all previous versions, find someone who has never used an Apple Computer and have them try to find their way around. (Yes, believe it or not Apple Fanboys, there are still folks out there that have never, or have very little interest in ever, touching or purchasing one)

    Yes, the simple things on an Apple computer are “simple” but they are also simple on Windows 8. Find the Control panel on a Mac, or try to figure out how to modify network connections… (Just a couple of examples). Now I’m not saying (Easy there turbo..) that Macs are “difficult” to use, I’m simply pointing out that an adjustment to your way of thinking and a learning curve is in order when making a change from one system to another.

    Windows 8 represents a “Middle ground” Operating system that has a MONSTER task of transitioning the public from a Keyboard/Mouse way of thinking, to the world of “Touch”. My Parents, for instance, will have a very difficult time with Windows 8 at the beginning because they don’t understand the concept of what makes things with touch, easier to use. (once you get used to it).

    I really enjoy working on a PC (Non-Touch) with Windows 8. I had a few “WTF” Moments… not going to lie. But after about a half our or so, I was moving along with very little difficulty. The newer PC’s with Touch enabled screens will be able to take advantage of some of the additional functionalities of Windows 8 (things the mouse controls make feel a little forced)… But those of us that enjoy new technology are going to jump in with both feet and install Windows 8 on our “NON-Touch Screen” PCs… and find its pretty cool once you spend the time to learn it.

    There are things that I think “Could be done better”, but then again, if you think Macs are flawless, you really are delirious and should probably go walk off that cliff with the rest of the iLemmings…

    I implement software for a living, with every new implementation, there is a learning curve. They say that learning a new software, when it is a great departure from its predecessor is like starting on a hill and staring into the distance at a Mountian. You see the mountain in the distance but to get to it, you have to walk down into the valley. You may start on a hill (previous software), but to get to the mountain (New software) you have to go through the valley (learning curve – slower, less productive while here). Once you get to the top of the Mountain and look back at where you were, it makes it all worth while.

    I say give it a shot.

  100. @Mark: the problem with your argument is that you’re assuming that you’re locked into Metro…if you’re doing “productivity” style work (development, office, Photoshop, etc.), you’re on the desktop with all of the multi-window, multi-goodness that environment provides.

  101. With regards to “Swipe” …

    To the folks who are in favor of Win8, and those who keep saying “Swipe …” please keep in mind that PC are not tables: the monitor sits on your desk, so you have to use the mouse to create the “Swipe” effect. This is hugely confusion because when you switch between the “tiled interface” and the “desktop interface”, swiping the mouse has different effect; your mind will have to know where you are to be productive with Win8.

  102. @George –

    There is no “Swipe” if you are on a PC without Touch… Mouse to a corner of the screen to achieve the same results as the “Swipe” that you would do if you had a touch screen. Or if you are a keyboard shortcut type person, use Alt-Tab or Windows-Tab depending what you want to do.

  103. Sounds like you’ve been preconditioned to use standard Windows, iOS, or Android. Anything outside of that must be very difficult for you. When I first tried Win8, it was difficult because I kept the old Windows mentality. After an hour of frustration, I decided to actually learn how to use it. This is akin to reading a user’s manual that was initially thrown away. And you really don’t need a separate computer to Google the info. Two things I learned immediately: 1) Don’t use the live tiles yet. Just use the Desktop. 2) Use the Search function.

  104. A word in defence of the BlackBerry Playbook.

    Yes, the first time you pick up a Playbook can be very confusing, as its “directional swipe in from the bezel to activate key fuctions” is a brand new interface design and unique to that platform.

    But once you understand how it works – and really, it doesn’t take that long – it is incredibly intuative and natural. It really makes the multitasking nature of the Playbook shine.

    Now that the OS has been rendered useful by a couple of upgrade cycles (and I agree that the release version was horribly buggy) the Playbook is by far my favourite tablet. Given that they are availible deeply discounted (and can run Android apps!), it really is worth your while to pick one up and give it another try.

  105. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Keep Windows 7 on traditional form factors. Use Windows 8 on touch-screen devices. Anything else will be difficult. Follow that rule and you’ll be very happy.

    Windows 8 was designed to _migrate_ the Microsoft ecosystem to the thin-client, internet-based application paradigm. In that paradigm the traditional way of using windowed applications side-by-side on a desktop is a hindrance. It will not scale to multiple form factors. A single application interface should suffice, with the back end performing the integration of functions across systems. Once developers start designing their applications to this paradigm (and abandon the “multiple open windows” approach) you will see how it begins to gel. After all, at one time all developers were designing for a console interface, right? Same thing.

    You say you don’t want this paradigm? You are one among many. However, it is the future and there is no stopping it. Sun was right in that “the network is the computer”. It was just too early for its time.

