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Windows 8 - How Do I Use This Thing?

3 months ago, I installed Windows 8 on my laptop so that I could play around with it and get some thoughts ( I never rush to judgment on these types of things because I fully understand that people hate change and initial reactions are usually not positive.

Today it was announced that Microsoft was releasing the release preview of Windows 8, This is basically the last release before the thing goes live. Given that I have spent 3 months playing around with it, I figured I would finally share my thoughts.

They aren't good for Microsoft. Windows 8 is a serious departure from the previous Windows model and it isn't good for most people. It might be different on a touch screen device but on a regular old laptop/desktop, which what most people will use, it is much harder to use Windows 8 than it is Windows 7. Much harder.

I'm pretty tech savvy and there were times I was pulling my hair out just trying to figure out how to do simple things like launch a newly installed program (there is no start menu so you have to go to the start page, right click on "all apps", scroll to find it, hope you do find it, and then select it) ,shut my computer down, or play a video (why the heck do I need a Live account to play video?)

It's not all bad, but what Microsoft does not want is people to struggle with the OS when they start using it. And believe me, people are going to struggle. Things just don't make any intuitive sense. This is coming from a guy who actually liked the Office 2007 redo.

So my advice? Use Windows 7. Perhaps there are some improvements on the latest version but I'm skeptical if they are enough to overcome some of the basic usability issues that Windows 8 has at its core. I'll be uninstalling Windows 8 as soon as I can.

Anyone else have their own thoughts? Do you think Windows 8 is a step in the right or wrong direction?
Erik Kim's profile photoNuno Ricardo's profile photoJustin Siefert's profile photoDavid McInnis's profile photo
screen capture doesn't look intuitive
People are still using Windows? Huh, go figure.
Good luck. Have you heard of apple?
+Ron Whitmire , I'm not a Windows hater. I actually prefer Windows 7 as an everyday machine over most every other OS out there including OSX and Most flavors of Linux.
Apparently my thought is "Sell Microsoft". +Terrence Lui, you are a pretty nice guy - give it to us all nice and straight without much emotion. If this is your opinion, the Windows haters are going to run this into the ground and it's going to blow up in Microsoft's face.
I used Windows 7 and IE 9 yesterday and was surprised out how clunky it all was. I thought they'd have figured it out by now.
I've read a few other reviews from techies and the same conclusion. Like you I like the Office ribbon after the usual getting used to it frustration. I like Win 7! It is the best MS O/S since MS-DOS 5.

My solution isn't Win 7. I'm moving over to Macs. Most of the major software I use makes that easy and for the rest I can setup Win 7 as a virtual machine on the Mac.

Basically, I've hung in there with MS since around 1984 and I've had enough.
+Ronald Bjarnason yeah, I'm pretty much ready for every fanboy out there to jump on this post and tell me how awful Microsoft is. As you probably know, I'm pretty unemotional about these types of things and have no real loyalty one way or the other. I just want things that are easy to use and help me do what I want.

I think other OS's have a lot of warts too that for some reason people seem to want to ignore. No OS is perfect. My main gripe with Windows 8 is that it is a huge departure from the previous paradigm without providing me much more in terms of functionality.
+Jim Preston ,I'm not sure what I'll do. I've an Apple user too but believe me, there are some real frustrating things with OSX as well.
I've always been under the impression that Windows 8 seems very efficient for power users who do everything through keyboard. Your average point & click guy? No bueno. I've been a pretty big MSFT apologist as of late (I like a lot of what they're doing), but this approach seems to be muy mal. I love it for tablets and phones, not so much for desktop.

And you know G+ user base is growing when the fanboys start hitting the comments section. We get it guys, you like OSX. But face it, OSX is far from a perfect OS. MSFT took a risk trying to be the first guys in a space they think is the future -- a good thing, considering people are always making fun of them for being the last to any party.

I expect Windows 8 to be like Vista. They'll see where they went wrong and Windows 9 will be awesome. Not gonna defend them here, having to go through bad to get to good isn't usually a good business proposition. But to be fair, Vista wasn't as bad as most people made it out to be. Just all the Apple propoganda and the rise of OSX really put the general public under the impression that it was the new Windows Me.
I put a virtual on my laptop to look at this a while back. I have not put the VS2011 on it yet. Too busy with other stuff in my life.
I have no intentions of ever using 8. I'll stick with Windows 7. If they can fix it with 9, they had better hurry up.
windows 8 looks like 'back to the roots' to windows 3.x ;-)
Vista was not more as a big bug and I have the feeling we'll meet again with proprietary windows 8 systems ... If you must not work with windows, your machine will be thankful when you use it with linux :-)
+Terrence Lui I'm not a Windows hater either but since Vista it's certainly my least favorite OS to have to work with.
I feel the same exactly way about Windows 8
I prefer Windows 7 to most OS variants. I find it is very stable and fast. Mac fanboys are going to say Windows is Satan (comments so far have proven that correct) and MS fanboys will say the same of OSX. For the past year I have been trying out different OSes and I really like W7 and some distros of Linux.

