My Windows 8 Experience

I am writing this on a 2008 Macbook. Running Windows 8 Release Preview…

For the record, I tried, I really tried to get along with OS X, all these years. But I can’t. I just can’t. It doesn’t do things the way I want to do things. At all. And no amount of messing around ever helped.

I figured I should tell the world what I think about Windows 8, because I am sure the world wants to know.

I am torn.

Some of these so-called “live tiles” don’t seem all that live to me. Also, most of the apps the preview came with are of no interest to me whatsoever.

On the one hand, I think Metro is a very nice design aesthetic. I have never used it on a phone or a tablet, but it seems like for these purposes, where you’re poking and prodding it with your stubby fingers, it’s a great idea. However, if you are using a keyboard and mouse, it’s nothing but a headache.

Yes, there is a desktop for Windows 8, and it runs like Windows 7 did.

Subtle changes, that I mostly approve of. Sharp corners are especially nice.

I like the modified Aero theme with the sharp corners. It runs nice and smoothly like Windows 7 did. If I could stay inside the desktop I would love to do so, because I think I’m joining a growing choir when I say that using Metro on a non-touch device is pretty fucking horrible.

The Metro apps at the moment seem kind of okay. I just wish they weren’t FULLSCREEN.

This app is not too bad. But it’s the weather. Why do I need to go into a full screen app to find out the weather? Well, because that’s Metro apparently.

There’s talk of there being Metro versions of all your favourite software, but why the hell would I want apps I can’t run in windows? Most programs already have full-screen modes if you want them, but being forced to switch between full screen apps constantly is unpleasant for anyone used to multi-tasking, even with their weird side-by-side docking mechanism (which I can’t use because my resolution is too low).

Also, the only thing Metro apps seem to do is put a small amount of information that you need in huge text with huge pictures, and then force you to scroll a bunch. Again, nice on a mobile device, but on a desktop, absolutely useless.

Also, Desktop seems to completely throw Metro’s design rules out the window (pun intended). They have Ribbonised Windows Explorer,¬†for example, which makes the thing overly complex and compresses way too much visual information into too small a space.

Good news, now you have easy access to the “Easy access” menu. Boy am I glad it’s there, because mapping folders as drives is something everyone does all the time in Windows, right? Thankfully if you click that little ^ in the top right, the Ribbon goes away.

We get it Microsoft, most people don’t use all the advanced functions of Windows Explorer. But that’s not because they don’t know where to find them, it’s because they have no idea what any of them do, or why they would ever need them. Also, how they expect anyone to interact with that stuff using a touch screen is a mystery.

Long story short, I really think Microsoft made a fundamental mistake when they decided to merge desktop and mobile Windows into a unified OS. There are many disadvantages, and not very many advantages, particularly on the desktop front. Personally, I think the way to fix this is quite simple. Cut Metro and Aero apart. Make Metro optional for desktops, and at the very least, offer an optional start menu for Desktop mode.

Metro is fine for touch. But not for mouse and keyboard. On the same note, Desktop is fine for mouse and keyboard, but not for touch. Split them up, and everything is rosy. But then again, split them up and you get Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7.

I hate to say it because I really loved Windows 7, but I can’t help but think Microsoft have kind of pulled another Windows Vista. They may have started out with fire in their bellies, but I can’t see this gamble paying off.

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