  106. I can’t agree with this more. I’ve been a competent computer user for decades, and I had to search for “how to shut down a computer with Windows 8”. I am constantly annoyed by having two PDF readers: one in the desktop view and one in the traditional windows view. Even more annoying, you have to know the Windows keyboard shortcuts to even be able to open two file folders at the same time!

  107. PB: It doesn’t help that shutting down requires swiping to bring up the “Charms” bar. Then you have to recognize that “Settings”, which you’d expect to use once every month or two to adjust something away from the default, is in fact the gateway to Shutdown/Restart.

    Mixing Settings and “power off” is something that I don’t think I have seen before.

  108. The Windows 8 experience is for those that have too much time with nothing to do. It seems that the heritage of personal computing, i.e. productivity, has been lost in the technogeek marketing hype of touch.One day when M$ board comes to the realization that under the salesmanship of Balmer the firm and its products have become redundant perhaps things will change.

  109. @112
    “However, it is the future and there is no stopping it.”

    Unity and Gnome 3 are also the future and there is no stopping it, oh wait except the falling user base.

  110. Other ways to shut down win8 aside from the charms bar:

    1) alt-f4 from the desktop
    2) hit the power button

    bonus tip: win-c to access charms from keyboard.

  111. I always think it’s funny when someone complains about an overly complicated user interface and defenders pop up and insist that all you have to do is rewire your brain by memorizing various non-intuitive movements and it’s easy sailing after that.

    And well, yeah. That’s what we’re complaining about. The complaint isn’t that we’ll *never* be able to rewire our brains. It’s that the whole thing is non-intuitive and requires us to adapt to the interface rather than it making sense from the beginning.

    I never had difficulty figuring out how to use my iPhone or iPad, and while there are certainly a few tricks you can use to make it even better, they’re not required for basic use. But if I’ve got to memorize which part of the screen to swipe to pull up the “Charms” bar, whatever that means, then I’ve already done more than I should have to.

  112. Windows 8 is the worst OS ever. I can’t imagine morons at MS thought they could come to the battle with a knife like this. The problem is that MS employees think they understand UX. They should leave the UX to experts who are not engineers. Once the UX is locked and perfected in Apple’s approach then they should have the engineers have a go at it.

    Most people think MS will recover from this like they did with Windows 7 after Vista. But this time its different. Their competition has over 300 billion in cash and they can outspend MS if it ever came down to it instead of losing their position in market share.

    MS is doomed baby doomed. Buy a Mac and avoid the Windows 8 virus they have created.

  113. I’m someone that loves playing with new operating systems and it takes a great deal of inconvenience and frustration for me to stop using one. After three months with Windows 8 I realized that it was regularly slowing me down and getting in the way of my productivity rather than enhancing it even with the addition of a start menu replacement.

    Ultimately even though I like playing with new operating systems, the operating system is not the reason I’m using a computer and it needs to get out of the way when I need to work. Windows 8 gets in the way of actually doing something again and again. It’s an absolute failure as an operating system.

  114. Just when I think Apple is not heading in the right direction with the slow merging of OS X and iOS I look at what M$ fans have to look forward to and it doesn’t seem so bad.

    On a small touch screen W8 is hideous enough, a nauseating mishmash of disparate colors and lowtech icons. If that’s your bag then ok. But on a 27″ monitor?
    Pass the sick bag.

    Jobs was right, Micros**t has no taste, and when forced by Apple to progress, this is what they do: Zune, Kin, W Phone 8, Surface, W8.
    I watched the hilariously awful Surface presentation. When Sinofsky popped out the ‘kickstand’ the silence was deafening, a wonderfully prophetic sign of the market’s attitude to their ‘innovation’.

    Micros**t, you’ve had your day. I meet people almost daily that are planning to get a Mac. The revolution is under way. Stick with the dinosaur if you want to, but only if you’re colorblind.

