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Windows 8's Done, Time To Worry

Windows 8 has now been released to TechNet and MSDN subscribers, which means the code is essentially done. I am getting very very nervous. Before Vista came out, things looked pretty good. It was really just a modest upgrade to XP. The slick, new addition was the optional Aero interface (and you didn't have to use that). The real problems started after Vista shipped, and the little gotchas all added to big problems. This app didn't work. And worst of all, many hardware devices became obsolete overnight.

Win 8's problems are showing up before ship time and they are fundamental. It is not a happy camper on existing desktop and laptops, but yearns for touch tablets. It has two entirely different interfaces that you must use. Metro (or what Microsoft decides to call the interface) can't do it all. An I thought The Cable Guy had a split personality.

So now it's time to see what this thing's really got.  Will Win 8 succeed or fail? You tell me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/17/2012 at 1:19 PM


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Reader Comments:

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 Andy UK

How do I disable the sidebar?? Its driving me crazy! Whenever I go near the right hand side of the screen the sidebar appears!! Please help!!! Thanks...

Tue, Nov 13, 2012 Dan Ohio

Have begun deployment as a new corporate desktop deployment standard. Here's what we have done to the corporate master image to make it usable. 1) install classic shell to get the win 7 start button back. 2) Remove all the metro apps from the metro start screen. Microsoft, we do not want to encourage our corporate users to go check the weather, their finances, surf the web, or play games. 3) Remove the lock screen entirely, these are not tablets. 4) Tell IE to always run in desktop context. 5) remove links to all the metro apps from the classic shell interface. Now the user logs on, the metro screen flashes by in a sub-second, and they have the old win 7 paradigm, with their start button, and normal functionality. The metro interface is accessible but hidden. We provide users a short training session regarding the metro interface, show them its there, and tell them to just forget about it. Windows 8 as it should be for a corporate desktop. We are migrating most users from XP, so we can skip 7, get the goodness and longevity of windows 8 core OS, without the unpleasant side effects.

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 John

Being a avid supporter of Windows ever since 3.1. Other then Windows ME which I skipped . It was the only version that I did skip. I reluctantly upgraded to Vista and was certainly glade when Windows 7 came out. Unfortunately I will be skipping Windows 8 too. I don't care for touch screens on PC's and while I had my questions on why Windows 8 could not be designed to have both a traditional Start button option and their new UI is a decision by Microsoft management more then a limitation of the Windows design framework. All I can say is why Microsoft did not do something to help Windows 8 be more accepted? Its our way or else is not something I think a company should do. Especially when a lot of PC users were early on saying its not good.

Sun, Sep 16, 2012 Microsoft Employee Redmond, WA

I have been forced to use the Metro/Win8/Server 2012 interface for well over a year now while doing my development at Microsoft, and I can only add my voice to the chorus of those who recognize this UI as being ugly, inefficient, and a throwback visually to something worse than the look and feel of Windows 2.0! Why on earth anyone would want a UI even on their phone, let alone a tablet, or heaven forbid their desktop, that looks as though it were designed by a visually impaired toddler is beyond me. Now the news is that we employees will be given a phone, a surface, and another Win8 device... If it is an option (it certainly won't be but I can dream), I'll be selling all three on craigslist and buying an iPad. I actually like tasteful, visually appealing, and efficient to use interfaces. Time to enter your short orders on MSFT I say!

Mon, Sep 10, 2012 Steve Philippines

I find it interesting, after reading all of the comments, that the positive reviews are from people who emphasize the fun elements (games, sports, etc.) and the negative comments come from people who work with their computers for profit. The middle-of-the-road comments center around an "it's not so bad" theme. Note to the "start SCREEN" and "full screen apps" proponents: It sounds a lot like you'd really find the DOS Command Prompt quite cool! If you didn't like using CD to find stuff, you could always modify your PATH variable. One of the biggest successes with the GUI approach was the ability to multi-task and have multiple windows open. Now you want to extol the virtues of having only one screen open at a time? It appears that technology is continuing to revolve - not evolve. I wonder when MS is going to force us to start using punch cards and telling us the benefits. You know, not subject to magnetic interference, biodegradable, portable...

