Microsoft’s attempts to finally create a touch-friendly interface is laughable considering they’re about 5 iPads late to the party. Even Amazon beat them to it. Upon trying out the preview version and seeing what other reviewers had to say, it turns out that Windows 8 is an even more awful foray into the touch-friendly world than I had imagined.
Windows 8. Is it a mobile interface? A desktop interface? Both! Sort of like combining peanut butter and jelly in the same jar and hoping it doesn’t end up an inedible goo. A bit of desktop manageability, a bit of mobile gesturing, and what do you get? A ton of confusion over basic functions and a bunch of extra things you have to do for simple tasks like getting the thing to power off.
It seems like Microsoft copy-and-pasted a tablet version onto the desktop version, or maybe it was the other way around. The OS is like a Frankenstein monster of operating systems, takings parts of Windows 7, iOS, and the acid trip the “Metro Design” developers were on and creating one amazingly annoying and burdensome look and feel that makes me yearn for the days of Vista.
It’s not all bad. The interface is a great start for a possibly useful tablet down the road, albeit three years after the release of the iPad.
Finally some touch screen abilities! Better late than never, Microsoft is definitely diving into the tablet and mobile market headfirst with Windows 8, even if it means sacrificing the desktop version. It’s a good start, but only a start.
Faster boot time! Thankfully, Microsoft has taken steps to drastically cut their embarrassingly long boot times that Windows users often use to catch up on their reading or take weekend getaways to Vermont. The one good thing, literally one good thing, about combining the tablet interface with the desktop version is the faster start up and restart.
Integrated Anti-virus! Like Windows 7, Microsoft continues to try to catch up to Mac’s virus force field with an integrated anti-virus program, which is nice to throw in when you are trying to come up with a whole three Pros for the new interface.
Now, onto the real meat – the many things wrong with Windows 8 and the many reasons you’d be better off with Windows 7, XP, or a desk calculator.
Is it for desktop or tablet?
There is no start menu, which means you have to switch over to the separate start screen to open any desktop app and then back to the desktop to run it. It is similar to opening apps from the Android app menu except more unnecessary on a PC than a floppy disk drive.
Since people seldom turn off or restart their tablets, Microsoft has happily stashed away the “Power Off” and “Restart” buttons, formerly featured prominently on the handy, no-longer existent Start Menu, about four clicks away for your convenience. Good thing there are a billion updates coming so your PC will automatically restart for you, just about every other day.
Similar to a tablet, you’ll now have to exit an extra lock screen on your desktop before logging in. Yet another unnecessary extra step that Microsoft makes you take because they were too lazy to separate desktop and tablet versions. Perhaps your PC can show you how many bars you have in the top right corner too. Can you hear me now?
Remember how easy it was to switch from app to app in Windows 7? Well forget it. Windows 8 is so focused on pushing their non-existent store apps that you can conveniently find ALL of your open desktop apps in ONE thumbnail on the bottom task switcher like Word documents.
The App Store
The App Store is a key feature of all modern operating systems and obviously Microsoft is no different. Right? In total, the App Store contains a whopping 4,000 apps. 4,000? I’m pretty sure iOS has 4,000 fart sound apps alone. Microsoft claims that by January there will be over 100,000 apps. Your biggest new feature is “probably” going to have 2500% more apps in a few months? Besides, no one is going to make apps for this thing if no one uses it, kind of like the Windows 7 desktop widget store.
Even if they do, iOS and Google Play both have about 700,000 apps each. Not only are you playing some serious catch-up with the big boys, you aren’t even legitimately challenging RIM/Blackberry in the mobile market with those kinds of numbers.
Outlook has moved onto the web to replace Hotmail, which leaves the new Metro Mail client as your built in email manager. Let’s just go ahead and set up our POP account… Oh wait, you can’t! It works fine with IMAP, but for some reason a brand new operating system released in 2012 doesn’t know what to do with a POP3 account. Not only that, it doesn’t even import anything from other Windows programs like Outlook or Windows Live Mail. It can’t even consolidate inboxes for multiple email accounts. Frankly, it’s amazing the thing has a Reply function. I checked just in case… it’s there.
This isn’t a massive feature but it really goes to show where Microsoft went wrong in creating this Frankenstein monster. Bing is obviously built very nicely right into the operating system. The Bing app has large images, great preview tiles, etc. Now click on a result and…oh, Internet Explorer pops up. Not only does it pop up to take you to the result, it covers up the entire Bing app. Now you have to go back to continue searching, only to keep going back to IE to see your results. If you have to do all that, what’s the point of a stand alone Bing app anyway? It seems like one of the many features created for the sole purpose of over-complicating the PC experience even more.
Windows 8: Not For Business
Perhaps Windows 8 will appeal to some, though probably not the Windows hardcore fans who won’t get much of what they are used to in this massive overhaul. It certainly isn’t built for business. With an interface stolen right from that failed line of HTC “social phones”, the OS is focused too much on social integration, catching up to the touch-screen capabilities of the big boys, and pushing their tens of thousands of store apps – that have yet to be built. It’s primarily designed for fun, not business and certainly not productivity when you consider all of the extra clicks and gestures that go into something as simple as restarting your computer.
Also, the operating system is still very buggy but Microsoft is rushing it like a beta version, ready to aggressively send users frequent updates to make their computer or device, you know… work. As someone with a business, I wouldn’t rush to a new operating system with this many bugs, anti-malware built in or not, knowing Microsoft’s long standing problem with security. And as far as the tablet version goes, with so many versions of iPad and Android gone by, why would anyone take a risk on a first-generation work-in-progress Windows tablet?
Overall, Windows 8 touch screen features ruin the desktop version and Windows 8 desktop dependency ruins some of the touch screen features. It’s something that Microsoft should have released as a test version years ago before they fell so unenviably far behind Apple and Google. It’s something that’s going to be updated – A LOT. Hopefully it will set up a fairly good operating system in the future but right now Windows 8 is just the really, really early version of Windows 9.