The Mouse is Dead!  Long Live the Mouse!


LThe Mouse Is Dead!ate last week, Microsoft released the Windows Developer Preview, which is the first public release of anything relating to the project codenamed “Windows 8”.  This is the first look at what Microsoft really intends on doing with its next version of Windows.  It is designed to help application developers get their apps ready for the future of global computing.

This is a Mac user’s perspective…

Hardware

New Virtual Machine Assistant OCI understand that this is an early pre-Beta release of the operating system, so I am not expecting miracles.  Installation in a virtual machine on my computer is virtually impossible (see notes later regarding the 32-bit or 64-bit version of the operating system).  I run VMware Fusion on my Macintosh and I simply cannot get the VMware tools to install without crashing the operating system.  So I had to resort to Boot Camp to load the developer preview; and it works pretty well.

I am running a 27” Mid-2010 iMac with an Intel Core i7 processor with 12 gigs of DDR3 RAM.  For graphics performance, I have ATI Radeon HD 5750 with 1 gig of DDR5 video memory.  For the hard drive I am running an Intel 320 series SSD.  When I write a Mac-focused article I do not feel the need to stress hardware components, but for this article I feel that you all need to know what I am working with.

It should also be mentioned that I am using a keyboard and a mouse.  This will make sense later.

Installation

Windows 8 x64-1 OCInstallation is very straightforward, just like Windows 7.  One thing to note though is the installation is very quick.  One of the biggest weaknesses of the iMac that I have (and most Apple hardware) is that they use low speed DVD drives in their machines with slow data transfer rates.  It takes literally FOREVER to install Mac OSX or Windows on my machine from the DVD drive.  However, this installation was very quick.

It should also be noted that out of the box, the hardware driver for the wireless did not pick up my 5ghz Wireless-N network, but found and connected to my 2.4ghz without issue.  Also during setup Windows will ask if you want to log in with your Windows Live ID.  I have had difficulty in getting a Windows Live ID to work with my email address, so I ended up creating a “Local Account”.

Immediate Impressions

fulldesktop OCMy first reaction is “What the Hell is going on here?!”  You are immediately dumped into the new Start screen area, with a bunch of icons laid out in the Metro-style interface.  My first inclination was to try to get to something that I knew and understood, so I clicked the “Desktop” tile and was put onto a desktop.  However, do not try to click the “Start button” down in the lower left-hand corner like you normally would on previous installations of Windows.  You are immediately brought back into the Start screen that is previously mentioned.

The Windows key will also act as a home button for the operating system.  I am assuming that is how Windows Phone 7 works (I may try one out to field test).  In fact, I believe a great deal of the interactivity features is part of the feature set of Windows Phone 7.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

“Windows 8” takes the best and the brightest from other operating systems and yet finds a way to make it their own.  For example, one item that really stuck out to me was the Tweet@rama application. To me, it looks just like TweetDeck and has similar functionality (though I would argue Tweet@rama is not as versatile).

tweetrama OCApplications as they are installed appear on the Start screen, which is straight out of the Lion cookbook (where the icons are immediately place on the LaunchPad), which is straight out of the iOS cookbook.  It is irritating though because if a program installs a Start “menu” icon to uninstall the program, it will show both icons with the same level of visibility on the Start screen

“Windows 8” does not require an anti-virus (at least presently) out of the box.  Microsoft Security Essentials is integrated into Windows Defender.

One thing to note here: If you run Internet Explorer from the traditional desktop, it appears to run in 32-bit mode; however, if you run it from the Start screen it appears to run in 64-bit mode.  This became apparent when trying to watch Netflix with Microsoft’s own Silverlight plug-in.

Gestures

It is extremely obvious by this developer preview that this operating system is designed and intended for tablet-based computing devices.  Unlike OSX Lion, the touch interface on “Windows 8” really is in your face.  Yes, you can get along relatively well with the standard desktop view, but once you hit that Start button you are back in the Metro-style Start screen.

Since I am not using a track pad or a touch screen, I cannot try out the gestures.  What I can tell you is that in most places where you can either swipe up/down or left/right there are scroll bars that appears when you move your mouse over the area.

Problems

weather OCThis is a developer build, and should be treated as such.  You are insane if you try to use this as your primary computing environment and trust it with real work.  Just make sure you have Dropbox for backup (which does work as advertised in “Windows 8”).

I have no sound.  I know this is just a driver issue, but when I tried to install the Boot Camp support software, Apple kindly informed me that it would only install on a Windows 7 machine.

The graphics were flickering, especially in the Weather application.  However, after locating the Windows Update in the reworked Control Panel I was able to download a developer’s build of the ATI drivers for the operating system, which resolved the issue.

