We’ve been using Windows 8 on our home PC since it was released last October. After four months I can honestly say that Windows 8 hasn’t really changed the way that we use our home computer. 90% of what my wife and I do on the computer is via the internet. Email, social networks, shopping – we don’t use apps, we use the internet. We don’t stream music or movies. We don’t play games.
Adjusting to Windows 8 has been just that, an adjustment. 99% of the time we use the traditional desktop rather than the Metro UI. With Microsoft’s removal of the Start button, we’ve simply had to learn the new navigation, which didn’t take long and hasn’t been a big deal. Need to find a document? Launch File Explorer from the desktop taskbar. Need to access the control panel? Mouse to the right side of the screen and select Settings. Need to open an app or find a file that isn’t on the Start screen or the desktop? Just start typing on the Start screen.
Yes, it’s different than Windows 7 (slightly) and it feels more connected to the mobile world (slightly). Is Windows 8 an OS with an identity crisis? Yes and No. Microsoft needs a mobile OS to compete and the tile interface is it. Like it or hate it, Microsoft feels that grids of static icons are boring. I like the way that tiles can be sized and arranged to personalize the experience. And while I don’t use the Metro UI often on my home PC, I have sized and arranged the tiles for organized access (of both Metro and non-Metro apps).
(We use a local family “local” account. I have created a “personal” account linked to my Microsoft Account, but signing in an out and locking and unlocking can be a pain. Call me lazy, I don’t care).
As pointed out by Brad Hill, Microsoft’s computer OS market share is enormous and with Windows 8 “Microsoft is singing with right tune with some wrong notes.” Hill advocates returning the Start button and making boot to desktop an option – basically saying provide an option for those, like myself, who use a mouse and keyboard to interface with Windows 8 to bypass the Metro UI that we don’t really use. Providing options isn’t really a bad thing.
Go read Hill’s article. Regardless of your feelings for or against, or ambivalence toward, Windows 8, Hill provides an objective and productive take on what Microsoft is doing right and how they can do better.
Oh, and if I could find a $200 Windows RT tablet (a la Google Nexus 7), I’d totally jump on it.