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Windows 8 First Impressions


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#1
JorgeA

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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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#2
MagicAndre1981

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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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#3
dencorso

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

#4
Aloha

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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.bleepingc...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, 27 December 2011 - 10:00 AM.


#5
dencorso

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

#6
JorgeA

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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? Posted Image
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, 28 December 2011 - 05:21 PM.


#7
dencorso

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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

#8
JorgeA

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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.bleepingc...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

#9
Aloha

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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.techar...net/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!

#10
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.techar...net/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 YouTube 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

#11
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

#12
CoffeeFiend

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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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#13
MagicAndre1981

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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.t...e-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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#14
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.

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

#15
MagicAndre1981

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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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#16
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 ;)

Andre,

I saw that page (thanks!) but I'm not really clear on what Win8 package exactly the limitation applies to. They're talking about "Windows Server" as opposed to the "client" (see the comment by "404"). :unsure:

--JorgeA

#17
MagicAndre1981

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both use the same code/same files so it applies to both.
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#18
JorgeA

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both use the same code/same files so it applies to both.

Andre,

What throws me are the references to "Windows Server" and "client." Are you sure that this also applies to the versions of Win8 that individuals would be buying?

If the removal of the Start Menu code also applies to "home" versions (as opposed to "server" versions of Win8), then I see no reason to downgrade to Windows 8. :}

--JorgeA

Edited by JorgeA, 16 January 2012 - 03:19 PM.


#19
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This is odd -- I just received an e-mail notification that CoffeeFiend had just posted a reply to this thread, but when I came here, not only was there no new reply by CoffeeFiend, but the most recent posts seem to be missing.

I did see where MagicAndre requested moving some posts to a Linux subforum, but I went in there (the "Other Operating Systems" subforum) and there's nothing to be found. :huh:

Also did a search by CoffeeFiend as the search term, and nothing that was evidently relevant turned up.

Where'd you guys go??

--JorgeA

#20
CoffeeFiend

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the most recent posts seem to be missing

Thread cleanup :) We're still around ;)
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#21
MagicAndre1981

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we both agree that the offtopic should be deleted.

Metro is also the dominating topic at the Microsoft stand at Cebit 2012. Ok, I now know that I don't need to travel to Cebit. I can't hear that Metro nonsense any longer :realmad:

Edited by MagicAndre1981, 19 January 2012 - 06:22 AM.

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#22
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Isn't the Metro in Win8 already being used in the Windows Phone 7 OS? Its strange that MS is using the Phone 7 design in their current advertising for Windows (Desktop) 7, and then they will use it for their UI in Windows 8? What will their advertising look like for 8? What Windows 9 UI will look like?
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#23
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What Windows 9 UI will look like?

Considering that for Win8 MS is reviving the tiling concept from Windows 1.0, maybe for Win9 they'll bring back the Program Manager from Windows 3. ;) Oh, and the fanboys will proclaim it the BEST AND GREATEST THING, and ridicule us fuddy-duddies and haters who can't stand change. :rolleyes:

--JorgeA

#24
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Another thought I had is that Metro is the latest iteration of the concept of the Active Desktop that Microsoft has been trying to push, without notable success, since Windows 98. It went away (AFAIK) for XP and returned as Gadgets in Vista. Gadgets receded into the background for Windows 7, but are now coming back with a vengeance for Win8... to the point where gadgets are the main thing you're going to have on the initial screen.

--JorgeA

#25
CoffeeFiend

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then they will use it for their UI in Windows 8?

Seemingly, they're trying to pretend that desktops, laptops, tablets and phones are one and the same, and that they should work identically. Unifying the experience by making it suck for everybody.

the fanboys will proclaim it the BEST AND GREATEST THING, and ridicule us fuddy-duddies and haters who can't stand change

But, that's exactly how it is most of the time. Someone moved their cheese and they just can't adapt. Except that here, it's a bigger change than going from XP to Vista or Win7, or Win3.1 to Win95 even. They're basically killing multitasking (that's completely insane) and forcing a backwards touch-oriented phone UI on everyone. So it's more like a Win95 -> MS-DOS transition really (no more multitasking, poor UI). It's not the type of typical whining we've been hearing for years (which is more like "oh no, they changed the skin!") I don't think you'll see too many "fanboys" of the metro stuff (even among those of us that have stayed with the bleeding edge all these years). If anything, I see people spending the next 3 or 4 years about downgrade rights to Win7. And without a lot of Win8 tablets around, Metro won't really "take off" so not much people will waste time developing for it (nevermind that it would be Win8-only apps in the first place which sounds like a poor idea in the first place -- "Only runs on Windows 8" isn't a great selling point)
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