I repaved my main machine yesterday from Win7 to Win8. I’d not played with Win8 at all before and only read about the desktop\touch pain and big start menu discomfort.
Here are my thoughts and reactions as I went along and tried a few things:
Installation \ Users
- Installation off USB stick. Very slick. Only memory card reader not recognized. Even external USB speakers have built-in drivers.
- Hmm. Must create first admin user as one connected to a Live account. Why would I want to do that? No option to create further users either. Why remove that? ‘Twas very handy, that.
- Paranoid thought. Isn’t a linked account as admin dangerous? Could someone back hack your computer through an admin account like they did with Mat Honan? (Honan, what is bet in life? Not that, I’m guessing)
- Once you’ve found the control panel, it is possible to unlink your admin account btw. Linked accounts allow you to sync ‘settings’ to all your linked devices. What settings they include, it doesn’t say, and if you’ve only one device (like me), there doesn’t seem a point to linking an account.
- Now if there was an option to save your registry settings – effectively a Windows save point – to the cloud, so when you next repave, you could restore all the control panel settings you’ve tweaked with a click of the mouse that would be great. Sign me up. But alas, no.
- New lock screen is pretty. Press any key to log in. Click-swiping with mouse doesn’t seem to work. Maybe I’m not doing it right.
- Start screen is a bit imposing isn’t it. Sure I’ll never use some of these apps. Games, Finance, Maps – goodbye.
- To uninstall a touch app, right click and select uninstall from options that appear at the bottom of the screen. They aren’t listed with desktop apps in the Programs and Features control panel.
- Try the Apps Store and see what I can find.
- The most obvious thing I CAN’T find is a search box for apps – just a seemingly infinite right-scrolling list of categories with three apps in each.
- Don’t know how it works for touch users, but simply typing something brings up the search dialog. Not very obvious.
- Oddly enough, what I really want now is the first thing I dismissed in Win7 – the demo video tour guide. All these touch apps are very in your face – full screen, big fonts – without much in the way of visual aids for the newcomer.
- Happy to note that Alt+F4 still kills an app and Alt+Tab still cycles through your open tabs.
- Finally found the ‘help’ button. Unhelpfully, it’s not F1 any more. It’s in the Settings charm for the app currently onscreen (Swipe to right edge of screen or Win+C). Also unhelpfully the help option seems to be optional and not all that helpful.
- The People app is telling me it is already connected to my live account, twitter, and linkedin. Really? When did that happen. Used the settings charm to add Google+, Facebook.
- Privacy conscious people can thus disconnect accounts as required.
- Search for people in three ways: start typing, scroll right, or click the little minus button in the bottom right of the app to ‘zoom out’ and group all contacts under the letters of their first names. Home, End, Page Up and Page Down also work.
- The What’s New view is a great, clean amalgam of Facebook wall and twitter feed.
- It’s obvious how to reply to someone’s update on Twitter or Facebook but not how to send a Tweet or update your own Facebook wall. App has an oddly read-only feel to it as a result.
- The Mail app is also pretty to look at and useful to set up so your lock screen tells you how many emails you have without needing to check, but I’ll stick to Outlook.
- Worth noting the ‘Change PC Settings’ option at the bottom of the Charms window (Win+C). Probably the best part of the touch-half of Win8 I’ve found so far.
It’ll be nice to get a Surface RT. At the moment, from a desktop users perspective, I think I’ll save the touch apps for use as a read-only, non-work view on things. And also figure out what all the sharing options do – especially when facebook keeps changing it’s definition of privacy and resetting our privacy settings. It’s hard enough for one hand to know what the other is doing without there being six hands to keep track of and one speaking in tongues.
Huzzah, the desktop. Feeling safer. Win8 has been appealing for several reasons, not the least of which are the apps I don’t need to install any more:
- Virtual Clone Drive : ISOs are now supported as folders natively by Win8. Yes!!
- Start Killer : Because there’s no start button now anyway.
- Slickrun, Teracopy, and Foxit PDF Reader : For now.
And also the new features in Win8 are straight to install as well:
- Hyper-V on the client. Huzzah!
- WebSocket protocol for IIS8. (Under WWW Services \ App Dev Features)
Sadly there’s no native support for eBook formats still, so that’s still the Kindle desktop app to install. Or whatever you use.
Scott Hanselman blogged a great list of keyboard shortcuts to get around the Win8 desktop. These will help your comfort level greatly for a while. Write them down until they are in your subconscious.
Here are some more thoughts on my desktop experience so far.
- Desktop apps don’t talk to their touch equivalents. Sadly. I’m not sure if it’s possible to do so, but it would seem beneficial if it was.
- Hitting the Windows key to start a new app is a big lurch. I really miss SlickRun \ Launchy right now for the lack of desktop disturbance they caused. I used to use Winkey to bind apps to Win+number before slickrun but again the UX shift of having something pinned to the taskbar which isn’t running so you can start it with Win+1, 2,3, etc is again a bit lurchy.
- Installing apps on the desktop is very “quiet”. On Win7 , you installed something and the start menu would shout at you the next time and highlight it so you could find it. Not in Win8. The new start menu tile is buried somewhere to the right in tile view and there’s sadly no ‘just installed’ group in the list view of the start menu either.
- Theming seems to have gone awry. You can change window border and taskbar colours to black (my preference in Aero) with no means of changing the font colour from black. In fact, the whole ‘advanced colors’ dialog of earlier windows seems to have disappeared and the ‘automatic color’ option is a bit odd, keying off the main color of the current desktop background.
- The Win+X menu is a great addition. Must figure out the registry settings to add\remove entries from there. Hyper-V \ IIS would be useful additions.
- Even though I’ve switch the display scaling down from 125% to 100%, all the window title fonts are still the same size taking up way more space than they need to and screwing up other things like Outlook’s nav pane.
- Oddly, I was surprised to find that the VS2012 installer does not include an option for SQL 2012 Express as previous editions of VS did. Oddly, it’s not an option in the Web Platform Installer either.
- Windows Live Photo Gallery is broken in Win8 at the moment. Sadly.
So there we have it. Currently my head is still adapting to the Win8 way of doing things as well as its look and feel. Intuitively it feels like the way to run Win8 as a desktop machine is either to ignore touch apps completely or to use them as a read-only view of your online profile. Most of them just don’t feel customizable enough to tweak them as I want at the mo. And also, to use local accounts rather than live accounts if you haven’t a compelling reason to do so.