5 Little things that are annoying me about Windows 8 (Release Preview)
So Well, last week I took the plunge and got Windows 8 Release Preview (Build 8400) installed on my laptop. And so far the experience has been pretty good (very stable, very fast and no major glitches so far).
However, there are a few things that are annoying me (and if anyone knows me .. they know that its all these little things that REALLY annoy me).
[UPDATE - Please also see comparison post : 10 things I love about Windows 8 ]
I know .. I know .. this is a release PREVIEW so it is really still in beta and a lot of things can change .. but there are some obvious flaws coming to the surface here, so without further ado, my list of..
Windows 8 (Release Preview) Pet Peeves
#1 Metro and the Taskbar
Now .. I have to admit I’m quite a fan of Metro. I have a Windows Phone 7.5 device (Nokia Lumia 800) and the metro interface is a very vibrant, quick, easy and (above all else) FUNCTIONAL interface.
However, there are some major annoyances that I’m finding impact on my day to day work, and the main one is that Metro Apps don’t appear in the Desktop Taskbar.
Now .. this might not be as bad as you think, but I spend a LOT of my working day in the Desktop mode (and therefore I have a lot of shortcuts pinned to the task bar) and like to use it for quick unobtrusive productivity notifications such as;
- You’ve had some emails
- Someone has started/posted to an instant chat
- Your file has downloaded
- Your application needs to tell you about something (i.e. it is flashing)
All of these happen at the bottom of the screen and don’t really “get in the way” .. the best bit is being able to “pin” favourite folders / tools / whatever into the taskbar button itself.
However .. a lot of default functionality runs as “Metro Apps” and the problem with Metro Apps is that they don’t run in the task bar. They go full-screen and you lose all of that notification information I described above… so far these apps include:
- Mail (i.e. Email .. which is exactly why I don’t use it and instead use Outlook 2010)
- Windows Reader (especially for PDF documents!)
- Music (although this will admittedly run in the background)
So .. just to be clear … you cannot watch a video using the Metro App while also keeping an eye on other “running apps” (such as downloads, several instant chat and email at the same time). Yes .. you can “pin” the other apps left and right .. but I don’t really want them there ALL THE TIME .. I just want to know if they are doing anything worth my attention.
#2 How the hell do you “close” a Metro App?
Yes yes .. I know .. you aren’t SUPPOSED to close them. The beauty of a Metro App is that it saves it’s state and consumes 0% CPU while it isn’t active onscreen (with a few exceptions .. such as music).
This is based on the model used for Windows Phone 7 where you don’t really need “multi-threaded” apps because for most productivity apps they aren’t doing anything if they aren’t in focus.
However … the biggest problem is that they appear in the Alt-TAB “App Switching” dialog…
In the screenshot above the Taskbar shows one program running (IE10) but there are a whole bunch of Metro Apps running in the background (including another IE10 instance in Metro)
This is going to confuse the shit out of end users ..
Now admittedly I’m thinking of my dad and my sister here.. but when you combine this fact with the apparent inability to CLOSE a Metro App ?? and you have a bit of a problem (especially with the “always on” mentality of the modern Tablet / Ultra-book device that never gets rebooted).
You can actually close them fine using the old Windows shortcut keys Alt-F4 but what percentage of the average user base knows this? (outside of developers, IT admins, tech geeks and power users??) .. I’m guess under 20% ..
#3 Move my mouse where??
Ok .. the removal of the Start Menu I could kind of stomach. I get where they are going with this and I know they want to get everyone using the new interface … but they REALLY need to put a tutorial in this for their commercial release..
