A lot has been written about Windows 8 and how it’s either Microsoft’s biggest success or its worst failure since Vista. Admittedly some of this has been written by yours truly. However, I’ve come across a lot of statements that just don’t jibe with my own experiences. Like most of you, at the current time, I don’t have any touch-enabled hardware. So running Windows 8 is basically just like Windows 7. I have Windows 8 installed on several desktops and have been using it on a daily basis since its GA release in October 2012. I know how it works.
Most normal (non IT) people I know are interested in Windows 8. But when they see it and first try to use it they are confused and don’t like it. The IT crowd catches on to it pretty quickly, but for the most part they say they see no advantage over Windows 7 (which by all accounts has become the new XP). Not unexpectedly, the exceptions are people who are ardent Microsoft supporters. Fortunately being an independent publication means that we can provide opinions that aren’t colored by the Microsoft party line. Here are my thoughts about some of the myths that I’ve run into about Windows 8.
You might as well get used to Windows 8 because it’s inevitable. Windows 8 is most certainly not any more inevitable than Windows Vista was. Like Windows Vista, Windows 8 is off to a slow start. But I expect that Microsoft is going to be coming out with an update that helps address some of main pain points in the initial release. So if you don’t like Windows 8, just hold off, because a subsequent version is going to get better.
Windows 8 is unusable without a touch screen. Windows 8 is different from any previous version of Windows. At first it’s confusing, and in my opinion in day-to-day use it’s not as productive as Windows 7. However, Windows 8 is definitely very useable. While not as efficient as Windows 7, you learn how to cope with its differences. Basically, I just wound up living on the desktop side and junking up my desktop with a zillion shortcuts to make up for the missing Start menu. Start8 or Classic Shell can also help make Windows 8 more livable.
Windows 8 is faster than Windows 7. Nope. Sorry it’s not. But it’s not slower either. To me, Windows 8 seems identical to Windows 7 in terms of speed. If there’s any difference, I can’t see it, and I’m looking. Maybe Windows 8 is faster if you’re running on new faster hardware, but then that’s really the hardware. Right?
Windows 8 boots faster than Windows 7. This is true. Windows 8 boots faster than Windows 7, but so what? The last time I booted my desktop was well over a month ago. I doubt many people are spending a lot of time worrying about how long it takes their desktop to boot.
The new Start screen is better than the old Start menu. I’ve heard this myth from some Windows 8 supporters, but I just don’t see it, at least not on non-touch devices. The old hierarchical Start menu provided quick access to all of your programs. The new flat Start screen requires paging to see what’s there, and it doesn’t show everything anyway. It also lacks jump lists and Recent item options and quick access to My Computer, Networking, the Control Panel, and Administrative Tools. To be fair, tiles can show you dynamic content, but gadgets did that as well.
Windows 8 is not for the enterprise. Microsoft may be marketing Windows 8 to the consumer (perhaps not altogether successfully because Microsoft is no longer a consumer-oriented company), but Windows 8 inherits all of the Windows 7 enterprise features like full AD support, Bitlocker, Windows To Go, DirectAccess, BranchCache, and Applocker. Windows 8 can definitely be used successfully in the enterprise.
Old Windows programs won’t run. Microsoft has only themselves to blame for this one. It’s true that the ARM-based Windows RT version of the OS will not run the old x86-x64 Windows programs. However, Windows 8 and Windows RT are really different things. The vast majority of x86 and x64 programs run just fine on Windows 8. I ran into a few devices that aren’t supported, but all the programs and games I ran worked fine. Sometimes you have to wonder why they even named Windows RT “Windows.” After all, the UI formerly known as Metro is designed to run one App at a time, not to have multiple windows open.
I have no doubt that touch is the way of the future, but I also know we’re just not there yet. Microsoft designed Windows 8 with a bit too much eye on the future and forgot about where the rest of the world is really at. Those are some of the biggest myths about Windows 8 that I’ve run across. If you have some Windows 8 myths that you’d like to dispel, share your comments here.