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Windows 8: a Monkey with Four Asses

Windows 8: a Monkey with Four AssesIt’s good that many people are in love with their Windows 8 experience. I don’t want to take away from that, and my perspective should not be any reflection on your choices. What you like is what you like, and I respect that.

I just can’t get over the blended UX — and I keep trying to do just that. I am trying to accommodate Microsoft’s decision to keep its feet on both sides of the riverbank. I simply am not having a great time with this new version of Windows. It’s not that I’m “biased,” it’s not that I haven’t tried, and it’s not like I’m comparing it to anything other than what it’s trying to be. I’m just confused with Windows 8. What is this supposed to be?

So, great, I’m glad you’ve found something that works well for you. I am happy to hear you singing its praises (Microsoft appreciates it, too). But slapping the beautiful, touchscreen-optimized Modern UI atop the classic Desktop makes me see Windows RT / 8 as… a four-assed monkey.

That’s my perspective. That’s my experience. If we don’t see eye-to-eye, we don’t. Obviously, you might see it as the best thing Microsoft could have done — but I see it as one big usability compromise. “You’ll get used to it” sounds like a cop out.

I think I’ve figured out what the best possible Windows 8 PC is (for maximum usability):

  • Portability (Lightweight)
  • 5+ Hour Battery Life
  • Not Plastic
  • Touchscreen
  • Keyboard
  • Around $1,000
  • Crucial: Trackpad

Given that we have to put up with Microsoft’s decisions, I’ve set out to find the optimum Windows 8 computer. I’m wholly frustrated with the bifurcated UX (it’s schizophrenic, at best). When you use Windows 8, you quickly realize that Modern is nothing more than lipstick. But, as it turns out, the lynchpin for my disappointment in other Windows 8 configurations was not having a trackpad (sounds stupid, but that’s the only way I can effectively navigate on the classic Desktop while still being able to touch the tasty Modern experience).

Looks like Surface Pro might be it, unless you know an OEM that’s making a PC that fits the bill?

One thing’s for sure: at $1,000, Windows 8 will never be an iPad killer. And, as much as Microsoft believes a Windows RT PC can kill the iPad or stave off Android tablet experiences, RT is not up to the task today.

I’m trying, here… I really am.

Image: South Park Studios

31 thoughts on “Windows 8: a Monkey with Four Asses”

  1. What will happen to users login on windows 8 when their Microsoft account gets compromised and the hacker changes the password? Let me guess.. The user might lose their files if they can’t get it back!

  2. The world needs more people who aren’t afraid to voice their opinions. Well done Chris, great article.

  3. Yeah, it was so awful how Windows 95 let you run DOS / Command Prompt programs too. Oh wait.

    And how is the new shell “lipstick?” It does not run “on top” of the Desktop as you suggested. The desktop code doesn’t even load until the first time you go there (exception being multi-mon displays).

  4. I’ve used both Android and iOS devices, and have enjoyed the experience on both – however, I don’t own one. I would love to try a Windows 8 tablet at some point, but I don’t think it will convince me to buy one. I have my own reasons – mainly I’m not the type who goes to Starbucks to surf the web. I can enjoy a cup of joe and update my status at home. Taking the internet with me 24/7 is not a priority. Call me old fashioned, but in spite of the obvious advantages, I don’t have the desire to take a portable computer everywhere I go. When I go outside, I want to connect with nature and my surroundings, not the web. But, like you say, Chris, that’s just one perspective out of many. Maybe one day I’ll decide to invest in an iOS, Android, or Windows 8 device, but for now I’m fine with my flip phone and my beast of a desktop. :) I really appreciate your perspective on technology, and always have.

  5. Maybe it’s a four assed monkey (two asses in fact), but stick your penis one butt at time
    Sorry Cris, but you’re not really trying.

  6. That’s one reason why Microsoft Account uses two-factor auth (i.e. a phone number where a text message is sent, or a separate e-mail address). This ensures that your most sensitive data is only synchronized to trusted PCs where you’ve confirmed with both your password *and* the second proof. It’s also used for account recovery in the event someone learns your password.

  7. When the iPad was first announced and released, I was a mocker! Yes, I hold up my hand and have written about this online, but I have also written online to say that I mocked before I had a serious chance to try… and once I did.. I bought it and think it’s great.

    WIndows 8, I have hammered from the initial release, and there has not been one single day in which I have not wanted to smash the PC to smithereens as it is such an annoying hotchpotch interface. Microsoft have tried to compete with Apple, in the interface stakes, and it sucks.

    Oh, its so fast…. well yes, they have went back to pushing the design colour scheme of the ZX Spectrum! Lets remove all the fluff we had previously that we said was so good, and slowed things down so much, and heck now we can say how fast everything is! Lets remove lots of colour and go for lots of white filling a full screen, YEAH! This is what the people want!

    I’m sorry, but for everyone screaming about how great Windows 8 is, please take the time to read this: as it contains information that may open those blinkered eyes up wide!!!!

    Chris has stated his points, all valid, and like him, I accept that others like this new release, but to me I want something that is logical to use… and windows has always been simple enough to use and configure any way you want.

    We can all debate till we are blue in the face, but lets come back to this in 6 or 12 months time and see who is man enough to say, I GOT IT WRONG!

    If I’m proved wrong about Windows 8, I’ll be the first one posting and saying so, As it is though, I don’t think I will be!

  8. Gordon, I agree with you. This is the first drop of Windows 8 and Surface and I suspect MS will keep updating the OS until they polish out the rough edges and the rest of the world catches up to a new computing paradigm where a device can be a tablet or laptop depending on your needs. I’m still waiting for someone to coin a new term to describe these devices.

