Jul 122012

My initial bad impression of Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system may change with time, but I’m glad I wrote down my frustrations in a sort of a chronological log of the first hour or two to show what thoughts go through a mind of a technical user when testing this product in sort of a cleanroom environment (I didn’t read much about Windows 8 till after this testing and didn’t know anything about navigation). Unless the final version gets significant improvements with user interface, it is so far from intuitive that millions and billions of users will likely share my frustration. I’ll be very careful not to move away from Windows 7 for a long time and recommending the same to my clients unless this is just the first impression gone wrong. Regardless, the first impression counts most, so here are the notes I made during my first encounter with this fancy new OS (fancy with or without sarcasm, the time will tell).

Installation was flawless. The second one. The downloaded file was truncated (incomplete) so I was getting a message about incompatible drivers. Shouldn’t the installation file look at itself and see it’s corrupt? I know, I know, it’s a beta. Fixed by downloading the whole file again, this time double-checking the file’s SHA-1 hash numbers.

Now that I’m in, how do I close a window? This is not a tablet, so there’s no home button. I’m testing this on a PC. The newer Ctrl+W shortcut doesn’t work, so I had to revert to my old fashioned geekish Alt+F4 shortcut, unknown to most ordinary users. I guess the average user would just hit the power button and shut down instead. Why do they (MS) like to alter so many features, including most intuitive things that work just fine? Why do users have to re-learn their ways with every new OS?

It should be easy for a geek like me to navigate, but I’m stuck in one lonely corner of the brand new and great OS. Is this a new Windows ME or Vista?

Can’t get back the normal way. I really miss the good old “X” button. Windows 8 took me to create a Windows Live account (which I believe had been created during the installation). What do I do now, re-create the created? I just wanted to snoop around and see what this looks like. Well, tough! There’s no return button and no obvious way to close the current window so I use the keyboard shortcut.

How do I go to Windows Explorer or My Computer? No way. Fortunately the old Windows Key + E shortcut worked. I’m in Windows Explorer. After that the initial screen with bunch of square icons disappeared and I was at the desktop, but oh what an annoyance, no start button.

How the heck do I reboot or shut down? No start button and no trace of anything similar. Ctrl+Alt+Del worked and gave me a shutdown option, but would a regular user know this?

(Skip this line if you’re not running Windows 8 in a virtual machine). Fortunately, VMware Player is already compatible with Windows 8. However, the VMware Tools installation didn’t happen after I clicked on its button offering to run after the OS installation was over, so I followed instructions and clicked on setup.exe in the virtual DVD drive after figuring out above how to get to my computer (Windows + E). After this, VMware works great, already compatible with Windows 8, but I’m still lost.

Now that it rebooted, it gave me a clock screen like my ICS Android TouchPad. Now what? Some click got me to the login screen. Which one? Don’t know, let’s restart and see. Oh, but there’s no restart button, only shutdown. But I don’t want to shut down. I want to restart! Oh well, I’ll shut down instead. Oh, HERE is the restart button – to get to it, you need to first click “shut down”. Very logical ;-). If old Bill were there perhaps this thing would work a bit better, but he’s more useful to Humanity doing his charity work. Holy Bill, do you still have the powers to kick some MS butt? They’ve been better under you and they seem to need it.

OK, once the system boots into the screen with the clock it seems like I just have to click anywhere to get to the password prompt. But I don’t remember setting up a local system password. Hitting enter with empty line doesn’t work. Could it be the same password I set with Microsoft? It worked. Wow, now my Windows 8 PC shares my Microsoft password. That’s convenient, but against recommendations to maintain different passwords on every system or device and use a password manager (I discovered later there’s a way to disassociate the local from the Microsoft account).

I’m back to the original bunch of L-7 (square) icons, so let’s see what happens when I click on weather – I get the App Preview page with turning dots instead of the hourglass. Way to go, change the hourglass, so people don’t know what’s happening. What was wrong with the hourglass??? Oh, it’s just old. And we don’t want old, we want confusion, don’t we?

Now it’s asking me whether I want to turn on location services to allow Weather to use my location. Sure, but does it only allow it with that app or does it allow location services for everything? I was writing this while the turning dots were rolling and still roll… ah, there it is, the Bing Weather. OK. Works. Good, but what do I do on this screen, clicking on anything doesn’t do anything. Anything? Oh, there’s a link on one small text – Weather Underground. That opens an Internet Explorer session with more options at the Wunderground site.

OK, now how do I close the IE session??? Trying to abstain from Alt+F4 and learn new ways. Trying hard, but only finding the back arrow. I give up. Alt+F4. Oh Microsoft, why did you red-x the beautiful and most intuitive red X???

