Windows 8 Preview

Windows 8, like it or not, is coming October 26th. So what to make of it, and should you get the upgrade?

The Interface: Metro TBD

The New Start Screen

If you own a Windows Phone, the new interface (used to be named Metro until Microsoft decided they might sued by a German company for using the name) of Windows 8 should be very familiar. Big pretty squares in different colors stacked next to each other is actually quite a pleasant experience…if it was on a touch screen. The main shortcoming of Windows 8, and probably its only shortcoming, is the interface itself, which happens to be the only “big change” really in this release of Windows.

It’s nice to look at and easy to use with a finger, but the story changes with a mouse; it’s much more exhausting navigating this interface with a static mouse and soon enough you’ll be frustrated with it.

If the interface is tough to use, why should I get it?

Understand that isn’t what Windows 8 is all about. Granted it’s what the majority of what Windows 8 is about, but it’s still got that same old interface that we know and love…minus the start button. In its place is a small, awkward space that when clicked on, will display the start menu in the form of the image at the top of this post, as the start menu has been completely redesigned into that form.

Look familiar?

Here’s where the wacky part comes in: Windows 8 is actually two almost completely separate user interfaces, with two completely different experiences that’ll take way too much time to completely explain. In short: let’s say you open a website while you’re in Metro the pretty square menu thing, and you go back to the old desktop interface, the same website won’t be open. Confused? Good, because that’s what Windows 8 will make you think upon the first use.

So, should I get it when it comes out?

There are two answers to this question. Windows 8 is actually more of a operating system designed for the tablet (and one that you’ll probably like better than the one on the iPads) rather than the average PC, so if you own a PC, the question is really whether or not you would like to deal with the new interface with the pretty squares that flys around and do things.

For the tablets, on the other hand… they aren’t selling those yet, but when they do, they’ll come with Windows 8, so there really is no choice.

I think the bigger thing to consider is that, this is the direction Microsoft is going in now. Apple’s been going in that direction too, going from a mouse-friendly interface to a finger-gesture based UI. We’re in, as Steve Jobs said, “a post-PC world”, and Windows 8 is a giant step towards kicking the PC era out and replacing them with smaller devices.

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