Windows 8

Should SMBs upgrade to Windows 8?

Every small business OS-upgrade choice as a cost/benefit ratio. Calculate the cost, calculate the benefit, and divide. Here's a look at the variables you should consider.

I've been using Microsoft-based desktop PCs for a long time. I remember buying a light brown desktop PC in a huge metal case and having also to buy DOS 4.0 separately so it could run software. DOS 5.0 was not far behind, and I've been faced with operating system upgrade decisions in small businesses ever since.

The release of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview in February reminded me that yet another OS upgrade decision will soon be upon us. And although I, and many other cogs in the SMB machine, tend to wait out the initial stage (aka Service Pack 0), the fact that the world is moving on requires that we give some thought to whether we should join the bandwagon.

I look at every small business OS-upgrade choice as a cost/benefit ratio. Calculate the cost, calculate the benefit, and divide. It's a subjective and metaphorical number, to be sure, but the process of trying to calculate it is a useful one. It forces you to evaluate the decision on the basis of facts and not just emotion. If the costs outweigh the benefits, upgrading should wait. The benefits must outweigh the costs for an OS upgrade to make sense.

Let's take a look at the variables you should consider.

The costs

Costs come in the form of both time and money, so we'll count both.

Licenses

The first and most obvious cost is that of licenses. Microsoft has not released pricing for Windows 8, but you should count on something north of $100 per PC at a minimum, not counting the cost of staff time to do the upgrades. It'll be higher if you're buying full licenses instead of upgrades. When counting this up, remember to include any PCs or laptops that aren't obvious upgrade targets at first; it's better to count those costs and subtract them later if you find you can leave some machines out of the process than not to count them and then find yourself needing to spend money you don't have.

Cost: $100+ per machine

Installation time

The second cost is that of installation time-the time it takes to do the upgrade on each machine, which never goes flawlessly. Whether you do this yourself or hire it out, this cost is always higher than that of the licenses. If you hire it out, remember that your staff will still be entirely unproductive during the upgrade, which means that it's always going to cost you something. And if something goes wrong and the installer hasn't taken adequate precautions, you could spend even more time cleaning up the mess. Figure on at least half a day for each machine, plus the out of pocket cost your consultant charges, if applicable.

Cost: One half day per person + installation T&M

Unfamiliarity

The third cost hits after the upgrade is done, and that is the cost of leaving behind familiar ways of doing things. Even if you ultimately decide that Windows 8 is easier to use than Windows 7 (or XP) was, it will still change the way you and your coworkers work. And although Microsoft promises that the Windows 7 desktop will be available as an "app" in Windows 8, that's little more than a hack that lets you get going quickly, before you really know what you're doing. You won't be learning how to use Windows 8's UI as long as you're using its Windows 7-style desktop, you'll just be coping. Sooner or later, you'll have to invest time in adopting Windows 8's ways.

Trust me on this one-this cost will be high. Windows 8 is a radical departure from the habits you've acquired. No matter what you do about this, you and your people will lose a lot of time figuring out how to be productive on Windows 8.

Another issue on this topic is that the whole Metro UI is geared toward consumers, not workers, meaning that it's designed to appeal to those using up their leisure time-music, videos, social media, that sort of thing. It remains to be seen how much of this new stuff will fit into your work life.

The bottom line is that everyone will have to stop doing things from force of habit; nothing you do will be efficient for a while. I would set aside at least a whole week, starting with the one in which you do the upgrades, for this. You are paying the price of finding out where everything went and how to get things done, and there will be a lot of hits and misses. Remember, Vista was less of a leap from XP than 8 is from 7.

Cost: One to two weeks per person.

Replacing software

The fourth cost comes from finding replacements for applications that won't run on the new OS. Microsoft says that anything that runs on Windows 7 will run on Windows 8. If true, this won't be an issue. But you would be wise to get news on the applications on which you rely before taking this assumption to the bank. Make an exhaustive list of applications and utilities that each person who will be getting an upgrade uses, and check with the vendor for all of them. And then find a way to test them on a real machine.

Cost: Several days to research application compatibility

The benefits

The benefits are much harder to pin down. Microsoft, and some reviewers, will always claim that the newer version is easier to use than the previous version, but usability is too subjective to matter. Many claimed that Vista was easier to use than XP, but I never did.