However, when I tried Windows 8 I just didn't care for it. The UI, the need to "sign in with a Live account", etc. were turn offs. In the end, I don't want my desktop to act like a tablet (or try to act like a tablet). I want it to be point and click.

The laptop I have for work has a touch screen on it and, even if Windows 8 were on it, I wouldn't use it. Reaching over a keyboard to swipe, etc. is inefficient, not to mention awkward. Also, when you are used to working with actual tablets, the feeling is different on a laptop with touch. Just not the right combo.

In the end, I have to agree. I think many people, like myself, are going to skip Windows 8. There really is no need to upgrade if you have Windows 7 which runs perfectly well.
Good example with the Office ribbon comparison. I could not believe when they implemented the ribbon because it changed everything about how you use those programs. It seemed pretty crazy at the time to throw away many years of learned behavior. However, now we are all used to it, and it seems OK -- or at least I don't think about it any more.

However, I don't think MS can expect the same for Win 8. It seems like it's just too much change for too big a part of the computing experience. Office changes hurt for a while, but at least it was limited to Office; there will be no getting away from Win8 UI once it's installed (short of ditching it altogether).

That said, I can't believe that Microsoft would do something like this and have it be completely unfounded. Surely they have been doing user research and usability studies on this and they think it will be some kind of improvement worth the learning curve??
I tried Windows 8 and disliked it as well. I think Microsoft is trying to appeal to a younger (i-device) generation and they did so at the expense of their old/established customer base, not to mention the number of HCI laws they violated. A user should not have to learn new habits to use an interface on a system he's been working with for years. For example, the Ctrl+Esc which pops up the Start menu now sends you back to the metro interface. It was so annoying that i had to disable the metro interface to use it comfortably. I totally get that they're trying to do a hybrid (desktop + tablet) OS, but I think they blew it.
+Justin Siefert , I kind of feel like MS got so obsessed with jumping on the tablet market that they kind of forgot who brought them to the dance. I have a tablet. It's great for certain things. Horrible for others. I like it and use it a lot but I don't think it will ever replace my desktop.

So now there is Windows 8 which is just not really suited for a desktop experience and yet that is what most people will use it for. Just doesn't make much sense for me.
Is this comparable to way Ubuntu's push of the Unity interface (also apparently oriented toward touch-screen devices) has irked and sometimes alienated much of the Ubuntu user base?
Is the new xbox going to run some version of windows 8 as its frame work? It seems that and tablets are sort of where computing interfaces are going. Especially with voice command and kinect. And I thought you could run windows in classic mode?
+Brian Titus , in defense of MS usability studies can be very misleading. I've done plenty to know that sometimes people just don't really know what they want until they use it for a while.

Apple is actually famous for this. Jobs often touted that he completely ignored customer studies because people can't tell you they want something they have never even thought of.
I have listened to family members post their frustrations about tiny changes to facebook, and there is sort of a cult timeline removal group out there. I can only imagine what they are going to do if the OS looks like THAT the next time they boot up a new computer...

In my experience, if you make change elective rather than mandatory, then tout the reasons for the changes, eventually everyone will be on-board. Make people WANT to change.
I still wonder about the development stages with linux in any matter and I wonder too, that such a big company like MS can't fix bugs over decades... No, they build new every day and while my linux servers are running over years, I'm running too to assist all the windows machines in our network ;-)
The world must be blind while paying and paying to MS for systems which eat your time and this way more and more money... but also I'm not an MS hater, but I've to struggle with :-)
+Terrence Lui I would agree if you're talking about focus groups or marketing studies -- yes, people do not always know what they want. However, with usability, they should be measuring (at a minimum) if people can complete tasks and goals with Win8 better than with 7... wouldn't a UI disaster be pretty obvious in that respect?

Will be interesting to see what happens when it gets pre-installed on new computers. Are people going to freak out?
Ironically, I'm reading your post on OS X Mt. Lion Developers' Preview. (I recently also put the latest Ubuntu on another machine.)

