JorgeA

Windows 8 First Impressions

109 posts in this topic

Hello,

Although those who know me around here, know me as a Windows 98 enthusiast, I'm actually open to trying new things in the tech world. ;)

The other day I downloaded the Windows 8 Developer Preview, and my Christmas present to myself yesterday consisted of installing it and poking around the new interface. (Not as sad as it sounds, really.) Here are my initial thoughts on the upcoming Microsoft OS.

First and foremost, I get the sense that the new Metro interface was designed with consumption rather than production in mind. If I want to check the weather (and what's this about giving me the weather in Anaheim, California -- I'm on the opposite coast), or play a game, or check the latest stock prices or tweets, then the Metro tiles are a quick and easy way to do it. But I'm not sure how well this concept will function when we're trying to get actual work done: there is no clear, evident way to run multiple applications at the same time. As such, Metro, while an appealing idea, is a plaything rather than a serious UI.

Speaking of applications, I could not find a way to bring up a list of programs to select from and click. My preferred method of launching applications is to click on the Start button and then click on Outlook, Word, Adobe, or what have you in the Start Menu. For the life of me I could not find a way to call up any such list of programs to pick from. And of course the "Start" button now merely takes you back to the toy Metro interface.

I know that one can pin programs to the taskbar, or put icons on the desktop. But I prefer my taskbar to remain clean and minimally cluttered, with the space on it reserved for programs that I myself have opened; while my Desktop is reserved for rarely used programs whose existence I'd be liable to forget about except for the constant visual reminder on the desktop screen. The serious and most frequently used programs go on the Start Menu; I don't have to be reminded of them incessantly, as on the desktop, and indeed to me that constitutes visual clutter.

I hope that there will be a real Start Menu in the finalized Windows 8, otherwise it'll be harder to get work done. A Web search showed that there are already some registry tweaks to bring back the Start Menu, but an operating system that requires its users to start modifying its innards in order to obtain basic functionality cannot accurately be described as a serious candidate for office use.

Another disconcerting thing is that, if I was in a screen called up by a tile (say, the weather), there was no evident way to get back to the original screen. None of the logical candidates did anything: the Escape key didn't do anything, nor did the Tab (front or back) or Backspace keys. Mouse clicks and movements made no difference. I was starting to panic when, out of desperation, I hit the Windows key -- and that finally took me back to the tiles. Clearly not the first thing I would think of when trying to get back to the previous screen. I did not see any "official" indication anywhere as to how to backtrack from one of those screens to the start screen.

On the second try, clicking on the weather tile only took me to a green and otherwise blank screen (no picture or information). Mousing around, I discovered that if I hit the left edge of the screen with the cursor, it would show me a thumbnail of the Desktop that I could click to get to it. But in this case I wanted to get back directly to the tiles, not the Desktop! What gives?

The Developer Preview came with a surprise (to me): a preview version of Internet Explorer 10. I spent some time investigating it, going to known safe sites only since I can't figure out how to launch Windows Defender (and in any case don't have any other security software installed on that system). I felt much more comfortable when I learned that I could get my menus and toolbars back, although the status bar provided none of the information or settings that I regularly monitor as I surf the Web (the Privacy Report, the pop-up blocker, Smart Screen Filter, the zone and protected mode). I am aware that most of these things can be called up, but that requires additional clicking and therefore represents a decrease in functionality. One the extremely few occasions I want to view a full screen of Web material, I can hit F-11, so overall the new IE would require me to do more clicking. (No, I don't use IE9, for the same reason.)

Now a few words about the esthetics. As I said, the Metro interface is a generally appealing concept (for fun stuff), but the blocky, solid-color tiles seem like something out of kindergarten. And I find the green background positively bilious :puke: . Here I much prefer the cool blue Windows Media Center look. As for the look of windows in the desktop environment, the squared-off corners can't compare (IMHO) to the smooth, rounded corners of, say, Vista. Maybe there is or will be a way to improve their look, but again these are just first impressions... and anybody more than a couple dozen years of age knows that first impressions are very important!

