back to article Windows 8: Thrown into a multi-tasking mosh pit

Does Windows 8 improve upon Windows 7 for the use cases that my real world customers and users demonstrate? After a week of tinkering with the consumer preview, the answer is far from simple. Now that's what I call multitasking (click to enlarge)... First up is the ribbon. For new users to a product, my experience …

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  1. TeeCee Gold badge
    WTF?

    So many words...

    "... demonstrating their belief that we are on the cusp of a paradigm shift in computing..."

    Doesn't "playing wankword bingo" mean exactly the same thing?

    1. garetht t

      Re: So many words...

      Just because you don't understand the words, doesn't mean it's "wankword bingo".

      [Microsoft is] demonstrating their belief that we are on the cusp of a paradigm shift in computing.

      [Microsoft is] showing everyone that they think that the our whole way of doing things with computers is about to change.

      The first sentence is a shorter, intelligible and perfectly cromulent way of expressing the same idea as the second.

      While we spend our lives surrounded by marketing buzzwords & creaking acronyms, but not everyone believes that a paucity of vocabulary is doubleplusgood.

      1. Chicken Marengo
        Happy

        Re: Cromulence

        >>The first sentence is a shorter, intelligible and perfectly cromulent way of expressing the same idea as the second.

        Well done sir. I fell suitably embiggened.

      2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

        Re: So many words...

        Moving from MSDOS to Windows 3.1 GUI was a paradigm shift.

        Moving from Windows 3.1 to Windoze NT was a paradigm shift for business users.

        Moving from Windows 3.1 to Windoze 95/98 XP was a paradigm shift for home users.

        Calling the change from NT/XP to Vista/Windoze 7 an upgrade IS wankword bingo. For most users it is just pricking around with the interface (most users are not aware of the changes under the hood), change for the sake of change and a total and utter cluster-fuck of a change.

        Right now I have a severe pain in the butt with users complaining, asking how to do some of the simple stuff that was so intuitive under NT/XP, a simple operation like pasting plain text into a document has gone from ALT-e for edit, s for paste special mouse-click to ALT-h, v, s, mouse-click. What is it Mickysoft says about windoze? "A consistent Interface"... Bollocks!

        Trevor Pott is also correct about the ribbon. For new users the ribbon increases discoverability of the most common features, great if you are typing up a school project. For a business organisation that has spent many man person-years developing macros for power users the ribbon is a wholesale disaster, macros were embedded in document templates that had customised toolbars, it was relatively easy for users or developers to create a macro, and assign it to a custom toolbar, not so with the ribbon. What is it Mickysoft says about windoze? "A consistent Interface"... Bollocks!

        So you are right garetht, Mickysoft is on the cusp of a paradigm shift in computing, but only if you consider going backwards and making the user interface more cumbersome and awkward to use. One 'app' at time is just the dumbing down of an interface. FFS, a lot of the power business users here need a dual monitor setup just to give then enough desktop real-estate to work effectively.

        Double plus ungood garetht.

        1. MacGyver
          Facepalm

          Re: So many words...

          Windows 8 is a paradigm shift alright, for users to switch to Linux. They should change the name to "Windows GC (Grandparent and Child Edition)".

          I completely agree with this author, and have been saying similar stuff since they went from XP to Vista. There was no gain in changing the interface the way they did, none. The core stability changes are fine, I could even live with the security changes. Changing the interface the way they did is stupid for no reason. I'm not adverse to change, DOS->3.1 amazing, 3.1->95, amazing, 95->98 better, 98->ME WTF?, ME->XP amazing, XP->Vista why?, Vista->W7 so, W7->W8 see ya.

          They are betting the farm on this stupid crap, I mean really, is the lead designer Bill Gate's son? Why would they go against what their users (previous) want, time and time again?

          Let me explain your sales figures:

          Vista (yay, new windows, wait what happened here? is XP still available),

          Windows 7 (maybe it will fix what they broke in Vista, no? but it is more stable, right? is XP still available)

          Windows 8 (what is this, is this a Zune virus/commercial, no, it's made like this? XP is gone? can I get this with Linux installed instead)

          Just make each release more stable, make a pretty theme, make some new icons, and throw in the snazzy new app or two. Don't make all of your users attempt to use a dumbed down interface.

