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Why I Love & Hate Windows 8


Hardware revolution

Windows 8 is trying to be all things to all people and it has a number of failings because of its 'catch all' approach. In fact Apple CEO, Tim Cook, revelled in calling Microsoft Surface a "fairly compromised confusing product" as a result. The flip side of this is Windows 8 can be anything you want it to be: laptop, desktop, tablet or hybrid and we can't see a Mac OS X hybrid being possible any time soon.

As such the Modern UI, in its current state, is a great way to consume content (particularly on a train or plane) and you switch to the desktop to get work done. Despite the jarring nature of the transitions between them suddenly they give the user a flexibility they have never experienced before and it justifies the gamble Microsoft has made in splitting its well established platform in two.


Another New Ecosystem

In some ways this is not Microsoft's fault, but with the Apple App Store, Google Play and – to an extent – the Windows Phone Store all either having matured or gaining momentum it is extremely frustrating to be back at step one with the Windows Store. No doubt Microsoft has pushed developers hard and following its release we are sure momentum will pick-up, but the dearth of quality apps at Windows 8's launch is shocking. It says it all that the most popular free app, 'BBC News Mobile' is a third party creation in which the BBC had no involvement.

Yes Kindle, Netflix, Wikipedia, eBay and (predictably) Skype apps are now available, but even as content builds there is no search system in place or charts, just 'Spotlight', 'New Releases', 'Free' and categories. It is almost as if the Windows Store is deliberately trying to hide its lack of content, which we suspect it is. If we are going to adopt the Modern UI long term widespread developer support is crucial much as it was to the success of iOS and Android. A potential user base of hundreds of millions, a 95 per cent compatibility with the Windows Phone platform and some Android emulation should mean this happens, but as we have seen with Android tablet apps so far, it is far from guaranteed. Until then the Modern UI is effectively a stupid smartphone with a big screen.


October 26, 2012, 9:45 pm

Err, the Store does have Search. Just start typing... or use the Search charm. Otherwise, a reasonably balanced review


October 27, 2012, 12:19 am

I think I'll pass until they patch it to allow the paying customer to disable the Modern UI should they so choose. It looks like something designed for kindergarten kids. "Windows 7 but faster" sounds good though.


October 27, 2012, 7:27 pm

A great overview. I think Microsoft have lagged apple ang google but ave now taken the lead. Yes 8 is not perfect but then neither was iOS or android; I feel that 8 as a first release is much better than either of these.


October 27, 2012, 9:40 pm

I feel like all criticisms aimed at windows 8 could be fixed with one simple fix and its frustrating to see no other review suggest it nor MS implement it:

Make windows 8 on a desktop default to the Classic windows7 desktop UI - WITH the start button, but with another button on the superbar somewhere that instantly switches between Metro and Desktop at any time.

Amazing idea huh!

A consistent UI and code across all platforms is brilliant, I even really like the metro UI for tablet, xbox and smartphone use..I'm also sure I would even use it occasionally on a desktop, but give the user that instant switching ability at all times to go back to the full desktop experience, because (at least for now) we all know that's where we want to get work done.

Also bring back the Aero, most computers can handle that slick design element. Give me a checkbox to enable it, my GPU will comply


October 27, 2012, 9:47 pm

Might just be your opinion but that clarifies a lot to me what this windows 8 thing is. One thing I'd like to know is how usable the metro interface is when used with a laptop with only a very ordinary touch pad, how would you describe it ?

Martin Daler

October 28, 2012, 1:08 am

Until (unless?) I replace my desktop PC and/or my laptop with something having a touchscreen, I am not even able to access any touch functionality - obvious.

So it should be equally obvious to MS that Win8 should support desktop mode (complete with a Start button, why ever not?) as a user choice default. Default, as in once set it stays there, unless actively changed.

Unless MS really want us all to hold off buying Win8? And these days most people I know keep their desktop for 5 years at the very least, maybe slightly fewer for a laptop. I think maybe the MS decision makers live in a la-la land where they change a PC like it was a mobile phone (heck - I even keep those for several years...)


October 28, 2012, 9:00 pm

I like the looks of Win8 better than WinVista and Win7. Although i notice some progress towards the right (for me) direction, i doubt Microsoft will ever offer customers a serious (killer machine) OS. There will always be shiny lights and jingle bells.
Nice review.