Finally, unless someone can point me to a better way, shutting down the system now takes four actions (hover the mouse to the lower left corner, click on Settings, move the cursor to the opposite end of the screen to click on Power, then click on Shut Down) instead of three as is the case in Vista (Start-->hover over right arrow-->Shut Down). Since there is no Windows orb on the desktop from which you can shut down or restart the system, you have to go back to the Metro tile screen to accomplish this, so potentially that represents a fifth action to shut down.

Bottom line: This is a pre-beta release, so hopefully features will be added and/or improved as MS gets closer to a release version. But if Metro is the future of Windows, then when the Desktop is eventually eliminated altogether (or crippled/buried to the point of unusability), I will be looking for a penguin approach.

--JorgeA

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the Windows key is the magic key to use in Windows 8. This let you go to the main screen of this metro hell when you use an app (not escape, backspace)

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Thanks, JorgeA, for your first impressions! :thumbup

I have one question, though:

What about <Alt>-<Tab> and <Ctrl>-<Esc>, and other such key combinations? dubbio.gif

PS: My beloved 101-Key IBM Model M Keyboard (1993) has no Windows Key, of course! :P

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JorgeA,

You can replace the items on the Metro Start with any other ones you like. I uninstall and unpin nearly everything on the original Metro Start. Then I put on some applications I really want there. This guide here helped me a lot to do it:

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/add-remove-programs-windows-8-start-screen/

Dencorso,

Alt + Tab has the same function as that on Win XP or Win 7. But it looks totally awesome!

Ctrl + Esc works just like the Windows key, it toggles between the old desktop and the Metro Start.

Edited by Aloha
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Thanks, Aloha! That's good news, indeed! :thumbup

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Thanks, JorgeA, for your first impressions! :thumbup

I have one question, though:

What about <Alt>-<Tab> and <Ctrl>-<Esc>, and other such key combinations? dubbio.gif

PS: My beloved 101-Key IBM Model M Keyboard (1993) has no Windows Key, of course! :P

dencorso,

I can confirm what Aloha said about those key combinations. They do work as he said.

However, I made the mistake of clicking on the Internet Explorer tile, and I was taken to a screen that was completely blank (white), except for a black strip along the bottom with a search box and some cryptic icons inside circles, including a bent arrow running down and then up, counterclockwise :huh: . It looks completely different from the IE screen you get when launching it from the desktop. Hovering over those icons revealed nothing about them, and I'm not into clicking on things without any idea of what they are supposed to do.

Entering a search term takes you to a Bing search results page. For the life of me, though, I could not figure out how to close the d*mn thing from within the application -- there is no red X anywhere to be seen, or anything else that indicates that it's for the purpose of closing the browser. Hitting Escape, right-clicking, the tab key -- none of these do anything at all. What a useless piece of ****. Once again we're lacking basic functionality. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this is simply reflective of the early stage of development for this OS and browser.

You can use that Ctrl-Esc combo to get back somewhere else, but if you check the Task Manager the process is still there. I ended up clicking my way back to the Desktop, then opening the Task Manager to kill the process. No, I don't necessarily want IE to be running in the background all the time!! Especially this extremely uninformative version of it (it gives no feedback as to what's going on -- I do rely on my Status Bar).

Subsequently I discovered that if you take the mouse cursor to the left edge of the screen, a thumbnail of the Desktop pops up that you can click to get back there. But you still have to go into Task Manager to shut down IE.

One possibly interesting tidbit. At some point (I can't remember when or where) I came across a line of text that indicated that this is version 6.2-something of Windows. If I got that right, then under the hood this is still in the same generation as Vista and Windows 7.

But so far, from a user's standpoint, I am unimpressed by the latest addition to the Windows family.

--JorgeA

Edited by JorgeA
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Yeah, well... it should be v. 6.2.8102.0, so, yes... still the same Win v. 6, just as the other two. :P

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JorgeA,

You can replace the items on the Metro Start with any other ones you like. I uninstall and unpin nearly everything on the original Metro Start. Then I put on some applications I really want there. This guide here helped me a lot to do it:

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/add-remove-programs-windows-8-start-screen/

Dencorso,

Alt + Tab has the same function as that on Win XP or Win 7. But it looks totally awesome!

Ctrl + Esc works just like the Windows key, it toggles between the old desktop and the Metro Start.

