A Week With Windows 8: Day Seven – Oh Ubuntu How I’ve Missed Thee

So my final day with Windows 8 is over and I am writing this post back on my trusty Ubuntu 12.04 hard drive. I have to say that it’s so good to be back, I just feel back at home in Ubuntu. Everything is where I expect it to be, easy to find and quick! So what what have been my up’s and down’s during my week with Windows 8?

The good…

Well, this part of the article is going to be quite thin on the ground unfortunately. The best part for me was day 6 when I managed to get Windows 8 to work how I wanted/needed it to work. But it wasn’t all bad, I liked the new Windows Explorer with it’s ribbon menu that ties the user interface (UI) in with Office 2007 onwards.

Windows 8 running how I want it to run

I also liked the performance, Windows 8 booted up and ran native Metro apps about as quick as my Ubuntu installation. That’s pretty good I have to say, as  Ubuntu is notorious for being a lot lighter and quicker that Windows.

The bad…

Well there is a lot in this section unfortunately. Pretty much everything apart from what I listed above, I didn’t like. The Metro UI is clumsy and convoluted to use on a ‘normal’ (keyboard & mouse) computer. Microsoft have decided to change so much that it feels totally and utterly alien to me. In day 3 I got the perspective of a none technical person (my girlfriend, Jenny) – she found it to be even worse than I did. At least I could take an educated guess at where things would be because of the 10+ years experience I have working with Windows on a daily basis in an administrative role.

The performance of none Metro applications was also horrendous. With LibreOffice taking over 90 seconds to load!

The ugly…

The Metro UI isn’t just hard to use, it’s also very harsh on the eye. This full screen, multi coloured tiled affair looks very juvenile and toy-like. It may not be so bad if the look of it was supposed to work like a traditional start menu in that it would be hidden away until you use it. This, I think would have been a nice touch that would have made Windows 8 new, yet familiar. But alas, the Metro menu is supposed to be the main hub of Windows 8 were you are expected to spend most of your time. I just can’t imagine walking into work and seeing all my IT professional colleagues using these childish tiles – it makes no sense to me at all.

The Metro toy-like interface

Conclusion

Windows 8 may be a good choice for touch enable devices like smart phones and tablets, but we use these devices in a completely different way to desktop computers. This means that you need a different UI for the desktop – that doesn’t mean that it has to be completely alien to it’s tab and phone brethren - it can still be themed and look very similar but not actually work in the exact same way.

Microsoft have added some good or dare I say it even great features to Windows 8 but the way that they have all been mashed together in this multi-coloured, tiled soup completely over shadows any if the good work. I’ve been using Windows 8 for a whole week now, so I think I can say with a certain amount of certainty that when push comes to shove, users are going to stick with Windows 7 instead of migrating to Windows 8.

I think Microsoft have already gotten this kind of feedback from users as they are already offering a massively discounted Windows 7 to Windows 8 Professional upgrade for just £14.99 worldwide for qualifying machines. Microsoft are saying they are offering this so people who buy new computers on the cusp of a major Windows update will not miss out. I personally think that it’s because Microsoft are worried that they have Vista II on their hands and it just won’t sell.

So, the big question…Would I upgrade to Windows 8 from Windows 7? In short, no – not in it’s native state anyway, I could get used to the desktop how I had it in day 6 though. The desktop just isn’t ready/doesn’t want a UI like Windows 8. Whilst it might meet some users needs, I think this number will be extremely small. It seems that Microsoft are staying with tradition and offering one good, then one bad OS version in turn.

Do you use Windows 8? Why not tell us your experiences in the comments section.

A Week With Windows 8: Day Seven – Oh Ubuntu How I’ve Missed Thee
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