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Windows 8 is awesome (and why I don’t like it)

October 16, 2012

As many of my Facebook friends can attest, I’ve been rather vocal about my dislike of the “Modern UI” in Windows 8 and Window Server 2012.  Some people translated this as, “Jeff thinks Windows 8 sucks”.  Wrong.  Windows 8 is awesome.  It is far more stable than Windows 7.  It starts faster, sets up easier, works better, and generally is a better O/S.

And it has the Modern UI, which many people (my wife included) are going to love. Modern makes it easy to find apps.  Apps run in their own sandbox, which keeps everything safe.  The “Charms” create a standard for doing the tasks that are common across apps, such as searching, changing settings or sharing content. The App Store makes it easy to find, purchase and install those apps.  Apps are streamlined. The whole experience is more like an iPad: “it just works”.

And everything in that previous paragraph is what I don’t like.

To be clear, I’m an edge case.  I don’t buy computers, I build them from scratch.  My daughter and I have endless discussions around the merits of particular CPUs.  As I’m writing this I have 14 apps running including a virtual machine running Windows 7 and a remote desktop session to one of my servers. The only reason I have two monitors is I don’t have room for three.  And I use utilities and add-ins to make me more productive.  For example, when I browse the web, I’m using LastPass to serve up site passwords as I need them and Evernote to capture information from those sites (including the date, time and URL). 

None of that works in Modern.  If I want to use LastPass I have to start the LastPass app, and browse from there… except then I can’t print.  If I want to clip an article I like, I have to copy, switch apps, paste, switch apps again THREE TIMES (title, URL, text) to achieve what I would do in three mouse clicks on the desktop.

I realize that these changes make it easier for the casual user.  People didn’t like add-ins because they could slow your computer down and otherwise annoy you – adware, the Google, Yahoo and Bing toolbars, etc. But used correctly they also make life easier.

Bottom line: I will use Windows 8 because I need to understand it, and because it has a lot of features I like.  I’ll stay in the desktop because it’s how I work, which means I miss a lot of the benefits (and all of the limitations) of Modern.  And I hope that Modern continues to be a choice and not a requirement.

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