At least the weather square is now showing my local temp. Back into it and now I find two almost hidden links, one is Wunderground, then one arrow moves the screen to forecast farther ahead in the future, like a week, while another arrow down brings up wind, pressure, humidity and “Foreca” – forecast, I assume.

I still can’t figure out how to close this app. Reluctant to use Alt+F4, but I will have to do it go go back to square one and see whether there’s a tour. Wait, there’s a new menu when I right-click on the screen. Wow! Toggling to and from Celsius scale is a breeze. Instant as my Nescafé. First time I feel good about something here. There is hope. But I still look for the way to return to the squares screen and nothing. AltF4 again.

There’s no Windows 8 tour and no way to search. I click on Desktop and now I’m there but no Start button, no search, no tour. How do I switch back to the squares?

This is the most frustrating new OS experience I had so far. Perhaps Alt+F4 will work. No, it only gives me the shutdown screen. Ok, shutdown and select restart (in this screen too). Reboot.

Back to square one (pun intended) with somewhat familiar L7 screen again. No tour, no quick start, no nuthin’. Right click on the squares screen gives me settings options… I guess I’ll have to consult “Google University” and search for Windows 8 navigation. But let’s first click on video, perhaps there’s a tour there.

Adding to my frustration, the video is asking me for my contact information – like I didn’t give it to them when I installed the OS. And I don’t use Xbox and don’t want the Xbox Live account (yet) although it should be there already. OK, canceling did get me to the video screen. GRRR, nothing but “pay per view” videos. Let’s get the heck out of here… but how? Alt+F4. Now let me check online.

Discovered that right clicking the Start screen (I’ll call it L7 because of all the squares in it) gives me All Apps option in the bottom. When I click on it, I sort of get the different view like in Control Panel, with small icons or sorted by type.

Finally, after checking online I determined there’s an additional menu that appears when you drag your mouse to the lower bottom corner of the screen. Apparently you can switch from Desktop to Start and back this way. Was it hard to include a short note upon first login to go there?

It’s a drag to get to anything with this functionality because it requires a longer wait. I’m used to quick and zippy devices, instead of waiting for the screen to change, or menus to appear.

The “Run” command is listed under all apps (the old Windows key + r keyboard shortcut also seems to work from anywhere).

Also, it seems that the windows key on my keyboard toggles between the desktop and L7 screens. I feel like Vasco da Gama or Magellan.

I thought I read somewhere that Microsoft would eliminate reboots after updates or software installation. No go, at least not yet. First updates (found the place in configuration) required a restart, stating if I don’t do it it will restart on its own in two days.

So now I read that this OS is more DOS like. Providing “immersive experience” which means multitasking is lousy.  Why Microsoft, why today when even phones are quad core, not do mention CPUs. Is it me or do you want to waste all those extra cores for nothing?

I can’t believe how Microsoft likes to mess with patience and productivity of billions of their customers whenever they decide their past OS GUI was no good and make a big u-turn and change the user interface and navigation within the system. Windows 95, Vista, Office 2007, and now 8 bring changes that aren’t so intuitive and easy to adopt. Aren’t they giving away the message that their old ways were wrong, meanwhile requiring of us to relearn ways to navigate the OS? Windows 7 is still awesome for me and so was XP, but they just have to change the winning team. For crying out loud, if things stay this way, they will be wasting billions of man-hours of their users to satisfy some designer and the management team which find something “cool” just because it has an iPad-like feel. Well, the iPad has a home button, but there’s no such thing on my PC. And this is a multi-tasking device while the iPad and iOS is not so good at that. Why copy the inferior stuff? Sheesh!

If you’re a business entity, stay away from upgrading until you see whether there’s any value in it. Unlike with manufacturing processes, you don’t lose if you postpone your switch to the latest technology. On the contrary, you gain by skipping the productivity loss of your end users who would otherwise have to re-learn the new system at work. Let them experiment with it at home and in school. Then you have to spend less on training, and while you wait and do business as usual, most bugs will be fixed and most software applications upgraded to versions compatible with the new OS. And then don’t upgrade all machines, but after a successful compatibility test start introducing the new OS with new machines as their hardware gets slow and obsolete. That way you don’t spend mucho dinero upgrading something that already works.

Like I say in some of my previous OS posts, OS is just a vehicle to your crucial software applications. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke. I wouldn’t upgrade to this version in corporate environment for at least a year or two, and then I’d phase it in very carefully. Although I most sincerely hope Microsoft proves me wrong with the full release, after seeing all this I suspect this may be another Vista. With Windows 8 almost here, I can’t wait for Windows 9, or whatever its name will be.  In spite of my frustrating desktop experience with the preview version, I do however believe and hope that Windows 8 will work well on Microsoft Surface tablet.

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