Ran into an interesting challenge over the weekend – I do not seem to be able to access Quora.com from Windows 8 (neither the Metro browser nor the desktop). I just get tot he login screen, and none of the options seem to work for me (login, or login through Facebook or Twitter). for a while, I thought I was losing my mind!
- The UX feels schizophrenic and disjointed because of switching back and forth between the Metro environment and the Desktop
- It is a touch-optimized UX being forced onto the desktop
- No one will be able to live without the start menu
- Finding and launching programs is difficult
- The full-screen app model is stupid
- I wish the tiles for Desktop Apps could indicate if they were already running
- I wish the tiles for Desktop Apps could be at least a little “live” – for example indicating that a desktop app like Lync wants your attention.
- I wish there were more work-oriented Metro apps available, so I could get a better feel for how things would flow
- There should be more visual cues to help people learn how to navigate. Maybe a beginner more, which you can turn off, that guides you through some of what I discover by playing.
- True access to the file system from Metro, rather than popping out to Windows Explorer on the Desktop – you made the SkyDrive interface, how hard would it be to make that work for the file system?
- Same thing for most of the Control Panels. I agree with what some have said – the more it pops out to the Desktop for things, the less “finished” it feels.
- Windows 8: You’ll Absolutely Hate It At First (But Give It A Chance … – TechCrunch (techcrunch.com)
- Windows 8 is not that bad actually (ghacks.net)
I am enjoying using Windows 8 on my desktop. I find it refreshing, and if you are willing to change some of the habits Windows has conditioned you into, it feels very effective and fluid.
That said, it has been pointed out to me that I am not exactly a “normal user” (actually, I think it was phrased more like “you are not normal”, but I choose to take it kindly!)
So the question is, even if abnormal people like me embrace Windows 8 on the desktop, what about all the “normals”? Lets face it, from the perspective of developers and IT folk, the vast majority of computer users in the enterprise are borderline computer illiterate, especially if anything moves beyond the exact sequence of tasks they are used to performing day after day. Just ask anyone in support about the types of calls they get when the least little thing changes. I have otherwise intelligent friends who had real challenges adapting to the differences between Windows XP and Windows 7.
So despite my pleasure in using Windows 8 for my work, I suspect most people in most organizations would have nervous breakdowns if IT were to give them Windows 8.
What does this mean for Microsoft? Well, not a lot really. I do not think the success of any new version of Windows is pinned upon enterprise adoption. Lets face it, enterprises do not update their Windows versions quickly. As for new computers purchased in the enterprise, what difference does it make to Microsoft if it is Windows 7 or Windows 8? Microsoft still gets their license fee.
In the long run, a lot will depend on Windows 8 adoption outside of the enterprise. If people become used to the OS on their tablets and home PCs, then they will not be so shocked when that same OS appears in the Enterprise. Will the “normals” use it on their own PCs? Well, that remains to be seen.
The Split View functionality in Metro is one of the features I like.
Much has been made of the Metro UI and the fact that all Metro apps run full screen. I have even read one insightful post whose prime example of why this is wrong is that Notepad would look silly that way. Yes, Notepad, directly ported to Metro, with no thought to user experience, would look silly. If an app is going to be usable as a Metro app, it needs to be designed as a Metro app. Otherwise, leave it on the desktop – that is why the desktop is still there!
I don’t know about you, but I run most of my apps maximized anyway. If I am working on a Word document, I generally have Word maximized. Excel – same thing. Development? I definitely have my dev tool maximized.
The exception to this is when I want to be able to see other content while I am working on, say, a blog post. Then I will generally have two apps visible, one docked left, one docked right.
This is pretty much what Metro Split View gives you. One app is docked left, and one app is docked right. You will note from the picture below that I am writing this post using Metro Split View.
