Windows 8: The End of the Beginning

As sure as day follows night, as sure as eggs is eggs and as sure as every odd-numbered Star Trek movie is shit… ~ Simon Pegg, Spaced

That was the rule: every odd-numbered Star Trek movie sucked. Star Trek: The Motion Picture was weak; Wrath of Khan was awesome; Search for Spock was abominable; The Voyage Home seemed better at the time than it does now; the Final Frontier may as well have had Captain Kirk in a leather jacket water-skiiing over a circling fin; The Undiscovered Country was clever and well written; Generations was just… weird; First Contact was a brilliant showing for the TNG crew; Insurrection was very, very dull. Then Nemesis, the tenth film, tried to ruin the whole thing by being possibly the suckiest Star Trek film ever. But that didn’t disprove the rule, which stated that the odd-numbered movies sucked, not that the even-numbered ones didn’t. And then JJ Abrams came along and rebooted the franchise, with a movie that is either number 11 or number 1 but is definitely odd-numbered either way, and is utterly fantastic.

So now I keep seeing tweets and blog posts and articles in journals I respect expressing the worry that Windows 8 is going to be “another Vista” or “another ME”, as though there were a rule that every other Windows release has to be a turkey. Thus I am compelled to post this, by way of respectful disagreement with these idiots. I’ll get onto why I don’t think Windows 8 is, or will be, a failure, but I’ll start by asking this question:

Was Windows 7 a success?

Commercially, Windows 7 has done extremely well. Critically, it was well received, and widely described as “what Vista should have been”, and that is probably true. Vista was slow and bloated and broke nearly all the promises that were made early on in its development (such as WinFS), or detached those promises and made them available in Windows XP as the .NET Framework 3.0 (which, itself, was hideous and quickly replaced by 3.5). Windows 7 was fast, even on older hardware, it looked good, it was stable and secure; it was all the things that Vista wasn’t.

But in all the joy of finally being able to upgrade from XP, there was a stated aim of the Windows 7 project that was not delivered: touch. Yes, there were multi-touch APIs, and I worked on a couple of WPF projects that did cool and interesting things with touch screens, but the fact is, Windows 7 was not a touch-based operating system.

You can’t touch this ~ MC Hammer

It was traditional Windows which would, if you had a touch screen and could successfully tap or poke the tiny area of screen with the checkbox or the menu item or the bit of window chrome you wanted, would respond. But its heart wasn’t in it. That’s why, more than three years after Windows 7 was released to manufacturing, you still don’t have a touch screen device waiting eagerly for Windows 8’s honest-to-goodness touchability. No, in that respect, Windows 7 did not succeed. And then the iPad happened, and that respect became a whole lot more important.

And then the world changed

The iPad changed the way the general public thought about personal computing. It made everyone who thought they needed a computer, for email and Facebook and shopping online, realise that they probably didn’t, after all. They just needed a device that could do those things, and until now, that had meant a computer. In April 2010, less than a year after Windows 7 manufacturing and only a few months after it had become generally available, Apple showed the world how a touch UI on a larger form factor should work, and in the first month, it sold a million iPads, and less two and a half years later, they’ve sold more than 84 million. You don’t even need a PC or a Mac to make the iPad work any more: it can update its own OS and back everything up to iCloud. You can go whole days without touching a physical keyboard and not miss a thing.

Except, of course, you still needed a “proper” computer for the less trivial things, like writing anything longer than an email, or creating any of the content that people are using iPads to consume, or doing actual work. None of that stuff has gone away, and it’s not going to any time soon. Computers are still around, and Microsoft still make operating systems for them, but in the post iPad world, people are starting to wonder why their computers aren’t, you know, more iPaddy. Apple themselves are making OS X more like iOS with every update, in increasingly odd ways, none of which actually help at all. Meanwhile, Microsoft have made Windows 8.

Enter the Metro Modern UI… whatever

If Windows 8 were just another iteration on the WIMP + Start Menu paradigm of Windows 95, with maybe a Launchpad-type-thing thrown in, and bigger checkboxes and menu items and bits of window chrome, then it would be a failure, and in another three years there would still be no touch devices waiting for Windows 9, and Microsoft’s share of the consumer market would have collapsed like a Romulan mining vessel in a black hole. Windows 8 had to have a touch-centric UI if Microsoft’s OEM partners were going to be persuaded to invest in producing touch-capable devices.

Now, I am not a User Experience expert, but I’m pretty sure it would be hard to make a proper touch UI that was also dreamy to use with a mouse. The two things are so far removed from each other. Fingers are imprecise, but far more intuitive and flexible and numerous than a little arrow-shaped pointer on a screen. If you design for that pointer, you’re missing out on all the cool stuff fingers can do, like swipe in from off the side of the screen, or flick things, or pinch stuff, or any of the other perfectly natural and intuitive gestures you now have to pay patent royalties to use. Of course, if you make those finger gestures the only way to activate certain functionality, then you’ve got a whole world of users out there without touch screens who just can’t use your new operating system, and that would be a shame because there’s a bunch of other neat stuff in there that’s got nothing to do with the UI.

At this point, you might deliberately and with incompetence aforethought decide to start making two completely separate operating systems, one for tablets and one for keyboard and mouse, and immediately lose a market position it’s taken you the best part of twenty years to build. Or, you can compromise, and design a UI that works really well for touch, and OK for a mouse, and an OS which still runs a vast back catalogue of applications by falling back to the more traditional UI that works really well for the mouse and, all right, let’s be honest, hardly at all for touch. It won’t be perfect, it never could be, but it’s a transitional step in the right direction. Unfortunately, like all the best revolutions, this one will not make everybody happy (and some people are losing their heads).

Start Menus are so 1995, you know?

By far the biggest gripe with Windows 8 is the removal of the Start Menu. Having used Windows 8 as my primary OS for most of this year, I’m here to tell you: that’s the thing that matters least.

If you’re a power user, here’s how you use the Start Menu in Windows 7: you hit the Windows key and you either click something you’ve got pinned to the main menu, or you start typing the name of the lesser-used application you’re looking for.

Here’s how you use the Start Screen in Windows 8: you hit the Windows key and you either click something you’ve got pinned to the Start Screen, or you start typing the name of the lesser used application you’re looking for.

That’s it. If you’re using a keyboard and mouse, the only thing that’s changed is that the Start Menu is maximised now. Who moved my cheese? No, wait, there it is: an inch to the left.

But if you’re using a tablet or a touch screen, well, now you’ve got a Start Menu you can actually use, because it’s got tiles so damn big Homer Simpson could launch the right app. They’re so huge, you can read your email in them. They tell you important stuff without you needing to touch them. I’m unfriending unattractive people on Facebook because their pictures are uglying up my People tile.

It works, in both worlds. Get used to it and move on.

So there is some non-great stuff

The new UI does have its share of problems. The method for “closing” a Modern UI app, which is to swipe it right down the screen with your finger, is clunky when you do it with a mouse, where you have to push the cursor right up to the top, click and hold the mouse button, and drag it all the way down to the bottom. But Alt-F4 still works, and Microsoft say we need to stop worrying about closing apps anyway because it’s got so good at suspending them you can just jump back to the Start Screen and load the next one. You can also do the snapping thing, where you dock one app to a side of the screen and another takes up the rest of it, with Win+. (snap to right) and Win+Shift+. (snap to left).

The mouse-into-the-corner thing for bringing up the Charms (I hate that word; makes me think of bracelets and witches) is probably the least awful of a hundred that they tried, and it works better in the RTM version, but you should learn the Win+C shortcut for it anyway. And Win+Z to bring up the App Bar for the current app, that one’s really useful. It’s ironic, really, that the UI which brings Windows up-to-date in terms of the Natural User Interface should also bring us full circle back to remembering keyboard shortcuts.

