If you read any of the technical reviews on Microsoft’s new operating system you will quickly come to the conclusion that Windows 8 is a failure. Despite the disappointing sales in general in the PC industry, is the OS as bad as everyone says?
The short answer; YES!
First a little background so you know that I am not just a biased Mac user looking to pick on the Software Giant in Redmond. I have been using Microsoft products since the mid to late 80’s. I own 3 laptops in my home that are all running a flavor of Microsoft Windows. My work computer is a DELL Latitude running Windows 7. My day is spent typically within an IDE on a Oracle Linux VM that I attach to while using Windows 7. I own 1 Mac but we are not an iPhone home and instead run Android OS based phones. I started my career off programming in Visual Studio in the early 90’s and did that until about 2000 when I switched over to Java full time. I believe competition is the greatest motivator for innovation and want every company to release excellent products to push those boundaries. I have been through every rendition of Windows except Vista. I personally am a huge Windows 7 fan and think it’s way better than Mountain Lion.
So with each new release I am hoping that we get one step closer to an interface that is all things to all people and is simple to use.
Unfortunately this OS is not even close and is probably a step back from Windows 7. Why? Because it’s UI design is horrendous. I get the premise in that MS wants to create an environment where a user can go from one MS device to another and feel a seamless experience. Simplicity from device to device has it’s merits. But for a power user like me. One who wants to get a job done and get it done efficiently this just doesn’t cut it.
After installing Windows 8 on a laptop previously running Windows 7, and purchasing a brand new laptop for my wife for Christmas I have come to the conclusion that this operating system isn’t worth the upgrade. Right of the bat, the most annoying thing to me is the assumption that we will all be using a touchscreen interface. While this might be true in the future, today companies aren’t making good enough hardware to make me want to buy something with a touchscreen. I prefer using the standard keyboard and mouse input methods, which I have been using now for the last 30+ years. If someone can come up with a better paradigm without the inherent problems of touch I am all for it, but right now the idea of touching my laptop screen and leaving streaks across it, just doesn’t appeal to me.
The whole swipe thing.. Really?.. I am using a touchpad, not a touchscreen. Why is it that common gestures on my touchpad bring up running applications or the “Charmes Bar”, if ever something could be named horribly. At first it’s hard to even fathom what these gestures are.. or what random applications pop up without understanding why? Secondly, has anyone ever figured out how to close a metro style app? I still haven’t. I don’t think hitting the windows key does it, but it switches the screen a back to the start screen. Like the video above suggests.. why is this even a start screen. I mean yeah it’s in your face right fromt he start.. but is that good enough reason to name it a start screen. Come on Microsoft, all that cash on hand and you cannot figure out a better name than start screen. Remember you did a way with the start button, now how about we do away with the name start everywhere in your OS. Can anyone tell me why the swipe feature isn’t turned off by default if you don’t have a touchscreen interface?
The utterly stupid idea that the mouse in the lower left corner brings up a little representation of the “start screen” which if you click on it, will actually display the start screen. As well as the idea that hovering in the upper right brings up the charmes bar. Okay whatever, if you must make this mistake.. then how about you make this useful. Why is it that my mouse doesn’t want to stay in your magical corner boxes? I am a techie that has been using various mice since the 80’s, and yet I seem like a drunken idiot when taking the Microsoft magical box test. In the future all cops should bring a copy of Windows 8 with them and use it to test potential drunk drivers. If you can get it in the box in 10 tries, you are free to go. Crap.. I just tried and apparently I am well over the legal limit!
The completely silly concept of the old desktop and the new metro style interface. It’s like 2 OS’s pasted together to satisfy someone’s odd need to bridge a gap – OS2 anyone?. No you don’t need to bridge a gap Microsoft. You just need to continue to sell Windows 7 for people who run Windows 7 apps, and make a full break for Windows 8 by stipulating a set of requirements that OEMs must meet in order to bundle Windows 8 with their hardware, and only run these Win 8 type apps here. That way your user base has options… oh gasp options, why on earth would you want your user base to be happy?! For users who really want to use the old Windows 7 style apps, offer a really low subscription price to your online suite. Or default the desktop with all the functionality of Windows 7 instead of the metro start screen which is just becoming an annoying little stop gap between where I am and where I want to go.
The lack of apps in the app store is appalling. I really don’t need 500k or 1 million apps most of which aren’t useful to me to consider the app store useful. I just need productivity apps that make my job easier. While the concept of an app store is new to the Windows desktop world, the Google Play store and the Apple App Store have such a head start it makes the puny amount of apps in the MS App store just another reason not to move to this platform.
One thing I do like is the use of the Windows Key + another key for shortcuts, but I am pretty sure this isn’t going to be a big selling point with your typical user. I am used to using the VI Editor on Unix based systems so keyboard shortcuts are really useful for me. But a typical user won’t want to remember these because as is the paradigm that they are used to, they just want to point, click and go. But MS couldn’t even get this right. For instance to search the app store for a particular key word, the key combination is Windows Key + Q! Not S for search, but Q! Why Q? Was S really taken?
So if anyone in the Microsoft world is listening people are getting tired of your mistakes. For a long time it was the “Blue Screen of Death”. For the most part you have done a much better job with Windows 7 in that regards. Then there was that disaster that was Vista. Now we have Windows 8, that while not as bad as Vista is surely not what you ideally would have liked.
So I have to ask.. for such a large company who has had tremendous profits year over year for a long time, why is it that you can’t seem to hire a good UI team and give them power over driving the OS? You either must be hiring the worst of the worst, or your organization is so convoluted you just can’t make good decisions. If this was Steven Sinofsky’s vision you did the right thing by canning him. I seriously hope your entire board and your leadership teams are FORCED to use Windows 8 every day and can take off their rose colored glasses to truly evaluate it. The old concept of eating your own dog food is put in play by many companies and in this case I would like to see Redman adopt this philosophy if they haven’t already.