My Great Windows 8 Misadventure

Windows 8 is receiving a massive amount of publicity lately. Microsoft loves to roll out every new operating system with enough hype to sink a battleship, and Windows 8 is no exception. As a dedicated journalist and incurable geek, I realized it was my duty to install the latest OS from Mr. Gates and have a look at all the high tech wonders introduced by the latest and greatest from the world’s largest software company. Little did I know, I was about to experience one of my ultimate computer misadventures.

Before I started, my son called me to say hi and I told him I couldn’t talk for long because I was about to install the new Windows OS. He laughed and said “Pop, Don’t do It. Windows 8 is for touch pads and tablets. You are going to be sorry.” I told him I was going to see for myself and keep an open mind. Well folks, I should have listened to my son.

Actually acquiring Windows 8 is the easy part. Simply access the Microsoft website and fork over $39.99 for the downloadable upgrade. Fast and painless, the entire process including the install took about 20 minutes. The Microsoft servers, which can take forever to download a tiny Windows 7 update, were simply flying. In less time than it takes to warm up yesterday’s leftovers, I was looking at the brand, spanking new Windows 8 desktop.

As many other reviewers have already mentioned, it was at that moment, my misadventures began. The new desktop is so overloaded with goodies and tweaks, it resembles the Hogwarts maze that Harry Potter had to negotiate to win the Triwizard Tournament. Thankfully the main hazard is not Blast-Ended Skrewts. Instead of facing flame shooting armored crabs, users must negotiate a desktop with more bright colors than a jumbo sized box of Crayola crayons and resist the temptation to run out of the room screaming .

Perhaps in time, a user will get used to a desktop with a fleet of multi-colored icons and moving their mouse to a corner or side of the screen to open other functions. For someone who simply wants to open a folder to access a file or log on Chrome to use Wordpad and type an article, Windows 8 is total overkill. I will never use 90 percent of the features; they simply get in the way and slow me down. All the movements, which would be easy and intuitive when using your hand on a touch screen, are awkward and tiresome with a mouse.

When it comes to the technical side of Windows 8, I have one major complaint. Windows 8 is actually Window 8. It prevents me from being able to open multiple windows on my 28 inch monitor, and as a journalist, I depend an assortment of high speed news tickers and a multitude of news websites. I also have several files folders and applications open at all times.

Jakob Nielson described the problem in detail on his blog:

Lack of Multiple Windows = Memory Overload for Complex Tasks

“One of the worst aspects of Windows 8 for power users is that the product’s very name has become a misnomer. “Windows” no longer supports multiple windows on the screen. Win8 does have an option to temporarily show a second area in a small part of the screen, but none of our test users were able to make this work. Also, the main UI restricts users to a single window, so the product ought to be renamed “Microsoft Window.””

“The single-window strategy works well on tablets and is required on a small phone screen. But with a big monitor and dozens of applications and websites running simultaneously, a high-end PC user definitely benefits from the ability to see multiple windows at the same time. Indeed, the most important web use cases involve collecting, comparing, and choosing among several web pages, and such tasks are much easier with several windows when you have the screen space to see many things at once.”

“When users can’t view several windows simultaneously, they must keep information from one window in short-term memory while they activate another window. This is problematic for two reasons. First, human short-term memory is notoriously weak, and second, the very task of having to manipulate a window—instead of simply glancing at one that’s already open—further taxes the user’s cognitive resources.”

I was also simply stunned by the suggestion I download a third party add-on that would restore my desktop to the straight forward Windows 7 desktop I have used and loved for so long. Why should I bother to upgrade to Windows 8 only to make it look like Windows 7 again. The primary features of Windows 8 are built around the new desktop; to make it look like Windows 7 is a waste of forty bucks.

It took me 20 minutes to install Windows 8 and about 14 hours to undo the damage. Since I purchased an upgrade, I didn’t have the luxury of installing the new OS on a separate partition, so I had to re-install Windows 7 from scratch and then re-install all my other software and files. The worst part was re-installing all the various online games I play in order to review them as The Inquisitr’s resident gaming writer.

While I do agree with my son that Windows 8 is perfect for tablets and touch screens, it is a confusing, overloaded disaster for anyone who uses a desktop or laptop with a mouse and keyboard. Microsoft should market Windows 8 to people who own devices that will benefit from the new features, admit their mistake, and develop a new OS for people who use standard computers, one without a million security holes that require constant urgent updates and patches. I’m back to Windows 7, and I learned my lesson from my great Windows 8 misadventure.