Hands-on with Windows 8.Is the new as just another pretty face, with nothing solid under the hood?

My first reaction when I got the Samsung Slate 7 in order to test Microsoft’s latest OS – Windows 8 (RTM) – was a heart-filled “Wow!!”. It provided me the opportunity to check out the new ‘re-imagined’ Windows well before its October 26 launch – how awesome is that! Well, you’ve got to admit that after years of being accustomed to the usual Windows desktop, the change was a warm welcome. And with the flick of a finger I was soon sliding across the screens, viewing one app after the other. But as I delved deeper into the machine, tried to get into with what it had to offer, I got lost in its operations. Indeed, the wow started to dwindle.
My first observation even before getting theĀ  Samsung Slate was though we have an amazing machine, it would have been nice had we received the trial version of Microsoft’s very own Surface tablet. After all, the Windows 8 touchscreen operating system would be best customised for its
environment. Still, not complaining, on I went with the machine in hand.
The tiling effect is cool. In fact, better than cool. But it affects your functionality. With the previous Windows desktop, all the icons were in one place, on one screen. Click or tap, and you have your app. Now, Windows 8 seems to have the tiles all over the screen. And they have replaced the Start menu. If you want one that isn’t visible, scroll to the left, or right to another screen. After some time, it started to seem that I was actually looking for pieces of a jigsaw puzzle! The oohs and the aahs definitely chilled out.
Take for example when I tried to access e-mail. After a little while, I found myself wishing for my slow, lazy desktop (which although takes roughly around 5 minutes to start) which was at least familiar with my movements. And then came what is invariably the biggest obstacle for me. The on-screen keyboard. While it responds well, the way Microsoft has displayed it, quickly becomes a headache. There are two keyboards, cine for the alphabet and the other for punctuation marks and numbers. Imagine having to feed your alpha-numeric password, let alone typing this whole article on it. As a standard keyboard user, my first reaction was ‘Oh, dang!’ They should definitely consider clubbing it all together. Just to make sure that my paranoia was not getting the better of me, I asked a couple of friends about their experience of using the OS. The usual wows were replaced with frowns. I guess with Microsoft, and Windows in particular, we expect something that will make for an easier working environment. In fact, one of them replied, ‘If we switch to the old desktop, as optioned in Windows 8, then there’s definitely no difference in the working, as compared to Windows 7.’ One gets the feeling that Windows 8 is all in all, a touchscreen version of what has already been made available by its competitors for some time now.

Anyway, within a short time, I was done with the latest innovation and not entirely happy with it. Still, there are a few weeks for the new system to come. And I sure hope that the nooks and kooks will be taken care of by the time it hits the shelves. In our case, the pirated CD racks!


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