August 23, 2012
REVIEW: Windows 8 Learning Curve Is Too Steep And Outweighs Potential Benefits
Derek Walter for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Windows 8 is one of the most radical overhauls that Microsoft has done to its desktop operating system. It is a bold change to be sure. Gone is the familiar Start menu, and instead Windows launches with a series of “Live Tiles,” square and rectangular hubs that update in real-time and serve as gateways to applications.
Yet while Microsoft has won praise for this kind of implementation on its Windows Phone, potential disaster lurks on the desktop. Having used the Windows 8 Consumer Preview myself, I believe the learning curve is too steep and outweighs potential benefits for the vast majority of computer users.
This is not just computer snobbery. Even though I am a fairly advanced computer user, I became frustrated by Windows 8. Multitasking is a pain. You must hover in the top, left corner of the screen and then pull down to view the list of open programs. Only the Windows 8-developed full-screen apps will show up. You need to head back to the legacy desktop to switch over to any applications you have running there. Moving between the Windows 8 apps and traditional desktop feels like running two different devices at once. And while some of the new apps work great, most of us will still be running applications or performing tasks on the traditional desktop.
Yes, we are moving to a world where the majority of computing will take place on touch-screen smartphones and tablets. Yet the desktop isn´t going away. Businesses and others who rely on productivity still will find a keyboard and mouse/touch pad the best way to get stuff done.
Windows 8 may work very well on products like Surface or other tablets. The interface, once called Metro, is ideal for swiping and navigating with finger gestures. The Live Tiles make it easy to stay updated by just browsing the launch screen. Yet for those who want to quickly move between a browser and Office files, or like the functionality of the task bar, Windows 8 is a jarring change.
One group that I predict will not embrace Windows 8 is enterprise. An area that has ironically been a bread-and-butter lock for Redmond´s products is unlikely to want massive training for its employees to learn how to navigate through Charms. Windows 7 performs well and will likely receive a long period of life, just as XP has.
In fact, Windows 7 may overtake the role of what Windows XP held for the last decade: a solid desktop operating system that will meet the needs of enterprise and casual consumer users. There is no reason for businesses to need the kind of sweeping change found in Windows 8. The question is if the rest of PC owners will feel the same.