I have been using Split View quite a bit when I am using Metro apps. The main limitation right now is that most of the apps I use for my work (Office, Visual Studio, etc.) are not Metro apps. That said, one of the panes of the split view can be the desktop, so you can have a Metro app on one side, and all of your desktop apps on the other side, as shown below:
All is not quite perfect, however. I have so far run into two annoying things in Split View:
- It does not work on my “legacy” tablet (which is only 2 years old!) – someone at Microsoft decided that Split View would be disabled is your horizontal resolution is below some arbitrary number (1366px, I think). Really? 1280 is no close enough to make it usable? Maybe give me an option to override this decision? I understand they are trying to enforce a certain UX here, but please, don’t make decisions for me that lock me out.
- Split View only allows one split ratio (as shown above). The separator can be moved from left to right, changing which app has the main focus, but the rations stay the same. It would be very useful if there were a third option, that being a 50-50 split. There are times (like what I am writing in one pane, and researching in the other) that an even split would be more appropriate, especially on an external monitor.
I have now been using Windows 8 as my primary OS for a couple of days now, including using in in a traditional desktop mode with a keyboard, mouse, and LCD monitor. I will be writing later today about my initial thoughts on Windows 8 as a desktop replacement (spoiler: it is much better than I expected!) Of course, I have also been playing with Windows 8 for about 9 months, and am used to the Metro look from that plus a couple of years of using Windows Phone 7.
I am really curious about the hatred many people have for the Metro interface. There is very little written out there with a mild response – people either think it is really cool, or hate it with a passion (leaning heavily towards the latter). It is not clear to me where this passion comes from. Most of the negative reviews are from people in three categories:
- Have seen Windows 8 in pictures and videos, but have never used it
- Have played with it for a few minutes on a demo machine somewhere
- Have installed it and used it for a few days or more, but not on their main environment.
I wanted to set the stage by describing the hardware I will use for my Windows 8 experiment (at least to start). Since most people will be looking at whether to upgrade their existing systems to Windows 8, I think it is important to use my existing hardware.
I will be using two laptops for this project, both of them convertible tablets.
The first is a HP2740p, which is a couple of years old. It is running a core i5 processor (obviously not the current generation) at 2.53GHz. Everything else about it is pretty standard, except that I have bumped the memory to 8gb. I use it both in laptop and tablet mode regularly. At home and at work I also use it with external monitors.
My second machine is an Acer Aspire 1420P, which Microsoft gave to attendees of PDC09. It is significantly less powerful, with a Celeron processor and 2 gb of RAM. The touch screen on it has also been a little questionable the last year or so. That said, I have been using it with Windows 8 ever since the Developer Preview was released.
So that is it for hardware. Next time I will talk about my experiences installing the Windows 8 Release Preview on these two computers.
Windows 8 is coming!
Unless you have been under a rock, or in a cave, or running Linux, you have probably heard far more about Windows 8 than you really want to. The technology publishers and bloggers are all over it.
So why then am I creating yet another Windows 8 blog?
Most of what is being written is conjecture and opinion. For example Windows 8 Is Vista II, Windows 8 is like a bad blind date, and Final thoughts on Windows 8: A design disaster are pretty negative. Windows 8 Release Preview detailed impressions on the other hand is a little more balanced and a lot less emotional.
Let’s be clear – Windows 8 is very new, and very different from past versions of Windows. It is also significantly different from anything else in the market. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen. It is a gutsy move by Microsoft, and should be respected.
The point of this blog is not, however, to get involved in the “Metro is great” versus “Metro sucks!” debate.
What I intend to do here is to document my experiences in moving to Windows 8 as my primary operating system both at home and at work. While the software is not complete, it seems stable enough to work with. A number of questions are at front of mind for me for this experiment:
- What is the upgrade experience like from Windows 7?
- What is Windows 8 like on my existing hardware (face it – not everybody wants to buy a new computer for a new OS)?
- What is Windows 8 like to use in a corporate environment? What are the challenges working with existing infrastructure?
- What is it like to use Windows 8 with Metro on a day-to-day basis as my desktop environment?
- What problems are there, and what workarounds can I find?