Should I buy a new PC now, What is windows 8 like?


In our last article on PC buying, we suggested that you avoid buying a PC.  Our recommendation has changed.  While hard drive prices are still not what they where in October they are getting better.  Also, new lower cost yet still high quality parts like AMD’s APU system further lower the cost of computers. However, the whole reason for this article is Microsoft’s release of the Consumer Preview (CP) for Windows 8.

First off, if any one would like to try the Windows 8 CP it will be on one of our training PCs.  To be fair on what most new users would go through, I did not look up any how-tos on how to use Windows 8.  With that being said, it took me over an hour to figure out how to shut down Windows without using key combinations.

Microsoft is attempting to make this Operating system a tablet system and a traditional PC system at the same time.  To do this, they took Windows 7 and slapped a tablet interface on it called Metro.  Metro runs apps that are like an app on a smart phone.  These apps lack all menus, the traditional close and window setting buttons, and are completely unintuitive.  The worst part is, using the system requires switching back and forth from Metro.  For example, the easiest way I have found to shut down Windows 8 is:  Click the hidden menu in the upper right corner of the screen.  Click ‘Power’.  Click ‘Shut down’.

It is not all bad, though.  Windows 8 has a one click repair feature, though it does wipe out all non Metro applications (read all Windows applications you are used to).  It also has other advancements like a fantastic task manager.

I do strongly feel that if Microsoft was to release the current Consumer Preview of Windows 8, it would get an even poorer reception than Vista did.

 

Please, don’t take my word for it, drop in the shop and take a look!

3 thoughts on “Should I buy a new PC now, What is windows 8 like?

  1. Easiest way to shut down is Windows-I, up arrow, Enter.

    Vista did pretty well selling 100s of millions of copies.

    I don’t think you really understand Windows 8. Think about it, if you are running a tablet, then you wouldn’t be turning it off with the menu and if you are running it on a desktop, then why are you turning your computer off at all? And if it’s a laptop, then most people will have the lid doing something (either turning off or hibernating).

    • Raphael, Thank you for your input.

      While I agree with you that the easiest way to shut Windows 8 down is with a key command, most end users will not know or be able to remember key commands and therefore I limited the method to a mouse only approach.

      Vista sold well, but only because it was the only option. I have downgraded tons of computers from Vista to Windows XP. The last time I worked as a part of a corporation we where looking to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7. Not many businesses went with Vista, and not many home users liked it ether.

      “I don’t think you really understand Windows 8.”
      Well, let me describe why I came to this conclusion.
      The metro interface: It is a lot like Microsoft’s Phone OS. While Android and Apple’s IOS use the same OS on both phones and tablets, Microsoft does not share between the platform. Due to this, apps will not be cross platform compatible. Besides this glaring flaw, lets look at market share. Microsoft currently has a market share of phone OSes of 0.41%. (source) Hardly a tour-de-force. If the phone version of this interface is suffering so, why would the tablet fair any better. Additionally, we know how poorly the traditional Windows interface works with convertible laptop tablets as they where introduced in the early 2000s. Microsoft even tried then with Windows XP Tablet Edition.
      What would a Microsoft Tablet cost? Surely it would be Apple iPad territory due to the cost of the OS. In fact, it would be the only tablet that would have a separate OEM cost of hardware and software, therefore it could be an expensive proposition.

      So, as a tablet I feel this OS will fail.

      Moving on to the Desktop/Laptop environment.

      Microsoft took the best Operating System of late and added in a questionable secondary interface. This added interface takes away from Microsoft’s traditions, confusing end users and unnecessarily complicating the system.
      Lets not kid ourselves, knowing how to reboot the computer has been a first step in troubleshooting for decades. I chose something as simple as shutting down the machine as an example of an obvious task that has been the same for over a long time. This as an example of how the Metro interface is confusing and un-intuitive. Additionally, how powerless would an end user feel when they where unable to simply shut down the computer.

