What the fuck is this shit?

That's all I can really say about this. It's the latest version of Microsoft Windows and it first appeared in the arse end of 2012. It was advertised using the tagline "Beautiful, fast, fluid" and aimed mainly at smartphones and tablets and other things with touchscreens, including the super-thin laptops that Intel are calling "ultrabooks" and often have touchscreens and flippy screens so you can turn them into tablets. As such, it has brightly coloured big tiles everywhere, "apps" that can be downloaded from the internets, and NO START MENU. Instead you get a load of big thumb-happy tiles, advertising, useless desktop space invaders, and other bollox, which is called "Metro" or "Modern UI," and it's not immediately apparent how to make it go away.

Thing is, this sort of model is okay for phones and tablets and other instances where you want to just read something or look at something or pick up your e-mail or watch something on Youtube, but this doesn't mean it translates well to a mouse and keyboard set up.

So. The first time I tried to use Windows 8, I thought to myself, right, I want to type something in MS Word. Now how do I do that? Erm... apps? No, that's all the stuff I can buy or is installed, which are stupid gimmick apps like 99% of the scheisse on the Apple Store or Google Play. And which don't work unless you're connected to the internets half the time (fhat the wuck). I spent about ten minutes hunting around before finding an unassuming tile somewhere which dispels the "Metro" interface and gives you a normal desktop... with no Start button... with only a taskbar with a few things pinned to it, and a recycle bin. The button is unassuming and generic, when it should be big, red, glowing, and marked "ESCAPE HATCH." But now I have a desktop that's no use to man nor beast, and I can't see any way of getting into My Computer to dig the file I want to type. I have to right-click and make a shortcut to C: in order to get it up. Jesus wept, this is horrible. Deary me. Only... it's got that stupid ribbon interface from Office 2007 and future which is unintuitive and cluttery. This is on everything now.

Also, the Metro interface contains tiles for categories of "app." These are all shortcuts to Microsoft's "app store" and thus are effectively advertising.

I finally get to do some typing and save it, but the rigmarole is ridiculous. It's clearly designed for a touchscreen but the compromise in the form of an escape hatch to the desktop makes it clumsy and cumbersome. Moreover, once I've typed it, I have to save it. This is fine, the file system hasn't been overhauled, but suppose I want to load a file off of somewhere? I have to open the program I've made it in, navigate to where it's saved, and similar. This program-centric attempt at doing things is not progress. It's going back to the bad old days of Windows 3.1. And this Metro guff that overlays on the top, and has certain programs, snazzily retitled "apps," which can only be run from within the Metro interface and which hoist you up into it if you try to use them from the desktop, is eerily reminiscent of Microsoft Bob. In fact, this is not the only thing which exudes Windows 3.1 about Windows 8.

If you want to run a program which is still yet to be given an icon on the desktop (for instance, you've just downloaded it or it's on an external drive), your choices are to press Ctrl+R and then type the exact path (like in Windows 3.1), or run Explorer and navigate to it and double click (like in Windows 3.1). And with the removal of a start menu and program groups and that sort of thing, your only way of getting to it, notwithstanding that you can't do it from the Metro interface, is, yes, to press Ctrl+R, type "explorer," and go from there.

On top of that, the fact that this was obviously designed as a touchscreen interface for stupid hipster executive toys tablets also bleeds from every orifice. You are invited to "tap" rather than "click." Even if you are clearly using a mouse. Error messages have to be dispelled not by pressing an X in the corner, but by clicking outside of them, which is not immediately apparent. Furthermore, "apps" and other programs automatically attach themselves to the sides of the screen and tile themselves up, or are maximised by default. Once again, this makes sense on a tablet or a phone with a small screen, but not on a 24-inch 1920x1080 monitor. On that, it is just counterintuitive and daft.


An update called Windows 8.1 is out now. It is the same shite but it restores the start button. Only joking! The start button now takes you back to the godawfulness that is Metro.

Which is a pity, because I'm told that internally, Windows 8 is very well built, has excellent driver support, and similar.

I honestly ponder the sanity of the people at Microsoft who came up with this. It seems that they read too many no-account pundits crowing about how the desktop PC was dead (it is fucking not), and how in the space year 2013 we'd all be using tablets and interactive paper and all that jazz. And he was right. We would be using tablets and smartphones and things with touchscreens... for looking at videos of kittens falling over and brain-dead internet memes. For actually doing proper work, fun, or similar, those things are as useful as chocolate teapot. I own a smartphone (Android, of course - Apple products bring me out in a rash) and the longest thing I've ever written on that is a three-paragraph e-mail. I couldn't node on it because it would take hours to prod every last letter on the touchscreen, prod backspace every verse end to correct errors, hunt through multiple pages of keys for punctuation (it takes three touches to produce a semi-colon), and then have to read it over line by line and then lose it when I try to sumbit because I've just wandered through a patch with no signal. But as a result of this boneheadedness, we've now got an operating system that is objectively worse than the previous iteration. Can you write a novel on a smartphone, edit a film on a tablet, or do your accounts on an e-reader? No you cannot. And what about for computationally heavy tasks? Can you Bitcoin-mine or BOINC or Fold@Home on a fucking iPad? Is the Ayatollah a champion of gay rights?

Even by Microsoft's record, and they have produced some stinkers in their time, that's pretty appalling.


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