By Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
March 12, 2012, 11:00am PDT
Summary: Windows 8 is a massive gamble for Microsoft, and right now I can see the potential for it to fail harder than Windows Vista did.
Iíve been using the Windows 8 Consumer Preview since its release back at the end of February, and having used it extensively on a number of several physical and virtual systems, I can now put my finger on what I think is wrong with Microsoftís latest incarnation of Windows.
It might not say the word Ďbetaí anywhere on this release, but this Consumer Preview is still pre-release software, and as such there will be bugs and features that are not yet fixed in stone.
Letís take a tour of where I think Microsoft has gone wrong with Windows 8, starting with the obvious.
Too much emphasis on touch
I know Iíve ranted about this before, but thatís not going to stop me from ranting about it again.
I still canít fathom out why Microsoft is pushing a touch-based operating user interface onto systems that people are going to be driving with a keyboard and mouse, which I estimate will make up at least 90 percent if not more of Windows 8 users over the lifespan of the operating system. It feels like change for the sake of change and nothing else.
It feels clumsy and awkward and, as far as I can tell, offers no benefit the traditional PC user. By now, Iíve used Windows 8 enough to be confident enough to say that the new interface is far less efficient to use with a mouse than the Classic interface.
But it gets worse. The more you use the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, the more you get the feel that the concessions that Microsoft have made to those using a keyboard and mouse are poor afterthoughts that feel awkward and clumsy to use. Thereís a tremendous lack of consistency in the operating system that really bothers me.
Clashing user interfaces
Another problem I have with Windows 8 is how readily Microsoft flips users between the Classic and Metro user interfaces whenever the developers havenít managed to create a consistent user interface. I find it utterly crazy that I can go from clicking on a tile on the Metro Start Screen and then be unceremoniously dumped into things like a Classic Control Panel applet or Windows Explorer.
Bolting on a new user interface is one thing, but when that user interface is incomplete, it makes you question the value of having it in the first place.
It gets worse. While Microsoft has ribbonized much of the Classic user interface, these Ribbon menus are still packed with small user elements and fiddly to use with a mouse, and Iím sure that they will be even fiddlier, if not impossible to use, when driven with a finger. The ribbon menus werenít developed with touch in mind, but it seems that Microsoft has decided to adopt it as a cheap alternative to spreading the Metro user interface across the whole of Windows 8, and it seems like a really bad idea.