Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Windows 8 Observations

After spending some time with Windows 8, here are my observations:
  1. Windows 7 applications are mostly completely compatible with Windows 8. I haven't run into one game, application or utility that I used on Windows 7 that hasn't worked in Windows 8. Compared to the messy transitions from Windows 98 to XP or from XP to Vista, that's really good work.
  2. The Start Screen can be safely ignored, if you don't like it. I have all of my icons on my old Windows 7 desktop. They're still there, and they all open like normal. I'm sure there are some Windows 8 apps that will open on the Start Screen instead, but I haven't run into them yet.
  3. Startup and shutdown are fast. Really, really fast. I'm very impressed.
  4. The Charm Bar is mostly unneccesary. Since all the functions remain the same in Windows 8, the only thing I've used the Charm Bar for is shutting down my computer.
  5. Windows 8 is, in some ways, more complicated than Windows 7. If you're on the Start Screen and want to look for the Control Panel, you could find a truncated Control Panel in the Charm Bar, but that doesn't reveal all the functions that are typicall in the Control Panel. Instead, you have to go to the Start Screen and start typing the words 'Control Panel.' Within a second, you'll have an icon for the old Control Panel. Most standard users aren't going to know that exists.
  6. Losing the Start Menu structure is going to hurt more than it helps. The Start Menu in Windows 7 is nice and organized. All of your programs are tucked away safely in their respective folders. It's clean and easy to use.

    In Windows 8, the program list is a hot mess. Every single program is revealed in a giant list, and that includes weird utilities that sometimes come along with main programs, like level editors, help applications, and the like. It's a headache, and much easier to search for the program you're looking for.
  7. It's not going to be good for the stereotypical user of Windows. I've found myself pulling my hair out from time to time trying to figure out how to do things, and I work with computers every day. How is your grandma going to figure it out?

    Even Apple, with the most successful tablet interface out there, doesn't use the same interface for their computers and their tablets. The PC interface is one thing, because it has specific requirements and ways that people use it. The tablet interface is another interface, because it has specific requirements and ways that people use it. Trying to pile them together pleases neither group.
So what's my final verdict? For the price that Microsoft is selling the upgrade for ($39.99 through the end of January, if I recall correctly) it's not bad. If the price is much higher than that? Skip it and wait to see if Microsoft fixes their mistakes in Windows 9.

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