In the case of Windows 8, the usability equation is even murkier. So much new replaces so much old that little will be the same, making most of your acquired habits an enemy of your intuition. Is it easier to point to an invisible hotspot in the corner of the screen than to click on a Start button? Even if it is, is it easier when you need a touch screen and don't have one? For the past 18 years, Microsoft preached the importance of "discoverability" in user interfaces, but no longer. Now, Microsoft is giving up discoverability like a bad relationship. Whether it's easy to use or not, you'll need training to learn how to use it. You won't be able to just figure it out. So if I were you, I would not consider usability in to be a benefit. Just leave it out of the equation.

The benefits that matter are new capabilities. Typically Microsoft claims that the new OS corresponds with the dawn of a new era of something, and the new OS lets you join it. Let's see what new stuff Windows 8 brings.

Metro-style applications

The Metro UI, a smartphone-style interface, is Windows 8's most visible new capability and one that I think bears some attention. If you've ever seen a smartphone, you've seen the basic concept-you navigate the machine, and your applications, through a set of tiles using gestures and swipes. It looks and feels exactly like a smartphone.

It's not the look and feel per se that may benefit you so much as the applications designed to take advantage of it. Developers will write some new applications for this way of doing things, and you'll need Windows 8 to run them. The question is: Do you need any of them? Do you even know what they are? If the answer's yes, add points for this benefit. In other words, if you see some new Metro-style applications on the horizon, consider the capabilities they bring as part of the equation.

Just remember that gestures and swipes are for touch screens, not mouse and keyboard users, so the benefit here depends on whether you have the hardware to take advantage of it.

So, if you need to run (or develop) Metro-style (touch-screen) applications, this capability will drive the benefit side of the equation up. If not, it simply gives you access to all the new software being written, if you have the hardware.

Benefit: New apps

Picture passwords

Windows 8 will let you create a logon password that consists of a series of gestures over an image. For example, you could view a photograph of your family, draw a circle around one person, drag a line across another, and associate that set of gestures with your account. You then use those gestures while viewing the photograph to log into Windows.

Is this really a big enough benefit to mention? I think so. For some people, remembering passwords is a huge problem, leading to unsecure desktop logins. A good business PC needs a strong password. If you can't remember it, you have a business vulnerability. Some people will find it much easier to remember a series of gestures than an alphanumeric sequence.

Again, the downside is that you have to have a touch-screen in order to use it. So if you're upgrading an existing, mouse-driven machine, this benefit will add zero points.

Benefit: More-secure desktops

Windows Live credentials and SkyDrive

Windows 8 lets you link a local account with a Windows Live account, an account that authenticates you in the cloud rather than locally. If you have more than one Windows 8 PC, this lets you share the same commonly-used settings across all of your machines. You get the same look and feel and common access to your Metro-style applications. If you travel a lot or use different machines in different places or just need a more predictable user experience in all of these various locations, this capability may be worth something to you. The downside is that the benefit is limited to common Windows settings and Metro-style applications only.

The bigger benefit here comes from SkyDrive. SkyDrive is a Windows Live service and web site that lets you store files in the cloud, and you can use it now with Windows 7. But with Windows 8, SkyDrive becomes a Metro-style application and an integrated part of the operating system. You can store files in SkyDrive with Explorer-like efficiency, and then get access to them from any other Windows 8 PC you log into. This makes it a lot easier to work on files from different machines and spares you from having to email yourself files or copy them to USB drives before leaving the office.

Of course, this all falls down whenever and wherever you don't have reliable, high-speed access to the Internet. I've gone plenty of places where reliable, high-speed connectivity is a problem. Consider this before plunging in with both feet.

Benefit: Mobility options

Storage spaces

Windows 8's Storage Spaces is a virtualized form of storage-a way of grouping a set of real hard drives into one large hard drive that doesn't actually exist, so you can expand your storage and make it easier to manage. Even better, it lets you use classic data-protection schemes like mirroring and striping. Sounds like RAID, doesn't it? That's essentially what it is. But in this case, it's accessible enough that it may actually be something that SMBs can use and manage without an IT specialist on board. It's available on both server and client, and it's relatively easy to set up.

This is one area where I think Windows 8 could be of great benefit to you. Many SMBs have a big problem with data protection, because they don't have the money or time to manage complex data-protection schemes. It's always been true in the companies I've worked for, all of which have been SMBs. (I suppose the exception might be those that are funded by venture capital, but they are a tiny minority.) Their data is just as important to them as it is to larger businesses, but the resources are just not there. Storage Spaces promises to change that.

So, if you have a lot of data that that is not adequately backed up, or if you are constantly struggling to come up with enough storage for your business, give this one big points. It's a significant benefit.

