This article was originally published on July 2, 2012. In the summer of 2014, the hardware running my Windows 7 PC failed spectacularly, prompting me to buy a new pre-built PC, something I don’t normally do. The new PC runs Windows 8, so I was forced to start really using that O/S. Surprisingly, once I figured out how to avoid the new UI, I found it to be not all that bad. In fact, Windows 8 improves on earlier versions in some useful ways. I plan to update this post based on my recent experiences.
The release of Windows 8 is just around the corner. Given my problems with Windows 7, I had hoped that 8 would be an improvement. But then, this is Microsoft, right?
What jumped out at me when I started reading reviews of Windows 8 preview versions and betas is that Microsoft seems to have completely abandoned power users and system administrators, in favour of consumers. This is most noticeable in the lack of a Start menu or anything recognizable in terms of a desktop. The new interface is similar to the latest XBox 360 interface.
What? If Microsoft thinks a PC can be operated just like a game console, they have lost their collective minds. Sure, I understand what they’re trying to do: a consistent UI across multiple platforms is a laudable goal. But early reports showed that the new interface cannot be easily bypassed. I don’t mind if Microsoft experiments with new UI concepts, as long as us power users can skip that crap and get straight to the meat of the O/S.
This is a colossal blunder by Microsoft. Even if Joe Consumer ends up liking the new UI (which is not even remotely certain), those users account for only part of the overall market for Windows. And they will, for the most part, work with whatever crap is running on their OEM PCs. The rest is made up of business and power users. These are the people who really use Windows – for more than just web surfing, email and downloading music. They run hundreds of different programs from day to day. They are also the people who review, evaluate and make recommendations on software, including Windows. These people don’t really care how stoked consumers will get over the consistent user interface. All they will see is a stupid screen that they have to get past every time they log in.
Anyway… as I find out more about Windows 8, I’ll post it here. Lengthier topics will end up in their own post, which I will link here. Let the fun begin.
Elsewhere on this blog:
- Windows 8 annoyance lists start appearing
- As predicted, Windows XP holdouts likely to upgrade to Windows 7
- Usability expert pronounces new Windows 8 UI confusing
- Interface expert declares Windows 8 UI “terrible” for PCs
- Windows Mail feature-deficient in Windows 8. The new Windows Mail app only supports IMAP, not POP. Why, Microsoft? IMAP certainly has its uses, but for most users, POP more closely matches what they really want, and how they conceptualize email. IMAP can be very confusing for users.
- Confirmed: no way to get around the
‘Metro UI’ ‘Windows 8-style UI’ ‘New User Interface’crappy new interface of Windows 8. No more Start menu. Hey Microsoft: why not make it optional? Then, if I’m using a tablet, I’ll turn on the new UI; otherwise I’ll leave it off. Even Windows 8 itself reverts to ‘desktop mode’ for many activities. So what’s the point of the new UI? Is it just there to confuse people and make everything take longer? The constant transitions between the new UI and the desktop are jarring for users. UPDATE: third-party solutions that bring the Start menu back are becoming available. Pokki is another freeware solution to this problem.
- Windows 8 prevents site blocking using the HOSTS file.
- The core apps – the ones Microsoft expects you to use every day – are awful. This includes the the email client, the messaging client, the calendar, the media player and the Metro version of Internet Explorer (there’s a desktop IE as well).
- Desktop apps (basically, all the software you currently run on Windows) are harder to find, since they are all jammed behind one pane of the new UI.
- Shutting down the computer involves more steps and it’s not immediately obvious what those steps are.