Probably the worst thing about the new UI, and one that is particularly noticeable to the MSDN and TechNet subscribers downloading the oven-hot RTM builds to play with, is that it does not play nicely in Virtual Machines. I use a MacBook with Parallels, and running in a window, it’s really hard to hit the corners with the mouse; running full-screen, any time the cursor gets near the top of the screen (to, the bloody Apple menu bar drops over it. Fortunately, in Parallels full-screen, the Windows Key shortcuts still work so all the functionality is still accessible, but if your VM software doesn’t trap the Windows Key, you may be in for problems.

Far worse than any of the sins of the Modern UI is the fact that there is still a bunch of stuff that you have to fall back to the old-style desktop to do, especially in terms of settings and the Control Panel, and very little has been done to make that even a little bit more touch-friendly. Checkboxes, menu items and bits of window chrome are still too small to accurately hit with even the pointiest of fingers, and resizing windows is challenging, to say the least (which is, of course, why the Modern UI doesn’t have windows).

Aero’s gone, to try and reduce the dissonance between Modern and Desktop, but that’s no great loss and be honest: you don’t spend that much time looking at the title bars anyway.

That’s about it, at least in terms of things that are Microsoft’s “fault”. Of course, my 2011 HP Envy laptop doesn’t have updated drivers available which will let me use the AMD GPU that is now gathering dust inside it, but that’s between me and what HP laughably call “support”.

Windows 8 will succeed

It may not shift as many units in the corporate world as Windows 7 has, because it really doesn’t offer a compelling reason for corporate IT departments to go through all the pain of rolling it out to hundreds of under-specced budget boxes with 17” monitors. But I think it will shift lots of units in the consumer market, on form factors like the Surface tablets and Lenovo’s Yoga pad, things which bridge that gap between highly-portable consumption device and notebook PC. It will be pre-installed on all new notebooks by the end of this year, and most people will probably grumble for a day or two until they get the hang of it. And in two or three years, touch screens will be the norm, whether on tablets, hybrid devices, or the next generation of Ultrabooks. Maybe we’ll even see some new form factors, like desktop touch-screens tilted low, maybe as part of an over-and-under dual screen arrangment, and real-world, affordable interactive coffee tables.

That will be Windows 8’s success: enabling the next generation of hardware, and clearing a way for ubiquitous computing, which is where we’ve really been heading all this time. Windows 8 may not quite be the first of a new generation of operating systems, but it is, at least, the last of the old generation. So have fun with it, and get back to me in a couple of years, so we can argue about which is better: Project Glass or Kinect Shades

It’s gonna be the future soon, I’ve never seen it quite so clear ~ Jonathan Coulton

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Comments

  1. So true – I’m on RTM, and loving it. Once people get the 5 minutes of training they might need – there will be no looking back. I like Win7, but think Win8 is rock solid and enabled some very interesting scenarios – doctors offices, kiosk, etc. I think it will be a run away success – and I cannot wait to get the surface RT and Pro.

  2. Windows 1-7 had overlapping windows. Windows 8 doesn’t. When Vista came out people praised it too, now it’s a the failed dinosaur on the road to Windows 7. I’m waiting for Windows 9.

    • I don’t get your point, and I’m pretty sure you didn’t get mine.

      • What do you expect from a guy with a surname from a 1984 porno movie?
        He might miss your point but he is also a good example of it. Win8 is definitely paving the way forward which MS will (hopefully) capitalize on for Win9.

        Either way its a Win…(pun in tended 😀 )

      • What do you expect from a guy with a surname out of a 1985 porno movie. 🙂
        He may not get your point, but he is an example of it. Win8 is definitely paving the way for MS to (hopefully) capitalize on in future with Win9.

        either way its a win (pun intended).

        by the way I LOVE your section on the start button…and the cheese. awesome!

      • Think Craig means you could run non-full screen applications, while in the “formerly called Metro” apps tend to go into full screeen all the time. What I tend to keep hearing is the start menu is gone and you put it correctly so I thank you. It’s not gone it just became icons instead of lines of text. Organizable icons that stream data to you real time. A bunch of things I would have in a toolbar or have to open up is now streaming on my desktop, with no work. I don’t have to find a widget, install it try to get the sidebar to look ok, etc. I grab the app, move the icon where I want it and take off. For closing apps don’t forget about the left bar. If you hover over left corner an icon appears with your previous app / program you ran, if you drag your mouse down a side bar opens up with all the current open apps running, just click to close / right click to close. But as you point out I did lots of system load testing, and I find I can run tons of programs and have them all open. The suspends of systems in Windows 8 is darn right out impressive. I can have open 3 times as many heavy lifting / large programs, and it works oh so much better, than having those same programs running in windows 7.

        So far everyone I show it to at work, starts by going um ok? After I show them the key things to know.
        1.) Right click in “open space” to bring up contextual menus
        2.) Mouse over the upper left corner to find open programs
        3.) mouse over upper right corner to bring up settings / power options
        4.) hit windows key to get back to the start
        5.) you can resize the icons and drag them into different groups,

        After they practice that a few times, they take off love it and don’t want to stop using the test / demo machine.

        I have also put this into quite a few old folks homes / rec centers with a standard 32 inch touch monitor and keyboard. They love it, they touch to move around / surf, and then use the keyboard to type out the emails to families. For kicks and to assist them I build a small kinetic application that does voice to text to save them from as much typing.
        So far I think i have got myself written into about 5 wills, for providing them this great technology. LOL

        Really windows 8 is the best of both worlds, and with the key of device synching the real power will come about. being able to take that word document from desktop, to tablet, over to phone, then to your xbox, then back to desktop, gives you lots of options.

      • I think his point is: Vista sounded great at the time it was released, but in hindsight, it turned out not to be so great. You alluded to the possibility in your article: “The Voyage Home seemed better at the time than it does now.”

        While everything you say makes Windows 8 sound great, are we going to look back at this in the future and say “Well, that was OK for Microsoft’s first attempt at a touch screen OS, but Windows 9 did the touch better.” Because we just don’t know the answer, I’m not convinced its worth the upgrade yet. Check back in a year or two, and if it really is good, well, maybe then I can commit to an upgrade.

        His first point was (I think) that Windows has, well, windows. Windows 8 doesn’t have any windows (at least from everything I’ve read) … it’s a do one thing at a time OS, which just seems so backwards. Granted, most things I do, I do one at a time; however, sometimes I do two things at once, and the menu bar at the bottom is really the fastest way to switch tasks when I’m doing two things. Or, I could run both programs side by side. Sometimes it’s just convenient to open two folders at the same time (in separate windows) side-by-side to compare contents. How do we do some of these things with only one window, or when every application has to run full-screen?

      • I think the point is pretty clear, and you have no way to determine if the poster actually got yours or not… Oh, wait… You didn’t actually make any worthwhile point.

      • I think crag is laconic and only put the extract here. I was as I understood he wanted to say that Windows 8 is not going to be a stable version as the innovation has just take part. So lets wait for Windows 9 which will be improved part of Windows 8. I think I decoded what he wanted to say.

      • I think the point is that on the desktop, where you might easily have two 24″ monitors, Metro just doesn’t make any sense. In that environment, touch adds nothing, because a keyboard and mouse are easier to use and more precise.