          The only thing that kept me from switching to a flavor of Linux years ago, was the functionality and solidness of "File Explorer" in Windows 9x, 200x, and XP, and most of the changes they have made since Vista have been chipping away at that reason. The new interface is going too far.

          Bye Microsoft, hello Linux.

        2. garetht t

          Re: So many words...

          The article doesn't say that it's a paradigm shift, and I didn't say it's a paradigm shift. We both asserted that Microsoft believes it to be so.

          I just wanted to make a stand against the idea that using a flourish of vocabulary was distasteful, superfluous or redundant.

          If it is not the case, perhaps "Mickysoft" and "windoze" could be added to the Commentards Bingo?

      3. Adam Nealis

        Re: So many words...

        "Just because you don't understand the words, doesn't mean it's "wankword bingo"."

        But is isn't a paradigm shift either based on the original Kuhnian meaning of the term.

        OTOH it may just be "innovation". But as an innovation is supposed to be a significant improvement, the "improvement" part is so far subjective.

    2. Neil Cooper

      Re: So many words...

      Its not like this one-at-a-time thing is a new concept.. Microsoft had a world-leading product out a while back that demonstrated this. What was it called now? oh yeah... MS-DOS.

  2. jai

    "multitasker," "power user," or "content creator"

    so, that would be anyone who uses a computer at work then. with the possible exception of management and their PA's, who probably quite like the idea of one window on their screen at a time. and because management are the ones that appropriate the budget, it's means the rest of us plebs in the workforce, the ones who actually use our PCs for more than just Outlook, are going to get Metro shoved down our throats whether we like it or not, and then get reprimanded and demoted when our productivity deteriorates.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Re: "multitasker," "power user," or "content creator"

      ..and perhaps front office staff.

      1. ed 22
        Mushroom

        Re: "multitasker," "power user," or "content creator"

        Parental Units++

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: "multitasker," "power user," or "content creator"

      When I was a copyeditor I routinely had just Outlook and Word on screen at once, side by side and without overlap, with time spent elsewhere very minimal. That's probably not too common a use case though; even in the job before that I was juggling at least InDesign, CorelDraw and Outlook.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "multitasker," "power user," or "content creator"

        Corel Draw? You poor sod!

  3. present_arms

    I had to look

    I had to look twice at the top screen shot because it looked like my Linux Mint screen with the way the top right hand side of the tool bar with name and all :-)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I had to look

      That's funny, I thought it looked a lot like the Mac interface.

      From ten years ago.

  4. Ian 62

    Potentially I can see this being the 'rebirth' of the WORKS style of applications.

    The ones that were masters of none, jack of all trades.

    Imagine the one application as your do-a-bunch-of-things-at-once-that-are-unrelated-but-you-want-side-by-side.

    So in part of the full screen application theres a pane thats got an RDP client embedded, another pane thats got a browser, another pane thats got a chat client. Its ONE application but made of up different bits.

    I dont like it...But that sounds like the only solution to me. Maybe an API that lets you tile them together?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Maybe an API that lets you tile them together?

      Then that API could be expanded, allowing the tiles to overlap each other, and allow the user to drag them about...

  5. Bob Vistakin
    Go

    Windows 8 will shape the future of Microsoft!

    I can hardly wait for this to come out - I've never anticipated anything from Microsoft so much! I just hope they stick to their guns and ignore what anyone else says. Go Microsoft! You know best!

    1. CaptainHook

      Re: Windows 8 will shape the future of Microsoft!

      "I just hope they stick to their guns and ignore what anyone else says"

      Me too, I've often wondered what a world in which MS was reduced to an also ran would look like, and MS is trying its best to show me it.

      1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

        Re: Windows 8 will shape the future of Microsoft!

        > I've often wondered what a world in which MS was reduced to an also ran

        Well they've been getting into bed with Nokia rather a lot of late and who'd have thought a few years ago Nokia would have taken the road to oblivion. Will the two of them set off into the sunset together hand in hand?

        1. Bob Vistakin
          Devil

          Re: Windows 8 will shape the future of Microsoft!

          "getting into bed"!!!

          The word you seek for the Nokia/m$ relationship is RAPE my friend. Very nasty, very brutal and will only end when the victim dies.

