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back to article Scottish gov follows cutting-edge Italian Post Office with Win 8 trial

A small faction of IT bravehearts in the Scottish government are dabbling with Windows 8 – yes, you read that correctly – to see if Microsoft's much-maligned OS is suitable for a wider roll out. In a pilot scheme, the devolved administration is handing out 100 units comprised of Samsung Series 7, Dell Latitude 10 and Samsung …

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JDX
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If a business is keen to invest in tablets, then W8 makes a decent amount of sense. No reason you can't have all your PCs on W7 and tablets on W8.

Seems they might as well wait until 8.1 though really.

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Interesting is that all three units come with a docking station either as part of the package or as an add on part so these are actually replacements for the average office desktop as well.

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Linux

Laying the track

@mmeier

Yes, the OA quoted a Scotgov person as saying the idea was to reduce desktop estate. I see this as a small pilot project asking 'just what kind of network client do you actually need to do the job?'

The future direction is going to be a phone that you dock to do basic office work unless you produce content.

Bring it on. I'll be using a penguin phone of some kind, but corporate people may be using a balmerphone (elophone?). I welcome the use of non-traditional UIs as that softens up the masses for the adoption of something free and available on cheap hardware.

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No reason you can't use WP8 on business desktops either. It's fast, secure and very stable.

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Anonymous Coward

Windows 8 makes sense for most business uses. Just look at what Faux News are up to:

http://techcrunch.com/2013/10/07/those-giant-fox-news-touchscreens-are-microsoft-perceptive-pixel-displays-running-windows-8/

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complete with the Start button

They call it a start button, but it's not. It just dumps you back into not-metro from your new default desktop screen (or any desktop application you might be using to do actual work). It still requires 3rd party software to get what people really want, the start menu.

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Re: complete with the Start button

I hated the start menu. I thought it was the most brain-dead bit of UI in Windows, and in use, it accumulated crap like Elvis's colon.

The Windows8 screen is an improvement - just press the win-key, and type. No need to hunt through endless submenus devised by some egotisitical branding committee (looking at you, printer vendors), just type what you want to launch, and press return...

Or maybe I'm just too used to using bash all the time...

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Re: complete with the Start button

You could type your programs/commands in the Vista/Win7 Start menu just like in Win8.

What most people don't really understand is that the TIFKAM screen is just the start menu, ie. launcher.

The only problem is that the Win8 start menu is always full screen.

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Re: complete with the Start button

Oh my god, for all of 20-60 seconds I can not see my current program. That is surely the end of the world! Well actually the stupidity of the Win8 / Modern UI haters is more of a danger there IMHO.

After all if I am starting a new program - why do I need to see the currently running ones? Unless I have Alzheimer or a very short attention span that is.

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Re: complete with the Start button

mmeer: "Oh my god, for all of 20-60 seconds I can not see my current program"

Dude, your shooting off both of your legs with that statement. You serious with the sarcasm, or do you not understand how long 40 seconds is to wait ? Fuck, you can shutdown and reboot faster, so I'm missing your sarcasm completely.

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Re: complete with the Start button

Have you seen a doctor lately?

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Re: complete with the Start button

Oh, I can find my programs faster in Modern UI. But Olav Officedrohne and Larry Linux might take a while longer. After all if they searche in the Granpa Xerox style menues you can easily brew a tea before he is ready so even in the more effective Modern UI they take time.

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Re: complete with the Start button

"But Olav Officedrohne and Larry Linux ......"

Strange then that I can find any one of dozens of programs in a few seconds on a KDE Start menu. It's just a case of being well-organised No hierarchy more than 3 layers deep, everything in logical groups, anything widely applicable in multiple places.

I'd certainly never remember what the name of every program I very occasionally use might be called but if I know what it's for then I can find it easily.

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ISP

Re: complete with the Start button

"Well actually the stupidity of the Win8 / Modern UI haters is more of a danger there IMHO."

