First Impressions of Microsoft Windows 8

I just don’t “get” Microsoft Windows 8.

Microsoft Windows 8 Logo

Last October, I rushed out to the Castleton Best Buy in Indianapolis during Windows 8 launch weekend to snag a copy of Microsoft Windows 8 Professional.  My experience confirms the troubles that both Best Buy and Microsoft are having.

The Purchase

I walked directly to the computer department and was greeted by a pleasant Best Buy employee who looked dazed and confused when I asked about Windows 8.  He walked me over to the software department, where there was a large display of empty Windows 8 boxes. Still puzzled, he asked several of his coworkers where the Windows 8 software was located. After several minutes of confusion, they told me to go to the customer service desk, where the real Windows 8 software boxes were locked into “the cage”. Although all of the Best Buy staff were friendly and the initial employee stayed with me until I found what I needed, I found it curious that they apparently did not have any kind of team meeting in anticipation of the Windows 8 launch.

The Installation

When I got the software home, I found the installation process to be quick and painless on my one-year-old Dell Inspiron N5010, an inexpensive Intel Core i3 laptop that I upgraded to 8 GB RAM. I opted to keep all of my existing applications, although I may yet do a total reinstall to clear up some ongoing DLL issues left over from Windows 7.

Installing Windows 8

Mission accomplished!

IMG_3949

 

The Windows 8 Experience

I must say that after a few months of casual use, I’m still confused by Windows 8.  I just don’t get it. My Dell Inspiron N5010 does not have a touchscreen, but I doubt that having one would change my perceptions. Although a Core i3 hardly qualifies as a workhorse, I’m very disappointed by the overall system performance compared to Windows 7. And I’m disappointed by leading technology columnists like Walt Mossberg making excuses if you’re PC is over a year old (see his Wall Street Journal article, Windows 8: Not for Old-at-Heart PCs). It seems that the mainstream technology press is going out of its way to say nice things about Windows 8 and reluctant to offend anyone at Microsoft. Apple would be crucified if they shipped a MacOS that didn’t work well on “older” Macs.

Brian Boyko, a professional writer & corporate filmmaker, has created a 24-minute video about Microsoft Windows 8 that’s worth your time. His core theme is “Windows 8 is unusable” and he reviews the new operating system with humor and a few naughty words. He analyzes the Windows 8 using four key user interface themes of control, conveyance, continuity and context.

[ youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTYet-qf1jo ]

Jean-Louis Gassée asks an insightful question on Monday Note (see Apple Can Finish What Microsoft’s Sinofsky Started).

Was it Ballmer’s idea or Sinofsky’s?

After being quite impressed with Windows 7, I can’t help but think that Windows 8 is the son of Microsoft Vista. I predict that we’ll see a Windows 8.5 or Windows 9 released later in 2013 that attempts to perform damage control. Before Apple pulls John Hodgman and Justin Long out of retirement.

UPDATE: There will be no Windows 8.5 or Windows 9 but instead Windows 10 will be released sometime in 2015.

Want another perspective? Read SAP Mentor Derek Loranca’s article, Windows 8 Impressions… and why I went back to Windows 7.

UPDATE (10/03/2014): Updated with Windows 10, the version of Windows that will follow Windows 8.1.

What are your thoughts about Microsoft Windows 8?

Author: Dallas Marks

I am a business intelligence architect, author, and trainer. I help organizations harness the power of analytics, primarily with SAP BusinessObjects products. An active blogger, SAP Mentor and co-author of the SAP Press book SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide, I prefer piano keyboards over computer keyboards when not blogging or tweeting about business intelligence.

18 thoughts on “First Impressions of Microsoft Windows 8”

  1. Hi Dallas,

    Thanks for sharing your experience about Windows 8.

    I am still using a Sony laptop from 2009, its 3 GB/core2duo T5800 processor and runs Windows Vista Home Premium.

