I have been using Windows 8 as the primary OS on my new laptop for about 4 weeks now.  And I have to be honest, it is really growing on me.  There are still little things here and there which bug me (usability with a mouse has taken an obvious back seat in some areas).  But overall, it is better.  I actually like the new start screen.  It’s like the start menu on steroids once you learn it.  Of course I am a fairly proficient shortcut key user so the UI stays out of my way most of the time.

I did try an experiment with Windows 8 and my wife.  I had her log into an out of the box install with no instructions whatsoever and have her try to “do stuff”.  Within a few minutes she was pretty frustrated (and she was just trying to browse the web).  Enough things have changed that she had a hard time finding simple things (like the clock and the back button in metro IE).  However after a quick two minute training session she was using it just fine and was possibly even starting to like it.  And after some simple modifications (like making Chrome the default browser) she was even happier.  So yes, this one is going to require some hand holding at first and there will be resistance.

But my real test for whether a new UI is better than the last is to try and return to the old one after using the new one for a while.  If I find myself missing the new UI, then I consider the changes a win.  A great example for me was the relatively new Office Ribbon.  There was a huge backlash when they made that change.  But for the most part, everyone I have talked to recently that has had to go back an older version of Office misses the ribbon.  Another example was the new start menu and task bar in Vista/Win7.  For anyone who learned to use the integrated search to launch apps and spent the time to personalize their taskbar, moving back to XP is very painful.

I am seeing some fairly similar sentiments already with Windows 8.  The more proficient I get in the new UI (yes, even on my dual display docking station) the harder it is to go back to Windows 7.  In fact I struggled with some driver issues at first (Dell finally released updated Win 8 drivers for some key hardware the day before the official Win8 launch).  But when weighing the pros and cons of dealing with the issues or going back to Win7, dealing with the driver issues won out.  And ever since the update it has been solid.


I do feel compelled to mention, as I would feel dishonest if I didn’t, that the metro apps still largely feel useless for those of us in a business environment (especially for those of us with dual screens).  The desktop is still a better environment for the type of productivity I need.  Metro will need to come a long way before it can replace the utility of the desktop for me.  But it’s fun to ‘play’ with.

So yes, the transition to the new paradigm is incomplete in this version of the OS and the gaps are apparent to those of us in the know.  But even with those gaps, I feel like this OS is an improvement and is moving in the right direction.  And I have not even tried it yet on its intended platform, their new touch devices.