First week review
I’ve been using Microsoft’s new Windows 8 Pro on my non-touchscreen 17″ Asus G73S laptop now for a week. I primarily use it for graphic design – the Adobe CS6 suite, email, web browsing, Office and the odd game.
I’m finding windows 8 to be a rather schitzophrenic operating system which tends to make it unnecessarily complicated. On the one side of it’s split personality, there’s a traditional style desktop we all know and – well, I won’t say love – but most are intimately familiar with, which has evolved from the paradigm shifting Windows 95. But … there’s the notable absence of the start menu and instead, your initially and inescapably confronted with the cloak that is Metro UI that isn’t Metro because Microsoft had to change the name weeks before launch or risk being sued. Anyway, let’s call it Metro cause I’m not sure what it’s called now, probably something like Simple Human Interface Tiles For Accessing Computer Environment – an acronym that’s not kiddie friendly, unlike the bright primary coloured tiles that now burn onto your retinas in a dimly lit room.
The Metro side of Win 8’s personality is primarily designed for touch and apps. That might be great for finger tapping tablets and an advantage if you have a Win8 phone as your devices Metro interfaces will be synced when you use a MS login, but it’s dumbed down and for those without any other Windows toys, it’s pointless and just plain gets in the way of the desktop where the real work is done in full applications. There’s little point having live update tiles that don’t provide any notifications or feedback when you’re in the desktop side plugging away on work! However, one new feature I do like is being able to drag the Messenger app (once you’ve opened it) next to whatever your working in so it’s always visible.
Metro is easy enough to use once you get familiar with it, but there are no instructions beyond a small hint during installation and it’s not immediately intuitive or consistent. As an example, accessing a list of all your apps is done by swiping down for touch screens or right clicking the mouse instead of an expected additional “charm”, which are accessible by swiping right or mousing into a corner on the right of your screen. Using a mouse in the desktop environment, when I’m trying to access something in the top corners, the various pop-out icons often get in the way instead. The “charms” can be considered the replacement for the start menu and most features and settings are accessible through them. A big thumbs up for the new and greatly improved Task Manager. The added information in that alone is almost worth the upgrade!
Currently the range of apps for Metro is fairly limited and there’s really nothing there that can’t be done in a web browser anyway. The included email app looks nice and clean but is too basic and very limited in function with currently no drag and drop, compared to hotmail online. I could go on but this is a review, not a tutorial. In general, more clicks are required to get the same job done, which slows you down. One way around this is to pin new tiles to the Metro interface but the more tiles you have, the longer it takes to find the one you’re looking for.
I can’t help but feel Windows 8 and Metro in particular is just a massive marketing ploy – like a giant interactive ad to help beef sales of Microsoft’s flagging mobile phones. Perhaps the more I use it, the more I’ll warm to it, time will tell.
I’ve had several Windows phones – available years before the iPhone, but then Android came along which I ran from SD on my HD2.. For me, a perfect mix between the simplicity that is iOS, the complexity of WinMobile 6.5 and brilliant user customisation, Android quicky won me over. It will take more than the current offering from Microsoft to get Windows back on my mobile. But the Slate, now that’s a tempting convergence of hardware and software. But do I NEED one? No.
In conclusion – for now, If you don’t have a Windows Phone or aren’t getting one soon and you’re happy with Windows 7 on your current PC, it’s hardly worth upgrading apart from the brilliant new Task Manager. Currently Windows 8 Pro upgrades can be purchased from as litttle as $48 from Office Works or downloaded direct from the AU Microsoft Store for just $39.99, so if your curious, it’s not a big outlay.