Computers Software

Windows 8 Release Preview … still not really impressed.

Windows 8 Release PreviewI guess it was deliberate that Microsoft didn’t name this release as the more common “Release Candidate”. A release candidate is, as the name suggest, a version of a piece of software that the producer believe is a candidate for release as a production version. If Microsoft believes that this is even close to that, then they have a serious problem. As a matter of fact, I do not understand why they even used the word release for this version at all. It really worries me that they did.

Actually, there’s not that much difference between the Customer Preview that was released earlier this year and the Release Preview that was released on the 31st of May. I’m sure there has been lots of code changes but pretty much all of the criticism I had in my post about the Windows 8 Customer Preview is still there.

Now, if this was a dedicated tablet OS, then this would probably be a fairly positive review. But it isn’t. Microsoft intend to shove this crap down the throats of everyone, including desktop users currently running Windows 7 and here is where everything goes to hell because they have “uglified” and crippled the bits of the operating system that you need for doing some serious work on a desktop/workstation.

As with the previous release the Metro interface is forced upon you. Now there’s nothing wrong with the Metro interface, it works quite well…on a tablet that is. It serves little purpose on a desktop. Also, as with the previous version, you’re forced to jump back and forth between the Desktop and Metro interface. This part of Windows 8 is an epic fail. If Microsoft doesn’t provide a way to boot into the Desktop (and replace the missing Start Menu), I’m sure someone else will.

So, what about the Metro apps then? If you don’t care about the Desktop but just want to run the Metro apps then it’s fine isn’t it? Wrong! First, you’re still forced into the Desktop once in a while because only the simplest of maintenance tools exists in Metro version.

Worse though, the most important Metro apps are still next to useless. A few cosmetic changes have been made since the Customer Preview but it’s really far from enough.

Worst is the Email app. You still do not have POP or IMAP. Really, what the fuck is that? It’s still buggy. There’s still no way to drag and drop mails between folders. There’s no way to display a combined inbox of all your accounts. Frequently displays the wrong number of unread mails in the live tile. In short, it’s pretty much useless.

The other apps are not much better. They all convey the impression that they have been quickly nocked together for an early demo and then somehow managed to get into the OS as default apps somehow.

You still cannot set a home page in IE and there’s no menu’s, favorites etc. in the app itself. You’re forced to pin all your favorites to the Metro Start page (which you cannot organize hierarchically) which I just crap.

Windows 8 Photo App insisting on showing hidden foldersThe new feature in the Photo app by which you can view photos on remote machines which you have registered to your SkyDrive account is a cool feature. Unfortunately the QA was forgotten on this one as well. For instance it shows you hidden folders as if they were visible. Goodsync for instance creates hidden folders with the sync data and those now popup everywhere in the Photo App. It’s also still way to simplistic and next to useless if you have many photos and folders.

The list can be made quite long. Now this wouldn’t be too bad if you could revert back to the desktop while waiting for the Metro environment to mature but you can’t really. Microsoft has lobotomized the Desktop. The Start Menu is gone. You’re forced to put your apps either on the Desktop itself or in the taskbar. Good luck with that if you have many of them. The look and feel is “uglified” since some idiot decided that they should give it a Metro look. As a result everything has been made flat, square and ugly.

Windows 8 News AppThere are some nice apps though. Unfortunately it’s not exactly the core ones but more icing on the cake type apps. The Weather app is quite nice although why it doesn’t have a live tile is beyond me. So is the new News app as well as the Finance app.

Windows 8 Economy AppHowever, the bottom line is that Microsoft needs to realize that they have to provide a full desktop environment for professional use and allow people to bypass the Metro interface if they want to. At the same time Microsoft really need to ditch these laughable toy Metro apps and provide some usable ones. An engineer do not have the same needs as the casual user who might be happy looking at a big blob interface on his tablet in front of the TV. I am a software engineer working with mechanical engineering software and I see a lot of our users being mightily unhappy if they are ever going to be forced to “upgrade” to Windows 8 as it looks today. As it stands today, I’m just as disappointed with the Release Preview as I was with the Customer Preview.

5 comments

  1. Unfortunately, Microsoft are removing any references to the old start menu so it will never come back unless someone manages to create an entirely new menu system hack.

    I agree with some parts of your post and how the OS seems to be more focused on tablets, but I think the introduction of the OS will see an increase in sales of touchscreen desktop monitors which will make it more useful. I’m enjoying the Release Preview at the moment but I’m a big fan of Windows Phone so it only makes sense.

    As the name suggests though, this is the “Release Preview” because the OS is due for release in the next couple of months. It’s already advertised online that purchasers of new Windows 7 computers between 2 June 2012 and 31 January 2013 will get a £15 upgrade to Windows 8 Professional.

    Personally, I am really looking forward to it, but I do understand why so many people won’t want it which is a shame but it’s all about personal preference.

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    1. I’m a Windows “fanboy” since version 1.0. This is the first version that I have really been disapointed with.

      The fact that it’s called “Release Preview” doesn’t mean much since we know it’s not the same as a real “Release Candidate” which should be a finished product. All the apps are still flagged preview when you launch them. I would be rather surprised if they, in the final release, ship a mail app without the basic mail protocols for instance.

      It doesn’t matter if they come with desktop touch screens (I’m sure they will). The metro interface is no good for engineering work. Most users (software developers and engineers of various disciplines) would be annoyed when not having simple things like multiple overlapping windows etc… I cannot really see someone trying to operate a CAD system with their fingers on the screen for instance. I would say it’s much more than personal prefence.

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