The more Windows 8 reviews I read, the more frustrated I become. Having migrated directly from XP to Win8. maybe I am missing something that was available in Win7 that has suddenly been stolen from the user experience. Not sure. Without any concrete evidence, my guess is that these reviewers are allowing their subjective opinions to leak through their expected (as journalists) objective observations. Being a registered ISO Lead Auditor, and having served as a Quality Manager, as well as mentoring several others, I know a thing or two about objective evidence. Pretty sure a good number of my articles convey just that.
On October 26th, I upgraded a Pentium 4 – 3Ghz Office PC, and a Centrino – 1.4Ghz Notebook, to Win8 Pro. I also unboxed a new ASUS i7 (3rd Gen) 3.4Ghz desktop with Win8. All three PC setups went flawlessly. The Notebook runs slow, which is not unexpected for such an old machine with 1GB (max allowed) of RAM. But it is still considerably faster than the original install of XP, making this machine tolerable for the first time in a long time. The Pentium 4, with 3GB or RAM, is like a new machine. Certainly, not the speed of an iX processor, but everything is perkier; browsing with IE10, navigating open windows, etc. Last week I did an Alt-Tab, only to realize I had 11 windows open; multiple Access database apps, a couple other programs, a couple Start screen apps and a few browser windows. All without a whimper from this aging PC. Previously, running XP, I would have gotten a Virtual Memory error after 6 or 7 windows. If you will, let me have some “subjective” liberty for a moment. If you are currently running XP or Vista, you are a dumb ass of you don’t take advantage of the $39.99 Win8 upgrade currently available. Plain and simple.
Seems as though one of the biggest bitches from the reviewers has to do with the new “touch optimized” Start screen, and I suppose, the lack of a conventional Start button. Let’s take a closer look at this. Prior to Win8, Windows had a Start button that would open; links to applications, recently opened documents, shortcuts, etc. In Win8 that has been replaced by a Start Screen, which offers “updatable” views of your most common tasks; mail, people, messaging, calendar, music, videos, photos, etc. Additionally, links to all your installed apps can be found here. Don’t like it, don’t use it. Here’s a fact: My spanking new ASUS i7 jumps right past the Start screen on boot up and takes me to the Desktop instead. Way to go guys. Been trying to figure out how to change that and will be creating a tech ticket to ask ASUS; why they did it and how to undo it. The Windows 8 Start screen is just as easy to navigate via mouse as it is via touch. That’s a fact Jack. But, if you really can’t stand looking at the Start screen, try this.
-Open File Explorer and navigate to C
-Create a new folder and call it Start Button
-Now go to your Start screen, right click the screen and left click, “All Apps” (lower right)
-Right click any application link and left click, “Open File Location” from the lower menu
-Copy the .lnk file from the File Explorer location to your new Start Button folder.
-Repeat for all the programs you want access to. You may also want to add sub-folders to Start Button, like; Programs, Utilities, Help, etc. for better organization.
-Right click anywhere in the Taskbar and left click Toolbars. Click New Toolbar and navigate to your Start Button folder. Click Create Folder to add the Toolbar to your Taskbar. Start Button “reimagined”.
-You might also want to add the Desktop Toolbar to the Taskbar at the same time.
Now you have access to almost everything you had in previous versions of Windows. I actually created a Toolbar as described on my Office machine, fearing that I would really miss that XP Start button/menu. But each day, I rely on it less and less. My apps and programs are all organized in 11 different tile blocks on my Start Screen. I even put all my Access application shortcuts on Start for quick access, limiting my need for a cluttered Desktop. I can find anything I need quickly. And if it’s not visible all I have to do is start typing. With each day, the Start screen becomes more natural to use on all three of my non-touch enabled machines. Go figure.
Another complaint is that the Windows Store does not offer a broad enough selection of Apps. I guess that renders the Start screen irrelevant and unnecessary. Ok, well prior to October 26th, there was no Store, and there were no Apps. Only Programs. So, if there is a single App able to improve a user’s experience, that’s an improvement, right? Aside from the vast array of pre-loaded Apps; Mail, People, Calendar, SkyDrive, Music, Video, Weather, Skype, Messaging, Bing, News, Sports, Finance, and so on….. how about a couple Apps that are available. YouTube RT opens in an instant and gives you; trending, most recent, top rated, most popular, or any other video you want to watch, full screen. Or maybe Clever Photo to quickly and easily; crop, edit or enhance a photo. So simple, a grandparent could use it. Or News apps of all shapes and flavors. Oh, and did I mention Games. Each new App that gets added to the Store will help to improve the overall experience. But is the fact that as the current App selection is limited, even though using said Apps are “impossible” on previous iterations of Windows, a negative? Or a reason “not” to upgrade to Windows 8? Please explain. Again, the Windows 8 Start screen is as navigable with a finger as a mouse (maybe not so much with a touchpad) and easily customizable. Oh, and did I mention that Apps you purchase from the Store are available on up to 5 Win8 devices, including RT tablets. How cool is that.
My thinking is these naysayer reviewers are looking at Windows 8 from their point of view, rather than the point of view of the average user, or reader. As such, they find shortcomings, which contaminate their entire objective view with a handful of subjective niggles. Things that most users couldn’t give a rats ass about, but results in a negative tone and low overall rating. Most average users want to; navigate the Web, check email, post on Facebook, copy photos and videos from their phone, view YouTube, print, play an occasional game, download music, and if they have kids in school or need to create a resume, install Office to create documents. That probably represents 75% of what 75% of the World’s users do with their PCs. Windows 8 can do all of the above better and faster than any previous incarnation of Windows. And adds a new and fun to use Start screen, with access to am App Store, to help prepare users for a “touch” centric future. That’s what reviewers should be focusing on.