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Windows 8 may drive me to Linux


DKT27

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I have been a Microsoft defender for decades. “No, MS-DOS 4.0 isn’t really that bad,” I pleaded to friends almost 25 years ago. “Give Windows 98 a chance” I begged ten or 11 years later. Heck, I extolled the virtues of Vista (which I did believe in, by the way) to anyone willing to listen. But in the wake of last week’s introduction of the Consumer Preview edition of Windows 8, I can say only this: Microsoft, you’re on your own.

Never — and I’m going to repeat this for additional emphasis, never – have I been as horrified by one of the company’s products as I am by this one. (Yes, I used Microsoft Bob.) Every choice seems to have been made for a sketchy reason, and the full collection of them bears the haphazard feel of the morning after a particularly raucous college party. Scratch that: Even at my most inebriated, I’m pretty sure I would never conceive of something like Windows 8.

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Don’t say I haven’t given it a chance. I have. I first used it last year, when the Developer Preview was unveiled. I was less than impressed at that point, but I assumed that Microsoft would get with the game and fix the most brazen mistakes, undo (or at least downplay) some of the more questionable “improvements,” and not dare to put it before the public again until it was in presentable shape. How wrong I was. This incarnation of Windows 8 is, if anything, even worse than the previous one — because it suggests this is what Microsoft actually intends to release.

Based on its current form, Windows 8 represents an unconscionable, and barely comprehensible, rejection of the values Microsoft has spent the last 26 years perfecting in its visual operating system. It doesn’t make computers easier to navigate and understand, it makes them more difficult, paradoxically by making the interface so brain-dead simple that it can’t do anything someone with a brain might actually want. Want to close an application without using Alt-F4? Forget it. Want the menus and settings intelligently organized? No chance. Want to just display two windows on the screen at the same time? Good luck with that.

Yes, Microsoft has released a product it’s calling Windows that doesn’t use windows as part of its primary interface. Can you figure that out? I can’t. (My colleague Sebastian Anthony claims he’s worked it out.)

Okay, correction. I can figure it out, and it’s related to the only good reason for Windows 8′s existence: its tablet friendliness. Microsoft has obviously reached the same conclusion as Apple, Google, and many technophiles and decided that tablets and phones are where most computing will be done in the future. And the new Metro interface, which displaces the Desktop as the initial Windows 8 environment, makes sense when looked at that way. Plenty of extra-large icons and buttons, a heavy focus on horizontal scrolling, and using the whole screen for every task — this is all commonplace tablet stuff.

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But what Microsoft forgot, or perhaps ignored, is that the world is not yet all tablets. There are millions upon millions of current or prospective desktop and laptop owners out there who want and need to use their computer with their mouse rather than their finger, and think being able to flip instantly between applications — and see them simultaneously — isn’t a feature but a necessity. And, of course, there are plenty of serious users who don’t want the PC on which they spend huge chunks of their waking life to look like it was designed by Fisher-Price. They want their interface and their way of working to be completely under their control. Which, until now, it always has been.

With Windows 8, Microsoft is taking most of your choices away. Once you open programs, you don’t get to decide to close them. You don’t get to decide if you’d like a nonintrusive log-on screen. You don’t get to decide if you don’t like Metro enough to boot into it. You don’t get to decide how, or even if, you want to arrange programs on your screen. Microsoft will do it all for you, because that’s how tablets work — and your computer not being a tablet is irrelevant. One imagines that Microsoft sees the industry as one day not letting you decide whether your computer even is a tablet. Quite probably that’s where we’re headed. But we’re not there yet.

Microsoft is not entirely alone in this outlook, of course. Apple pioneered it with its iPhone, spread it with its iPad, and is trying to propagate it still further with each new release of its converging OS lines. But Apple has one advantage Microsoft doesn’t: It controls the hardware, too. This lets Apple ensure that its devices, of any size or complexity, work with the software exactly the way they’re supposed to. One of the main reasons I’ve stuck with Microsoft so long is that its openness across a broad range of products and platforms encourages using technology the way I like to: while maintaining foundational control over the hardware and the software alike.