        So you take away the advantage of Windows 8 – touch support – and what are you left with? Yes, you can go to the traditional desktop, but it requires a jarring transition from the part of the interface designed for touch to do so. It’s like a vehicle created by salvaging the front half of a truck, and the back half of a car, and welding them together. There’s a jarring transition between Metro and the traditional desktop.

        Instead, MS should have taken the individual elements that make up Windows for mobile devices, and integrated those onto the desktop itself. Live tiles as an upgrade for traditional shortcuts with icons, that can be put wherever those shortcuts always could. The option of running metro apps in a window sized appropriately for the display device. Users would have welcomed these improvements instead of being annoyed.

        Also, removing borders from similarly colored UI elements so it becomes hard to tell where, for example, a scrolling list box ends, is not an upgrade.

        • I have 2 HP L2206tm’s, 21.5″. You could never be so wrong. Touch is much easier than mouse when you have so much area. The touch gets me to the general area. Most of the time that is enough. Some of the time I fine tune with a mouse. I use gestures a lot and it saves my mouse finger from getting cramped.

          • “I have 2 HP L2206tm’s, 21.5″. You could never be so wrong. Touch is much easier than mouse when you have so much area. The touch gets me to the general area. Most of the time that is enough. Some of the time I fine tune with a mouse. I use gestures a lot and it saves my mouse finger from getting cramped.”

            I have to wonder what optometrists and ophthalmologists have to say about sitting within 3 feet of 21″, 24″ (and I’m sure larger) screens constantly, just so we can touch them.

            I also have to wonder what physiotherapists and occupational therapists have to say about constantly lifting our arms and reaching out to touch our screens.

            Touch makes sense on a portable device, but doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense sitting on your desk.

            • Lawrence Knowlton says:

              One configuration I heard sounded more digestable:
              One or more non-touch screen(s) for the Desktop
              One touch screen for the Tiled interface
              This would at least shuffle that which is distasteful to another screen (that can use it), while getting real everyday work done “normally”.
              They should make a show called FOIST-BUSTERS to keep Microsoft in line!

              • Why not just have the OS be smarter?

                “Oh, I see you have no touch technology connected, so I’ll skip the tiled interface and just show you the traditional desktop for you to use.”

                I guess that’s asking a lot of Microsoft.

            • I suspect physiotherapists and occupational therapists would say “It sounds like you could use the exercise, you lazy git.”

              Seriously, the damage you do to your shoulders and neck sitting in a mouse-and-keyboard-using posture for hours every day is considerable. Waving your arms around at a touch- or motion-controlled UI would be far healthier.

              • Not so sure about that (the motion being healthier). Recently I was discussing with my chiropractor about my sore shoulders on long drives and he said it’s simply because you keep your hands in the air for so long, putting tension on the shoulder for long periods. Better to drop the steering wheel as low as you can so that your arms drop … sit in a more natural/relaxed position.

                No, you’re not going to get the same stresses on the body that operating a mouse gives you, but your arm is going to be up in the air a lot more, which is going to create more stress on the body in areas that weren’t affected before.

                (My chiropractor also advocates for getting up and stretching every 20-30 minutes).

    • I think the clue is in the first four letters of your surname

    • I’m with you Craig, It’s a regular pattern with windows releases really:

      Win 98 – nice
      Windows Me – unstable as hell
      Win XP – lovely OS, shame it’s so old and can’t address enough RAM, etc.
      Win Vista – unstable as hell
      Win 7 – so far, lovely
      Win 8. Errr, too many UI changes for me to want to upgrade from 7.

      Although, admittedly, I’m more of the opinion nowadays of if It’s not broken, don’t fix it. Personally I prefer the Windows XP Start Menu. Less boring scrolling to get to the programs I want to run that way. Still, should be a nice alternative for tablet PCs.

    • Actually, the first version of Windows circa 1986 didn’t have overlapping windows.

      http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,1160161,00.asp

      “Windows 1.0 ships. Version 1.0 enables users to work with several programs at the same time, switching easily between them without having to quit and restart individual applications. But windows on Windows cannot overlap, crippling usability. Not enough software is written for Windows 1.0, and it fails to take hold in the marketplace.”

    • @Craig

      Actually, Window circa 1986, did not have overlapping windows.

      http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,1160161,00.asp

      “Windows 1.0 ships. Version 1.0 enables users to work with several programs at the same time, switching easily between them without having to quit and restart individual applications. But windows on Windows cannot overlap, crippling usability. Not enough software is written for Windows 1.0, and it fails to take hold in the marketplace.”

    • Windows 1.0 had no overlapping windows.

    • Windows 1 had not overlapped windows, only tiled. The overlapping windows came with 2.x.
      Stefano

    • Josh Pactor says:

      Windows 8 has overlapping windows on a fully-functional desktop. Not sure where you got the idea it doesn’t?

    • FWIW, I’ve only had one problem with Vista. The first Paste of copied files to File Explorer doesn’t take. Just do it again and everything is okay from then until the next boot. I think that would be really annoying for a novice. But other than that it has worked fine. And I’m a long time programmer and also have lots of photos and do video capture.

      There are probably 2 reasons I’m happy. First, the hardware I have was adequate for the OS. And secondly, most problems with Vista were fixed in the service packs.

      Saying Vista was a failure and Windows 7 is so much better seems odd to me since Win7 is just Vista with some pain points removed.

      But go ahead. Keep spreading the myth about Vista.

    • This made no sense Craig. I cant see where you can compare one feature with a failed product? There is no colleration in that?

      Personally, I’ve been using Windows 8 for about 3 months now and I’ve really come around to loving it. The interaction is a hell of a lot quicker and things are easily found with the search features. The start menu looking back to Windows 7 is very primative… So personally I’m all for this change, I just hope people in the consumer market are too.

    • GuyverXT9 says:

      @Craig.. silly troll is silly

    • Windows 1.x actually did not have overlapping windows. While the window manager was capable of them, they were disabled due to fears of legal action from Apple.

  3. “And then JJ Abrams came along and rebooted the franchise, with a movie that is either number 11 or number 1 but is definitely odd-numbered either way, and is utterly fantastic.”

    I basically stopped reading there.

  4. Nikhil Gupta says:

    Not sure if it will be a hit like xp or 7 but will surely lay foundation of future versions of windows. For tablets i like ios better than win8 because of huge number of apps available.

  5. Paul Hebhardt says:

    MC Hammer is too infrequently quoted in technical articles. Well done.

  6. Metro is the dark side of Windows 8 on a desktop. I’ve been using Win 8 for a few days now on my laptop, I use it for web development. It took me a few hours of frustration to adjust to the new UI, keyboard shortcuts and mouse gestures. I like it now, it seems Win 8 has better performance over 7, works well on my 4yrs old laptop. I still avoid going into the start screen or launching metro apps, it breaks desktop workflow. I wonder how less computer literate people will receive it, I think Win 8 is less intuitive and more confusing compared to Win 7 because of the UI and a mix of desktop and Metro, takes time to adjust to it.

  7. For simple applications and on tablets I definitely see the benefits.

    But for real work like: writing content, designing, making webpages, doing a billion things at once, programming, etc. you’re not going to use touch. Multitasking is a pain in the Modern UI (try doing 3 things at once) with it’s switching workflow. As a developer the OS as meant for PC’s makes me facepalm.

    Besides have you ever enjoyed lifting up your hands all day to get your greasy fingers touching the screen to make time wasting gestures while you have a pixel precise mouse near your hand?.

    First thing I’m going to do on my windows 8 installation is make it automatically switch to the desktop, and add a regular start menu (the one where you don’t have to move your mouse across the entire screen). I do enjoy just typing the search terms and pressing enter to launch but this takes more time and battery power than in windows 7 because of the shiny interface.

