Microsoft’s Windows 8 released today to the public, but I’ve been lucky enough to have been using the review version since this past February. It’s everything you wouldn’t expect from a Windows operating system: it’s got a metro, gorgeous look, emphasizes apps and widgets instead of actual windows, cheap price tag ($80) and… it’s seriously difficult to learn how to use.
Since Windows 95, the user experience has gradually progressed to the interface we know and love in Windows 7. But Windows 8 seems to jump a few generations. Settings are hard to find, the start menu is gone, many keyboard shortcuts were removed, and some UI features don’t work well with your mouse compared with your finger. And if you were looking to upgrade, most older PCs can’t run it.
There have also been complaints of driver issues–the reason folks hated Vista at launch. But Windows promises to have these fixed ASAP. In my testing, I’ve sometimes gotten lost, not being able to find the control panel or certain administrative capabilities were gone.
Everything isn’t all bad, though. I have Windows 8 installed on a new Dell Latitude business-end laptop, so it doesn’t have the touch screen. The modern user interface is slick and lovely. The Start screen is customizable, which allows for adding only essential apps, kind of like a smartphone.
But you can’t enjoy its experience, making it pretty annoying using a mouse. It’s like paying for extras in your whip, but you can’t use them. One point worth noting is that my laptop’s battery life was much better and it boots up to the Start screen faster. Moving around and basic navigation within Windows 8 is also quicker and smoother. All of the programs normally used in Windows XP through 7 installed without a hitch, making installation refreshing. And the addition of Windows Marketplace makes buying and installing apps a cinch.
When did Windows 7 come out? October 22, 2009. Three years later, I still love Windows 7. It’s stable, functional, secure, and beautiful. But even before Windows 7 dropped, Microsoft was already working on Windows 8. With Windows 8, they’ve completely recreated the user experience. They geared it towards a more touchy interface, mimicking their Windows Mobile OS, which sounded like exactly what Apple’s Mac OSX already did in 2009. But those boys in Washington knew they could do it better.
The official version should address some of my complaints, even possibly adding back the start menu. We also will get to see Microsoft’s integration of Skype, their cloud service, SkyDrive, more widgets and apps, and even the rumored XBOX 360 abilities within the final product of Windows 8.
So, will you cop it?