This is worse than I thought

Testing the Windows 8 RC now in order to find out whether it is usable with some programs I maintain. So far the impression I got months ago hasn’t really changed. With the only difference that this time I didn’t receive a blue screen during installation. Wow, well done! Way to go, Microsoft.

What are the biggest annoyances? Here’s a non-exhaustive list:

  • Customization isn’t what it used to be, MS stripped functionality all over the place (proper start menu, proper Aero styles, even the basic/classic Windows style is gone)
  • Everything is optimized for touch-screen, but not for using the mouse. Heck, I do not want to go from the middle of the screen to the bottom every single time I try to get rid of some item on that unspeakable “start screen”. Fortunately ClassicShell offers support for a proper start menu, where none is on board by default.
  • The ugly colors (dirty green) some people may remember from Windows 3.11 and Windows NT 3.51 have a revival in this version.
  • Another “optimized for touch-screen” issue is that during installation what would have been check boxes in any sane modern GUI have now become “switches” quite obviously aimed at a touch-interface.
  • The oh-so-pretty flat window (frame and everywhere else) style makes it hard even without eye problems to find things. While byobu supports 256 colors on the terminal now, thanks to tmux, Microsoft seems to be of the opinion that removal of contrast and removal of distinguishing visual features make things easier. Well, they don’t.
  • The Aero snap feature doesn’t visualize what’s going to happen the way it did in Windows 7. Screen-filling operations will (confusingly) show an empty frame around the screen edges, but once you release the mouse to finalize the operation the window will fill the screen.
  • The ugly start screen allows one to get rid of all the crud, but it only allows to make the tiled items smaller, never bigger.
  • It’s not obvious how I can start on my desktop without the horrible start screen in between.
  • Wow, my desktop now has a “touch keyboard”, how useful.[/sarcasm]
  • Most settings need a lot of work to become bearable.
  • Restart is needed for every tiny thing … and yes, this has gotten worse than in Windows 7 from what I can tell.
  • Need to click first in order to get to the login screen. Need to click again to get to the desktop from there. Have they even considered that people want to start working right away?
  • The task bar has still not been fixed to accommodate also quick access to documentation (CHM files and similar) and the quick launch bar is gone by default, too. Fortunately the trick to bring it back from the dead from Windows 7 still works in Windows 8.
  • Scrollbars look horrible everywhere. In fact I was unsure before hovering whether the darker or the lighter gray was the scroll bar handle. 🙄
  • Of course there seems to be no built-in way to get my classic desktop with “(My) Computer” and “Network” icons back, although I can get rid of the Recycle Bin.
  • Right-click has no meaning on the start screen. And yet again I need to repeat that I am unable to see the desktop right away without getting this horrible start screen.

I sincerely hope Microsoft is going to get whacked by the majority of customers for this abomination. I hope customers will vote with their wallets, though this can be doubted, given the many OEM-contracts Microsoft has with hardware manufacturers. They’ll probably still sell Windows 8 as a success to the public based on the numbers of preinstalled Windows systems. I hope they’ll come to their senses and realize that even if the fundamental parts of a touch-interfaced system and a desktop system can be the same, the user-interface should not impose one way on the other.

Windows 8 as I see it at the moment is Microsoft laughing at usability and telling us about improvements that are none (or marginal) from the user perspective.

Even if Windows 8 should not receive the extended support that many prophesy Microsoft will hopefully get the message. If not, Windows 7 is the last Windows on which I do most of my work and will get replaced by a Debian or Ubuntu installation with Windows banned into a virtual machine. It’s a shame because I have been using Windows relatively efficiently in all those years and even kept defending it against those blind bashings …

// Oliver

PS: Opera Next and SuRun work fine at least.

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6 Responses to This is worse than I thought

  1. Janne says:

    Well Microsoft tried to get away with requiring signing of all operating systems for W8 Certified devices. Via something called “Secure Boot”.

    So it seems that they are desperate to keep their OEM customers locked in on Windows 8.

  2. Oliver says:

    Yep, another walled garden after Apple’s success. I even get the idea behind the secure boot and things don’t look too bleak for Linux. But to me the OS is a means to an end, not to itself.

  3. Janne says:

    Well the whole thing with VS 2011/2012 Express only supporting Metro stuff is also another fine mess they are putting themselves into. AFAIK it will not include profiling and code analysis tools like xcode(which is free for iOS and Mac OS X devving). Apples products are crystal prisons but they have nicer cells than Microsoft.

  4. Molly says:

    Sometimes I think that Microsoft is being paid by Apple to drive its customers away from Windows to become Apple users. Well, if one cannot write good software, one has to earn money in some other way.

  5. Richard says:

    The year of linux on the desktop is finally coming.

  6. Corrine says:

    Although some of the “features” make sense for the tablet/touch market, I just don’t see the usefulness for desktop users. Even if my laptop had a touch screen, I wouldn’t be reaching away from the keyboard/mouse to poke/swish/slide fingerprints on the monitor. I sit at a computer desk with the laptop on the upper surface and an external keyboard/mouse on the pull-out tray.

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