  8. “I’m unfriending unattractive people on Facebook because their pictures are uglying up my People tile”
    lol

  9. It seems like the the theme of this article is ‘new, for the sake of new, is good’. That’s great if you are selling operating systems or trying to figure out how to get into the consumers pocketbook for yet another piece of hardware. If you have to work computers for a living, it really sucks.

    • That wasn’t intended to be the theme at all. The point was that new is coming, like it or not, and Windows 8 is a positive step in the right direction.

  10. I am using RTM too. And used Windows 8 for all this year and I love it. I dunno why, but this chrome-free squares are mine. It is great OS, and Modern UI is colorful but I miss XNA in Modern UI.

  11. I hate the idea of every app being full screen. I just don’t work that way.

  12. Win8 does not do a very good job of supporting current desktop users and will only frustate and annoy the millions of desktop users out there. Every business is filled with Windows based desktops and they will get the clear picture: Windows 8 is another loser best to be avoided. Besides the already very negative press, any actual hands-on experience is guaranteed to re-enforce that. Then they will look at all the shiny tablets and phones and remember Win8 is best to be avoided and will pick Google/Android or Apple. That’s an epic fail.

  13. David Beahm says:

    No, if you’re a power user you start 90% of your apps with 3 or less keystrokes, never taking your fingers from the keyboard. At some point people forgot that mousing around is primarily intended for selecting between subtly distinct values (dragging, sliders, etc.), while keystrokes and commands are primarily for efficiently operating discrete actions — like starting a program I use EVERY DAY. People who watch me don’t even know what I’ve done — they just see it happen and think it’s AMAZING I got a computer to do what I want without taking my mouse for a walk every few seconds.

  14. I prefer personally to click the upper left corner to switch app or close them. I did not even know you could *swipe* from top to bottom to close the app. I use win 8 also since begining of the year and I like it so far.. don’t want to return to windows 7.. even tho they both look very similar in desktop mode.

  15. I need a real tablet to really know if I like Win 8. I’ve used the last couple of pre-releases. The full screen preview versions of the Apps didn’t work that great so I fell back to tried-and-true desktop versions. Essentially my Win 8 experience has been the Win 7 like VM environment of using the desktop app with pinning. I’ve stumbled upon using the mouse to simulate touch screen actions but I find it disconcerting to hover the mouse in corners and hope the right UI will appear. I really need to get a Windows 8 experience by using the Surface tablet. I am glad MS is rolling their own; OEM’s be damned but it is high time that MS took on the bloat and crap ware problem that saddled, ruined, and created the Motel 6 image that Windows revels in today.

  16. Mark,

    Frankly I didn’t get it either. Seems like an apology/advertisement rather than an article.
    Apple owns the touch pad and will continue to. Microsoft waited too long with XP and Office as it’s “bread and butter” Microsoft and Balmer failed. They had the ball, court, and audience and lost the game to the underdog (“Apple” who could BUY THEM now). Good move for Microsoft (as it continues to flounder) would be to buy Blackberry, and go for business/gov/mil markets and leave consumer market alone they can win there. That and the vehicle apps They lost! time to deal with it and move on. Really had LINUX in their sights too long and didn’t recognize Apple until it was too late.

    Jim

  17. “At this point, you might deliberately and with incompetence aforethought decide to start making two completely separate operating systems, one for tablets and one for keyboard and mouse, and immediately lose a market position it’s taken you the best part of twenty years to build.”

    I don’t get this statement. Why can’t you have the base OS but have have a desktop UI and a tablet UI as separate implementations? Metro(yep, I’m calling it Metro), may be fine on surface type tablets, but trying to get desktop users(especially in the business world) to adopt to it I think will be a mistake. The business world does not like change like that.
    As they say, time will tell.

  18. Charles Kincaid says:

    I am so looking forward to trying 8. I’m also looking at Win 8 on tablets. The promise of the same app running on a tablet and the desktop has me twitching.

    Oh, I run everything full screen anyway.

  19. jcorreia12 says:

    His point is that this “windows” doesn’t have “windows” anymore, sherlock. It has full blown walls slamming back at you from this big mighty 27″ right in front of me.

    And that hurts both my eyes and my sanity.

    • If that was his point, and I’m not entirely convinced it was, it was poorly made. You put it far better with “full blown walls”. No need to be rude, though.

  20. Why doesn’t the RTM version have a built-in option to turn off the Metro (Moderm) interface and use the Aero interface instead? Shouldn’t the user (owner) of the machine be able to have this option?

    • For the same reason that Windows 95 didn’t have the option to turn off the Start menu and use Program Manager instead: helping people to resist change just makes changing harder.

      • dezfowler says:

        Pretty sure progman.exe shipped with Win95. Think you could switch your shell back to that too if you wanted. Was a registry hack, like, but a real hoot!

  21. Anonymous says:

    If I have to learn shortcut keys to get stuff done in the Windows 8 UI doesn’t that mean the interface has failed?

    • It’s a compromise, rather than an outright failure. Like I say, when touch-screens become the norm, the keyboard shortcuts will be less important, but they’ll still be relevant, like Ctrl+Z/X/C/V are today.

  22. What are they going to do about typing in the touch-age? I honestly don’t know how I could type, without looking at my keyboard, when I can’t “feel” the keys…

    • That’s definitely a challenge. I still can’t see a replacement for the keyboard for proper typing. Voice recognition will work in some contexts, but you’re not going to get a room full of developers mumbling “private static void main open paren string array args close paren open brace newline…”

  23. Good points all-around.

  24. Thanks Mark, I think I get your point, you have the gist of where MS is going and why. Better than that review in Infoworld that panned Win8. So thanks for that.

    My Q for you and others is how developers should proceed vis-a-vis the multi-lingual world of tablets and smartphones. Looks like a 3 horse race (iOS, Android and Modern/Metro) with no dominant winner. Is there are multi-platform development strategy here?

    • My personal opinion on developing software for this brave new world is that for the time being targeting the web is the safest bet. You’re not going to go far wrong investing in HTML & JavaScript as core skills. In ten years time, though, I think the way we interact with information systems will have changed beyond all recognition, and we’ll be much more focused on intelligently retrieving contextual information to supply to a natural user interface than on designing the interfaces themselves.

  25. I agree with your logic but I think that is the reason Windows8 will fail commercially. Under the hood Vista and other odd number versions changed alot. The even numbers perfected it. Think about the evolution form keyboard cursor keys only to a mouse. That took mayn years and several versions of windows. (And, the keys are still around but they are not that useful most of the time.) Now we go from mouse to touch. Windows 8 will be a transition and many things will be leared from it. To go from mouse to touch may take even more versions.

  26. The Star Trek reboot was utter drek. For a complete (minute by minute) description of why I highly recommend http://structureddream.blogspot.ca/2009/06/my-take-on-star-trek-2009-001.html

  27. “Or, you can compromise, and design a UI that works really well for touch, and OK for a mouse, and an OS which still runs a vast back catalogue…”

    I have no need for a compromise. I’m a software engineer, with zero need for touch. I have a quite nice laptop + 2 side monitor setup. I have no desire to have a Jekyll and Hide, Metro + “Regular” windows pair hanging around. And I’m told that, if I’m in “Classic” windows mode, and I do something that triggers a metro app, the whole OS pauses my…**work**…in classic mode and boots me into metro. I hope that’s BS, but if true it’s simply unacceptable.