Tue, Aug 21, 2012 Andre

I am frustrated by what I read. Some are surprised that we are unhappy that the Start button is gone. Why, and why should we not have a preference regarding that issue? It appears that Microsoft has a vision and we had all better get on board. I just read that Microsoft is trying to make it so that we can't resurrect the Start menu, and, they have already made it more difficult to get the Desktop to come up by default. What is this, are we not the customer? Do they suddenly know better than we do what we want? I understand some of the changes. Removing Aero Glass was driven by a need to improve battery life, great, no big deal, I get it! But removing the Start Menu and making sure we can't get it back? That is just not right. If it weren't for the fact that our business has to run Windows programs that won't run on other OSes I would vote to move away from MS, period. If they do succeed in preventing the restoration of some sort of Start Menu then we will definitely not be using Windows 8 here. We will stay with Windows 7 as long as possible. I think that they are setting themselves up for another XP scenario where companies hang onto their existing OS as long as they can. In fact I really wonder if Windows 8 might not turn out to be another Vista. That would be a shame because of all the other improvements they have made in both security and performance. Its only saving grace might be on tablets. That may prevent it from being a failure, if it does well there.

Tue, Aug 21, 2012 Steve Budapest

Doug's last question initiates a Hamlet like problem, to be or not be? Regarding me, I hope it will fail. Even it should be failed! Everyone can consider me like an evil person but I have the arguments for my opinion. First of all, this new OS is not about the users and/or their real needs. It is just about the money. Basically it is not a problem when someone tries to achieve higher and higher financial peaks. The problem is when the road to the top leads over dead bodies. In this current situation the dead bodies are the real user needs, the way the computers are used (happily) by the end users. The problem is when someone creates barricades around the freedom of the infinite possibilities and says: "From now on you can not use that in the way you like because I said that!" Secondary, if the stakeholders general requirements are to keep always up the IT infrastructure in the best shape, forcing to reach the best efforts of the office workers, then we can not deny that measure when the corporate leaders invest a lot of money buying the most possible effective working tools. The Windows 8 does not belong to those tools, according to my opinion. Just think about that for a sec! Let's say there is a company, called Contoso Ltd. ;) At the Contoso there are e.g. 999 office workers using PCs in their daily jobs. PCs that are equipped with keyboard and mouse. Now, Contoso decided to replace the entire office PC fleet to Windows 8 equipped tablets. I am really curious how the corporate users will react for the Windows 8 when that hit their desktops.... How the work effort will be influenced by the tablets?! If we take - in general meaning - a simple desktop user who types different Word documents or fill out various Excel-sheets via a Tablet PC running Windows 8 - well, if I were him/her, I would be really scared! By the way, let us consider the followings: every second OS of Microsoft will be failed or at least will not be a success. Here is the list. Windows 3.1 was definitely successful, Windows 3.11 was not. Windows 95 was successful, Windows 98 was not. Windows 98 Second Edition was definitely successful (actually the most successful edition of the Win9x line). The Windows ME (Millennium Edition) was not accidentally called for Mistake Edition! There were many good reasons for that! That is end of the Win9x product line turning toward the New Technology solutions. Windows NT 4 was a pretty successful story. Windows 2000 was good but did not worth to mention. Windows XP was the ever successful product in the NT product line. Windows Vista was the ever greatest fail of Microsoft. Despite the SP2, the Vista was unable hit the top. Windows 7 is a very successful OS, restoring the fallen honor of Microsoft. Now comes the Windows 8. Guess it, what happens?

Mon, Aug 20, 2012 Doug

Do you people not realize that you don't need to scroll through anything to open an app. You don't need an start menu either. What's the name of the app/program you want to open? From the start screen, just start typing and the OS automagically finds things for you. Most of the time your hands don't even need to leave the keyboard which, to me is a much more efficient way to work. Speaking of the start screen, you can easily organize applications into groups and name those groups whatever you want which, in my opinion is far better than the start menu in win7 because I can just organize my most used apps into the first group on the start screen and will very rarily have to scroll. I see the problem as being people not wanting to change, even if that change can make you more productive by spending less time searching for stuff. Like I read on some other blog post, if Microsoft had not changed anything about the UI for Windows 8 they would have had plenty of complaints from people about their lack of innovation. Now that they innovate, people complain about that innovation. Don't like it, don't upgrade. For the rest of us, we will continue to move foward.

