Windows 8: It’s Just As Crappy As They Say It Is

Let me say, to start, that the Metro user interface (UI) introduced in Windows 8 was not designed for computer users like me.It’s clearly and primarily an interface for consuming digital material–Web pages, weather reports, images, videos, games, merchandise. Secondarily, it encourages short, text-message-style communication and hopes to pull consumers into its particular brand of file sharing and cloud computing. But the Metro UI is piss-poor for producing digital material–creating Web pages, writing essays, editing video/photographs, recording audio, and so on.In short, it’s a consumer’s UI and not a producer’s.I enjoy digital consuming, but my time on the computer is at least equally, if not more so, spent producing digits. This is why, I think, that I’ve been slow to warm up to tablets. Yes, I’ve got an iPad, a Kindle Fire and an Android-based smartphone, but I don’t spend that much time on the tablets. And when I do, it’s certainly not to create anything.The Metro IU calls to mind the ill-fated PointCast Network from the mid-1990s. PointCast was supposed to herald a new era of “push” technology where users would no longer need to wait milliseconds while they requested or pulled information into their computers, because those data would already be pushed to them, ready for instant access. Push technology was one of the earliest Internet memes, but PointCast was a disaster, largely because users’ bandwidth could not support it.

Nowadays, our bandwidth can support push technology, but do we need it? After a few minutes of being distracted by Metro’s constant updating of my email headers and Facebook photos, I was ready to turn them off. I’d much rather pull data toward me and endure the brief wait for it, then have data shoved at me that I don’t necessarily need.

After spending a couple of hours with Windows 8, my main hope is that its craposity does not interfere with the Windows 7 way of doing things. As it is now, in this “consumer preview”, it already does. A few examples: There’s no simple way to close Metro applications with the click of a mouse (okay, Alt-F4 still works). They are designed to just stay open (in suspended mode), like in Android/iOS. And it’s difficult to launch applications in Metro if they’re not already one of the Metro tiles (see below for specifics).

And perhaps the strangest tabletification aspect of Win8 is that it is difficult to shut down the computer. Yes, that’s right. There’s no visible “shut down” button in the Metro interface! You’re just supposed to let it suspend, like you would a Kindle Fire or iPad.Oh, for dumb!
(For the record, I’ll include shut-down instructions at the bottom of this post.)I, along with most Windows power users, will be avoiding Windows 8 and the Metro UI crap for as long as possible. I hope by the time that I have to buy a Win8 machine that someone will have figured out a way to disable Metro and allow users to boot directly into the desktop interface.Here’s what I discovered about Metro during a couple of miserable hours I spent with it this weekend.
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The Windows 8 start screen, out of the box. Not one but two tiles are given over to the Xbox gaming platform. Some tiles are half visible. Clunky.
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Boring weather app. You’ve got to scroll to the right to see much of anything.
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Ugly weather map display, with some maps partially visible when one map is enlarged.
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Hotmail: Will the final version look as primitive as this “app preview”? Hasn’t email progressed since 1990? This display looks worse than the simplest release of Eudora.
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People app: The hideousness continues. Why is “All What’s new Me” so large? Cuz you’re supposed to be looking at it on a TABLET, dummy.
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The ol’ familiar desktop, if you don’t mind having no Start button and thus no way to shut down. And how do you launch applications? As far as I can figure out, you can’t launch from the desktop, you have to return to Metro (see below).
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Windows Explorer now has a MS Office-style ribbon. I guess that’s a good thing? It certainly takes up more space than the old menus.
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Internet Explorer, viewed within the desktop environment.


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IE in Metro, with big buttons displayed. I bet even my fat fingers could use those on a tablet, but on a desktop computer…?
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What’s an operating system for? Well, to sell you more crap, of course!
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Map app thinks I live on Martin Luther King Blvd. It’s about three miles off.
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Video app: More consumerism and UI ugliness. Even iTunes is not as bad as this.
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Xbox LIVE Games app: Who/what is that creepy, faceless avatar?
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Interesting. You can pull in your Facebook photos. Too bad the UI is so clunky.
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Um. Metro UI, you might want to check the resolution before using an image as a tile.
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Solitaire looks kinda nice, but I couldn’t get it to run. Hope they fix that before the final release or there are going to be a lot of angry Windows users.
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Messaging app: Ho hum.
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Music app: Even more ways to BUY. Oh joy.
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At least Metro provides a finance app so you can figure out how you’re going to get the money to pay for all the crap Microsoft wants to sell you. Note that MSFT was down last week. In anticipation of Win8/Metro’s release?
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Here’s what I pared the Start screen down to.
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How to load an app that is not on the start screen. Right click on the start screen and see the “All Apps” icon. Click it. Then…
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Get list of all apps. Then click one to open it, but not in Metro. It opens in the conventional desktop.
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And now, the secret to shutting down… While in the desktop mode, pressing Alt-F4 will bring up a shut-down dialog box. There is no mouse-based option for shutting down.
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To shut down while in Metro mode, call up the Charms Bar by moving the cursor to the upper right corner. Then click the sprocket icon labeled “Settings.” A slider appears with a “Power” icon. Click it and finally escape from this miserable experience.

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