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

Question #5: How have you tweaked your environment for day-to-day productive use of Windows 8 (add-ons, settings, etc)?

This question expands on the previous Start menu question, to see how our dogfooders are using Windows 8. I wanted to know if they'd customized Windows 8 beyond the Start menu. I expected a relatively measurable amount of customization to have been done by our diehard users, but surprisingly little tweaking has been done.

Perlow: No.

Michael Krigsman: Nothing different from Win7.

Michael Lee: My desktop PC is on 24/7 and has a number of services running, some of which are manually started. I've come home to find that automatically installed updates have restarted my machine (even though they were applied several days prior), meaning any manually started services have stopped running and upon reboot, there is no indication of what actually occurred, only that the system is at the login page.

The first time it happened, I figured I may have had a power failure, but after looking through the system logs, I realised it was scheduled to occur, but without any user prompting. Needless to say, I don't allow Windows 8 to automatically apply any patches any more, which ironically reduces security rather than increasing it.

On security, it's worth noting that if you choose to link Windows 8 to your Live account, it also means that a compromise of one PC can lead to the compromise of the other.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols: I tend to keep it basic other than Start8 so when I have something to say about Win 8 my experience will reflect what most people will see.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes: Not much yet. I've tried to keep the OS as vanilla as possible until I get a feel for how best to customize it.

Andrew Brust: Start8, as mentioned above, is my biggest tweak. I have also added a few important icons to the start screen that launch sites directly in the desktop version of IE10. These are sites that use Flash and are not whitelisted by MS, and so require desktop IE.

Question #6: Have you added any touch hardware (like a touch mouse or trackpad)? Do you find that improves productivity or just simply makes Windows 8 usable?

This whole dogfooding project has been about getting a feel for Windows 8 on traditional desktop machines, so I was very curious whether touch hardware added to the experience.

Jason Perlow: Yes, I use the Logitech touch products (mouse and trackpad) and I find it makes Windows 8 easier to use, as well comes in handy with particular apps that are multitouch enabled, such as Visio and Internet Explorer.

Michael Krigsman: No.

Michael Lee: I have neither, but I've found that the new "slide in" menu when right clicking seems to have a lot less functionality than the previous context menus. I've yet to notice any productivity gains or losses, however.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols: Nope. I'm sure it would be much better with such an add-on, but really what OS should require you to get an add-on to use it properly? I've also heard people swear that Win 8 is great with two monitors. Again, that's fine for someone like me, with tech lying everywhere, but how many normal people have two monitors?

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes: There's some good hardware out there and the touch hardware does help. Problem is, the hardware is having to bend over backwards to accommodate for stupid UI decisions that Microsoft made, rather than complementing the OS. For example, I cannot for the life of me figure out why Microsoft decided that the Start Screen should scroll in a landscape manner as opposed to portrait.

Andrew Brust: I got Win8 installed on my Office PC today and so got to play with the Touch Mouse gestures. I guess they’re still new to me, and my muscle memory is still biased toward older techniques, but I didn’t really find them comfortable and the old tricks seem easier. For example:

  • Windows key + C seems a much easier way to get the charms menu then swiping two fingers from right to left on the mouse. Plus Win key + C is a toggle whereas I don’t think there’s a touch gesture to make the Charms bar go away.
  • Likewise, using a right-click (or Windows key + Z) to toggle between the App Bar being visible/invisible seems easier than a two-finger swipe up or down on the mouse.
  • To get “Semantic Zoom” to work on the start screen requires a *three*-finger swipe down (to zoom out) or up (to zoom in), but I find it easier to hold down the Ctrl key and then do a single finger swipe down/up (or scroll wheel down/up on a non-touch mouse).
  • A two-finger swipe from left to right is akin to a touch swipe in the same direction (i.e. it swipes over the next app). I’m not sure there’s an equivalent for a conventional mouse, but I’m happy to click the upper-left-hand “hot corner” or do a good old Alt-Tab instead.

Next up, Windows 7 vs. Windows 8...

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.