Sunday, October 20, 2019

Windows 8 Consumer Preview First Thoughts: Some Good, Some Really, Really Bad

It’s  a little early for a full review of Windows 8, but we have had it installed for a few days now and here are our first thoughts.

There are some quirks that take some getting used to when first using W8. The largest one of these for the home user is the lack of flash support in the Metro browser. For me this is really not a big deal as I understand the work around, but I handed over my laptop to my wife and said go visit HULU and she was completely lost. Tried the same thing with my mother and had the same issue. This is an easy fix for Microsoft, but must be fixed or they risk losing the mom and pop base. Simply either turn on flash in Metro, or auto open the desktop version if flash is detected. A simple fix, but one that will cause enormous problems with non techie users.

What’s worse is Microsoft itself is clueless, when you go to the video store there is a big ad for 21 Jump Street’s site. Guess what, it does not work with Metro IE. For me no big deal, but still an unnecessary extra step. For my wife, impossible to navigate.

Second if you have not got your Microsoft account perfectly set up, and I do mean perfectly there can be some problems. Hotmail does not work on my system, nor do the backup and restore from SkyDrive stuff. Why? Well I have had my live mail account for 11 years and there was an 11 year old phone number on there, guess how they verify your new computer.. you guessed it, from a text to your phone which you can not change if you do not have access to that phone anymore, and since the laptop I set up Windows 8 on was my “trusted computer” it is no longer recognized so I must wait 30 days to change it by deleting all my contact info from the MSFT servers. Brilliant setup there.

The other quirk is the lack of 50-50 support in metro apps, this makes it impossible for me to keep two useful sized windows open at once. I love researching in one window while typing in the other. That cannot be done in Metro. Unless you can type and do layout in a 30% window. So I find myself in the classic desktop 90% of the time and with no start menu, everything I do requires an extra step. I have to mouse to the lower corner, open the Metro UI, scroll to find the app I want and open it there. If it’s a desktop app, no problem as now I can resize it in the classic interface and go on working. If it is a Metro app, I now have to switch back and forth from Metro to the Classic interface to work with multiple programs. This is a nightmare in general and once again an easy fix. Run Windows classic apps in a window within Metro. Maybe this can be a third party add on, but without 50-50 support it may still not work well for working within.

Unless MS has lost their mind completely and has decided to cast off the entire business/corporate customer base, there has to be a Windows 8 "Professional" version, suitable for the desktop environment, sans the Metro interface or at least something that allows corporate or power desktop users to switch it off to work and back on for fun stuff.

There is also a lot positive about the experience from a consumer point of view, The Metro tiles are useful and informative, the Metro apps look beautiful in general. Honestly this operating system works much better than iOS in a touch environment and I love my iPad, but am looking forward to a win8pad when they become available.

Windows 8 is snappy and much faster than Windows 7 on the same device as well so there is a lot that Microsoft is doing right here.

The quirks are not enough for me to not want to keep trying and see what workarounds I find for the above noted problems, but my wife and mother will not ever be able to get around the flash issues and that’s a shame as MSFT has the right idea here as flash is dying, but they are just a couple of years early. Put flash back into Metro in x86 editions and disable it in ARM for now and let the market come to you first. Consumers use their hardware for HULU, Crackle and the like and until you get those sites to switch to HTML5, you cannot make it this hard for your base to use your product.

We will report further after some more extensive testing, but the early thoughts are that this is a fantastic tablet operating system and a quite good desktop system where multiple monitors mitigate a lot of the problems with task switching, but leaves a lot to be desired in a laptop operating environment when used for business tasks.


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