October 29, 2012, 3:11 am

I agree with everything you just said. I had a little play with a windows 8 laptop on Saturday and it frustrated me within a minute. Not remotely intuitive. I've tried to like Mac OS a few times over the years without success but this is worse.

Unless they patch in all the sensible (and rather obvious) suggestions you just made, I'll be sticking with 7 for the foreseeable future. Which is a shame as I'd quite like the option to pause file transfers.


October 29, 2012, 5:21 am

I thought for £25 quid it was probably worth the upgrade for the reasons Gordon describes ... and I still think that. I've even really come to like the flat look of the windows, and though I routinely collapse the ribbon in Office, it's actually quite useful in Explorer. I use a laptop with a 23 inch screen plugged in and the notMetro stuff seems certainly pointless and clumsy on a big screen, and though I don't have a problem with the new Home screen as far as it goes (and it's kind of important to know that there's a whole load if functionality if you mouse into the bottom left corner then RIGHT click, I confess I found myself quickly reaching for Start8 from Stardock, which for five dollars restores an enhanced Start Menu and enables you to boot straight into the desktop, so now I barely have to worry about the notMetro side and for the most part am enjoying an enhanced Windows 7 experience. Why Microsoft refused to facilitate this is a mystery. If they had I think everyone but diehard Apple fanbois would be praising Win8 as the most interesting, flexible and innovative OS on the market.


October 29, 2012, 3:08 pm

Agree totally. Whether or not MS want to get us used to the new interface and buying everything through their online storefront...I'm perfectly happy with the W7 UI instead of the Fisher Price pre-school tiles of the Modern UI. Touch interface on my desktop monitor? No thanks. (as I read somewhere else, now could be a good time to invest in screen wipe companies? Wipe the fingerprints off the screen before you play games/watch movies...fun!).

It seems like such a blindingly simple idea to just have the option to disable the Modern UI should we wish and default to standard desktop - perhaps if consumers stay away in enough numbers, MS will include such an option in a future patch.

Shame, sounds like there are some nifty features once you get past the interface horror-show, but until they get rid of the split personality UI I'm steering clear - and if I get a new laptop in the near future I will be reformatting and installing W7 on it!


October 29, 2012, 3:11 pm

Agree on Aero too. I might not have the most modern PC but my 4 year old quad core desktop with a GTX 570 is more than capable of running Aero, and as the reviews seem to keep saying 'no aero so uses less power', well - my computer has this thing I like to call permanent mains power. Aero is incredibly easy to enable or disable in W7 so why get rid of the option?

Martin Daler

October 29, 2012, 3:35 pm

" If they had [included Stardock-type fucntionality] I think everyone but diehard Apple fanbois would be praising Win8 "

Absolutely right. I am always keen to 'keep up', especially if as seems the case here the new OS is lighter on the processor, faster boot, etc. But I sit too far back to touch my PC's screen, in any case I don't want fingerprints all over it. Touch has its place - handheld devices, public kiosks etc. But not on my desktop machine. So I don't want to have forevermore to be clicking out of a defunct touch-driven environment.


October 29, 2012, 5:49 pm

Good point. There is no search *in* the store, which is what caught me out but you can search the Store in Metro. That said it is strange leaving the store to search it!


October 29, 2012, 5:49 pm

Spend time with it and it goes on you a lot. Certainly I now see tiles as more advanced and interesting that the dead icons on iOS, for example. And I'm an iPhone owner.


October 29, 2012, 5:50 pm


Windows 8 has huge potential, it is just up to developers to now support *yet another* platform.


October 29, 2012, 5:53 pm

They could be, but you'd be missing the point. Your fixes enable you to skip the Metro/Modern UI entirely and that is not what Microsoft wants. Metro is the future of Windows in its eyes and to make that happen it must force users to use it regularly and this will also force developers to develop for it. It will also force users to become familiar with the UI in Windows Phone.

I use 'force' specifically here, because you are right: the Modern UI is frustrating at this early stage in its life. That said it will always remain this way until the killer apps arrive that make it a regular part of our daily computing and that will not happen unless we are forced to use it.

Your fix is short term, Microsoft's aim with how it integrates the Modern UI is extremely long term.


October 29, 2012, 5:55 pm

Thanks berio, I find it fine with a touchpad. I'd hope Windows 8 laptops will have touchpads with drivers that fully support all the gestures, but you can get about ok without it and learn the keyboard shortcuts - something power users tend to revert to anyway! A touchscreen would certainly be better but it isn't as awful as some hysterical reviews would have you believe.