  115. OK, having read how hard this is, how people tried to get their 80-year-old father to use Win 8 and they did not get it, I decided to try a test. My wife’s 5-year-old all-in-one Windows 7 (upgraded from Vista) went poof (literally) two days ago. I began gathering her stories and use cases in preparation for a buying trip to the Apple store and Best Buy. She has stated that anymore she only really uses email and the web (mostly for research and shopping) and occasionally Word when she wants to write a “real letter” or do holiday card lists. She also wanted to get the photos off her iPhone to someplace she could really view them and perhaps start making some physical photo albums. She doesn’t want to sit in front of a 27″ screen, or even a 23″ screen. She DOES like a physical keyboard, being one of the last remaining users of an IBM Selectric. She appreciates style. Nothing shouting “touch me” except maybe for the photo work. She also did not want to spend much. Pretty simple, right? iPad, maybe smaller iMac, maybe Mac mini to reuse existing keyboard/mouse she is used to. As an experiment, I created an account for her on a Surface I own, uploaded her documents and photos to Skydrive (she already had a Hotmail account, so this was an Easy button.) I made the background on the Start screen her favorite color, put ONLY the apps she uses regularly in tiles in the leftmost group, and sat her down. I said, “let me give you 10 minutes of navigation (charms, swipes, app switching, pinning, etc.) Then you see if you can do what you want to do. Based on your reaction, I know where we’ll go first to shop.” She shooshed me away before the 10 minutes were up. Her reaction? “Why can’t I just have this? It does everything I need and I kind of like that I can carry it around.” I asked her if she wouldn’t rather have a tablet. She asked what she could do with a tablet. I removed the keyboard and said “try this and let me know.” The only thing she asked after a bit was “where do I type?” I said, “just point where you need to type.” The on-screen keyboard came up and she was on her way. When she was done checking her email and some sites, looking at some photos of our dear departed Collie, which frankly consumed the majority of the time she spent, because without any further instruction she had figured out how to browse through photos, she said, “why can’t I just have this? you always like shopping for new gadgets. Give me this and you go get something new.”

    So, I’m asking myself — how exactly is this a disaster? But in an odd way, it taught me this, “If you want a Surface Pro, give someone you LOVE your Surface RT because they will give you the green light to upgrade!!!”

  116. “Also, with Win8 and EFI/UEFI/… it appears that the old BIOS boot sequence has also got upended. I’ve been struggling to get Ubuntu installed as a second OS on the laptop but have been unsuccessful at getting it to dual boot. I guess the Linux community needs some more time to get on top of the new BIOS and boot changes.”

    You have to disable secure boot in the bios. Microsoft has forced hardware developers to make their BIOS reject “unapproved” bootloaders. It’s supposedly to help you against rootkits and what not, but it’s more security for Microsoft to prevent other OS’s from being installed. It’s not necessary to be active to boot Windows, and most motherboards allow you to shut it off in the BIOS menu. It’s a stupid feature designed by a paranoid company that’s losing market share fast.

    “Micros**t, you’ve had your day. I meet people almost daily that are planning to get a Mac. The revolution is under way. Stick with the dinosaur if you want to, but only if you’re colorblind.”

    If Macintoshes weren’t 5 times the cost (in some cases) of equivalent Intel/AMD hardware, then Apple would probably rock to a massive market share boost, but their monetary greed prevents them from creating a market share monopoly on the desktop. Users are afforded very poor choices–Microsoft (which has always sucked, even in the old days), pay a fortune for a Macintosh, or experiment with Linux, which is a great OS, but can take a lot of time and learning to get working right.

  117. One thing on Android and Mice – I have a Toshiba Thrive with full USB port and when I plug a mouse into it a mouse cursor appears. Still one app at a time, but now I have the buttons/scroll wheel, and precise positioning. The mouse seems to be consistent with the touch UI. And I can plug a keyboard in too. I’m waiting for ARM powered Chromebook+Android. It won’t be perfect but sounds like a lot better than Win8.

    Can you download Adobe Reader (or any of the better alternates like Nitro or Foxit) or do you need to go to the Win App store?

    They are trying to cannibalize their own ecosystem, Windows ate…

  118. Beginning to suspect the 1.2 Billion hours of testing were performed by testers employed by Google and Apple.

    “Sure guys! This works great! Ship it!”……*snort*

    Either that or they threw out the sane results and cherry picked positive comments from one or two test subjects suffering from head injuries.

    The billion plus dollars spent marketing and evangelizing the crap would have been better spent on hookers and blow, methinks. It’s not going to save this product. That’s for certain.

  119. Here is my complaint about Windows. After using every version since 3.11 – I used to always like the new stuff better than the old stuff and switched right away. I even liked Vista and loved Seven. Then in 2007 the big news about the iPhone came out and I decided to – wait.

    I bought an also very expensive yet more mature laptop instead of an exciting new phone. The day my MacBook Pro arrived I immediately stopped using everything Microsoft. I eventually ended up buying the iPhone 4 as my first iPhone and the iPad 3 as my first iPad.

    Last week I finally decided, that I value empty space more than an unused PC. So I got rid of it. For the first time in decades my table is empty now. There is no monitor on it and no box under it. For me even emptiness is way better than Windows 7. Now try to sell me on Windows 8.

  120. After getting to use Windows 8-32bit and Windows 8-64bit to test our application’s compatibility with Windows 8, I can relate to your opening paragraph.

    While installing Win8, I took the collection of predefined desktop colour schemes as a bad omen. Once installed, it seemed like every second nature Windows task I wanted to do turned into a scavenger hunt to try to figure out where the magic areas of the screen were and where what I wanted could be found. Why was I being told to “Tap” my non-touch LCD display? Why is the blue IE icon where the bluish Start button used to be? Click. Damn!!