Mon, Aug 20, 2012 jbm007 Chicago

Window 8 TRM Note to Ballmer!!!!!!!!!!! Fix win 8 for desktop users and fast. Start menu is not resolution dependent. On a 17"monitor with a lot of apps its a joke. Hot corners don't work 50% of the time. Constant mouse back. No ability to assign file defaults to applications? Really what was MS thinking? Last time I complained was when MS said Vista could run a on most laptops. Nobody there liked my comments then and they won't like them now. Forget touch applications on a desktop. Nobody can afford Wacom's new 24" touch tablet display for desktops. Lack of aero for desktops will sink Win 8 on the desktop. Didn't MS learn anything from the federal government? You cannot take something away that you provided for so many years. Glad they didn't ask me back to beta test this OS turd.

Mon, Aug 20, 2012 Kenneth

You give people a whole start screen and they cry about a freaking button. Have used Win8 on 2 machines (desktop, laptop) since CP with no decrease in productivity. Why are you people reading something like Redmond mag, obviously you are NOT tech savy if you cant figure this out. My 9 year old grandson did.

Sun, Aug 19, 2012 James

I've been using Windows 8 for a while now. I started out running a dual boot with Windows 7 but I finally dumped 7. Most of metro is really just aggravating but the weather, news and sports apps work fine. As far as the start menu goes I downloading a nice program called Startmenu7 which adds the start button and works great. Windows boots into metro, but after startmenu starts it automatically switches over to the desktop. It also still has aero if you want it. If you take a few minutes to learn the different online apps ( weather ,sports....) you will wonder why it took them so long to add them. In the sports section you can save your favorite teams. Pro....no college which does suck. Local weather comes with a multi days forecast as well as an hourly which has come in handy with all the storms we have been having lately. Doppler radar as well as a few other treats are included. I do miss the games though.Take a little time to learn Windows 8 and you will love it.

Sun, Aug 19, 2012 Tom

I don't care what they do on the Metro side of the park, but I wish they wouldn't muck up the traditional desktop by omitting things like the start btn, Aero and so on. Let us make our own choice, that's what Microsoft has always been about. And don't get me started with the nightmare of a UI for VS2012 of which there are over 10,000 votes and related comments over on uservoice. Microsoft's blogs are also buzzing with rejection about the the VS2012 UI. All we're asking for is the option to select the VS2010 theme which is waaaay more productive and far far less eye straing. But I guess Microsoft has decided it wants to elminate user choice.

Sun, Aug 19, 2012 Fantasm Canada

[1] – Metro is UGLY [2] – I have a 40″ screen… 2 graphics cards and 2 smaller screens and a HDTV hooked up… Metro looks really bad on large screens and multi-monitor doesn’t work as advertised on win 8. Hot spots disappear and you have to reboot to get them back… [3] – I don’t Xbox, I rarely Facebook, and I don’t want my PC to be linked to anything I do online… [4] – I will never buy an APP at the App store… I don’t even like the metro apps I’ve tried, they seem like cheap shiny toys compared to the software I already use…Pretty but useless for much… [5] – After installing other programs, My Start screen had 7 tiles marked “uninstall” – No idea what they were linked to…some programs have multiple applications in their folder… They all got a tile, but they don’t need one… Even worse, some installed programs simply never appeared at all….And now it loads just about the same time Windows 7 does on my SSD [6] – I see nothing WORTH upgrading from windows 7 to 8 for… [7] – I am never going to get a touchscreen… [8] – I have an Android Tablet, an Android phone, and I only use them for “light” stuff, anything serious, I use my computer for… and I don’t want the same interface on all my toys… I deliberately keep my Androids different too… [9] – See #1 again. Given the choice, I want a huge desktop pic, in millions of colours, high resolution etc… Not some limited colour graphic that looks like a toddler designed it. [10]- I LIKE the look of Aero . My computer has tons of power, I don’t have to worry about storage space, (9 terrabytes), CPU cycles, RAM or power usage…. I could give a rat’s ass if they want to get rid of Aero to conserve power, let that be an option not a forced choice… [11]-The Start button… I use it daily. ‘Nuff said…. and NO, I don’t want to type in key press combos to get to things…. I use my mouse… that’s what the damned thing is there for…. [12]-Dragging my mouse on a 40″ screen is ridiculous… top to bottom, 20 plus inches to close an App…? side scrolling through the Start page endlessly looking for Apps? Maybe on a tiny screen… Oh, and why doesn’t metro open up on ALL the monitors so you could just jump to it instead of side scrolling the mouse, (invariably going “off” screen) [ Look, I’m sure that it will appeal to many… Good for them… To me, I see NO reason to get windows 8, and too many reason to NOT get it…

