Sunday, November 18, 2012

Windows 8 on Desktop - Review 1

This week end I could upgrade my desktop with Windows 8 released version.
There are mixed feelings about it. Thought of sharing my experience and opinions.


After it booted from DVD, there is some violet screen without any picture or text for a while. I thought it is hung but that is OK, it is just drive spinning too hard. I installed on an old 2006 desktop with ASUS P5B Deluxe WIFI AP with 2 GB DDR2 RAM. It detected most of the drivers except ATI Radeon video controller and Realtek RTL 8187 WIFI adapter. But after connecting network cable it could download appropriate driver for WIFI. 

It couldn't pickup time from internet. I had to set it manually.

It didn't ask for key during installation. Also it failed to update key from system settings. I had to manually set from command prompt using slui.exe 3.

Otherwise installation is quick and simple. I would say MS engineers did fairly good job here.

Login Screen

When there are more users instead of adding rows, it expects user to scroll right. In this case expecting user to do horizontal scrolling is meaning less. This should be scrolling vertical.

Start screen

This is the view user gets to see after logging in.
  • Live tiles are good.
  • Right click options(live off, big/small, uninstall) are handy.
  • Manual arrangement is not so naturally predictive. it needs some used to for users and some improvements from MS
  • Left Top thumbs down, so confusing
    Irrespective of what app user is viewing, it shows preview of first app out of those running. It doesn't show preview of desktop apps like cmd (However Alt+Tab works). Only when user moves cursor down from top left it shows all apps. I don't know it is a bug or intended design.
  • Left Bottom OK
    It is a quick way to navigate between start menu and last accessed app.
  • Left Bottom(Right mouse) Good
    It is a quick launch for professional users. But there should be an option to add items to it. And styling of this menu can greatly improve.
  • Right Bottom Placing mouse at right bottom for menu is not so obvious but not so difficult to get used to. It is good that it changes background colour once menu is shown. But there is absolutely no need for date, time and network connection status here. It is so out of context here. Also options inside this menu are so discrete.
    • Search - thumbs up, well done
      It gets context of active app by default though user can change it. List of apps is a bit confusing at first glance but now I am OK with that. Clicking on an app need not launch it as the intention here is to search not to launch it.
    • Share - May be useful for some apps. Kind of nice to have.
    • Start - So confusing. Difficult to get used to.
      When user is working on an app it opens start screen else last app. It doesn't serve context of any app. MS should consider to rework on this.
    • Devices - OK Basically for quick printing etc..
    • Settings - Interleaving app settings and pc settings is confusing. But it can be corrected by providing a more distinctive separation like heading or background colour.
  • Lack of close button thumbs down.
    Lack of close button is a major departure from natural experience of windows
    1. Mouse on left top shows mere last window preview
    2. And sliding down mouse form left top shows banner where all opened apps are listed
    3. Now user got to right click on preview apps to get to close option

Default Metro apps

System comes with decent set of apps.
Here is how they fare
  1. Bing - Not bad
  2. Camera - Not so impressive
  3. Finance - Good enough
  4. Games - OK
  5. Mail, Calendar, People and Messaging - Good
  6. Maps - Pretty good actually They are from Nokia. Far better than Apple maps and catching up towards Google maps.
  7. Music - Below expectation
  8. News - Good enough
  9. Photos - Fails to impress
  10. Reader - Neat and simple
  11. SkyDrive - OK
  12. Sport - Could be made a potential area for app developers if MS intends to do so
  13. Travel - Good one. Social media integration is desirable
  14. Video - Very primitive. Practically useless
  15. Weather - Impressive. Sourced from Weather Decision Technologies

