Arrgggh! My wife (Gina the Gorgeous) just bought herself a new PC that's loaded with the Windows 8 operating system. I tried to wrap my brain around it and now my head hurts!
On the one hand, I know that I – like a lot of folks – am resistant to change. On the other hand, I also know that you have to adapt or … well, "die" might be a bit too strong of a word, although I would certainly like to have strong words with whatever morons came up with Windows 8.
Here's the deal. I started out when everything was command-line only. Then came graphical user interfaces like Windows, which limped its way to Windows 3.1. I remember not being particularly happy when Windows 95 came out – "things" were "different" – but after a while I adapted and life was good.
The same thing happened when Windows 98 appeared on the scene – and again when Windows XP slapped me in the face like a wet kipper.
Fortunately, I managed to completely avoid the Windows Vista fiasco. I was dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century when my old computer died and I was forced to buy a new one running Windows 7, but I quickly discovered that I really liked Windows 7 (the "Search programs and files" feature is incredible and has "saved my bacon" on more occasions than I care to remember).
And so we come to Windows 8. Hmmm. What can I say? How about taking a deep breath and starting gently and thoughtfully with "I HATE IT!!!"?
I can see what they were trying to do. Tablet computers like the iPad (and other products with touch-screen interfaces) have revolutionized the way we use computers. I must admit that I would love to have touch-screen capability on all of my machines, but it's especially useful in things like tablets. The thing is, however, that the tablet is more of a "content consumer" than a "content creator" – and the touch-screen and associated interface is great for the consumer role and playing with applications on an individual basis.
The main thing here is that the touch-screen capability is an adjunct to the underlying graphical user interface (GUI). I want to keep my desktop interface while augmenting it with touch-screen functionality. The tile-based Windows 8 start screen (called Metro, I believe) seems to be geared up to content consumption – it "serves" you with information in real-time in a very attractive manner. But my wife and I use our PCs to create content. We want to be able to quickly and easily locate documents (files and folders) and locate and launch applications and drag data from one application to another and so on and so forth.
Now, you can get to a traditional desktop view from the Metro interface. If you are lucky, you can even get there more than once (by which I'm trying to convey that the process is in NO WAY intuitive). The problem is that when you launch an application like Internet Explorer, it seems that there is no way out again unless you use the sledgehammer approach of returning to Metro and then clicking everything in sight in the desperate hope that you will somehow find your way back to the desktop.
Seriously, I spent 30 minutes yesterday on Gina's Windows 8 machine inside a document trying to work out how to print it. Eventually I resorted to using the Save As option to copy the document to a USB memory stick, transport it to my Windows 7 computer, and print it from there.
Meanwhile, Gina is trilling away in the background saying encouraging things like "I thought you were supposed to be a computer expert!"
It really should NOT be this complicated.
Suffice it to say that I currently have a Windows 8 For Dummies book winging its way to me from Amazon (on the bright side, this was a good excuse for me to order the Python Essential Reference book I've been wanting). "Oh the ignominy," is all I can say.
Have you had any experience with Windows 8 yet? If so, do you agree with me, or do you think it's the best operating system you've ever seen (in which case the men in white coats are on their way)?
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