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Is it curtains for Windows 8?
August 23, 2012 3:54 PM   Subscribe

Some early reviews of Windows 8: "The worst computing experience I've ever had." "A technological, ideological and functional failure." "I’ve felt almost totally at sea — confused, paralyzed, angry, and ultimately resigned to the pain of having to alter the way I do most of my work." (previously)

"Guaranteed to disappoint nearly everyone." "An unmitigated disaster." "A catastrophe for everyone in the PC space."

Microsoft says: we believe in people and their ability to adapt and move forward. (previously)

And if they don't?

... Windows 8 becomes the new Vista. Microsoft's anticipated revenue from Windows 8 upgrades does not materialize, hurting the company's stock price and forcing layoffs to maintain earnings. Microsoft's hardware partners are left with big stockpiles of unsalable Windows 8 PCs which they have to write down. This accelerates the share growth of the Asian PC makers, who can best withstand a price war. HP kills its PC division, and Dell is in deep trouble. Developers who bet on Metro have to live on canned tuna and string cheese. Nokia, stuck with a minority platform that European operators don't want to carry, wrestles with huge cash flow problems.
posted by Egg Shen (281 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
"They trying to drive me to Mac?"
posted by Egg Shen at 3:54 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't trust no one but myself to review something like this.
posted by smackfu at 3:56 PM on August 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


It looks great to me so I'm sure all the professional reviewers will hate it.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:00 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I ONLY CARE ABOUT IF FIREFOX AND OPENOFFICE LIBREOFFICE AND STEAM RUN ON IT.

DO THEY?!
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:01 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not a market analyst, but "new Vista" to me means "People keep buying PCs with the last good Windows OS, MS eventually regroups and tries again." 98 is to Millennium Edition as XP is to Vista as 7 is to 8.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:02 PM on August 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


Apologies if it is terribly wrong to self-link, but it seems relevant and is not my personal site. My own contribution to the pile-on.
posted by thebordella at 4:02 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


All those complainers need to learn about keyboard shortcuts.
posted by jeffamaphone at 4:03 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's a nice-looking operating system, and even more so since they "flattened" the look of desktop apps. But actually using it is pretty much baffling. At least that was my experience from when the previews came out some months ago, and from reading the reviews, it looks like the fundamental aspects of usability are unchanged since then.
posted by zsazsa at 4:03 PM on August 23, 2012


All those complainers need to learn about keyboard shortcuts.

I thought we were all supposed to be throwing away our keyboards for touchscreens, now. Isn't that what Windows 8 is all about?
posted by Jimbob at 4:05 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've been a Mac user for the past five or six years now, but I wonder how many people would actually be opposed to Microsoft just releasing an upgraded version of XP? It seems I've seen anger surrounding every Windows release since then, and I know it's the last one I really liked and which felt truly intuitive.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:06 PM on August 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Can someone explain to me the current thing with full screen apps? They're fine on my phone but unless it's a game, I never run anything in full screen on my laptop and I really never want to view an application that way when I'm connected to a 22" screen.
posted by octothorpe at 4:06 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I tried it and while I didn't hate it, I'm still confused as to why they stuck with this non-unified UI. I like the desktop bits of it and I like the tablet bits of it, but they don't mix.

Sticking with Seven.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:07 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder if there will be an emergent social trend that will vehemently anti hyperbole. Please let it come soon.
posted by dobie at 4:07 PM on August 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


I love the wild exaggerations in the reviews.

"This operating tainted me forever. My soul will never be clean."

"Windows 8 sexually assaulted me, but the police wouldn't do anything."

"I need to go kill myself now. I cannot live in a world where this monstrosity exists."
posted by wolfdreams01 at 4:07 PM on August 23, 2012 [22 favorites]


It's OK, it just needs a custom shell. Under the hood it isn't too bad, it's just got the worst junk layered on top. I can't imagine how the development team dogfooded this and didn't hate it though; the Metro/modern/Windows 8 style/whatever-it's-called-this-week layer really needs at least the option to flick a euthanasia switch and kill it on anything without a touchscreen.
posted by jaduncan at 4:07 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


jeffamaphone: requiring "normal" people to use keyboard shortcuts to use an OS with any amount of efficiency is ridiculous. They simply aren't "discoverable" the way on-screen widgets can be. And I say this as someone who has used vi/vim fulltime for more than a decade.
posted by zsazsa at 4:08 PM on August 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


I realize I'm disappointed because I'm now thinking of Microsoft as the underdog and I like it when underdogs to do things that impress all naysayers. As someone who used despise Microsoft and everything it seemed to stand for, I find this deeply weird. I mean, I've grown up a bit since then and am less likely to see the world in such stark black and white terms, but still. It's weird.
posted by treepour at 4:10 PM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Can someone explain to me the current thing with full screen apps?

I have to admit, since I got an Macbook Air, I've started to like full-screen apps for some purposes. Evernote on one screen, Terminal on another, Chrome on another, and a quick swipe across the touchpad to switch between them. Great on a little laptop to maximize screen real-estate and quickly switch between them.

However, I've got no interest in running apps full-screen and switching like this on my desktop with a 22" screen and a mouse.
posted by Jimbob at 4:10 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like how they've blown up a favicon and called it the new logo.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 4:10 PM on August 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


Can someone explain to me the current thing with full screen apps? They're fine on my phone but unless it's a game, I never run anything in full screen on my laptop and I really never want to view an application that way when I'm connected to a 22" screen.

Because Xerox PARC were apparently just too advanced using that "windowing" system? If I hear anything from a metro developer about the old Mac one button joke I will roll my eyes so hard. The Metro apps are just unbelievably Fisher Price. Not XP Fisher Price, either. Like Fisher Price level "actually could believably run on a My First Computer". It's astonishing.

I'm sure on a tablet it's OK for some values of "still not as good as either Android or iOS" but that's about it.
posted by jaduncan at 4:11 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


jaduncan: It's OK, it just needs a custom shell.

I'm betting that Stardock is cooking something up. They came up with Start8 pretty quickly after the user previews came out, and I'm hoping to see a more fleshed-out version of that.
posted by zsazsa at 4:12 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


the Metro/modern/Windows 8 style/whatever-it's-called-this-week layer really needs at least the option to flick a euthanasia switch and kill it on anything without a touchscreen.

From reading the reviews, it's utterly bizarre to me that there isn't one. The whole idea of Win8 is that it's got one interface that works with touchscreens and another that works with mice/trackpads, so either type of device can run the same programs. Which is great until you start funneling everybody into a single interface for certain tasks (Metro only at startup, going deep into settings dumps you to classic Windows, etc.). Talk about half-baked.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:13 PM on August 23, 2012


"The best analogy I have for you is the following. Say you're having a meal. There's the table before you, with tons of plates and lovely meals. And there's the menu, which you might want to consult now and then. [...] Now, using the Microsoft moronity equivalent, the menu is located under the table, so you have to flip the table over every time you want to consult the menu."
posted by oulipian at 4:13 PM on August 23, 2012 [16 favorites]


a metro developer

They're now called "Windows 8-style UI developers".
posted by Egg Shen at 4:14 PM on August 23, 2012


The first two "reviews" were written by histrionic drama queens. The rest were actually very helpful. I really want to try Windows 8 in the real world but wow, it sounds like quite a few steps back. Sad to hear and read.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 4:14 PM on August 23, 2012


After trying Windows 8 a little while ago I've come to the conclusion that Windows releases are like Star Trek movies -- every other one sucks.

Fortunately, Windows 7 is quite good, so I guess I'm just going to have to use that* for the next decade.

* For games, at least. I finally drank the Mac Flavor-Aid last year and found the taste quite agreeable.
posted by neckro23 at 4:14 PM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I can't imagine how the development team dogfooded this and didn't hate it though; the Metro/modern/Windows 8 style/whatever-it's-called-this-week layer really needs at least the option to flick a euthanasia switch and kill it on anything without a touchscreen.

You're under the impression that the development team has anything to do with what MS actually releases. The marketing people get ahold of whatever the trend is and then the development team has to build something to fit. The individual developers probably understand nuance, but the marketing people have this bizarre ideal of unifying product lines even when it makes zero sense.

"Desktops have start menus, let's make phone have start menus, it's a great idea that'll work well because everything will be the same!"

Then

"This interface is great for a tablet and phone interface! Let's shove it on everything and it'll work well because everything will be the same!"

A good release does sneak out every now and then, Windows XP, Windows 7, but by and large the marketing people have full control there, usability be damned.

I'm pretty sure it's not a developer decision to have 7 or 8 different releases of Windows for every version either, that's entirely marketing.
posted by mikesch at 4:15 PM on August 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


I'm betting that Stardock is cooking something up. They came up with Start8 pretty quickly after the user previews came out, and I'm hoping to see a more fleshed-out version of that.

Yes. Because people with a machine with no Windows 7 drivers will throw money at them. Pointed coins if they haven't finished the coding yet.
posted by jaduncan at 4:15 PM on August 23, 2012


The first thing that I do when I have a fresh windows machine is to go an turn off every single GUI feature that post-dates Windows 95 and switch to the Windows Classic Theme. It doesn't look like 8 is going to let me do that so I'm going to hold onto 7 for as long as I can.
posted by octothorpe at 4:15 PM on August 23, 2012 [41 favorites]


Also, fuck this:

He doesn't go into details about why he believes Windows 8 will be a catastrophe. But part of it seems to be the closed nature of the Windows Store and Metro apps. In Windows 8, Microsoft is becoming more closed, like Apple. You'll only be able to install Metro apps via the store, and Microsoft will control what's in the store and what's not.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 4:15 PM on August 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


"Windows 8-style UI developers".

Ahead of their time.
posted by jaduncan at 4:16 PM on August 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


I can't imagine how the development team dogfooded this and didn't hate it though

In addition to what mikesch said:

I'm afraid Microsoft has no idea what it's walking into. The culture there under Steve Ballmer and Steven Sinofsky is not very open to criticism. They don't want to hear bad news, so they're not listening.
posted by Egg Shen at 4:19 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think they should be commended for updating their traditional workflow from the heady days of Windows 3 - start DOS to run Windows to launch a full-screen DOS application.

I've always been a bit surprised that no-one has called Apple on using Explorer from Windows 3 as their model for launching applications.
posted by davemee at 4:21 PM on August 23, 2012


jaduncan, I just wanna say that I love how you used "dogfood" as a verb. I'm familiar with the "eating your own dog food" expression, but "dogfood" as verb is new to me.
posted by MattMangels at 4:23 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


"This interface is great for a tablet and phone interface! Let's shove it on everything and it'll work well because everything will be the same!"

Eh, I think it's a better idea than you're making it sound, at least w/r/t Win8. "We want to get some penetration in the tablet market because it's cutting into PCs. But the reason people use Windows is because it runs everything. If we come out with a brand-new OS and all the programs have to be coded from scratch, we kill our own selling point. What if we had the same OS between tablets and PCs, so everything on the one platform automatically runs on the other?"

Then they screwed it up.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:23 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not a market analyst, but "new Vista" to me means "People keep buying PCs with the last good Windows OS, MS eventually regroups and tries again." 98 is to Millennium Edition as XP is to Vista as 7 is to 8.

The problem is, Vista came out when the desktop market was roaring. There Was No Alternative. Win8 is coming out when the desktop market is staring into the abyss: HP is down 41% since February. Dell is down 35%. There's widespread speculation that they may exit the desktop market entirely, rather than eat losses on desktops packaged with an OS nobody wants. And that would be disastrous for Microsoft.
posted by mek at 4:24 PM on August 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Then they screwed it up.

Exactly. They could have come up with some nice elegant unification of the two interfaces instead of the mess they created. They basically punted and put the load on the user. We have gorgeous high definition displays and input devices oriented to windowed interfaces, but God help us if we want to look at more than one application at once. If you want to do things the old way you have to deal with this really horrible collision between the two interfaces with no way around it.

We're probably just talking about this as geeks though. For the large large majority of users the Microsoft way is probably best, with a few tweaks. Displays are getting smaller, not bigger, and lower resolution, not higher resolution. Cheap crappy laptops rule the consumer windows market now and Windows 9, which will be the version people will actually use, will probably be perfect for them.
posted by mikesch at 4:28 PM on August 23, 2012


I talked to someone yesterday who was quite happy with the preview release. It turns out he never uses the start menu. Shortcut icons on the desktop for everything, just like he's been presumably doing since XP or earlier.
posted by figurant at 4:29 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why can't they simply decide not to build a bunch of Windows 8 desktops? Is Microsoft going to refuse to sell them any more Windows 7 licenses?
posted by Justinian at 4:30 PM on August 23, 2012


I think an all-Metro Windows would be awesome if it supported side-by-side on large/wide screens and had good switching ideas. Basically a tiling wm with 1 or 2 tiles per screen, plus a good application menu.
posted by JoeBlubaugh at 4:30 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Why can't they simply decide not to build a bunch of Windows 8 desktops? Is Microsoft going to refuse to sell them any more Windows 7 licenses?

Marketing payments for "we recommend Windows $CURRENT" all over the place, generally. You don't get that for old releases.
posted by jaduncan at 4:31 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


(PS - are there any good ways to get side-by-side tiling on OS X? My screen is too big for fullscreen mode to be useful.)
posted by JoeBlubaugh at 4:31 PM on August 23, 2012


Exactly. They could have come up with some nice elegant unification of the two interfaces instead of the mess they created.

Or they could have not unified at all except on the backend, but I guess they were too in love with their new toy for that.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:31 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


"Windows Vista 8 with Windows XP 7 downgrade option"
posted by double block and bleed at 4:32 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is bizarre. Apple has left Microsoft a huge opportunity by refusing to attempt any sort of enterprise end-to-end solution, and instead of sticking to what they have been successful with for decades, Microsoft is going after the saturated tablet market?

Meanwhile, all of this cross-platform angst has pushed everyone to web-based everything, and soon the window for Microsoft to hold on to their marketshare in enterprise environments is going to completely disappear.
posted by deanklear at 4:34 PM on August 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


Why can't they simply decide not to build a bunch of Windows 8 desktops? Is Microsoft going to refuse to sell them any more Windows 7 licenses?

Probably. I remember trying to buy a low-end laptop around the time Vista came out. None of the laptops I wanted could run Vista properly, but they all had it because MS didn't want to sell XP anymore. In the end I had to get one from Dell, who seemed to be the only people who had any XP licences left.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:34 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


"New Microsoft logo looks like something I just came up with in MS Paint"

Too bad they didn't get rid of the text part of the logo. The iconography is pretty clean and beautiful, by itself.

(PS - are there any good ways to get side-by-side tiling on OS X? My screen is too big for fullscreen mode to be useful.)

Yes, it's called Flexiglass. It's the one thing about Windows 7 that I love, which I could finally bring over to my Macs. Worth every penny.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:35 PM on August 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


Meh, you could more or less substitute all of those quotes for the switch from Macos to osx, from dos to windows, or more recently, from gnome to unity.

Paradigm shifts always bring out the worst.