    “And in two or three years, touch screens will be the norm”

    Erp—what?! I have an iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, and two laptops, so I guess you could say that 60% of my devices are touch. But I still need a laptop to do…grownup work…on. MS’s failure to produce an OS tailored to my need to do…work…makes it a failure. Looking forward to Windows 9.

    • I have desktop apps and Metro apps running side-by-side on multiple monitors, nothing gets “paused”.

      Yes, you still need a laptop, but there’s no reason why that laptop shouldn’t have a touch-screen, and why that touch-screen shouldn’t be useful in that context.

      • Oh! So I can have Visual Studio and SQL Server running on two monitors in “classic mode”, and then have Windows Media Player (or whatever other “Metro” app) running on the third? All at the same time?

        That would actually make me quite happy.

      • Yes, you can, absolutely; prepare to be quite happy 🙂

      • Jay Blanc says:

        Here’s the reason. Fingers leave smudges, and you can’t do multitouch with a stylus. My Windows 7 computer’s screen is a 1080p TV set, if you imagine that touch screens are coming to TV sets you’re seeing a future few others are. Imagine trying to work on in Photoshop with a finger smudges over your screen? Imagine trying to play TF2 when there’s big finger prints over graphics? Do you expect people to sit at their work/games computer with a box of screen wipes to clean the screen every half an hour?

        Touch-screen on the desktop is not new. It’s been around since the 90s. There are reasons that it never took off, and that’s because you do not want to touch your main screen on a desktop.

        The closest you get to touch on the desktop is trackpads and apple’s ‘magic mouse’, which transfers the gesture abilities. And that’s what OS X really does well, I now find the scroll wheel on mice fiddly and annoying thanks to getting so used to double fingered drag to scroll.

        Windows 8 is optimised for TouchScreen control, OS X is optimised for TouchPad control. And OS X wins, because TouchScreen isn’t something anyone wants on a desktop PC until you fix the problem of leaving finger smudges all over the screen.

        • refreshcreations says:

          There’s also the increased RSI risks and general fatigue with a desktop touch-screen which you just don’t get as easily with a mouse interface.

          Personally I would prefer mouse movement for 8 hours than using touch-screen input for 4 hours for that reason alone.

          • That’s just diametrically wrong. RSI is caused by small repetitive movements, like clicking mouse buttons.

            • And injuries are also known to occur from stretching to touch something that is further away than the length of your arm, or eye strain from sitting too close to a screen (such as moving it closer so you don’t have to stretch).

        • I think somebody might have fixed the problem of leaving finger smudges all over the screen: http://leapmotion.com/ (not to mention next-generation Kinect for Windows).

          • Jay Blanc says:

            They *might* have, but till review samples of the hardware get sent out who knows? It *might* not be suitable for a busy office where the cameras might get distracted by background motion. It *might* work great, it *might* have the same inherent problems of needing a huge area to work in that the Kinect does. That’s a lot of *might* to base the usability of Windows 8 on, it *might* just be the latest example of vapour ware.

            • You don’t think Microsoft *might* have a bit more information about this type of thing than we have? Two years of Kinect *might* have taught them a thing or two, let alone the years of research into Natural User Interfaces. Regardless of what the actual interface is – touch, gestures in the air, eye-tracking and blinking – the fact is that the Windows 8 Modern UI is better suited to it than the Windows 95-7.

              • Jay Blanc says:

                Well, so far what Kindle has taught them is that Kindle turns out not to be very useful for controlling most of the things that people bought an XBox 360 to do.

                And no, Microsoft don’t have the magic ability to know if Leap Motion is vapour ware or not, unless they get invited to look at the hardware, or significantly invest in or buy the company. Neither of which have happened. And since Leap Motion seem to actually be targeting OS X users, citing it as the saviour of Windows 8 seems a little odd.

                • Jay Blanc says:

                  Aigh, autocorrect… Well, so far what Kinect has taught them is that Kinect turns out not to be very useful for controlling most of the things that people bought an XBox 360 to do.

                • The Kindle is an ebook reader, so waving it at your Xbox is just silly. 😛

                  What Kinect, on the other hand, has taught them is how to make Kinect for Windows, and Kinect 2 for the next-gen Xbox, and how people understand and try to use a gesture-based control system, and so on…

                  The point is not LeapMotion™, the point is that gesture control is a reality, and the precision of these devices is at (or very nearly at) the point where it’s a viable UI for desktop use.

                  The further point is that we’re on the brink of a revolution in the way we interact with information, and people like you are complaining that you don’t want to touch what may well be the last physical computer monitor you ever buy.

  28. Dweeberly says:

    I would disagree with your assessment about the start menu. If you are not a power user … or just someone that uses the mouse to click on the start orb, you don’t use the windows key. Second the real problem is that to get to “metro” requires a visual context change (the entire screen changes). Then you have to move the mouse a great deal more (possible scrolling the screen) to select your application. The difference is moving your mouse less than an inch or moving it several inches (or more) to get the same work done. Windows 8 has some nice features (like Vista did), but like Vista, MS’s insistence that inflicting UI annoyances on their customers is somehow smart. Win8 will do fine on tablets and will be considered a Vista like failure for the desktop largely because of the removal of the start orb. You can’t make people like change made solely for the sake of change.

  29. adamrackis says:

    ”Or, you can compromise, and design a UI that works really well for touch, and OK for a mouse, and an OS which still runs a vast back catalogue…”

    I have no need for a compromise. I’m a software engineer, with zero need for touch. I have a quite nice laptop + 2 side monitor setup. I have no desire to have a Jekyll and Hide, Metro + ”Regular” windows pair hanging around. And I’m told that, if I’m in “Classic” windows mode, and I do something that triggers a metro app, the whole OS pauses my…**work**…in classic mode and boots me into metro. I hope that’s BS, but if true it’s simply unacceptable.

    ”And in two or three years, touch screens will be the norm”

    Erp—what?! I have an iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, and two laptops, so I guess you could say that 60% of my devices are touch. But I still need a laptop to do…grownup work…on. MS’s failure to produce an OS tailored to my need to do…work…makes it a failure. Looking forward to Windows 9.

  30. I am a bit confused. What incentive as a developer is there to embrace Windows 8? Is there a convenient conversion path!

    • The major incentive is the Windows Store, which gives you a route-to-market for your (Modern UI) apps that has not existed in the Windows ecosystem until now. Whether you’re a WPF/Silverlight developer or a web developer, you can use your existing skills to build native applications to sell through the built-in Store. $/£/€ – the ultimate incentive!

  31. what about its security internet or other ……

  32. Bruce Haxton says:

    You forget to mention that although you can back up to the cloud you are normally charged a monthly fee for doing so. I have a 2TB hard drive which cost me about 1 years monthly cloud fee, and know which I prefer. I am a software developer (since the 60’s) and I cannot develop software on a touch screen, unfortunately I need a real keyboard to be able to type code at a reasonable rate, and the UI of Windows 8 does not suit the way I develop (I understand even Microsoft developers turn it off).
    As for being able to kick off apps without closing others down, I run programs that have been known to use 3-4GB of memory so my hard disk would soon be swapping a lot, (assuming they will still let me have a hard disk for swap space).
    It is a wonderful UI for a smart phone or a tablet, but for developing or even for hard core gaming on a lap-top or a desktop it is just not good enough. Before you say that pads are the future I would ask how many shares you hold in companies selling cloud space.

    • I’ve been developing and gaming quite happily on Windows 8 all year, I’ve got a 12GB swap file on the hard disk, and my overnight backups happen to a server on my LAN (although I could just as easily use an external drive). I don’t think anywhere near has much has changed as you seem to think. Very little has been taken away, apart from the Start button on the task bar. Apple’s backup strategy for the iPad might be iCloud, but for Windows 8, it’s still the same as it ever was.