Some of the applications crash, and some just appear to do nothing.  What I mean by that is when I load the Weather application occasionally; all I receive is a black screen with nothing going on.  Ctrl-Alt-Del and close the application, and it works fine the next time it loads.

Classic Windows’ Failed Assimilation

Windows 8 x64-7 OCMy biggest complaint with “Windows 8” is with the interface.  I love the Metro interface.  I think it is exactly what is needed in a touch-computing interface.  I love it more than my iOS-equipped devices.

Where “Windows 8” fails is the complete execution of the Metro-style interface.  If you press Ctrl-Alt-Del and choose Task Manager, you will receive a straight-from-Windows-7 task manager.  Can’t find the right setting in the Control Panel?  Well, that is okay because it will load the old style interface for you to find it.

The nice thing about OSX Lion is that if I choose to not use the LaunchPad (the iOS-style interface), I do not have to use it.  To be honest, I do not use it.  I do not care for it because I do not have a track pad where that would make sense.  However, the rest of the time I am running a normal OSX desktop.  Which leads me to my next point…

The Future of Computing

Windows 8 x64-9 OCIt is obvious by Microsoft’s decision to widely adopt the Metro interface in “Windows 8” that they intend on this being the future of their operating system.  Apple has indicated through their release of Lion that they intend on incorporating many parts of the iOS interface into OSX to better take advantage of touch.

I believe mobile computers are great, and I believe tablets are also great.  But there is some satisfaction (and I would say need) for full-size desktop computers in many environments, and the latest iterations of both major operating systems seem to indicate that they want to dominate tablets and touch screen devices, but not desktop devices.

Steve Jobs recently stated that there will always be a need for trucks (high end machines for production work and what not), but the world is going tablet and mobile.   It is obvious that is what both Apple and Microsoft are betting on.

Conclusions

I like “Windows 8”.  When the final version ships next year there will be a PC in my office alongside my Mac.  That is how good I think this developer preview is.  But it also makes me sad.  I have some nostalgia for the regular desktop computer, and forcing me to use a touch interface and/or a track pad really does annoy me a bit.  Yes, I will adapt to these changes but “Windows 8” clearly makes a statement that the mouse is dead.  Long live the mouse!

Updates

Since the initial writing of this article, I downloaded the 32-bit version of the developer preview and loaded it on VMware Fusion for the Mac.  If you are attempting to do this on a Mac, you MUST have Fusion 4 or the latest Parallels installation.

The 32-bit installation is much easier to get working on the Mac (or from what I read, any virtual environment), and is definitely the way to go if you want to get your feet wet with Microsoft’s latest operating system.

I plan on covering more of the features in-depth, so stay tuned!  Follow me @chadkirchner on Twitter for more!

Author Bio

Posted: 3 years 2 months ago by L0rdG1gabyt3 #20040
L0rdG1gabyt3's Avatar
chadkirchner wrote:
Here's the thing about Windows 8 that I was recently made aware of. Don't think about the Desktop as the desktop with other applications. Think of the Desktop as one application.
Hrm... never thought of it that way....
chadkirchner wrote:
But Microsoft should have spent the time and money investing in showing off what a serious application (like Microsoft Word) would look like as a Metro app. I think the opinion of the new interface would be far superior to what it is now (because people think it's just a chintzy gimmick for Angry Birds-type games).
I really like the interface, just not as my main Desktop UI. From what I understand, Office 2012/2013 will still be very similar. If you have seen the videos of the BUILD slates in action, there are a few ways to use the OSK, but for real productivity, I think it will be a hard sell to corporations. (Where MS makes the real money)
chadkirchner wrote:
There is no need to close applications in the Windows 8 environment; they just pause when you switch apps. Load the Task Manager after you've run a few applications and you'll notice the word "Suspended" next to them.
Windows Phone 7.5 does this for fast task switching, butLeonresevil2 wrote:
I don't want to have to buy 28 damn GB of RAM just because some derps can't design an operating system and think that I want to boot everything instantaneoulsy.
chadkirchner wrote:
Heck, MIcrosoft still supports Windows XP and will for awhile.
927 Days from today.
Posted: 3 years 2 months ago by Leonresevil2 #20038
Leonresevil2's Avatar
chadkirchner wrote:
There is no need to close applications in the Windows 8 environment; they just pause when you switch apps. Load the Task Manager after you've run a few applications and you'll notice the word "Suspended" next to them.

This worries me. As a heavy user I like to close every program I can so I can get the hardware use when I need it. As I understand it, Mac doesn't really kill processes the same way, and keeps them up in the background. But when I'm DONE with something, I want it out of my RAM, proc, and everything else so I can run my other programs better. Hardware isn't slow anymore, I can tolerate booting a program again. But I can't tolerate having my game lag because my internet browser is eagerly waiting to be booted again when I won't.
I don't want to have to buy 28 damn GB of RAM just because some derps can't design an operating system and think that I want to boot everything instantaneously. Consumers shouldn't expect instant either.
Posted: 3 years 2 months ago by chadkirchner #20036
chadkirchner's Avatar
Thanks for the props! I actually just wrote a WP7 writeup that should hit the site shortly. You'll agree and disagree with some of my points. I do like the interface though!