(Note, I've not used windows 8, so it may actually be like pouring battery acid into a papercut, but somehow, I doubt it)
posted by madajb at 4:35 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just found this gem in the Microsoft defense brief - offered as an example of "you all bitched about it at first but time proved us right":

[When Windows 95 was released] the Start button was so undiscoverable that, despite having the word Start right on it, bouncing “Click here to begin” text had to be added to the taskbar after early test releases so that people could figure out how to get started using the programs on their PC. Of course, once people figured out the “trick” of the Start button, it stuck with them, and then they were good to use it forever more.
posted by Egg Shen at 4:36 PM on August 23, 2012


Windows 8 is Microsoft's version of OS X 10.0 – the new UI is gorgeous, as you're frequently reminded when the ugly old-school bits poke through the duct-tape.

If they're smart, expect a free 8.5 upgrade in 6 months with far more ubiquitous Metro
posted by adamsc at 4:38 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Meanwhile, all of this cross-platform angst has pushed everyone to web-based everything, and soon the window for Microsoft to hold on to their marketshare in enterprise environments is going to completely disappear.

BYOD really hurts MS at the enterprise level unless they get serious about cross-platform anyhow. You can't get away without good Mac support now, and iOS and Android are close to being on that absolute requirement list. Hell, even Linux support is now a bullet point feature.
posted by jaduncan at 4:38 PM on August 23, 2012


I've got a Technet subscription, and the final RTM build went live on the 15th, and I immediately installed it on everything, and I absolutely love it. I think it's terrific.

So, you know, whatever.
posted by kbanas at 4:39 PM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


My Nan tries windows 8 for the first time
Not my nan

So for the die-hard windows users, this seems like it makes learning to use a Mac less of an ordeal than figuring out the entirely new UI in Win8. I just wonder if I'm going to end up kicking myself for not shorting the hell out of MS stock right now.
posted by mullingitover at 4:40 PM on August 23, 2012


Just for kicks, I wonder how the superlatives and colorful speech in these reviews compares to the reactions that long time Mac users had to Mac OS X when it was first released? Granted, that was a much smaller group of people who probably had much more uniform use cases...but still, it's interesting to look at these kinds of things with some perspective.

I have no interest in even trying Windows 8 and no dog in this race, I'm just curious.
posted by trackofalljades at 4:40 PM on August 23, 2012


Hmm, apparently you can do split-screen with Metro apps, but it doesn't work too well in my RP build. You open more than one app, then you go to the upper left corner and drag the app on the screen.

Also, if you left click in the bottom left corner, you open a useful little menu, which gotta be a bit confusing for novice users "Er, what's the Event Viewer?"
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 4:41 PM on August 23, 2012


I've hated Microsoft for a decade at least now, but I'm finding myself rooting for them, because an OS landscape with just apple and google copying apple is kind of boring. The metro interface is pretty and original looking. I'm willing to give it an honest chance when it comes out.

I have to say I'm not particularly optimistic though.

Personally I think that Ballmer should have turned over the keys to the kingdom to the Xbox 360 team, since they're the only part of the company that has a track record with consumer oriented ui design.
posted by empath at 4:41 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Usability Expert: Windows 8 on PCs is Confusing, a Cognitive Burden
posted by homunculus at 4:44 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Having looked at the Windows 8 previews, I will never use that for a desktop PC. Never. I will move completely to Linux first. And try to figure out how to play my beloved games using WINE or something. Anything but subjecting myself to using with mouse-and-keyboard an OS so obviously meant for touchscreens.
posted by Justinian at 4:44 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


My Nan tries windows 8 for the first time
Not my nan


Also could be titled: one down, 169 receptionists left to train.
posted by jaduncan at 4:44 PM on August 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


And try to figure out how to play my beloved games using WINE or something.

Steam's coming out on Linux, fyi.
posted by jaduncan at 4:44 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


madajb: "Paradigm shifts always bring out the worst."

I'd be all for it if it improved the way I use Windows, like the Start button did, like peek did, like shoving a window to the side for 50% of the screen or to the top for full screen did, like jump lists and the Win7 taskbar did, but it doesn't. It adds extra clicks, it hides common functions, and it divides applications into Metro and notMetro. It's terrible.

However, if that Stardock Start menu linked upthread works the way it claims to, I may just upgrade, get the apparent performance improvements, and have Metro be a few gig of wasted space on my hard drive.

Oh, once MacType works on 8, that is. ClearType is still horrible.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:45 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


And the reports of it being much harder to use than a mac are vastly exaggerated; except for new the mile-high / square mile menus in the corners and edges, and the full screen start menu, it's still good old windows. cmd.exe is still there, and you can still write batch files. It's also a bit more intuitive re: administration, at least from my point of view. For instance, the task manager is nicer and the event viewer is easier to use.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 4:45 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm just sad they're letting wonderful stuff like LINQ-to-SQL and WPF/Silverlight languish on the vine. They have some world-class technology and the credibility to support it for years and years but instead they became obsessed with chasing the cool instead of the cheap. Remember that Microsoft was the "open" and cheap option in 1985, compared to IBM, Digital and the *NIX vendors.
posted by deo rei at 4:46 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


My first thought was that it looked like a Tumblr photo blog. I've never looked at a Tumblr blog and thought, "gee, if only I could launch programs from here!"

Then again, I'm a(n increasingly grateful) Mac user.
posted by sheprime at 4:47 PM on August 23, 2012


Steam's coming out on Linux, fyi.

I'm hoping for SteamOS, myself.
posted by Justinian at 4:48 PM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Personally I think that Ballmer should have turned over the keys to the kingdom to the Xbox 360 team, since they're the only part of the company that has a track record with consumer oriented ui design.

In that regard, Bach and Allard leaving Microsoft were huge losses for the company. The Xbox 360 isn't perfect, but the group had a style ethos and sense of purpose that could have saved the rest of the company.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:49 PM on August 23, 2012


Blazecock Pileon: "The Xbox 360 isn't perfect, but the group had a style ethos and sense of purpose that could have saved the rest of the company."

Recent updates seem to have bloated the Xbox OS. It's a chore to page through the thing to get to my games now.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:52 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I ONLY CARE ABOUT IF FIREFOX AND OPENOFFICE LIBREOFFICE AND STEAM RUN ON IT.

Oh crap...I just realized that this is going to have ramifications to my day job, as well. Why did I let them add "& IT" to the middle of my job title?
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:52 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been running Windows 8 in both 32 and 64 bit versions for 3 or 4 months now. It mostly runs fine with everything I used on XP and Win7 (except the epson software for my 3170 scanner, and the logitech setpoint software).

The lack of a start menu is good for LOLs sometimes. Like the bank of unidentified "uninstall" icons in the start screen from my various installed applications. (You want to know which program you're uninstalling??) Mostly, the use of keyboard shortcuts works file for me. And the search mostly works, but seems not to find some things. For those you have to go searching in the file system where the start menu folders are stored.

Windows 8 isn't the new Vista. Vista was a piece of shit that didn't work at all. Win8 works well, in my experience, it is just presented really badly. I haven't decided yet if I'll buy the upgrades for my 2 machines or not.
posted by DarkForest at 4:53 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


> "New Microsoft logo looks like something I just came up with in MS Paint"

RIP CLIPPY NEVER FORGET
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 4:53 PM on August 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


Oh, also, I've had no trouble with LibreOffice and Firefox on win8. I don't know about Steam though.
posted by DarkForest at 4:54 PM on August 23, 2012


I don't know that Steam compatibility was the problem so much as Gabe Newell saying Win8 was anathema to Valve because reasons.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:55 PM on August 23, 2012


I don't know about Steam though.

Gaben isn't about to pass up that much money.
posted by jaduncan at 4:56 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, also, I've had no trouble with LibreOffice and Firefox on win8. I don't know about Steam though.


I've used Steam under Windows 8 for several months and it works like a charm. Shocking, I know.
posted by kbanas at 4:56 PM on August 23, 2012


Oh god, the worst part about this is how much I'm going to hear about it from the Linux/Mac people.
posted by Legomancer at 4:57 PM on August 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Win8 works well, in my experience, it is just presented really badly.

A user interface which is presented really badly is by definition a failure of a user interface! It's like saying that a meal looks very nice, it just tastes very bad.
posted by Justinian at 4:57 PM on August 23, 2012 [20 favorites]


I don't love it, but it's not as bad as I thought. I installed the RTM version, since I'll have to start developing applications under it soon. It takes a while to adjust, and it's jarring to hop between metro style and desktop style apps, but in the end it's not making much difference in how I interact with the applications I currently use. It uses the corners for things, which is actually nice when you get used to it. Getting to the start menu is actually easier. I find it easier to find applications and search for things. A lot of things have been moved to different places, but once you get used to the new location it's no big deal.

It will be interesting to see it on a Surface, and then go back and forth between Surface and PC.
posted by uberfunk at 4:58 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


jeffamaphone: "All those complainers need to learn about keyboard shortcuts."

My brain only has room for one set of shortcuts and that place is currently filled with vi commands.
posted by octothorpe at 4:59 PM on August 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


What interests me about this is that Microsoft is clearly deciding to move in two directions on this one. Up to now, there was a tacit acknowledgement that one or more of their confusingly named releases would be for the enterprise market. Even Vista had a biz release (which no biz really ever bought.)

This is the first release from them in the modern computing era that they will be marketing a release exclusively to the home/tablet non-biz market. They will have to maintain Windows 7 for the enterprise for a few years.

Maybe they are assuming the enterprise will eventually move to 8. They won't. Not in the current form, and with the changes to the APIs required. Windows 8 is only for home users, and I will bet folding money will never make much penetration into the enterprise.

This has the side-effect of diluting their up-to-now ubiquitous presence; one would get used to using Windows at the office, which makes it easy to make the same choice at home. Windows 8 is the first release I can remember that seems to deliberately break this monolithic approach.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:00 PM on August 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


Is it an age thing that I am obsessive about running programs (sorry, apps, GET OFF MY LAWN) full-screen? I grew up with screens so small that windowed programs were really only useful if you ran them full-screen, and other than file browsers and tiny management utilities, I just can't handle running things in tiny little boxes all over my now-gargantuan screen.

I am currently looking at MeFi in real estate where the entire half of the screen -- the right half -- is just white except for long lines of text that run to the border. I don't need to have the window this wide. But running Chrome in a box, and not in full-screen mode, gives me the willies somehow.

I also work with people who are younger than The Simpsons, so I guess I'm kind of feeling my age in a few ways. But is windowing your apps a young person's game, or am I just weird and crazy as well as being kind of old?
posted by Shepherd at 5:00 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Are you kidding me? Drastically changing the UI is what Microsoft does on every release! The first step it to make your system look like Win2K again.

Apple has left Microsoft a huge opportunity by refusing to attempt any sort of enterprise end-to-end solution

This is because Apple knows that there is no money to be made in the enterprise unless your gear costs $100K or more.
posted by eriko at 5:01 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


My brain only has room for one set of shortcuts and that place is currently filled with vi commands.

dd them?
posted by jaduncan at 5:01 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


JoeBlubaugh: "42(PS - are there any good ways to get side-by-side tiling on OS X? My screen is too big for fullscreen mode to be useful."

Spectacle gives you configurable keyboard shortcuts for this.
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:01 PM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I still do a bit of freelance Windows and general IT support, and my clients keep asking me about Windows 8 and if they should upgrade to it.

My response is generally along the lines of "No. Plan on sticking with Windows 7 for as long as possible. Did you like Vista? Did you ever see Millennium Edition? Right, this is going to be worse. Much worse."

Metro or whatever they're calling it now isn't a suitable UI for a business environment, especially small businesses where they have under 10 computers. It might be fine as a tablet or accessory, but it is not a production environment.

Small business users need as much information as they can get on a single screen, or if they're lucky a dual screen desktop. Most of my small business clients have their workstations arranged to be incredibly information-dense to the point that when I walk up to the screen I'm actually bewildered and information-overloaded, but like a messy desk they know where everything is, and they've arranged things just the way they want them for maximum input and output.

What they don't need is widgets all over their screen like some kind of smartphone. They don't need acres of wasted pixels for some excessively pretty UI full of colorful tiles. They definitely don't need a touch-screen oriented UI.

The basic Windows UI isn't broken. In fact, it's actually very efficient and it's competitive with OS X. Sure, it's showing its age, but they didn't change the format of the typewriter for 100 years, either. They still haven't, really. It works.

Windows 8 is going to be a clusterfuck, but I'll probably make money off of it by downgrading Windows 8 machines to 7 or even XP and dealing with related frustrations.

I will say that the "Metro" style interface works fine on a phone. In fact, it's pretty good in the latest version of Windows Phone that I played with courtesy of a WP developer friend, but Windows Phone isn't Windows 8, even if it looks like it.

My official advice is to avoid Windows 8 like the plague and vote with your dollars. Don't buy it. Don't buy new machines that can't be downgraded and supported in 7. Buy used Windows 7 machines if you must. Don't let Microsoft's marketing department shove this crap down your throats just because they erroneously think that it's what we want just because people are buying lots of phones and tablets from some other computer maker.

Seriously, I hope most of Microsoft's marketing/planning department gets shitcanned with prejudice over this tail-wagging-the-dog scenario. It's ridiculous to the point of high tragicomedy.
posted by loquacious at 5:04 PM on August 23, 2012 [33 favorites]


It's like saying that a meal looks very nice, it just tastes very bad.

I'd agree with that. I'm not defending Win8 at all. But at least its not food poison, the best equivalent metaphor for Vista. I'm just saying that if you can get past the UI, it is stable and quick. At least for me, anyway. And I'm running the 32 bit version on a 5 year old laptop with 2Gb memory. There is even an XP app that I've used forever that was pretty flaky on Win7, but runs fine on Win8.
posted by DarkForest at 5:07 PM on August 23, 2012


A user interface which is presented really badly is by definition a failure of a user interface

I don't think that is necessarily the case, I can imagine all kinds of applications for which the ui might be opaque to the new user, but which would be extraordinarily efficient for the expert -- the Linux command line for one.
posted by empath at 5:08 PM on August 23, 2012


My Windows 7 desktop looks like straight-up Windows 2000 desktop, nice straight lines and sharp corners, no childish rounded anything, crisp blue and grey color scheme. I do wish that the Windows 7 search wasn't so terrible (it is much worse than that of XP) and that the Windows photo viewer showed animated GIFs in all of their corny glory.

For that problem I have installed Windows 7 GIF viewer.
I also like QTTabBar, which created tabs in Windows Explorer.

Does anyone know of something that can replace/augment Windows 7 search so, for example, wildcards work again? Searching for "*.pdf"and finding no pdfs where I know there are thousands is a bit problematic.

thebordella, I love this quote from your review: "In other words, Microsoft has designed Windows 8 for toys -- the needs of real business users be damned." Reminds me of The Onion's take on Mac's "simplified" UIs: "It remains to be seen whether the Wheel will catch on in the business world, where people use computers for actual work and not just dicking around."
posted by dhens at 5:19 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


but I wonder how many people would actually be opposed to Microsoft just releasing an upgraded version of XP?

Like The New Beetle or something.
posted by spitbull at 5:19 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Small business users need as much information as they can get on a single screen, or if they're lucky a dual screen desktop.