New is one thing. Almost everyone struggles with change to greater or lesser degrees but usability is, I believe, another matter. It will be interesting to see how Windows 8 shakes out in the marketplace. Could be a very important time for MS.
To your question +Brian Titus, I think many people will see the advertising and think, "that's cool. I want to do that on my computer". Then they get it home and realize, while it may be "cool" it's not practical and the interface just gets in the way of getting things done. Marketing can do wondrous things...

What MS should do is offer an option to default to the traditional desktop if a user wants to.
Haven't tested Win 8 at all, but I've seen vids of people struggling with it, and read about its, er, challenges. I really love Win 7, so I'll definitely stick with it.
One thing I'm curious about though, is whether Win 8's design really is counter-intuitive or whether it's just difficult for people to operate because we're all used to the type of OS we're on now. Would someone who's just learning to use a computer get used to Win 8 faster than they would to Win 7? I'd like it if someone did an experiment on that sometime, but I doubt it will happen. It would say something about the value of change (or the lack of it).

Also, Macs can piss off.
+Ronald Bjarnason Windows haters live in a reality distortion field. Whether or not Windows __ is actually bad is immaterial.

I personally agree with +Terrence Lui--Windows 7 is the best UI on the market, even better than OS X. But I've read many a hater attempt to claim that Windows "hasn't changed/gotten better in fifteen years".

But it really doesn't matter what the haters or fanboys think. If Windows 8 sucks, it sucks... The market will have the final say. If Dell continues to offer a Windows 7 option for several years (and I suspect they will), that will make things pretty clear.

Is anyone surprised, though? Windows releases always alternate good, bad, good, etc. :)
Still seems like an experiment. I liked the metro, but felt it will be better on a tablet. Switching back and forth to the old desktop is awkward. Currently I'm running a rooted tablet with Android ICS. I like it a lot, smooth and responsive. I hope Windows 8 will be as good. I do think to get users to switch they will almost have to give it to Windows 7 users free. In the end I will keep my Windows 7 desktop as my main computer.
I can insult an inanimate object if I want to >.>
windows 8 does have a classic view with the start menu but you can only use IE. So for people who are cold to the new interface can take some time to warm up to it with classic view.
The feature the I like on Windows 8 is search, just start typing on the metro screen and it starts, with numerous options.
I find Windows 8 way faster than Windows 7... Yet, I believe rather than speed they kept everything from Windows 7 except the new metro style apps, which really doesnt make sense and hard to use. Apparently, things they dont understand is that people will not only use one app, but couple. I understand that you can slide one app, but it doesn't help at all..
I think this is solely aimed at the consumer market. In terms of professional markets, Windows 7 it is. This is almost like Vista Redux, but even worse since this is a radical departure and they are stripping out features which were there.
Wasn't Windows 8 designed to be more of a touch screen OS? Anyways...

From the beginning it seems like it could go the way of Windows Vista!

Hopefully, when you buy a new desktop/laptop, they'll have it so that you can choose either Windows 7 or Windows 8 on your new system just like they did for Windows Xp and Windows Vista. LOL
One aspect that isn't apparent although the Metro screen looks simple, all the complexity of 7 is still there, with even more features. But it's not obvious.
The worse feature is the hidden the shut down mode, I guess on a tablet it will be the power button like Android has.
+Terrence Lui , I think what you want to do is touch the screen and select.....wait.....your laptop doesn't have a touch screen? Hmmm....well.....
+Thom Stricklin you are hitting on my point exactly. Windows haters are going to hate. This release hands the microphone over to them for a few months because people are going to be asking the "experts" for their opinions. If +Terrence Lui is recommending that people stick with Windows 7, can we expect any other fair-minded pundits at all to be thrilled with this release? Between them and the haters, can we expect Microsoft to be getting any good press in the next few months?
I will however, predict that it will be primarily adults who complain about any OS changes. What I've experienced with kids (as an Educational Administrator) is, particularly with elementary level kids, the OS is basically transparent. They'll use a XP laptop in the morning, an iMac in the afternoon, and go home and play with dad's Android tablet (or big brother's iPad) in the evening. It pretty much doesn't matter what the OS is or isn't. What matters is what they can do.
+James Petersen "What matters is what they can do." ....which is often determined by the abilities or limitations of a particular OS.
I have just spent the last couple of hours downloading the Release Preview and I am starting to second guess my intentions. I had intended on jumping headfirst into it on my desktop machine, older Core 2 Duo, 8 GB RAM, dual screen. I had earlier installed the developer preview and messed up the boot.ini settings, then reverted back to Win7. I have a gut feeling that I am at a crossroad. I will either dig my heels in and reinstall 7 or give MacOS a try. I am tempted also to consider the new Chromebox, but the lack of information to support dual monitor setup and printing directly from the terminal (Chromebox) bothers me.
To me it's pretty simple: they devised an OS that is best used with a touch interface. Most laptops and desktop monitors do not have a touch interface. Even the Android OS behaves more like Windows than Windows 8 does. (i.e. screens(desktops) with icons for programs and an app drawer (start menu).
MS don't seem to care too much if people find an interface clunky or difficult to use. Look at what they did with office 2007! That stunt cost businesses thousands in training budgets. Years on and it still isn't an intuitive interface if your a more advanced user.

