Windows 8 Developer Preview – It’s Kinda Annoying

Earlier this week Microsoft released a preview ISO of Windows 8 with some dev tools for developers to play around with.  This let’s them start building some hype while garnering feedback from the opinionated masses, like myself.  On the whole, I think I’ll like Windows 8 just fine.  The things I take issue with, which I’ll happily enumerate in a moment with illustration, are things that I can likely overlook or just get used to.  I don’t see anything though that makes me think I should jump from Win 7 to Win 8 with the eager anticipation that I had when leaping from Vista (which I consider far worse than WindowsME) to Win 7.

My biggest issue with Windows 8 is that I can’t escape the feeling that it was developed with these people in mind:

As a nerdy developer I feel annoyed by things that “dumb down” the experience for the masses.  It’s just patronizing.  What I want is an OS that feels like it was developed for this guy:

Because that’s pretty much how I see myself.  And I’m sure a lot of people will quickly argue that such an OS already exists, and that all I have to do is download [insert completely obscure Linux distro name here] and then set that up on a separate partition and then once I get the Bluetooth drivers compiled and working from this website [insert the scariest URL you’ve ever seen here], and run these 18 thousand scripts I’ll be in nerd nirvana.  Great. 

So I guess what I want is something that has the kickassery of Linux but the ease of use of Windows… WAIT! DON’T YOU DARE SAY IT!  I sensed you about to write comments regarding the MacOS and I want to stop you right there.  For the cost of a MacBookPro, I could buy two of my current Sony VAIO systems AND a cheeseburger.  If the MacOS would run on this hardware I’d have given it a shot by now.  But it can’t.  Because it’s so freaking limited.  Making it the most expensive consumer OS on the market.  Moving on.

Let’s get back to the point: Windows 8 is weird.  It rides the thin fence between mobile and desktop OS so tightly that I keep wishing it would make up its mind and fall off that fence, on one side or the other, and just be really good at being that one thing and leave it to another version of the OS to be good at the other… just like Win 7 and Win Phone 7.

Here are some of my more specific issues…

The lock screen that exists prior to your login is interesting.  It’s just like the mobile side of things and feels unnecessary on a desktop/laptop, but at least the lock screen is useful for something now I suppose.  However, it is limited in its use:

Lock Screen Limits

Choose up to six apps?  Six??  I want something like WidgetLocker on my Android phone, where I can just keep adding shortcuts and widgets and go crazy with it.  I have what is likely the ugliest lockscreen you’ve ever seen on my phone, and I don’t give a damn because it is functional as all hell!  Six apps?  Please.  With the screen real estate of dual monitors and multicore CPU I think I’d like more than six, dangit.

So no more Start Menu.  Instead I have this:

Metro Start

Great, now my desktop is exactly Win Phone 7.  It’s okay I guess- could definitely be worse- but feels weird to use with a mouse.  It scrolls horizontally, which isn’t the direction I scroll my mouse wheel to make it move.  Odd.  I do like though that all I have to do to get to the run/search functionality here is to just start typing.  That’s cool and a decent design decision.  Except that I use Launchy instead of search, which encompasses everything search can do and much, much more.  And I can’t use Launcy from this screen since this is all Metro and Launchy isn’t.  Dangit, again.

When I click on the IE 10 icon there on the upper left, I get a brief full-screen splash screen:

Giant IE Spash

I would say, “DON’T EVER FREAKING SHOW ME THIS SCREEN AGAIN,” but I don’t have to worry about that because the likelihood of my giving IE 10 a second run is slim.  Chrome exists… so why does IE?  Also, this Metro version CAN’T RUN ANY PLUGINS.  Seriously, if Microsoft tried any harder to push me to use Chrome, they would have to fly Bill Gates to Memphis, have him install Chrome on every computer I touch, while personally telling me how good I look today.  That’s how much I feel like they want me to NOT EVER use IE 10.

Now if I right-click on one of those tiles on the Metro menu, I get a context menu at the bottom of the screen with its own sub-context menu:

Metro Advanced Tile Options

Why can’t that white sub-context menu just popup on the tile where I clicked on it, LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE IN WINDOWS HAS ALWAYS DONE?  Dangit.

I noticed that whatever app I’m in, even the desktop, moving my mouse to the left side of the screen shows me a thumbnail of whatever other process is running and acts as a shortcut to that app:

Left Side Multitasking

WHY?!?  What the crap is that about?  Maybe this one makes more sense with a touch-screen, but I doubt it.  Weird.

Now this one is kinda cool- in the new Control Panel there is a whole section for Send:

Send Options

This lets you control what all apps get displayed as options for when you click a file and tell it to “Send To” a location.  I like that.  Reminds me of the “Share” options in Android, which I’ve always really dug.  Not bad.

Finally, since I have the “Developer” preview, This thing is loaded up with tech previews of Blend 5 and Visual Studio 11, along with this handy Windows App Certification Validator:

Windows App Cert Kit

So this is what I run on my software to get it certified to add to the Windows Store.  I think I like this but I don’t have any code to test out on it yet.  I tried running my LaunchLater software on Win8 but it failed miserably.  I think I know what the issue is so I might code a fix for it and try again soon.  If I can get it to work, I’ll try it out with the certification kit.  Who knows- maybe I can get LaunchLater into the Windows App Store at some point.  Cool.

That’s about it for my first impressions.  It’s been fun to play with even if it has been somewhat annoying.  The issues I didn’t mention here I have attributed to being side-effects of running it inside of VirtualBox, rather than on real hardware.

So that’s it.  What do you think about it?


2 Responses to “Windows 8 Developer Preview – It’s Kinda Annoying”

  1. David Mohundro Says:

    Agreed regarding the start menu – the Metro start menu works fine… in Metro. I don’t want the context switch if I’m on the desktop though. I understand the reasoning, but I want more separation. And I don’t buy that I’ll want all monitors to be touch capable… I’d rather have huge monitors that sit far enough back for me to see them where I can’t reach them 🙂

    Regarding plugins, ehhh, I don’t care.The only thing I ever use Flash for is video anymore and I would just as soon sites move to support either Flash or the HTML5 video tag. The hover thing on the left of the screen will make more sense with touch, particularly in Metro apps.

    My biggest complaints really revolve around it not being sure if it should be touch or desktop – I’d prefer there to be a bigger divider of some kind. If I’m in Metro, I don’t want to go to the desktop – touch does NOT work well in straight Win32 apps. If I’m on the desktop, I’d prefer not going to Metro. I’m fine with my device supporting both.

    I didn’t think I’d like the new ribbon Windows Explorer but I do… though I keep the ribbon minimized.

  2. David Mohundro Says:

    Okay, I forgot a plugin or two or four… Chrome plugins specifically. LastPass is one major one that I need. And without it, it is really hard to type in passwords I don’t know. So that is a problem. Luckily, I do have Chrome installed… though it would be nice to have a Metro-style version that is more touch-enabled. Webkit currently doesn’t even show the keyboard when you tap into text boxes.

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