Windows 8 review

By | 11:48 PM Leave a Comment
When Windows 8 was showcased by Steve Balmer, I must admit that I was impressed and quite honestly feared that Apple might have met a worthy competitor. The tiled look definitely was pretty to look at. The idea that you can have a single OS on multiple devices was impressive - buy an app once, and use it everywhere. I also saw Xbox beginning to use the new Windows 8.

Fast forward to today and my views are less optimistic about this operating system after I have been using it for a few months now. I upgraded from Windows 7 and decided to give it a try thinking that it will be a really great experience.

Here are some things I don't like:

The full screen metro apps:
Yes, I know you designed it that way, but why do i want to see only a single app on my 22" monitor! The only flexibility Microsoft has given is the ability to have side by side apps occupying 80% and 20% of the screen. The problem with that is that most apps don't do anything useful in that 20% so there's no point even doing that. Yes, i know we shouldn't call it Metro apps but they haven't given it a better name yet. Wasn't Metro the biggest thing in Windows 8 .. hmmm.

Web browsers really suck in Metro mode:
I don't know if they were told to be designed that way through developer guidelines or if everyone just designed for the tablet in mind, but the web experience on Metro is really bad if you're on a computer. You have to move the mouse all over the place to do simple things. The tabbed browsing is really bad. For an advanced a heavy user of browsers, I don't want to see animation too much. Yeah its cute to look at the first few times, but after that, it slows you down and gets irritating.

Pictures don't make the app better .. just beautiful:
For a while now, Microsoft has resorted to using beautiful images as backgrounds to apps. Is that a way to make us like the app or get distracted? I'm not sure what the intent is for that, but if I wanted to see beautiful images, there are better sites to do that. We see the same thing in Windows 8 apps - Weather for example. The pictures dominate the design more than what the app is supposed to be doing. Keep it simple guys .. :P

Save as .. what were you thinking!:
When you try to save a file from a Metro app, you get this really bad looking save as dialog box. Its almost easier to save to Desktop and go to Desktop and use the older style Explorer to move it on your own. The navigation is really difficult and you can only see a part of the file name even though the rest of the 22" screen is empty. I wonder if anyone saw that and still decided to go ahead with it.

Searching is weird if you have to go to the right every time:
To perform a search (or find) in any app, you have to move the mouse to the right edge of the screen, wait for the animation to show the search option and then use that. It makes it look like you're searching the computer instead of the app. How is search a OS level function? Isn't it something each app implements specific to what they're trying to do? Anyway, its confusing and I hope Windows finds a way to fix it.

Here's what I like:

Boot speed is awesome:
Windows 8 boots up really fast, much faster than Windows 7. Was it designed keeping the tablet in mind? Well it works awesome on the computer.

Desktop is close by:
If you didn't like the Metro, don't worry. The desktop is always close by. Just click it and you can get back to work.

Automatic updates:
Windows automatically keeps your operating system up to date. I think that's something apps like Dropbox, Evernote, etc. have been doing for a while now. As consumers, we don't want to control which app is updated when. Just make sure it works when I need to use it. Microsoft has done a great job at getting this in for Windows 8.

Live id for login:
At some point, the web will merge with the desktop. Windows 8 has taken this first step towards that. I like the fact that you can go to a website and see that you're computer is there. I'm sure it also reduced piracy a lot given that every machine is trying to register on the web.

Refreshed UI:
Ok the flat panes, tiles, look plain but its nice. Good refresh from tons of gradients and colors before. I think keeping it simple in the UI makes it easier to focus on what you want to do.

So how is this related to strategy

  • I think the tablets, phones and desktops can have a single OS but more like what Ubuntu has done and not what Windows 8 is doing
  • I'm not at all surprised that Windows 8 has not seen a lot of adoption. There is just too much change in one version
  • The OS should take care of making the apps render and useable in different form factors. Let the developers focus on the apps and make it work seamlessly
  • The most used apps - office apps are not present on Metro only windows tablets. That is probably a big drawback to why Windows 8 tablets are not selling
  • I like the multi-tasking ability in Desktop mode and like the Metro for tablets .. great start but more work needed
In the end, I appreciate the fact that Microsoft has taken such a big leap. A company so big is making such a big change, that is impressive. I think they have enough stickiness right now to experiment with the next or next two releases before they start losing serious market share. So its great to see them being bold now and trying out different things. That's all for now :)