Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Is windows 8 that bad - I dont think so

This is a reposnse to

I started writing it as a comment to the looooong 'uninstalling windows 8' post, but it got a bit out of hand so here it is instead;

Dear Tim,

A few things, I have had windows 8 running for ages and yes it is 'different' to other windows experiences and yes some of it works better on touch devices, but I dont think uninstalling it is really the answer. The more feedback we can get out for others to comment on the better, good/bad or otherwise.
 Microsoft needs to see and use this feedback to make it better and to be fair they have listened to some of the feedback with regards to the new Visual Studio, maybe this will herald a new beginning for the application life-cycle of MS products?

I really don't think Windows 8 is that bad, its not 'Oh my god, the best OS in the world' but none of the current ones are either, they all have their quirks.
They are built by humans, I mean we aren't perfect and creating an OS that keeps every single user happy is impossible.

There are a few keys that you have missed off your comments that I think may help you with some of your usability issues.

The windows key will always take you to 'home' (this being the tiled metro homepage)
Using windows key combinations you imitate touch gestures;
Windows + Z, Windows + X, Windows + C all bring up different menus while inside an app or 'home'
Windows + D still works to take you back to the old faithful desktop
Windows + Tab & Alt + Tab still shuffles you through the active windows
Windows + R still brings up the run command

The full list of old and new key combinations is here - 

Yes I realise that we shouldn't have to use the keyboard, but it is one of the 2 most used input devices we have.

Okay there is no start button (start scary horror soundtrack music), but to be fair most consumers  and remember Windows 8 is designed for the general public who are consumers of information, not geeks like most of the people who read this who are pro-sumers - that is we make stuff. They will use a dozen or so 'apps' on a day to day basis and don't care if they cant see the 'control panel' menu or most of the other options under the start button as they everything they need will be visible on 'home'.
So as long as they see their main app tiles they wont care either way.

I think if you are a geek or gamer you will feel unjustly forced down the 'app' centric route, it took me a long time to come to like iPad because of this. For a long time I wanted to get into the nitty-gritty and play with the folders hidden inside the OS. I even bought an android pad to do this... waste of time and money. Anything with a 10" screen is NOT designed for inputting large amounts of data.
You take a picture upload it to face book, send 140 character message to a friend, tell the world what you are eating for dinner, check whats on TV, watch a TV show,find a recipe, listen to a song, job done - it is nearly always consuming data.

I was also a bit confused with the whole home vs desktop idea. I am a dektop man, we all are I guess, everything gets dumped on the desktop first (or in the downloads folder) to be used whenever we need it and then left to clutter up the view, I used fences for ages to help clear this up.
But in windows 8 there is this clean (and easily read) blocked out 'home' interface that just allows me to see the top 20 or so tiles that link to the apps I use the most, not 4 screens (I have  a lot of desktop space) of random files, links and shortcut, I mean really how on earth could that be easier and more productive? (sarcasm)

Windows 8 has made me do things differently, much the same way Mac users do things differently to windows folk. I now store nearly everything on skydrive and dropbox, very little is stored locally.
My laptop only gets the files I need to use, then they are stored or deleted, I just don't need them.
It has forced me to be more organised, I have not installed anything that I dont really need and do install a lot of crap that just hangs around, but if a tile stares at me long enough and I don't use it I remove the app, as the old meerkats say 'Simplesss'.

I will be lining up to buy a Microsoft Surface (not the old surface or pixelsense as it's called now, the new tablet one) when it launches in the UK. Why you may ask, well its really because android and I just don not see eye to eye and I am still not convinced the iPad is for me. Don't get me wrong it is a great platform with an awesome design/UX, however it just does things I don't like and I want to see if a Windows 8 touch device feels better and this is the big thing for me.

This is the crux of the whole mobile device OS issue. The difference between one OS and another is not how it works or what it looks like or if it crashes every 2 seconds, but how it 'feels' when I am using it; is it tactile?, does it make sense when I am doing a task?, does it allow me to access something in a way that feels right? can I use it how I want to use it?

I might be biased towards Windows 8 as I have a windows 7.5 phone, an Xbox 360 and rely on Microsoft stack and it's technologies to help pay my mortgage, but I personally think that Windows 8 is going to make people stop and think about how they work and what they 'really' use their PC/tablet/mobile device for.
And from a financial point of view, even if only half all current windows users move to Windows 8 that is still a shed-load of consumers who will be in the market for new shiny apps and that can't be a bad thing for us developers/designers.

One last thing, when reviewing an OS we shouldn't really focus on the apps that it runs, I know the mail client is pretty basic (although not that bad really), it is Outlook express at the end of the day and is not Outlook.
In general the apps are written outside of the OS, so shouldn't we review them in their own context?


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