But if they don't use the metro apps, they'll be able to do the very same thing on Win8. Except if they were using whatever MS replaced Outlook Express with in Win7.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 5:20 PM on August 23, 2012


dhens: the old free version of Servant Salamander (Salam152.zip) works for that. Alt-F7.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 5:23 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


But is windowing your apps a young person's game

No. I've used Windows since 3.0, and I ran everything fullscreen until I got a computer with a monitor greater than 1024x768. It took some training, but I realized that seeing more than one app at once was a boon to my productivity. One funny thing, though, is that most cheap laptops these days have screens that aren't much more resolute than 1024x768.
posted by zsazsa at 5:25 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why I diligently maintain and upgrade my two computers. One with XP installed the other with Linux.
posted by notreally at 5:29 PM on August 23, 2012


I like parts of the metro aesthetic, but the more I read about Windows 8, the more it looks like they took a couple of of Apple's shittiest "innovations" in their recent OS's (I'm looking at you, Launchpad, you colossal, ill-thought out piece of shit, and a closed down App Store), and decided that was the route to go for Windows 8.

This industry badly needs some fresh ideas in the OS space, because from where I sit it looks like both Microsoft and Apple are running their OS's into the ground.
posted by modernnomad at 5:29 PM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


(also yeah, full-screen only apps? Whether in Mountain Lion or Windows 8, that is another fucking dumb idea).
posted by modernnomad at 5:31 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


JoeBlubaugh: "42(PS - are there any good ways to get side-by-side tiling on OS X? My screen is too big for fullscreen mode to be useful."

Spectacle gives you configurable keyboard shortcuts for this.


As does BetterTouchTool, which also gives you Aero Snap-style window snapping.
posted by The Lamplighter at 5:33 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can speak as a lifelong Mac user who even paid money to Apple for the Public Beta of OS X back in 1999.

I was amazed by the UI at the time (which today disgusts me) but my main thought wasn't "oh no! this screws up my years-long comfort inside of an OS!", it was "okay.. so.... what can I do here?".

At the time of the Public Beta, there was no software. You had what Apple made for it, and that was about it. Everything else ran inside the OS 9 "Classic Environment". Basically, it was useless. I'd launch it to show friends who were curious, and they'd go "wow.. that's cool" but after 5 minutes, they'd say "....and I can't wait until a few years from now when you can actually DO something with it".

That remained the case pretty much up until 10.1. That's when developers realized OS X wasn't just a fad, many of the biggest gripes and bugs were worked out (or workable) and people could feasibly use the OS full time. That's when I switched. I had just bought a new laptop and decided OS X 10.1 was going to be the only OS for it. A week later, I installed it on my desktop, and I don't think I've launched into OS 9 ever since.

The difference at that time was that OS X required a whole new codebase for running apps. Everything needed to be updated for it, or else it was going to run in "Classic" mode. Since Classic mode made almost no use of all the modern advancements of OS X, you pretty much steered away from ever using it. I can remember the moment I got spoiled by OS X's multithreading and watched the entire Classic environment crash and fall with 10 running apps because a text editor made a wrong turn.

While I know Classic is removed from OS X of today, I honestly don't know when they took it away as I don't remember the last time I used it. Apple successfully transitioned me from Classic Mac OS to OS X PPC to OS X Intel, and while it seemed a little wonky at times, they were clearly on a path to something better and my workflow never had to suffer because of it.

These days, Apple is at the top of their game and have arguably the most profitable and popular consumer devices in the world. Because of that, they're slowly folding in some familiar iOS UI interactions to OS X, to make things a little more integrated and familiar.

It doesn't seem like Windows phones, with this new UI, have been out long enough for people to become comfortable and familiar with them to be prepared for an entire OS based on UI conventions, gestures, and interface.

Maybe Microsoft will be right - the hardcore geeks and programmers and such will stick with Win7, and the consumer market will say "Finally! JUST the programs and widgets I want, and NOTHING ELSE!" and be very happy with it. Who knows.

All I can figure is that putting Steve "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share" Ballmer (who is at BEST a driven middle-management type who thrives on power struggles), at the helm of a behemoth like Microsoft, is likely their biggest mistake in their history and could very well bury them. Get rid of him and promote someone with passion and creativity, and THEN we'll see what Microsoft is capable of.
posted by revmitcz at 5:35 PM on August 23, 2012 [13 favorites]


just releasing an upgraded version of XP?

Yes, please. Over here. See me? With my hand up frantically waving?
posted by DarkForest at 5:36 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, are the metro apps any better in the RTM version? They were laughably bad in the preview versions.
posted by DarkForest at 5:38 PM on August 23, 2012


With my hand up frantically waving?

I'm afraid that due to the innovative Xbox Kinect(tm) integration you've just deleted your tax returns for the last five years.
posted by jaduncan at 5:39 PM on August 23, 2012 [42 favorites]


So the question is, at what point do operatings systems stop being tightly tied to their window managers?

I use a tiling window manager on Linux when it's up to me. Some people have a lot of trouble with something like that and would never get any benefit from it, but one of the nice things about Linux - and one that it's gotten right for a long time now - is that changing your window manager is damned simple. I've used custom shells on Windows and, well, there's always a bit of terror and a lot of putting up with awkwardness.

It's nice that with Metro Microsoft is almost acknowledging that window managers aren't one-size-fits-all, that sometimes one thing is better than another... except that they're trying to treat their classic interface that everyone is used to as the elephant in the room rather than an old friend, which is just a mistake.

I don't think the traditional Windows window manager is anything more than serviceable, but since I started using a Mac at work recently I almost miss the damn thing. The OSX manager is like it but with a few other concepts haphazardly bolted on; virtual desktops are great and all, but is there actually anyone who wants alt+tab to switch between applications rather than windows?

Anyway, even if Metro goes down in flames, if it introduces the general public to the concept of multiple ways to move windows around on the same machine it could be good for everyone.
posted by 23 at 5:42 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: "New Microsoft logo looks like something I just came up with in MS Paint"

fwiw, I read the new logo as MicrosoH. Pointless ligatures suck.

posted by iamkimiam at 5:57 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know why that's in italics. I'm actually intending to say what I said, not pre-quote myself.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:59 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I don't know why that's in italics. I'm actually intending to say what I said, not pre-quote myself."

IT'S ALL EMPHASIS, ALL THE TIME.
posted by jaduncan at 6:02 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


23 - is there actually anyone who wants alt+tab to switch between applications rather than windows?

Me. It's quite possibly Stockholm Syndrome at this point, but after 6-7 years of OSX I find that the overhead of the distinct switch between windows of an application (command `) and applications (command tab) has disappeared, while efficiency feels marginally increased. I miss it when I'm back on Windows.

I would be quite happy to never see red, yellow and green buttons again though, but between keyboard shortcuts and installing [ShiftIt, Spectacles, ...] they aren't an active pain.
posted by minedev at 6:11 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Win8 is tolerable after I install ClassicShell (or Start8, mentioned above) and skip the Metro crap entirely.

Heck, I still use the "Classic" Windows theme on Win7 at work. Could never stand the default "Playskool My First Operating System" green-and-purple-and-too-much-wasted-real-estate XP theme...

Of course, all my running of Windows, save for a single machine that I use for gaming, is under VMWare Fusion on a Mac either at home or work.
posted by mrbill at 6:19 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


After trying Windows 8 a little while ago I've come to the conclusion that Windows releases are like Star Trek movies -- every other one sucks.

I came here to post that. Said the same thing to my wife last night.

Apparently Microsoft knows it and plans to release the next version quite soon.
posted by Foosnark at 6:22 PM on August 23, 2012


JoeBlubaugh: "(PS - are there any good ways to get side-by-side tiling on OS X? My screen is too big for fullscreen mode to be useful.)"

You've gotten a bunch of recs already, but I tried them all and settled on Moom. It allows both keyboard shortcuts and makes it easy to drag the sizes of your windows at will.
posted by Apropos of Something at 6:22 PM on August 23, 2012


A Cognitive Burden is either my new sock puppet or the name of my next grind project.
posted by Existential Dread at 6:23 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know of something that can replace/augment Windows 7 search so, for example, wildcards work again? Searching for "*.pdf"and finding no pdfs where I know there are thousands is a bit problematic.

Agent Ransack. It is free, fast, and simple. I've used it for years.
posted by Bort at 6:24 PM on August 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


minedev, thanks. I usually have many applications but very few with more than one window, but I guess if your arrangement differs much from that it could be handy.

I still think it's crazy Witch is $14, though.
posted by 23 at 6:25 PM on August 23, 2012


I'm now depressed that I procrastinated on buying a new computer for years (still creaking along on XP) and now by the time I scrape the funds together the Windows 8 disaster will be in full swing.
posted by Existential Dread at 6:26 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


You know what I could really go for, especially if the desktop market is going to become a niche reserved for business? Some good old O/S 2. Let's get some IBM up in here.
posted by maryr at 6:31 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Blah blah blah, computer drama. Been there done that. I need to get out more.
posted by polymodus at 6:31 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm now depressed that I procrastinated on buying a new computer for years (still creaking along on XP) and now by the time I scrape the funds together the Windows 8 disaster will be in full swing.
posted by Existential Dread at 2:26 AM on August 24 [1 favorite +] [!]


Eponysterical.
posted by jaduncan at 6:40 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


JoeBlubaugh: "PS - are there any good ways to get side-by-side tiling on OS X? My screen is too big for fullscreen mode to be useful."

moom
posted by silence at 6:41 PM on August 23, 2012


This is what I imagine happened. There was somebody high in the suit foodchain at Microsoft who insisted that users not be allowed to boot straight into the desktop, rather than the new Metro (I'll call it Metro because we all know what that means -- how incredibly stupid was it of MS to let it go so long without making sure they could legally use that? Yeah.) UI, which is just a start menu replacement, when it comes down to it. 'People just need to get used to it', they said. 'We need to make them use it, and they'll come around.'

They stuck to their guns in the face of dissent. They refused to listen to people who said that the Metro UI would be a massive pain in the ass for desktop users, and that a weird FrankenUI that mixed fullscreen tablet-style app metaphors with the traditional detached windows of the desktop metaphor would confuse and annoy users at every level of competence. They commanded that Metro be the default UI, and that the desktop must be demoted.

They were, of course, pigheaded and wrong.

The idea of having a single codebase that could be deployed on everything (if not phones) from desktops down to tablets -- good idea.

The proposition that a touch-friendly UI would be increasingly important in future, at least at the tablet level -- valid.

The thinking that a refresh of the old, creaky start menu system (which most users don't drill down into much anymore, beyond the first, system-tool level, the pinned shortcuts, and the search) was overdue -- spot on.

But the arrogance of forcing us (most of us, when it comes down to it -- almost all of us, until and if MS makes inroads into tablets) into booting into a UI that was not designed with desktop/laptop in mind? Shockingly hostile to their users.

I'll go Win8, because a $39 upgrade license is too cheap to ignore, and there are under the hood improvements and so on, but I'll be using whatever hacks come out to hide Metro unless I want to see it and just stay in the desktop.

I think Win8 will be a fiasco, but I also think MS will realize with the next Windows version that they've either got to rethink how their UI needs to adapt to the device it's being used on and do a lot more work in making that elegant, or go with a single codebase but different, complementary device-specific UIs rather than this weird hybrid. Which is what they should have done this time.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:43 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


any good ways to get side-by-side tiling on OS X?

Moom is elegant.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:43 PM on August 23, 2012


I'm imagining a campaign of little pop-up windows with a picture of Clippy saying "Miss me yet?"
posted by ShutterBun at 6:43 PM on August 23, 2012


I don't understand the hyperbolic vitriol on this thread. The live tiles provide more information, faster. It's not just a replacement for the start menu, it's an entirely slimmer way of providing referents for in-app or on-platform information. The potential for enterprise is enormous, and explains MS's interest in Yammer, since now a boatload of useful internal company information can be presented right on the home screen, using a private version of the "app store" that is company specific. One can debate whether or not these changes are useful, in the long run, but the combination of "worst UI ever" and "no hope for enterprise adoption" is either willful ignorance or joyful disregard for the specifics of the new OS.
posted by hank_14 at 6:48 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does the full version still dump every single program option, readme, and weblink that would have gone into nested Start Menu folders directly onto the Metro screen as full-sized tiles? Because that was the most hilarious "we've put very little thought into this" bit from the RCs.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:50 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't rush Win8. W8 it out with Win7.
posted by NortonDC at 6:52 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


but the combination of "worst UI ever" and "no hope for enterprise adoption" is either willful ignorance or joyful disregard for the specifics of the new OS.

Or, and just possibly, a difference of opinion?
posted by modernnomad at 6:52 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is where I note the slickest and most capable UI out there right now is Android 4.1. Google is motivated and smart and relentless -they keep working at the details, keep pushing the edge. My iPad2 feels a bit... quaint... next to the Galaxy Nexus: limiting, slow, frustrating. This was completely reversed with my old Droid, which felt klunky and primitive next to what Apple was doing.

So, Microsoft has to contend with a hungry Google as well as Apple... who has proven itself more than capable of upending everything with their next product rollout.

Meanwhile, I'd be willing to bet more than half of the Fortune 500 is still standardized on XP.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:53 PM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


The live tiles provide more information, faster. It's not just a replacement for the start menu, it's an entirely slimmer way of providing referents for in-app or on-platform information.

So did Active Desktop, until that died. So did Vista's sidebar, until that got junked. So do Windows 7 gadgets on the desktop. What happened to those in corporate adoption again?
posted by jaduncan at 6:58 PM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


no hope for enterprise adoption

Windows 8 would need to deliver massive productivity gains to justify the amount of re-training it will require. Meanwhile, the consensus seems to be that it delivers a productivity loss.

Unless it proves dramatically cheaper for IT departments to support - and I've read nothing to that effect - "no hope for enterprise adoption" seems hard to argue with.
posted by Egg Shen at 6:59 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd agree with that. I'm not defending Win8 at all. But at least its not food poison, the best equivalent metaphor for Vista.
posted by DarkForest at 2:07 PM on August 23 [+] [!]


Vista really wasn't that bad. It had driver issues at launch, some obnoxious DRM gubbins and with its default settings asked you for permission a little too often. That's it. It's not the Aero-toting Satan that people make it out to be.

I had Vista and then Windows 7 on my laptop, and while Win7 is probably the best OS they've ever made it was still just an incremental improvement on Vista.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:01 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am by no means a techie and have no understanding of what it takes to run enterprise software, but the majority of the posters sound like true dinosaurs. I see Windows 8 as a way to unify the phone/tablet/laptop/desktop universes. There will be trade-offs to be sure, but Ballmer et al have seen the future and it's mobile and touch-based.

Moving towards an ecosystem that works first and best on mobile platforms is the right direction to move in. The desktop environment may suffer, but that is rapidly getting left behind anyway. I say bravo, Microsoft.

All that said, I won't be moving to Windows 8 anytime soon as I'm perfectly happy with Windows 7 and I'm never on the bleeding edge of anything technical. I have confidence that Microsoft, as it has always done, will improve Windows 8 with service packs and hit a home run with Windows 9.
posted by Phreesh at 7:02 PM on August 23, 2012


So did Active Desktop, until that died. So did Vista's sidebar, until that got junked. So do Windows 7 gadgets on the desktop. What happened to those in corporate adoption again?

In fairness, though, it's a different world these days, where for noncorporate users especially, a whole lot of what they do on computers is network-connected and in the cloud, to a much greater degree than they were even 5 years ago. I'm not convinced that Metro is the way to do it -- I think it is poorly thought-out and haphazardly implemented -- but it does make sense to find a way to put more of that live data front and center.

