Windows 8 Review: Falsehoods Dispelled and Features Examined

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Windows 8

Spawned in the horrendous heat of a Los Angeles winter, James was born with an incessant need to press buttons. Whether it was the car radio, doorbells on Halloween or lights, James pushed, pressed and prodded every button. No elevator was left unscathed, no building intercom was left un-rung, and no person he’s known has been left un-annoyed.

4 Comments to Windows 8 Review: Falsehoods Dispelled and Features Examined

  1. As a developer, I decided I needed to get on top Windows 8 early so I bought a cheap Acer hybrid netbook (detachable keyboard, touchscreen) capable of running Windows 8 except it doesn’t support the side-by-side running of 2 apps at a time. For the longest time, frankly, I regretted my decision. Many months later I’m using the final version available through MSDN and find it usable if far from ideal.

    Everyone works differently but you couldn’t get me to put Windows 8 on a ‘legacy’ desktop, notebook or netbook if you put a gun to my head. Seriously, I find the Metro/Modern UI gets in the way. As a replacement to the ancient icon and start button UI, it’s an epic failure. If you have a non-trivial amount of apps installed you’ll be scrolling to the right until Christmas which, in my humble opinion, is poor design. I also find the generic icons of legacy Windows apps in the Metro/Modern UI to all look pretty much alike – a bit confusing.

    Microsoft made a lot of horrible design choices with Windows 8. While a matter of taste, I find Metro/Modern UI to be quite ugly on a large screen (it’s tolerable on a phone). I realize why Microsoft did this. It’s to speed up performance on minimal hardware but they already have the technology to autodetect hardware and apply the slicker looking Aero affects if supported. Looks alone will turn off most consumers despite any merits Windows 8 offers (and under the covers it adds quite a bit).

    Taking out the start button on the traditional desktop, no matter how many statistics Microsoft has to back the decision up, is idiotic. Again, make it optional. They’ve already coded it why rip it totally out? I found a program called the Classic Shell which is quite nice and pretty much fill this hole. It also allows you the option of booting to the traditional desktop. I don’t use this latter function on my hybrid but it would be a necessity on any legacy PC without a touchscreen.

    Metro/Modern apps are largely crap. Sure, Internet Explorer 10 is well designed and only a few early apps are out in the store. However, forgetting few apps are in the store, they’re limited use telephone quality stuff I don’t care about on a ‘real’ PC versus a tablet. Seriously. I’m also forming the opinion that the whole toolbox of Metro/Modern components for development is a poor model. For example, I can’t find a Twitter app that has an intuitive, easy to use interface. It’s not that a lot of work didn’t go into development of these apps. It’s the components in the UI require a lot of extra clicking for refreshes, scrolling, etc. Just one obvious example is Microsoft has bit into the anti-chrome trend so hard there are no borders on between, say, lists making them hard tell from static panels with text (on a touch screen; they’ll appear on a ‘legacy’ PC). The huge fonts that help me read text on a small smartphone screen waste gobs of space on a standard monitor. The flatness of controls like buttons obscures them.

    I find Windows 8 usable on a computer it was designed for with a touchscreen but I doubt it will change many minds. On a legacy PC it’s an epic failure.

    • James Pikover

      Have to disagree with you Craig. For anyone who uses a set number of applications in the Win7 workspace, Win8 is just like a quick update. The Win8 UI is there, but doesn’t have to be touched ever. Opening applications quickly hasn’t really changed; if anything it’s easier because everything (and I mean everything) shows up in a search. I’d rather have the start menu available, but it isn’t a necessity. It’s a luxury.

      I agree that the Win8 apps are often strange and on a desktop feel strange, but for the most part are unchanged if you use them as you would any Win7 application. They undoubtedly work better with a touchscreen; again I’m working on that for the review.

      The best reason to upgrade for most users is just like any software patch: to get the latest fixes. With a touchscreen you can go a lot further with the experience, but that’s dependent on your hardware.

      • James, dude..

        You are out of your mind.

        A “luxury”?! No, the start menu is a necessity. You talk about having a set number of applications, fine sure whatever. But you know, what about those people out there with say..I don’t know, 5 or 6 TB of space and oh, 200 something different programs. You actually expect that guy there to be able to remember the name of every single program when he needs to type it in to some silly search bar? I mean come on. How about something you haven’t use in a year or longer and cant remember what the hell it was called?

        We have had start menus since the beginning of windows. How dare they take it away. Win 8 sounds fine for a tablet, with all its touch screen thrill. But on a desktop, I dont need nor do I want all that bloated slick interface trying to force me into something new and hip, especially when I cant just touch my monitor and drag stuff on it around.

        Sorry Microsoft, I know you need to line your pockets more everyday…but it is just too soon for an entire new platform for the desktop. Especially since many people are still just getting used to windows 7, not even taking into account how many people out there still use XP. We will just forget the horror that was Vista ever happened.

        • James Pikover

          To be clear, you’re saying “how dare Microsoft remove a feature that Microsoft created”?

          The Start menu was great. Hell, it may even still be great and extremely useful depending on your use. But, and this is a big but, it actually loses it’s usefulness as more and more applications are installed on a PC. As someone with 200 different programs you know full well how difficult it can be to parse through that massive list of recent and total applications. Inconvenient is a nice way of putting it.

          Most power users (and I think far more everyday users as well) make use of the search bar. We can thank Google for that. So many of us are so used to searching that making it one of the main features in place of the start menu is actually brilliant. It isn’t a replacement; the search feature has been in Win7 since day one. But the combination of the completely customizable Win8 home page and search are both much better and more efficient than the start menu. It’s also better for resource management; Win8 tiles (the apps on the home page) don’t take any additional processing power to display because of how the UI is designed. Desktop shortcuts do. That’s why one of the first recommendations after cleaning up your computer when trying to speed it up is to clear the desktop.

          Anyways, there are a few options to bring back a start menu, but it really isn’t necessary unless you must have everything stay the same. But if that’s the case, why upgrade in the first place?

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