Desktop apps and tasks

Mostly used default desktop apps compared with Win 7
  1. file explorer - Retained most of Win 7 features. Ribbon is OK. Otherwise nothing worth mentioning
  2. Notepad - Nothing changed
  3. cmd - Pathetic. MS can't build a decent terminal. Really a shame on their part.
  4. mspaint - Nothing changed
  5. snipper tool - Nothing changed
  6. compress & extract - Nothing changed
  7. calculator - Nothing changed
  8. task manager - Worthy improvements. It is better and useful
  9. control panel - Retailed most of Win 7 features
  10. Internet Explorer - Disappointing.
    It has two modes. Metro mode and Desktop mode. Metro mode worked for few hours after installation. After that it always opened in desktop mode. I am not going to inner details like HTML5 etc. but as a user I will continue to use chrome as my default browser.
Mostly used system options
  1. Printer/Scanner handling - Nothing changed. Installs if printer is connected during installation.
  2. User management - Nothing worthy changed
  3. Add/Remove programs - Nothing changed
  4. Screen resolution - Nothing changed
  5. Service start/stop - Nothing changed
  6. Device Management - Nothing changed
  7. Disk Management - Nothing changed
  8. Event Viewer - Nothing changed
  9. File system hierarchy - Nothing significant
  10. Turn on/off windows features - Nothing changed


Store is most anticipated and a welcome change in Windows 8. Though there are many rough edges, I get a sense that it started scripting a success story. There are few (9372 as on this writing) apps now, but some of them surely proving a point; that a great deal of vacuum still exists in otherwise chocked app space. Store can fill it with worthy apps and also attract substantial user base considering volume of current desktop users. But it is obvious that desktop can not contribute to progressive revenue growth in coming years. This is a unique challenge for MS. But, fingers crossed, I feel there isn't any magic wand that MS can shake to sustain deceleration of those desktop numbers in coming quarters. However if MS can offer unparalleled web service offerings to those desktop customers, then it can restrict them from drifting away for other tablet options. In my opinion, "Store" got ultimate mandate to achieve this intricate task.

With that background, I looked at Store as an app rather than content(apps) in store. I felt it is way behind expected overall experience.

Store app
  1. Navigation is not so impressive. A single row with long scroll is mediocre. It doesn't sense height of screen and build up visual experience when it is showing all categories. However once can click on a category to get zoom up view of all categories.
  2. It lacks multi/cross dimensional navigation and thus fails to offer experience-based choice.
  3. That minus at right bottom corner is rather absurd.
  4. It isn't very obvious that category header is actually a link.
  5. Apart from 'Top Free' and 'New Releases' I expected 'Top Rated' there. It is however available inside each category.
  6. Navigation through Sub-categories(where available) is not so intuitive with that lengthy combo box.
  7. It is not so obvious that apps can be searched as there isn't any box to type text. Users need to hover mouse at right bottom corner to get main menu and user search option there.
  8. It shows prices in local currency which is commendable.
  9. There is no way to uninstall an app from app store
  10. There is no way to launch an app while viewing at details of app.
  11. It is not so obvious that user need to click on right mouse and select "Your apps" to get to see installed apps. But it is not difficult to get used to this.
  12. There is no to clear uninstalled apps. Thus when user installs an app and feels that it isn't so impressive and uninstalls, it still remains in your apps list. There is no way to clear it. And clear button in Your apps doesn't serve any meaning full purpose except to deselect.
  13. Combo box in Your apps section is buggy. "Apps installed on xxx" shows apps not installed also.
  14. Experience of paying for an app is OK. And user can change a setting to always ask for password when buying an app. I couldn't find any option for redemption.
  15. It is not necessary to add payment information to use free apps.
Store Categories(as on this writing)
Games (1401), Social (198), Entertainment (1219), Photo (228) Music & Video (332), Sport (303), Book & Reference (655), News & Weather (272), Health & Fitness (339), Food & Dining (292), Lifestyle (370), Shopping (57), Travel (373), Finance (98), Productivity (511), Tools (853), Security (65), Business (142), Education (1633), Government (31)


I wrote all this using "Markpad" markdown app in Store. I spent around 4 hours. And machine crashed and forcibly restarted three times while writing this article with error IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL. That indicates a issue with a driver, I suspect it to be ATI Radeon ATI. Otherwise boot up is pretty fast. I just got basic OS and VS2012. I am yet to have a check on VS2012 on Windows 8.