I see Windows 8 as a way to unify the phone/tablet/laptop/desktop universes. There will be trade-offs to be sure, but Ballmer et al have seen the future and it's mobile and touch-based.

That was the idea, clearly. And a smart one, as I suggested earlier. For my part, I just think it's been poorly implemented.

But I also think that what happened with Vista -- if we remember the pre-Vista development process, they ended up trashing their first attempts and starting from scratch, backtracking on a lot of the things that were promised (remember the magical filesystem that Vista was going to introduce?), which meant that the development cycle to get Vista out the door was far longer than expected -- is something they wanted to avoid here, and that when it became clear that the integration of the two UI paradigms they were trying to implement just wasn't going all that well, the decision was made to double down and just go ahead and ship code.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:08 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Work is just now rolling out windows 7 to our staff. We've had xp for most of the last decade . I got the first deployment literally yesterday. I can't see us upgrading to win 8 or upgrading at all for at least 5 years. As long as they continue to sell licences for 7, I think MS has time to get things right for enterprise. What they are in danger of is losing the retail and small business markets to Apple or Google.
posted by bonehead at 7:08 PM on August 23, 2012


Oh god. We hear this every time there is a new version of Windows. You don't have to google deeply to find similar end-of-the-world hyperbole about the Windows 7 killing. the old Start Menu and Window Bar. For the record, they got that change exactly right.

As for all of the Chicken Little's promising to switch to Mac, you can take my place. I switched to OS X at 10.1 because Apple was actually improving the desktop. But now Mountain Lion is crap, and Windows 8 actually looks like the next innovation. I might just switch back.

I have very little sympathy for people who can't bear the thought of "altering the way they do work". Go back to Windows 3.1 and let the rest of us enjoy the future.
posted by Popular Ethics at 7:10 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I read a blog post today who purports to be an OS X/iOS user, claiming he'll be abandoning his macbook/ipad combo for a Surface-like device.

It gave me hope that we'd some serious design/UI competition. The old-school gui interfaces aren't optimal for this new always-connected digital social life; nor the devices that provide it.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:12 PM on August 23, 2012


The future is touched.
posted by mazola at 7:13 PM on August 23, 2012


Moving towards an ecosystem that works first and best on mobile platforms is the right direction to move in. The desktop environment may suffer, but that is rapidly getting left behind anyway. I say bravo, Microsoft.

Mobile platforms, for the most part, SUCK for productivity. For instance, how do you type conveniently on a tablet? You add a keyboard? Then you've got a fucking laptop.

Watch movies? Get emails? Play Angry Birds? A tablet is fine. Do actual work? You need a desktop/laptop setup.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:13 PM on August 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


zsazsa: "I'm betting that Stardock is cooking something up"

Yeah, I remember thinking that Brad Wardell probably had a huge glass-cutter of a hard-on when he got his hands on Windows 8. Just like, "I'm going to sell SO. MUCH. PRODUCT." boner levels.
posted by boo_radley at 7:29 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Vista really wasn't that bad.

well, i finally found a way to have it play midi files - i hooked it up to a roland jv-1080
posted by pyramid termite at 7:30 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Win 7 will be around for ages, stick to that if you're worried, but probably half the developers in my office are running the RTM with no dramas. In day to day desktop use it is basically identical to 7 with some nice improvements in things like speed and multiple monitor handling, and when you hit the Win key to launch an app the start menu is full screen, otherwise you never even see the metro stuff.

Personally I can't wait for the touchscreen ultrabooks to show up, particularly stuff like the Lenovo Yoga which can fold completely back into a tablet form-factor. Real laptop for working, then flip it into tablet mode for web surfing on the couch.
posted by markr at 7:35 PM on August 23, 2012


Desktop getting left behind? Windows 8 is the future?

I think you're completely wrong and even of Windows 8-like fiascos on tablets becomes the new status quo we will all be poorer for it.

Tablets and touchphones are toys, end of story. A kid who wants a computer and gets an ipad gains basically nothing. No one is writing code on tablets. I'm sure only an extremely small number of people are making any thing of value on tablets.

Tablets are machines advertisers and media companies want us all to have to facilitate rapid purchase and consumption of media. They're for consumers, not for creators or clerks.

But go ahead, continue to firewall any real information or interaction with the platform from the user under the name of 'user friendliness'.

Your kids won't thank you though.


Also, gestures are inefficient and wasteful. They're a compromise for the limited specificity of touch devices. They're also no more discoverable than keyboard shortcuts. Having to move my body in arcane ways is a move in the wrong direction from pressing buttons.

And I don't care how many people like something or how much money it makes. 'But it's the status quo' is a crap argument. There are so many more metrics than popularity and profitability.
posted by yonega at 7:37 PM on August 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh, and a positive view on it since the poster didn't seem to be able to find any.
posted by markr at 7:38 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Upside: it's supposed to be, what, $20? Perfect price for an OSX user to buy to run with Boot Camp.
posted by curious nu at 7:45 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tablets are toys when they run walled-in, toy OSes. If it's running a desktop OS, the only difference between a tablet and a PC that switching form factors is a bluetooth mouse and keyboard. What would stop you from writing code on one of those?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:46 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


While I know Classic is removed from OS X of today, I honestly don't know when they took it away as I don't remember the last time I used it. Apple successfully transitioned me from Classic Mac OS to OS X PPC to OS X Intel...

Here's an impromptu timeline of Apple letting go of the past.

I have a PowerMac with mirrored drive doors and weird curved handles on all four corners which, I'm told, was the last Mac that was able to actually boot into MacOS 9.

10.4 "Tiger" was the last OSX that could launch Classic mode.

10.5 "Leopard" was the last OSX that could run on PowerPC hardware.

10.6 "Snow Leopard" was the last OSX to include Rosetta, which allowed OSX PPC software to run on Intel hardware. (I actually keep 10.6 installed on a USB stick because I still run into PPC software sometimes.)
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 7:48 PM on August 23, 2012


so, ehrm, fitts law?
posted by xcasex at 7:49 PM on August 23, 2012


Regarding how much some companies need W8 to do well: Hewlett-Packard posts $8.9bn quarterly loss
posted by jaduncan at 7:50 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen this much outrage about a Windows interface since Chicago.

Anyway, I installed Win8 last week and to my surprise I actually love it. So that's nice.
posted by Jairus at 7:50 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have very little sympathy for people who can't bear the thought of "altering the way they do work". Go back to Windows 3.1 and let the rest of us enjoy the future.

I actually like change for the sake of change. Windows 7 start bar? Great. Ubuntu HUD? Go for it. You have an experimental virtual reality file system interface? Sure, I'll give that a try. Google Wave? That was pretty cool. OSX Lion 'save a version'? I get what it's going for.

But I installed the Windows 8 preview on my Lenovo tablet (with a pen*), and... it felt like a UI demo someone had coded up in flash over the weekend. I really don't see the attraction at all, unless you just love Helvetica and sparse, screen-space-wasting typography so much that it overrides every usability consideration.

*Pen support was terrible. Example: to scroll the metro thingy sideways, you couldn't drag the screen around with the pen as you would a finger-- no, you had to find the tiny tiny scroll bar (conveniently located right near the bezel where the pen accuracy is the worst) and painstakingly drag it sideways.
posted by Pyry at 7:50 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Tablets are toys when they run walled-in, toy OSes.

Have patience. They're building the walls as fast as they can get away with it.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 7:51 PM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Tablets and touchphones are toys, end of story.

I think of mine as an extension of the computer. It's an infinitely more capable version of what a PDA used to be. I can't do with a bicycle what I can do with a car, but that's no excuse to shit on bicycling.

A kid who wants a computer and gets an ipad gains basically nothing. No one is writing code on tablets.

Given the choice between the two, I agree, a kid should have a computer rather than a tablet. However there are Lua and Python development environments for iPad, like Codea.

I'm sure only an extremely small number of people are making any thing of value on tablets.

Maybe but what they are doing is pretty cool.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:26 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


A kid who wants a computer and gets an ipad gains basically nothing. No one is writing code on tablets.

Ever since people have started gushing about replacing computers with tablets (and in my job as a tech support person I have recently started talking to people doing exactly that), I've been asking the same question, which is "Where is the next generation of nerds supposed to come from?"
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:29 PM on August 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Ever since people have started gushing about replacing computers with tablets (and in my job as a tech support person I have recently started talking to people doing exactly that), I've been asking the same question, which is "Where is the next generation of nerds supposed to come from?"

I use an Asus Transformer (TF101) that dualboots Android and Ubuntu. I do useful work in both; once the keyboard is attached it's a light laptop with a 16 hour battery life.
posted by jaduncan at 8:33 PM on August 23, 2012


"Where is the next generation of nerds supposed to come from?"

Just a data point, but as much as I hate to admit it, like 90% of why I ever went into Engineering and why I ever started programming was because of Nintendo. I really liked video games as a kid, and I wanted to make video games.

As much as I hate the overall push towards dumber, iPad-esque computing, I don't think the next generation of nerds is in danger. They'll want to build for iPads just like I wanted to build for NES.
posted by VoteBrian at 8:35 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ever since people have started gushing about replacing computers with tablets

Like I keep saying, once Microsoft makes their development team use tablets to write the code for Windows, I'll start drinking the Kool-Aid.
posted by Jimbob at 8:36 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Windows 8 makes me kind of sad. Usability issues are really temporary - people will get used to it, if they have to. But say, look at the Start menu, and there are so many things to look at. Here's your email! Here's your news feed! Here's the Daily Otter!

Aside from probably being a big distractor, this, for me, talks about the sheer volume of stuff competing for our attention these days, and Windows 8 is enabling it, to my mind.
posted by undue influence at 8:37 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Personally, I think it's kind rad that I can dev javascript / html apps that'll work reliably in that environment, but I always wonder what people get up to these days where they care a ton about their OS...

I mean... Windows... Linux... OS X... they're not really all that different, especially given that most people do a ton of stuff in the browser.
posted by ph00dz at 8:37 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


All of the marketing-driven hyperbole over the Win8 "Tiles" is amusing: an entirely slimmer way of providing referents for in-app or on-platform information, etc etc. Basically what you have here is a font-restricted, colour-restricted version of Active Desktop, now met'zd to take over the whole screen. It's Pointcast on steroids! It's the Final Coming of the Widgets. It's like a rerun of a couple of particularly silly years for UI during the late-1990s.
posted by meehawl at 8:39 PM on August 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I mean... Windows... Linux... OS X... they're not really all that different, especially given that most people do a ton of stuff in the browser.

True, which is why OSs should just keep the hell out of the way, instead of trying integrate everything behind a dandy one-size-fits-all user interface. There is a trend, for example, for OSs (I think latest Windows, OSX and Ubuntu are all guilty of this) to integrate Twitter and Facebook into the core interface. What if I use some other service? What is that achieving that the websites themselves don't? The OS needs to get the hell out of my way, not get in my way in the way Windows 8 is trying to.
posted by Jimbob at 8:54 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wonder if Microsoft is trying to lock in users the way it locked in applications. Change the interfaces (APIs or GUIs) frequently, with differences-for-the-sake-of-difference from competitors. When people constantly adapt to doing things the newest way, competitors have to either play a continual catch-up-to-the-changes game or have to settle for a niche market.
posted by roystgnr at 8:59 PM on August 23, 2012


W8 a minute, just W8 a goddamn minute, here. I'm sure if you all just W8 for the first set of patches (and you won't have to W8 long, certainly), everything will be better. Why can't people just have a little bit of patience and W8 for things to get better?
posted by Revvy at 9:02 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't buy new machines that can't be downgraded and supported in 7. Buy used Windows 7 machines if you must.

Will someone please give me a heads up so I can buy a couple Windows 7's off newegg (or three? should I be safe and get an extra one for my mom or something?) before the door closes?

I don't have a lot of money now but I am paranoid I won't be able to get Windows 7 for my next PC. Current one should be good for awhile but you never know what could befall it.
posted by marble at 9:10 PM on August 23, 2012


I hated the start menu because whenever you installed a new program it could potentially bump every other program folder down a notch. Then you had to retrain muscle memory for every app. I have some quibbles with Windows 8 which I've been using for about a month, but I like that you can set up the tiles where you want and they stick there. I do miss the quick launch bar which gave me basically the same thing with much less screen real estate used up.

I ONLY CARE ABOUT IF FIREFOX AND LIBREOFFICE AND STEAM RUN ON IT.

DO THEY?!


Yes, but some steam games refuse to work even when set up in XP or Vista compatibility mode and/or with run as administrator. Of course, that could also be the graphics drivers for the Intel HD 4000.

To those complaining about clutter, you do have to unpin every app you aren't using from the metro interface to keep it clean, but that's not really any more overhead than reorganizing your start menu into reasonable categories.

Some things I like, hybrid sleep (sleep but with hibernate file written so that if power is cut it still resumes cleanly), the new task manager, file copy, right clicking in the lower left corner to bring up a quick "admin" menu.

Personally I'm happier with this than I was with Vista or Win7, but I'm not sure if it's any better than XP. I'm still learning though (which means the interface was intuitive enough to accomplish 99% of what I needed without bothering to read the documentation or learn about new features)

I like the idea of a steam OS or hypervisor though.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:30 PM on August 23, 2012


I don't have a lot of money now but I am paranoid I won't be able to get Windows 7 for my next PC.

Ubuntu's pretty nice. It won't take long to get used to the differences. I'm constantly switching my mom's operating system, and she seems to pick them up pretty well. The differences are surprisingly minor... I wouldn't tie myself to one OS. Especially not when it looks like they're driving themselves off a cliff.
posted by VoteBrian at 9:36 PM on August 23, 2012


Does anyone know of something that can replace/augment Windows 7 search so, for example, wildcards work again? Searching for "*.pdf"and finding no pdfs where I know there are thousands is a bit problematic.

What? Wildcards work fine; I use them all the time. In fact, I used exactly the one you specified today with no problems. Search doesn't work from Computer, apparently, but within drives? Works fine.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:43 PM on August 23, 2012


Bort: Agent Ransack works like a charm, thanks!
posted by dhens at 9:53 PM on August 23, 2012


Just for kicks, I wonder how the superlatives and colorful speech in these reviews compares to the reactions that long time Mac users had to Mac OS X when it was first released?

As revmitcz said, the transition to OS X was slow and subtle, even though it was a completely different OS, not just a new version. OS X was more an interesting curiosity for a while, not something I felt compelled to switch to until they got it together. If I remember correctly, it was presented for a while as "here’s what the Mac will eventually be like".

but is there actually anyone who wants alt+tab to switch between applications rather than windows?

Yes. And switching windows as a separate key.
posted by bongo_x at 10:06 PM on August 23, 2012


Dude. I am still running Windows XP. I have colleagues who have had issues transitioning to Windows 7 - legacy apps that just.won't.run. It's an uglier mess than when we went from 32 bit to 16 bit - there hiccups, but you could still run the stuff you needed.

Now, pile on this mess? I saw two desktop features/apps linked in this thread alone, and the OS isn't even out yet. It's a grim omen when the company that writes the OS can't get the UI right.

I can't afford to waste money like my engineer friend updating her office just to find you that everything is now broken. Before she did that I was joking with her that she could go Linux for free, but she'd have to spend a bunch of time configuring it. She has now blown a ton of money on upgrades, and is now spending a bunch of time configuring things. She has even had to bring back in some old machines so she can run the more arcane engineering apps. And that's Windows 7, the one that is supposed to work right.

