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Doug's Mailbag: Not Excited for Windows 8

One reader shares why he is not looking forward to the next Microsoft OS:

We would be excited by Windows 8 if Microsoft would do us the favor of detecting if the computer is a tablet or not before forcing us into the Metro interface. The underlying features of Windows 8 would be a real boon to us. However, the Metro interface we have seen in the Developer Preview is so awful it would almost certainly be a deal killer for us despite our having a campus licensing agreement that provides the latest version of Windows whenever it is released.

I cannot see our students, let alone the faculty, willing to try to stumble through the new interface. When we installed Office 2010 onto Window 8 the Metro Start menu became so cluttered with helper applications as tiles that it was utterly unusable. The situation reminds me of early Windows 95 users I once saw who had installed entire applications directly to their Desktop rather than Program Files.

Brass tacks: Windows 8's Metro interface feels like a giant leap backwards for desktop and laptop computers. With no Taskbar visible and applications filling the entire screen it is difficult to multitask at all. Just try and close the Remote Desktop Connection. It fills the screen and has to clear option to close it. Worse yet, applications appear to close while continuing to run. At least Apple has the decency to give some visual feedback when closing an application actually just minimizes it. Windows 8's interface is like a melding of the worst part of DOS and Windows 3.1 -- which may be just what a person needs when their input method of choice is as precise as their fingers. But, in reality, it is horrible for productivity in a more traditional environment. So far, Windows 8 strikes me as the biggest misstep Microsoft has made since Bob.

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Posted on 01/06/2012 at 1:19 PM

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Reader Comments:

Wed, Feb 29, 2012 UK

I have sight difficulties that will not be helped by the metro interface. Which is why I never use a metro device. The bottom line for windows 8 is that I will not be using it. As an IT Professional that is going to be difficult. I will simply stay on Windows 7 until forced onto Windows 9. Metro may be wonderful on a handheld device 4" square but it is a waste of time on a screen 21" across. I do not boot up a machine to look at "visually stunning" content, I boot up to do work.

Mon, Jan 9, 2012

I believe there is a registry hack that will disable the metro interface and just run the "traditional" interface.

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 80's Rocker

I think Mark and anyone else who does not like the interface needs to report what they do not like to MS so they can put it down as possible changes for the final version. That is why MS release the Developer Preview. If all you do is post to blogs like this about what you do not like and not post your suggestions throuhg the proper channels, then you cannot complain if something is not changed in the final version. This is not even in Beta yet and people are critiquing it like it is a Release Candidate. When you look at is for what is is (a preview) the possibilities a definaltey there and if MS pulls off having the same OS on PC, tablets and Phones (not announced but I see it happening) they have someting to offer businesses that none of the other phone/ tablet OS will offer - A consistent and integrated user experience across all devices. It will be interesting to see what does and does not end up in the final version.

Fri, Jan 6, 2012

We're loving it so far. Same interface on phones, tablets, PCs and Xboxs (Xbox', Xboxi... ?). Group policy managed live Metro tiles are a lot more intersting than a folder full of shortcuts. It does make for a lot of new setup work for us geeks, but I think users will find it easy to use if we do our jobs well. Office 2012 will be "Metro aware" and should play nicer than 2010 does. hopefully it will be nice like IE10 is as a full screen app especially on a tablet.

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 Chris

If Mark believes students will have any issue adapting to Windows 8's Metro interface, he clearly has not worked with students (K-12 or Higher-Ed) as the ALWAYS adapt to new technologies MUCH FASTER than teachers/faculty, and often are steps ahead of some IT staff!All that to say, I am not sold on Metro yet, but I'm not afraid of it either. Only time will tell how good/bad a move this is for Microsoft. (The Office Ribbon comes to mind...and after a week or two of pain, I love it!)

Fri, Jan 6, 2012 Nick

And I agree 100%! Hopefully the next build will have the start menu usable again and will be cleaned up! The previous one sucks big time. Forcing people to use this metro UI will be a major headache for companies, support/IT departments and Microsoft! It forces you to single task; and existing application just aren't made to work this way; which means that software vendors will have to invest/waste a lot of time/money redesigning their applications. I would like to hear the standpoint of the program manager that forced this into our throats and how he got upper management to agree! :-( Maybe a nice interview for an article on this. And if it stays like this I will be searching for alternative OS's.

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