The Problems with Windows 8
I wanted to love it. This new tablet like interface – Metro, Surface, whatever you want to call it.
But in the end it’s at best ok and incredibly inefficient for a desktop. User interface, app installation issues, and family safety nonsense force this otherwise gem of an OS to become a could have been.
I need to clarify the inefficient part. Technically speaking it is extremely efficient - each app has a small footprint and hibernates when other apps are used – but from a user standpoint it is slow and unfriendly. The more apps/programs you have the harder it becomes to use, for two main reasons.
First: nothing is in the same location after the addition of an app or apps. The icons are constantly moving. It is much easier to find a program in an alphabetical drop down list than it is from a visual layout of dozens of icons, especially when the icons keep changing position. I’m not the only one that thinks this, although I may be the only one I know that has always had an alphabetized book, movie, and music collection. When you acquire a lot of content it becomes inefficient when not ordered properly. The free for all Surface has no streamlined capabilities to facilitate quick operation.
Second: the chief solution to the first problem is missing. THERE IS NO START BUTTON. How could MS have moved toward surface without at least giving users the comfortable start node from which to launch their apps/programs?
Summing up the user interface in one word: cumbersome.
Now, to app installation issues. If you are the sole user of you Surface tablet or Windows 8 PC then you will never notice these issues, but have a family and they won’t go away. Multiple users are simply maddening. When installing a program (an .exe file that installs the program on the hard drive) the program is immediately available to all users. But, and this is a big but, when you install an app from the MS store the app only appears for the user which installed that app from the store. Other users can only add the same app – free or paid – if they are logged in with the same info as the original downloader. Seriously? This whole process kind of defeats the purpose of multiple users, doesn’t it? It is possible to have different usernames and logins on the pc, but you will need the same live account for the shop to have full access to all downloaded apps.
Was the product test marketed at all?
Family safety settings seem to be wonderful at first. I set limits on usage from 7am to 7pm for both of my children, as well as 1hr and 45min limits for their daily use. I was able to select apps that each could access and quickly deleted any icons from their Surface interfaces that I did not want them to be able to click. And, it seems, I was tricked into believing this is all I had to do. I let the kids go to work and every minute or so I was bombarded with notifications to sign that would allow them to use the apps which I previously enabled, because apps access other tools (internet, location, Xbox live accounts, etc.) which were not enabled. If I allow an app, am I not allowing all of the necessary interactions that take place to use that app? Shame on me for thinking so. This is incredibly problematic and will most likely result in parents eliminating the family safety settings altogether. They are a huge headache and again, as with setting up multiple users, the intended purpose is subverted by impracticality.
I wanted to love Windows 8. I do love the speed at which it runs, it looks nice, and the kids enjoy it. But I’m left wanting refinement, for at it’s best this OS is a vision toward what computing might become. Futuristic visions, however, often tend to overlook the basic structures needed to support the improvement on efficiency for which they strive.
One more thought…
Why do MS users and Wii U users have to pay to register a minor in order to protect them? Wouldn’t it make more sense to assume everyone is a minor and have the adult pay to register and unlock adult content?