I've been watching the Linux community for years now, and Ubuntu and Mint are really coming into their own. I've put off making the transition, but now looks like the right time. You know I am not the only person thinking this.
posted by Xoebe at 10:40 PM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm still trying to be optimistic. More because i'm looking to get a tablet soon, and i'm hoping Windows 8 will make the tablet more versatile.
posted by cusack01 at 10:59 PM on August 23, 2012


Last I heard, the ARM version of Windows 8 is only going to run Metro apps. Which have to come through the app store, of course. Just another damned walled-garden mobile platform.

So if you want a versatile Windows 8 tablet, make sure you get the right kind of Windows 8 tablet.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 11:07 PM on August 23, 2012


But if they don't use the metro apps, they'll be able to do the very same thing on Win8. Except if they were using whatever MS replaced Outlook Express with in Win7.

Yeah, no, they wont. Not the clients I tend to support.

The small business Windows/PC ecosystem is rich with thousands of useful specialty legacy applications. Many of those applications aren't likely to be rewritten as they're no longer supported or the companies or developers that made them no longer exist.

This doesn't even begin to address legacy hardware support for things like laser cutters, vinyl cutters, CAD/CAM software and machines, RIP servers for prepress or printing work, large format inkjet machines. Even in print shops where the entire design department is modern Apple machines, the RIP server or print server is usually a crufty old Windows machine. There are embroidery machines, sewing machines, specialized one-off embedded industrial process machines that require a Windows client machine to operate.

I'm not saying Windows and XP/2k/NT is the best OS, but the ecosystem for that OS is GIGANTIC.

There's a lot more at stake here than just the interface formally known as "Metro". The new APIs for Windows 8 has the potential to break or obsolete billions of dollars worth of hardware and software.

Vista and Windows 7 are already breaking some of those things. There's not a single client I've serviced in the last 2 years who doesn't have at least one XP machine being kept alive to support these things, though many are slowly, painfully switching to Vista or 7.

I don't understand the hyperbolic vitriol on this thread. The live tiles provide more information, faster. It's not just a replacement for the start menu, it's an entirely slimmer way of providing referents for in-app or on-platform information. The potential for enterprise is enormous, and explains MS's interest in Yammer, since now a boatload of useful internal company information can be presented right on the home screen, using a private version of the "app store" that is company specific. One can debate whether or not these changes are useful, in the long run, but the combination of "worst UI ever" and "no hope for enterprise adoption" is either willful ignorance or joyful disregard for the specifics of the new OS.

Again: No. No way.

There's a difference between being able to just see that information than actually being able to use it in a business environment, especially in small business where time and profit margins are razor thin.

For example - can you copy/paste from within live tiles? Can you actually pipe that information to where it needs to go without retyping it manually? Can you access that information from multiple third party clients?

A private app store!? Seriously!? Is Sharepoint not sadistic enough? I can't imagine the clusterfuck of trying to set up and manage a private app store for a small business with less than ten machines.

All they really need is a shared folder or drive on the LAN and maybe a small, simple intranet.

And as others have pointed out... there's a reason why Active Desktop and other such "push" media attempts have failed in the business world: They're seriously distracting and clutter-prone and more often than not they get in the way of actual real world production, where most clients really only need Office, a web browser and their assortment of industry-specific software, utilities or hardware.

And a lot of end user clients could likely get away with just a basic text editor and a browser and maybe an email client.

They really don't need the bloat of a fancy UI like "Metro". They don't need or want widgets. They usually already have their own customized versions of a single-page-view "this is information I need right now".

And as others have pointed out - the "Metro" interface is extremely wasteful of desktop real estate.

The clients I have are lucky to have a low resolution 20" LCD on their machine. Most have less. They cram their screens full of text-dense windows. There is absolutely no way you can cram the amount of legible (and real time!) information that they have on their screens into the "Metro" interface without making it look like cluttered garbage.

If your response to all of this legacy support is "Well, then they should upgrade. What's the big deal?" I'm going to disembowel you with a sharpened SyQuest disk pack I've kept around for just this purpose, because you're not actually grasping how razor-thin the budgets of many small businesses are, especially in this economy.

Windows 8 is so bad that it is statistically likely that it will bankrupt some small businesses if they upgrade into it unaware without a solid upgrade and legacy support plan.

Sure, my bread is sometimes buttered by these kinds of fuckups, but it doesn't do me any good if it drives them out of business.

And my primary task as a small business support tech is to save them both time and money, because they're literally one and the same to them.

This is why I'm not recommending that they upgrade to Windows 8. Not only will it not serve their needs, it may end up costing them lots and lots of time/money to make it work half as good as the existing systems, if not in rolling them back to legacy versions of Windows.

And, yeah, most of the large business corporate IT world is still in XP land. I still use XP myself. I tried Windows 7 but the audio latency was too high and the audio interface was too weird/funky for the audio software I like to play with - when its available to run in Windows 7 at all.


All said, I wouldn't be surprised if there was a double-secret skunkworks plan at Microsoft to just rush Windows 8 out the door to get it over with so they can move on to 9 or whatever is next.
posted by loquacious at 12:00 AM on August 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


Windows 7 killing. the old Start Menu and Window Bar. For the record, they got that change exactly right.

No it didn't. It replaced it with a monstrosity where you have to click through to get to an emasculated version of the start menu.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:56 AM on August 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've run Win 8 for a bit now. And honestly, it's pretty damn good, save the one huge, glaring, massive problem of zero affordance on the charms. A month in, I still don't know where to put the damn mouse pointer to get the damn menus to show up.

Still better than some of the bizarre battles I've been fighting with Mountain Lion, e.g. the new "ONLY BUY QUALITY APPLE REPLACEMENT APPS" security install system that, thanks to some am-I-or-am-I-not goofiness with my admin status, won't give me the ability to tell the Mac that Yes, I Want To Install This App That Is Not From The App Store, Please. And a few other glaring UI problems.

I think a lot of the whining about Win 8 is just the usual whining about anything Microsoft does. Apple's been slowly choking off the air of non-App Store developers, and the handful of people who've complained about it have been shouted down by the Apple fanbois. Microsoft puts their toe in the water of this exact same concept, and Katie bar the door MICROSOFT EEVL EEVL EEVL. Very contradictory.

I really don't know what the hell Microsoft is doing. They clearly think the tablet and the cloud are the future and are willing to throw the desktop and laptop in front of the bus to get there. (And yet, you can put the system in a non-Metro mode that's just like Win 7... without the Start button. So they're clearly thinking of how to handle the enterprise issue.)

But it's when you get something like:

Tablets and touchphones are toys, end of story.

And you realize that most people don't get it. Maybe they're toys (and I certainly think they're not toys), but they're toys for C-level execs who crave this sort of stuff. And Metro is giving it to them. Metro means that a CIO can punch a few pretty pictures on their tablet and bam, data. Same for a COO, or a CFO, or a CEO. And then that trickles down to C-level minus 1, minus 2, minus 3....

MSFT's future is the tablet for the enterprise. And they're willing to throw the consumer side overboard to do it. In essence, they're ready to cede to Apple at home, because they believe Global 2000 companies are a surer bet for long-term capital.

Microsoft is trying to shut down any attempt at Apple invading their enterprise revenue stream. In the process, they're essentially conceding the consumer space to Apple. The issue isn't that no one tested Metro -- I can tell you it's been seriously play-tested. It's that the people pulling the strings are product managers who are too scared to fight with Apple anymore. So they're taking the safe route.

Seriously. This is the safe route. The hard route? Going straight at Apple in the consumer space. And given how much they've thrown into it for how little they've gotten in return (how many tenths of one percent are Windows phone sales?) it would mean MSFT would have to throw the entire company at destroying Apple. And given Apple's cash advantage, it's hard to see how MSFT could even force a draw.
posted by dw at 1:02 AM on August 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


dw: you can turn off that nag in your system preferences - i think it's the security panel.
posted by davemee at 1:08 AM on August 24, 2012


Vista and Windows 7 are already breaking some of those things. There's not a single client I've serviced in the last 2 years who doesn't have at least one XP machine being kept alive to support these things, though many are slowly, painfully switching to Vista or 7.

Windows 8 is largely driver compatible with windows 7; the minimum hardware requirements haven't changed since vista. The driver model did get radically redone with vista from xp, but the changes since then have been relatively small. All the machines I've tested win8 on that had 7 on before have had no driver issues; for oddball hardware, win 7 x64 drivers worked fine. So yes, it's still a big jump from xp - which given it's an 11 year old OS at this point isn't terribly surprising - but the jump from 7 to 8, in hardware at least is only a mini step. Windows 8 should work on any hardware that runs window 7, so the reverse should hold largely true - i.e. windows 7 on any windows 8 hardware, with the obvious exception of ARM tablets.

I think windows 8 will be largely ignored by businesses, at least on the desktop/laptop, because it's a big change to UI with no compelling advantage to make the switch. Windows 7 licences will stop being sold by microsoft once 8 comes out (though there'll be left over ones floating in the oem channel for a while) but medium or bigger businesses won't care because their volume licences let them carry on downloading and installing windows 7 just fine.

Small businesses can always use the same option as end-users; get a new machine with windows 8 pro on it, install windows 7 on it using their existing media, and ring up microsoft to get a telephone activation code for their windows 7 machine using their windows 8 pro licence key and downgrade rights.

XP support is drawing to a close; april 2014 is when you'll stop getting patches for it. You should really have migrated off it by then. Windows 7 is supported until 2020, so you've plenty of time to ride out windows 8 and see what comes next.

I've been using windows 8 for a while now; it has kinda grown on me even though I loathed it initially. It's definitely faster on the same hardware, there's a lot of small improvements in the desktop side (much better file copy dialog, task manager, much faster on network shares).
The key to using the Modern (nee metro) interface as a PC user is to treat it like a widget dashboard with some of your key shortcuts. I.e. mail, calendar, weather live tiles plus office shortcuts, evernote, sublime text, putty, chrome, that sort of thing, and carry on doing your normal work in the desktop, and just type the app name in the Modern screen to launch anything else.

The Modern apps are universally very 'lite' in what they can do; banging into the mail client to delete or quickly absorb new mails when they flash up on the live tile, or bash out a quick reply works well. It's rather like the way I use email on my phone - notification summary on new ones, mini mail client for simple replies etc. Same goes for adding a new calendar event.

When you want to do something more substantial, you fire up the full proper client, though in my case we're using google apps, so that's just a browser tab for me.

You also have to be ruthless at killing off all the crap that gets added to your menu when you install new desktop software; it's odd, Modern supports app folders (just look under All Apps, you'll see it's still using folders there) but not the main 'splash' view.

I also have to admit, I rather like the new desktop theme; clean and simple instead of all that pseudo 3d rubbish we've had the last few years, which apple is doubling down on. Explorer still beats the crap out of finder. You do get used to the new mouse gestures after a while, and the corner catching/target area is much better than it was on the earlier versions. Launching apps via 'win key, couple of letters from name' works way better than the search ever did on windows 7, and is even quicker than using the start menu on 7 is.

I did switch to OSX as my main OS when I first tried out windows 8, it was that bad an initial shock. I'm going to be continuing to do so as I'm pretty happy there now both at home and work.

I suspect all windows 8 really needs though, is a decent facebook/twitter live tile, and it'll be adopted by home users in droves. After all, browser, facebook, basic email, quick photo sharing...

It's a hell of a shock for experienced desktop users. But we're a dying breed - the army of consumers who've adopted the ipad shows they don't WANT a full blown, complex, maintenance required computer. They want something that runs skype and has the internet on it with a dirt simple way to get custom software on it, and above all, is easy to use. While windows 8 is a complete change for normal PC users with decades of experience, it's not really aimed at us, though they've left the desktop in there for 'real work' i.e. office. Whether windows 8 IS easy to use for a novice is another question (and they're clearly aiming for Surface devices to be the go-to device there) but I guess we'll find out.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:12 AM on August 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


A month in, I still don't know where to put the damn mouse pointer to get the damn menus to show up.

Ram into top right corner or bottom left corner - you should see the 'charms shadow' appear. There's catchers in the corners so it won't overrun so easily if you have multiple monitors now. Swipe down or up vertically into the middle of the righthand side. It's definitely the worst of the new gestures though, so I tend to just use win-c when I need it - which I try to avoid as much as possible. Most of the time, you only need the shutdown option from there, so it's easier to add shutdown & sleep shortcuts to the Modern screen.

Or install start8 and make it so it goes into metro when clicked (rather than the default 'all apps' overlay which looks crap) which
a) gives you a Modern start target that's in the same place as previous windows versions, taking advantage of 15 years of muscle memory
b) gives you a right-click shutdown target.
c) lets you launch the desktop instead of Modern as default when logging in.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:33 AM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Argg, top right or bottom right corner for charms, even.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:34 AM on August 24, 2012


Yeah, I agree with most of those points, dw and ArkhanJG.

I don't think tablets or phones are toys. They're actually very useful. I use my 1st generation Android G1 in the field all the time for basic WiFi analysis, checking web/network connections, displaying persistent data for multitasking with another machine.

And I don't think that simplified UIs are bad for end users, especially in consumer spaces.

But I do think that walled gardens, cloud-everything and other consumer lockins are dirty tricks and bad for innovation, bad for consumers and bad news all around.

I've said them before about both Apple and Microsoft and a number of other companies, and I'm not the only one.

I'm just as annoyed with Microsoft emulating Apple's walled gardens and consumer lock in.

Also, I'm just going to have to be dragged kicking and screaming from physical keyboards. My current phone has one, and I want my next phone to have one as well.

I can't stand trying to touch type on a screen. That probably won't change until they make some kind of physical haptic feedback meta-material that deforms the screen into appropriate key shapes - and I used to be all kinds of into the idea of that kind of science fiction technology - but at this point I reckon if they're going to go to all that trouble they might as well give me a mechanical keyboard.

I came to this realization after using a variety of flat/chiclet style keyboards as found on most Apples and now almost every laptop/desktop, and I just found them extremely painful and awkward to type on. The throw isn't deep enough, the pitch is too wide and weird and I can't tell where I am on the keyboard or land keystrokes smoothly without sculpted keys.

And I'm not some kind of fancy buckle-spring or ergonomic keyboard snob or anything. My favorite keyboards are narrow-pitch sculpted-key short-throw keyboards with rigid-to-mushy dome switches as found on a netbook or small laptop. My MSI Wind had a great keyboard. So does this Samsung NC10. So did my old 2000-era Toshiba Satellite.

