bad and ugly
TOI has covered Windows 8 extensively. You can read about how it fares on desktops and laptops here, how it works with tablets here, about what is new in it here and about how you should use it here. We even explained which Windows 8 you should buy and how much it costs.
But with this piece I want to summarize Windows 8 as well as talk about a few specific aspects of the new Windows, which may not be important in the short term and may be not be apparent but are significant when seen in the context of the future of computers.
1 I feel Windows 8 is a fantastic tablet OS. The basics are all solid and in many ways it is better than the iOS that powers iPad or Google Android that runs on many tablets. Gestures, in particular, are pretty great.
2 Given the fact that Windows 8 can support legacy apps, Microsoft hardware partners can create some wonderful hybrid devices that can excel as tablets as well as transform into a sort of laptop for much serious work.
3 I like the design philosophy of the Modern UI. The tiles that can refresh and show information in real time is a good idea. Also, the clean lines and contemporary finish of Modern UI apps is fantastic. These apps look really good.
4 The new OS makes good use of cloud computing to seamlessly integrate the offline and online computing. One example is the integration with SkyDrive, Microsoft cloud based storage service. This means, all your important files can be saved on the web in real time and without much fuss.
5 Windows 8 is the cheapest Windows at the moment. It costs just Rs 699 for many users. If you already have a Windows 7, Vista or XP you can pay Rs 1999, which too is pretty cheap by Windows standards.
6 Windows 8 simplifies the computing experience a lot. This will help people who are not too used to the older Windows or those who find computers extremely complex at the moment.
Now the bad stuff
1 The number of Modern UI apps is not great yet. And when I say app I mean the powerful program burberry bags sale s and not just websites that have been applified. The programs that we use on our computers every day are not available in Windows Store, which is the only place to distribute apps with Modern UI.
2 Lack of programs like Firefox and Chrome with modern UI means Windows 8 users have to switch between Modern UI mode and traditional desktop mode. This affects user experience.
3 Even many of computer management tasks like adding a hard drive pushes users into desktop mode. This is something Microsoft could have avoided.
4 File management seems to be lacking in Modern UI mode. Though third party apps are likely to fill this gap soon.
5 Apps that use Modern UI are too basic and don allow for much flexibility. The same videos play fine on the Windows Media Player in desktop mode. This lack of flexibility and power options is an issue with almost all apps with Modern UI interface. But I hope it is temporary and as people use Windows 8 and demand better apps developers and Microsoft will listen.
And the ugly stuff
This is more about the future but it is important.
1 Last year I wrote several pieces about closed computing. I highlighted the risk of walled gardens and computers as appliances like iPad or other tablets. The point is that computers as we know them are very flexible machines. And much of it is because of Windows. We can pick and choose hardware. We can decide what software to use. We can install programs or even modify Windows to our heart content without taking permission from Microsoft.
But with Windows 8 a lot of it is changing.
2 Windows 8 introduces Windows Store. It is similar to Apple Mac Store and iOS Store. Apps using Modern UI will be available only through Win burberry bags sale dows Store and all apps will be vetted by Microsoft before they are published in the store. Microsoft says that it is doing it for security reasons. Probably. But that not the only reason. For every app sold from the store, Microsoft will take at least 20% cut (30% in the beginning). So, it obviously has a vested interest in pushing developers towards the store. But a bigger concern is that the control on how apps can be installed gives Microsoft ability to control what a user does with his or her computer. Potentially, it also allows Microsoft to kill programs that it doesn like for some reason. These could be competitive reasons or something else.
Yes, users can revert to the traditional desktop mode and get the program they want, the way they want it. For now. And only if the program doesn use Modern UI. But what about the future? What about the Surface tablet, which Microsoft says is a full fledged computer but can run only those programs that have been approved by Microsoft.
3 Windows 8 is much simpler to use but that is because it doesn really give too much control to users. Well, at the moment it does allow for almost the same flexibility similar to the Windows 7 through the desktop mode. But the desktop mode will be killed in a year or two. That could be an issue to people who like to customize their computers and use it in their own way.
4 The multitasking in Modern UI mode is ridiculous on a PC. It is fantastic for a tablet, where we are used to single app operation. Windows 8 allows for two app operation. But on a big desktop monitor, it doesn make sense. The multitasking in Modern UI mode, where you are limited to just two apps and windows that can be resized, look dumb on a 24 inch monitor.
5 The windows 8 apps, even those bundled with the OS, are going to show advertisements to users. This is just ridiculous. Microsoft is asking people to first p burberry bags sale ay for the OS and then is going to sh burberry bags sale ow advertisements while they use it. It a daring move but given the control Microsoft (and not users) has on the Windows 8, people may have no choice but to watch advertisements.
6 There are reports that Microsoft is asking computer makers to ship Windows 8 desktops and laptops with a secure boot protocol. This is being done in the name of security but it also means that installing some other OS like Ubuntu on such systems will be difficult for users. Again, the issue is not Ubuntu. Nobody uses it. The issue is that users are not in control of their machine.
7 Surface, a tablet that Microsoft loves to call a PC, doesn allow a user to change the OS or even meddle with low level settings through BIOS control. It is the tablet and that how things are on tablets. But I believe that in future Windows computers are likely to resemble Surface a lot.
The sum of the matter is that Windows 8 is a different beast.
It is a radical departure from the Windows of the old that shaped our computers. When you start using Windows 8, you step into the new world of computing that is still evolving. It has its advantages and disadvantages, just the way the old world of computing had. Depending on how you use computers, for you it may be different but at the moment I don think that advantages outweigh disadvantages for me.