That doesn’t work in the Metro-ized Windows 8 — either way. Interacting with apps is clunky and nonintuitive with the mouse. Programs take longer than they should to start because each is accompanied by animation that plays before it opens. Switching between open tasks (which you’ll do all the time, as they’re so difficult to close) is cumbersome and confusing if you use either of the new “corner” methods rather than the stalwart (and, thankfully, still-working) Alt-Tab. Signing in is a chore because you have to “sweep away” a splash screen and log in via a Microsoft account, and finding the setting to change this is like a scavenger hunt in a junkyard. And what if you don’t care about your e-mail, your calendar, the weather, or the Microsoft Store — why should you have to remove all those links instead of add them as you want them? Previous versions of Windows stashed them in the Start menu or on the taskbar, but here they’re front and center. Again: taking choices away by default.

The good news is that if you hate Metro you can still use the desktop. Sort of. Unfortunately, it’s treated as another app, and not something you can see automatically when you turn on your computer. And, once you get in, the functionality is basically identical to that of Windows 7, minus the convenience of the traditional Start button and menu. In other words, if you buy Windows 8 and don’t groove on it, you’re not even granted an updated alternative to the OS you gave up. This is, in every way, a raw deal for everyone except devoted tablet users. A colleague crowed about using Windows 8 and not seeing Metro for hours — would Microsoft really consider that a plus?

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Compare this behavior with that of another operating system: Ubuntu. Canonical, the company behind the popular Linux distribution, took a lot of heat last year when it moved Ubuntu full-time to its own Unity interface, which was developed with the goal of helping Ubuntu better cater to the emerging tablet market. Yes, it added a new (side-mounted) program launcher filled with big icons and a dash for searching through your programs and files. But the underlying functionality remained the same, and you still had (and have) the option of using it the old-fashioned way, and you don’t have to change your workflow to do it. In other words, it expanded into a new market without shutting out the previous one — exactly what Microsoft hasn’t done.

Of course, the Redmond-based company is in a much different position, with a dazzlingly large market share, and thus has good reasons for thinking it can get away with this and telling everyone how they’ll use their computers at home and work. Microsoft may be right, but my time with Windows 8 has made it seem so simplistic that I can’t envision why any company would want it on any non-tablet computers (and I’ve never worked at, or even seen, a business that operated entirely off of tablets). And I see even advanced home users rebelling against using one program per screen, something PC owners haven’t had to endure since DOS went the way of the dodo.

If Microsoft has demonstrated a more hubristic attitude when releasing a product, I can’t recall it. And I’m not sure such cockiness is safe this time around. Windows 8 is poised to alienate millions of people who have been devoted Microsoft users, or even (in my case) fans, for as long as the company has been around — all in a play to wrest a nascent product market from the Cupertino-based firm that now dominates it. It’s a gutsy move, and I appreciate that — but the company’s willingness to junk nearly 30 years of work, and the customer trust it’s generated during that time, does not thrill me.

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There’s still time for Microsoft to change its mind. Not everything about Windows 8 is bad. I like, uh, the reduced boot times — my hard drive–based test computer dropped to 48 seconds from 55 after upgrading. And one little option to let me specify whether I want to boot into Metro or the desktop, preferably located near the top of the byzantine Settings menu, would instantly inspire me to give the whole thing a long second look. I’d love to see more truly useful features, but I’ll keep my demands light for the moment. Once the biggest “fixes” are undone, we can discuss the rest.

One warning, Microsoft: If you don’t, you’ll permanently lose this defender. You’re halfway there already. I’m too die-hard a DIYer to ever love Macs, but the folks at Canonical have shown that, even while favoring Unity, they want longtime desktop users to feel at home with their product. I have to say, I’ve been getting might cozy with it — whether on desktops or tablets. And it’s free. If you don’t prove with Windows 8, as you have with so many of your previous products, that this one is worth paying for, I’ll drop you faster than you dropped the desktop.

