[sc:windows-category ]Windows 8 was released on to TechNet last week and I took the plunge and installed it on my laptop.
The first thing I have to say is that like everything Microsoft has done with Metro, or as they’re now calling it Modern UI, it’s fast a fluid. Much more so then I expected really.
Boot up times are amazingly quick and the interface does feel polished as well. For what had to be a pretty quick development cycle, MS has done a fantastic job of making it feel “right”.
Of course, not everything is perfect. I did run in to some hiccups with my chosen desktop background disappearing, but moving the jpeg from my network drive to the local drive seems to have cleared that problem up.
Something I am surprised at is that there is no tutorial on the new interface provided. Your just dropped right in to it cold turkey. Not an issue for me, but I imagine less technically proficient people might wonder what’s going on in some cases.
First off the new start screen (its can no longer be called just a menu), its Live Tiles and it’s nice. The tiles can be resized and just like on Windows Phone, provide information at a glance.
Something I often do in Windows 7 is use the search feature on the start menu to find the programs I’m looking for and I was pleasantly surprised that this functionality is carried over in to Windows 8. Just pull up the start screen and start typing and a search list pops up.
One small annoyance I did find with the start screen was scrolling left and right by “pushing” to the edge of the display didn’t seem all that smooth and using the scroll bar at the bottom. Obviously in the touch interface this is just a drag left/right gesture. I did however find the scroll wheel worked quite well.
Speaking of the left/right scroll in the new interface, I found it very inconsistent between apps if “pushing” on the edge of the screen worked. For example in the Start screen it does, but not in the Windows Store.
The charm areas in the four corners of the screen are another new feature in Windows 8. In general they’re easy to use but every once in a while I do find myself hitting the right hand ones by accident. Not a big deal and I suspect over time I won’t do it nearly as often.
The single biggest pet peeve I have so far with Windows 8 is the virtual requirement for a Microsoft Account. I already have one so it’s not a big deal from that perspective, but it just grates me the wrong way that for most of the new stuff you need to be connected to a MS account. It’s just a matter of principle.
The built-in apps are quite nicely done, even if they are a little simplistic. Mail is the obvious big one and its nice that it connects to Exchange through ActiveSync. Likewise Calendar and People automatically get hooked up to Exchange and my other social networks that I had already setup to use with my Microsoft account for my phone.
The one problem I did have with Mail was the folder list. There is no way (that I’ve found at least) to filter the list and I have dozens of folders. In Outlook I setup shortcuts to my commonly used folders as I receive most of my news through RSS feeds and they are buried deep in the folder list in Mail.
Something I do like is how you can split the screen in to two apps, one small and one large. You can even do this with the classic desktop as one of them as well. It’s very cool having MetroTwit on the left as a single column and the Windows desktop as the rest of the screen 🙂
At the end of the day, Windows 8 is a major change and it will still take some getting use to, but I think Microsoft has the right idea. Something I have noticed in various people I’ve talked to is that views are very different between techies and regular users. Techies seem to see it as some kind of assult, the dumbing down of their PC’s. Users just don’t seem to care nearly as much.
I don’t think it’s the end of the PC as we know it, just the PC finally growing up and showing it can be more than just technology.