    2. BlueGreen

      Re: Windows 8 will shape the future of Microsoft!

      Thus far thirteen people's sarcometers clearly need replacing. It's not even irony FFS.

      Painful.

      1. Ole Juul Silver badge

        Re: Windows 8 will shape the future of Microsoft!

        "Thus far thirteen people's sarcometers clearly need replacing. It's not even irony FFS."

        It's up to 19 now. For some reason certain subjects seem to bring in more of the linguistically impaired.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I do really love my Asus Transformer. The form factor works, the operating system works for that style of thing. If I want to do anything serious at all, I have to load up a laptop though... I can't see how I can really build a website properly without multiple monitors, and a couple of things open at the same time.

    The annoying thing is I think Windows 8 could be great on a tablet... but an absolute disaster on a real PC. I spent four hours the other day trying to find settings, and generally just use it.

    I really like some of the changes in Windows 8... but I'm not installing that on a main PC, it's not an operating system for a PC. It's a tablet OS and Microsoft didn't tell Microsoft.

    1. Captain Save-a-ho
      Facepalm

      Second that

      And it probably means many of us will have to move to using either an unsupported OS (which many do with XP now) or start using a Server OS instead (I know several that use Win2K8 for that purpose).

      Clearly, this is just Microsoft thinking that the PC will be dead longer term. Personally, that may be the dumbest idea ever out of Microsoft. And this from the makers of Microsoft Bob. :o

      1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

        Re: Second that

        "And it probably means many of us will have to move to using either an unsupported OS (which many do with XP now) or start using a Server OS instead (I know several that use Win2K8 for that purpose)."

        When I used Win2K8 for the first time I immediately thought "This is fine, I don't need anything fancier". I don't want Aero, I don't want Transparent windows or cute sound effects, and I want a backup solution that isn't the crippled thing that comes with Win7. I'm not a gamer, not a graphics designer and the Win2K8 interface gives me what I need.

        Typed using Remote Desktop from an aging XP system into WHS2011, which is fine but comes with licensing restrictions I could do without..

        1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: Second that

          > using a Server OS instead

          Microsoft seems to be moving to GUIless servers.

          1. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

            Re: Second that

            "Microsoft seems to be moving to GUIless servers."

            They have tried to with Server Core,. but everyone is so scared of the command line interface* that the latest recommendations seem to be to use Remote Desktop into it.

            * the Windows CLI is just about the most hostile I've come across, and I've used a few. Powershell is one answer, but it wasn't available on Server 2008 Core.

  7. ShelLuser
    Stop

    "Unfortunately, the take home message is that the people who will find themselves affected by this are simply afraid of change, their numbers small enough to constitute a rounding error. Microsoft is not losing sleep over us."

    This is what people said when Windows Vista came out and we all know what happened next; all of a sudden it seemed Microsoft couldn't even /get/ any sleep while Windows 7 wasn't put on the road.

    What the author is also overlooking (IMO) is that Metro goes way /beyond/ the powerusers. A lot of people have only "recently" became familiar with the concept of clicking start, or clicking start and getting a whole new environment to cope with (start menu). So what about those guys ?

  8. Antidisestablishmentarianist
    Windows

    I don't really care about all this. My work is in the very slow process of compatibility checking all our bajillion in house apps against Win7 with a view to upgrade our bajillion PCs from XP. By the time they're brave enough to do it again it'll be another 10 years and there will be a completely different paradigm, with completely different issues.

    Sometimes it's nice to live in the slow lane......good luck all!

    1. Mikel

      Pick up some spares

      They've found a uefi end-run around this strategy, so you'll want spares and growth on hand before W8 launch. Don't count on W8 hardware being available much after that.

  9. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    It's going to be interesting to see how this pans out. At home I can see the attraction of Metro - but then all I do at home is answer a few emails and browse the web. At the office I just can't see Metro being any use. Like the author I'm a multitasker and often have to compare different windows or monitor multiple windows.

    But MS has never really understood us it seems. Why else would it still allow newly started applications to steal the focus? It wouldn't be so bad only these days most apps take several seconds to launch so inevitably once I've issued the launch command I go off and do something else. Ten seconds later I'm rudely interrupted by some application proudly announcing its arrival.

