Native Windows 8 on a Mac mini: first impressions

Summary:ZDNet's David Gewirtz spent the weekend installing Windows 8 on a Mac mini using Bootcamp. His observations and early impressions (along with descriptions of some of the problems he ran into) are described in this helpful article.

I had to shut down Windows, boot into OS X, and rebind both keyboards to Mac OS X’s Bluetooth. At this point, both keyboards worked on OS X. I then had to restart, this time into Windows 8, and then using Windows 8’s Bluetooth, bind both keyboards to Windows 8.

This is all well and good, and both keyboards work nicely (as I said, I’m writing this now using the machine), except for one problem. Every so often, the keyboard seems to stickkkkkkkkk. It will suddenly insistttttttttttttttttttttt on typingggggggggggggggggggggggggggg a letter over and over. A few hits of the Escape key and it stops, but I’ve never seen this behavior before, and I’m not sure how to solve it.

Because I know there’s some interaction between the Mac firmware and the keyboard, I’m not sure if the problem needs to be solved on the OS X side, the Windows side, or somewhere in between.

Start Menu and Modern (Metro) apps

I’ll describe this in more depth in another article, but Windows 8 is baffling without the Start menu . It’s very difficult to configure. I spent five bucks, bought Start8, set Windows to boot into the Desktop, and all was much, much better.

I did try out a few Metro, er, Modern UI apps, just for kicks. I found the Netflix app to be pretty nice (actually, much nicer than the desktop app, but not as nice as the Apple TV implementation). My wife didn’t like the AllRecipes app as much as the Web page equivalent, and I found myself completely annoyed by the Evernote app.

Evernote in the Modern UI appears to simply display all your notes in a stream across the page. There doesn’t appear to be any organization or rhyme or reason to it. Worse, even though I had the Evernote Windows Desktop application installed on the Windows 8 Desktop (and it has synchronized my many gigabytes of information), the Modern UI app insisted on doing a complete sync on its own, presumably because it doesn’t share the database with the desktop application.

One other annoyance about the Modern UI apps: our password manager didn’t know of them. For every Modern UI app (and almost all of them require one password or another), I had to switch back into the desktop, load up my password manager, search for the login credentials, and then switch back to the Modern UI and enter the information in.

It felt very hacky.

On the other hand, one thing that is intriguing is the idea of splitting the Windows screen. If you take a Modern UI app and drag it over to the right of the screen, you can shrink the Windows desktop a bit, and have a Modern UI app in its own pane on the right or left side of the screen. I’m not yet sure what benefit that would be, but it’s cool. I had originally thought I’d keep Evernote in that side pane, to be able to constantly take notes, but, as I mentioned above, Evernote’s app is a little disappointing.

Topics: Windows 8, Apple

About

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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