Apart from all that I thought you could turn metro off and have a traditional desktop?
+Mark McKinlay - You probably can turn it off, but why have it on by default? Why not let it sense if a touch interface is available and enable it that way, or keep it off by default and make someone enable it?
It will be interesting to see what happens when nine comes out, and businesses have to start upgrading to this new OS version (in order to maintain the Microsoft support for the programs, which Microsoft only provides for the two most current versions). I can't imagine this style of OS could be any good at all for business use.
Re: turning desktop mode on/off. I really think they're expecting people to adopt a more..."interactive" (for the lack of a better word) experience? I mean, the metro home screen has all the apps you use on a normal basis. If you want to use something else, start typing and you can run it like that.

You can do all this stuff in Windows 7, but the average user doesn't really know about the functionality. For instance, try pressing your Windows key (on your keyboard) and then type in the name of the program you want to run and hit enter. Nifty, right? Didn't have to touch your mouse.

That's what I see Win8 as. You can use your mouse for things that need it: games, photoshop, internet browsing, etc. They don't think you need it to navigate your OS. I really think MSFT thought they could simplify what is normally a power user's approach to their OS so that the general user base could go through a much more...fluid UX.

Really hard to tell whether they succeeded or failed until after product launch, but it is a huge step they're taking that not many may be willing to take with them at first. Who knows? 5 years later, we may love MSFT for this. We may hate them for it, too. The general state of OS's in general is so dismal, someone's gotta take this step. I'm honestly kind of refreshed it was a big corporation that was willing to take that risk. If they fail, then everyone's going to learn a lesson from this and we'll move forward and hopefully get an even better OS afterwards.
I didn't have much issue to adapt, it was a bit of a surprise until I fiddled around a bit and found the gestures to use. Drag down to close, hot corners to multitask and open quick settings (and shutdown), search to open apps (been doing that on os x and windows for awhile now, honestly). Not that big of a deal, really.
OK, I’m in the mood for rapid comment mode. Here it is:
+Ron Whitmire *“People are still using Windows? Huh, go figure.”

*Yeah, hundreds of millions of people still using that OS, including yours truly here. Windows 7 is pretty darn good.

+Nuno Ricardo “Good luck. Have you heard of apple?”

Apple reminds me of Roach Motel. It's easy to check in, but you can't check out.

+Vincent Brown "I used Windows 7 and IE 9 yesterday and was surprised out how clunky it all was. I thought they'd have figured it out by now."

Windows 7 on a SSD without IE 9 solves that problem, providing the OS has been properly maintained.

+Gert Klimanschewski "I still wonder about the development stages with linux in any matter and I wonder too, that such a big company like MS can't fix bugs over decades..."

The feeling is mutual. Getting rid of the registry would make big headways but I'm not holding my breath.

+Justin Siefert "What MS should do is offer an option to default to the traditional desktop if a user wants to."

They already do. It's the non Win RT version running x86.

+Christine Paluch "I think this is solely aimed at the consumer market. In terms of professional markets, Windows 7 it is. This is almost like Vista Redux, but even worse since this is a radical departure and they are stripping out features which were there."

It would appear so, but let's refer Vista by it's technical name, Windows 6 or POS.

+Mark McKinlay "MS don't seem to care too much if people find an interface clunky or difficult to use. Look at what they did with office 2007! That stunt cost businesses thousands in training budgets. Years on and it still isn't an intuitive interface if your a more advanced user"

Couldn't agree with you more, that's why I jumped to Libre Office (formerly Open Office). Thanks Orcle for messing up a good thing.
+Erik Kim thanks for the response. I didn't see that option when trying the consumer preview.

I guess I just haven't found the compelling reason in W8 to upgrade. As a techie I'm sure I'll get the itch to do so at some point.
Wrong question. Try, why would I use this thing?
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