Sunday, November 4, 2012

Windows 8

I just got my first Windows 8 computer and I really like it! I had heard feedback that Windows 8 was confusing and hard to use. I will admit that I had to play with it for a few minutes before I found everything I wanted, but that was it… A few minutes and I was flying as if I’d been using the OS for years.

The biggest complaint I heard is about Microsoft removing the start menu. I have to laugh at that. The start menu is now the primary screen with all the apps. The things that are ‘missing’ (e.g. power/shut down, settings, control panel) are available by mousing over the upper right side of the screen. Pretty simple, I think! Those complaining are just stuck in the old way of doing things.

It has been said that Microsoft users are old school and Apple users are innovative. While I have never been an Apple user, I now have to agree based on the complaints from Microsoft users alone. It was high time Microsoft did something edgy. As a Microsoft user, I was getting board of their same old. Times have changed we have become an app based society. FINALLY Microsoft responded to technology trends.

What the complainers need to realize is that Windows 8 is an app style user interface designed to make the OS more tablet/touch screen friendly. If you are comfortable with your iPhone or Andriod phone, you should be able to handle Windows 8 with a relatively small learning curve. All the features still exist and, in my opinion, the features are better organized based on frequency of use. The one item that I do feel is misplaced is the power off/sleep/hibernate option. Now, you have to mouse over the upper right corner, click on settings, click the power icon, then select your power down option. Microsoft added an extra click here and extra clicks are never good, particularly on a feature that most people use relatively frequently.

I love the app style start menu in Windows 8. I have yet to figure out all the customization options. All the apps that come out of the box with Windows 8 are connected to Microsoft’s other products for email, chat, browser, etc. Clearly, that is to be expected – they (like every company) want to cross-sell products. The nice thing is you can remove the things you don’t want from the start screen. That is a feature Android needs to consider seriously. I hate the fact that my Android phone has apps I don’t want and I cannot remove them without a PhD from MIT.

The best part of the new Windows is quick, clean, and convenient toggling between programs. With the new OS, you can open multiple programs and simply mouse over to the left side of the page to produce a pop out menu with thumbnails of open programs. This makes the whole UI look cleaner.

I am not in love with is the Microsoft Store, however. The apps are VERY limited. It would be nice if I could add apps from Google Play directly to my Microsoft start screen but I don’t think Microsoft and Google will start playing nicely any time soon :).

Another nice thing is how MSN redesigned MSN to accommodate Windows 8. While, I will an dedicated to Google, I kind of like the new style of MSN. It is very Pinterest-esque. I think they did a good job with that. I should have played with it more than I did (I immediately downloaded Chrome and set Google to my home page), but I can see from my limited interaction with MSN that it is well designed. I am not sure if MSN has the capability since my interaction was limited, but if it is customizatable ala-iGoogle, it would be very useful.

So, overall – I like it. I am sure that the little inconveniences will be fixed in time if demand requires it and the Windows Store will grow as the OS gains popularity. For the most part – I think Microsoft did a fabulous job.

Oh, and Microsoft, welcome to the 21st Century!


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