Windows 8: What I Think Microsoft Is Missing

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 21, 2011
Microsoft, Windows, Windows 8

You have probably read a good dozen or even more Windows 8 related articles in the past week. With the release of the developer preview came a huge increase in articles and guides about Microsoft's new operating system. Microsoft do their part by releasing new articles on the Building Windows 8 blog regularly. Plus, they release videos regularly and have demonstrated some of the capabilities of the operating system on the Build conference.

When you look at the posts over at the official blog you may notice a trend there. This blog is one of Microsoft's main marketing efforts to get the word out. While it caters more to a tech savvy audience it contains vital information for all users.

I have been testing Windows 8 ever since it was released by Microsoft. I have also followed the Build conference, read every article on the Building Windows 8 site and more than a hundred on other sites.

And even though I did that, I think that Microsoft is making a mistake. When you analyze the posts you notice that Microsoft is concentrating on Metro UI big time. You also get a handful of other posts that talk about faster boot times, the new Windows Explorer or under-the-hood improvements of the operating system.

What I think is missing is official word on how computer users without touch based devices will be able to work with the operating system. If you are like me, you see the potential of the Metro UI for touch based devices. But you also see that it does not work well if you use a mouse and keyboard. I for one do not need this new interface at all. I think it slows me down, that it is impracticable to work with if a mouse and keyboard combination is used.

I know that I'm not alone in this assessment. I have talked to a few desktop only users and they all said the same. Great for touch devices, not so great for the desktop.

Microsoft could appease users like me by commenting on a question that is currently keep me from being super-thrilled about the new operating system.

What are Microsoft's plans for desktop users who work solely with the keyboard and mouse?

I basically would like to know if Microsoft has something in store that they have not revealed yet that will make work more comfortable for desktop users under Windows 8.

This will basically determine if I will make the switch to Windows 8 once it comes out, or if I will skip the operating system completely on my desktop PC.

What's your take on this?


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  1. carlitox said on September 22, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    I think Metro UI seems great for all sort of touch devices but seems bad for desktop users like me.

  2. Twangi said on September 22, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    I think it looks pretty neat, haven’t had time to really play with it yet, but from what I seem, it looks very interesting.
    Most Windows fans hate change, I don’t.

    I’m going to dual-boot it for sure, not sure about switching!

  3. ilev said on September 22, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Regarding “What are Microsoft’s plans for desktop users who work solely with the keyboard and mouse?” I think you got your answer when Microsoft was asked about Windows Explorer’s ribbon :

    We will shove Metro UI as the default UI down your throat no matter if you like it or not.

  4. Meena Bassem said on September 22, 2011 at 2:29 am

    OH, one more thing. if they are talking about boot time. in vbox, i made two machines with exactly the different ram and vid card.
    win 8 : 100 MB vid card. 1 GB ram
    win xp : 64 MB vid card. 700 MB ram
    XP worked faster.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on September 22, 2011 at 8:24 am

      Well as I understand it, Windows 8 benefits from faster boot times because of the a new system that puts some kernel data (I think it was) on the hard drive. So you won’t get a difference on first start of the operating system I would assume, but only on consecutive starts.

  5. Meena Bassem said on September 22, 2011 at 2:24 am

    @bazza : yea, it’s much easier when it’s MS.
    well, for a desktop user. and a person who always knows about the most important new apps , new themes and hacks.
    you don’t need to be a genius to notice the great improvement from vista to windows 7. but from windows 7 to windows 8. if you only see the ribbon interface in windows’d call it just one more of these hacks. the build PDF reader i heard about ( but never really seen ) , the task manager , the improvement in copy file dialogue. mount .iso and .vhd by default.personally, i’d call that just a nice update from microsoft . but not worth be called a new OS. and the whole metro UI , i can call that just a new app or something . but all doesn’t seem to be called a new OS. since i don’t have a touch screen. metro UI is a waste of time for, i’ll probably keep using windows explorer. and what difference do i get? internet explorer is quite the same as IE 9 since i’m still using windows explorer.
    maybe the faster boot time. OS choose screen. better repairing options…….. that is something really nice. well. in addition to the new task manager. i’m not really impressed.
    oh, i almost forgot one more reason to make me completely disappointed.
    i expected to have .net framework 4 already installed with windows.
    and one more thing. before installing windows 8. why doesn’t it check if i have a touch screen before installing the metro’s a waste of time without it.

  6. Robert Bravery said on September 21, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    I’ve heard numerous statements, and seen it in action as well. Windows 8 supports Mouse and Keyboard.
    The Talks at build made that very clear. So I don’t understand the confusion.

    1. bazza said on September 21, 2011 at 9:01 pm

      People just like to hate, its easier especially when it MS.

      1. Leslie said on September 22, 2011 at 3:00 am

        Its not about hating. It is about understanding that when I load windows I do not want to be presented with 9 or so squares on the screen and then have to click one of them to then get to my desktop. This is simply not useful.

  7. DAtkins said on September 21, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    I think one problem that people are having is they assume that Microsoft is making Windows 8 (or any windows product for that matter) for power users. They aren’t. The Metro UI isn’t being designed for the people who spend their time reading up on the next version of Windows.

