Dogfooding Windows 8: six long-term Windows 8 users tell all

Summary:We've all read the reviews. Many of us have installed Windows 8 in a virtual machine or on a test box. But how is Windows 8 to use, for real, day after day? We asked six users who've been using Windows 8 daily for their opinions. Their answers may surprise you.

Dogfooding is a term that goes back a while, but here in the tech world, it basically means using what you make.

With all the talk about Windows 8 over the past few months, I was curious about how it was to really use in a real-world work environment. I wanted to find out how people who spent day-in and day-out accomplishing their daily work felt about Windows 8.

Fortunately, I had a ready-made stable of lab rats, in the collected columnists here at ZDNet. Many of our IT writers have been using Windows 8 as their daily driver for quite some time, and I wanted to know what they thought of the new, somewhat-maligned OS.

To that end, six of our gang decided to donate a small portion of their Thanksgiving weekend to answer my questions. They are:

Over the next four pages, you'll see eight questions and the answers from each of our bloggers. But I wanted to see if there were any patterns, so I collated the answers and turned the result into the following chart. If you look at it carefully, there are a few fascinating conclusions:

  Jason Perlow Michael Krigsman Michael Lee Vaughan-Nichols Kingsley-Hughes Andrew Brust
How much have you used Windows 8  1 year  8 months  2 1/2 weeks 12 months  19 months  1 week
Use Metro vs. desktop  both  desktop  both  desktop  desktop  both
Using Modern UI apps IE, Skype, Messenger  none  none  none  games Netflix, NY Times
Miss or replaced the classic Start menu no Start8   miss it Start8  miss it  Start8
Tweaked Windows 8 no  same as Win7 turned auto-update off Start8 no Start8 and some Start screen icons
Using touch hardware yes no  no   no yes  yes 
Which OS to install on a new machine Win8 Win8 Win7 Win7 dual-boot Win8
Prefer Win7 or Win8 Win8 Win8  Win7  Win7  Win7  Win8 

As you no doubt noticed, about half of our dogfooders seem to like Windows 8 quite a bit, the other half aren't quite as convinced. For a Windows version this radical, this soon after release, that's actually quite promising.

The most interesting (and potentially troublesome for Microsoft and its partners), though, was the question about using Modern UI apps (the apps that are based on those little tiles on the start screen). The fact is, all of our correspondents treated them as nothing more than curiosities. Real Windows 8 users are not using the Metro apps.

For more fascinating insights into how Windows 8 is being used by real users, click into the following pages...

Topics: Windows


In addition to hosting the ZDNet Government and ZDNet DIY-IT blogs, CBS Interactive's Distinguished Lecturer David Gewirtz is an author, U.S. policy advisor and computer scientist. He is featured in The History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets, is one of America's foremost cyber-security experts, and is a top expert on savi... Full Bio

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