I have been running Windows 8 for a while now (as many people have, given Microsoft’s approach to releasing “previews”). I started playing with it just after the //Build/ conference in 2011, and switched to running it full-time on all of my day-to-day computers back in June. I even blogged a bit about my initial experiences, but I stopped because there was not that much to write about. It is my personal experience that once you get past the initial shock of the user interface changes, doing day-to-day work on Windows 8 is not all that different than Windows 7 (note I am referring to Windows 8 here, not Windows RT).
I really like Windows 8, but I am not sure I would upgrade to it “just because”. If it is on a computer I buy, I will enjoy using it, but will likely not upgrade any more machines.
But…there are some things about Windows 8 that annoy me to no end. Like most things Microsoft does, Windows 8 is 80% great, and 20% ranging from annoying to intolerable. Here are my top 5 issues (at least for today).
It Is Not Finished
This has been said by many reviewers. Some refer to it as not finished, others as schizophrenic. Still other descriptions have been even more colourful.
My issue is specifically with the features which require you to switch to the traditional desktop to do things.
One example is computer settings. While the Settings charm allows you to get to some settings (either directly or via the Change PC settings link), the vast majority of settings require you to jump to the Desktop and open the Control Panel, just as you always have.
Sorry, Microsoft, that is just plain lazy. If there is a setting to which you want users to have access, then present it through your Modern UI.
Another example is Windows Explorer. Why do I have to go to the Desktop to move files around, look for files, etc. I can see maybe having the Desktop Windows Explorer there as a last resort, but I should be able to do anything a normal user would want to do with files through the primary UI. If Microsoft cannot figure out a good way to use the Modern UI paradigm to implement file manipulations, then it isn’t a very strong paradigm.
The Mail App
I am torn on my opinion of the Mail app. Actually, no I am not – I hate it.
For the most part, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with it (other than the lack of support for POP3 – I mean come on!). There is also nothing especially right about it either. It looks like pretty much every other mail client out there.
When I read the post Building the Mail app, it is clear that the team put a lot of thought into how to build the Mail app. Unfortunately, much of it was wrong.
Yes, it supports various “Windows 8 glitter”, like sharing contracts, search, Live Tiles, pinning accounts, etc. But is that enough?
I really would have liked to see email “reimagined” a little . The way it came out just looks like traditional email prettied up a little (very little). Could no one imagine any strategy using the Metro design language/Modern UI to actually make working with email better?
The PDF Viewer
What could go wrong with a PDF Viewer, right?
Well, how about not remember things like how I use the software? Or at least giving me the ability to tell the software what settings I want to change?
The big one for me is Continuous versus Single Page reading. I like to have PDFs in continuous mode. And, every time I open a PDF in the PDF App, I tell the app I want to use Continuous view. And every time, it forgets.
I know this is a nit-picky kind of thing – but it is endemic in Microsoft’s Apps. To not remember my preferences automatically is bad design. To not even allow me to set my preferences is unforgivably bad design.
Ok, this is another very small thing, but I run into it so often that it drives me nuts.
Open the SkyDrive App, select a file, and click the download charm. You are then presented with a UI to allow you to choose a destination folder, and a button that says “Choose this folder”. So far so good, right?
Click the button. The button then switches to say “Ok”. Congratulations! You have now added one completely useless interaction to something I will do all the time. Yes, I might have selected the wrong folder, but it is hardly irreversible. If it is the wrong folder, I can move it. Don’t annoy me on every interaction, just to handle the “exception” case.
I am not talking about the Office Desktop applications here, or even the Office RT applications, but about the Modern UI/Windows Store apps – OneNote MX, and Lync 2013.
Both of these are cute proof-of-concept sort of apps, but they are functionally really disappointing. I sympathize that the Office team was probably brought into the game quite late, and that they were in middle of their own major product release cycle, but better not to release anything that what you have. Neither of these are good examples of Modern UI apps, and some of the missing pieces are really stupid (why can’t I change the pen colour in OneNote MX? why can’t I pin a User or Group from Lync to the Start menu?)
There are other things that bug me, but these are the five which are top of mind today. I also kind of annoyed at some of the limitations of the App development model, but that will have to wait for another post!