Live blogging Windows 8 first day

Published on Thursday, August 16, 2012 By Brad Wardell In Personal Computing

 

Freshly installed over my Windows 7 system.  Normally I would do a full rebuild but most people who are upgrading aren’t going to do that.

Remembering the experience formerly known as Metro:

First Impressions

A lot of tools are now very difficult to find.  I can’t find the event viewer. Typing it in the search area brings up nothing.  In fact, uninstalling things is actually quite a pain because now you have to first go to control panel and then the add/remove programs (you can’t just search for control panel applets in Windows 8).

Where’s the registry editor?

The right-click menu hangs on the desktop every time I do it.  I’m trying to look into why that might be. I’ll probably go to the registry and get rid of the extra crap….which…I can’t because the registry editor seems to be gone (i.e. I can’t type registry and bring up the registry editor)…

My password…

Windows 8 changed my desktop logon password to my Live ID password without asking.

MSConfig

MSConfig is still easily accessible. From that, I was able to get to the registry editor and go to HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT \ Directory \ Background \ shellex \ ContextMenuHandlers to remove legacy shell handlers.

Backgrounds

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I like the new desktop backgrounds. Though, they were a bit skimpy on the quantity of them.

The Search

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Nothing comes up if you type reged but if you type out the entire word, regedit, it will show up.  This strikes me as a significant back step.

The Store…

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I’m running at 2560 x 1440.

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Amazing apps.

Ok, I’m going to download and use Wikipedia.

Feel free to tell me how stupid I am.  I cannot figure out how to search…

Ok, I figured it out. I have to move my mouse to the top right to bring up the charms bar, then I move the mouse down to the search. Mind you, because I have multiple monitors, this is a pain in the ass. It is really too much for the app to have the search field displayed without having to make multiple clicks?

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The Shell

YMMV but the new shell strikes me as a step back.

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They’ve brought back, by default, the menubar. And there’s no obvious way to make it go away. There’s a bit of sloppiness here (two menu items called Manage? I know they relate to their corresponding tools action item but still).  It’s not a biggie, just would like an obvious way to get rid of that menu bar entirely.

Performance

I can’t put my finger on it but it feels sluggish. Launching things is noticeably faster. It’s snappier when opening windows. But when I’m typing or interacting with apps I’m used to interacting day in and day out, they feel sluggish (even typing this blog in, I’m feeling a slight delay between the key press and the letter appearing). That is probably something specific to my machine or the fact I didn’t install on a clean machine so take that with a grain of salt.

Some nice things

One very nice feature they threw in for multiple monitor users is that each monitor essentially acts as its own quasi-independent display.  The jury on usability remains out on it but it’s got promise.

Some quick conclusions

The desktop experience of Windows 8 is as about as good as Windows 7.  That said, I can’t really say users gain anything upgrading to Windows 8 from Windows 7.

My single biggest gripe, and it’s kind of a show-stopper, is “Metro”.  I like tablets. I have several. I plan to get Surface. I have a Lenovo tablet on order. But trying to combine the two experiences together was a mistake and it’s going to cost them. I can’t imagine an enterprise customer upgrading to this. 

Users who like to have the latest/greatest will be at a cross-roads here.  If you have multiple monitors, the experience kind of sucks overall because – and remember this carefully – the entire new user metaphor for Windows 8 is premised around moving the mouse to screen edges.  That is how you’re supposed to navigate the Windows 8 ecosystem.

I’m also not sure what we’re supposed to make out of Metro (Windows 8 UI) style apps. They’re clearly designed for tablets running at around 150dpi at lower resolution.  I’m not sure what a traditional PC user is supposed to do with these apps. They’re not useful – so far.  They’d be fine on a tablet but on a desktop.

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There is also a lack of polish in the Metro apps. They feel rushed to me.  Take the weather app. Look closely at it. Does this compete well?  Some of the images have masking problems (where the image was originally on a different colored background). Compare this app to what you see on iOS or Android even.

Overall

Overall, if I got Windows 8 on a new machine, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. It’s not a bad OS. It’s just a significant step down from Windows 7.  Coming from say Windows XP or Vista, it’s a step up.

I would really like to see Microsoft put some effort into updating Windows 8 to be less schizophrenic.  If I’m installing it on a regular PC, let me use it as such.  Don’t force me to use my mouse as if it’s a surrogate set of fingers.

Updates and corrections

(I’ll be adding to this as I learn more)

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One thing that I learned (and I don’t like) is that when you start typing in the search filed, it categorizes them for you. I don’t like this. That’s why I couldn’t find add/remove programs is because apps was selected. I have to manually select settings and look in there. The fix for this would be to have an “all” category that is at the top.

I also really don’t like that I type my search on the right of the screen and the results show up on the left. In Windows 7, you just start typing and the item shows up almost immediately above it.