    I’ve been using Windows since Windows 3.0, but Windows 8 frustrated me so much that I quickly ran out and bought a Win7-64 tower (to replace my WinXP tower and accompany my Win7-64 laptop) while I could still buy one off the shelf.

  121. I have for as long as I can remember had to suffer the dubious honour of being computer support for a wide range of family and friends.
    I can at ,last take a rest.
    Oh! Not because windows 8 is so great, more that I have told them all that if they buy or upgrade, I wash my hands of this train wreck / cluster****. And they are on their own!
    Peace at last!

  122. I see too much negative opinions and comments on Windows 8. I have been a Windows power users since it’s launch basically (when i was barely a teenager) and i find the new Windows 8 simply excellent. The mistake too many users are doing is considering it as “FINAL JOB” rather than as a “WORK IN PROGRESS”. We all have heard the comments on the new Modern UI, on the extra clicks required to perform a variety of tasks (like accessing the desktop from the Modern UI for example). It’s not that i don’t agree on some comments. It’s more that the truth, in my humble opinion, lies somewhere in between. On the one side there a huge share of dumbusers who freak out at the least change and innovation and in a spur of rage blow negative comments out of their lack of patience (or IQ in some cases), while on the other side there is Microsoft sending out their Beta versions sold as final ones. Windows 8, in this version is a work in progress, not a final job. Microsoft is gathering users’ feedback, checking the impact of the OS on the market and evaluating the changes to perform and BE SURE some future update will allow users to chose their interface. That said, i’d like to comment on my personal experience about Windows 8.
    A) Installation went more or less smooth but i couldn’t upgrade from Win 7 without a formatting. I had to format the PC. The reason for that is that my USER account (with all the folders) had been moved to the D drive and there wasn’t any way i could move it back to C. Windows 8 didn’t allow me to install over Win7 and Microsoft didn’t have any alternate solution apart from “move the user folder back to C”, which for some reason i couldn’t do. Accepted the fact i had to go for a clean install, the process was smooth and quick.
    B) Modern UI. It took exactly 1 minute to me to figure out how to get to the desktop and about 15 minutes to find all what i needed (Task Manager, Control Panel, Settings etc.. I do admit the Modern UI is a pain simply because it’s need is not felt on non touch desktop systems. I installed Classic Shell and solved the problem.
    C) Once solved these little issues i spent some time testing compatibility with software and hardware. I was pleasantly surprised to see that 100% of all my hardware and software were compatible with Windows from day 1. I only had to update some Acer drivers and the fingerprint software to have my PC exactly as it was PRE-Win8.
    That said i find the PROs are:
    – Highly stable. Never had one crash in about a month of usage with heavy multitasking (Youtube, Battlefield 3, Software localization software, many dictionaries and countless tabs of Chrome opened at the same time often, not to mention antivirus etc.)
    – Fast, very fast out of the box. I only tweaked the opening time of the folders, shifting from 400Ms to 0Ms to make windows/menu/folders opening quicker and that’s it.
    – Startup. Another world compared to Win 7 (which i do love). I have the login screen in 20 seconds (Acer 8951 G with 7200RPM disks and 16GB Ram) and am ready to work in roughly one minute (including the time required to swipe my finger on the fingerprint reader.
    – Many applications open faster.
    – Loving interface. Each time i need to enter the Modern UI (I do use it in some cases, as i have reorganized the items in a more practical way so it offers a nice view of what i need quicker).
    – Task Manager has greatly improved and Folders options have too.
    -Built in encryption with bitlocker (for the price we upgraders paid it’s a plus no one seems to care but it’s a nice plus)
    – Total overhaul of menus and options etc. I like most of them and find them much more modern and practical than they are in the already excellent Win 7.

    – Users have to waste too many clicks to get where they want. This is mostly caused by the Modern UI. Microsoft should allow users to chose the UI that better suits their needs. I don’t see myself swiping on a screen NOT EVEN if i buy a touchscreen PC. The reason is i keep my eyes far from the screen and am not a tablet user. To me touching a screen on a PC is extra work i am not eager to do (I do agree with you all on this). I have solved this with Classic Shell which i find even better than the old Start menu.
    – I find the menus relating to file backup and backups in general very confusing. For a start they don’t have a dedicated section but were placed into a menu called GENERAL, which means nothing to me. Backup is a key feature and should be highlighted. Also, i found myself confused between the Backup function and the File History function. Both seem to do backups but i still find them confusing (I concede i didn’t use them much nor spent too much time on them but my test was to see how user-friendly the system was out of the box and i found this specific item not very user friendly).
    – The Personalization menu is somewhat redundant. It’s like an attempt to create a Modern UI skinned version of some functions that are also in Control Panel. I don’t like this type of redundancy. Simply add up a “Customize Modern UI” item in the Control Panel and that’s it. I don’t like wandering into menus while i can have it all in control panel. I am not even confused. I simply find it non practical.
    – I have mentioned Windows 8 is fast. My opinion does not apply to Modern UI. I find that one very slow. I may try to tweak some registry keys and remove some effects to make it quicker but accessing to market, music, games, weather, news etc. is SLOW on an i7 computer with 16GB ram and a decent graphic card (actually two in my case). However out of the box, Modern UI is really slow (Acceptable on tablets maybe, not for corporate or power users).
    – Explorer 10. Maybe i am addicted to Chrome but i still find Explorer something stuck in the past. Also, many accelerators don’t work and most of the safety add ons can’t be added to the browser. I don’t blame Windows 8 for this but it’s still disappointing

