The problem with Windows 8

Win 8 ‘not fit for purpose’?

Today’s Financial Times has an interesting letter and sharp indictment of Windows 8

“….For anybody doing real work, Windows 8 has concrete design errors which should never have reached the business user.

Leaving aside trying to work with spreadsheets, the start button, the right click or even finding basic functions hidden for no good reason, I will give a simple example of reviewing research proposals on a Windows 8 tablet.

Opening PDF files with the Windows 8 “app” allows only one document open at a time in a full-screen mode reminiscent of the pre-Windows days of DOS. Installing a legacy PDF reader on the desktop helps, but the “gesture” to move between “apps” is just that, it moves from app to app, rather than document to document. This is a conceptual error. The problem with Windows 8 does not appear to be radicalism, it appears to be either lack of understanding or contempt for those needing a business tool, rather than a toy. In our opinion Windows 8 appears not fit for purpose.

Carol and Mike Reid, Bexley, Kent, UK “

Mrs. and Mr. Reid make some good points. The Windows 8 tile/Metro interface has apps which are limited in features compared to their standard Windows application counterparts. The ability to open multiple PDF’s is just one example.

However it’s the same problem with Apple iOS on tablets or Android tablets. The limited app interfaces are OK for reading and other consumption of information but don’t have the features or power we’re accustomed to in a desktop program for Windows or Mac.

You only have to look at Microsoft OneNote which has an Apple iPad app version which is a second-cousin compared to the full Windows version of OneNote.

Microsoft keeps teasing about a Tile/Metro version of Outlook for Windows 8, but it’s hard to believe that the app version will have all or even most of the flexibility or power of Outlook on the desktop. We’ll be delighted to be proven wrong.

The problem with Windows 8 is that Microsoft has tried to provide two operating systems in one. A traditional keyboard and mouse OS plus a tablet / touch OS as well. The corporate enthusiasm for tiles and the apps mean people think they have to use the tiles when they don’t.

Windows 8 is ‘fit for purpose’ but you can’t blame customers (like the Reid’s) for thinking it’s not. Microsoft has wrongly over-emphasized the new interface for customers who need the greater power and options of traditional Windows programs … like Microsoft Office.

We happily use Windows 8 but hardly ever use the Start Menu or tile apps, even on computers with a touch screen. As we explain in Windows 8: the real startup guide, you can easily install a traditional Start Menu in the bottom left corner and start open on a familiar desktop. You get the extra features in Windows 8 like Storage Spaces, File History, Bitlocker and Hyper/V without the hassle of Microsoft’s tile obsession.