Why Regular People May Not Like Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Why Regular People May Not Like Windows 8 Consumer PreviewOver the past week and a half, I’ve been writing about Windows 8 from a first-hand point of view. I still intend to use Windows 8 in a production capacity, though my primary system has been restored and is now back on Windows 7.

I began my adventure with Windows 8 during the Developer Preview, and enjoyed it quite a bit. Moving to the Consumer Preview came along with an abundance of interesting additions that both improved and expanded upon the changes introduced in the Developer Preview. One of the biggest changes: There didn’t appear to be any visual indication that the Start menu still existed at all, as the placeholder button present in the Developer Preview — which took users to the Start screen — had vanished.

The idea behind updating the UI to meet the needs of a growing mobile computer market that has been widely predicted to all-but replace the existing desktop computing world in the coming decade makes perfect sense. Where Windows 8 would appear to be suffering its biggest failings at this point is user experience.

Regardless of whether or not it can work on everything from a smartphone to the high-end desktop, the problem facing Microsoft is making sure that every user enjoys an experience that feels as though it caters to their individual needs and expectations. If Windows 8 fails to deliver on those early expectations, the user will undoubtedly be quick to seek alternatives, revert back to a previous version of Windows, or simply abandon the OS for an alternative.

That said, there are several reasons why I’ve decided to make the switch back to Windows 7 — at least for the time being. Keep in mind while reading this that I’m writing about the Consumer Preview as it currently stands, not about what I expect the final product to be like.

Regular People Probably Won’t Enjoy It

It’s difficult as a tech enthusiast and blogger to live and breathe the latest gadgets and gizmos without losing site of what it’s like for the average user. We can drone on and on about the benefits of X Y and Z application over the competition, but if the average user can’t figure out how to take advantage of these features without reading help files or our articles, it’s not good enough.

Chris Pirillo, LockerGnome’s founder and long-time consumer experience advocate, decided to put Windows 8 to the test by giving his father a go at it. Joe Pirillo, a long-time user of Windows XP, found some things he liked about the new operating system, and some things he didn’t. It took a while to figure out how to get to various places in the new interface, and searching for menus along the top of the screen where they almost always are proved fruitless as Microsoft moved these menus to the right side of the screen for Metro apps.

Additionally, another member of the LocerkGnome community had his father take a look at the latest offering from Microsoft. The two impressions appeared almost identical, with the basic response being that the new dual-interface experience wasn’t as intuitive as Micorosft had intended it to be.

Bottom line: Microsoft has a giant hurdle to overcome in user experience. Where Windows 7 improved on the ideas behind Windows Vista, Windows 8 introduces a whole new set of challenges that Microsoft must overcome if it is to be a success.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview is Beta Software

I enjoy running as many things in beta as possible. That’s part of my job as a technology writer, and a great way to gain an understanding of what is to come before the general public does. That said, Windows 8 is in beta, and with that comes a whole set of challenges that you have to overcome as a user.

Driver issues, usability problems, bugs, and various other setbacks are part of the experience of using a beta product. Any time you agree to beta test something, you’re agreeing to help the developer locate bugs and issues that need to be resolved prior to shipping. This is no different with Windows 8, so setbacks are part of the game.

When it comes to using this product in a production environment, where deadlines have to be met and tools need to work at a moment’s notice, running a beta operating system as your primary option is generally ill advised.

Drivers Are an Issue Again

When Windows Vista first came out, the biggest issue users faced when first attempting to set up their systems came in the form of driver incompatibilities. Hardware manufacturers toil tirelessly to make sure their products work with as many operating system versions as possible, but this takes time and money that many of these companies don’t have to support older or otherwise outdated products.

With Windows 8, I experienced driver issues with a USB-driven monitor and a gaming headset. Neither of these products would install correctly, with one of them flat telling me the drivers wouldn’t work. I tried running the installation files in compatibility mode with no success.

Regular users don’t always have the latest and greatest equipment. Those printers, scanners, headsets, webcams, and other peripherals may be falling out of support by the manufacturers or simply don’t have updated drivers yet. While Windows 8 is in beta, it’s a low priority.

After all, would you dedicate your company’s resources to supporting a beta operating system that may (or may not) change between today and the day it launches, or to problems and innovations that have an impact on your larger user base?

There is No Compelling Reason to Switch

I’ve written articles over the past week explaining the benefits of Windows 8, and why it could be a success. These articles detail some fairly important changes that are sure to be a huge draw for users once it launches and third-party software developers begin building around the new platform. For now, Windows 8 has only a handful of apps that take advantage of the new UI, and many of them aren’t ready for prime time yet, either.