Sun, Aug 19, 2012 Tom

I installed the early version in the spring and thought, "they'll fix most of this" but when I installed the RTM last week, I see they didn't. I have my own small business, helping mostly older folks with their issues. Most people over 55 (a growing segment of our population) do not like change. Win8 is a big change. The fact you can't do things like one used to (even if MS claims they are easier and better now) is a big problem with older folks. They would use XP forever if it worked fast enough. For people like me doing repair, it seems like finding things is tougher. But I did find some good tools/mods and now my Win8 looks like 7 (with start button/menu and All Programs and shutdown options) so I will probably make money by doing mods to 8 to give people a "close to win7" look. MS will never learn that some people don't want change even if it's a little better. Just make it work reliably.

Sun, Aug 19, 2012 Erick Germany

- no meat no fish - Windows 3.11 looks better - not userfriendly for desktop PC - where is the start menu - a good seller is listening to their customers - a king without a country is no king - a Vista disaster - a shame that Win 8 is needing a third party software for installing a start menu - I'll skip this version

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 Maza

Windows Vista was more than just Aero. As Eric stated above, Windows Vista was a major Windows release. I still use it as my main operating system. It's better than Windows 7 in some ways and it breaks my heart that Microsoft doesn't want to support it. I even have a blog dedicated to it at http://www.maza20.wordpress.com

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 Paul

I've been running Windows 8 for a while and although at first it was jarring at first I've got used to the start screen and new UI. I must admit most of the applications I use are on the desktop and performance is on-par if not better than Windows 7. The best thing about this is its so much easier to use. No more diving deep into the start menu to launch a program, modern ui apps are full screen so no confusion. Users in my company have so many screens open and get lost and confused with foreground and background apps. Its great for the enterprise and I have done some tests with GPO and customised start screen. Installing & uninstalling Windows 8 apps (metro) so much easier than cluncky desktop apps. Faster boot times and general better formance. The only downside is the trainig required but if my 70 year old mum can pict it up within 10 minutes of training, office workers should be able tod o the same. By the way, comparing to Vista is unfair because a lot of the issues were driver related. Windows 8 so far havn't had any problems running on the majority of hardware in my test lab.

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 Cmb Pa , USA

Well apps that use SQL 2005 are doomed says must upgrade to 2008 or 2012 unless I missed a patch that allowed it to work on win 7 Forcing window live login sure is not going to be friendly to many locked down it policies Have not tried getting it to play - join a sbs 2003 domain Had to turn off IPV6 only IPV4 to have VISTA Business and win7 join a domain. Time will tell if business and enterprise users will stay with Microsoft.   At a glance the Apple migration seems less painful.

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 Steve UK

Microsoft. Windows 8. WTF have you done? Steve Ballmer must go. This is a disaster.

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 Thomas GA

I dual booted Win8 and it did leave me scratching my head the first time I used it, but after going back and forth between Win7 and Win8 I found myself liking it more and more. When the release preview came out I put it on my primary partition. Now my Win7 laptop seems listless and dull. I'm looking forward to the public release in Oct. For my non-techy friends I am nervous about the learning curve, but for me the OS is fast and forward looking, plays well with my dual 21 screens, and I really like it. Also, I expect regular updates from MS, not another OS in 3 years...

