At the end of October, I blogged about my Windows 8 installation experience. Not a pleasant one, but the software finally was installed. Then a couple weeks later, I wrote about my frustration with the endless scrolling and the longer shut-down process, so I installed a start button for my Windows 8 laptop.
This week, I’ve been exchanging emails with a friend, who happens to be a software engineer, about Windows 8. He recently purchased a new laptop that came with Windows 8 and he expressed his distaste of Microsoft’s new OS and how much he misses Windows 7. When I asked why he didn’t install a start button, he said, ‘I was going to but for now I’m trying to force myself to learn and use the generic W8 “experience”, since invariably I end up being the person called on to help out family, friends and everybody in between with their computer problems”. Good for him – I was not so noble!
He went on to detail his thoughts on the shortcomings of Windows 8. They are so well written that I asked if I could use them in this week’s article and he was good with that. I’d previously asked him to be a guest blogger because of his extensive background and in depth knowledge of software and engineering. So it happened to work out that his email became the subject of this week’s article.
His thoughts are in black and my comments in purple:
New Deskop-No Start Button
My beef isn’t with the desktop environment (except for the loss of “Start”, the old way of listing all of your installed programs, shutdown/restart, etc.). Windows 8 is clearly a half-step, is not well thought through, and is really badly screwed up in forcing you back and forth to do certain things. The mentality of the native Windows 8 environment DOES NOT scale up to a desktop/laptop environment at all in my opinion.
I like the look of the new desktop – it’s just ‘pretty’. But it is not functional, at least for the way I work. Since Windows 8 was made for touch, they should keep this interface for the touch-enabled devices and let the people without touch be able to use a Start button if they wish. I find it frustrating that I have to place my cursor in the exact right spots to invoke either getting back to start or invoking the charms.
Apps Don’t Minimize
Engineers go for large screen (and dual large screens) so that they can have many things open at once on their desktops. The mentality of taking over the entire screen environment when you run each app and having a sparse use of the screen is necessary for a handheld or small tablet but absolutely blows on a large screen. The whole tile interface seems to be change for change sake, not for improved use. The “live tile” phenomena might be cute for demonstration purposes but is irritating when you have a bunch of tiles changing on you. To have your photo app tile rotating though all of your photos in a small tile adds no user value and may even end up being embarrassing if a private photo pops up on a projected desktop while you are preparing for a PPT presentation.
Having the apps full-screen with no way (that I can find) to minimize them is a waste of screen real estate. Again, this is a feature that is great for a tablet, but not for working on a PC. Now I really enjoy the live tiles, so I disagree with him there. It’s cool seeing them change. On my Windows Phone 8, I especially find it helpful to see notifications that are in my calendar tiles in as well as a snippet of my latest email in my email tile. I do understand there are some photos you wouldn’t want displayed- here’s a way to stop the tiles from changing.
The “Start Screen” is a total waste of space forcing you to scroll your desktop sideways to get to your application and then to find the app that you want in an unordered splattering of tiles. They don’t even give you any sort order options or lay it out by default in alphabetical order (they order it by default in the order of installation).
Agree with the ‘Start Screen’ observation – huge time suck there. I’ve read you can rearrange your tiles, but that is another time suck – especially for the inevitable accumulation of new apps that come along. I’ve read that there’s a list of ‘essential’ key stroke combinations that one should memorize that reduce the amount of scrolling, but I haven’t needed to use them since I have the ‘start’ button.
The use of the pop-out toolbars and then the need to “slide down” on the left one to see your “open apps” is not intuitive. I just went and tried it from what you described. I didn’t know about it-thanks!
The “logout” and “shutdown or restart” sequence went from bad (traditional) to horrible (new feature I guess). Big agree here.
MSFT totally destroyed their popular desktop Windows games (such as Spider Solitaire). They have yet again confirmed that they are NOT a leader in UI design. They do a lot better when they follow by example.
What are your Windows 8 experiences? Love it, hate it, want to go back to Windows 7? Leave us a comment!