October 29, 2012, 5:56 pm

Read my longer reply above about the long term game Microsoft is playing with the Modern UI. It isn't interested in simply releasing Windows 7 2.0.


October 29, 2012, 5:57 pm

I get that and it is a personal choice, but getting people to use the Modern UI and getting developers to develop app for it is fundamental to Microsoft's future and therefore I understand why it is forcing users to go down that route.

If we all skipped the Modern UI I think a Windows 10 or maybe even a Windows 9 may not happen... it is that big of a deal for the company.


October 29, 2012, 7:43 pm

How do the tiles look stretched to fill a 24" monitor (or sometimes a 46" plasma TV, depending on what I'm doing)? Is there a benefit to big touch-friendly tiles on a system using mouse and keyboard only?

Even if I had a touch-capable monitor I can't see myself wanting to use that because a) I'd have to lift my arms and reach across my desk and they're already on the mouse so I'll use that, thanks and b) I don't fancy having to wipe fingerprints off the screen every 5 minutes (I'd probably get a bit OCD about that, in fact...).

It's subjective of course but when it comes down to it, I like how W7 looks and I like Aero on my perfectly capable, mains-powered, 1.25GB video-card powered desktop....and I don't like how the Modern UI looks However, I do understand what MS are trying to do, don't get me wrong - but still I'll be sticking with W7 a good while longer, and any new PC I build or laptop I buy in the near future will be treated to a reformat and W7 installation. Because if I have to look at an interface, it's going to be the one I like looking at.

I too am an iphone owner (a battered 4), the icons are dead as you say and I can see the Modern UI looking very cool on a phone/tablet, just not what I want on larger screen on my desktop PC. But that's just my own opinion and what doesn't work for me may well work for others.


October 29, 2012, 7:53 pm


A complete aside to the article, but it's nice that you guys take the time to respond to comments (even though I still won't be sold on W8 no matter how many times you clarify why MS is pushing it ;o) )

Martin Daler

October 29, 2012, 9:33 pm

I understand your drift Gordon. But until I have a touch screen there is nothing MS nor any cunning developers can do to tempt/force me to reach out and touch my screen.

So you are saying that until that time they are effectively going to bug me every day, like some kind of a nag-screen, to 'upgrade' to touch? Maybe I'll just keep my money.


October 29, 2012, 9:37 pm

@Gordan394's response to my comment

Your right, that is what MS want, but thats not what will work. I think its MS who are missing the point. To force modern UI on its desktop users is suicide when there are growing alternatives out there in addition to Apples ever increasing popularity. You cannot force anything on a consumer unless it makes people think 'how on earth did I live without this'. Modern UI is a touch based UI, the desktop isn't and never will be used (predominantly) as a touch device. Hence, Win8 should share the code across all platforms, but the need to have the desktop UI for the desktop is paramount and key to Microsofts and the desktop PC's future success IMO. A one UI fits all wont work, Apple understands this, that's why MacOSX doesnt share the IOS interface, and why both Chrome and Android exist (um kind of).

Share the code, share the Modern UI, but the desktop requires a full fat Desktop UI option.

Prediction: MS eventually reverts desktop Win8 to its classic Win7 UI by default


October 30, 2012, 12:52 pm

I was going to say, 'completely agree with you' and I do, but doesn't that mean 'keep windows 7' ? I think I will just do that. I am sure MS will implement what you suggest and attempt to reduce erratic switches between the 2 environments but I think it will take me buying new hardware to get on Windows8


October 30, 2012, 2:42 pm

Gordon may well be right about Microsoft's determination to force the Metro interface onto us - certainly I can't think what else would explain it. It's also apparent that phones have become the Achilles heel for Microsoft and they need to do something to accelerate the take up of what by all accounts is a very good phone OS, but which no one is buying. It makes sense then to try to maximise the uniformity of the experience as you move between devices. But you need to do that in a way that doesn't make life harder for your customers. I don't actually have a problem with the look or even the idea of the new start screen. It needs to be a little better designed so it offers the apparent functionality of the old start button, but that's an executional rather than a conceptual problem. The problem is the forced full screen working - because it's fundamentally less productive than a windowed environment. It only makes sense on a touch screen tablet or phone, and even there we could do with a lot more refinement. Unless Microsoft gets this right, instead of driving people into its ecosystem including its phones, it will just drive people away from its operating system.

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