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A Win 8 Tablet Ouchie!

An MIT professor with a Harvard blog address (my sister starts her fancy new job at Harvard today!) has some choice words for Windows 8. Philipp Greenspun calls it "A Christmas gift for some you hate" and called the interface "a dog's breakfast." And you thought MIT people were all slide rules and calculators. This guy can write!

Greenspun's criticisms aren't exactly original, but he does a terrific job analyzing the difference between Win 8 as a tablet and the more refined iPad and Android.

As for the basics, "Microsoft here integrates the tablet and the standard Windows desktop in the most inconvenient and inconsistent possible way," Greenspun writes.

For instance, you can really run tablet apps and desktops at the same time.

He continues: "It is either the old Windows XP desktop or the new Android-like tablet environment. As far as I can tell they cannot be mixed except that a tablet app can be set to appear in a vertical ribbon on the left or right edge of the screen."

And you can't just use it as a pure tablet or a pure laptop/desktop either.

"Some functions, such as 'start an application' or 'restart the computer' are available only from the tablet interface. Conversely, when one is comfortably ensconced in a touch/tablet application, an additional click will fire up a Web browser, thereby causing the tablet to disappear in favor of the desktop," he argues.

And, as a tablet, it lacks ease of use refinements such as easy to find home and back buttons.

Posted by Doug Barney on 12/17/2012 at 1:19 PM

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Reader Comments:

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 Steve

Well until my laptop (which is my work laptop btw) bites it, it will always be a win7 machine. Truthfully have not tried win8 yet, nor see a tablet as useful, but am honestly intrigued by the reviews I have heard about surface, that it may well be a first on both fronts for me, trying win8 in the tablet world with surface.

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 BigMacK Harrisburg, PA

Doug - are you going to write a blog post every time someone writes a positive article about Windows 8? Hard to believe such a Microsoft hater could effectively run a magazine for Microsoft users. Might be time for you to follow Neil's advice and jump on the Apple bandwagon. How about some balance??

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 George Wisconsin

Shopped for a new PC desktop last week, didn't want Windows 8. Was hard to find, but found a refubished Windows 7. What in the world is Microsoft thinking? Windows 8 on a desktop PC (no touch screen) is insane. If I want a portable device, fine, but there are somethings an actual PC is required to do and needs to do with a keyboard and mouse. Windows 8, puh-leeze.

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 slm Cleveland, OH

Classic "Given how misguided the whole design of Windows 8 seems to be, why have tech journalists given it basically positive reviews? My theory is that journalists love anything new, different, and complicated. Windows 8 is all of those things." Hard time trying to decide myself if 8 is a bad desktop OS or a bad tablet OS.

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 80s Rocker

I second that Neil. If Apple would have come up with an operating system that combined tablet and desktop you wouldn't here the end of the praises they would get about being a leader and innovator. MS on the other hand gets lambasted for "copying others" and not being innovative? Then when they do deliver something that pushes people to the next level tablet/ultrabook hybrid the same people bash it to no end. Is Win8 or the Surface OS perfect? No, but MS will be releasing updates throughout the year to iron out the "rough edges". Do those "rough edges" make it totally unusable? No, it is a very solid first release and it will only get better. A Windows based tablet/ultrabook hybrid and a Windows based phone will all a cosumer will need to fullfull all their computing needs in the future. Windows 8 is only the start of the tablet/utlrabook hybrid revolution.

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 Victor

If someone is from MIT it doesn't mean for me his opinion is more valuable than others. Different devices are for different purposes. Different vehicles - for different purposes. And of course, tastes differ. And it doesn't make any sense for me to discuss which color in the world is the best or better...So, I wanted for a long time a light, touch screen tablet/convertible running on Windows and I got it.

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 80s Rocker

I totally agree Jeremy. My nephew who is an Apple fan boy (has iPhone and iPad) says that Win8 blows Apple out of the water on a tablet device and loves the interface. He even had the Beta runnig on his iPad device so he coudl switch between iOS and Win8. He found he used Win8 more (even to launch iPad native apps). He is even going to sell hi iPad and get one of the Hybrid tablet/ultrbooks and use that as his main machine. Overall, almost everyone that sees my Surface wants one after using mine for just a few minutes. It is sad that a MIT professor cannot see what impact cosumers going to Hybrid/Ultrabook could have on the indusry for years to come. Hope his students are more creative and opened-minded.

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 Wayne

All the Apple cry babies with all the negative comments .

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 Neil

Doug, I just don't understand why you hate microsoft so much? All your articles are just one hate fest after another against microsoft. we know you already love apple. Just rename your magazine to cupertino, and be done with us. Your rag (which gets smaller each issue) has ceased to be relevant to the millions of users who actually enjoy Windows and other excellent products.

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 Jeremy

If you want a PC, use XP. If you want a tablet, get an iPad. If you want to be revolutionary, use Windows 8. Why is it that the people that are afraid of change get the most attention? I personally really like Windows 8, even on my 6-year-old computer without touch. There is going to be a day when "desktop" applications are a thing of the past. Quit complaining about the transition or carry two devices.

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 Eric

I had a customer that want to be able to use her printer on the windows 8. It took me 30 min to figure out how to share her printer on windows 8. It use to take only 1 to 2 min to share some thing on windows.

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 EdS Colorado

I thought Mr. Greenspun was very insightful.

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 Randall Ainsworth Tacoma, WA

The guy is right. Windows 8 is an unintuitive, garish bundle of festering pus.

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