Windows 8: Revolution or Mere Evolution?

Posted on March 20, 2012 by Jennifer Porterfield

I grew up in a family of computer geeks. During most of my childhood, my dad worked for Philips/Magnavox (anyone remember the CD-I? No?), and I fondly recall the days of running computer programs like Arkanoid and Pac Man from MS-DOS.

Well, not so fondly. I won’t lie – once Windows came into existence, I never looked back. With each new iteration (excepting, from what I understand, Vista), the operating system only seems to improve. But will Windows 8 really bring about a PC revolution as some are predicting?

AnandTech gave a very thorough review of the new Microsoft operating system, and below, I’ve added some of my thoughts regarding just a few of the new features.

Touch-enabled “Metro” UI
Just looking at those neatly arranged colored squares and rectangles gets me all tingly inside. It’s almost like looking at my iPhone…except with straight squares instead of rounded ones. What makes this new UI unique is that it will work on both your PC and on touch-enabled devices, like tablets.

windows 8 start screen

Don’t fancy the new UI? According to PC World, underneath the touch-enabled Start screen is the good ol’ standard Windows task bar, and while apps developed prior to Windows 8 won’t be touch-enabled, you can still run them.

Uninstall programs from the home screen
When you left-click on an app in the home screen, it opens (nothing new, right?), but when you right-click, a bar pops up with additional options…including one to uninstall the app, without having to go to the control panel. I know this might seem minor, but I hate going to Control Panel–>Add or Remove Programs. It takes forever for my list of programs to load in order for me to uninstall the ones I no longer need, and I am not a patient person.

windows 8 uninstall option

“Metro Snap”
In Windows 8, you can “snap” an app to either edge of the screen and have it only take up about a fifth of the space. I know there are reasons why this could be useful (monitoring Twitter or IM-type programs, for one), but I think it just sounds like fun. I can already see myself spending entirely too much time snapping app after app while I laugh maniacally at my own childish actions…Unfortunately, this feature requires monitors that are 1366×768 or higher, and my laptop’s is not.

windows 8 metro snap feature

Mouse “Hotspots”
The Anandtech Consumer Review mentions that several “hotspots” exist in Windows 8 for mouse users.

They are:

  1. Top left: toggles between your open Metro apps and the desktop
  2. Middle left: hovering over this area will open an “app drawer” that shows all of your open apps
  3. Bottom left: brings up the start screen
  4. Right: opens the Windows 8 “Charms” menu
  5. Top to left or right: Metro Snap

Downside to these hotspots? You probably wouldn’t have known they were there if you hadn’t just read about them…unless you stumbled upon them by accident, which is apparently another issue entirely.  If you use more than one monitor, these hotspots will only work on the primary monitor. So if you slide your mouse to the other monitor, guess what will happen?

windows 8 hotspot

Overall, I must admit that Windows 8 looks very promising, especially for Mac users sitting on the fence about switching over to a PC.  Public opinion, however, seems to vary (as is typical when a new piece of software gets release). In some ways, it’s very different from the Windows PC users know and love, but if the old Windows interface is still accessible, can we really call the Metro interface revolutionary?

The best way to decide whether or not you like it is to get in there and try it for yourself. Click here to go to Microsoft’s website and download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. We’d love your feedback on some of these new features!

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