Don't hate Windows 8!

Don't hate Windows 8!

Summary: Windows 8 takes a lot of getting used to, but it's the best OS made by Microsoft, and could be the best OS ever made by anyone...

TOPICS: Windows

Windows 8 is really hard to get used to. Really, really hard.

Don't get me wrong, even when when you're running through the install process, Windows 8 looks absolutely fabulous. Never before has so much elegance been wrought from such basic use of colour and typography. It's beautiful from the get-go.

But when you get to the Start screen -- well, it's really that where it starts to fall apart for people.

I started using Windows 8 full-time on March 1st 2012, just under eight months ago. Soon after starting I wrote a particularly harsh article about what I thought of it. Over the weeks and months that followed, I grew to really enjoy using Windows 8 and -- in all honesty -- regretted being quite so harsh.

(For clarity, I use a MacBook Pro hardware and OS X, with Windows 8 virtualised. All of my Windows development is done in a VM, all my "open web" and non-Microsoft device work is done outside of the VM.)

The Start Screen

Most of the public ire towards Windows 8 is focused on the new, modal Start screen. But I hope you will come to realise that it's is actually a much better task switcher than the Start menu in Windows 7 and Windows XP. The Old Windows Start menu is fiddly, fussy, and arcane. Have you ever tried getting a novice user to find Paint in the Start menu? It's like one of those wire-loop games that buzzes when you go off track and get sent back to the beginning.

And, I'll bear my soul for you on this despite much ribbing I got on Twitter for it, I had no idea that on the Windows 7 Start menu you could just type and it would find apps for you. Yes, apparently you can press the Start button and just type "notepad" and it'll find Notepad for you. What I learned was that people who loves the Start menu tended to do that, but hardly any non-technologists knew about this feature. And guess what - that same feature is in Windows 8. Hit the Win key, start typing, and off you go.

In summary, the Start menu won't make or break Windows 8, and people will get used to it. Some others will make money making replacement quasi-Start menus for Old Windows. Good for them.


My problem was never really with the Start menu. What I could not understand was this dualism of the Old Windows way and the New Windows way. (New Windows, by the way, refers to the Metro-style/Previously-differently-named-style apps that work full screen on Windows 8 and Windows RT.) A couple of months after using it I suddenly understood why it was like that, stopped struggling against it, and I've never looked back.

Coming at it cold, what we technologists don't understand is "who is going to use these New Windows" apps on the desktop when you have a "proper" PC underneath. Non-technologists, for what it's worth, won't care.

Microsoft's problem is that if you're trying to transition over to a world where the PC becomes an archaic irrelevancy you have to be bold. And Windows 8 is smack-bang in the middle of that transition. It's neither one thing nor the other for the specific reason that both Old Windows and New Windows are relevant today. Go back ten years, New Windows would be too futuristic and out of kilter with the hardware. Go forward ten years and hardly anyone will be using an OS that looks like Old Windows today. (Well, maybe 20 years.) And that includes OS X and the various Linux front-ends that are WIMP in nature. They'll also die off, or have to negotiate the inventor's dilemma.

It's that fact that we all have to make peace with when thinking about Windows 8. There isn't a better way of making Old Windows and New Windows work together. What Microsoft has come up with is the least-awful way of doing it. Which I mean kindly.

Don't hate it!

Since September 2011, there have been four versions of Windows 8 -- Developer Preview, then Consumer Preview at the end of February, then RTM in August. One problem with this schedule is that it takes between six to eight weeks to get used to Windows 8.

As soon as a new drop of the OS hits all of the amateur and professional pundits pile on to comment. Because Windows 8 is so weird, most of these articles end up being negative. I do wonder how many writers have crafted a piece that's harsh on Windows 8 when they started using it, only to look back and regret it weeks later just like I did.

The wave of anxiety never calms down firstly because of the time for the user to reach acceptance, and also because Microsoft has consistently created a vacuum with regards to facts about the OS. That just breeds speculation.

No one ever likes the new versions of Windows when they're released, and business never buy them for years. Windows 8 will be judged in 2018, not 2013.

So that's my advice really. If you're new to Windows 8, don't give it the hate. Sit back, relax, and in a few weeks I'm sure you'll be loving the whole Windows 8 groove. And definitely, definitely don't downgrade if you buy a new machine with Windows 8 pre-installed. You'll be missing out on a fantastic operating system.

What do you think? Post a comment, or talk to me on Twitter: @mbrit.

Image credit: Wikimedia

Topic: Windows

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Sorry.

    I hate Microsoft period therefor it only follows that I hate Windows 8.
    • You also seem to dislike proper punctuation.

      Hate breeds ignorance.
      • And in the case of DontUseMicrosoftAtAll

        Ignorance breeds hate.
        • Vicious Cycle

          And the predictions of Idiocracy begin to take shape.

          Brand loyalty or disloyalty just causes one to miss out on wonderful things. MS/Apple/Google/etc all have something to offer that will suit different people
          • I agree with you bkbillma!

            I agree with you bkbillma! I used to be a brand loyalist to Apple. Then I realized I was missing out on a bunch of cool software and hardware on Windows side. Now I choose the best, regardless of who makes it. I truly love Windows 8. It's not perfect, but I think it's definitely the future. I'm an Apple guy (all my hardware and software is Mac / iPhone / iPad based), but I just purchased my first Windows ultra top (touch screen) with Windows 8 and love it!
        • No ignorance here...

          And I still hate Windows 8 (at least on my desktop). Can't speak for a tablet.
        • Hate...

          ... Leads to the Dark Side...
          • Hate leads to better Products!

