I have reserved a great deal of time not passing judgement on Windows 8, but so far I am not as enthused as, perhaps, I
should be. This is not to say that I have given up on Windows 8, but for me, the Consumer Preview just isn't doing it. The
main problem, of course, for me, and I suspect many others, is not so much the lack of Start Orb, but the Metro UI itself.
Please allow me to explain:
Is Windows 8 a service, a product, or both?
I have discussed this quite
entangling issue to some length with others in confidence, and have found myself to be disappointed with Metro UI. Some
concerns that I see myself and others having is the Metro UI as a service platform for Windows Live. It is clear to me that
this is likely the reason that Metro UI has been embedded into the operating system. While its usability is no doubt
optimized for touch screens and next generation human interface devices, I find myself frustrated with the pre-installed
applications in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. In fact, I find myself quite annoyed, and in some cases, startled by what
happens when you link your Windows Live ID to Microsoft Windows 8.
In Microsoft Windows 98 SE, upon launching
Internet Explorer 5, one of the first screens a user saw was:
"Welcome to MSN Internet Access"
"Get fast, reliable Internet access and e-mail from Microsoft."
During that time, it was uncommon for someone to
be on a LAN (local area network) using a router. A LAN would actually have to be manually set up, and so Microsoft attempted
to use MSN as an Internet Service Provider to give you dial-up access to the Internet using a dial-up modem.
However, this terminology is telling to me. The issues with Active Desktop from the Windows 9x series of operating systems
have not been lost on me. In this context, I am mindful of the fact that Microsoft has attempted to control the desktop, and
did make an early bid to control and monetize on the Internet, from its early ages. This is not so much condemnation of
Microsoft as it is a realization that Microsoft is a business: just like Google and Facebook.
But what was once
seen as a massive attempt to take over the Internet by a corporation that controls the majority of the operating system
market, now seems to be getting a welcome reception with bells and whistles from a new generation, corporations, media, and
people planning on selling books off their review sites. Indeed, even Paul Thurrott threw me for a loop in one of his more
recent reviews, when he concluded something like (paraphrase) "More soon... I have a book to write! (Windows 8 Secrets)".
I have always admired Paul, and his contributions with reviews and early access to Microsoft software. In fact, I
have nothing against the guy. But it is true. He has a book to write. About all of the secrets of Windows 8. Much of that
review was spent explaining what certain features do. And why they actually may be relevant. To me, this was a sharp
departure from highlighting some of the improvements that could be found in the OS or talking about faster benchmarks and
better ease of use. What I saw was a middle-of-the-road exploration of features that are so difficult to interpret or
understand, even though they are deeply embedded into the operating system, that he has to go around telling you what they
Most of the benchmarks performed on the CP show that there is a small performance blow in comparison to
Windows 7, thus far. The system does not run any faster, but boot times have been expedited by code optimization. We have
seen this before, with other Windows releases besides Windows 7. One major drag on the operating system seems to be battery
usage. The results seem to be inconclusive in this realm, with one site showing better returns, and another site showing
massive battery consumption compared to Windows 7. Even though memory deduplication is supposed to improve battery life,
benchmarks show either less battery utilization, or much more.
Better Battery Life:
Hands on with Windows 8
CP: Battery life test | ITworld
Less Battery Life:
Windows 8 Consumer Preview: A Quick Look at Battery Life
(Updated) | Your source for downloading popular benchmarks
Then there is the whole idea of interest in this OS:
windows 8 cp vs 7 vs xpsp3 benchmarks? - Neowin Forums
Huh? What is going on here? Where is the main
interest in the system that we saw with the likes of Windows 7 and even Windows Vista? Windows Vista was a major flop for
Microsoft, and it was released years after Windows XP. Still, it offered robust security, and was a step in the right
direction for many of us. This is because Windows XP was released in October 2001, and something had to go in the right
direction after so much time. Now, with Windows 7 only a couple years old, one is left to ask whether they even need a new
operating system. With five years of time between Windows XP and Windows Vista, we still saw big manufacturers like Dell and
HP offering downgrades to Windows XP - which many businesses took to save money, at their own peril. But Windows 7 offered
something its predecessor, Windows Vista, could not offer. And that was performance on par with Windows XP, a much more slick
look, and virtualization technology that would allow anyone with a fairly decent computer system to run, not just a legacy
Windows XP application, but the entire Windows XP operating system, in a virtual machine inside Windows 7.
first point was about Windows 8 as a service, and that is where I also run into some difficulty swallowing the results.