"If you do it/look at enough you start to like it" the cry of apologists for poor design through the ages. I am not required to like your new shiney nor do I have to use it more than a few times to form an opinion.

Apart from certain programs that need as large a desktop area as possible (photo/video editing) any program grabbing the whole desktop for a small task is just rude. It is an unnecessarily excessive visual context switch which I find eye wrenching. As for easily finding/starting apps try Launchy.

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JC_
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Re: complete with the Start button

on a KDE Start menu ... no hierarchy more than 3 layers deep

In Windows, Linux, or whatever, a menu that goes vertically and horizontally is a UI mistake - it's just too hard to navigate with a mouse. MS realised that some time ago and to their credit removed the nesting - is it really being used in KDE?

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Re: complete with the Start button

"a menu that goes vertically and horizontally is a UI mistake - it's just too hard to navigate with a mouse"

What !

And yes it is and it's easy

Click on start button, vertical menu appears, slide up to required group, and sub-menu appears, slide across, then up/down and across to 3r'd level if necessary and left click. That really isn't hard, it all sits waiting until you left-click. the only groups that I imagine having difficulty are physically disabled in some way or poor eyesight. There are plenty of alternative (icons on desktop, or "run xxxxxx") plus the bulk of the start menu is available by right-clicking the desktop.

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Re: complete with the Start button

>>The Windows8 screen is an improvement - just press the win-key, and type. No need to hunt through endless submenus devised by some egotisitical branding committee (looking at you, printer vendors), just type what you want to launch, and press return...

Err.. You do the exact same thing with the start menu too. Press Super key and start typing. It has the added benefit of not flip-flopping back and forth being two UI's which should have clearly been separated into desktop and tablet versions.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: complete with the Start button

And why should the taxpayer fund retraining for the useless Metro interface for Mr 'Officedrone'? How does that give the taxpayer value for money? Either way we are getting the worst of both worlds with this, the cost of retraining and re-implementing everything on Windows 8, and paying for the licences and lock in with Windows 8. If you want to re-train and re-implement on taxpayers expense then get CentOS or similar in, and don't pay expensive licencing, or alternatively move over to proven technology with Windows 7, where there will be no expensive training costs.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: complete with the Start button

" No need to hunt through endless submenus devised by some egotisitical branding committee (looking at you, printer vendors)"

Er the whole Metro interface is one big pile of advertisments...

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Anonymous Coward

Is the first m in mmeier short for Metro?

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JC_
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Re: complete with the Start button

yes it is and it's easy Click on start button, vertical menu appears, slide up to required group, and sub-menu appears, slide across, then up/down and across to 3r'd level if necessary and left click.

No, it's not easy because the user has to move the mouse in two dimensions along narrow channels with no boundaries to guide them. Stray one pixel too far and the sub-menu collapses, leaving the user stranded.

It's just a limitation of using a mouse, nothing to do with vision or physical capacity.

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Re: complete with the Start button

"Stray one pixel too far and the sub-menu collapses, leaving the user stranded."

As you've obviously not used it - let me explain that it doesn't. Once invoked the menus are there until clicked or until something else is clicked. Just moving the mouse has no effect on the open menu other than to select the options above or below the one the mouse is currently on - no collapse

This on KDE/OpenSUSE 12.3

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Re: complete with the Start button

And surely moving the end users to FossTard OS would not requre retraining. No, the spirit of St. Stallman will simply come to the end users and allow them to use multiple shells. Conversion will be done 49 days after easter sunday...

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Actually Max(imillian) but otherwise it would be Modern since I am not the largest german wholesale company nor the paris subway

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JC_
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Re: complete with the Start button

As you've obviously not used it - let me explain that it doesn't. Once invoked the menus are there until clicked or until something else is clicked. Just moving the mouse has no effect on the open menu other than to select the options above or below the one the mouse is currently on - no collapse

Nope, you're right, I haven't used KDE in ages. It's good that the menus don't collapse when the cursor moves outside the boundary, unlike the stupid way they'd disappear in early Windows versions, but I still maintain that it's much easier to move the mouse in one axis and keep the area of focus in the same place.