There is no compelling reason for any regular user to upgrade to Windows 8 Consumer Preview. As with any previous version of Windows, it’s always been one of those things that you do when you buy a new computer. Unless you’re running Windows on a touch-screen system, the benefits of Windows 8 at this point are too few to compel someone to give up what they’re currently working with to try a beta operating system with limited support.

Final Thoughts

Windows 8 has a lot going for it, but Microsoft has an even larger mountain to climb before it can truly call Windows 8 ready to ship. Estimates and rumors seem to agree that Windows 8 may ship this year. We can only hope that Microsoft has taken customer feedback to heart with the first release candidate.

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview is a great way to take a peek at the future of Windows and what may be ahead for the world of mobile computing, but it isn’t anything I would recommend to regular users. Windows 7 provides a remarkably stable and secure operating environment that is capable of running on everything from netbooks to high-end PCs, has the support of the majority of the software and hardware manufacturers out there, and will undoubtedly continue to receive support from Microsoft for several years to come.

Windows 7 isn’t going anywhere, and neither are the majority of its current users.

33 comments On Why Regular People May Not Like Windows 8 Consumer Preview

  • I think what we’re going to see in the coming years, at least as far as Windows 8 is concerned, most IT departments won’t upgrade any of their end users with the new OS.  If an EU can’t glance at the screen and know what to do in less than 3 seconds, they will panic.  In the event that there’s a technical support department in-house, then they’ll quickly be overloaded with migration support issues at the most basic levels.

    Note: I’m saying this with zero personal experience using Win8 and two decades of supporting end users and managing networks at all levels from grandma’s webtv through multi-national enterprise infrastructures with in-house software development.

    I would love microsoft to prove me wrong, but their track record for major OS revisions is somewhat akin to Star Trek movies.

    • That’s no surprising. IT departments never want to upgrade because of the cost and hassle of doing so. Most IT departments are still stuck on a 10 year OS, and are only starting to upgrade to Windows 7 because Microsoft will no longer support XP. Hell, most of these idiotic IT departments are still using IE6.

  • If there is no reason to switch to Windows 8 why have we switched from XP to newer versions of Windows at all? XP ran great…still does! But as newer versions came out…. Love’em or Hate ’em ……the majority of users eventually switched.
    And can we put the start menu issue to rest please. It took me about 30 seconds to find how to navigate to the Start page. Do any of us really use it all that much that we have to seer the Start icon sitting there at all times?
    I use Windows 8 consumer preview on a daily basis and love it more every day. If anyone is familiar with 7, Windows 8 will not be that hard to navigate.
    As for Windows in the business sector…news flash……most offices are still running on XP. I work in a 21 building corporate park with many, many tenants. The majority of them are still on XP because some of their business software is not compatible with newer versions. Myself included. (I run Windows 8 on a second PC).
    What Microsoft has to work on is making a new operating system that is 100% backwards compatible with all their old OS. 

    • I’d argue that Windows 7 is leaps and bounds above where XP was. Still, I get your point.

    • You are so right most people do not even use the start button. I am on computer all day and can not even remember how many times I use the start button. I thing there is a campaign out there to make sure windows 8 fail. windows 8 has come to stay it will not fail.

      • The people who use the start menu (especially via clicking rather than the windows key) in my experience are mostly lower-end users.  The “power” users will quickly find their way around the OS, as they would with most computer interfaces.

        To be fair, those lower-end users aren’t the ones trying the consumer preview.  Once they start buying new PCs with Windows 8 installed from the factory though, there absolutely has to be a tutorial baked into the interface to show them how to get acclimated with the system.

        • Plus, I think Microsoft ought to have a video out there showing how the new metro interface works using a mouse. With such a radical change Microsoft should be hitting the airwaves at least 6 months before the final product is release. This video may take less than I minute. I have seen other videos but are focus only on the tiles and seem to be touch centric.

        • No. Been using a ‘puter since Commodore 64 was new. Got tired of using the keyboard and memorizing shortcuts. I like clicky mouse buttons. One hand on mouse, least movement possible.

          You young idiots think you are impressing people with your 100 mile a minute computer usage… no… you look like dorks saving 0.5 seconds by acting like meth freaks unless it’s a matter of life or death. Women don’t like “fast” men either.

  • Jonathan Wakeman

    That is what I have been saying sense they first announced windows 8.