            What a total idiot you are, we are all talking about real world issues that might have a small chance of being fixed and this idiot is quoting BS movie lines. Total lack of anything constructive and just as divisive as the hate he references.

            Sorry if this wasn’t a real problem there would not be any way near the amount of discussion on this topic as there is. People everywhere are blasting MS for the downgraded OS interface and many like me are totally refusing to upgrade as it offers no other improvements and or required changes. It's a badly redressed copy of Windows 7 that I already have.
          • People hate change

            The problem is NOT Windows 8. It's people not liking change. No, it's not a perfect OS, but they are bridging the entire eco system into one coherent OS (phone, tablet, computers and Xbox). It makes complete sense where they are going. And speaking as a developer, there support of developers is amazing! I hated MS as much as everyone in this list for a long time. But they turned around and are headed the right way. I also changed and "opened my mind". There cloud initiative along with their access to your data in all devices is the way of the future (Apple is trying to do that too).
          • Hate only leads to the darkside if...

            you let the hate control you. Although we are already in dark times with Windows 8 i have decided to use Linux for all my internet needs and don't need new Windows system to keep up with the latest updates. Microsoft is not meeting my needs in an OS and it's kinda ridiculous that an overpriced OS in general just doesn't work out. Why should i pay to upgrade my older nice, Windows 7 desktop UI for a crummy Windows 8 junk. Sure it's faster if you are lacking hardware power but for me it's just a damaged Windows 7 with a full screen start menu which i find useless. By refusing to upgrade and moving to Linux i am helping those who have to relearn how to use their PC anyway and it'll help them save money by switching to Linux. The more users that move to Linux the better it will become.

            Win 8.1 isn't much better and will continue receiving the backlash that it deserves. Windows 8 is not the future of desktops nor does it create any innovation here. I got an Android phone and i keep going back to my desktop with Windows 7. Keep dreaming that Windows 8 is better than 7. 8 doesn't even come with dvd functionality unless you download Windows Media Center. Trying to justify Windows 8 is like telling yourself it's ok to give up your car for a horse and carriage. The only good thing about Windows 8 is that it's encouraging me to switch to Linux. If Windows 9 is as good as Windows 7 then i might buy it, but only if it's a worthwhile update. It makes no sense to pay for something your not going to fully enjoy. I have the reason to believe the start screen will be short lived on the desktops as MS will have to deal with competition in the near future.
        • Yeah no problem..

          Just move to Linux or Apple then. The problem is that MS still has a good share of functionality left but watch that change as users will either flock to Linux or Apple. We all have to make sacrifices but using Windows 8 is not one of them.
      • Don'tUseMicrosoft

        should stop trolling and wasting our time particularly as the first "commenter". Ignorance is not bliss!
      • Wrong

        What if you hate ignorance? Does that make you ignorant too?

        You got it backwards, as if a proverb about racism applies to such rational hatreds. In fact, you'd have to be uneducated NOT to hate Microsoft (unless you love getting screwed by tyrants and slave owners). A much more applicable proverb would be "ignorance is bliss."
        Trae Barlow
        • PS

          It is truly aggravating that as a software developer I have to write code for Microsoft if I plan to write software that anyone beyond a small hand-full of people can use. Due to their monopoly on the operating system market you'd be hard pressed to find even productive libraries to write many types of software's for a non commercial OS, even considering the OSes kernel libraries offer similar functionality.

          That trend is changing however, and if trends continue, in 20 or so more years the Unix Desktop will be a busy place.
          Trae Barlow
    • I understand...

      I do understand your sentiment. An example of the same thinking for me would be: Symantec. A few years ago when viruses ruled the consumers Windows world, I and many of the people I help, would often have more problems with the Symantec Software than with viruses themselves.
      Because of that experience I don't even care what products Symantec comes out with anymore, I'm never going back. And in the same vein, the people that had bad experiences with Windows will never go back. I don't blame anyone for leaving during that period. It was a pathetic experience for anyone. I'm even more angry with OEM's that continue to ruin Windows out of the box.

      I am glad I stayed with Windows though, Microsoft is proving themselves to their loyal fans in a big way here. Windows 8 takes a very complicated world of computing and with a bit of a learning curve makes it an incredible tool. Computers aren't Tv sets. For some they are, but for more they are tools. I admire them more than ever. Thank god for all this choice, because like you and MS, I'll never be an Apple guy either. Let the games begin.
      • Computers aren't Tv sets

        Jimmy Fal wrote "... Computers aren't Tv sets ..." I agree 100% so I wonder why computer screens became "widescreen" (i.e. reduced height) and why the vast majority of monitors are basically TV sets without tuners. I've got a 1920 x 1200 screen at home and it's so much better than 1920 x 1080. The extra 120 pixels in height make a significant difference. A friend of mine has a "tallscreen" i.e. a widescreen on end because he then can view web pages with minimal vertical scrolling.
        • My PC is a Security DVR and Media Center DVR Via A Ceton quad cable card tu

          1 of My PC's is a Security DVR and Media Center DVR Via A Ceton quad cable card tuner,with whole home networking to each 16:9 HD Plasma/Lcd set in my home so yes Computers are TV's and much more they are what you make them, with a second Ceton card I could have 8 tuners more than any Sat/TV or Cable Co DVR all without rental or DVR fees!
          • Monitors

            1080I or P = 1920x1080 and 720p format which has a resolution of 1280×720 Also
            I have several lcd monitors that rotate that become 1080x1920.
      • Windows 8

        Love Windows!

        I had several Apples & they were excelleent but software was a problem for me.
      • Umm...

        You consider yourself fortunate for not using Linux, for being less free?

        I guess George Orwell's 1984 was just a few years early with thought like this.