    1. Paul Shirley

      ...or the way completion alerts steal focus. Fire off a long job, start working in another window and some random time later, BANG, you're typing into a another app. Or worse, hitting a 'do it again' button before realising what's happening.

    2. rory dobson
      Holmes

      Stealing focus...

      ...is the biggest BUG left in MS-Windows. Quite WHY MS have never fixed this nonsense I don't know.

      Flashing on the bar - fine, poping to front and then taking the next "o" I type as OK, well that's just plain wrong, and gets me in trouble at least half a dozen times a day.

      Of course learing to type without looking down would help... but where's the time for/fun in that?

      Multiwindowmultitasker all the way...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stealing focus...

        A teethgrindingly annoying bugbear of mine on OSX too. It's not just Microsoft!

        1. Tinker Tailor Soldier
          WTF?

          Re: Stealing focus...

          What version of windows are you using? Win 7 just blinks the app in the task-bar if it wants attention. App-launch does steal focus though.

          I've found OS/X much more obnoxious than Win 7 when it comes to focus stealing.

      2. n4blue
        Unhappy

        Re: Stealing focus...

        Yes I agree it's a real pain. Not helped by the inconsistent use of MDI in Office 2010 - with Excel you can easily close the last document without closing Excel - in Word you can't without losing the ability to easily switch between docs. So while I launch Excel once on a Monday and it stays running until I shut down on Friday, I must launch Word a dozen times a day.

      3. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Stealing focus...

        MS did attempt to fix this. They then wrote work-arounds in their own bloody apps to steal the focus anyway... and what MS Office does, other apps copy.

      4. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
        Stop

        Re: Stealing focus...

        I don't know if this is really a windoze problem as such; is it just stupid developers (mickysoft or otherwise) overusing system modal forms. Some developers just do not realise that their app program is not the most important one.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Stealing focus...

          > I don't know if this is really a windoze problem as such; is it just stupid developers (mickysoft or

          > otherwise) overusing system modal forms.

          It's a Windows problem, because even system modal dialogs shouldn't get focus until acknowledged by the user. There's far too much risk of input accidentally going to the dialog instead of to the application that the user thought had focus. Changing focus without explicit user action violates the principle of least surprise. It's a huge flaw in the user interaction model.

          And system modal dialogs are a UI design failure in the first place. Applications shouldn't be able to commandeer the input stream. If the OS needs to do it (typically because of critical failure), that's another matter; but even then it should be used very sparingly.

          Even application modal dialogs are mostly a tragic failure to implement a proper control model.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Andrue

      -- "At home I can see the attraction of Metro - but then all I do at home is answer a few emails and browse the web. At the office I just can't see Metro being any use."

      I'm not a rocket scientist at work who turns into a lolcat-spamming retard at home - in fact, it's probably the other way round.

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  11. Andy Farley
    Thumb Down

    Here’s your Windows 9 preview:-

    “The Metro start screen can be accessed as an option under the start menu”.

    And there will be great rejoicing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Windows 9

      May it be as successful as dBASE V.

  12. Steve Evans

    Yuck...

    I've had a few minutes of play with 8 & Metro, and it's horrible.

    The thought that I have been left with is that M$ seem to be committed to some crazy idea of a "unified user experience" across all devices, something which even Apple realise is a stupid thing to do.

    Maybe M$ will use this as some anti iStuff advertising ammo, "You use our desktop like you use our tablet, or our mobile"...

    The problem is a scratch and sniff touch interface is designed for big fat fingers prodding on a small screen. A desktop machine with a huge monitor and several hundred DPI optical mouse doesn't need 200x200 pixel squares to click, you can easily hit a 16x16, and use the rest of the screen real-estate for more information and other stuff.

    1. MIc
      Alert

      Re: Yuck...

      a whole few minutes huh.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yuck...

      I was attracted and willing to learn something new at first, but it's horrible. I mostly switched to Macs last autumn and I can't see myself ever going back now.

  13. paulc
    FAIL

    Paradigm shift???

    More Like Microsoft NOT learning from the fun their shills were having poking fun at Linux users disgusted with changes to Ubuntu... bit of a Schadenfreude moment... and Windows users have no real way round it unlike Linux users...

  14. Bodestone

    What's the worry?

    We all know that before final release there will 3rd party software to bring back the start menu and hide Metro unless specifically asked for.

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