Windows 8, when connected with a Windows Live account, seems to want to download your life from Facebook. The "People" Metro
application runs a Facebook-based application that, with your consent, downloads all of your information from Facebook and
syndicates it to your Windows Live page and Windows Live Messenger. It then uses that information to help you find your
"people", by literally just taking all of the data off of your Facebook account. Then, your Windows Live status page becomes
something of a Facebook clone. You can find even more people by performing the same task on LinkedIn, and presumably, in the
future, all other services, perhaps maybe Google. But what if they let you link Google as well? Then, you can just access
everything from "People", which is your Windows Live Messenger status page. What incentive do those other sites have to
continue to develop their own social networking sites?
Next up was the product placement in Metro UI applications.
When going to video, I found advertisements for popular television shows like The Walking Dead on AMC. It appears that you
will eventually be able to purchase video content from this store, and watch videos on your computer. Where will this content
come from? Microsoft, of course. This would not be a problem for me, if other services did not exist, like Netflix, for this
very purpose. Then, going to Music doesn't show any advertisements just yet - but it does show a blank user library, where
you can't add any music to it unless you go into the Desktop any way. Chances are this will be changed, but that doesn't
discount the fact that over a decade of software development went into Windows Media Player, which has taken almost a dozen
versions for any serious audiophile to even remotely take into consideration. Most will still jump over to iTunes, Winamp,
and foobar. Does the Music app interact in some way with Windows Media Player? Is Windows Media Player being phased out? Is
Microsoft going to offer its own music service now? We are left to try to figure this out.
You may be wondering
where this is going. For me, any way, controlling the presentation means controlling the content. I am very pleased that
services have been created like Steam for games and Spotify for music. With these programs, you are able to purchase music as
a service. You are also able to purchase and download the full version of games. This software is fantastic, has its own
interface, and offers remarkable service when you create an account. You are free to buy stuff, or never do that at all. You
can take advantage of social networking within these services. But the great thing about these programs, in my opinion, has
always been that you can install and uninstall them at your leisure. Thus, I ask the question, why can't Metro UI itself,
just be an icon on the desktop, and a component of Windows that can be removed at any time? After testing the Windows Live
features in the built-in Microsoft apps, I am left to make a conclusion I don't really want to make. That conclusion is that
because Microsoft could not market social networking to the masses on par with Facebook or Google+, and because the company
could not market their operating system to phones and tablets, they have decided to use forced obsolescence to make sure that
everyone on the entire planet that buys a PC desktop or laptop computer, besides Linux users, will be forced to interact with
their online services like Windows Live and Bing.
When I use the term forced obsolescence, I specifically state
that Windows 8 is being designed to make Windows 7 obsolete - eventually. While the touch screen features are great, they
seem to be an excuse for giving us a brand new version of Active Desktop. However, this time, everyone actually uses the
Internet, and bandwidth/connection speed/throughput is no longer a major concern.
I am left to imagine an Internet
where everyone who used a Microsoft Windows computer signed up for MSN Internet Access in Windows 98 and never bought a
router. What if everyone in the world was OK with Microsoft placing advertisements for their own or preferred online services
in all of their applications years ago? Well, you'd never have Facebook, Google, Yahoo, or a number of other companies.
Everyone would be using MSN Search (Bing), Windows Live, Windows Live Messenger, and Windows Live Mail (Hotmail). I am
reminded of America Online.
I have never really minded that Microsoft sells their online services to the world.
Windows Live has always been something I considered a decent alternative to Google. However, I do have a problem with the
operating system that I use also being designed directly to connect to a slew of services I do not use, and likely never
will. This includes everything I listed above about Windows Live. This integration of applications that are dependent on
Windows Live is a sharp contrast from Windows 7, and I, at least right now, would have major privacy issues divulging all of
my Facebook information, online information, and handing it over to Windows Live. I like the fact that I can use multiple
social networks, and that I have options. I use Windows Live for a variety of reasons, but I would never want it to be the
only option on my phone. much less my desktop. I would want to be able to uninstall software applications associated with
Because Microsoft controls the operating system market, they have decided to expand their business and
compete in other areas. This includes gaming consoles, phones, and tablets. I have never taken issue with this, but I do take
issue when these services are being bundled and forced down my throat in an OS release. I am reminded of how, on nearly every
operating system installation I performed for years, I would have to be sure to remove the "Online Services" section from
Microsoft Windows. These "Online Services" included America Online, AT&T WorldNet, CompuServe, and Prodigy.
the desktop is being phased out. Many Windows 8 Consumer Preview users have found this to be a difficult issue to deal with.