Aloha,

Thanks for the link. That's a lot of hoops to jump through in order to get a useful program onto that new Metro start screen.

--JorgeA

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JorgeA,

Sorry about the link. Maybe I misunderstood and thought that you wanted to replace what you don't need on the Metro Start with something else more useful. I posted the link to let you know how to do it. If you don't need to add anything to the Metro screen, then forget about it.

In fact, I put just a few items on the new Metro Start so that it can share the burden with the desktop! I don't like a desktop with so many shortcuts, and I don't like a deserted Metro screen either after I removed a lot of things on it. I believe it's more convenient for many people (and I am among them!) to have the shortcuts on the desktop, and run them there.

About IE10, I just found this link. Hope it can help:

http://forums.techarena.in/technology-internet/1436467.htm

I rarely use IE but if I have to, I use the one on the desktop, not the one on the Metro. It works OK for me. But I am using Maxthon now, as usual!

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JorgeA,

Sorry about the link. Maybe I misunderstood and thought that you wanted to replace what you don't need on the Metro Start with something else more useful. I posted the link to let you know how to do it. If you don't need to add anything to the Metro screen, then forget about it.

In fact, I put just a few items on the new Metro Start so that it can share the burden with the desktop! I don't like a desktop with so many shortcuts, and I don't like a deserted Metro screen either after I removed a lot of things on it. I believe it's more convenient for many people (and I am among them!) to have the shortcuts on the desktop, and run them there.

About IE10, I just found this link. Hope it can help:

http://forums.techarena.in/technology-internet/1436467.htm

I rarely use IE but if I have to, I use the one on the desktop, not the one on the Metro. It works OK for me. But I am using Maxthon now, as usual!

Aloha,

Thanks very much for the new link related to IE10. I'll try out some of the things they discuss there and see how they work.

Just to make sure -- I greatly appreciate the link you sent earlier, about installing applications in Metro. It helped me to understand the new OS better.

Now, for another "first impression," check out this short

video! Make sure to turn up the sound, the voices are kind of faint... Listen for what the guy says at 0:55 and 1:15. "Do they have, like, a professional version...? All right, where's my real PC? Give me back my real PC!" :lol:

--JorgeA

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A couple more thoughts to share about the Metro interface.

It struck me the other day that, far from representing a step into the future, in terms of the user experience Metro actually represents a giant step back -- all the way back to Windows 1.0, which did not have a proper window stacking or overlapping feature. Rather, it looks like in Metro you can at best tile the, umm, tiles (I guess that's why they call them that in Metro).

I'm all for "retro" experiences, but IMHO tiles were not a highlight of 1980's-era computing.

--JorgeA

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in terms of the user experience Metro actually represents a giant step back

They might make sense on a mobile device, but on a traditional desktop? Totally agree there. I for one, won't be upgrading to Win 8 unless there's a way to disable the Metro stuff.

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but on a traditional desktop? Totally agree there. I for one, won't be upgrading to Win 8 unless there's a way to disable the Metro stuff.

ok, so stay forever at Windows 7:

Server come with Metro Start Screen, old start menu is kicked from the code.

http://winunleaked.tk/2012/01/windows-server-code-named-8-beta/

this user has access to some newer pre-Beta Builds and showed a lot of features (ReFs, Storage Spaces) 2-3 months earlier compared to the official MS blog.

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in terms of the user experience Metro actually represents a giant step back

They might make sense on a mobile device, but on a traditional desktop? Totally agree there. I for one, won't be upgrading to Win 8 unless there's a way to disable the Metro stuff.

CoffeeFiend,

Apparently there are tools to disable Metro, and registry hacks to retrieve the Start Menu. It remains to be seen, though, whether these methods will still work in the Windows 8 beta and then the official release. Maybe MS will make it easier to disable Metro and/or to work in the Desktop exclusively.

Long-term, though, I'm concerned that MS will keep pushing this Metro thing and phase out the Desktop altogether in future versions of Windows, or at best make it so that we have to go to ever more contortions to use it.

--JorgeA

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those hacks will NO LONGER work, read the comment from the link I posted :( No code of Windows 7 startmenu = no hack to workaround ;)

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