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

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.

TOPICS: Windows

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...

Topic: Windows


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • I'm halfway tempted...

    ... To throw this article out based on SJVN's presence alone. Surely, you could have found a more respectable blogger we, the readers, can take seriously? Listening to SJVN talk Windows is akin to listening to Billy Graham talk science and evolution.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Weird, I have exactly the same thoughts about some posters here.

      Except that at least SJVN isn't anonymous and he has published his credentials.
      • apples versus oranges

        So posters carry the same weight to you as the blogger?
        • No, posters carry a LOT less weight.

          No matter how many times they post under different aliases.
        • Apples vs. Microsofts

          is like Sh%t vs Cr@p.
          • Win 8

            LOL.........I can't agree more. The best OS is or was Windows XP as you had full control of the OS you could replace files using your disk etc. Win 7 and above rely on automated maintenance the most dangerous idea yet, typical Microsoft, to lazy to do anything that requires brain power.
        • Some posters carry more weight than some bloggers..

          There are a few very well-educated posters on here that I would rank higher than a couple of the lesser-educated bloggers. My respect for a given blogger also varies based on how far out of their field the topic strays. Some are obviously going for low hanging fruit just to keep getting a paycheck. Others are passionate and well informed on their topics. So, I guess it just depends.
          • Not really

            "There are a few very well-educated posters on here that I would rank higher than a couple of the lesser-educated bloggers."

            Do you mean you've actually inspected these posters' credentials? How are you measuring everyone's "education"?
          • By what they say!

            Most of the time I can tell if someone is spouting opinion or actually knows what they are talking about. Sometimes the best "educated" people do not have any credentials to show for it. I also know college educated people that cannot do anything for themselves.

            Abbott- "Didn't you go to school, Stupid?"

            Costello- "Yeah, and I came out the same way."
          • I think you're putting too much stock in people's honesty.

            I am certain that some posters here are nothing more than crafted facades.
      • Indeed

        Ironically said by someone who also hides behind a pseudonym.
    • They're all rather biased

      They’re all biased. Tech pundits are just like political pundits: they bring too much baggage to the game to get a straightforward analysis on a review like this. You need to grade each writer on their own curve. I’m willing to bet that if we could go back in time and switch Vista for 8 and XP for seven that the article would have been about the same.
      Evil Sandmich
      • To be human is to be biased.

        And we are at our most biased when we consider ourselves to be objective.

        Even I myself am still biased, even knowing that what I most firmly believe could possibly be absolutely wrong, and that the persons with whom I disagree most strongly may turn out to be right.

        Things external to us have far more impact on us than we are willing to admit, or than we are even willing to entertain as a possibility. However rational we think ourselves to be, processes going on far beneath our conscious grasp are shaping our perceptions of our conscious world.

        For this reason, we shouldn't throw around terms of "bias," against others, since it's a term that applies to all of us, at all times, in all we say, do, type, or think. :)
        D. W. Bierbaum
        • So true...

          Such a beautiful comment, so succinctly explained and summed up... Why is it so hard for some to understand this and stop crying "Bias! Bias!" when some blogger writes something they don't like?
    • yes this is definitely wrong

      You shouldf had call real W8 lovers only there is no reason to invite people that dislike the OS, is not balanced!
      • Right. So you would have been all thumbs up

        having Walt Mossberg or someone from MacWorld reviewing on Ubuntu, or some Linux distro?

        And you would also call their opinions unbiased and accurate?
        William Farrel
        • actually I'd enjoy that quite a bit

          I've read too many articles talking about Windows8 vs. Windows7 and how the whole world will choose one or the other. Let's see the articles on how Windows8 fairs against all the other modern operating systems.
          For example, the Windows8 store compared to the software center in Ubuntu and the app store in OSX should be compared. Which is easier to use, which has the better, higher quality and larger amount of apps? Which is more stable? safer?
          Which UI is easiest to get used to? most fluid?
          Which has the better, most easily discoverable shortcuts?

          Lets bring in people with all biases and do a complete comparison piece. Make each person use their favorites last, after having used the other two for a full month each, keeping complete records. When they come back to their favorites, see how they compare as well with a full, from scratch, new user viewpoint.
          • Nothing wrong with that.

            but my point was that bloggers like SJVN have publiclly expressed their hatred of MS, and any mention of them is purley used in an effort to try to propp up his favorite open source product of teh week.

            Even IF he was impressed with Windows XP/7/8, I seriously doubt he would publiclly admit that.

            We would need neutral people, which reading the posts here, would probably be very, very, hard to find
            William Farrel
          • Not so fast!

            SJVN has paid his respects to Windows 7 a number of times, and does so in this very article, calling it a "fine, stable system."

            Further, I have been a long time SJVN reader, and he does not "hate" Microsoft, at least, I have never read those words in any of his blogs, magazine articles, or other writings. Has he been critical? Yes. Has he poked fun at MS? Yes. Does he have an exaggerated preference for Linux? Yes. Those things don't preclude him having a legitimate opinion about Windows 8. After all, he has been a Microsoft consumer for more years than some posters here have lived, I'm sure. Give him a break!
    • I take it for what its worth.

      If you weren't here bleating your opinion so often it might hold some weight with me as well.