Over a month ago Microsoft unleashed Windows 8 on the world. This marked the biggest change the OS had seen since Windows 95. Over 60% of the computers in the world run Windows, so when Microsoft makes major changes to the OS it has gargantuan impact on people. Those that upgrade will have to learn to use Windows all over again, and it won’t happen over night. So how does it work after the initial “new OS smell” wears off?
Things I Don’t Like
I’ve been using Windows 8 as my primary desktop OS for over a month now. Using it has become second nature, and it didn’t take long to adapt to the changes. However, some things are not obvious. The search button in the charms menu will search whatever app you have open. At first I was wondering why no apps had search functionality, but in fact they all do. In the same breath, the settings button in the charms menu works for whatever app you have open
Another thing that I still forget about is semantic zoom. In some apps you can’t access certain things unless you zoom out. This can be a pain. I don’t like that these features are not obvious to first time users, but once you learn to use them they work just fine. I also don’t like that you have to minimize all your windows individually, or press Windows + D to see the old desktop.
Another small thing I don’t like is Internet Explorer. Maybe if I was using Windows 8 on a tablet it would be different, but on a keyboard/mouse setup it is not nearly powerful enough to compete with Chrome or Firefox. I don’t want to constantly dig under menus just to see my bookmarks when in Chrome they are always accessible.
Things I Like
The Windows 8 feature I use the most is Split Screen. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have two apps running side-by-side. I find it very useful to have the old desktop opened in the large view, and an app like Skype or IM+ opening in the side view. This makes multitasking very useful, and I absolutely love Split Screen. Many people wonder about productivity in Windows 8, and I was admittedly worried about that as well. Using Split Screen and the old desktop together is perfect for getting work done.
I probably don’t look at the Start screen that many times in a day, but what I do use it for is quickly launching apps. By pressing the Windows key and typing the name of the app I’m looking for I can launch something almost instantly. This is essentially how it worked in Windows 7, but it just looks a little nicer now. The live tiles are a nice addition as well, but I honestly don’t look at them much at all.
One thing that surprised me is how much I use apps. I didn’t expect to like having full screen apps as much as I do. I had an issue for a while where it said Netflix was installed, but it actually wasn’t, so I couldn’t download it. During that time I didn’t watch Netflix at all, even though I could have just used it in the browser. Using the app is that much more enjoyable. Same with something like checking Google Reader. Even though I love the apps I still use the old desktop and Chrome more than anything.
After diving into Windows 8 a month ago I was a little worried I might regret not waiting a little longer for it to mature. I can honestly say that I am happy with Windows 8. The things I would miss if I went back to Windows 7 are Split Screen and the apps, but I could operate without them. A month later I have no regrets, and that’s always a good sign. Here’s to many months more.