There must be some telemetry data somewhere...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: complete with the Start button

I'm not sure anyone is saying moving over to Linux wouldn't require any training, but the average user will have less problem with a couple of clicks on a Gnome 2 menu (assuming Red Hat), to launch programs, and work in a desktop environment not that dissimilar to Windows XP, than getting involved with the mess that it is Windows 8. They are as likely to need to worry about RPMs or Xorg as they are with the registry. The main problem is that Windows 8 represents the worst of both worlds, expensive retraining and user support, and expensive licencing costs.

A move to Windows 7, trialling open source applications is probably on balance the most sensible approach though. It then gives the option to move over to a Linux distribution in the future, or alternatively wait and see what the long term future is for Windows, and how the market reacts to it, whilst still reducing costs. I really don't see why most government employees need all the features of Microsoft Office, Photoshop, and whatever other usual culprits that are mentioned, whenever the discussion of 'will open source software be sufficient' rears its head. Either way this is public money, and there are better things to be spending it on than software licencing, when expensive proprietry products aren't needed for the majority of users to get on with their work. Equally if the company spends loads of public money getting staff up to speed on Metro and Windows 8, to find that Windows 9 or 10 reverts back to a more traditional or even a completely different third way of doing things, then it's taxpayers money which could have been far better spent. Windows 7 is good till 2020, and equally I don't see any of the big commercial Linux players jumping on the Unity bus any time soon either.

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Re: complete with the Start button

"but I still maintain that it's much easier to move the mouse in one axis and keep the area of focus in the same place."

But that leads to a very long list (>100 items in the case of my laptop) without the benefits of organising by topic/function

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Anonymous Coward

This is good!

Someone, sooner or later, must serve as targeted human sacrifice...guinea pig...errr, test bed for Win8's self destruction rollout in business.

What comes to mind? Oh yes: "Better him than me" ;-)

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Pint

Windows 8 today, full scottish independence tomorrow

enough said

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Re: Windows 8 today, full scottish independence tomorrow

As long as they waste their own money instead of ours I don't care ;)

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It's not that bad actually

Windows 8 does offer a lot of under the covers improvements that make it better than Windows 7 overall, but I agree that it's really hobbled by the Metro UI. Win 8.1 makes it a little better, and in my mind it's the only version that makes sense to even try using in a business setting. Maybe with Steve going away, we'll be able to convince a new exec team to let us have themes and the Start menu back. But, I've gotten used to the new UI, and while I'm not in love with it, Win 8.1 is at least not maddeningly bad like 8.0 was.

There's always a few intrepid companies that sign up for the early adopter programs Microsoft offers. The place I was at last almost joined the one for Vista -- that was a lucky decision not to...

Traditional desktop users won't see a productivity improvement, but the BYOD/millenial crowd might eventually like it.

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Re: It's not that bad actually

> ...and while I'm not in love with it, Win 8.1 is at least not maddeningly bad like 8.0 was.

What a shocking indictment of a piece of software.

You recommend it by stating that it's not quite as shite as the previous version, which was truly awful?

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Re: It's not that bad actually

Under the cover improvements? Geekfodder doesn’t go down well in userland.

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Scotland will vote for independence next year if it gets it they will sink and microsoft will be replaced if they go for bloatOS over something better and cheaper. If I were Scottish I would be questioning why they are using an over priced POS to be honest

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Anonymous Coward

20K to waste on hiding the lack of legal advice, ££££ to waste on Win8, ... racial stereotype forming?

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Pretty sensible

Makes a pleasant change from most local and national govt depts only looking into Win 7 compatability, er, about nine months ago...

