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I can't figure out the utility of Windows 8 and why anyone who makes their living by being on a computer all day would want to use it. I'm the kind of person who has 3 different browsers open with 5-10 windows or tabs each, plus, Word, Excel, Skype, Tweetdeck  (and sometimes more) always open, and I'm constantly switching between them. With Windows 7, having each pinned to the taskbar lets me quickly switch to whatever I need. But with 8, I have to return to the Start page to switch between windows/tabs or applications -- an extra step each time. Or am I missing something? 
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James Field's profile photoNancy Atkinson's profile photoSteve Jackson's profile photoMikael Levoniemi's profile photo
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+Nancy Atkinson Have you not pinned Word, Excel, Skype, Tweetdeck, etc to the taskbar?  It works the same in Windows 8 as it did in Windows 7.

To switch between any open Metro apps you may be using (including the desktop environment), use the top-left hot corner.

From the point of view of the desktop, the only real functional difference is that the Start Menu now takes up a full screen, and has a hidden button.
 
Seems to me like Windows 8 is trying to straddle the line between the productivity of old Windows and the ease of use of tablet and mobile OS. Just switch to the desktop mode, and you can pretty much do everything on Windows 8 you could do on 7. 
 
Yes, they are all pinned to the start screen,  +Christopher Cooke, But with the taskbar being the whole screen and I have to go there instead of just having the ability to switch between applications immediately. I'm not seeing how that is efficient.  Yeah, +Jordan Jeffers that's what I'm doing, using the desktop version. Just trying to figure out if I'm not seeing how the new 8 is better....
 
+Nancy Atkinson I think we're speaking different languages here.  The task bar is the exact same in Windows 8 as it was in Windows 7 - the strip of icons representing open (or pinned) Win32 programs that sits across the (by default) bottom of the desktop environment.  It doesn't take up the whole screen.

The Start Menu has been made to take up a whole screen in Windows 8, but that's essentially it.
 
+Christopher Cooke  is explaining this better than me. Essentially, Windows 8 has two operating modes: the Start Menu Christopher is talking about is the new "app based" mode where you'll see lots of tiles. But if you press the windows key on your keyboard, or mouse over the top left part of the screen, you can switch to the desktop mode, where you'll see the task bar just like normal. 

To pin items to that task bar, all you need to do is right click the program icon. Here's a quick tutorial I found. It's not the best, but it works. 

http://www.eightforums.com/tutorials/4946-taskbar-pin-unpin-apps-windows-8-a.html
 
To quote the smartest and most accurate review of win8 I've seen online: Win8 might be the first user-hostile OS ever made.

I tried working with it for about three months, and it's a mess. Should also note that I'm a power-user by any definition of the word, I've used all platforms on many different tablets, laptops, and desktops. Win8 is bafflingly poor in design. It commits the cardinal sin of a windows-based machine: it takes control and options away from the user. If you sit someone completely new to computers down at a windows 7 machine, eventually they're going to catch on to the internally consistent controls of the OS. If you sit down even an average computer user to a machine running Win8, the reaction is confusion and frustration. You have to basically stumble upon features. It's as if they tacked on this poorly thought out Metro tablet interface, then just for good measure they hobbled Windows7. And then they tell the user "okay, choose which one of these environments you want to use". The built in apps (mail, etc) are featureless to the point of hypnotism, and the first thing Win8 mail did upon finally setting up my mail was delete about a dozen emails which I then couldn't recover. Oooo...Kay?

I get what they were trying to do, but they failed pretty spectacularly. 
 
+Christopher Butler I can't help but disagree.  I personally find Windows 8 refreshing and easier to navigate and understand than Windows 7.  The only problem that I've experienced so far with internal consistency is in the share charm, and it's been my one point of contention with the whole thing: They couldn't figure out some way to share from the desktop?  I can only hope that they, at the very least, expand Win32 enough to allow developers to at least let desktop applications share via the charm.

Maybe I'm just the target audience, but Windows 8 has never caused me one jiffy of grief, and I remain utterly perplexed that there are people who find it "user hostile".
 
You can disable the windows 8 start feature but why not try Alt+Tab to bounce between windows?
 