  33. I’m sorry for the stuff I do on a computer I will never need a touch screen ever lol the keyboard and mouse are the only way I like to interact with my servers if I had to punch my fingers at a non responsive touch screen all day to work my servers my fingers would be bleading by the end of the night lol Windows 8 is just a ploy to make more profit the morons could have added most of it to Windows 7 by basic updates would be my guess it they really want to… yet they just came out with another OS… you have to think about it from MS point of view they are in it for the profit and windows 8 gives me nothing new I want at all as a server admin web developer and programmer… MS is trying to corner the market and make changes to hardware to block free operating systems with ten times better security then anything windows has to offer… the future isn’t hidden source code of operating systems it is Open Source software that gets worked on by everyone with no hidden bs in the background that someone can’t fix easy like windows bs… and anyone that doesn’t believe this should just go google how much of the internet backbone is driven by any windows system because it is low to none if any… why pay tons of money for functionality that you can get free? it is pointless… people need to stop being lazy bitches and learn some new stuff that will benefit the performance they can get out of the internet and get the F away from Windows for awhile and maybe fill a brain with something new… and with W8 I think that just might be right around the corner lol f ms… I don’t know one secretary as of yet that would give up a keyboard for a touchscreen board or a server admin for that matter or programmer lol just thinking so is a joke

  34. Just to clarify – windows 1 did not have overlapping windows. That came in version 2. Windows 1 had tiled windows. Apple said they would sue them if the windows could overlap. In a way windows 8 rt is a reboot to the beginning.

  35. Other software platforms for use with Windosw 8 are horrible in my opinion. For example, The new Visual Studio scheme is a step backward because it is more difficult to distinguish items than before. Just my opinion.

  36. Funny no one mentioned the obvious – that the title should read “Windows 8: The Beginning of the End”. Next step, The Matrix.

  37. Uh, an iPad is a computer.

  38. I am sure that Windows 8 will be a much bigger fail than Windows Vista. There are many Reasons that bring me to this conclusion:

    – Most of the actual Computer Systems are Notebooks and Desktops without touch functionality and this will not change soon. Go to a consumer Market and look for new personal computers, most of them are not touch operated. Metro works much better with touch, than it does with a mouse. Bad for most of the Customers, but also bad for Metro.

    – Microsoft did not build a golden bridge for those, woh do not like metro on their desktop and notebook systems. No way to get the newest operating system and stay with start menu, aero glass and desktop gadgets. Most of those customers will hate windows 8, people dont like to be forced to something and people hate it if things they like are taken away. I am sure, many of this people would sooner or later give metro a try, if it would be an option instead of a dictate.

    – Microsoft does not respect the wishes of their customers, that is always a bad advice for a company. Microsoft makes the big mistake to believe, that all people are now moving to tablets. For many People touch operated devices are inferior to mouse and keaboard operated systems. Touch is good for outdoor, but if you have a keaboard and mouse it ist better to use them.

    – Windows RT is just another Tablet OS, there is Apple in the Market and Android too. Microsoft will not get Apple fans to buy their products so even if they sell their surface tablet very cheap, i dont think they will get a big market share.

    i am sure many people will hate the changes and thus will not like windows 8. the desktop looks ugly, many loved functions are missing, so why should the people upgrade their systems?

  39. An enjoyable read, thanks. I’ll give it a go, mainly for the faster boot time.

  40. Windows is Windows.
    Unix/Linus/OSX/Solaris/AIX is an open system, it is the industrial standard, reliable, and scalable.
    I don’t go back to Windows.

  41. Whatever Microsoft do, they must be rest assured that the architecture is robust enough and have scalability, productivity, having great compatibility and even have room for future expansions. I seen them doing the stuff in hurry and then rolling it back. They even have different picture of now if they have thought enough to before creating VB5,6 generations. However, they made great money with this luxury.

  42. its a very very very wrong move to force DEKSTOP users to work as Tablet users!!!!

    so wrong! windows 8 will succeed in tables will fail in Desktops, and thats for sure!

    oh and the Desktop users are billions and the tables few hundred and all of them do have a desktop too!

    • As far as vision is concerned, I would favor Microsoft. I hope they studied a lot and done enough homework to make sure the change will be a revolution. They might have work on human behavior with their devices, You may find some demographics of the same in future.

      How about introducing new (pointing) devices to manage it on your desktops computers. I think its brave decision from Microsoft. Lets bring innovation to the front of end users.

  43. Windows 8 will undobutably fail, a touch based operating system that looks like it was designed for 5 year olds that needs a quad core processor and 8GB ram to run smoothly. Android is in its nth generation, it looks great, its cheap and fast. Why would anyone pay to cripple their device by running the MS stack?

  44. Well i don’t know how other people look at windows 8 but i have used its RC and it has a cool UI with fast speed.

  45. Finally a post that considers everything logically rather than ranting about Windows 8 without even trying it properly.

    I agree with you completely, it is a step in the right direction for Microsoft. The old UI was brilliant for what it was built for but it’s time to look to the future and Metro (Modern UI) is a very good solution.

    • Yes I agree with you, some people react negative on sudden change in entire model. Windows 8 can have some troubles in start and may be they need to give next version very very soon. But entire idea is not going to flop that I bet.

  46. If hardware and software (that includes OS) developers are going to insist that we switch to touch, I predict that in a few years’ time, 98% of the population will be wearing glasses or in physio to work out the problems in their shoulders from stretching too far to touch the screen.

    My monitor is farther away than the length of my arm. It makes it easy on my eyes, and I like it that way.

    I’m also curious how you do touch typing when there are no bumps on the F, J, and 5, and no difference between the different rows of keys. It seems we’re going to spend a lot more time editing our typing errors.

    And since you mentioned Star Trek, have you noticed that they do their work on touch screens and tablets? But they don’t do a lot of touching. The bulk of their work is done on their main computers, but even then, they don’t spend a lot of time touching the screen because it is voice activated. They reserve their laptops for small quick jobs.

    Touch is fine for a tablet. It even makes sense to me. But for my main computer? No, not unless you can also give me 100% accurate voice activation. Maybe that’s what Microsoft will include in Windows 9 to correct the problems they’ve created with Windows 8.

  47. Reblogged this on Develop My Skills.

  48. Samuel Meacham says:

    There are a few completely unforgivable problems that could actually cause it to fail. However, I think they will be dealt with, and fairly quickly, because they are SO. BAD.

    Browsers have 2 versions: the Desktop version, and the Start Screen version, and they are separate parent processes. If you click a link from the People app, it launches in the Start Screen browser (IE and Chrome both do this, I haven’t tested FF or Safari). If you launch your browser on the desktop, it’s a different browser. So now you have 2 sets of tabs, and neither of them restore correctly. You can’t see both browsers on the same screen at the same time. You can’t move tabs from one browser to the other.

    It’s also extremely frustrating for a desktop user to be forced into a fullscreen app that can’t easily be minimized, closed, resized or moved. How many windows users do you know that hit F11 and use their browser full screen? Zero. Now EVERY start screen app is full screen. That might be preferable for tablet users, but it kind of feels like an insult for desktop users. Go ahead. Try to hit the “pop out in new window” button on a gmail chat window. You won’t like it.

    If you have a browser open in the start screen, you can hit the “share” button on the side bar menu on the right, and you can share what site you’re on using facebook, email, twitter, etc. When you have a browser open on the desktop (you know, so you aren’t forced into full screen), and you hit the Share button, you are told “Nothing can be shared from the Desktop”. Really? Then why even show me the button?