      In short, the tablet side of the OS is a confusing and will be unwelcome to most end users. It flows into the standard computer side of the interface and will completely derail users familiar with Windows. Therefor, IT Pros and home users will not give Windows 8 in its current form a favorable view.
      Raphael, by all means, if you disagree with any of this, say so. We welcome your input!

  2. I’m not sure a mouse-only approach is the most relevant. It’s definitely the least efficient, but say that you do, okay so an extra step to turn Windows off? Is this really a big deal? How often do you turn you computer off? Once every few months? What about the increased efficiencies of Windows 8, like knowing what time your next appointment is without touching your mouse or keyboard? or how many e-mails are waiting for you? or the very much improved file copy? To focus on one thing that might be a second slower for the one time that you might use it, seems a little odd.

    Why did you downgrade those computers? Seems odd to me? I was an early adopter of Vista and it worked great. Yes it needed a faster machine so I didn’t put it on older machines like I did with Windows 7, however, to downgrade? Seems odd.

    As far as liking it. I have never met anyone, and I mean that, anyone that had Vista and didn’t like it. Certainly in my business we went with Vista and the leap from Vista to Windows 7 (which some people like to call Vista SP3 for good reason) was hardly noticeable. We had zero problems with Vista and it was rock solid, far better than XP.

    Look I have an iPhone (it’s my second) and an iPad (it’s my second too and my new iPad is on it’s way :-)) but again irrelevant. Let me say why. Firstly the apps aren’t really cross-platform from the iPhone to the iPad. We are developing for iOS so I have a little insight there. Windows Phone 7.5 is very nice, but I’m not sure how this comes into the equation. We are talking about Windows 8 for intel-based computers.

    Now saying this will fail as a tablet OS? That’s a leap. Android is doing very well on phones, but not so well on tablets. Why? Is there just one answer?

    Let me give you a real case scenario. I have a Sales Manager. He works from his office in Israel and commutes to the USA several times a year. His set up was a IBM X61S in the office (connected to an external monitor, keyboard and mouse via the docking station). When travelling he found the X61s too slow to start up to show things to clients (although Windows 8 has solved that problem to large extent). I suggested he took an iPad instead. So he did. He said it wasn’t useful. I believed it was because he didn’t really “get it”. So I got him an iPhone to be his mobile phone and then 6 months later got him his own iPad with a data connection. Now he doesn’t use his laptop so I replaced it with a desktop.

    So just last week I told him, bearing in mind he understands now what a laptop is, a desktop and an iPad is, imagine if he was running Windows 8 and when he travelled (or even just went to a meeting in the conference room) he could just grab the screen… His mouth was drooling! I think this is where Windows 8 will succeed.

    As far as troubleshooting, firstly I’m surprised you don’t use a tool such as logmein to troubleshoot, but really to say WINDOWS-I, UP ARROW, is harder than saying hit the START BUTTON, er, sorry move the mouse to the bottom left of the screen etc… I think that this is just getting used to something different.

    I think that most home users use their computer to check their e-mail and browse the web. That is why the iPad is so incredibly popular. Bring that to a PC where you have all that with the live tiles is pretty compelling for the home owner. Add that the ability to add other software that perhaps the user might need whether it be for work (like remote login) or play (photography software like phanfare that I use) or Windows Media Center for home entertainment makes for a very compelling solution far more powerful than an iPad. As far as ITPros are concerned, I would consider myself a power user. I run a fast machine at the office with 4 displays running mainly Adobe InDesign etc. I’m not quite brave enough to put the preview onto my main machine (it’s sitting on my 4.5-year-old X61S laptop) but I can’t wait. Why?

    Well for one, I was thinking of upgrading my laptop or at least putting in a SSD. With Windows 8, I no longer have the need. It boots in seconds (rather than minutes) and my laptop feels much snappier (I did an in-place upgrade which traditionally is the one which gives the worst performance). Everything just works. My VPN works, remote access works. It’s snappier and perhaps not good for hardware manufactures, but have no desire to upgrade my computer (instead treating myself to a new 24″ monitor 🙂 )

    Windows 8 Consumer Preview is good. Very good.

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