The only half decent OS Microsoft made for the home user was Windows XP.The rest were either too unstable or had too much GUI .Microsoft GUI has never been done right and hogs system resources to death.My tablet with its 1.2mhz cpu and 512 mb of ram runs Counter Strike and streams media better the my 2.2ghz duel core windows 7 laptop with 3gb of ram.
 
+Christopher Cooke I guess I'm equally baffled by hearing from people that love it. :) But just to give you some of the more frustrating examples:
1. Sometimes swiping from a particular corner or edge has one function...sometimes it does something completely different. And this changed from screen to screen. And there was no rhyme or reason I could deduce.

2. Switching between apps was a nightmare...sometimes I could pull up what I assume was meant to be a multitasking tray on the left, but often I couldn't. And I'm in good company when I say that I never understood how I was meant to close an app. I would think an app was closed, only to see it show up in that elusive multitasking tray even after closing it.

3. The settings were laughably spartan and almost useless in some cases. For the first time ever, windows OS gave me much less options than my Mac OS.

Truthfully, I can't now remember the most egregious problems in much detail (mental block?? :) because after about three months I finally threw in the towel and reinstalled win7, which I love. Don't get me wrong, I love innovation, and I've been jacked into a computer virtually every day since I was 16. My daily stuff requires me use everything from photoshop/illustrator to AfterEffects to 3D software to accounting software etc. Definition of a power user/ geek. :) But it feels like Microsoft started from scratch with win8...in the process, they threw out even the GOOD lessons learned over the last 30 years. 
 
Whenever i'm on my windows 7 machine i miss the macs magic touch pad and it's brilliant multitouch gestures. Something i'd definitely want to have on other platforms too. 
 
+Christopher Butler I can honestly say I've never experienced any of those bugs.  Were you using one of the preview releases?  I can't comment on those, since I've only used the retail release.  My hot corners have been consistent, my metro apps stay closed, and the control panel is two clicks away.  If I had suffered those same problems, I'd have thrown in the towel on Windows 8 pretty damn quickly.
 
Sounds complicated!  Glad I'm still using Linux.  Did Microsoft do away with Alt+Tab for switching between windows?
 
I gave up on winblows years ago. Linux was the only choice! We had an expression we used - user vicious!
 
+James Field Nope.  Alt+Tab and Win+Tab are both still there.

The big UI changes have been the inclusion of hot corners for Win+Tab switching and "charms" (basic search, settings, and mobile app sharing), and the replacement of the Start Menu with a full screen application launcher (the "Start Screen").  It also, for better or for worse, runs full screen mobile ("Metro") apps.

Oh, and the Office ribbon style of menus have found their way into Windows Explorer.
 
I am using Windows 8 as Windows 7 (with things pinned to task bar, etc), but was just wondering if I was missing the benefits of how to use 8 with the hot corners/charms, etc. To me it just doesn't seem to work well. 
 
+Nancy Atkinson Obviously, something's broken up your workflow.

The charms bar is more or less useless on the desktop, so you may as well ignore the top and bottom right hot corners.  The top left hot corner only comes into play if you're running any full screen Metro apps in the background.

I'm really not sure what you've meant about having to go to the Start Screen in order to switch applications, though.  Desktop applications are switched using the taskbar, and Metro applications are switched using the top left hot corner.  The Start Screen is just a program launcher, like the Start Menu was.
 
I was asking the IT guys at work about this very thing. One of them just returned from a 3 week yearly training at MS. Basically they explained the big changes were for touchscreen computers. My company sells the 24' touchscreens with our medical imaging systems and we have built software to take advantage of Win8. In that instance there is a obvious difference. I have one in the office for visualizing troubleshooting with our support team but even though we have offered Win8 to every work desktop no one has stayed with it for more than a month. 
 
Just saw Win8 in action last night. The user got stuck on a weird full screen view and couldn't fight her way out of the paper bag. Granted, it was a paper bag and a few random key strokes finally got her back to the browser via the tile page, but MS still put the paper bag over her head and didn't show her an obvious escape hatch.
 
Microsoft marketing buffs concluded that the majority of it users were stupid and computer illiterate. So copy the modal type operating philosophy of the mobile phone. Because that works for most people... Yeah?

Microsoft have been producing mash-ups of other people's ideas for decades with poor results :-(
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