I guess that means I'm approaching dinosaur status.
posted by loquacious at 1:38 AM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


So I invested a couple years into WPF and Silverlight. At this point I am a bit better at XAML than I was at windows forms and certainly better then I ever was at MFC. So I spent about 2 hours today explaining why it would be a bit hard to rewrite all our apps in HTML 5. I appreciate that MS is doing some kind of head fake, and that XAML is baked into Windows 8. but seriously,a lot of developers invested time into all this tech, and now people who know next to nothing are on my ass about HTML 5. Do something completely stupid like rename XAML to HTML 6 and I will be grateful.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:47 AM on August 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Slowly over the past few years I've been getting the feeling that I don't really "grok" computing anymore. I can still sling code with the best of them - or I like to think so - and I still get that comforting sense of smug when I get to explain to a junior programmer why his "asynchronous everything" is actually making things slower instead of snappier. But it's like there's a fog between us - for me, the code, the product, is like a tree, a big slow thing, a thing that you carefully nurture and chisel until it grows tall and strong and takes root. For him, it's more like a web, a network of silvery threads, constantly changing shape, easily created and pillaged and thrown away. I don't know what this has to do with Windows 8, precisely, but looking at the little tiles, seeing objects appear and disappear with the pleasant briefness of cocktail party conversation, apps presenting themselves as characters, I think he's on to something. For me the machine is still a machine and the things it operates on are bits and bytes, files and streams. For him, all that stuff is there, but what actually matters is the access it provides to an audience. Apps become performance and the OS sets the stage.
posted by deo rei at 2:25 AM on August 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit: "I like how they've blown up a favicon and called it the new logo."
Was that for real? I seriously thought that was satire the first time I saw it.
posted by brokkr at 2:28 AM on August 24, 2012


Bit of a digression, but for those of you talking about switching window behavior on the Mac, command+` (the button to the left of the number 1) will switch windows in a single application. If you have multiple browsers open, it will switch between those browser windows. It was mentioned above by minedev, but I think some may have missed it. Command+tab switches between applications.

For those of you used to windows, it's the same muscle memory / button location as alt+tab, except you'd press alt+` to switch between different browser windows.
posted by amuseDetachment at 2:30 AM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


As the guy who asked about the Mac window switching thing, let me say that I know there's the window-change button as well, and I know how to use it, so we can put that thread to rest. I was merely expressing my dislike of the way the system works.
posted by 23 at 2:43 AM on August 24, 2012


So, as we are talking about usability: I (obviously) use Win7 for my daily work. This work (urban planning/municipal consulting/statistical analysis) often means that I have multiple instances of Excel, Firefox and other programs opened at the same time. Also, I use a shitload of special-use-tools and i cannot always remember the names of seldom used ones, so I really need a proper start menu.

Without the power of 7 Taskbar Tweaker (which ungroups the taskbar entries and therefore allows to arrange them in an order that makes sense in my workflow) and Classic Shell (which restores a proper nested start menu Win XP Style) my productivity would be severely hampered.

Or is this just me and my inflexibility?
posted by SAnderka at 2:57 AM on August 24, 2012


Windows 8 Tells Microsoft About Everything You Install, Not Very Securely, Nadim Kobeissi, August 24, 2012
posted by ob1quixote at 3:06 AM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the hyperbolic vitriol on this thread.

Welcome to the Internet!

The boot-to-{Metro}, I imagine, is based on an expectation of a particular technology taking off fairly quickly - laptops and monitors with touch-sensitive screens. There are a couple of these out or coming out, but in general it feels like it would be easier to patch in a clickable box to boot straight to desktop mode, rather than having to hit Win-D (or tweak the registry). Personally, I like desktop shortcuts, but it's a big ask for a market that generally doesn't read instruction manuals...
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:15 AM on August 24, 2012


From a Microsoft blog - users reactions to various Windows versions

Windows 1 - “Mice are nice ideas, but of dubious value for business users” (George Vinall, PC Week, April 24, 1984)
Windows 95 - "I know it’s almost 2 years since Win95 was released, but even after a year of almost daily use I’m still trying to get used to it and I hope someone can offer words of wisdom: I still prefer the Win3.x way of finding and then launching programs.... "
Windows XP - " the interface also sucks it looks like wall of TOYS-R-US store! all bright and colourful i mean what the hell is that are we suppose to entertain lil kids with it or what! phew! that was a bad experience !"

etc
posted by memebake at 4:30 AM on August 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know of something that can replace/augment Windows 7 search

I switched to Everything. It only searches the filename, but it's extremely fast and allows wildcarding.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 4:44 AM on August 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


SAnderka: Without the power of ... Classic Shell (which restores a proper nested start menu Win XP Style) my productivity would be severely hampered. Or is this just me and my inflexibility?

In the case of the Start Menu I will hesistantly say "yes, it's inflexibility." When I got Windows 7 on my development machine at work I installed Classic Shell too, if only to mess with people's heads. But on my home machine I tried the native interface (with a few option setting changes) and I find it is just fine. In particular, the old Start Menu behavior, generally speaking, is still there: click on All Programs and you'll get a scrollable TreeView of installed application folders which you can expand to see the nested submenus.

If you're anything like me, you tried the new interface for the first time and went BLEAGH! IT'S ALL SCREWED UP. Then you installed compatibility hacks or flipped a bunch of options to turn off the new stuff, and you're OK. But it means you never actually explore the new stuff beyond an initial reaction, since you've banished it to Outer Redmondistan. What I found was that other developers were doing the things I thought were impossible in Windows 7, and I realized that it's not that big a change -- I just needed to retrain my instincts in small ways.

I still don't like the Windows 7 interface "out of the box". I turn off taskbar item combining and auto-arrange desktop icons, and I put the Quick Launch bar back next to the Start Menu. But these are all menu options you can configure in Windows without having to add a new interface.

In relation to Windows 8: I notice how many times in this thread I read people saying "it's a horrible nightmare which looks like it would drive me crazy!" versus other people saying "just change a few settings and don't run Metro Apps, and it looks pretty much like Windows 7 (plus a full-screen 'Start Menu' analogue)." I think this is the same pattern I described in my own instinctive reactions to Windows 7.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 5:38 AM on August 24, 2012


I don't understand where this idea that Win 7 search doesn't allow wildcards is coming from.
posted by adamdschneider at 6:07 AM on August 24, 2012


Existential Dread: "A Cognitive Burden is either my new sock puppet or the name of my next grind project."
posted by Rock Steady at 6:15 AM on August 24, 2012


Cognitive Durden would be a great Fight Club alias.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:15 AM on August 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wait, what happened there? My comment got cleaved. I blame Win8, even though I'm typing this from Windows 7.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:16 AM on August 24, 2012


Mac OS X 10.6 and Windows XP seem like great systems that don't don't major UI overhauls. Tweak the underlying OS to be faster, more responsive etc, but otherwise who needs a to play hide and seek with essential features every 2 years?

Huh. I really am turning into an old fart.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:16 AM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


and I put the Quick Launch bar back next to the Start Menu.

I thought the same thing. Then I discovered "pin to start menu", and Quick Launch was relegated to history.
posted by gjc at 6:24 AM on August 24, 2012


Paradigm shifts always bring out the worst.

Only when they are bad. Shifts to good ideas, or shifts that are optional, are either applauded or unnoticed.
posted by gjc at 6:26 AM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pin to Taskbar is Quick Launch but better.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:31 AM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"New Microsoft logo looks like something I just came up with in MS Paint"

Isn't that the very definition of a good logo? Something distinctive and simple enough that anyone could draw it? Four simple colored squares that everyone recognizes?

I can't believe how quickly we've come full circle and design nerds are clamoring to junk logos up with gratuitous 3D and Photoshop effects.
posted by straight at 6:42 AM on August 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Tablets and touchphones are toys, end of story.

I write essays and write music on my iPhone and iPad. I can write a good thousand words in fifteen minutes/half an hour on my iPhone, and often I do because when I'm traveling somewhere my phone is more accessible than anything in my backpack. The iPad was a recent purchase, but I've written quite a lot on it, and again it's a "convenience trumps all" deal.

Ever since people have started gushing about replacing computers with tablets (and in my job as a tech support person I have recently started talking to people doing exactly that), I've been asking the same question, which is "Where is the next generation of nerds supposed to come from?"

Check out the programming interface Bret Victor demoed here. It's going to take a little while longer before we see our ideal tablet code editor emerge, but there are things you can do with the tablet form that take utter advantage of the touch-centered interface to make higher-end creative work easy.

For me the machine is still a machine and the things it operates on are bits and bytes, files and streams. For him, all that stuff is there, but what actually matters is the access it provides to an audience. Apps become performance and the OS sets the stage.

I'm not a programmer, but this balance really interests me – between the "zen" of cultivation and the "release early and often" mindset. I don't think there's a "right" side between the two, but I think that plenty of coders focus so much on careful optimization that they don't realize when that optimization might be unnecessary.

When I do web design, I emit appallingly sloppy CSS – usually I have no idea what it does when I go back to tweak it. But the joy of design for me is throwing things at a canvas and seeing what sticks, then making sure it's not utterly broken. I'm very much an edge case in that informality, but there's a joy to that process which can go hand-in-hand with more cultivated procedure. And as the people who take to programming get more diverse, we're gonna see a lot of messiness that didn't exist when all "nerds" looked the same. That messiness is gonna be fun and we're all gonna learn a lot from it.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:44 AM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pin to taskbar is only better if you want your quickstart area to take up much more of your taskbar, and you hate being able to tell the difference between a running program and the option to start running a program.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:45 AM on August 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


but I wonder how many people would actually be opposed to Microsoft just releasing an upgraded version of XP?

Like The New Beetle or something.


I was thinking more like Coca-Cola "Classic."
posted by Navelgazer at 6:45 AM on August 24, 2012


Windows XP seem like great systems that don't [need] major UI overhauls.

Two things that Win7 has done that are amazeballs compared to XP:

- a workable privilege elevation model, which actually makes it practical to run as a restricted user most of the time. It's a decade late in coming, but MS has finally figured out a good gui alternative to sudo

- the snap/peek/shake features. God, I've wanted these ever since Windows 286.
posted by bonehead at 7:15 AM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


- the snap/peek/shake features. God, I've wanted these ever since Windows 286.

I was so happy when I figured out how to turn that crap off after months of rage after having windows randomly maximized when I bumped them up against the side if the screen. Again, stuff like that is fine if you like it but it shouldn't be the default and it really shouldn't be mandatory.
posted by octothorpe at 7:22 AM on August 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


New Microsoft Logo
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:01 AM on August 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Damn these paperback books. They're useless. They make a mockery of The Book. They come unglued and turn to dust in a couple of years. No one should buy one.
posted by spitbull at 8:16 AM on August 24, 2012


New Microsoft Logo

LOL! It is like someone made it in MS Paint!

MS Paint, I tell you!
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:21 AM on August 24, 2012


XP is 11 years old. When it came out, Windows 3.1 was 9 years old.

Not sure the griping about "change" is necessary.
posted by eoden at 8:28 AM on August 24, 2012


Ok i'm all for minimalism. the kerning of the typeface is so-so, the logo is.. Oh I dunno, no matter the context it's just for squares of diff colours.
Nothing about it is really groundbreaking, novel or niche, but it's Microsoft, and its basically what the company is relegated to anyway.
posted by xcasex at 8:28 AM on August 24, 2012


I'm more upset by the gutting of Aero. The Windows 7 Aero interface is timeless. It's classy, subtle and practical.

Compared to this fucking garish fad of jewel tones, ultra-light weighted fonts and flat shaded white, red and grey mspaint derived window controls removing it is a giant fucking step backwards.
posted by Talez at 8:36 AM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Guys, guys. Hear me out here.

Guys.

The new Microsoft logo.

Turn it 45 degrees. It's an X.

In a Box.

Do you see where I am going with this?

Someone needs to pay me a lot of money for this guys
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:39 AM on August 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


Guys, guys. Hear me out here.

Guys.


It was the third "Guys" that finally made me look.
posted by eoden at 8:43 AM on August 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


and Classic Shell (which restores a proper nested start menu Win XP Style) my productivity would be severely hampered.

Good news! Classic shell has been updated for windows 8, and you can even tell it to murder all the hot corners and launch the desktop by default, so apart from a quick flash when logging in, you can forget the Modern/Metro UI stuff even exists. Taskbar tweaker has also been updated for win 8.

I did actually try out classic shell, both in pseudo XP and windows 7 mode, and found myself missing the metro splash screen - specifically (win, c, enter to launch chrome, or win, a, d to launch administration tools, it sorts the list by the most commonly used app that matches, so you can arrow key or carry on typing to get the right one) so uninstalled it. Guess metro does eventually grow on you.

Like fungus.
posted by ArkhanJG at 9:13 AM on August 24, 2012


... It's an X.

In a Box.


I'm not much of a gamer, so the image that comes to my mind when I hear the phrase "X in a box" is "Close" or "Delete."
posted by aught at 9:34 AM on August 24, 2012


The future is touched.

That's the British version of 'touched', right?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:48 AM on August 24, 2012


I think the same thing, I just imagine doing it with a beam rifle.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:49 AM on August 24, 2012


Deleting, not touching.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:49 AM on August 24, 2012


Tablets and touchphones are toys, end of story.
posted by yonega


Yeah, I can't imagine anyone coding on a tablet.

I could link to people creating music, code, art, writing to prove you wrong. I could give you multiple ways a phone can be used as a tool beyond consumption. I could point out that the ability to consume info quickly is in itself a valuable feature. I could also point out that tablets as we know them today are just in their infancy.

But I'm not going to waste the time. I'll just say this: claiming that tablets and phones are toys is a moronic statement. That statement is categorically wrong today, will be even more so tomorrow, and will eventually be as mocked as Ballmer condemning the iPhone on its launch.

End of story.
posted by justgary at 10:09 AM on August 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Am reading this on a laptop running Windows Vista, which has run problem free since I bought the laptop lo these many years ago.

I'm consequently a little jaded about "OMG this OS will burn your eyes and violate your puppy!!" reviews.
posted by yoink at 10:14 AM on August 24, 2012


Windows XP - " the interface also sucks it looks like wall of TOYS-R-US store! all bright and colourful i mean what the hell is that are we suppose to entertain lil kids with it or what! phew! that was a bad experience !"

But that's true. Everybody switched to the classic theme.
posted by spaltavian at 11:05 AM on August 24, 2012


ArkhanJG: "specifically (win, c, enter to launch chrome, or win, a, d to launch administration tools, it sorts the list by the most commonly used app that matches, so you can arrow key or carry on typing to get the right one) so uninstalled it."

Windows 7 does this. When you hit the Windows key, it pops open the start menu with focus in the search bar, type part of the name of your program and bob's your uncle. Unity was there first (and Gnome Do, and probably others in the past if you count aftermarket software), but it's made using Windows so much more tolerable for me.
posted by wierdo at 11:37 AM on August 24, 2012


But I'm not going to waste the time. I'll just say this: claiming that tablets and phones are toys is a moronic statement. That statement is categorically wrong today, will be even more so tomorrow, and will eventually be as mocked as Ballmer condemning the iPhone on its launch.

First, they laugh at you. Then they want to hire you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:04 PM on August 24, 2012


Yeah, I can't imagine anyone coding on a tablet.

I could link to people creating music, code, art, writing to prove you wrong. I could give you multiple ways a phone can be used as a tool beyond consumption. I could point out that the ability to consume info quickly is in itself a valuable feature. I could also point out that tablets as we know them today are just in their infancy.


You can find people doing nearly any creative task with any set of tools you care to imagine. Touch devices are not "the future of computing". People don't 'compute' on them, and when they do it's a huge compromise compared to what they might do at their laptop or desktop.

They don't actually make real work easier. More physical effort, less information visible, and more time lost in context switching? No thank you. It's completely absurd. They might be the future of something but it's not computing. I see them primarily as consumption engines. Companies who are making or want to make a lot of money off of them are touting them as 'the future of computing'. This raving about the fall of the desktop computer and so forth: What's going to replace it? There is nothing. Desktop and laptop computers will be replaced by touchscreen internet appliances for people who never wanted computers in the first place.