I’m giving you the chance you refuse to give me. Please don’t blow it.

:view: View: Original Article

Comments: This article gives personal opinions about Windows 8 and raises some good points. It should only be taken as an opinion and nothing else, because it's on the individual to try/use Windows 8 (Beta or Final) and decide for him/herself. :)

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brain_death

The author is correct but just to say, Linux is far from only sh*tty Unity or even the slightly less sh*tty Gnome 3 for that matter. As a webmaster I've noticed the exponential rise in Mobile OS's accessing my site, but developing content on a notebook computer is hard enough, let alone a phone or tablet either. Seems the core base of developers is now being forgotten and despite the fragmentation, infighting and sheer stupidity that characterises the Linux "community" and even computing in general, IE has already lost it and Windows will too, while Mac OS X is just a [proprietary] derivative of BSD, right?

:s

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People don't like change, this is why society is where it is today. We need to embrace change. The sooner the human race realize that change is positive the sooner alot of the worlds problems will be resolved.

Look at how the Ribbon in MS Office was treated - it got lots of negative comments; but it really is a major advancement.

Metro is a major step away from current "ideas" - but we need to remember these "ideas" are currently 10+ years old. Many things have changed since then.

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If you don't like 8 then stick to 7, surely that will last a few years yet until Microsoft come to their senses. I don't see a need to jump to Linux yet, or the need to throw your toys out of the pram :lol:

There may be something good around the corner if 8 fails badly, and probably quite soon.

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An operating system is more or less just a launchpad for the apps you use. It should be simple, stable, responsive, and run the apps you need.

If Linux fits these needs I would say "go for it". I was really impressed with my last run at Ubuntu. Everything worked. I still wish there was no need for the command line. This archaic way of typing in bizarre commands needs to be ditched for good. (sorry geeks) I don't want to read a book to install a program or alter a behavior

This being said, I would have ditched Windows for Linux but for a few games and a couple of programs.

Apple is cool if that meets your needs.(but damn expensive)

Windows 8 is the future of Microsoft. They don't have iPhones, Ipods and iPads to fall back on. They are following Apple (as usual) but as you say, the vast majority of people do not use tablet PC's and this could be a giant mistake.

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@avmad I agree, and probably most others as well seeing how XP is still quite popular

I'll probably be switching to Win8 whether I like it or not.. tons of ways to redo your desktop and never see the metro aside from a reboot from your machine. Vista had it's perks, it wasn't as bad as people made it out to be... Still going to have Ubuntu as dual boot though. Windows is my gaming platform and Ubuntu is my do some actual work platform =)

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Linux!!!

That's like falling from the frying pan into the fire. :o

:lol: :D :P

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Never been a fan of linux thats probably because ive grown up using windows. For me everyday tasks are simpler and more intuitive. I dont see the purpose in command line prompts especially in the 21st century. Sure they are useful for a small handful of tasks and are good to know, But this whole make sudo install whatever it is, annoys me.

Regarding the Win 8 metro stuff, i think people would much rather see a 21st century style aero glass theme and effects much like win 7 but taking it to the next level. It appears that Microsoft have focused too much on tablets and introduced this feature on the desktop. I dont think it will prove to be a hit, not to mention removing the start button, the central command centre for the OS. Why ruin a perfectly good thing?

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ROMANTICGUY50

If you don't like 8 then stick to 7, surely that will last a few years yet until Microsoft come to their senses. I don't see a need to jump to Linux yet, or the need to throw your toys out of the pram :lol:

There may be something good around the corner if 8 fails badly, and probably quite soon.