They claim they prefer the traditional desktop and Start Menu. I find that to be true, but for different reasons. At the
click of a few buttons, in order to use the People app in Windows, Microsoft downloaded nearly the entire contents of my
online Facebook account. They downloaded my data from LinkedIn. And they turned it into a Windows Live service. When I go to
the Videos app, they're trying to sell me movies and TV shows when I already have Netflix. When I go to the desktop, I'm led
to believe that the entire concept is a legacy feature. When I want to access a web browser, I don't want it to take up my
entire screen and use 20% of my entire monitor to show me what my browser URL is. What happens when I actually need to do
some real work? What happens when I need to bypass all of this junk?
For me, it will probably be easy. I have
worked in IT and trained myself on how to get around almost anything. I have learned, over the years, what services are not
essential on a Windows desktop, and how to install, manage, and maintain all kinds of different services. But for a person
who is basic to intermediary with computers, they will never get passed Metro. They will have their content presented to them
in a way Microsoft can control. And instead of the Internet being divided up into different areas operated by different
corporations and public interest groups, it becomes very clear to me that Microsoft will showcase a heavy hand in controlling
all online content, including multimedia, browsing, search, and social networking. Whereas before people didn't use their
services because Google or Facebook may have had an edge, tomorrow people will be led to believe that this is much easier.
With no off switch, Metro UI becomes a platform for delivering "online services" as part of the computing experience itself.
And in so far that Microsoft could not put a dent in the multi-billion dollar online advertising network run by Google, or
take advantage of the benefits of data mining that Facebook has had with their one billion users, they will now use their
operating system platform to scoop up hundreds of millions, if not billions of new Windows Live members. To me, this
While I have never had an issue with Google managing my e-mails and search, they also don't control the
presentation of all the apps on my desktop. And while I may rely on their online services, I would never purchase an
operating system released by them for just that reason. And that brings me back to Metro UI, and the reason why, at least
right now, I can't tolerate it.
Here will be my test: If Windows 8 is even significantly slower or more resource
intensive than Microsoft Windows 7, I will likely have no reason to upgrade. With a big magnifying glass being placed on my
online presence through the integration of Windows Live into my operating system, I won't want to. If my computer boots a few
seconds faster with Windows 8, I'll still breathe a sigh of relief that someone isn't trying to sell me zombie flicks
directly on my desktop with no off switch.
I won't have as many privacy concerns as others will. If people were
upset that Microsoft was going overboard with including Internet Explorer with their operating system, they will be
infuriated by the massive takeover of the desktop with intrusive data-collecting applications that make up the Windows 8
Metro UI interface on install. While Microsoft was once a software development company that released products, they have now
concerned themselves with maintaining a strong and marketable online presence on the web. They want people using their
services on every phone, every gaming console, every desktop, every laptop, and every type of device in existence that uses a
micro-processor. For me, this is overboard, and not what I'm interested in spending my money on.
I would have
liked if Microsoft came out with an option for consumers: Pay a $100 annual subscription for feature improvements to the
operating system. That is a service I would have been willing to buy. And under those circumstances, I'm willing to bet I'd
be promptly allowed to uninstall Metro UI and delete the shortcut to it off my desktop; something that will never happen once
you examine the changes that have been made between the Windows 8 Developer Preview and the Windows 8 Consumer Preview.
When discussing the new OS with even some of the most technically minded individuals, a guy who designed a Skype app
for Windows Phone before the official one was even announced, I found these types of comments:
"Im going to place
a shortcut to shutdown.exe -s on my desktop. Although I have my power button assigned to turn it off too."
that's not being "Vista'd" I don't know what is. But perhaps here are some other considerations:
If this is the
most advanced operating system in the world, is it going to even detect whether or not you have a touch screen monitor, and
adjust the situation to compensate?
As one other expert put it, why do you have to do "double-backflips" to shut
If the Windows 8 installation asked if you wanted to install Metro UI, would the majority of desktop
users currently say no?
Does the operating system showcase more opportunities to market Microsoft online services
than it does actual improvements to productivity, usability, and computing power?
How come the only way to close
an app is to hit ALT-F4 or CTRl-ALT-DEL, but the option to download TV shows seems to be fully developed? Is this thing like
a hotel room menu or something?
Is this OS release inspired by a spur of new innovation or a desire to compete
more directly with iOS, Android, Google, Facebook, and Apple?
Does Windows 8 outperform Windows 7?
love to read your comments.
(These are my opinions and they do not reflect on anyone else here at
Windows8Forums.com. They are subject to change, of course. Here's hoping Microsoft gets it right.)