The “gestures” (for want of a better word) for the main operational menus (as far as I can tell) are as follows:
- Bottom-Left Corner, Left Click – Start Screen (yes .. the Metro one)
- Bottom-Left Corner, Right Click – System Tools (for want of a better word .. access to Control Panel, Computer Management and such)
- Bottom-Left Corner, move cursor up – App Switching Panel
- Top-Left Corner, Left Click – cycle through currently running apps
- Top-Left Corner, move cursor down – App Switching Panel
- Top-Right Corner, move cursor down – “Charm Bar” (access to Search, Share, Start, Devices and Settings)
- Bottom-Right Corner, move cursor up – “Charms Bar”
Now .. you can add to this list what you would “normally” find in a Windows environment
- Bottom-Right Corner of Desktop View – Show Desktop button (which still works .. if the Charms Bar doesn’t get in the way)
- Top-Left Corner – File Menu (when the app-switching button doesn’t get in the way)
- Top-Right Corner – Close / Minimise buttons (when the Charms bar doesn’t get in the way)
So I really have 2 issues here. There being a lot of different (completely opposite) places to move my cursor around .. and …
How the hell am I supposed to know this ??
I’ve also got some screenshots to show you what some of this looks like..
First you move the mouse cursor bottom-left and the small slightly nasty looking “Start Screen” graphic appears (yes .. the fact that it shows the size and location of your ACTUAL pinned apps is kinda cool .. but it still looks like a Tetris puzzle from the 90′s!)
You then move your cursor “up a bit” and the “task switching” bar appears …
Similar experience for the “Charms” bar .. you move the cursor top-right (or bottom-right) to get it to show (with white icons and transparent background)
#4 Metro – Settings, Options and Menus – Keeping you on your toes!
Start Screen – Bottom Right
IE10 - All 4 corners (although click on “Add Tab” in the top panel .. new option panel for pages appears … at the bottom !!)
Weather – Top Left, Bottom Left and Bottom Right
Mail – Bottom Right
Maps – Bottom Right
Windows Store – Top Left
Photos – Bottom Right
SkyDrive – Bottom Right
Calendar – Bottom Left and Bottom Right
Video – Bottom Right
News – Top Left
Sport – Top Left
Wikipedia (3rd Party App) – Bottom Left
#5 Metro .. or Desktop .. ?
Twitter / Social
Only Metro Apps will post statuses to the Lock Screen (like Music / Messaging / Weather / Email .. very very similar to Windows Phone 7 experience!)
Only Metro Apps support Live Tiles
Metro Apps always run full screen
Metro Apps are “touch” oriented and feel clunky with keyboard & mouse
Metro Apps don’t appear in the Task Bar!
I have basically replicated my Start Screen in the Task Bar
This just feels plain wrong .. why am I doing this twice? I never really felt the need to do this before (because the Desktop was everything, and the Start Menu was just a place to store the shortcuts for things “I use but not very often”) but now I almost feel like I have two computers.
To make things worse you can’t set an easy “default” app either for both environments. If you are in the Metro interface and click on a URL it will open the Metro Web Browser. It doesn’t prompt you, and I can’t work out how to override this to go to Desktop either.
Why is this important?? Well .. the Metro app doesn’t have the same favourites as the desktop app! (yep .. they are as far as I can tell completely independent!)
And I can see the same kinds of things happening. If I click “New Mail” is it going to force me to use the Metro “Mail” app or can I have it auto-prompt to the desktop “Outlook” instead? And if so .. how would I configure this?
I think at the end of the day I can sum up my Pet Peeves on Windows 8 with this:
My laptop is basically a desktop workstation. I want to use Desktop mode .. all the time. Do I like the some of the new features of Windows 8 ??? hell yes.. the new Security features, system recovery, awesome boot times, new task manager, windows explorer functions, ISO mounting and Hyper-V integration are almost worth the upgrade alone!
Do I like some of the new Metro Features?? Hell yes …. I love the Live Tiles .. I love the lock-screen updates and the interface is pretty neat and slick … Will I actually use any Metro Applications?? No … I will avoid them like the plague (for reasons well stated here).
My parting shot … I am a Microsoft guy through and through. If you cut me in half it probably says “Windows” in there somewhere (and definitely says “SharePoint”) and these are peeves I am prepared to live with .. but will everyone else? I see a lot of new users struggling (a LOT) and I can see businesses very rapidly choosing to NOT deploy this.
I really hope Windows 8 is a success and I don’t think it will bomb like Windows Vista did (this doesn’t have any of the performance / compatibility issues that Vista did) .. but with some of these niggling things I think it might be a bit of a damp squib.