I really wanted to like Windows 8. No, seriously, I did. From the first screenshots showing Microsoft's bold move in bringing what was then called the 'Metro' UI from Windows Phone 7 to their flagship OS I thought they really might be onto something. Since Windows is still the preferred platform for desktop gaming I like to have the best Windows available on my Boot Camp partition.
Windows 7 has for some time been the best Windows available to me, having lingered on XP in order to avoid the oft-maligned Vista. Getting more than a minor tingle from the impending launch of Windows 8 I thought I'd grab the final preview and try it out, with a view to upgrading a bit further down the line. And that's where is all went wrong.
When Windows 8 first fires up you go straight to the Modern UI, formerly Metro UI. It looks great! It really does. Interacting with it however is nightmarish. The first thing I wanted to do was to access a USB stick. How do I do that? None of the tiles on offer seemed to represent a file explorer, but I knew that Windows 8 was supposed to do something with hot corners, so I tentatively moused around the edges of my screen. And then something popped out from the side, showing what Microsoft call 'charms'. One of them was called 'Devices' and I thought that sounded like a good bet, but clicking it didn't show my USB stick. After the fact I'm still reasonably sure that's where it should have been, but it wasn't. "Okay," I thought, "Let's do this the old-fashioned way. I'm going to find Windows Explorer and by Christ's lovely balls I'm going to find the contents of my USB stick". So how do I get to the desktop? This was actually reasonably effortless as there was a 'Desktop' tile, but at this point I was becoming more than a little exasperated. And there I was, at something roughly approximating a Windows 7 desktop.
No Start button, to begin with. Now, I'd also heard something about this change, but there was no visual clue as to where I should go. I tried hot corners again, and somehow ended up back in the Modern UI. And clicked Desktop again. And went back to the desktop. And you know what, despite having used computers on a daily basis for 30 years I had no idea what to do. Perhaps my preconceptions of how things should be done within a desktop metaphor had clouded me, but I was totally out of my depth.
Apparently Microsoft have added a brief introductory tour to the final version. Good for them. My experience however was horrific and disjointed enough that I formatted that Windows partition quicker than you could say, erm, 'format that Windows partition'. Windows 8 is trying to be two operating systems at once, while doing neither well. This is the impression I got from five minutes usage at most, and those are five minutes I'm very conscious I'll never get back.
Early benchmarks show no improvement in Windows 8 gaming performance over Windows 7, the UI (well, both of them) is a laughable mess, and worse still it now appears that Microsoft is going to start pushing ads out through Windows 8.
Oh Microsoft, do fuck off.
On a parting shot, before you all start accusing me of hating on Microsoft because I'm some sort of Apple fanboi, I'd remind you that for many years I was a software and hardware tester for Microsoft and an advocate of their products. I use the tool that's best for the job. For general purpose computing that's Apple hardware and OSX, Debian Squeeze for server work and iOS on the move (but oh my word would I ever have a Nokia Lumia running Windows Phone 8 if it had a better and busier app store). Oh, and I do quite like the Windows 8 box art.