Windows 8 first thoughts

Upgraded my laptop a few weeks ago and as with all of them it now comes with Windows 8 by default. I tried an early copy of Windows 8 last year and had my reservations then if you were to use it just for a laptop and not touch screen. I have used Windows 7 for a long time and that was a very good and welcome change.

So having had it installed for a few weeks I have firmly come to the conclusion that for tablet devices it will be ok but running it on a laptop is a right royal pain in the arse. I spent the first few days trying to get used to the interface but it didn’t take long before I downloaded and installed Classic Shell, which is an excellent application for restoring the previous shell. I can understand why Microsoft have taken this approach as they target the mobile market more, but the blanket approach will back fire in many ways. While there are touch screen laptops now unless you plan on using it in exactly the same way as a tablet then the interface is pretty useless.

What is extremely difficult to get to grips with on the new interface is the ability to find things. Yes you can search but often it is far quicker to just navigate direct to the application. So much is hidden and they just give you what you think you need immediately. I have been using Android on a tablet for a long time now and that works really well, same with an iPad, but the Microsoft approach is way of the mark.

There is a very steep learning curve involved when moving to Windows 8 and Microsoft clearly has not considered the impact on corporate and government departments. Many are only just moving on Windows XP onto Windows 7 and they will be looking at Windows 8 and the additional training that will be needed. It is huge and there will be a huge resistance in moving to the new OS. Just look at Windows XP support, extended to 2014, exactly the same will happen with Windows 7 if they are serious about the corporate market.

Classic Shell gives you the interface you need to continue being productive without getting lost in the new interface. Windows 8.1 has just been released and one of the things they have done is re-introduce the Start button but it does not quite work as people will expect. But even without that simple update the usability is still way of where is needs to be. Time will tell whether their approach will work but I think they have a very long way to go and the design will certainly not capture the tablet market that will remain with iOS and Android.

Apart from that the general user will not see much else that is different. There are several changes and improvements under the hood and it is certainly far more stable, quicker and feels a lot smoother than Windows 7. I will stick with the old shell and continue using my set of applications.

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