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 Mike California

I installed the MSDN rtm version on a laptop this morning and this is just going to be terrible. The performance thus far seems just fine (core i5, 4gb ram) just like windows 7. But the whole start screen thing is going to be a nightmare to deal with. I do IT consulting for SMB's and can already see the support nightmare it's going to be to deploy this out to users. I will not be letting any clients jump to this unless they seriously change the ability for a start menu from the desktop. If they brought that back and gave up on having to go move the mouse off to random corners of the screen to get to anything or scroll thru the stupid start screen to try to find a program then I could see it being ok...maybe. As it is though, I forsee it being much like a vista failure. Really, using this makes me want to invest in Apple stock and I HATE apple, but this will drive people to it in droves I'm sure. It'll be enough of a pain to try to figure out so that people just give up on Windows and buy a mac. For the first time (cringing as I say this) I think OSX makes more sense. Big time fail.

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 Robert Brice California

Windows 8 is a kludge. Why would I want a phone interface on a PC? Why should MSFT FORCE users to use Metro - disable work arounds that eliminate the need to use this ugly, inefficient interface? My business will not deploy Win8 nor will we use it on our home PC's. I can only hope that the looming Win8 fail will finally get MSFT's board to fire Balmer as he has proven to be a complete idiot.

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 Ethan Michigan

Win8 is the best OS I've ever used and it has a very promising future. The integration of x86 and mobile applications on a single platform across so many devices is a real achievement for MS. They're also playing their stong-arm card and forcing OEM's to bring out better products so that MS might not suffer as much ire from consumers that buy Microsoft Products on OEM hardware. Very well done MS.

Sat, Aug 18, 2012

It is incorrect to say that Win 8 isn't a happy camper on existing hardware. Win 7 era functionality in Win 8 (desktop, existing apps, etc.) works fine and is more performant in some cases. New Win 8 touch functionality requires new hardware.

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 Tom San Diego

Windows 8 is a great OS. I actually find myself appreciating even the Metro interface. Its going to secure tablets and phones like no other OS. Its quick and polished. Don't know what more to say other than this should be every bit of a blockbuster as Windows XP was. Use it and compare... you'll be convinced also.

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 saf UK

I have to say I am very surprised at the performance of Windows 8, it's very very very quick. It will take a while to get used to the interface but performance has increased and this is on a 3 year old laptop.

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 Hassan

I am running a 2007 dual core laptop which shipped for Vista. It ran faster with Windows 7 than it did with Windows Vista and even more so with Windows 8 now. But I do have complaints about it, small changes that should have not been made like the network connection view that takes the whole sidebar as compared to the sleek looking list in Windows Vista/Windows 7. Not to mention the start menu.

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 Bill Florida

I keep hearing how great XP was, What I remember the most about XP is the blue screen of death and rebooting 4-5x a day. NT fixed a lot of those problems, Vista was greatly improved, yes with descent hardware Vista shines, Win 7 is very good but lacks some of the tools Vista offers. Win 8 has the potential of being even better. The problem is people do not like change. But without change we would still be running DOS. Microsoft needs to make this change easier by providing helpful tutorials, videos would help greatly in selling Win 8.

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 Steve

Windows 8 sits very nicely on old laptops thank you very much. I have used Windows 8 long enough to say it's going to be a bigger blockbuster than Windows 7. You're putting Windows 8 down because you've never used it. You've only seen other people use it. Get you facts straight, Barney, because my 3 year old machine works beautifully with Windows 8.

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 Ken McAvoy Melbourne Victoria Australia

