Preliminary Thoughts on Windows 8

I don’t feel comfortable writing a full analysis of Windows 8. I have not had the opportunity to use it enough. But I was asked to write a review for the Montgomery Bar Association and in doing so, developed some thoughts I will share.

I will give a full analysis some distant time in the future, when I really have had a chance to have put Windows 8 through its paces.

Interesting idea

First, I think the concept is interesting.  The first time I saw tiles was when Microsoft gave me a phone to review. To me the tiles made sense, but they were very different from other things I had seen. And because they are very different, they take some getting used to.

As you will know if you read my review, I liked Mango, and so, it should be no surprise to you that I am ok with Windows 8. I think it is quite innovative. So do others. On the other hand, Windows 8 will require you to  relearn your computer operating system. Some people will find that easy. Some people won’t. Actually, most people won’t. So if you switch to Windows 8, you will need to be patient.

It isn’t obvious

If I may invoke Apple for a moment, one of the things most people like about Apple products like the iPad is that they are obvious. When you use an iPhone or an iPad you can pretty quickly figure out what to do. It just makes sense. This isn’t the case for everyone, I have heard people complain the opposite, but for the most case, Apple products are intuitive. And people have gotten used to intuitive.

Windows 8 is definitely not intuitive. And the help isn’t very helpful. For example, trying to figure out how to open a new tab in Internet Explorer was nothing short of maddening. Sure, once I figured it out it was easy. But I was far from the only person with this issue.  It also took me a while to get the consistent hang of where to go to access settings for an open program versus accessing settings or features for the computer as a whole.

I can easily see people finding Windows 8 extremely frustrating. Windows should provide a quick lesson right at the beginning that points out how Windows 8 works. If there is a lesson like that I didn’t see it, and I tried using help. It wasn’t helpful.

As a result of these kinds of issues a lot of people are going to hate Windows 8, because people are busy and don’t want to have to learn a new operating system. Even if, in the end, the operating system is superior. Fortunately you don’t really have to use the new titles system. You can make things pretty much the way they were in Windows 7. You will still need to use the tiles in some places, but it isn’t terrible. However, I think you should try, when you have time.

What are the biggest changes?

The most obvious changes, the things people will pay most attention to are these:

1. Tiles. This is what you see in all of the commercials. Think of tiles as if they are apps on a smart phone. They work much the same way. You choose which tiles you want on your main screen, the rest you can access elsewhere. Tiles pretty much replace the start menu when you are on your desktop. Many people will hate the fact that the start menu is gone. Apparently there are third party utilities that will help you bring it back. I cannot comments on these, but here’s some advice from cNet.

2. Bars and swiping. There are 3 bars. One on the right that controls the computer and provides access to search. One on the top that controls the open program. One on the bottom that controls the tiles. The third one doesn’t work properly for me. The other two worked fine. The search took some getting used to, again, it isn’t obvious. But once I got it, I was fine with it.

3. Cloud integration.  Windows 8 is all about the cloud. Since many people and businesses are moving to the cloud, this is a wise move.

It is for touch

Windows 8 is for touch devices. I see no reason to upgrade a Windows 7 machine to Windows 8. I also would not want to buy a non-touch computer with Windows 8. Windows 8 does not work as well with a mouse. This is a serious problem, since most computers are not touch-screen. Perhaps Windows 8 is ahead of its time.

I think it will be a long time before law firms and other companies want to adapt Windows 8 due to this issue.

The new computers are cool

It is as if Windows 8 caught the attention of computer engineers and  made them say ooooh coool. And they started designing stuff. Some of the new computers and tablets look very nice. The only tablet I have tried is the Surface. I have not had a chance to try some of the new laptops that serve as both tablets and laptops, or the desktops that can be turned into tablets. But I like the idea.

It is very new

Let’s be realistic here. The product is brand new. Microsoft sometimes releases products with bugs. The bugs need to be found and fixed. Until the most obvious bugs are found and fixed, most people will probably find Windows 8 to be frustrating. That is just how these things work. Yet another reason businesses won’t leap to try this new operating system.

Will I buy Windows 8?

No, I won’t. If I buy a new computer and it has a touch screen, I will happily use Windows 8 with it. But if I buy a new computer and it doesn’t have a touch screen, I will no doubt be cursing at the pre-loaded Windows 8. I will definitely not upgrade my current desktop or laptop to Windows 8. I do not see the point.

Is there more to talk about here?

Yes, much more. But as I said, I am not ready to really dig into Windows 8 for you just yet. I probably won’t be for months. Since I plan on getting the Surface Pro, I will most likely use that for my analysis. So for now, I will leave the detailed conversations to others who have had more opportunity to really dig into Windows 8.  I can tell you this though. Some people will love it. Some people will hate it. Me, I am dispassionate about such things. So I will probably remain somewhat in the middle.

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