  • You want to know one of the downfalls of windows 8? They intentionally went on a limb to say they made it so intuitive and hyped it all up……..When in fact it is less intuitive then windows (POS) vista. The idea behind making a whole screen pop up just to (when you open up a program) go right back to the desktop to open up a program in the desktop simply blows my mind. It’s THE MOST STUPIDEST UN-Intuitive thing they could have possible done. If they made 2 versions of windows 8….Windows 8 regular (with capabilities to turn off metro) and windows 8 tablet. I can see it being a success but until then mark my words…. This will fail miserably!

  • I just would like to say that Windows 7 will be the new XP – Many users will stay in 7 for a long time just like XP..

    • I go between Windows 7 and XP everyday, no problems at all, even added apps here and there to my old XP machine to be just as effective as Windows 7. As an engineer I see no reason to upgrade to Windows 8, looks to me like a flashy media consumption device that has no place in the business world, maybe it’ll work for the 15 year old that rarely uses their laptop or desktop for actual “work”.

  • It reminds me of Jeff Veen’s talk re: good artists copy and great artists steal.

  • I think with how stupid Microsoft is being and not accepting feedback, Windows 8 will Fail. The only way to make something better is to ask the people who use it, what can be better, and Chris has been telling them for much time now that there are problems with it, and that it will fail.
    I will laugh when the day comes and he says to Microsoft; “I told you so.”

    •  They did accept feedback after the developer preview was released, dumbass. They made quite a lot of changes from the developer preview. I’m sick and tired of clueless idiots on the internet who have no clue what the hell they’re talking about.

      As for Microsoft, do you really think they’re going to listen to an idiot and Apple fanboy like Chris Pirillo? Give me a break.

  • The few issues they need to fix with this OS are pretty small, unless they don’t get fixed in which case they become huge usability issues. Simple things like putting something visual in the 4 corners to entice users to mouse over (ie. make the corners glow when a mouse gets close), teach users to right click to get menus for each app, and putting the “all apps” button on the start screen all the time would make this new interface incredibly intuitive.

    People who say they shouldn’t have the start screen or Metro or the modern apps, etc. are completely clueless because that is the entire point of this update. They built a new environment (WinRT to replace Win32), with an ecosystem and an official Windows store for apps. You’re welcome to stay on Windows 7 or XP, but understand that development is going to dry up for those environments (it’s already pretty dry outside of hardcore video games). If you want new modern apps like the ones that iOS and Android are getting today then you are going to have to upgrade to Windows 8. If you don’t care about downloading ad-supported apps or buying modern software from the Windows store then why should Microsoft care if you upgrade or not? Their revenue stream is going to come from the Windows store and if you’re not interested then you’re not the consumer they want anyway. The money to be made is not from selling the OS anymore, it’s from controlling the app distribution, controlling the ad stream on apps and taking 30% of every piece of software sold for the OS.

    Let’s be clear on this, WinRT (“Metro”) is not an add-on for the Win32 (“Desktop”) like Windows Media Center was. WinRT (Metro) is intended to become a full-on replacement for the desktop in the same way the Windows desktop slowly phased out MS-DOS. It will take a few versions before they can fully complete this phase out of the Windows desktop, but it shouldn’t be that hard once all of the new and exciting apps are Metro-only. They won’t completely eliminate the desktop, but it will eventually be as unappealing for consumers to use as MS-DOS is because all the new modern software you eventually use won’t run on it.

    If in the next few years you’re not going to upgrade your PC to something modern with a touch screen and you’re not going to be downloading software from an app store, then who cares about you? Apple doesn’t care about you, Google doesn’t care about you, and neither should Microsoft. All computers are going to have touch interfaces soon; which shouldn’t be surprising because all of our other devices are already touch screen. As far as all three of these companies are concerned either you buy into the app-store model of computing or you’re a worthless user.

    • Ok cool, you have convinced me that I am not a Microsoft lamb. Also that I do not need this new updated OS. Also that I dont need to buy a new App every day, lol. No ring in the nose to be led by for me, thx.

    • Very good points

  • Chris Pirillo is one of the biggest and blindest Apple sycophants on the planet. He’s an idiot. As for your whining, you’re no different than the idiots who whined when Microsoft ditched command line for GUI. If we left it up to you ass wipes, Microsoft would release the same goddamn OS forever.

    • Yes, this is why I resorted to ad hominem attacks whe… oh, wait. It was you who resorted to ad hominem attacks.
      I was right with Millennium Edition. I was right with Vista. Are you afraid I also might be right about 8 unless they start optimizing UX properly?

