A Microsoft Snob reviews Microsoft Windows 8

Y’all knew this was coming… but I bet you didn’t expect this:

“The Windows 8 Consumer Preview is disappointing” –James VanderZouwen

First, I have always been a Microsoft Beta tester and an early adopter of their Windows, Office and Internet Explorer products. So, I am sure you are not shocked when I tell you that I was excited to get home yesterday and play around with Windows 8 for the first time. I arrived home and set aside a PC to install it on, fired up Hulu to watch the latest Colbert Report, and set out to see what was in store for the next generation of PC users. I was happy to see that burning the ISO to DVD and installing took under 30 minutes total (hardware was Dual Core 2.8 GHz w/4 GB RAM – nothing fancy).

The ugly Betta fish logo threw me for a loop at first (I thought maybe Sanford’s ISO was some sort of hacked Linux install to mess with me ;). A simple Bing search told me that it was Microsoft trying to be punny and I continued. I was asked for Windows Live credentials during install and was pleased to see a new level of integration with web content/services being pushed from the get-go. I was also happy to see that my devices installed without prompting or annoying driver installation hassle. The initial install was only a few clicks and could probably be performed by even the most novice of users.

Here’s where things went sour… I logged in for the first time and was met with a strange site – The Metro Start Menu.

Some back story: When I was a network admin long ago and Windows XP was launched, I was reluctant to accept the XP two-column start menu because I thought users would have a hard time getting used to it. Windows 98 was the most used OS at the time and users were already complaining about the change, so I did what so many admins do and reverted to the old functionality for my customers. It took even me a long time (about a year!) to get used to it myself, so I was happy to implement group policy to revert it and even went so far as to set the default profile on our master image to use the old start menu so that customers creating new profiles would never see the new menu. In retrospect, I should have told them to suck it up and get used to it, as now I have found that I almost can’t live without the new start menu.

Now, I see the Metro Start Menu and am finding myself in a similar conundrum. This change is WAY more jolting though. This is a full-screen start menu that doesn’t even have a start button to get to it. When I first looked at Windows 8, I froze and nearly wanted to turn off the computer because I didn’t know where to go to get started. The fact that I have dual monitors on my demo machine made it much worse. Metro’s multi-monitor support is lacking at best. The start menu and Metro style apps launch in full screen on the main monitor (and they look great), but the 2nd monitor is left in the ‘dark ages’ (Windows 7). It looks awkward to have the new Metro next to an empty, archaic-looking screen that seemingly has no way to launch apps. The taskbar has been extended to the 2nd monitor, but it includes to start button. The start menu has no ability to pin Metro app shortcuts to the taskbar, and there is also no way to launch Metro apps in the 2nd screen (or move them there, or have 2 running side by side). How does Microsoft intend to convince people to use this?

My thinking is that Microsoft will receive a lot of feedback on this and address many of my concerns in the release candidate. My hope is that they don’t allow admins to revert to the ‘old way’. I think Metro is cool and important, but not there yet. Perhaps it will be great, but for now, I am happy to continue using Windows 7 and let my demo machine collect some dust.

Test failed. Where you at Microsoft?


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