Steven r

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Re: Pretty sensible

Four thumbs down, no counter argument?

Come on people, you can do better than that...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pretty sensible

Windows 7 is proven technology. It is efficient, users are familiar with it, and is generally popular. The taxpayer will have to fund the cost of licencing, which is not cheap, but at least won't mess around with re-training users or time wasted on support calls when users try and do basic stuff.

Windows 8 however is at best divisive. It may work if you can metro-ise everything, but the dual nature of the system is unpopular. Those defending Windows 8, even admit that users need to let go of the traditional Windows way of thinking about things, and embrace hotkeys, search and so forth. Like it or not many people don't want to do this, and will need retraining, and extra support, and will certainly lead to less productivity if users are getting in a mess with the operating system, rather than doing their work.

Maybe it is just me, but I would rather my taxes spent on schools, police and so forth, than re-training users on a system which is unpopular, very very different from what they are used to, and has no real benefit to them. If people are spending all their time moaning about Windows 8 (in my opinion rightly), they aren't going to be getting their work done. Given that Windows 8.1 has attempted to soften the Metro impact a bit (pretty unsuccessfully), it is not impossible to consider that Microsoft may very well send Metro the way of Bob, and produce a more traditional desktop OS come Windows 9, which would make all the time and money wasted on support a farce. Windows 7 is supported until 2020, so it gives organisations time to either 1) see what direction Microsoft's next iterations of Windows go in 2) look at alternatives such as Linux 3) Unlikely, but possible that Metro will become slowly successful long term, and by that point consumers will be so used to it on home PCs, that an introduction of Windows 10 or whatever will be simple.

As for Open Source, if government departments can do their work properly using CentOS or Mint with Libre Office and tools such as that, then it's a no brainer. They are simply going to be doing work in a similar Office suite to Office 2003, with a fairly locked down desktop with a similar interface to Windows 95, and will be about as likely to be messing around with the Linux command line, as they are currently with the Windows registry. And as someone else has said elsewhere on here, if some of the more unique facilities of Microsoft Office are not required, and all the old IE6 crap is sorted, there is no reason why users can't run Firefox, Libre Office or whatnot on a Windows 7 install.

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Anonymous Coward

500 miles

As the Proclaimers are unashamedly supporting independence, these lines from their most famous song are strangely ironic

And when the money, (and when the money, )

Comes in for the work I do

I'll pass almost every penny on to you

The you being Microsoft?

Anon because her indoors hails from Haggis Land.

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Scotland, why not use Linux Mint?

Shouldn't we be trying to cut costs and go the FOSS route instead of constantly being held to ransom by the need for big Co's like MS to keep their staff employed and make loads a money?

Craig

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Scotland, why not use Linux Mint?

If they're going to choose a Linux distro, it would be better to try RHEL or SLES, something that's been around a long time and doesn't have rabid fanboy following. Linux Mint is the latest fashionable distro and it'll probably go exactly the same way as Ubuntu - Loved by the community and demanded that everyone install it, then shunned and anyone who uses it being told to use the next distro.

Big business and government can't work like that - the choices they make need to be good for a very long time indeed, it was only five years from Canonical releasing Ubuntu to the inevitable "jumped the shark" accusations and the next distro rising from its ashes (well not quite, but it's headed that way.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Scotland, why not use Linux Mint?

I think the reason why Mint is popular is precisely for the very reasons people have moved off some distributions, because it takes a much more 'conservative' approach with the user interface, choice of software and general environment. Unless Clem does something incredibly stupid, or people actually start clamouring for tablet and touch on the desktop big time (i.e. Windows XP / 7 are both overtaken dramatically by 8), I can see Mint being a long term popular choice within Linux, precisely because it doesn't attempt to be flashy or too clever for its own good.

Having said that I would agree 100% that Red Hat / CentOS or Suse Enterprise are a much more suitable choice for business and indeed government at this stage, despite personally being a huge fan of Mint.

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