Benefit: Data expansion and protection

Other miscellaneous, tiny little new capabilities

Windows 8 brings a lot of other new capabilities, but I don't consider any of them very significant to SMBs. Here are some of the ones that might contribute to your decision:

Internet Explorer 10 will be available in two versions, one as a desktop-style and another as a Metro-style application. It promises to have better support for HTML5 and CSS3, and to be faster, than previous versions of IE. Other than that, it remains to be seen how much bang you'll get for this buck. Refresh and Reset, two ways of undoing icky changes to Windows, will make it easier to back out of an installation gone bad. It's System Restore in two different colors, the second of which essentially reinstalls Windows. I, for one, welcome this kind of change, but it's a two-edged sword. If it has the results that users expect, it may be a boon to SMBs, who need all the push-button solutions they can get. If not, it could be like giving hand grenades to children. We'll see. Windows To Go will let you put your Windows 8 installation on a bootable USB drive. This is not exactly a mainstream feature, but it will certainly be welcome by small development shops like mine.

Benefit: Minor improvements

Intangibles

I used Windows Vista for four years before switching to Windows 7. I was slow to upgrade because I couldn't see much difference between them. But on those occasions when I did use it (usually helping someone else with a problem on their machine), I noticed that it booted significantly faster than mine-so much faster, that it caught my attention. I had noticed that my Vista machine booted slowly and found myself annoyed by it, but the slowness really came to light whenever I used a Windows 7 machine. When I finally upgraded, I could hardly believe the difference. I've got other reasons for having made the move, but for me, the boot time became a surprisingly significant reason to upgrade.

I bring this up not because Windows 8 promises to boot faster than Windows 7, but because there may be benefits that you can't learn about without using the system, and the only one who can determine their value is you. So if possible, even if you decide not to upgrade, find a system that you can play with. Get some experience with it. See if you notice anything that proves to be valuable to you, something you weren't looking for. You may find a compelling reason not listed in the features.

Benefit: Intangibles

One more thing

Having said all this about costs and benefits, remember that the specifics of your situation trump all. Your business is unique, and nothing any writer can outline in a blog will speak to the issues that only you experience in the day-to-day operations of your business.

Therefore, you need to take samples. Get some experience with it. Get at least one person to install Windows 8 and use it in some capacity in the context of your business. Give this person some time and the means to exercise it. Install and run applications that your company needs to run. And do it before you upgrade the whole company. There's no teacher like experience, and this experience will give you someone who has sorted through the issues before everyone else has to.

Conclusion

Windows 8 is upon us. Should you upgrade when it's released? Get yourself a spreadsheet and do a cost/benefit analysis. Doing this will help you size up both halves of the equation in the context of your business. Whatever you do, don't panic. Windows 7 will be around for a long, long time; there is no need to join a bandwagon that may not be going in your direction. Nothing bad will happen if you take your time with this-if anything, it'll help you be clear about why you're doing it.

50 comments
cavehomme1
cavehomme1

It's incredible that MS keep on shooting themselves in the foot so frequently. This time they have shot themselves in both feet. Win 8 on desktops in business will be a disaster. Businesses will eventually jump across to OSX where they can see a familiar GUI style and kept apart from IOS, or alternatively in the current financial climate it will make sense just to keep on sweating assets longer and use a familiar GUI with Linux Mint for example. The learning curve for a user on a good linux OS is going to be LESS than Win 8 and once up to speed with linux they will not be still complaining about tiles and their system getting hosed by a virus, unlike Win8. MS are only doing this so that when the masses get a new PC with Win 8 on they hope they will immediately identify with the same interface when those consumers buy a phone or tablet. This is the worst kind of homogenisation imaginable and it will fail.

Den2010
Den2010

Both Windows Server 8 and Windows (client) 8 will be available in RTM versions before this year is done. I wish that Microsoft would just be up-front with us, and discard the Windows name, because it's becoming less and less relevant to the operating systems that are being sold to us. Windows (client) 8 is centered on the Metro UI. In Metro, you don't have windows; instead, you have full-screen apps and tiles. If you insist on using the "legacy desktop," then, yes, you can still do windows, but all the real Windows 8 action is in Metro apps. So, I'll join the rabble who are suggesting that maybe this new version of Windows should be called "Tiles," because that seems to be the stand-out feature. Microsoft Tiles - just doesn't have the same ring to it... Windows Server 8 is being readied to be a (largely) non-windowing product, with most of its emphasis on the command-line interface, focused on PowerShell. Again, Windows seems to be less and less relevant to the product as it's being presented to us potential customers. If we're going to be using a CLI, then why call it Windows anything? Just call it Microsoft Server. Then, on that foundation, you could buy Scenario Packs, to fit the basic Server core to different roles in the enterprise. I don't think Metro is an atrocious user interface - on the right devices. I don't think moving away from a windowing UI is necessarily a bad thing for Server. But to continue to call these products Windows this or Windows that, is just becoming more and more misleading. If Microsoft is going to remodel the OSes to this extent, then perhaps it's time to consider renaming them as well. If you're going to start fresh, then why hobble yourself with old stuff, instead of new hotness?