    All the above said, I wish and hope MS listens to users and improves Windows 8 as after testing it and using it for about one month i wouldn’t go back to Windows 7 not even if they paid me back the money i spent to buy 8. Things to fix aside, i find the OS much more modern (Although MS may have missed some targets here) and snappy, not to mention its stability that’s second to none. Windows 7 is still a nice OS, with a 10+ stability but Windows 8 adds up a lot of more modern features (including those under the skin that most users won’t care about) and the fast booting times alone tell a lot about the work that was put on its optimization. I still consider it as a work in progress rather than a final work. Rather than complaining for the Modern UI, i prefer forget about that with Classic Shell (which boots you to desktop to be clear) and consider all the goods this OS has that go beyond a simple start screen that seems to attract so many haters. I like it, also with that useless Start Screen.

  123. Mike: This is not a give it time thing. You obviously are not a Windows power user. I supposed people will get used to hitting the Start panel lower left in a similar way iOS has a home button, but those of us who push Windows to the limits throughout every day of our professional lives find the forced full-screen of apps from the Metro screen a huge hit on productivity.

    I love Windows 7 and so I usually boot to that OS instead of Windows 8. It was worth the $39 upgrade so to download the free Windows phone SDK to play with developing phone apps. Otherwise, with the exception of a few cool panels, Windows 8 offers

    So far, they have not learned much from the successful Android OS, and they may think they implemented the key aspects of iOS concepts, but did not.

    Apple avoided the commercial market until recently. Microsoft Windows catered strongly to the commercial market until this stupid schizoid Windows 8 came out and to be honest, if this doesn’t improve in the next release I’m moving full time to Linux.

    Now I’m reading some buzz on skins and such, but until I can figure out how to see multiple metro apps in my screen space, and create panels that are folders I can categorize/organize my apps in (like iOS), the $39 upgrade was barely worth it. I may try downloading 3rd party tweak software so it can behave more like Windows 7 all the time. Then again, why not just return to Windows 7?

  124. There are only 4 gestures for the Blackberry Playbook, in my experience. Touch on, swipe left, swipe right then swipe right off the table and into the trash can.

  125. We’ve tried it a few times now, but Win 8 does not satisfy.
    It’s trying to do two things – replace a straight desktop as well as a fondle-slab tablet.
    Well, it does not do the desktop thing adequately, for all the reasons stated above.
    And it is pretty useless on the majority of desktops/laptops since they lack a touch screen.

    Even if they had one, it would be pretty useless, since holding your arm out at length to swipe a screen is a pain. MS discovered this years ago, and commented on it when showing off the original ‘Surface’ computing table. Even Apple had that one worked out, albeit belatedly.

    Unfortunately, Win 8 seems to be yet another resource hog – even the much-touted Win 7 is a joke, when supplied on a 1GB HP Mini. 120MB free on boot-up is not much use.
    Wiping Win 7 and installing Linux we find that 110MB is _used_ on a fully-featured compositing desktop. Win 8 (beta) ate even more than Win 7 on our system. So that got wiped.

    Like Starfish, I too have taken a rest from supporting Win stuff – but my threshold was tripped ages ago, by Vista. Our posse are all on Linux now, with one Mac exception.
    None of them liked Unity/Gnome3, and Win 8 is sufficiently similar in usability to re-trigger user rant mode.

    The only call I had in the past year (from 20+ users) turned out to be a failed router box that took the printer offline. We like Linux – massive choice of user interfaces as well as a stable platform.

  126. Thanks, Philip, for getting to the core of what makes Window 8 a complete PoS for doing any real work. The app interface is like dealing with icons the size of your big toe just like the old Programs window in Windows 3. The real disaster, though, is the deliberately designed inability to have more than one application of reference material fully visible for doing real work, e.g. a spreadsheet, slide presentation and text document in an office environment or PDFs, spreadsheets and other specifications with a CAD or IDE at the same time. Most office and engineering workers I know have two or three displays going simultaneously. Joe consumer saw the great “surface” and “wall” Metro-like techno-glitz on NCIS and CSI and Microsoft is selling to an image with no substance. The reality is that they are completely unusable for any real work. They may look really stunning on TV dramas but notice that no actor ever actually uses them for such mundane tasks as entering any form of data or creating any kind of work product. Window 8. Clothes with no emperor.

