Windows 8 reminds me of a drop-dead-gorgeous woman who’s also a violent psychopath: you want to touch, but it might kill you. Windows 8 is so bad that a major shift is about to hit the PC world. That shift will hurt people who make their living on Microsoft-based PCs.
What’s so bad about Windows 8?
It has two distinct UIs, as different from each other as night and potatoes.
The two UIs look and feel completely different. The Desktop side looks like Windows 7’s desktop without a start button. The other UI (formerly called “Metro”) looks beautiful and elegant and intuitive.
You’d think that you could work in the desktop side and play in the Metro side. But you can’t. Microsoft blocked your ability to work in only one operating environment. Instead of a start button, you have to navigate to the Start page (the Metro UI) to open a program. Productivity killer. Every shift in environment interrupts your brain. In other words, Microsoft won’t let you focus on your work: it demands that you multi-task. Microsoft forces you, the customer, to work around its engineers' failures. That sucks.
Here’s an example. I was on the Desktop UI. I wanted to start a blog post. I had drag the mouse to the lower left-hand corner to expose and click the link to Metro. In Metro, I found the tile for Windows Live Writer and clicked. FLASH! I’m back on Desktop UI. Then Live Writer loads. Horrible. But it gets worse.
It has two distinct versions of IE, and the pretty one doesn’t do very much.
Internet Explorer on the Metro side is fabulous. They’ve moved all the controls and URL bar and all that garbage to the bottom of the pane so that the important stuff rises to the top. I love that. Plus, that bottom tool bar slides away when you’re not using it, devoting 100% of your screen to the thing you’re working on. Brilliant! Awesome! Best Browser Ever!
But about half the time I’m working in that beautiful browser, I’m told that I’m requesting services only available in the (ugly) old Desktop browser. Click. FLASH! Desktop UI. In other words, the beautiful new IE doesn’t really work, but Microsoft shipped it anyway.
I want to work in the Metro environment, so every time I'm jerked back into the semi-functional Windows 7 desktop, I'm frustrated. Teased.
What about performance? Who cares?
It feels about the same as Windows 7, but, in Windows 8, I’m always so frustrated and angry that I don’t really care how fast an app opens. Everything requires many more keystrokes than Windows 7 did, so everything takes more time, energy, and thought. But the new Task Manager is fun and useful for geeks who like to know what’s going on under the hood.
Windows 8 Is a Disaster
In short, Microsoft has ruined the PC and driven millions of PC users closer to Apple. Yes, it’s usable, but it’s a giant leap backward for PC users.
I could go on, but why? Windows 8 sucks. I am sorry I upgraded to it. I feel bad for people who make PCs and the many programmers who imagine, design, and code desktop application for Windows. Microsoft’s utter contempt for design has put all these people’s jobs in jeopardy. This OS is so awful that I expect computer makers will give customers the option of Windows 7 to prevent a complete sales disaster at Christmas.
Can Microsoft fix it? Windows 8 is software by committee. Designers, engineers, and users got equal say. And the result just sucks. So, Yes, Microsoft can wake up from this nightmare. They need to leave design to the designers, complete the Metro design, and kill the Desktop.
But they might not have time. People have put off buying a new PC. They won't wait much longer. And they won't buy a PC running this crappy OS. They'll buy a Mac.
On the other hand, Microsoft's Outlook.com email system is so awesome that I fired gmail.
Note: I’m using Windows 8 RTM on an HP Pavilion with 8 GB of RAM and quad-core AMD processor.
- Windows 8 review: Yes, it's that bad (InfoWorld.com)
- Windows 8 suffers from the Microsoft Bob effect (betanews.com)
- Windows 8 belongs on older PCs like a fish needs a bicycle (zdnet.com)