  9. Chris –

    First, thanks for spending your own cash so that we can see kit before it’s available in Europe/UK

    I thought you previously liked Windows 8 – I’ve been running RTM on Dell XPS laptop since 8th September and as someone in love with my Jelly Bean ASUS, I totally get the combo of screen (fingers), stylus and keyboard combo, which is what should be offered by a fully-kitted MS Surface. So, as hacked you off early in the unbox, maybe the Surface should not ship without one of the keyboard covers?

    The XPS has 110mm track-pad (and separate buttons) for ‘gestures’ and I make frequent use of WindowKey combo.s, especially Windows+C for charm. Thanks for tips on like of naming groups, so I can do as I do on Jelly Bean.

    I do have some concern about the RT, having seen your unboxing – maybe the application virtualisation providing access to the likes of the streamed Office 2013 is not well ported to RT/ARM. (And hogs resources even when backgrounded.) Try Office WebApps, they quite usable.

    I’ve got 3 Surface RT on order, but am now told will be upto 3 weeks in UK – Microsoft Grrr. Will let people know how my Android / Linux supporters get on with them.

  10. The only people I hear defending Windows 8 are completely reasonable in conveying the reasons for them enjoying their experience. The only people I hear attacking Windows 8 are generally the ones who haven’t used it, or have just read about it, or have strange reasons for disliking. Stop acting as if the popular opinion is to enjoy Windows 8 when that’s not the case, all the “cool kids” are computer-illiterate Apple douchebags and hate Windows 8.

    Personally, I would not buy any mobile device without a proper OS like Windows 8 on it now. My expectations have risen, I now expect to be able to use all my programs(mostly games) in a full Windows environment. I’m not upgrading Windows 7 in my desktop, but I may build a smaller, cheaper, more energy-efficient Windows 8 computer just for Microsoft’s new digital store(mostly for Ilomilo, one of the only Xbox games I actually want to play that I won’t ever get on a Playstation device) and to give the OS a go. Heck, if I like the OS I might go ahead and sell my beast of a gaming PC, it does more than I need it to now that I rely on consoles for my games and the heat it puts out burns up my room.

    …anyways, to clarify: the popular opinion of the world at large is that Windows 8 is naht kewl even if they haven’t used it or don’t know what’s wrong with it and people who attack Windows 8 are almost universally stupid about it. I have nothing against valid complaints against the OS and even I agree that it isn’t an optimal desktop environment yet, but the fact that we could get true mobile computers is priceless. I think that’s the next big revolution in computing, especially with flip-out keyboards like on the Surface.

  11. I don’t get it…the Surface RT supports the Touch or Type covers for keyboard + trackpad input when you need to work in the Desktop. Simply detach the cover when you want to work with touch-only in the Modern UI. Why would the Pro be any different for your purposes (save for access to legacy apps)? Why are you trying to use touch in the Desktop UI at all? The hybrid approach lets you get some work done in Office with keyboard + trackpad, then seamlessly switch back to the touch environment. The $599 Surface RT with Touch Cover meets all of your “around $1000” requirements…

  12. Excuse me… by definition, a “proper OS” is software that allows the hardware to operate.
    Bubble: BURST!

    Moreover, I’ve used it. And it’s a horrendous user experience by just about every definition – unless you separate the two experiences, in which case they stand very well enough on their own. But those two experiences aren’t on their own – they’re together. This is Frankenstein’s monster.

  13. watching the W8 add it would seem that 8 is all about dancing happy people jumping in the air and swapping keyboards.

  14. After years your still the same biased even though you think your not I . My wife & I both use this “monster” you speak of. I think you just like getting attention like John dvorak. Your title insults the user that uses this os and brings your credibility down to zero in my book.. Leo laporte ,paul thurott ,ed bott, matt miller all people I trust gave it great reviews.You might want to read thurotts to learn something. I think you really need to get your head out of that monkeys #$# and stop being such a apple fanboy..Nuff said..Take care

  15. no there are many who voice their opinion but don’t have to sound like a little brat. They have more logic in their views.See positive and negative like all oses have.. This kid uses headline insults win 8 users just to prove his points…All he done was complain through his article you would think w8 was garbage..i am here it works and it works very well.

  16. Did it not hurt you Chris, being called an “Apple fanboy”? ;-)
    Although I too think that you’ve been a little too hard on this latest innovation from Microsoft in this article but I believe you’d been the same on Apple, had it come up with this kind of innovation. I don’t think you are biased, you’re just slightly over annoyed. Or maybe you set your benchmark too high for MSFT to hit.

    Also, to the folks comparing Chris’ review with other reviewers should first rethink about why they even read reviews? What’s the point if they’re all the same?

    I like the Anand’s verdict (quoting): “This isn’t an iPad competitor, nor is it an Android tablet competitor. It truly is something different. A unique perspective, not necessarily the right one, but a different one that will definitely resonate well with some (not all) users.”

  17. I know that I’m going to get hate for this, I’ve been watching lockergnome for a long time. That being said I don’t agree with his views on Windows 8. Ever since I installed Windows 8, I’ve HATED going back to 7. I love being able to use both the Desktop and the Metro Apps, especially side by side. Sure, I’m probably not as old as you guys, but still, I really like Windows 8, it feels as if I can do alot more in a shorter amount of time. I don’t mind the “ugly interface” because I do’t see the ugly, I also don’t see how they copied Apple, as some people said. Apple has never done this, they don’t have Metro, and the Desktop looks like Windows 7, which looks nothing like the Apple desktop. Alot of people say “oh I don’t see people with Windows 8 anywhere”. To them I say, you don’t get out often. If you have valid points to hate on that’s ok, but seriously, don’t say oh, it’s different, so I hate it!

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