    People say Vista is a bad product from Microsoft. However, I do not have a very bitter experience with Vista. The reason is likely because the limited way I use my laptop. – Check emails daily, occasional Word Doc and Excel, rarely Power point, and avid Photoshop and Bridge. I also use it for downloading and viewing movies, and going through internet websites using Chrome.

    The point I am making is with a bad OS, I can do with the basic need. I do not play 3D games, I do not do animation, I do not run statistical calculation on MatLab or SPSS. Like me, 70 to 80% home users do so (my assumption). Then what will be the real reason to upgrade? My application could run better in Windows 7 (may be some seconds boast, may be I will save 20 to 30 seconds on shut down or start up). I may run better in XP too. The only reason I am in Vista is because it came pre-installed.

    What features of a upgrade will really convince Windows user to shell out their money? I am not trying to be a miser, but I can spend money in better things in life rather than gaining 30 seconds during Windows shutdown process.

    I think the product placement that Windows 8 has is not the desktop or usual laptop user. Microsoft aimed Touchscreen users specifically. I have seen Jay bought a touch screen Asus this winter, its touch screen and Window 8 work very intuitively on it. The key (“game changer”) is the touch screen feature. I wonder is Microsoft trying to combat Android using Windows 8?

    Don’t know. I am not a early adopter in OS game. But I will be interested to see how Windows 8 perform in long run.

    By the way, is Microsoft selling Windows 7 at discounted price, because they want to clean up their shelves? If yes, let me know 🙂

  2. Aurobindo,

    Windows 7 has become hard to find, even in the United States. However, buying a new Windows 8 PC then downgrading to Windows 7 is quite popular.

    I just can’t see the casual business user who is familiar with Windows XP having a great experience trying to learn Windows 8. Even after I figure out where Windows 8 has hidden something that used to be quite familiar, I’ve never said “Ah, that’s better than what we had before.”

    I’ll be helping my mom pick out an Apple MacBook as her next computer, not a Windows 8 machine.

    Regards,
    Dallas

  3. I’ve been working on my 6 months post-Win8 blog myself and my experiences parallel yours, my friend. There’s been both good and bad, but mostly ‘huh’? If I didn’t feel like dealing with setting up the drivers for my laptop, I would downgrade back to Win7.

  4. I couldn’t make it through that entire Brian Boyko video. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I’m not sure I would trust his judgement.

    My advice is if you’re trying to run this on a desktop and not a tablet, learn the keyboard shortcuts. The Windows key is your best friend. Hit the Windows key to go to the Start screen. Think of that screen as the old start menu and add/remove apps as you would normally. I’ve removed almost all of those useless apps that were put there by default and put things there I actually use. You can also just start typing at the Start screen and windows starts looking for apps with the text of what you’re typing. Here’s a list of my most common shortcuts:

    Win => Start screen (start typing to find apps)
    WIn-x => Admin menu
    Win-c => Charms sidebar
    Win-l => Lock PC
    Win-r => Run a command
    Win-e => Explorer (or file manager or whatever you call it)
    Win-w => Settings screen (start typing to find Settings programs)
    Win-f => Files screen (start typing to find files)

    When you’re on the start page, you can hit the Windows key to go back to the desktop. After I understood that the Start screen is just the old Start menu, things got a lot more intuitive. I wouldn’t say my experience with WIndows 8 is better than 7, but it isn’t that much worse either. Maybe just a little worse.

    1. Hey – I know that guy… 😉

      Thanks for writing, Bill. I’ll definitely try to memorize these shortcuts. My primary workstation is now a MacBook Pro and when I use Windows, it’s usually a customer’s Windows 2008 server via Remote Desktop. I’ll be curious to see how quickly SAP adopts Windows 8 conventions as opposed to Windows 7 apps that just happen to run on the new OS.

      Regards,
      Dallas

  5. Hi Dallas,

    I personally haven’t used Win 8 yet. Although I have been using Win 7 (as VM on Mac OS)on daily basis for my work (Mostly BO Client Tools). This seems to be stable enough.

    Hope SAP will have entire BO Suite front end tools available on Mac OS X some day!! Then I don’t have to use Windows at all.

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