It’s so… flat

The wonderful J.P. of Life Is Such A Sweet Insanity asked me a question on a recent post. I was going to reply directly to that comment, but once I made it to the third paragraph, I decided I might as well make it a post. Because it’s my time capsule diary thingy after all.

J.P. commented:

Ok, I’m going to ask you for your honest opinion on Windows 8 because I totally respect the geek side of you. There are many things about Windows 8 that I like, like the whole integration with mobile/social networks/etc thing, but I would love to hear your opinion on Windows 8 vs previous incarnations. And I promise I won’t Macboy flame ON on you.

I should preface this and say I very rarely used either Windows Vista or Windows 7. Windows XP is my beast. One I had tamed. Seriously. After creating, distributing, and supporting roughly over 200,000 workstations in a global environment, one gets to know an OS intimately. I’m not sure which one of us fucked the other the most. Crass, yes. But you probably get the point.

Most machines I purchased that had either newer OS pre-installed I rolled back to WinXP Pro. (I still maintain seven WinXP computers at the studio and salon.) So the only time I had to deal with them was when someone else had a PC with it installed on that I had to use/support. I definitely was not a fan of Vista at all. It was like Windows Millennium all over again. And Windows 7 feels… clunky. The Husbear’s computer is a Windows 7 machine. But all I really have done with it was install antivirus/antimalware software, his computer games, and pointed his personal folders to a network share. And clean up the occasional mess he seems to create on it somehow.

So where to start?

I recently purchased a new computer to use as my primary computer at home. Not the most powerful machine. I bought it off the shelf at the OGRE, for some gods sake. I won’t say I’m losing my tech edge. I was just never much of a hardware guy. Add to that that I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I want things to just work. Most of the time.

And that attitude reflects how I approached using the particular OS that came on this machine: as a “regular” user and not a geek. Which was a feat in and of itself for me to do.

I spend most of my time in/on the Desktop (which for the life of me I don’t know if it’s considered an app or not in Win8). The biggest reason I’m continually in the Desktop is because it’s what I’m used to. It’s what Microsoft has consistently had as part of it’s OSes since what, Windows 95/NT4? And it’s where a lot of the programs I use still reside, as they aren’t true Windows 8 “apps”.

“Apps” are now different than “programs”. Or are at least considered different in the OS and how they run. I feel like Microsoft is trying to move in a similar fashion as to how iOS functions on mobile devices: where the apps run “full screen”. Which I loathe on a desktop. I’m a multitasker on a 24″ monitor. Making my mail app full screen on a 24″ monitor is a little… wasteful. And unproductive.

And then there’s the loss of the Start button. Microsoft says it expanded the Start button by turning it into a full-screen launching pad for programs/apps. I loathe it. Loathe! Instead of one click and hover to what I want to start, I have to jump through more hoops. Many more. So many clicks. Which means I’m less productive because it takes longer to start a program/app.

I despise what used to be called Metro: the new touch screen interface that is invasive in Windows 8. I understand the need for it on touchscreen devices. Kind of. But on a desktop machine? No. Make it optional if you don’t detect touch hardware, not mandatory.

I mentally understand what Microsoft is attempting to do with Windows 8, but I think the implementation of it was done in a poor manner and breaks usability rules. There is too much “flat” in most of the new areas, i.e., the Start screen and most of the Windows 8 apps. To the point of I don’t always know where to click to do something. How crazy is that?

It looks like some of these “features” they have modified back to a more usable state in the upcoming Windows 8.1 from what I have read and seen. Hopefully.

Whether or not I continue to use Windows OSes is a different story.

I actually find myself using my iPhone increasingly for most things I do. About the only things I use my computer for are file management (i.e., music, videos, porn ;-)), web development (i.e., blogging, website design), general Internet surfing and research, and answering long emails. Everything else, I do on my iPhone. In what I feel to be a more natural—albeit small—environment.

I’d like to move three of the four above mentioned activities to a purely handheld environment. The Husbear and I have an original iPad, but I don’t like using it. Actually, I detest it. It’s to large to be a handheld device for me. It doesn’t feel “right” in my hands. I’ve played with an iPad mini and I think that’s the form factor I would use the most. But that’ll take some budget changes before I get one.

As for the file management activities, I’ll still have to figure out. I’m envisioning some sort of home server that I can do all of those activities on remotely via a handheld device.

