Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Windows 8: it's ...interesting

I downloaded the Windows 8 Consumer Preview today and just spent the last several hours playing around with it. It's ....interesting.

Now, granted, Microsoft has taken pains to emphasize this is a Beta release (they have a cute lil' "Beta" fish on the start up screen to remind us), and also is careful to point out much could change between now and whenever they end up releasing this thing.  And having messed about with it, I'd bet money they will, since its current iteration will not win it many fans.

It's ....interesting.

And "interesting" is not the same as good. If you don't believe me, next time your significant other makes dinner and asks how you like it, say, "It's ....interesting." You'll find it scores you no points.

For whatever reason, Microsoft has decided to drag out it's clunky, horsey-looking Windows Mobile interface (now apparently re-name "Metro") and attempt yet again to sell it to the public. Why, having failed as a phone interface, they think this will work on the desktop is a mystery someone else will have to solve.

Note to Microsoft: I don't want my desktop to look like a tablet. If I want to use a tablet, I'll use a freaking tablet. On a desktop or laptop it's an awful experience. If some some focus group told you otherwise, they are a bunch of god damn liars.

Don't misunderstand - visually, Windows 8 is very appealing. The tile-based interface is not unattractive - it's just not usable. Not by me, anyway. Not on a laptop or desktop screen.

Add to the clunky user experience the fact that Microsoft has stated their intention to make all Windows 8 software available exclusively through the Microsoft App store.  Apparently there will not be an option to install software any other way.

I showed this to my 20 year old Computer Science major son, who sneered, "Why did they decide to ruin Windows?" You now have a vision of how Linux will finally gain market share on the desktop.

The thing that will infuriate people is that they will immediately see this whole "app" thing is being done not for their benefit, but for the benefit of Microsoft, who is no doubt eyeing that sweet, sweet percentage of app sales that Apple takes on everything sold on the iTunes store.

My theory is Microsoft, having developed this, is suddenly getting cold feet and realizing Consumer acceptance of an interface so radically different is likely to be an issue. Why else would they release a "Consumer Preview," so early in the game? Ever recall them doing that before?

The hew and cry that Microsoft is undoubtedly expecting will allow them to jettison something many inside the organization are privately worried about. I know I'd be worried.

Still, if you are curious, by all means load it. I'll be the first to admit to being a stodgy, complaining old crank. Go ahead - prove me wrong.

If you do, my advice is download an ISO image instead of the installer, even though this will take a while to do.  I installed on a VMWare virtual machine, which will make getting rid of this later much simpler. Installing to a virtual machine was dead easy: just go into VMWare player, create a new machine, and mount the ISO as the virtual CD drive.

One other bit of oddness - you'll log in using an existing Windows Live ID - and if you don't have one you'll need to set one up.


Hot Sam said...

As soon as I saw your screen shot, I immediately recognized it from the Windows phone I looked at once.

Windows has already screwed up Office with their new ribbon bar that no one knows how to use. And it takes up so much space. The ribbon bar has a nice 'preview' feature for formatting changes, but having a good imagination obviates the need for a preview.

Maybe I'll get used to the ribbon bar, but thus far I have either used Office 2003 or added customized buttons under the ribbon bar. It has definitely ruined my productivity.

Windows 7 is a huge improvement over Vista which, I believe, was unfairly vilified. Vista had its faults to be sure, but most of them were the user's inability to understand how and why the new security features were implemented.

I'm on the verge of buying an Apple, but I'm being tempted by low cost ultrabooks. It will be a tough choice.

Dr Ralph said...

I've gone through multiple versions of Windows over the years...Windows 98 SE was not bad (for the time), nor was XP. My employer took a look at Vista when it came out and said "No thanks." We had laptops with the Windows Vista sticker on the bottom that we'd downgraded to XP because it was seen as such a dog. Windows 7, on the other hand, is actually pretty nice - I don't really have any complaints. It's what Vista should have been in the first place.

I've been tempted to get a Mac but Apple is just too much of a control freak to suit me, although I have multiple IT friends with Macs and they love them.

I run Windows 7 on a shared household computer but for my home office (used just by me) I run Kubuntu 10.04 - I really like it. Unfortunately WIFI support under KDE is pretty bad, so I use Ubuntu on my dual boot netbook.

Thanks for stopping by!