jshelley
jshelley

Honestly, I'm more excited about Server 8 than the client OS.

quedubruit
quedubruit

Daryl, congratulation, this is the most objectiv article I've ever read on this subject. Very clean and well structured. Upgraders and consultants should take this as a bedtime lecture.

james.vandamme
james.vandamme

...and that's a dual boot (keeping the original Windows, for insurance). They get a useable system with the common apps and LibreOffice, so they can get right back to work (after a 2 minute orientation). From there the user can tweak to their heart's content without breaking anything, and they can make it look like XP if they want. Linux is not "worthless", it's just free.

gak
gak

This article looks a bit pessimistic to me. Half a day to upgrade an OS? Consumer Preview proofs that Windows upgrades from 7 to 8 flawlessly. Thus, count 1 hour maximum or zero time for SMBs that allow people to go out for lunch. BTW, those who still use XP will not and should not even think about Windows 8, since it came from a different and hostile world. Days necessary to get accustomed to it? 15 seconds to listen and comprehend the "do not use Metro apps yet" order and 1 minute to learn where not to click. Yes, add 15 minutes since they will disobey and customize the start screen. Add another couple of hours since they will play with Metro anyway, but this is also a benefit since it provides smart IT and management with a good way to find out how exactly users avoid their attention. Thus, total upgrade costs are close to licensing costs. As for benefits, if an SMB does not gain a bit more profit automatically while using a somewhat better OS, then it should not consider upgrading prior to a major revision of its computer related practices. This said, I guess that the right time for an SMB to start upgrading is now. Windows 8 is a major change and it may have benefits specific to a given business. Somebody must figure out that first hand, not by reading blogs and reviews. @Den2010: The only "crapification" done to Windows desktop is the replacement of the start menu with the start screen. Do you need to see some windows to remember which application you are going to launch? If not, Start Screen is better. Yes, there is no desktop Solitaire game in the Consumer Preview. So what?

imsoscareed
imsoscareed

Windows 8 is nothing more than Windows 7 with the stupid Metro interface and with more usability stripped away. Nothing to see here folks. No reason to waste money on something that provides less.

jk2001
jk2001

I see that this tablet computing OS is as popular as Ubuntu Unity.

Gisabun
Gisabun

Cost is more than $100 if MS pricing doesn't change. But why bother? You have 2 options. First the "family" pack in 3 upgrades for Home Premium. But anything more and you might as well get volume licensing [I think you need to purchase 5 or more licenses.]. That said, I'm recommending those I know not to go to Windows 8. If they have XP, then purchase a Windows 7 system by October [assuming their system can't be upgraded]. Non-touch screen users will find the Metro interface a pain in the butt. [Why do we need to learn shortcuts in Win 8 but didn't in Win 7?]

realvarezm
realvarezm

Thanks for the pros and the cons. In the end we all know the needs of our clients and what best for them.

David Stratton
David Stratton

I just wanted to point out that you don't need a touch screen to use the Picture Password feature. It works fine with a mouse, and it's less easy to guess, because there aren't tell-tale smudges on the screen for someone looking over your shoulder after you've logged in.

Wiseguytr
Wiseguytr

Dear Daryl, It seems you are not reading the topics posted by other writers and comments given in Techrepublic. Similar topic was covered about 2 months ago and alot of people gave their opinion on it. Hence I am totally sick of people trying to populize W8 through 1000 different channels. Generally IT is not interested in W8, as we are still upgrading our XPs to W7. So here is a liste of todos for you: 1. Read other topics posted to TechRepublic, other than yours. 2. Read other forums like Spiceworks and learn what really IT thinks. 3. Take these comments into good thought and pass it onto "others" accordingly. IF ANY SORT OF WINDOWS 8 POPULIZATION TOPIC POPS UP IN TR, I WILL UNSUBSCRIBE !!!

DNSB
DNSB

Our IT department has installed the Windows 8 CP on a couple of test machines. One of which is an HP touchscreen. Just for fun, we let a couple of our production staff try that machine. The common thread was that the touch feature was useless -- at the average viewing distance, it was a pain (very literally) to touch the screen for any length of time. After adding a Microsoft Touch mouse, the comments were better about the touch features but still no mention of any improvement in productivity. At this time, it's going to be hard to sell to the bean counters when even the IT staff see no real advantage to Windows 8 on non-touch based systems.