  127. I was in Santiago Chile last week and came across a street vendor selling software. Bought a copy of Windows 8 pro for 2.000 pesos ~$4. I just have to decide who gets it for Christmas.

  128. “You are going to love the new Windows,” CEO Steve Ballmer said at the New York launch.

    Lets face it, either the head of Microsoft lied or he lives in BS land. I tried W8 for 3 days and thankfully got a refund of my purchase price for W8 pro. $14.99. This should give you an idea of how cheap it is and not worth it. Windows 8 is a hypocrite like its CEO, its called Windows but does not allow for multiple windows, it is marketed as intuitive but unless you wrote the program, it has multiple personalities that the user needs to be extremely intuitive with it and it is not an operating system designed for productivity on pc, notebook or lap tops. Sorry Steve, you got it wrong, the customers are shouting this is not windows, please do the right thing, give us a productive os designed for pcs back.

  129. I don’t know their names, but I would speculate in 1994, 1999, and 2000, Microsoft had a reasonably good UI design team with a reasonably good lead.

    Windows XP was initially maligned by the press much like Windows 8 is. However, Windows XP had some good UI enhancements such as the above-mentioned start menu target area. Windows 8 is not written badly about for being slow, incompatible, buggy, or having too much graphics as Windows XP was. Windows 8 is perceived as flawed because the UI is flawed.

    Advocates keep saying people will get used to the UI… I don’t think so. We live in the age where good UI pushes units through channels (i.e. iOS and Android) and bad UI kills products (i.e. WebOS, Playbook). Bad user experience overall may kill Windows 8 sales.

    Microsoft is sending very mixed messages. Microsoft wants Office users to keep using Office because the environment is familiar. Microsoft wants IT departments to keep using on-premise servers and call it a “private cloud” because on-premise servers and lying about capabilities are familiar. But, when it comes to the most basic familiarity that makes up Microsoft’s software experience, Microsoft wants us to try some circus rendition of if Windows Phone and Windows 7 had a child. So, familiar only in that it is quite familiar of the “old Microsoft” to spew garbage products on the masses.

    When Windows 7 came out and Microsoft was halfway trying with webapps, I thought Microsoft would turn things around. Now, I just hope a “Windows 7.1” patch comes out soon.

    (For the the record, I am a Google/Apple/Amazon/anyone who is advancing fanboy who was just starting to get a little faith in Microsoft. I thank Microsoft for setting me straight.)

  130. Strange that MS would attempt to destroy the one market they still control, PC/Server software. By marrying their desktop OS with a tablet OS they thought they would revolutionize the OS market. They assume those Windows 8 users would also now be more likely to buy Windows Tablets, Xbox’s and Windows phones since they would essentially be the same OS user inteface.

    What they did was piss off every PC user by putting their ugly tablet interface into the software. As a Microsoft certified professional who uses Windows 8, I will say this, the user Inteface is crap although the overall OS design is more efficient. Simple tasks now take much longer to complete. I HATE having to switch between the “metro” interface the desktop mode. It seems that Microsoft put the desktop mode as only an afterthought to satisfy oldies. Similar to how the control panel keeps a “classic view” button.

  131. Update: I had written about my attempts to turn Win8 back into Win7, and my attempts to install Ubuntu on my “Black Friday special” laptop. The Linux world is not immune to Microsoft-style idiocy. I am referring here to the Ubuntu 12.10 “Unity” interface, which if anything, is less usable than Win8. Thankfully, the Mint distribution of Linux looks polished. The start menu resembles Win7, so Windows refugees will probably feel at home.

  132. @Bob Tabor’s post back on Dec. 6
    “They ran Windows 8 through 1.2 BILLION HOURS OF USER TESTING. ”

    You do know that’s more than 100,000 YEARS right?!?!

    1,200,000,000 /24 /365 = 136,986.301…

  133. Took a look at the article link: MS CEO claims 1.24 billion hours in 190 countries… let’s do the math.
    1,240,000,000 /24 = 51,666,666.666 days
    190 countries x 100 people per country… = 19,000 people tested – possible, I suppose…
    how many days of testing is that per person?
    51,666,666.666 /19,000 = 2719.298 days/person
    2719.298 / 365 = 7.45 YEARS of testing Windows 8 PER PERSON (assuming you have 19,000 testers)
    And we all know Windows 8 RTM was only released this summer, right?
    So unless you are counting developers testing on unfinished builds… which really shouldn’t count at all, I don’t see how that is possible.

  134. @Christopher Cilley

    You wrote: ” I passed on your blog post to my boss Roger. He said he felt similar to you, but watched this conference video from one of the designers of Windows 8 and felt it did a great job explaining what they are trying to do. Changed Roger’s view 180.

