What follows are my thoughts on the current Windows 8 Consumer preview. This is not a full-blown review of the OS. There are a lot of full reviews online that you can read.
I have an older laptop that I am loathe to part with, although low on the specs for Windows 7, I figured it was a perfect test case for Windows 8. It’s a (pink) Panasonic R7, only sold in Japan (a few years ago), equipped with an Intel Core2 Duo 1.2 GHz processor which maxes out at 2GB of RAM; it’s most limiting factor. I installed Windows 8 Consumer Preview 32-bit without issue AND it ran great. The integration with my Windows Live account, social media, and internet were extremely fast and easy. No complaints getting started.
Now, I’m what Microsoft would call a “power user” or desktop user. I often use these systems differently and for different purposes than I do my tablet or smartphone. So, my complaints (below) center around issues related to the “touchification” of the Windows 8 OS:
- Not intuitive enough – I was quite lost when I initially came in to Windows 8. Through trial and error I found the bottom left corner brought up a Start Screen thumbnail and, if right-clicked, a Windows 8 abridged version of the Start Menu. The bottom/top right corner yielded another overlay with shortcuts to settings, devices, search, and start.
- Closing an App – If you want to “kill” or switch to another application, you have to Ctrl-Alt-Del to bring up the Task Manager to close it, or bring up a taskbar-like overlay on the left side of the screen. Why, then, the taskbar in Desktop view? Other than the Task Manager, none of the other apps would appear there.
- Shutting down – rebooting/shutting down/sleeping are more of a chore now. It took me awhile to figure out how to do it through the interface. In my early frustration, I simply used the power button to shut down. I now know that you can find those options by using Ctrl-Alt-Del and selecting the power button in the lower right, or bringing up the right-hand menu overlay, clicking settings, and selecting the power button.
- Start Menu – Where, oh WHERE is my full Start Menu? In Windows 8 it is replaced by the Metro UI Start Screen, which is an inferior replacement at this point. Now, I have to scroll left or right to launch applications, or use shortcuts that I’ve added to the Desktop view.
- Swiping – Swiping is great when using a touchscreen, horrible when using a mouse. Enough said.
In conclusion, I’d like to say to Microsoft that my desktop/laptop is NOT a phone, NOR a tablet…please don’t try to force it into that paradigm. It feels like many Android smartphones do with their vendor-specific overlays that don’t quite work. It’s like you slapped the Metro UI on top of Windows. It’s not fully a touchscreen experience, nor an input device experience resulting in annoyances on both sides. Work it out.