I use Unbuntu alot. It does not crash like Windows does. My major problem is that the programs I use most of them work only on Windows and not on Ubuntu.I wish more devolopers would make thier software work on Ubuntu as well. I won't try Windows 8 because alot of the bad reviews maybe Windowa seven... Xp crashed on my cmputer and I totally put it back pn my puter The drivers don;t seem to work but I am still able to use Ubuntu
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I'll be sticking with Win 7 myself,i've been using it since the consumer preview and haven't had the "Black Screen Of Death" once in the time i've been using it.

I don't really mind change if it's for the better but i can't see any benefit in the Metro Interface unless you own a tablet,personally if i was to own a tablet i'd be inclined to use Android over Win 8.

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SnakeMasteR

People don't like change, this is why society is where it is today. We need to embrace change. The sooner the human race realize that change is positive the sooner alot of the worlds problems will be resolved.

Look at how the Ribbon in MS Office was treated - it got lots of negative comments; but it really is a major advancement.

Metro is a major step away from current "ideas" - but we need to remember these "ideas" are currently 10+ years old. Many things have changed since then.

But why changing things if they are good how they are? :unsure: In case of an operating system, 8 could not be a successor of 7, because it`s too different and that is not what M$ should want. Also i don`t think that you can compare 7 with 8 if it`s finally released. It`s for tablet`s in first place, it`s an complete different market but for this, 8 can really be a big success. Technically, 8 will not be better as 7, e.g. for gaming, but it has some new and improved features (like native USB 3.0 support) but that is not a reason for me to switch to it. Maybe my curiosity forces me if it`s there to take a deeper look.. :lol:

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People don't like change, this is why society is where it is today. We need to embrace change. The sooner the human race realize that change is positive the sooner alot of the worlds problems will be resolved.

Change should not be embraced if it is change for the worse. If it is change for the status quo that is also worse because you are paying money for nothing. We would be not too bright if we embraced all change. Would you embrace if your government changed your pension so you would have to work till you are 85?

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I used windows consumer preview for a week and switched back to windows 7. I actually liked WCP very much but hated the metro screen which made me switch back. Hope in final Windows8 MS will provide option to disable metro.

I dont agree with the author that windows8 will drive for a change to linux.Linux is very good and better than windows IMHO.linux has improved a lot in all these years.Now it has become really easy to work with Linux for noobs also.But your are forced to use windows because developers are not making programs for linux.Most of the programs available are only for windows.

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With Windows 8, Microsoft is taking most of your choices away. Once you open programs, you don’t get to decide to close them. You don’t get to decide if you’d like a nonintrusive log-on screen. You don’t get to decide if you don’t like Metro enough to boot into it. You don’t get to decide how, or even if, you want to arrange programs on your screen. Microsoft will do it all for you, because that’s how tablets work — and your computer not being a tablet is irrelevant.

Totally agree man, I've been telling prople not to switch to windows 8 unless they have a tablet or touch screen. WIN7 is the pinacle of ingenuity, so microsoft is well on it's way to screwing it up. Notice how Vista was a huge fail for MS? WIN8 will be too. It seems the trend is FAIL>WIN>FAIL hope M$ wins after this one...

And here's the million dollar question: WHAT HAPPENED TO WIN+TAB???

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I have a touch screen monitor and Win8 is a beauty for it, so all those who have old pc's and old technologies stick to your WinXP and stop complaning.

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I wouldn't use the first generation release of a new Microsoft product if they paid me for it (maybe if it was a seven digit figure I might think about it ;)) but anyways seriously you don't have to use Eight yet. What operating system you use is of secondary importance. What is important is that your OS should be secure, stable and run all the applications that you want to use stably and flawlessly. Personally, Windows XP suits my purpose and is my main operating system mainly because of all the above reasons. For now, Seven is my secondary/backup OS at least until MS stops supporting XP (who knows even after that).