    Thank you for the link! One key message I took away was that of: why shouldn’t one device merge that which a laptop or pc and a tablet can do?

    This resonates with me. I do not have a tablet – although I would like one. I don’t have a tablet because I can only justify one if it will also run legacy Windows software which, in my case, means Visual Studio and an instance of SQL Server. I can’t see anything with iOS or Android that permits this.

    Win8 and the Surface Pro (not the RT) or equivalent hardware may be the release that finally encourages me to buy a tablet – albeit one that is a ‘hybrid’ that can also run legacy Windows software and have a keyboard, monitor or two and connection to a corporate LAN.

    Perhaps I’m out of step here. Perhaps I’m not. I am not pro or anti Microsoft or Apple; I simply want a tool from somewhere that allows me to do both what I want – and need – to do at a decent price and with decent quality.

  135. They could have simply added tiles to the existing desktop, at least when running on a laptop or desktop. Or they could have given the user the interface to have desktop, tiles, both (separate), or both together (tiles on the desktop). Jumping back and forth between two different interfaces does not improve productivity.

  136. I bought Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 13 from Bestbuy for $999.99, wiped it clean to get rid of Lenovo bloatware (saved the drivers first though) and then installed Windows 8 Pro. Spent some time learning the Windows 8 gestures over the weekend and it is absolutely fantastic. The touch interface is awesome, metro IE 10 with touch gestures is fabulous. I have desktops, laptops, MacBook Pro, iPad, Andriod phones and I must say that Windows 8 blew my expectations. It is terrific on a touch screen device. Not so much on a PC without touch screen.
    I am using my Windows 8 Ultrabook more and more (more than all other devices combined).

  137. I love my Windows 7, XP, PCs and laptops. I tried the Windows 8 in a store and thoroughly hated it. I will never use Windows 8. Your criticisms are 110% valid. I had a hard enough time trying to teach my mother how to use XP. I wouldn’t a prayer of teaching her Windows 7. What the Hell is wrong with having important buttons always visible on huge screens? Why do I have slide my mouse around to find hidden buttons? What a terrible design!

  138. I’m one of those computer users ignored by the savvy hip tech world, and so are my aging parents. But I remember the wonder I felt at Windows 3.1 – yeah, I was using a computer! Look, I can open and close things, and run software! Now, I don’t own the latest and greatest – have yet to even BUY a tablet. I suck at touch technology. I LIKE pointing and clicking. So as one of the millions of forgotten “ordinary” users (who at work has dual monitors and NEEDS to have multiple windows and software running simultaneously), after looking over the articles re W8 – I.HATE.IT.

    All this stuff about complicated swipes. Having large tiles for apps that shift (or show up at all) sounds like busy clutter and is exactly why I use instead of (no ads and clutter). Conversely ugly flat system icons that look like primitive .gif images first put on the Internet – modern, my *ss. Having “functional buttons” that may or not work that you have to hunt to find. Why do I now need to have a learning curve? Wasn’t that how Apple became a success, you can just plug in and intuitively go? And oh, what about those articles saying that W8 killed their PC etc.

    Seriously? Maybe modern hip tech people think this is fun, but I suspect the MAJORITY of computer users just want to see their software and have it run, upload images, etc. The way we’re use to Windows working now, yah know? I can’t even imagine trying to get seniors (whose lives have been enriched by computer use) trying to deal with W8. This forum sounds like it’s loaded w. tech types and so do other sites, but just wanted to post somewhere, anywhere, for those that are HAPPY with Windows and being able to FIND and RUN what you need, that after reading and looking at the garish butt-ugly non-useful interface of W8 – no way. Looks like a pathetic attempt to change things just for the sake of changing things – useful for a tablet maybe – useless and annoying for the average PC users. Oh well, maybe it’s time to revisit Apple……

  139. Didn’t see a lot of response to one of the best comments in this article. Why not allow the desktop and Metro on the same split screen. This would be pretty cool It seems clear to me that Windows 8 is still in a development stage, even though it’s not labled that way.

    I’ve been using 8 since one of the pre-release versions and I can get around on it. I’ve created shutdown shorcuts and pinned all that programs I need so that I can access everything from the Desktop. Metro might be useful some day but it’s just a toy at this point.

    Swipes work much better if your touchscreen doesn’t have a frame. Mine does and I get frustrated bringing up the charm bar.

    8 is okay, from the desktop at least. But that idea of splitting the screen with Metro and the desktop, that might help a lot.

  140. Phil,

    I agree with the general and specific criticisms you raise on Win8. And, I would raise even more (I hardly know where to start…so to speak), (in no particular order):

    * Overall the huge miss-step is the one size fits all paradigm. It is not a robe, it is an OS that should auto customize to the environment that it is installed on. And, on first start up it should ask the user a series of questions to further refine the UI (vis-a-vis touch, mouse, screen size, etc.)

