Chris J Powell

OS Sunday – As Much as it Pains Me

It is really tough for a Linux guy to be objective with something produced by the sworn enemy of all things Linux but, in just a few short months, Windows 8 will move from being a what if to a what now.  I played around with the first release and then again with the Consumer Release Trial and for the most part I was left relatively underwhelmed.  That being said, I do hate people who only complain and never walk that mile in someone else’s shoes…so here goes!

The first thing I noticed after logging into the MSDN sight (just because I don’t use it at home doesn’t mean I don’t need to know what is happening over in Redmond), I noticed that there have been a multitude of new tools made available to usher in the New Microsoft.  I clicked on the Windows8 ISO download (chose the 64bit) and was surprised at the shear size…3.3GB!!!  I still have a problem with the Linux ISOs that stopped trying to fit everything onto a single CD but I get that is the way of the future…heck after my NAS died last week…I went out an got a 3TB replacement drive!

So I kickstarted the Oracle Virtual Box but had to up the Stats a little for Windows, I am giving the VM the same memory with 4GB but had to increase the HDD to 30GB (the initial test at the 20GB failed to install) and started the install (would be nice to have a Live DVD version of the OS so that you can be doing something other than waiting for the install to complete…but one can not expect the world to change over night!Surprisingly, the install went relatively quickly coming in at just under 30 minutes from first click to intial “full boot””.
While I have grown accustomed to 15 minute installs, the reality is…if the install is half the size…it should take half the time so on this one…I can look past it.As I had experience when the earlier two releases had come out…Metro (the new User Interface for Microsoft) is well…lets just say in your face…ALL THE TIME.  There are ways to revert back, just like there is pulling Unity off of Ubuntu and going for a look that is what we are used to…but trying new OSes…is about experiencing the vision so I will not be looking to the ways to get the standard start menu back!  The intuition that was put into the setup process, letting me choose the default colors, what features would be turned on, and the direct connect to my newly minted account were all very welcome additions.
The Cloud is definitely part of the long term strategy for Microsoft as it will log me into windows using my Microsoft ID!The initial Boot after the install and configurations were done clocked in at a respectable 23 seconds from black screen to Metro Desktop.  As with all Windows products…there is not much “extra” that comes with the OS as far as enabling productivity out of the box but from the “Store” icon box there is already a pretty solid following of both paid and free apps that will “pin” to your Metro start screen but for what ever reason I was not able to access the store.  Included with the OS though is:Internet Explorer 10 which has two distinct looks…one for Desktop Mode (that is what we are used to) and a Metro Mode that had my head spinning just a little as it changes the viewing experience dramatically:

I was able to install Google Chrome and LibreOffice without any problems but the majority of the “Apps” that live on the Metro Screen at the time of install are HTML based and run from IE (things like News, Sports, Finance, Travel and Weather) but there is also a connector to XBox Live but I was most intrigued by the change in the Media Center App as this was really the only use case that I had in the past of keeping a Windows PC around (for Home Theatre PC).  It may be a limitation of the Virtual Machine, but when the system was setup, it created an true Private Network and would not allow me to connect through to the rest of my wn network to look to the wonders of digital media and see how the XBox Live Media Center would really stand up to a typical day in the life of Krispy!


Overall, the experience with Windows 8 has been…well half baked.  Once opening a MetroApp there is no way that I could find to close the darn thing.  Right clicking…nope.  No “X” that magically appears! There appears to be just an endless collection of Apps that Alt Tab will now scroll through.  Will it take off…I don’t know…I really like my Start Button and the number of clicks and scrolls and Alt-Tabs and well…I am sure that after figuring out the way to CHANGE MY WORKFLOW to work within this system…it may be more efficient but for now…I can only see myself getting very very frustrated.

I did however check to see if the promises of more efficient use of resources would occer and boy was I pleasantly surprised:

The real question is, do I think that Windows 8 will be truly the next big thing or will it have the Millenium and Vista Effect?  The truth…I think that Microsoft is taking a very big gamble with this.  The alignment with their mobility strategy is commendable and if the Desktop truly is dead…then there is a chance that it will succeed but the reality it…it is on the decline but far from dead (Gartner Research recently released that there were almost 90 million Desktops and Laptops shipped to customers in Q2).

Will the gamble pay off…I am going to go on a limb and say…no, Metro may bring about the death of Microsoft and if anything will hasten he demise of the Desktop as a viable and usable way of computing.  As much as I love the mobility of a Tablet…there are still things that I truly need to have the power of a Computer for and that will not end anytime soon.

As for the rating.  Windows 8 in its current state gets a:

Cheers and Happy Sunday!

Chris J Powell

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