    Metro is designed to make it easier for your grandmother to find “that FaceSpace program” – which it will succeed at. Why doesn’t it start up on Desktop mode instead of Metro? Because if you’re sophisticated enough to know the difference, you will be able to figure it out. Flip that around and you’ve suddenly added millions of dollars of support calls trying to find out where “their boxes went”.

    Again, if you think that Windows is written for power users – then you are wrong. Windows was made so Grandpa never has to enter DOS, never sees it, never knows it exists. If Metro is successful for that market – in 5 years more than half of the Windows market will know as much about the desktop as they currently know about DOS. That’s the whole point.

  8. Leslie said on September 21, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Great article that hits the mark.

    Microsoft need to understand that they are not Apple, they are not seen as risk-takers. They never have been – Microsoft purchase risk taking companies (MSAccess for example) and evolve the product rather then revolutionise it.

    To be quite honest, I think Windows is almost coming to its end of life in that it is a mature OS that does its job well, apart from keeping up with technological advances I cannot think right now what additional functionality it needs.

    So, IMO they should really focus on application development. One product could be a Metro (or similar) Shell which could be installed as a replacement for the standard desktop. This would also allow smartphone and tablet OEM’s to provide custom solutions for that specific product type. A one-size fits all OS is simply not going to work in the real -world. heck, I am still stuck on dial-up internet (not by choice) so even the cloud features are next to useless right now.

  9. Kuttyjoe said on September 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    I definitely don’t see any real need for the Metro UI in my desktop environment. Frankly I don’t really need it in on my tablet unless somehow it would help to navigate the regular desktop. But it doesn’t. However, it certainly isn’t slowing me down one bit. I don’t think I like the idea that the start menu has become the start screen, but The handful of programs I use regularly are on the quicklaunch bar. I spend precious little in the start menu as it is. It was already fairly poor to navigate so I avoided it mostly. Now I think it is even worse, but I never had much use for it anyway. I would possibly disable the new start screen so that the first screen I see when I boot up would be the regular desktop. But on my tablet pc, I may not even do that.
    The biggest disappointment I see so far is that the regular Windows desktop is very little changed. I would want to see a desktop which is more beautiful to look at like on the Mac. I would like to have custom key commands for the desktop like on the Mac. A quick look feature that allows you to instantly see the contents of any document like the mac. Just a much better desktop experience.
    The tiles and apps aspect of Windows 8 are totally lost on me. If I wanted that, I would already have an ipad. Microsoft needs to do a lot more to the regular windows desktop to actually draw a positive response from people. Of course, people are going to get it whether they like it or not, but that will backfire slowly over time. It already is. Apple is showing what a desktop really needs to look and feel like.

  10. Rajneesh Gadge said on September 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    I agree with the author.
    I also tried the Developers Preview on my Desktop and didn’t like that Metro UI much as I don’t have Touch input.

  11. Mike said on September 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I believe a registry setting was found shortly after the developer preview was released to allow you to disable the metro ui and use the start menu. From what I remember the machine ends up looking more or less identical to Windows 7 after that (with exceptions like the new exlorer ribon window for example).

    1. strontium said on September 21, 2011 at 1:57 pm

      and obviously the faster boot times

    2. Jamey said on September 21, 2011 at 1:54 pm

      I think I read that changing the registry key also reverted you to the old style Explorer and Task Manager.

  12. fokka said on September 21, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    i dont like metro at all, not even on a touch based device…

  13. Anil Shah said on September 21, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Microsoft should provide users with three options to install Win 8 with the provision to change the option at any time:

    Option 1: Only Metro
    For touch enabled devices for consumers

    Option 2: Only Desktop
    For non-touch devices for traditional computing

    Option 3: Both Metro and Desktop
    For touch enabled devices enjoying the best of both worlds

    And everyone will go home happy.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on September 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm

      That would be ideal I think.

      1. ilev said on September 22, 2011 at 8:41 am

        That would mean 30+ versions of Windows 8 unless, like Apple’s OSX , there will be only (x86,x64) one ultimate version for all with with selectable components , Metro/Classic/both , during the install process.

  14. DrTrunks said on September 21, 2011 at 11:03 am

    I agree, especially for business and professional users the Metro UI is a waste.
    In our business we do not have the time to train people in using a different UI (regardless if its easier or not) people want to work the way they have been since Windows 95.

    Introducing the Ribbon interface that came with Office 2007 was one of the biggest challenges we have had.

  15. bazza said on September 21, 2011 at 9:15 am

    For a long time it was the opposite sentiment that windows was not touch optimised and too desktop based, then came windows 8.

    I think for now Microsoft are pushing for development on the touch interface more so by the time of RTM they will have a substantial amount of metro style apps ready for the public.

    Of course before then but not soon, they will reveal their full plans fir desktop users. May actually turn out to be an automated switch that sets the default interface as classic when loaded on a desktop but with fine speed and backend improvements in place. You have to admit windows 8 classic is a far smoother and better windows 7, and your apps will still work

    So don’t get too much in a tizzy about it there are still alot of details still under wraps about windows 8 and he preview build is far from fully featured. The updates and beta build may shed more light on the final plan

    Hey I the worst happens, one can stick happily with windows 7 on the desktop and run windows 8 on their tablet. Problem solved

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