    * I have two large and expensive hi-res monitors that I use for graphics and editing work. First they are just beyond arms reach, and second, never in a million years do I want to run my greasy fingers on the screen surface. Remember, that old movie trick of smearing Vaseline on the camera lens for a romantic / blur effect. I’m not into it.

    * (to Mark cmt#35) Could not agree more. And, I’ll add this: When Win7 was in development and they saw users going full screen so often, remember that screens were on average smaller than they are now. One could not comfortably fit two documents side by side, as we can today with larger desk top screens. Again this addresses their failure to optimize for different environments. On my phone I want it full screen, on my desktop I most assuredly do not.

    * In certain circumstance Win8 will not multitask. It task switches. Thus it has been called… Window. The rationale here is to preserve battery power. A play to phone/tablet use where one is mobile. Again a failure to auto customize. And, yes, I can go in and change that as a power user, but why should I have to.

    * I really miss the fly out ‘All Programs’ WinXT menu. Even in Win7, MS managed to damage that, by constraining it to a small box. I have around 350 or more programs installed, many (of the smaller one use utility type) of which I can never remember their names. So typing in the search field is of no use. However I fully know what they do, and I have arraigned the programs in folders according to function. As I sweep my cursor over the flyout, folders auto open to reveal their contents. In the formerly known as ‘Metro,’ the tiles, where folders are not allowed, program management is a nightmare.

    * And this brings me to the intended market/user for Win8. It seems that in the rush to embrace the phone/tablet paradigm they have thrown out folks who create original works. The target is the user who consumes media and data. This user is always connected, on the go, and uses portable devices. I am that user on occasion. But, on other occasions, I need to concentrate on a task at hand and produce a product. In this case I want my task made easier not harder. I do not want to be forced into a methodology that MS thinks is better. This one size fits all is a colossal fail.

    * Here is a link to a post that came out just before the RTM of Win8. It reveals much of the thinking behind the Win8 changes. It all sounds very convincing, until one steps back and realizes that some of the arguments and analogies used to support the changes are false. Historical examples are hand picked and distorted to imply parallelism. Eg the claimed resistance to the mouse (on introduction), as being similar to the resistance to touch on the desk top.

    One other: There is a deprecation between programs that are running, and programs that are resident, but not running. I quote:

    [In reference to Win7] “The Start menu was changed to focus on launching only the programs you use less frequently, as no program can be pinned to both the taskbar and the Start menu. This marked the start of a transition where we were looking to remove the archaic distinction between starting a program for the first time and returning to a program that was already running. It is interesting to consider how odd it is that we trained ourselves to look one place for a program the first time it is running, and a different place once it is already running.”

    This concept might work on a tablet with few apps. But, it won’t work for me. I want to know what is running and what is not running. This is so wrong headed I have trouble addressing it.

    * Another symptom of the schizoid nature of the UI, is the locations for various OS control points. Some reside in the formerly known as ‘Metro’ while others are on the desktop. Scattered! And, for some, maybe I can learn a key shortcut, or magic swipe, but why do I have too. Why aren’t they in one place.

    * If you use IE the bookmarks aren’t shared between the two UI versions. WTF??

    * MS has intentionally hidden and deprecated the chrome of the UI. They claim it is more fluid, and modern. BS… What it does is hide control, and make these features harder to use for production. It favors the consumption and grazing model. It is now harder to separate the chrome (or UI elements) from the content. This is an improvement… Really?

    * I could go on and on. But I have to get some work done. It won’t be on a Win8 machine. I’ll summarize it this way: I see this as an attempt to chase Apple. (Even Apple backed up on Final CutPro by listening to users! Not MS) Win8 is a more closed system. Their way or the highway. Metro apps (notice they are no longer called programs) have to vetted by MS. One has to create a profile. One is encouraged to live on the cloud. A walled garden.

    Now if MS came out and said “Hey guys, this is a consumer OS, For those doing real work, stay with Win7, and we’ll have Win9 for ya.” Well, that would be refreshing, but an’t gonna happen.

    Happy computing in the future.

  141. So I just did a look at the MS App store. Aside from the headliners on the page:

    there are 10 categories of apps. Not one is a creation category, unless one was to consider email and Skype creative programs. Ya, I know they will be adding more. But the point is: Win8 is aimed at mobile consumption of media.

    MS it appears wants to be all things to all people. And they have chosen to do this by limiting features, and dumbing down the UI.

    In doing so they have thrown folks who produce on their desktops under the bus. We shall see what the corporate uptake is for Win*

    Even though the underlying OS is better (faster, more stable, more secure) it is the UI that folks will love or hate. The fact that Win8 boots faster then Win7 is NOT the tipping factor.

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