Yep, I said it. I may have just committed professional suicide and may never be offered a job again and just to make it worth it I’m going to say it again. Windows.8.Is.Not.That.Bad
Why such gleaming praise? Have I lost my mind, or been bribed by Microsoft to say nice things about their crappy OS to my two readers (hi guys)? No, but unlike most of those who bash Windows 8 for it’s split personality and it’s absent Start button which is allegedly responsible for the deaths of many kittens, I’ve used it. I’ve used it at home since shortly after it came out and have been using it at work for a couple of months now.
I published my first impressions a while back and I think it’s time to refine my impressions a little and add a dash of reason.
This week there has been a lot of talk about Windows 8.1 aka Blue and how Microsoft are going to put all our cheese back and beg for forgiveness. This won’t happen. At most, there is going to be a minor submission, such as adding the Start button back but having it trigger the Start screen, or allowing boot to Desktop.
6 months of use has led me to the inescapable conclusion that the Start screen is an almost perfect marriage of the Start Menu and the desktop. Let’s face it, most people’s desktops consist of loosely related groups of icons and maybe an extremely crucial business file that can never be replaced and is not backed up in any way shape or form.
What is the Start screen but a load of groups of loosely related icons?
The start screen is the perfect replacement for your cluttered and dis-organised desktop. You can’t put files on it, therefore forcing you to put them somewhere sensible, or just putting them on the actual desktop where you’ve always put them.
With just a little tidying up, at boot you are presented with a screen full of big icons for your main applications that are easily clickable through blurry eyes on a Monday morning before you’ve had your caffeine intake.
So the Start screen is the solution to the icon-explosion on your desktop. But what about the Start Menu?
The Start Menu, the theory goes, was a quick way to access commonly used applications and provided a nice hierarchical folder structure with which to access all your installed apps.
In actuality, the quick app access came true but the hierarchical folder view soon becomes a dumping ground for any amount of shit that installers feel the desire to put in there. Often, applications from the same company will have wildly differing paths so your hierarchical structured view of your applications has absolutely no structure whatsoever!
For years now, I have taken to manually organizing the folders in the start menu. This makes finding anything easy with the rather large caveat that when anything gets uninstalled, I have a dead entry sitting there for me to trip over at some point in the future.
I suppose the closest replacement for the “view everything” mentality of the Start Menu is the All Apps view, which is possibly the worst example of a UI I have ever seen. It is completely intractable to me and I steer clear from it. If I need something that isn’t on start, I search. If search doesn’t bring it up, I dip down to Explorer.
If I need to get to system functions, I use either Win+R to bring up Run or Win+X to bring up the new Quick Access menu.
Having lived with Windows 8 for a while now, I don’t feel I’ve lost anything. The functionality of the desktop (link farm) + start menu is there in the start screen for me. Anything else can be served by Search or Win+R/X. Overall my workflow is quicker and more streamlined-and no more manually organizing the Start Menu.
Somehow, life goes on after the Start Menu and no kittens were killed in the use of this OS.
Well, not many.