I don’t know if that answered your question, J.P. But that’s the extent of how much I have used Windows 8 to this point.

And probably everyone else skipped reading this post. 😉

Flame ON!

Until next time...

7 thoughts on “It’s so… flat

  1. I am forced to use Windows for some of the work I do. It runs under virtual machines on my desktop Mac. For the longest time, I held onto WinXP… especially after the travesty that was Windows Vista… but eventually moved to Windows 7 because I had software which would no longer run on XP. For a Windows OS, I was quite pleased with it, so I was more than a little excited when Windows 8 was released. Only to find that I hate, hate, HATED it. I suffered through two weeks trying to get used to it, but couldn’t stand it any more. I wiped the virtual machine completely, then mad a new one and went back to Windows 7. I really hope that this is the last Windows I have to mess with given how much I loathe Microsoft’s new OS direction, but I’m sure I’ll have to upgrade eventually. Maybe Windows 10!

  2. Thanks, I am going to hold off on a new machine at home for year or so (might try a Chrome book.) My office had committed to move from XP Pro to Windows 7, by the end of the year. We are running into too many things that are no longer available or supported for XP.

  3. I am not a computer geek at all. I’m a school librarian. But I love technology. At school we use windows 7 on Dell Laptops. The laptop has been mine for three years and we are encouraged to bring it home. I was using it daily for email, blogging (reading not writing) , and twomlittlemside jobs I had which required attendance lists and downloading and editing documents.
    Two years ago I got an iPhone. Then 18 months ago an iPad.
    I rarely use the laptop at home for anything. Have to use it at school since the iPad is only wifi, and the tech director won’t open up the wireless for non-school machines.
    Mind you I can use the iPad at McDonalds, from the parking lot. No one is worried about that….
    I use the iPad for everyone now. Learning to type was a challenge, but I’ve got the hang of it now.

  4. If finances weren’t an issue, would you move to Apple and OS X?

    “I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I want things to just work.” And with Apple it does. Mostly.

    That’s the point in my life where I was when I moved away from MS. I had to support the shit at work—and like you, knew XP inside out—but I didn’t need to deal with it at home. It was a large initial expenditure and a even larger learning curve for someone who’d been with Windows from its infancy and was used to an endless supply of—ahem, “free” software—but let me tell you, once I’d done it, it was well worth it.

    This might be the reason I’m so fed up at work now. I’m sick of MS/Dell crap not working like it’s supposed to.

  5. I loath the loss of the start button also. Hovering over the area, doesn’t always bring it forth and its so fucking frustrating.

    Also, I hate, if you have an app open when you are done, it randomly just jumps back open again. So fucking annoying.

  6. I completely agree with you that the start screen should be optional. Without a touch screen, it doesn’t really make sense…
    I’m using windows 7 at the moment and I really like them. I’ll stick to them for a little longer till some issues are dealt with. Windows 8.1 sound a bit better…

  7. Well thank you for this post. I will start this comment by saying, as a private alpha then beta tester for Windows Vista, I’m sorry. I say that to everyone that has used Windows Vista. The coolest thing about Windows Vista was the original startup sound and they got rid of that when it went gold. I’m sorry.

    I have used Windows 8 on a couple of occasions. It is the first OS that I have ever used that made me feel stupid as a user. Mind you, I have used Windows since Windows/286 and Windows 8 made me realize that everything I had learned as a Windows user was for naught. The flipping back and forth between full-screen apps and the Desktop app was very disconcerting. The “flatness” of the UI (in the desktop mode) looks very unpolished to me. I find it kind of reassuring that you’re feeling the same way about Windows 8, because as I mentioned in my original comment, I really respect you and your geek ways.

    Now, Mac boy flame ON.

    I do find my Mac and iOS stuff to be “set and forget” and/or plug and play. I don’t have to think about what I’m doing with my Apple gear and after a day of being an IT guy, it’s kind of nice to not have to think about IT stuff. That’s what got us into Apple gear in the first place, the husbear’s Windows 98 machine back in the day needed way too much support after hours so I just bought him a Mac for his birthday. Problem solved. Like you, I’m starting to everything with my mobile devices and I’m seriously considering making my iPad my full-time go to device. I guess more information after tomorrow’s announcements at WWDC will help me solidify that direction (or not).

    Thanks for the commentary!!

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