    Even the “Settings” button on the right side-bar shows different options depending on if you select it from the start screen or desktop.

    There are also 2 taskbars. The desktop one, and start screen one, and they have almost nothing in common. The Desktop taskbar only shows apps running on the desktop, and all the special Start Screen apps are shown on the hidden start screen task bar. More and more, it feels like TWO operating systems, and they feel and act differently. It’s an awful split personality experience, and desperately needs to be fixed. I’ve been using the RTM build for about 3 weeks now (I had very early access to it because I work on a few committees with MS regarding Windows, .NET and VS2012), and it doesn’t get better. Separate browsers, separate task bars, you’re forced into full-screen apps and can’t properly multitask, split behaviors, broken features…

    Oh, and one more, for funsies. When you alt+tab, you won’t ever see any of your start screen apps in the list. Only desktop ones. Fail.

    • Yes, some excellent points there, and a couple (like the Share from Desktop) that I remember thinking in the early days and have obviously just got used to since then. I don’t mean that in an “it’s fine, you get used to it” way, either. I also agree that they’ll probably be dealt with fairly quickly.

  49. “It works, in both worlds. Get used to it and move on.”

    It’s exactly this attitude that will keep me from not using Windows 8

  50. No, there doesn’t have to a one size fits all. When you design a website you have a large screen version, a medium screen version, and a tiny (usually mobile) version. Between these you have to adapt your UI to your user’s screen resolution – if you want a good UX i.e.

    The same way W8 could have adapted the UI between touch and mouse. There’s no reason why it couldn’t show the Start menu when ran on a desktop and hide it for touch devices. Or have an integrated desktop + start menu where the classic taskbar to be always visible and the Start menu shown behind. Or in the Start menu when right clicking show the menu option next to the mouse rather than the bottom of the screen… and so on…

    What happened is that MS said “screw the mouse, touch is the future” and decided to force desktop users into this touch-oriented environment, in effect making them second class citizens. This is where all the animosity is coming from.

    Come W9 they’ll realize one UI doesn’t fit all and tweak it more for desktop users. This assumes that by the time W9 comes out there will be enough desktop users left in the Windows ecosystem to justify this move. We’ll see…

    • The thing is, touch – and other natural interaction methods like gestures, voice, eye-tracking, etc. – are the future, and I believe making a bold step in that direction is necessary, even if that first step is faltering. Better that than trying to incrementally turn a mouse-based UI into a touch-based one like Windows 7 tried to do.

      • It is the “future” for the Windows ecosystem, but it has been the reality in the phone / pad world for quite some time. OSX is still keyboard/mouse oriented, not touch. All the people who work in front of a computer, not move around, will not switch to a touch based interface. It makes no sense for these people, doesn’t offer any advantage, and only slows them down. Most of those who could give up their desktop, already did and moved on to other platforms.

        MS has a huge uphill battle ahead. Gambling that most current desktop users would switch to a Metro app is overly optimistic. Those who are still using a desktop, use one because they need programs that do not run on a pad or run poorly. For these people, with W8, MS brings more annoyance with constant Metro flashes and weird UX behavior.

        What seems to be in common with the Vista launch is MS pushing ahead and ignoring criticism. Back then their analysis was telling them everything was OK and people would love the new OS. They seem to be using the same methodology or the same company to do their market research, because a lot of people give them negative feedback and they ignore it. We’ll see…

  51. Jim Danby says:

    For a tablet, Win8 looks good. For my developer box with two 24″ monitors, it looks crap.

  52. Lawrence Knowlton says:

    Windows 8 is for tablets STRICTLY and is not OK for desktop use. For desktop use the idea of the uncluttered desktop leaves you with NO VISUAL CUES. You HAVE to be initiated to know where things are hidden. It goes against the very fiber of a GUI. You say: “Get over it get used to it”, why?
    Why the hell should I have to, can you answer me that? Why should Microsoft foist this garbage on us, when we are happy with how Windows 7? Tablets are for home and specialized work settings, that’s it. They best be making something solely for desktops or they’re going to lose that game too!

    • You have to be initiated to know where things are “hidden” in Windows 7. When Windows 95 launched, there was an animated bit of text that bounced along the task bar to the Start button saying “click here” because user testing had shown that people wouldn’t “get it” by themselves. I remember people being outraged that you had to click “Start” to shut the computer down. The Start Menu was not intuitive; it was learned. There are keyboard short-cuts you take completely for granted which are learned, like Alt+Tab to switch between running applications, or F1 for Help. And you know what? There are a ton of great short-cuts in Windows 7 that you probably don’t even know about, like using the Windows Key and a number key to launch the app pinned to the taskbar at that position, or Win+E to open Windows Explorer.

      Windows 8 is fine for desktop use. I’ve got my eight primary applications pinned to my taskbar, right where they were in Windows 7, and that’s me sorted for 95% of the time. I barely touch the Start Screen when I’m in desktop mode, coding or writing or gaming or whatever. It makes hardly any difference at all.

      • Lawrence Knowlton says:

        I think you are missing my point. There are no VISUAL cues in this supposed GUI to get to your desktop. At least the Start button is something you can see to click on and half guess that’s what you should click. I tried the dev preview and wanted it to work, but it just doesn’t, at least not without a manual. I also don’t see how the finger movements you describe are “natural”, they are LEARNED. (Gee was it swipe to the left or a swipe to the right/up/down?) Unless you’re a smartphone/tablet fanatic (zealot?), there is no sense that a mired down desktop OS made for tablets is needed. People have always wanted a quicker less bloated OS that doesn’t require hoops to jump through to get things done. Without the touch interface to possibly, accidentally help you, you are SOL with Win 8. If you’ve never owned a smart phone or modern tablet, you then are also SOL. I care far less about a mobile OS and all the “cool” things it can do than a robust Desktop OS.

        • So you haven’t tried the RTM? Which would mean you haven’t seen the Out-Of-Box experience which teaches users how things work? Which would mean you don’t know what you’re talking about.

          • Lawrence Knowlton says:

            Ah, so your replies are reduced to insults, how nice. It’s interesting how you changed your tune, once I mentioned what I’ve experienced. You must have thought my points had some validity and now the brush off. Interesting…

            • I didn’t insult you. It became apparent that you had not actually tried the release version of Windows, and literally didn’t know what you were talking about. I merely pointed that fact out. It was certainly nothing to do with the validity of any of your points, since they are clearly based on a limited preview release of the platform and are entirely invalid as a result.

              • Lawrence Knowlton says:

                Well, in a way you did. Like I said, the brush off. You jump to dismiss, but anyway, if the preview was nothing like the RTM, perhaps I will take a look at it. (Since all of my arguments hold no water to the RTM)

                • The RTM is far more polished than even the Release Preview was, and certainly the issues around discoverability of UI interactions are addressed now. Some of your arguments are still valid even with the release build, but you should give it another go rather than letting the faults of an early build put you off permanently.

  53. Back in 1996 when Microsoft introduced Win CE, they attempted to bring the Windows paradigms into the mobile space. The UI was “uncomfortable” and the workflow was not ideal. It seems as if the roles have reversed. Now Microsoft is bringing the mobile/tablet design principles into the desktop. I respect Mark’s opinions and I share several of them. It is a good step forward for Microsoft in attempting to unify their offerings, strengthen the brand and possibly reducing time to market for their different platforms. However, as it stands today it seems there are too many “uncomfortable” compromises. I have been using Win 8 for a few months and I like it and have adapted. Not to say that it makes for a smooth workflow and polished experience. Time will tell, I believe Microsoft is getting better at listening to their customers and will adapt accordingly without compromising their vision.

