Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Windows 8

A couple of days ago, I decided I would give Windows 8 a try and installed the Consumer Preview on VirtualBox. In fact, I am writing this post on Windows Live Writer 2012 on Windows 8.
Here are my initial thoughts about Windows 8 after spending a few hours with it.
The Good
  • Desktop UI (User Interface) is very similar to Windows 7. The glass taskbar from Windows 7 is still present.
  • Integration of Microsoft products. In order to sign in, you need a Microsoft (or Windows Live or Hotmail) ID. Once you enter your Microsoft ID, your calendar, mail, pictures and other data is automatically populated.
  • The task manager has been redesigned to give you tons more information about processor, network and hard drive usage.
  • The Windows Explorer has gotten it’s biggest makeover since Windows XP. Like many other Microsoft products, it is equipped with the new Ribbon interface. It gives you the ability to perform many functions with only a few clicks.
  • The Desktop UI is only slightly different than Windows 7. There are no rounded corners, only square edges. Overall it’s not much over a change, but still nice to look at.
The Bad
  • In order to install the touch friendly Windows 8 apps, you need to use the Store tile. I tried it and it was slow and painful to browse. Thankfully you can still download the latest version of your favorite program and run it like before in the desktop.
  • Windows Media Player no longer has DVD playback support, so you cannot play DVDs out of the box. However, you can download VLC to enjoy your films.
The Ugly
  • Microsoft announced that you will not be able to boot directly to the desktop. This means that every time that you boot up, you are forced to see the new Start Screen covered with multicolored tiles.
  • As far as I know, there is no way to turn off the Start Screen. For computers that do not have touch enabled screens this will become annoying very quickly. To understand what I mean, make all the icons on your screen an inch square.
  • No Start Button. This is my biggest gripe. Hitting the Start button pulls up the Start Screen, which is a pain to use.
There are some nice features in Windows 8, but there are also some real pains. I think that Microsoft spent way too much time trying to make Windows 8 touch and tablet friendly by default. These features should be optional to desktop and laptop users. It is almost like they are forcing touch technology on you. Since I just installed Windows 7, I will not be upgrading anytime soon and I would not recommend that anyone rush out and do that either once Windows 8 comes out in the Fall. Wait for Windows 9 to see if they come to their senses.