Hi Doug , not that Microsoft is the slightest bit interested in the views of one person from Australia but I cannot see Windows 8 achieving a better result than Vista. I can understand them introducing new features and making them available to those who always want change for the sake of change but many , many PC Users wanted to keep all the features of XP , maintain stability in their IT environs and they just want small incremental improvements over time. Every Accountant in every half decent business will spend money if there is a 10 year investment payback. Not so with W8. Churning and burning your IT investment is not smart .. many business agencies are yet to embrace Windows 7 let alone 8 and once they see the dreadful interface changes , new significant cost , time and trouble involved (for virtually zero benefit in a business sense) I think if a business feels it needs to change Microsft have just handed Apple a free advertising plug because most people I know who I have showcased the interface to have recoiled in horror and its interesting to note in all cases they have said "if I need to do this much of a change I may as well go Apple." I know Microsoft the masters of spin doctoring will produce rubbery figures to try and con the market place into thinking W8 is a success - they are in for a real shock. Bottom line is the market tells you what they are prepared to pay for not the other way around. There will be few people who rail against my point of view but undeniably rubbishing what I think will not make me or others like me change my mind. Already for the past 3 years I have not invested in any new IT equipment , software or upgrades. Its NOT hurting my business - in fact the stability is making my business more profitable because I can concentrate on the core business rather than being sidetracked by constant technology changes , many of which cost too much , dont work , give me new training headaches and costs I did not want or need and in the end a declining not rising bottom line. Think about that Microsoft !

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 Barry Virginia

I started playing with the DEV release and was hoping for some changes. I just downloaded the MSDN RTM version and am underwhelmed. The new Start 'screen' is very confusing. I can see most average users getting lost right there. The widgets on the screen are really dumbed down applets. To get to the real stuff, you need to hit the desktop and maneuver around to hit the regular configuration panel. Unless major changes are allowed for the business world, they won't want to adopt this as they'll need to spend hours educating the end users on simple usage. This is looking like a real dud to me. By the way, I used my download to upgrade an existing Windows 7 VM. The upgrade only carries over personal files -- ALL programs need to be reinstalled. The upgrade then proceeded to lock up and become unusable. I created a new VM and installed a fresh copy, which seems to be functioning much better. Time will tell....

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 Stuart

Doug, have you actually used Windows 8? You keep talking about two different interfaces, but I only see one. I don't see how making the Start menu full screen changes how users use the OS.

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 Tom Hockman Dublin, OH

Windows 8 launch will be the most rejected product launch since New Coke. The problem is that regular users have no idea how different the interface is, and Microsoft made several major mistakes in designing it that are very counter-intuitive. Once the average consumer opens a new laptop built on Windows 8, they are going to scream for Windows 7. Over a week's time, most users can figure out the new location and gotchas of the new OS, but the major paradigm shift of Metro vs. Desktop will strain customer service and training resources for years. It will take two or three major revs, and more acclimation to this new type of Windows interface, for users to accept it fully. However, Microsoft will still make money off Enterprise licensing for Win 8 (but downgraded to Win 7).

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 Bruce DeLand, FL

This one has been interesting to watch. I've been playing with it since the DEV preview. It might be OK, might not. However I bought a new Win7 laptop system so I can sit this one out. The product doesn't add anything I can use. I'll get my $15 copy that Dell offered, put it in Virtual Box for awhile and keep an eye on it.

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 Eric Ottawa

Kirk - you want to shut down with as few clicks as possible? Ctrl-Alt-Del, Power Button.

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 Eric Ottawa, ON

Doug - I think you missed the point on this one. Although the "slick new addition" to Vista was Aero (i.e. that's what you *saw*), the REAL changes were under the hood. New kernel. New security model. New driver model. New TCP/IP stack, re-written from the ground-up. The expectation that users not run as local administrators anymore. THAT is what "broke" applications and made Vista adoption painful and even impossible for many. The big, "breaking" changes Windows 8, on the other hand, are mostly cosmetic. The security model, driver model, compatibility model hasn't changed all that much from Vista & 7 (although it has evolved, to be sure). If you don't like WinRT applications, don't use them. Everything else still works like it used to - except the Start *menu* is gone. Now you have a Start *screen*. I think you'll see that once people get over the Start Screen hump, thinks won't be nearly as ugly as they were with Vista.

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 Kirk Missouri

Parts of it look really cool for sure and from what I've seen, after I get away from Metro, or whatever it's called now, I like it. But I would like to have had some input for sure. I think there is still some developement to be done to make it work with a mouse. Like - in Windows Media Center when I move my mouse to the edge of the screen I get arrows. I don't get this in Metro. And, it takes a lot of clicks to shut the comptuer down :)

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