Issues or Not?

Over the past couple of days I have read some very interesting posts by people having issues with Windows 8 or the perception that Windows 8 doesn’t have something when it actually does. In particular, this post on Softpedia here and this one on Binary Passion here kind of illustrate my point. So I thought it would be kind of nice to address each of these and to discuss if the OS is really DOA or not.

The first thing to realize is that the OS is based around the idea of having touch enabled devices, so I am the first to admit that without a touch enabled screen it’s a little more unnatural to move about but it definitely works once you get used to it. So in the first article, the authors first point is that the Modern applications need to have a close button. Well, this is actually already built into the system via one of two ways…which definitely do not include the use of Task Manager. The first, is good ol’ Alt-F4 . Yep that’s right. Alt-F4 still works by closing the application whether it’s a desktop application or a Modern one. The second method involves a gesture…either with the mouse or ,if touch enabled, with your finger. Basically, its just swiping from the top of the screen to the bottom…that simple. Just like you are throwing the screen away on the floor. Below shows some pics of what it looks like…

closeaction2       closeaction1

Pretty darn simple to get used to.

The second issue discussed is in terms of navigation. How exactly do you navigate amongst the Metro applications,how do you tell which applications are actually open, why does everything have to be full screen? While people intuitively have figured out that swiping is the easiest way to go cycling through your open apps(Metro based ones that is), the bigger issue is figuring out how to see all apps that are running so that you can jump around. For that you have the option of using a keyboard shortcut( Windows logo key Windows logo key+Tab ) or put your mouse in the upper left corner and then move it down a little ways. Both produce a side application bar like the one shown below.

 

Windows8DesktopApplicationBar

Now you are able to see which applications you have open. The full screen thing is a little trickier. You have the option to “snap” an application to a sidebar like position and Metro apps should be designed to do exactly that and behave accordingly. Unfortunately, its limited to two applications. So it is almost like a split screen with one side only taking up like 10% of the width. If you have dual monitors then you can have your desktop on one screen and then a split screen on the other. The good news is that the upcoming release of 8.1 will allow you to have more options than that so you can have multiple apps split and then adjust the sizes to several configurations.

The third issue has to deal with Microsoft’s decision with applications to put them in a natural suspended state so that one application has the floor and the other background ones minimize their impact on the device. This is mainly done to conserve resources but it also gives developers a very orderly way in which to prepare their app for suspension and reactivation. One of the complaints seemed to be that you could not play a YouTube video on the IE app while then working on the desktop. This is all true if you are working from a single screen. Dual monitors are a little different because it allows you to run a Metro app on one while working on your desktop on the other one. So let’s address the single screen instance. While it is true in this instance that you cannot play a YouTube video on the IE app while working on the desktop the reason is because the IE app chooses not to do that. That’s right, it could …if it wanted to continue on. However, the application team that wrote it decided that this was not necessarily a normal situation and that it was outweighed by saving on resources. All that it takes is for the application to use a background worker process which is detailed in Microsoft’s documentation on the subject. Look at the Music application, I can play my tunes while working on the desktop , no problem. That’s because the Music app chooses to support that functionality because that is one of their main use cases.

Is it DOA?

Well, if you listen to some speculation like this article here  . One would think that people are not using Metro apps at all. AND if people aren’t using the new Modern apps then that is a HUGE problem for Microsoft.  Yet, if you actually look at the quoted “research” it is information is gathered from a company that is used in the workplace and whose sample size is a little over 10K devices. Well, by last November , Microsoft had already announce that 40 million copies of Windows 8 had been sold. So the sample size represented here is something on the order of .025%. That’s right 2.5% of 1% of the November numbers. What’s even more hilarious is that the Soluto researchers “crunched the data further” and found that even for tablet users , 44% went a DAY without launching an app. TRAGIC! Haven’t they ever heard of something called a “weekend”.

What’s even worse is that they gone onto a further reach by breaking down the app usage and showing that 9 out of the top 10 apps were Microsoft apps. This, they say, is disastrous for third party app makers whom are trying to make a buck. There’s a little light in that the most engaging apps contains Yahoo! and also some games. Sorry, but these are business users! If I am an owner of a business, I am not necessarily wanting the workers to be playing Fruit Ninja all day long or burning up my internet connection watching Netflix. So these types of studies have to be taken with a grain of salt.

My Unofficial/Unscientific Research

So I have already addressed, that Windows 8 does work much better with a touch screen but I wanted to touch on my own personal observations on Windows 8. First off, having been on a couple of Beta test teams in the past, I have seen that Microsoft is actually paying a lot more attention to feedback than a lot of people give them credit for. You saw this particularly with Entity Framework as it started to mature and now you can see it with Windows 8.1 release. Did they address everything? No. But they did make an attempt, at least partly. These would include the previously mentioned multiple snap screens but also things like a consolidated search, automatic updating of Modern apps, and a boot to desktop option.  Additionally, Justin Angel has compiled a list of things that seem to be coming “under the hood”  here some of which seem fairly exciting. Besides, it’s FREE and you can’t beat that.

Secondly,do you know the one group that when they consistently see or I show them Window 8 like it……..kids. That’s right and not the itty bitty ones but the ones that are probably about 10-18 yrs. old. Yeah, they think that it is the neatest thing since sliced bread. Doesn’t  matter if its my laptop or my Windows Phone, they want to play around with it and they want to know how they can download it onto their computers. For the life of me, I do not know why. Intuitively, I would think that they would want something quite a bit flashier but it seems to be quite the opposite. It made me think back to my college days when Microsoft started the whole movement of making agreements with campuses to allow students to get copies of applications for like $5/piece. It was a very smart attempt to get people used to using their software in the hopes that by simple human nature when they entered into the “real world” they would go with what they know. What if subtly this is Microsoft’s plan? What if they aren’t quite as interested in us old fogey’s and more interested in the next generation of potential consumers? Those consumers that demand to have a tablet/laptop/gaming console all wrapped up into one experience. It makes me feel a little like Clint telling the kids to “Get off my lawn!” .

 

So I think that the proclamations of Microsoft totally screwing up this one from the get go are mostly over dramatized. I am in more of a wait and see mode before I proclaim it some kind of failure for Microsoft.

What do you think?

 

Cheers!
AJ