They're fine for reading comic books or playing with synthesizer apps or whatever, but as someone said above.. Microsoft is never going to make its developers write their next OS on tablets. I might write toy code or simple experiments in a full screen editor but I will never do it on a tablet unless I can control it with my mind. The entire idea is regressive. Touchscreen typing is a pain in the ass and I do a significant amount of it. Replace my ten fingers with two? Why carry around a laptop when you can carry around an underpowered tablet and a keyboard with crappy ergonomics? That's more stuff, not less!

If I actually had to do work I'd much rather carry around an ultra slim laptop than a tablet. Touch devices may be young, but I really doubt they're going to be that much different. The idea of poking at a 24" monitor is sickening. I would die. I have way too much to do without it being as easy as possible in terms of physical effort.
And maybe I'm just an idiot but I need to see a lot of information at once also. The desktop I work on has two 24" monitors. For doing web development I might have two editor panes, three terminals, two browsers, a color picker, and a PDF all open, visible and ready to be interacted with at once. Tiles are the future? We've been tiling for years. How much better would it be if I could poke them with my finger? Not better at all.

I want to take my hands out of the game completely, not use them in an even less efficient manner.
posted by yonega at 12:12 PM on August 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know, I tried the Windows 8 developer preview back when it came out. I actually liked it at first. It took it a month or so to start to seriously piss me off.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 12:34 PM on August 24, 2012


I'm reading this on a Vista SP2 Gateway I was "forced" onto after multiple hardware failures of the iMac G5 (OS "Tiger") that cost 3 times as much. At the time I had 15 years of Mac experience (3 machines).

No complaints about Vista-SP2 useability compared to Tiger (MS apparently ironed out Vista problems, and it's nearly as fast as a recent Linux release on this box), and NO hardware failures. Presumably MS will address Win-8 user concerns once they sort out the usual "I have to learn something new" groans.
posted by Twang at 1:07 PM on August 24, 2012


*hugs Linux Mint Maya MATE and smiles*
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 1:10 PM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


yonega: "You can find people doing nearly any creative task with any set of tools you care to imagine."

The best way I've heard to think about this is Matthew Guay's analogy that a tablet is like a microwave. Before the microwave existed, most folks didn't realize they needed one. Once it was invented, most folks needed prodding in order to figure out how to use it. Now that they're here, most people use a microwave to avoid complex cooking tasks. And still, there's certain foods like turkeys you're just never going to cook in a microwave.

And yet people do clever stuff with microwaves all the time. My mother can make chocolate cake in a microwave that tastes pretty damn good: like the molten cake you get at restaurants, just much faster and with better ingredients. Most chefs will only use a microwave for certain elements of the cooking process, a handful will do crazy exciting full recipes with it, but most people think we're ultimately better off in the world of food preparation because the microwave is around.
posted by Apropos of Something at 1:41 PM on August 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


The best thing Apple could do to change peoples' minds about tablets would be to develop a simple programming/scritping environment for the iPad with touch input being a first class way of interacting, not just a horrible afterthought. It would bring them back to their roots, give them that entre back into junior education and show that interesting stuff can be done with a tablet.

As it is now, too many suffer FFS (fat finger syndrome) and dismiss any precise or extended interaction with the touch screen. Squeek might work, for instance, or something like that. Doesn't need to be Eclipse, but Hypercard for the iPad.
posted by bonehead at 2:08 PM on August 24, 2012


Apropos of Something:

I agree with that. I'm not anti-tablet. I just don't go in for all this breathless 'the tablet way of doing this is the future' talk. As if it makes any sense what so ever to use a tablet-inspired interface on a desktop or laptop computer.

I see something like Windows 8 or Unity as being as if were selling a modern kitchen with the size and convenience of an oven but the power of a microwave.
posted by yonega at 2:51 PM on August 24, 2012


As taken from http://cryptogon.com/?p=30984

I wonder…

There are tens of millions of Windows XP users out there. Put yourself in Microsoft’s shoes for a moment and think about this: How do you harvest the maximum amount of money from that insanely large pool of people (and sooner, rather than later)?

Did Microsoft just stupidly try to fix something that wasn’t broken and wind up breaking it really badly in the process?

Is it that simple?

That is roughly how the conventional wisdom goes in trying to understand the Windows 8 debacle.

Or, is Microsoft going to make billions of dollars from masses of XP users who are so afraid of how crappy Windows 8 is that they will pay to get into the Windows 7 lifeboat before the Windows 8 ship sinks? XP users can pay in the form of buying standalone copies of Windows 7 or by buying new computers, with Windows 7 already installed.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:16 PM on August 24, 2012


a tablet is like a microwave. Before the microwave existed, most folks didn't realize they needed one.

But once they got used to microwave ovens, they wanted their stoves, blenders, and refrigerators to use the same interface. The best part was when they replaced the four burners on stoves with little doors so you could put your pan down in a compartment and then use a touchpad to control the gas burner in there to fry some bacon.
posted by straight at 3:16 PM on August 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Windows 8 Tells Microsoft About Everything You Install, Not Very Securely, Nadim Kobeissi, August 24, 2012

That's worth reading. Certainly more interesting than opinion pieces.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:19 PM on August 24, 2012


Kotaku: Windows 8 is not good for gamers.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:13 PM on August 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I could have sworn someone in a previous W8 post mentioned some way you could turn off Metro and get a plain old W7-ish taskbar-and-windows UI. Was this something that was in dev versions only, or did it make it to release, or did I imagine the whole thing?
posted by Evilspork at 5:39 PM on August 24, 2012


The microwave/tablet seems like a great analogy to me. Having a microwave is super convenient for reheating food, but that's about all I use it for. Real cooking requires a stovetop or oven.

Tablets are great if I just want to check my email or twitter, but if I'm going to do any real work, I want a gorram computer.
posted by maryr at 5:39 PM on August 24, 2012


The best thing Apple could do to change peoples' minds about tablets would be to develop a simple programming/scritping environment for the iPad with touch input being a first class way of interacting, not just a horrible afterthought.

The thing you're not realizing is that not everyone agrees with metafilter that programming is the highest and only true calling of humanity.

Anyway, programming using a keyboard and mouse and a screen still works just as well as it used to, so... problem solved. Trucks still exist, trucks are awesome. Why so much anger that some people want a passenger car?
posted by Wood at 5:41 PM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


And, hilariously, Gizmodo: You’re Being Lied To: Windows 8 Isn’t Bad for Gaming
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:03 PM on August 24, 2012


Was this something that was in dev versions only, or did it make it to release, or did I imagine the whole thing?

It was a relatively simple hack in the prerelease versions; MS has disabled it in RTM. New ones will appear, no doubt.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:05 PM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there some benefit to Microsoft not allowing a restoration of the old Start-Menu style? I mean, wouldn't having the option make people more open-minded to trying 8?
posted by maryr at 6:28 PM on August 24, 2012


...you hate being able to tell the difference between a running program and the option to start running a program.

If it's running it's backlit, if more than one window/instance is up it has an extra backlit square slightly offset (up to three for three or more instances). I don't get the problem there.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:43 PM on August 24, 2012


They are trying to shoehorn developers into buying into metro / windows app store. As you can already see it's just going to result in third party apps restoring windows 7 functionality, except for businesses large enough to have an IT department that locks down said apps, but not large enough to beat up Microsoft to get the features they want.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:45 PM on August 24, 2012


Maybe programming is not the highest human calling.. and ure tablets are great.. but they and their UIs are not 'the future of computing'. I agree that lots of people are using tablets to do something, but it isn't computing.

This cargo cult shoehorning of tablet UI features into desktop OSes is so misguided.
posted by yonega at 8:30 PM on August 24, 2012


I agree that lots of people are using tablets to do something, but it isn't computing.

I'm just repeating this comment so we can all meditate on its wrongness
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 10:12 PM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Trucks still exist, trucks are awesome. Why so much anger that some people want a passenger car?

I don't it's anger over some people wanting a passenger car, it's more a result of being told that your truck that can fit 8 people or can haul x amount of metric tonnes is done and the passenger car will replace it and the passenger car will do so just as well and if you think otherwise, you're a fucking idiot. So what if you have to take 2 people at time so you make 4 trips instead of 1. Doesn't matter, you still get all 8 people from point A to point B so what the fuck are you talking about, you're truck is done. So what if you have to haul x amount of metric tonnes in smaller increments multiple times whereas your truck can do so in one trip. Doesn't matter you fucking elite luddite, the passenger car still gets it done. They may be different but fuck you, the future is the passenger car man!

The reaction to the lack of a clear desktop in Windows 8 (apparently) clearly illustrates a lot of people like their trucks. I think the future of computing is a mix of trucks, cars, motor bikes, bikes, planes, etc.

My sincerest apologies to those who despise car analogies and any considerable stress they may cause you.
posted by juiceCake at 11:10 PM on August 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Are factories going to use tablets to control their machines?

Will tablets be used as print servers?

Will radio stations use a tablet as their production console?

Will I be able to connect 8Tb of drives to my tablet for my GIS work, and install R, Postgres and ArcGIS?

Will my webserver be a tablet?

Will NASA use tablets to control the telemetry on their next inter-planetary mission?

This is what we mean when we cast doubt on tablets/touchscreens as the future of "computing". The microwave example is apt. And Windows 8 just feels like MS is ignoring all those use cases, and concentrating solely on the "sharing photos on Facebook" use-case.
posted by Jimbob at 1:17 AM on August 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Are factories going to use tablets to control their machines?

Will tablets be used as print servers?

Will radio stations use a tablet as their production console?

Will I be able to connect 8Tb of drives to my tablet for my GIS work, and install R, Postgres and ArcGIS?

Will my webserver be a tablet?

Will NASA use tablets to control the telemetry on their next inter-planetary mission?


Given how far iPads have pushed tablet computing in the last two years, given how much computing power is now packed into them compared to two years ago, given how much battery life and connectivity options are available, I wouldn't be surprised if most or all of these are realistic options for tablets — and more — within 5-10 years.

Putting computing in scare quotes just because the interface uses touch gestures and voice instead of a dedicated keyboard is either snobbery or ignorance, at this point. That's as much a truth as it was when old fogeys griped about how "real" computing was only punchcards on mainframes, would always be so, and that hobbyist computers like the ZX81 were jokes.

Those card-punchers were left in the dust, and I suspect you'll be too, unless you consider expanding your horizons just a tad. Sorry to be blunt about it, but history is just not on your side on this one.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:01 AM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


The PC Isn’t in a Major-League Slump, It’s Headed to the Minors, Marcus Wohlsen, Wired Business, 24 August, 2012
Talking shop at the world’s largest PC makers must be grim. Here we are, at the height of the revolution in personal digital technology, and it turns out selling computers is a lousy business. This week brought bad news from two of the companies whose hardware once defined what personal computing meant. Not so long ago, “going online” by definition meant using a PC. But that’s changed along with the fortunes of HP and Dell, which have struggled to adapt to a world where laptops and desktops are just two of many digital options.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:15 AM on August 25, 2012


Those card-punchers were left in the dust, and I suspect you'll be too, unless you consider expanding your horizons just a tad.

It's not me who needs to expand my horizons... So, that iPad - I can install a relational database on it, then? I can connect my 8Tb of hard drives with my data? I can run an R interpreter on it? Apple makes sure that I can't, and everything we know about Windows 8 tablets says Microsoft won't let me either. Hundreds of apps to share things on Facebook, though. Future of computing.
posted by Jimbob at 5:43 AM on August 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's not me who needs to expand my horizons... So, that iPad - I can install a relational database on it, then? I can connect my 8Tb of hard drives with my data? I can run an R interpreter on it? Apple makes sure that I can't, and everything we know about Windows 8 tablets says Microsoft won't let me either. Hundreds of apps to share things on Facebook, though. Future of computing.


This, absolutely. The hardware resources are there. It's the corporate control that drives me nuts about this "future of computing" thing, the walled-garden approach, the abstraction layers, the rejection of apps that don't complement the host company's profit models. It's a bad path we're walking down.
posted by odinsdream at 7:49 AM on August 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


At some point, tablets will have 8tb of RAM, you know.
posted by empath at 7:50 AM on August 25, 2012


By then we'll be wanting... er, what's after tera?
posted by maryr at 9:08 AM on August 25, 2012


what's after tera?

Peta.
posted by Egg Shen at 9:10 AM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


There is absolutely nothing broken with the current desktop paradigm. Folders ,drill-down menus, and shortcuts are effective and efficient. Certainly improvements can be made, and are definitely needed for smaller screens and different formats, but...

This isn't about improving the computing experience. That's painfully obvious. This is about going down the walled-garden path. Software as services and company-vetted everything. "Tablets are the future" is just cover.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:31 AM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


So, that iPad - I can install a relational database on it, then? I can connect my 8Tb of hard drives with my data? I can run an R interpreter on it?

You can already install database software on an iPad. Can you install your favorite database engine? I have no idea. Do you think it will always be this way for eternity? I don't, whether that is an iPad or some other clone that a competitor makes that will facilitate that work.

You can't connect your 8 Tb hard drive to a tablet, today, but with how storage options are shifting to the cloud, I don't think it's realistic that you'll have to for a mobile device like an iPad or iPhone or clone thereof. And are storage options getting bigger or smaller in size for a given capacity? Do you think the state of the art is where we will be forever? I don't, whether that will be on an iPad or some other clone that a competitor makes that will facilitate that work.

Can you run an R interpreter on an iPad today? Yes, you can. Does it suck you have to jailbreak to get there today? Yes. Does this mean it will always be that way, and that Apple will never allow statistical tools on its platform, forever and ever? Maybe, but I really do not think so, whether that happens on an iPad or some other clone that will facilitate running R.

Stop being punchcarders and use your imagination. What we will use five, ten, twenty years down the line will likely be as much different as where we all were two years ago before the first iPad came out. Where we are now with this particular way of interfacing with a computer is absolutely no guarantee of where we will be in the future, and the history of computing has been pretty much clear on that, whenever there's a revolution in some aspect of technology, that displaces the status quo.

If it was up to the IBMs, we all have been relegated to feeding punchcards into a massive mainframe kept in a city center or university. Was that how the future turned out? No. So let's stop with the histrionics and we'll see how things go.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:35 AM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The best way I've heard to think about this is Matthew Guay's analogy that a tablet is like a microwave. Before the microwave existed, most folks didn't realize they needed one. Once it was invented, most folks needed prodding in order to figure out how to use it. Now that they're here, most people use a microwave to avoid complex cooking tasks. And still, there's certain foods like turkeys you're just never going to cook in a microwave.

And yet people do clever stuff with microwaves all the time. My mother can make chocolate cake in a microwave that tastes pretty damn good: like the molten cake you get at restaurants, just much faster and with better ingredients. Most chefs will only use a microwave for certain elements of the cooking process, a handful will do crazy exciting full recipes with it, but most people think we're ultimately better off in the world of food preparation because the microwave is around.