      • Tried Windows 8 preview on a VM for a week. Not a fan. However, toss in a taskbar and a start button and I’m in.

      • All about Computers

         On every forum I’ve read so far, things basically start with people saying they don’t like what MS have done with Metro especially the fact they can’t turn it off.

        Then almost immediately others come in saying they should stick with W7 or XP, and that’s where the ad hominem attacks start. 

        That MS have given certain users the opportunity to use their desktop OS like they use their phone, with “one trick pony” apps like weather, stock, social networks etcetera, is not the problem.
        The problem is they make it none optional! There are many people who use their desktop for other things then check weather or chat to friends.
        What are CAD designers, programmers, Database specialists, 3D designers, Web designers, Lawyers, Real estate brokers, Bank Employees, and many more powerusers going to do with Metro?

        Do you see a descent 3D design program for Metro emerging any time soon?
        Guess not!
        Can you imagine a database engineer or any of the aforementioned people bending over their desk to operate a touchscreen?
        A touchscreen on a desktop is just ridiculous and therefor a touchdriven user interface is ridiculous.

        And that’s why users should be able to enjoy the good stuff that Windows 8 brings, and  still have a choice to disable Metro. 

        Windows was aways about personal choices. With registry hacks and some utilities one could always sculpt their OS to their liking.

        If and when Microsoft goes ahead with Metro being none optional, they will definitely lose a big market share to not only Mac and Linux, but to themselves, because a lot of people will indeed stick with W7.

        My personal impression of W8 is mixed. First I must add I don’t care for weather reports, stocks, games or social networks. One of the things I do on my desktop is recording Music in programs like Cubase, Reason, Wavelab and so on.
        The stupid fullscreen piano in Metro isn’t going to make me a fan of Metro.
        What I do like about W8 is that is uses less resources. The less resources the OS uses, the more are left for Midi instruments and wave tracks.

        I have no need for Metro, and I would like to disable it. I would like a small startmenu to start my less frequently used apps. Is this to much to ask from an OS I will have to pay at least 199 euros for?
        Yes? Ok, I’ll stick with Windows 7.

    • Yes, this is why I resorted to ad hominem attacks whe… oh, wait. It was you who resorted to ad hominem attacks.
      I was right with Millennium Edition. I was right with Vista. Are you afraid I also might be right about 8 unless they start optimizing UX properly?

  • I truly think this guy has a campaign against Microsoft. If my grandmother who is 92 years old could figure this out in seconds then something is wrong with you and your Dad. Enjoy your mac and leave Microsoft alone. There is a reason why Microsoft is top in software. If it is not for you go somewhere and stop persuading others to follow you.  Windows 8 is born to succeed and will be very very successful

  • You have to start somewhere to transition users off the traditional GUI! There is always a learning curve users have to accept it and learn. This is a great first attempt, Microsoft will continue improve, I’m looking forward to a final release Windows 8 FTW!

  • I just installed Windows 8 on my netbook just to find out it doesn’t even support my resolution of 1280×600…  Although I ended up finding a superb Linux distro called “Joli OS” it had a Mac OS X feel to it and it’s cloud based like Chrome OS yet isn’t as fast but it can run offline applications.

  • I have just viewed the two video clips.  I totally disagree with both commentators about the difficulties in using Windows 8.  I’m 62 and, granted I would have had difficulty in finding the start button if I hadn’t been told, but hell it’s hardly rocket science.  To use that as an example of a lack of an intuitive interface is mind boggling.  I have no doubt that I would find the environment strange in the first few days of ownership, but I equally have no doubt that it wouldn’t take me long love and enjoy Windows 8.  I’m still on XP having given Vista and Win 7 a miss… but I am waiting for Win 8. In my view there is a hell of a lot of nit picking… it’s almost as if nobody wants Microsoft to win (excuse the pun) on this.

  • I don’t know ’bout ‘yall, but I think the new UI is kinda genius.  MS is finally getting a clue.  Win8 is actually something I could use.  And this is coming from a long-time (since 1991) Mac user, no less.

  • Who can take you seriously Chris… 
    “This is what Microsoft thinks is the final version”. It’s a preview. It’s not unreasonable to think MS might add a bit of onscreen instruction or tutorial the first time a user logs in. It’s little half truths and exaggerations like this that devalue your advice.

  • Windows sucks. Get a linux, its a trillion times better. trololollololoololololololololol

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