Windows 8 Consumer Preview: Initial Impressions

Certainly everything in Windows 8 will be good… right?

The Good

Allows tablets to share the desktop environment: Tablets will be able to use both Metro and the regular desktop environment, which can run some desktop applications.

Improved boot times: Upon your initial boot and subsequent start ups, the time to get to your desktop is significantly reduced. This also applies to system resume.

Improved task manager: The task manager is laid out much more efficiently and actually gives you even more useful information.

Improved file management: The new file management system allows you to see a more refined way of copying and pasting files to another directory or folder. The bit rate is now clearly displayed, and a percentage is also presented to the user. In addition, the user now has an option to pause and resume individual file transfers.

The Bad

You are forced to use the Metro Interface as the start menu: Let’s face it; Metro is for increasing tablet productivity and not desktop productivity. If you have used Metro and found yourself going faster (using a mouse and keyboard), then I have to say that you live in an alternate universe. Most of the comments floating around the web, which pertain to the consumer preview, have stated that the new Metro interface is counter-productive.

You are forced to use the Metro Interface for searching: Searching now takes up the whole screen. When I have multiple windows opened, I don’t want my view of what I have opened suddenly blocked out by Metro’s search interface.

The Metro Interface takes up the entire screen: For tablets this is fine, but for most users, who would like staying on the desktop, Metro just creates a lot of frustration when going back and forth from the desktop. It is a feeling of discontinuity and clutter.

The Metro Interface doesn’t play well with multi-monitor setups: There are many users that have problems bringing up the the side menu. It is obtrusive and hard to open because users have to constantly move back and forth between multiple monitors. In addition, the Metro interface takes up one of your monitor’s entire screen. Some users may want Metro to stretch across the monitors, while other users may want it to be put in a window in order to consume less space.

New Windows logo: What can I say? The new logo is bland, and there have been numerous fan made logos that look a million times better. If you ask me, this is a giant step backwards in brand recognition.

Final Thoughts

As someone who constantly has multiple windows open and does a lot of involving tasks (photoshop, programming, 3D modeling, research, etc), I find that there is an inherent problem with the way Windows 8 handles the desktop environment. Windows 8 does bring better performance to the table, but the Metro Interface doesn’t blend with the tried and true desktop layout. Many feel like it is two different operating systems in one.

So, what needs to happen for Windows 8 to please everyone? Basically, Microsoft should make Metro launch as a separate application. The Metro UI may work for tablets, but in a productive desktop environment the two universes have to be a bit more separated. This is why I feel that the old start menu and icon should be restored. A better idea is to have the user launch Metro by clicking an icon within the old start menu. This way people who want to live in Metro land (sounds like a game) can do so, and the people who want to live in the more demanding desktop environment can continue on with business as usual.