That's a good analogy. The microwave is an acceptable approximation of a number of different devices. It doesn't do ANYTHING better; except that it takes up less space and money. "Good enough" is often good enough, but let's not mistake that for some kind of optimal situation.
posted by gjc at 10:42 AM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon : You can't connect your 8 Tb hard drive to a tablet, today

Android can. If your device doesn't have the necessary glue built-in, OTG cables cost $2-$4.
posted by meehawl at 12:05 PM on August 25, 2012


Wow, just read through most of everything here. In Chrome. running on Windows 8 Pro (the RTM), which I upgraded my 7 install from last night. And believe it or not, I'm on the regular old desktop, with all my icons in place, running 3 windows across a 17" laptop screen.

Take a good close look at the "Windows 8-style UI' main screen. There's a big tile that says 'desktop'. It takes you to a regular ol' desktop, minus the start menu.

On the 'Style' main screen, you can arrange and group your tiles however you want, across as many screens as you want. For the casual home user, you turn it on, see news headlins and a weather report and updates of your latest mail, then click into them. Press the Windows key, and you're back to the main set of tiles. The programs you're not using any more? Suspended, releasing their resources for your main task.

Yes, standard office-types will have to click to the desktop, but jeez-o-pete, it really is faster.

I deal with people every day that complain about having to use win7 instead of XP, only because it's 'different'. Just wair, relax, and give it a little time. There are FAR worse things in the world to freak out about.
posted by pupdog at 12:31 PM on August 25, 2012


Windows 8: who moved my cheese.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:14 PM on August 25, 2012


I was a bit ambivalent about windows 8 but that Hanselman article has gotten gotten me interested. I really hope people give it a chance and don't take a lot of the "it's going to be worse than vista" advice in this thread.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:20 PM on August 25, 2012


Blazecock Pileon: "If it was up to the IBMs, we all have been relegated to feeding punchcards into a massive mainframe kept in a city center or university. Was that how the future turned out? No. So let's stop with the histrionics and we'll see how things go."
Fine, but in the meantime I have no use for a tablet so please stop ramming that paradigm down my throat. If it doesn't have a keyboard, I'm not interested.
posted by brokkr at 2:41 PM on August 25, 2012


Android can.

This is an interesting claim. I don't think it is entirely true. Unless things have changed dramatically very recently, most Android devices out in the world use an old version of Android that supports YAFFS as a file system, which has an upper limit of 1 GB for file system size. Support in a slightly newer version for FAT32 partitions is limited to 32 GB. You have to jailbreak/root Motorola or other Android phones to install a third-party driver that supports other file systems that do not have those limitations, or use ext4, which not everyone uses as a file system. It can be complicated, but for the most part, plug-and-play Android support for 8 Tb drives is not really there. You're not going to just plug one into the average Android phone and have it work, without a lot of extra effort and a device that can support Cyanogen, which Google/Motorola will permit you to install.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:47 PM on August 25, 2012


in the meantime I have no use for a tablet so please stop ramming that paradigm down my throat. If it doesn't have a keyboard, I'm not interested.

Until you actually live with a tablet for a while, you don't really know if you have a use for it, I don't think. I didn't really want one until I visited by parents for a week, and found myself borrowing my moms iPad constantly and never using my own laptop except to work on music. It's just brilliant for browsing the web, streaming video and managing photos and music.

If ableton live ever comes out with an iPad version, I don't think I'll ever use a laptop again.
posted by empath at 2:52 PM on August 25, 2012


BP: You're not going to just plug one into the average Android phone and have it work

The context of this discussion was doing development on tablets, and invoking RDBs and multi-TB pluggable storage. I don't think many people with "average" Android phones will be doing that sort of thing on them (and it's hard to see a use case for it when even most BR rips will fit comfortably on a single, compact 32- or 64 GB SDHC card). If you're playing around with TBs of storage and RDBs, then I hope you have superuser access to your device!

I was however pleasantly surprised to find that my old Asus Transformer 1st Gen seems to have NTFS support baked in (plug in big NTFS formats... it just works). I think this is Tuxero commercial, but there's an XDA plugin for fuse.ko module, or you can roll it into insmod. I know a 2TB drive just plugs in with no issues to my GTV Revue (android-based).
posted by meehawl at 3:05 PM on August 25, 2012


If you're going to make a blanket claim that "Android can" and just post a link to a random cable you can buy, then we need to start investigating what versions of Android are out there and what they can actually do, because most versions of Android in use in the real world don't really support your special use case.

Even though iPhones and iPads can act as [printer/file/etc.] servers, or connect to hard drives through the USB cable that's out there, or run R, I'm not going to make a blanket claim that they can, because doing this usually requires jailbreaking, which is a special use case that does not define computing for the majority of people who use these computers.

A jailbreaked iOS can do everything a rooted Android install can do, but I acknowledge — fairly, I think — that this is just not the typical way people use Android or iOS. So maybe we should just leave these weird and exceptional use cases out of what defines computing for 95% of the public, for both platforms (as well as for Metro, however it turns out).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:16 PM on August 25, 2012


But it's that "95%" I'm taking argument with, BP. You're picturing computers as primarily consumer devices, when huge numbers are sitting in factories controlling robots, or in server rooms storing financial data and balancing people's bank accounts, or in labs collecting scientific data from spectrometers, or on aeroplanes running the autopilot, or back at the security screening analyzing images from the x-ray luggage scanner. All those devices need an operating system too, and calling that stuff "edge cases" shows a remarkably narrow view of what computers do.
posted by Jimbob at 3:25 PM on August 25, 2012


Just because a computer doesn't (yet) get used to monitor and manage a satellite trajectory doesn't somehow make it a non-computer. Nor does the existence of a tablet threaten the existence of NASA's telemetry systems. Your technical skills aren't going away just because some dude enjoys making music on a slab of glass, instead of being forced to tap keys on a QWERTY keyboard. Come on, now.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:46 PM on August 25, 2012


I like video games with mice and keyboards, so I guess I can just go fuck myself. Tablets are terrible gaming devices; the idea that Flash games and standalone consoles are the future of gaming makes me sick to my stomach.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:47 PM on August 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


empath: Until you actually live with a tablet for a while, you don't really know if you have a use for it, I don't think. I didn't really want one until I visited by parents for a week, and found myself borrowing my moms iPad constantly and never using my own laptop except to work on music.
My in-laws have an iPad. It's okay for quickly looking something up on the internet and that's about it. Actually, it's great for toddler entertainment - I'll give you that. At 18 months, most people are better at swiping a screen than using a mouse. It's damn funny to watch as well :)
It's just brilliant for browsing the web,
As long as you're not trying to type up that MeFi FPP with lots of hyperlinks.
streaming video
Multimedia playback is something I'd expect to work equally well on a tablet and a notebook. How is it better on a tablet?
and managing photos and music.
Boy, do I look forward to firing up the photo editing software of my choice on a tablet, set colour balance and contrast and then crop my photos using a touch screen interface. Does it run gimp?
posted by brokkr at 5:02 PM on August 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Pope Guilty: "I like video games with mice and keyboards, so I guess I can just go fuck myself. Tablets are terrible gaming devices; the idea that Flash games and standalone consoles are the future of gaming makes me sick to my stomach."

Plus I'm not enthusiastic about what Windows 8 means for PC gaming even on proper huge desktops. Games for Windows Live, after all, is a complete and total mess: it likes to eat game saves, the last time it cleanly patched a game was before the invention of the alphabet, and it has a habit of just freezing on the login screen on certain games for reasons no-one has been able to find out. Further, if whatever the Win8 equivalent of GfWL is continues MS' policy of charging through the ear, nose and throat for game patches, we're going to see games released through the service remain buggier for longer and perhaps never get fixed as developers try to avoid these extra costs. We've already seen this happen with XBLA.

And then compare the Xbox' games on demand services to Steam and laugh and laugh and laugh. Microsoft is bad at this.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:27 PM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your first born is entering high school. You're on a limited budget but you need to equip them.

Do you outfit them with A. a tablet or B. a notebook computer?
posted by yonega at 8:19 PM on August 25, 2012


Does it run gimp?

Oh, I'm sorry, I thought we were being serious.
posted by empath at 8:56 PM on August 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do you outfit them with A. a tablet or B. a notebook computer?

Android/Ubuntu dual boot Asus Transformer.
posted by jaduncan at 2:56 AM on August 26, 2012


It's just brilliant for browsing the web,

Opinions differ. With the exception of Chrome for Android I find the mobile web browsing experience to be far less than brilliant, personally. I love it for email however.

I pretty much only use my tablet for reading PDFs. Netbook or Ultrabook would be my choice over a tablet easily. As for the desktop. A nice 30" or more monitor tied to a system that has some real power, freedom, and flexibility is much preferred.

I believe tablets will improve and have a place but they will not eliminate desktops any time soon if ever.

Do you outfit them with A. a tablet or B. a notebook computer?

B. Running Windows/Linux.

Fortunately with millions of individuals in this world I believe that there will be a variety of markets that include tablets, server boxes, desktops, laptops, etc. and I don't think that what I prefer is what most must therefore prefer.
posted by juiceCake at 7:31 AM on August 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm going to leave this in both threads: Windows 8 productivity: Who moved my cheese? Oh, there it is. - looks to be a very useful guide to getting things on Win8. Bit keyboard heavy, but definatly some stuff I'll be using.
posted by Artw at 7:31 PM on August 26, 2012


This Metro design language reference reveals some clues about the targeted market segment.
posted by flabdablet at 10:37 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I will never use that for a desktop PC. Never. I will move completely to Linux first.

As I've pointed out elsewhere, the everything-is-a-phone brain worms have thoroughly infested the Linux desktop development community as well. Anybody who really is thinking of moving to Linux as a reaction to Windows 8 would be well advised to pick a distro based on Xfce.
posted by flabdablet at 10:51 PM on August 26, 2012


Debian is a solid choice.
posted by flabdablet at 3:39 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm curious what's happening with Debian; I did a Wheezy Beta 1 install the other day, and got gnome3 as the default.
posted by jaduncan at 6:00 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The default desktop environment is set by the tasksel package, which is currently at version 3.11 in Wheezy. The change to Xfce happened just after 3.12 which is the version currently in Sid. I would expect that change to be retained in 3.13 and subsequent versions, and make it into Wheezy before Wheezy becomes the new Stable.

In any case it's pretty easy to choose the Xfce desktop during installation even if it isn't the default.
posted by flabdablet at 6:50 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


And yes, Gnome in Wheezy is Gnome 3, as I found out to my chagrin after a careless aptitude full-upgrade.
posted by flabdablet at 6:59 AM on August 27, 2012


Your first born is entering high school. You're on a limited budget but you need to equip them.

Do you outfit them with A. a tablet or B. a notebook computer?


You can buy brand new notebook computers for $299 all day long. Even if a $199 Android tablet will fit the bill, how many apps do you need to buy before you can be productive? How many little doodads (cables, bluetooth keyboards, little foldy stands, etc) do you have to buy? And when it breaks 9 months from now, will they be compatible with the next one?
posted by gjc at 7:23 AM on August 27, 2012


Re: Windows 8 productivity: Who moved my cheese? Oh, there it is.

This is a good review of stuff you can do, but it seems a little ironic that the OS that is meant to converge tablets and regular computers emphasizes keyboard shortcuts. How do you do all that crap on a machine without a keyboard?

Especially coming from Windows, which became popular in no small part because its paradigm was more visible and "straightforward" than the previous software concepts. (like the c:\> prompt, or the blinking cursor on a blue background of WordPerfect 5.1, or the crazy / commands of Lotus 123.) With Windows (and/or MacOS), you didn't need to have a cheat sheet of keyboard shortcuts that didn't quite fit on your keyboard. Just select a menu that seemed relevant to what you were doing, and it probably had the command you wanted.

The downfall of Windows happened when Gates (or whoever whispered it into his ear) decided that Windows should blur the difference between "stuff that's on the computer" and "stuff that's on the web". It started with "wait, do I single-click or do I double-click". Or the Internet Explorer is the same thing as File Manager. Active desktop. And now, monstrosities like this.

But what I find most offensive is the dumbing down. We can't have nice things anymore because tablets don't have the processing power to do them.
posted by gjc at 7:39 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


How do you do all that crap on a machine without a keyboard?

On a machine without a keyboard, you probably wouldn't be doing those things. If you're using a desktop with a big touchscreen monitor, you still have a keyboard - on a tablet device, you're not expected to run a hyper-v setup. If you're trying to get to the 'charms' menu that has your settings, and search, and device, and etc - you push your finger to the top right or bottom right corner, then slide down.
posted by pupdog at 12:29 PM on August 27, 2012


We can't have nice things anymore because tablets don't have the processing power to do them.

Tablets are like maybe two years behind desktop pcs in processing power. I don't thi that has anything to do with whatever you are complaining about.
posted by empath at 1:56 PM on August 27, 2012


Just for kicks, I wonder how the superlatives and colorful speech in these reviews compares to the reactions that long time Mac users had to Mac OS X when it was first released? Granted, that was a much smaller group of people who probably had much more uniform use cases...but still, it's interesting to look at these kinds of things with some perspective.

I LOVED Mac OS X when I first laid eyes on it, and immediately tried to make Windows XP look and behave the same way. So that's one data point.

I can't stand trying to touch type on a screen. That probably won't change until they make some kind of physical haptic feedback meta-material that deforms the screen into appropriate key shapes - and I used to be all kinds of into the idea of that kind of science fiction technology - but at this point I reckon if they're going to go to all that trouble they might as well give me a mechanical keyboard.

Have you tried Swype? It's still slower for me than touch typing, but I believe others have set typing speed records using it.
posted by limeonaire at 8:29 PM on August 27, 2012


Include me in the physical keyboards are the best input device we have camp (although they could use some improvement currently if the devotees of M15 split keyboards are correct in paying ~$1200 for replacements on ebay). I personally don't have the dexterity to use swype to type half as fast as I do on a keyboard, and it's not just a matter of how fast I could operate it but also what the long term repetitive stress injury potential is. I'm guessing the data isn't in on that, but I'm nervous enough about potentially career ending injuries with the crappy keyboards & mice that are mostly available at this point in time.

I might buy a tablet along with a bluetooth keyboard at some point, but for me a tablet is more of a media consumption appliance than the kind of thing I'd reach for if I wanted to generate any kind of work. I'm not dissing tablets here, I think other people probably can get a lot more useful work out of them; my brain's just not wired right for it. I'm more than a little jealous of the display density of an iPad3, and if they'd had some kind of thunderbolt interface so that I could use it as a monitor on my desktop when I'm not using it as a tablet I'd have definitely gotten one.

I think it's pretty silly to try and say authoritatively that any kind of UI (other than comparing with truly poorly designed UIs) is the ONE TRUE WAY. I'm pretty sure there are emacs wizards out there who've memorized 1200+ hotkey combinations for efficient workflow who look with horror on the finger gestures required for an iPad, and vice-versa for the iPad user who can make their fingers writhe across the screen in what would look to the uninitiated like some kind of non-euclidian pathway designed to summon the elder gods. I kind of like the fact that Windows 8 has three ways of doing everything, keyboard only, touch screen, or keyboard and mouse. But I don't like the way they've gotten the OS only half app-ified. This is a big part of Windows problem, they've got too much of a requirement to support legacy apps, and they can't make a revolutionary change in UI with any kind of consistency. I'm guessing there will be more abandoned APIs and technologies in the MS future very shortly.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:19 AM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


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