Microsoft saw the writing on the wall a few years ago: We consumers were moving en masse towards portable devices such as smart phones and iPads and Android tablets. Sales of desktop and laptop computers started to slump many months ago and are taking a nose dive now. Microsoft is a latecomer to the phone and tablet market. Windows 8 is designed to pull us back into their world.
Windows 8 is designed to address a problem with all smart phones and tablets: You can’t do “real” work on them. They are great for surfing the ‘net, jotting a quick email or looking up a recipe but if you need to finish a novel or construct a spreadsheet or presentation, tablets just don’t work. As a result, computer professionals need to carry a convenient tablet for the small stuff and a big computer for everything else.
Microsoft is making a bold attempt to deliver the same experience from laptop to phone to tablet. If Microsoft plays their cards right, us consumers will be able to start working our Windows smart phones, transition to a Windows tablet and finish the project on our Windows desktop or laptop computers. We won’t have to learn a new ways of doing things for each device because they will all function essentially the same.
The problem with Windows 8 is this: It is designed for a touch screen experience. That simply does not work on a desktop computer yet. Especially one without a touchscreen. In the near future, all computers will come with a touchscreen but a touchscreen is awkward when using a desktop or laptop computer. We’ve become accustomed to a much-more-convenient mouse when doing “real” work rather than reaching out to a screen.
So here are my gripes concerning Windows 8: First, it’s kind of ugly.Windows 8 presents you with a large mosaic of touchscreen-friendly rectangular orange-and-blue tiles instead of the familiar “desktop.” You know the “Start” button we have been using for decades? It’s gone. If you want to access your applications, you move your mouse to the upper left corner of the screen and click a hidden menu. To get your old familiar “desktop” with a Start button and icons all over the place, you have to do some intensive tweaking that is simply beyond the ability of the average consumer.
The short story is this: Windows 8 has a steep learning curve. I certainly enjoy learning something new and here is much to appreciate in Windows 8 but you have to unlearn so much before you can begin to appreciate it. We consumers WILL get used to the new format but it’s going to take some time and effort to get there. Good luck!