Over the course of the last 9 months or so I have been running the Windows 8 previews in various configurations on my hardware to test things out and learn the new OS layout. Along the way I have posted a couple of walk through videos to share how things work in the new OS.
As expected there have been mixed reactions in the comments of those videos but a more common theme is starting to emerge and that is to just give Windows 8 a chance.
In other words – take the time to learn the new OS and how to navigate it/use it before pronouncing judgment on it and the new
Metro UI – ummm sorry – Modern UI.
I am a long time Windows user dating back to Windows 3.X and can remember the transition to Windows 95 and how challenging it was to get used to that Start button as well as this concept of Folders for storage. Today that all seems second nature to most of us. Of course, the move from Windows 95 to Windows 98 to Windows Me to Windows XP to Windows Vista to Windows 7 was fairly straight forward as the overall operation and interaction with the OS remained the same.
That brings us to the last 14 months or so and the development of Windows 8. The changes to this OS’s user interface are as jarring as the move from Windows 3.X to Windows 95 and I do not just mean the Modern interface in the form of the new Start Screen. Even in desktop mode starting up and shutting down your system is on the other side of your screen real estate and it takes a while for muscle memory to re-learn that position. That alone elevated my frustration level when I first started using the Developer Preview back in December of last year. I now rarely go to the lower left corner of my main screen anymore to shutdown or restart my PC.
I have been running the Windows 8 Release Preview in two hardware configurations since it came out. One install is on my Acer Iconia Tab W500 tablet and the other is my main desktop PC.
The tablet probably gets used in full touch mode about 75% of the time and using a mouse and keyboard the rest and I use a mix of Windows 8 apps and legacy desktop apps. On my desktop, which is not touch enabled at all, I run almost exclusively in desktop mode running legacy apps. I may test out Windows 8 apps on the desktop but rarely do I use them as a routine. Now I do not consider this to be a verdict on the usefulness of Windows 8 apps in a pure keyboard/mouse environment because they can be used as easily with those as they can with touch. It just happens to be the way I use my desktop system at the moment.
To me that pokes huge holes in one of the common complaints I have seen about Windows 8 and its lack of desktop ability which could not be further from reality. The ability to use Windows 8 and never go to the Start Screen, except on a restart of course to press the Desktop tile, or to not use a Windows 8 app is there and it is just as useful as Windows 7 is. Plus all your previous software that ran on Windows 7 will run on Windows 8 as well.
Bottom line is that change is the hardest thing for most of us to adapt to. We are creatures of habit and muscle memory (think about typing in your password) so it takes some time for our bodies to respond to that change but it will adjust.
Just don’t write off Windows 8 and what it brings to the table as a transitional OS between touch and the traditional keyboard/mouse environment. Give it an honest try – which means more than just looking at screenshots of the OS or booting it up once or twice. It could take a few months to adjust to it so be patient with yourself and the OS.