I might give Eight a shot just for the heck of it after maybe SP1 is out but then again I might tune the eyecandy down a bit (ok a lot :P) to make it more work friendly and less visually distracting :D

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Just installed installed windows 8. Seems to be targeted towards tablet users rather than desktop users

I think they should give an option so that you are able to switch between desktop mode vs. tablet mode

Will not shift permanently if there is no start option

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I think Win 8 is not that bad. I tried first the Dev Preview and it was horrible, the CP is better, but not quite ready yet.. as expected, even Windows 7 on its beta release wasn't as great, although it already generated good comments.

The thing with win 8 is that it reshapes the way we are used to work on computers... yes it is targeted to tables, which I think is awful as a software developer or any other person that does real work... but it seems to be more natural. To be honest the mouse isn't as natural as directly interacting with your screen through touch gestures.. I guess they are starting to do what apple did with the first ipod touch, make a special product for final consumers.. no more general purpose computers.. which seems to fit for a lot of people, but I agree that if they are going that way they should be able to keep power users and content creators to also have a decent UI.

Also I think it is funny that the author of the original post talks about Unity.. which IMO is horrible.. and Gnome 3 isn't that great, and even linux users are ranting teh same way saying these new UIs drive them to either Gnome 2 or XFCE... same with the ones that plan to stick to Win XP.. or Office 2005 look or even facebook older UI as much as they can. In this sense I think we should embrace change and at least give it the benefit of the doubt before the final release... at the end of the they if companies like MS doesn't hear user's feedback then they are killing themselves.

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I think Win 8 is not that bad. I tried first the Dev Preview and it was horrible, the CP is better, but not quite ready yet.. as expected, even Windows 7 on its beta release wasn't as great, although it already generated good comments.

The thing with win 8 is that it reshapes the way we are used to work on computers... yes it is targeted to tables, which I think is awful as a software developer or any other person that does real work... but it seems to be more natural. To be honest the mouse isn't as natural as directly interacting with your screen through touch gestures.. I guess they are starting to do what apple did with the first ipod touch, make a special product for final consumers.. no more general purpose computers.. which seems to fit for a lot of people, but I agree that if they are going that way they should be able to keep power users and content creators to also have a decent UI.

Also I think it is funny that the author of the original post talks about Unity.. which IMO is horrible.. and Gnome 3 isn't that great, and even linux users are ranting teh same way saying these new UIs drive them to either Gnome 2 or XFCE... same with the ones that plan to stick to Win XP.. or Office 2005 look or even facebook older UI as much as they can. In this sense I think we should embrace change and at least give it the benefit of the doubt before the final release... at the end of the they if companies like MS doesn't hear user's feedback then they are killing themselves.

Office 2005? :)
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I think Win 8 is not that bad. I tried first the Dev Preview and it was horrible, the CP is better, but not quite ready yet.. as expected, even Windows 7 on its beta release wasn't as great, although it already generated good comments.

The thing with win 8 is that it reshapes the way we are used to work on computers... yes it is targeted to tables, which I think is awful as a software developer or any other person that does real work... but it seems to be more natural. To be honest the mouse isn't as natural as directly interacting with your screen through touch gestures.. I guess they are starting to do what apple did with the first ipod touch, make a special product for final consumers.. no more general purpose computers.. which seems to fit for a lot of people, but I agree that if they are going that way they should be able to keep power users and content creators to also have a decent UI.

Also I think it is funny that the author of the original post talks about Unity.. which IMO is horrible.. and Gnome 3 isn't that great, and even linux users are ranting teh same way saying these new UIs drive them to either Gnome 2 or XFCE... same with the ones that plan to stick to Win XP.. or Office 2005 look or even facebook older UI as much as they can. In this sense I think we should embrace change and at least give it the benefit of the doubt before the final release... at the end of the they if companies like MS doesn't hear user's feedback then they are killing themselves.

Office 2005? :)

Sorry, little typo, I meant Office 2003

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just for comic relief, i'd like to share that i'm still using Office 2000 :D

(to clarify, my work involves a lot of typing and i have MS Word 2000 configured / customized very specifically i.e., autocorrect/autotext entries that do not migrate well to later versions so I'm stuck with Office 2000... :)

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