  54. biggest failure of century. Linux rocks

    • Thanks for posting! I think you were looking for http://www.theregister.co.uk/ though.

    • Lawrence Knowlton says:

      Bill, there’s nothing wrong with Linux, except the fact the they’re doing the same damn thing! For example: Fedora 15 and later versions are going with the Anti-GUI as well and bringing back menu driven interfaces (back to stoneage DOS) and you lose the ability to have icons on your desktop. More and more customization is being taken away from users. There is NO good reason for it. Utter tablet non-sense being foisted on users of Desktops! I hope I never see the day I can’t build a desktop PC that I can configure to my specifications for home use. The problem is people who care about how things work are in the minority these days and are so willing to let themselves become so reliant on technology they can barely tie their own shoes (they use velcro instead).

  55. I just used the RTM. My only question is why the tablet tax on regular desktop users? If we are indeed moving towards touch, just enable those gestures etc only when touch capabilities are detected. Why do I need to learn how to be pilot to take a vacation? Why not ape Mac OS X in this? Why annoy hundreds of millions of customers for few million of touch users who aren’t even there? To have special user guides and even specialized hardware devices smell of screw up of big proportions?

  56. Just to mention that the abomination that is JJ Abrams Sci-Fi Action Flick could be “utterly fantastic” shows that this blog doesnt have any credability. Next.

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  58. Microsoft bet the farm on touchscreen and touchscreen is utter garbage. A mouse is objectively superior to touch screen. Trying to do simple tasks that can be easily done with a mouse can be annoying to frustrating. Just try to copy a section of text with touchscreen, try to open a link in a new tab with touchscreen, hell just pushing links with touchscreen can be infuriating.

    Copying text On touchscreen: hold down wait for it to highlight a small section of text, move the selection untill it’s selected the text you want (which can take 3 or 4 tries given how imprecise touchscreen is) hold down on the selection until the menu comes up, push “copy”, go to where you want to paste it, hold untill the menu comes up then push “paste”.
    With a mouse: highlight, right click, click “copy”, right click to where you want to paste it click “paste”, done!

    Opening a link in new tab or window with touchscreen: hold on link, wait for the menu to come up, tap anther part of the screen because it selected the text instead of opening a menu, try 3 more times, push “open in new tab”.
    With a mouse: right click, click “open in new tab” or push mouse 3 done!

    Opening a link that’s right below another link: push link, push back button because it opened the wrong link, push link, bush back button again, push link, the screen zooms in because it can’t tell what your pushing.
    With a mouse: left click done!

    Touchscreen is not the future; touchscreen is only used on phones and tablets because of their limitations. Desktops and laptops don’t have those limitations and it’s only a matter of time before a better solution is found. Here’s some ideas: motion controlled mouse, a stylist (not the kind that’s just a pen, the kind you’d get with a drawing tablet (those stylists have right and left click buttons)) (I know that is still technically touchscreen) and when/if they can get kinect style motion controls working that could be used to control a courser.

    Touchscreen is shit, it is only used out of necessity and that necessity is temporary. Touchscreen just can not compete with a mouses pixel perfect precision.

    The other features of Windows 8: The metro ui is inferior to the Android and ios ul’s, they’re just better. Applications running at full screen; that is just stupid, any tablet capable of running Windows Shit Edition is going to be big enough to fit application windows, I rarely run programs at fullscreen and sometimes I have 5 windows open that I’m switching between. It’s almost 2013, not having actual application windows on a desktop is retarded. No start menu; the start menu does need replacing (or at least redesigned) but there area lot better options and metro is not one of them.

    There are seeds for good ideas in Windows 8. Using the same engine with different ui’s for different devices, replacing the old startmenu with something new and better but they royally screwed it up. There is hope; maybe with the huge backlash against Windows 8 they will release an update that restores the startmenu and allow users to disable metro.

    If Microsoft doesn’t get it’s crap together this could be the beginning of the end for Microsoft. Google already has Android and has released the Chrome book. Google is looking at this and sees an opportunity. I’d bet (if I had money) that within 3 years Google will release a desktop OS, unlike Apples it will not have a walled off garden and will be available for PC’s. If they’re smart they will mimic the look and feel of Windows (not 8). With Microsofts releasing windows version every 5 years by the time Windows 9 comes to be the next Windows 7 Googles Desktop OS may have a substantial and growing market share and Microsoft may not be able to stop Google Desktop OS’s momentum or regain the market share taken by it. Within ten years Windows may not be the dominant OS. Five years is a long time though and ten is even longer (“Me Captain Obvious? How did you know? Who told you!?”) even if Google releases a Windows like OS that is able to run Windows programs tomorrow Microsoft could still get its shit together and maintain it’s dominance.

    • Windows 8 isn’t just touchscreen, though, and isn’t that the point? Yes, for the couple of use-cases you mention, touchscreen is not as good as a mouse, but for many others, touch is ideal – scrolling, for example.

      On my Surface RT I can play Angry Birds with the touchscreen, but use Word with a mouse and keyboard. Best of both worlds.

      I disagree with your unsubstantiated assertion that the Android and iOS UI’s are “just better” than Windows 8. They’re not. They’re just worse.

      • Mouse wheel and mouse 3. On all browsers simply push the mouse wheel and an icon will appear on the screen, move above the icon it will scroll up, move below it will scroll down. It works on on open office and probably Microsoft office too. So mouse beats touchscreen on that too.

        At a glance (at the icon not the whole screen) I can see what each icon on my phone is for, The problem with the tiles on 8 (at least the default ones on 8) and windows phones is: you can’t tell what they are at glance cause at a glance they are single colored squares, colorful icons (or just colorful tiles) would be easy to distinguish at a glance.
        The tile are too big normal sized icons (for that particular device) are big enough, you don’t need gigantic tiles to see what is what. Who’s hands are so big that a a 35 by 35 pixel icon is too small?

        I was thinking: metro (I refuse to call it “modern” because it’s not, it’s primitive and outdated) could have worked, not as a UI but as a start menu. Use normal sized icons instead of tiles, have the program name beside or below the icons, make it not necessarily full screen (if there was too many Icons to fit that it’d need to be full screen), have the task bar viable with its up even if it’s full screen. That would have worked and be a better start menu than the Vista/7 start menu.

  59. This is going to be the dumbest response to your article, but here goes. I had 8 on my system twice during BETA alongside 7 (dual-boot). Got so frustrated that I formatted the 8 drive within 2 weeks both times. As I read your article, I think, “He’s right, he’s right, he’s right.” On all points. So I need to get over it. BUT, there are two obstacles that will be a sea-change for me. I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat over these things weekly.

    For years and years I have had NO icons on my desktop. (I am not alone on this!) But I cannot stand icons on my desktop. Clutter, that’s all they are. Everything is in the “All Programs” list. Why clutter my beautiful desktop? I can’t do it. The first thing I do after loading Windows is turn off the Recycle Bin and from there on out, NOTHING puts an icon on my visible desktop.

    Another thing that bothers me is anyone touching my monitor screen. I actually nearly lose my cool if I catch anyone touching my screen. Fingerprints people!

    And now comes Windows 8 with nothing but clutter on the desktop and touchscreen capabilities.

    I’m 58, perhaps 7 will last me to the end. Or maybe with professional counseling I can work this out. Pray for me. Oh wait, I’m an atheist. It’s OK, I don’t really need a computer. Yeah right. I’d rather burn my car.

  60. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is
    added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
    Appreciate it!

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