Here's the thing about Windows 8 that I was recently made aware of. Don't think about the Desktop as the desktop with other applications. Think of the Desktop as one application.

Apparently (according to Paul Thurrott of the Win Super Stie) Microsoft hired some interns to write the apps that you see in the Metro start menu. But Microsoft should have spent the time and money investing in showing off what a serious application (like Microsoft Word) would look like as a Metro app. I think the opinion of the new interface would be far superior to what it is now (because people think it's just a chintzy gimmick for Angry Birds-type games).

There is no need to close applications in the Windows 8 environment; they just pause when you switch apps. Load the Task Manager after you've run a few applications and you'll notice the word "Suspended" next to them. It's going to be secure, robust, and powerful.

Once we start seeing some "Real" applications I will revisit my opinion of the new Operating System. But like it or not, it WILL be the next version of Windows without many changes, so it is something we'll have to get used to. Either the hardcore games will be played on the new Metro or you'll have to stay with Windows 7. Heck, MIcrosoft still supports Windows XP and will for awhile.
Posted: 3 years 2 months ago by L0rdG1gabyt3 #20032
L0rdG1gabyt3's Avatar
Great writeup Chad!

As probably the only person you know that uses a Windows Phone 7 (HTC HD7 T-Mobile), I can tell you that the Metro interface with the live tiles is an absolute wonder to use. They make things so much easier in just about everything I do with my phone.

But here's the rub with Win8, and its very similar to the feelings I had about Lion: There is a place for a mobile interface, and a place for a Desktop interface, and personally, I believe they should be highly, (and I mean HIGHLY EXTREMELY) compatible, but not IDENTICAL.

MS has found themselves with a winning mobile platform/UI for running, phones, tablets, heck, even touch POS systems, but for a main desktop OS, their flagship OS, they need to keep things closer to what we have been using for so many years. The Metro UI is NOT suited for mouse in any way or form.

Other changes they made to the actual Windows Shell are very nice. I like the flatter, cleaner look of the desktop. I like the improvements they made to the Taskmanager. I really like the UI consistencies they are going for with the ribbon interface in every part of the OS. But when you click on start, and the Metro start pops up, or like you mentioned, going to the control panel and it dumps you back into the classic shell, are going to be confusing and disorienting to new users.

From what Ive seen/used of Win8, it has pushed me to finally want a tablet/slate.

To sum it all up, unless they give me an option to completely disable the Metro interface on my desktop, I will be taking a pass on the new edition of Windows, and that says alot. As of right now, I don't have to pay for MS products, as my employer pays for a TechNet subscription, and if I wont even take it for free......
Posted: 3 years 2 months ago by drpain #20024
drpain's Avatar
I'm not a big fan so far, yes its nice and all but the app spaces just annoys me the most. Especially the desktop one when I go to click start I want the start menu not be dumped back to the Metro screen.
We've been running it in Virtual Box and so far everything seems to function correctly except it won't pick up the mouse pointer unless you physically allow the VM to take over your hardware.
Posted: 3 years 2 months ago by Leonresevil2 #20016
Leonresevil2's Avatar
I did see a video on it, and it does look great for a touchscreen. Such that I wouldn't be against having it on a tablet or something for myself.
But give every hardcore gamer, quad-screen stock trader, artist and web developer touchscreen versions of their current monitors, and take away their mice, and watch the rage begin. I think Microsoft is smart (or legacy-supporting) enough to keep the old ways supported and integrated. I know for my parents an OS like this would be great because they cluster everything on the desktop.
As long as it still runs Steam and native code (Songbird and Firefox), I'm happy.
Posted: 3 years 2 months ago by chadkirchner #20008
chadkirchner's Avatar
It'd make sense if we were all using touch screens, but we aren't. The active tiles are fantastic, because they provide more information than just regular old desktop icons.

Allegedly if you are connected to an Active Directory domain you will be able to disable the Metro interface through group policy, but for home users this is how it's going to be.
Posted: 3 years 2 months ago by Plague #20007
Plague's Avatar
Arxon wrote:
Nice thing to see windows putting forth real effort to get into to the tablet os market.

agreed, but keep the tablet OS off my computer... LOL
Posted: 3 years 2 months ago by Arxon #20006
Arxon's Avatar
Nice thing to see windows putting forth real effort to get into to the tablet os market.
Posted: 3 years 2 months ago by garfi3ld #20004
garfi3ld's Avatar
good read Chad

 

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