I take it back. I used to say that Windows 8 wasn’t that bad, you just have to get used to it. Sure it’s a bit different, but once you start using it, you’ll start to figure out what the thinking was.
I was wrong. At that time I had never “really” used Windows 8. I’d used it for very simple things, helping out people in the office, setting up Office, installing apps, getting the printer working, setting up a second monitor, that sort of thing.
Then my friend Shaun got himself a new computer, and I got “invited” over to help him with a few things. I got to sit and use Windows 8 as a user for the first time and thought I’d give a few thoughts.
First of all, I know this stuff. I’ve been using computers since 1992, and have used Windows from version 3.0 onward. I’ve used Mac, Linux, Windows, BeOS, and other systems that don’t exist anymore. I live and breath technology, and while in the last couple of years I’ve migrated myself into a Apple environment (laptop, desktop, phone, tablet), I still play with new technology and feel I’m still pretty much “with it”.
I also don’t blame Windows for the horrible crap inflicted on the computer itself. It was a $399 Future Shop special, loaded up with all sorts of crapware, and with not the greatest hardware. Not Windows fault at all.
I’ll do my best to avoid a plain old “just get a Mac” argument. Macs aren’t for everyone, both budget wise and aesthetically, and I tend to disbelieve anyone who speaks in absolutes (like “macs are best”).
- The desktop colour scheme is terrible. It’s essentially white on white, meaning you can’t easily see which is one window or another when they overlap. I know that the desktop is the realm of the super-user these days, but seriously, put back a bit of drop shadow or at least make the non-foreground window have a different colour.
- The complete and total bifurcation of the OS is approaching the insane. There are two separate control panels, one in the “Metro” environment, one in the desktop environment. Both do different things, but there’s not a hugely clear reasoning. For example if you want to change your desktop font and size, you need to do that in two separate places.
- Updating is completely insane and understandably confusion to the non-native user. Here goes my best attempt to explain what I learned:
The Windows Store app had updates for apps, but only the ones that you bought through the windows store. For system updates, you have to do those in the desktop version of windows update, which you get to through the easily remembered sequence of Win-x -> system -> updates (I think). This will get you all the system updates needed. Except Windows 8.1, which needs to be gotten from the Windows Store, but only after the system updates have been done in the Windows Update app.
Makes Sense right?
- I at first thought that I could just find the Windows 8.1 update in the store, so I wanted to search for it. You’d think that’s how it would work, go into the Windows Store app, click on a search field (just like it is in the Mac App Store app) and search. Oh wait, there’s not a search field, or button. To search the Windows Store, you have to go to the main system search, put in your search term, scroll down a stupid long list of other places to search (by default it searches your system) until you see “store”, click on that to select it, and then it’ll search through the windows store. W. T. F.
- I found the same searching problems when I tried to install Microsoft Security Essentials (to replace the aforementioned terrible crapware of Mcafe or whatever was installed by default). You’d think that when you click on the link from the site to install it (before I realized it was built in already), or in fact any Windows Store app link, it’d jump you right to the app. On the mac you click on a link that looks something like “itunes.com/app/someapp/12345” it will jump you into the app store with that app selected, or a “not found” if it’s a bad link. The Windows Store links I clicked on just seemed to go to the main page of the store. I had no idea if the link was bad, the app was gone, or if the Store didn’t respect the links.
In its defence, Windows 8 now does have the ability to mount an ISO (CD or DVD disk image) built right into the OS, instead of having to deal with 3rd party Virtual CD drivers like I had to previously. So… yay.
So those are my impressions of using Windows 8 for the first time to do something, for what it’s worth. Maybe after using it for a while it’d all make way more sense. Maybe.