An IT guy’s perspective on Windows 8
A brief history of my relationship with Microsoft Windows
I have been a Windows user since I was 6 years old. I am 25 now, so if you do the math you can understand that I cut my teeth in an era of computing that was once pretty ****ing scary and not very welcoming nor very user friendly… I have edited my config.sys, made backups of my autoexec.bat, and not to mention had familiarity with such wonderful tools like memmaker, fdisk, scandisk, and chkdsk throughout the years of fixing my own borked computers. I am a life time Windows user and IT professional – I can have an educated opinion on Windows and the direction Microsoft is taking it. I have seen it all: content creation, break-fix repair, web dev, gaming, HTPC, servers, etc – I have experienced the variety of capacities that Windows offers spanning from my childhood to my professional life. It is my belief that Windows biggest strength has always been it’s ability to maintain some level of compatibility with it’s self through many years of paradigm shifts, new perspectives and evolving standards. Literally meaning: I can take this old Windows 3.1 app from 1994 and run it on a computer that runs the family of operating system and still USE IT 18 YEARS LATER! Windows also runs on everything (well mostly anything x86 based…) – from high end servers, workstations to mobile computers that can fit in your pocket. This is especially true with Windows 8, and Windows 8 RT. (for arm based machines)
Windows has been everywhere man, but this time – they are taking desktop with you – and they are putting your pocket in your face! WTF does that mean!? It means Microsoft Windows, the most profoundly profitable and ubiquitous computer ecosystem of all time is changing their paradigm yet again after establishing two prior solid user interface experiences. For example Windows 3.0 had provided the frame work that made Windows 3.1 and 3.11 and gave us the classic GUI – then Windows 95 had given us a start menu which would permeate into Windows 98, ME and then later spruced up in Windows XP. Then out of no where Vista had established the user interface metaphors that would be later refined upon in Vista’s successor, Windows 7 and then, it all changes… yet again…
Pictures of Windows through the ages:
Windows 8 Review Time!
The Good: The stuff Windows 8 does good.
At first I believed Windows 8 would be absolutely daunting to use at first (which is true to some degree) but I then started to appreciate all the small things like how I felt like my computer became faster at very trivial tasks like switching users, boot and over all performance. I also started to like how the new notification system that alerts me – “Hey this derpy d00d posted something on your wall, oh hey! you have new email son!” This feature in particular makes me feel like Windows is now connected at it’s heart and soul with internet services I care about. Also, in addition to this more connected feeling – the modern UI apps provide a new level of fascination with Windows, making me want to explore every setting, every dialogue box and option my two hands can get their dirty little fingers on.
One interesting thing is that Windows 8, once you master its weirdness , you will have a feeling of wearing a well fit glove – but having to break said glove in a bit before achieving the apex of comfort. It’s a strange metaphor to use when talking about something so intricate and utterly unapproachable to the computer uninitiated like an operating system. Where this metaphor holds true is my experiencing the strange new found comfort when getting that perfect fit.
Also, there has not been any drop in performance of my games – so this is always a plus!
The Bad: The stuff Windows 8 does crappy.
Some applications have issues with the new graphics subsystem that Windows 8 has: I started streaming with xsplit and noticed that I was able to get 100+ fps in Starcraft II but the stuttering felt more like 10 fps… The guys from xsplit said that they will fix this issue with xsplit screen capture in version 1.2 - I will not be renewing my license until the xsplit devs fulfill that promise. Also, some applications have not adapted to the fact that Windows 8 has hot corners whereby you can go back the the start screen by clicking the bottom left hand corner of the screen or by clicking the top left and activating the app switcher. This issue in particular is very frustrating for me, and I believe that people who just “use computers” will find this to be a harbinger of pure rage.
In terms of comfort: 15 years of my experience and spatial awareness of Windows has been taken away from me in an instant; I was enraged at the idiocracy that had been added to my daily tasks by integrating “modern” UI apps into my internet lifestyle. The “modern” Internet Explorer 10, while being beautiful lacks traditional functionality which I believe most people expect from the Microsoft brand. Simply, you cannot use flash in Internet Explorer 10 whilst in the modern UI. Do not fret! Google Chrome works great for this issue and can be used in modern UI but kinda feels funky… IE 10 works with flash and all your favorite add-ons while in “desktop” mode.
The last bad thing I can muster from my experience with Windows 8 is the fact that you really are required to use Windows Explorer more to find things like the control panel and your documents, which for an IT guy is ok, I am a bit of a ninja whilst using Windows Explorer however I know that regular folks can not be relied upon on to know where to find anything on their computer except for their sacred email and internet shortcuts.
This section is all about the weird sh!t that Windows 8 has/does. For example, there is no more start menu, which in my opinion is not a bad thing. However, those of you whom have come to rely on being able to launch apps that way will find a point of contention - simply put: you will have to get used to the start screen or use a crappy start menu replacement which I do not recommend, get with the times and use the darn start screen! Also, if you are not familiar with the “charms menu” you will find that shutting down your PC is now a chore, but luckily there are ways around that. Ultimately, the “charms menu” is the one thing that all your modern apps require you to be aware of to get full functionality out of those new fancy apps!
The touch first metaphor will take some time to get used to, but the future is looking bright for Windows 8, now we can put Windows in more places, on cheaper devices and in more hands than ever before – which in my opinion is a win/win for our dark IT brethren at Microsoft. Thank you Mr. Sinofsky, I must now bow to you my dark lord..
Keep watching this blog and stay classy folks, more IT and gaming stuff is incoming!