As I mentioned in a post yesterday, I’m taking Windows 8 – Release Preview – for a test drive via the virtual machine software, Parallels WorkStation.
Yesterday was also installation day and Win 8 installed with relative ease. I navigated around, tried Tweeting and then shut it down for today.

This morning saw my first serious attempt to really get to know Windows 8. At first blush, Windows 8 seems obviously geared towards tablets & touch screens rather than the more traditional desktop and laptop PCs. As you deal with the OS more and more, you begin to get the feeling that Windows 8 is somewhat schizophrenic; it can’t decide whether it wants to act like a tablet or a regular PC and it asks you to make that decision every time you boot up.

The first thing you’ll see is the Windows 8 START page. It’s easy to envision this on a tablet or touch-screen PC. On a traditional PC, not so much. In fact, if you’ve been banging away on traditional PC’s for over 25 years like I have, you initial reaction is going to be something on the order of “Huh?”
Yes you can get to the traditional desktop but it involves an additional – and to my way of thinking, unnecessary – step. You will notice on the partial screen-shot below, you’ll notice one of the tiles circled in RED.  

Clicking that tile will take you to the more familiar looking desktop though there is no Start button  like we’ve had for the past 15 years. In fact, I installed Start8 from Stardock Corp.  just to make things easier on myself.

Clicking on the Start button provided by this tool, however, gives you something that is more like the Metro interface than the traditional Win start menu.

You can find things via this route but it takes a bit of getting used to. There’s more to discuss about Window 8 next week but to close this post, I’m going to rant just about what Microsoft is doing wrong here.

One of Parsons’ Rules of programming reads thusly:

THERE IS ALWAYS MORE THAN ONE WAY TO DO IT

This rule has a corollary:

ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL

In other words, you should not HAVE to go through unnecessary steps to work in the way you want. You shouldn’t have to treat your PC like a tablet just to use it in the way you always have. I have two touch-based devices and they are great for certain kinds of tasks but when I’m working on my PC, I want it to act like my usual desktop. If I want to use the tablet-oriented Metro interface, I should have the option of either choosing that route in advance or after my machine is up and running. This idea of forcing users to do everything “my way” – Microsoft’s – seems very Apple-esque to me. I run windows for a number of reasons and flexibility is one of them.

PC’s and laptops are not dead. The market is merely diversifying and there will be plenty of them around just as there will be plenty of tablets around. Forcing other segments of the market to use their hardware & operating system to comply with one segment – no matter how popular it may be or how much promise it may hold – appears to be another colossal blunder by the folks in Redmond, WA.

 

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