Den2010
Den2010

I've been playing with Windows 8 in both the Developer Preview and the later Consumer Preview since last year. I worked with it again at home last night, and I've come to the conclusion that it's not going to be a high priority for me to upgrade to it at any point. The reason I'm so down on Windows 8 is this - the massive dumbing down and crapification of the system. Let's look at just one example: the Solitaire game. Windows Solitaire has been a mainstay of Windows versions for years. Each time there's a new version of Windows there's been a new version, some major, some minor, of Solitaire to accompany it. The version that came with Vista was a major departure; the version that came with Windows 7 was Vista 1.1. The version that comes with Windows 8 is a major departure, and not in any positive sense. For instance, I haven't found any obvious way to stop the game I'm playing, before some sort of endpoint, and just arbitrarily starting a new game - the old F2 functionality just isn't there, so far as I can discover. The Solitaire game needs access to my network and an internet connection. Really!? This is a casual card game for the computer - why does it need internet access? It's a Metro-style game. I've got a 24" LCD monitor - full-screen apps on this monitor had better be doing something more significant than playing Solitaire. I can't reduce the size from full-screen unless I dock it with another Metro app, which is still not acceptable. Generally when I'm playing Solitaire on my computer, it's in a window while something else is going on that I'm keeping an eye on, like a web download, for instance. Full-screen does not allow me to do that. There are a few other changes that are aggravating and annoying, rather than being improvements in what should be a cut-and-dried inclusion to Windows 8. And this is an app that requests that I open Xbox Live - why? The bottom line is that the trivial example of Windows Solitaire reflects just about all the stupidity that Microsoft is trying to shovel down our throats in the name of the latest and greatest. If Metro were a special window that appeared on the desktop of large-monitor systems, I wouldn't have a problem. Making Metro the default mode for Windows reduces Windows to a glorified Etch-a-sketch. I don't really have an issue with Metro as a default UI for Windows 8 tablets either; it's fine in that use scenario. It's when we HAVE to use Metro for things like Solitaire, or a menagerie of other apps, that I have to draw the line, particularly on the kind of desktop that I suspect is typical of a LOT of users who could run Windows 8. Microsoft is supposedly betting the farm on Windows 8. If what I've seen so far is what we'll see when this product is released, then Microsoft's days may be numbered. This is NOT a good operating system, at least as far as the GUI choices are concerned. Shame on you, Microsoft - you really could do a lot better than this.

jeremy
jeremy

This is a completely pointless article. Windows 8 doesn't even have a release date yet, let alone pricing. You might as well have written about upgrading to Windows 9 or 10.

Justin James
Justin James

... to really know for sure. The big, BIG "x factor" is going to be Office 15 for a lot of businesses now. I've been using Windows 8 since Dev Preview to write my programming articles, and I will say that it is the biggest change in Windows since the move from 3.X to 95, and before than, DOS to Windows. The retraining and relearning and lost efficiency until you get up-to-speed will be quite high. That said, I *do* think there is a long-term payoff... especially for companies that really double-down on tablets... but in the first 6 - 12 months after the upgrade when all you hear is complaints about how nothing is where it used to be... it will be hard for anyone to really think there was a benefit. J.Ja

Teufelhund
Teufelhund

The vendor for our Computer Assisted Dispatch (CAD) application hasn't produced a version that works on Windows 7 yet (and, no, it doesn't work in the Windows Virtual PC, either - I tried it).

Skruis
Skruis

If you're moving from XP or older, then maybe but if your business already has Win7 deployed then there probably won't be any major benefits to a wide scale deployment and I'd just plan on purchasing new Win8 devices for mobile employees (mgmt, sales, etc) that can function as touch/docked devices.

Gisabun
Gisabun

But a dumb move for Microsoft as the Metro interface will also be on Server 8.

djlucas
djlucas

I'm glad you found something useful in it.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I can shuck an ear of corn in under a minute, but that doesn't have anything to do with the topic either.

Gisabun
Gisabun

Do we care about Linux here? Nope.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Why are you bothering with the upgrade? The question is, is this 'somewhat better OS' better enough to be worth the trouble?

Den2010
Den2010

No, Start Screen is not better. Why should I have to replace the entire view of my desktop - with multiple overlapping windows for my current open programs - with a mass of tiles on Start Screen, instead of a list of programs to launch in a (relatively) abbreviated menu in one corner of my monitor? On a desktop, with a large monitor, Start Screen is a pain. On a netbook, or a tablet, it makes more sense. But that's not what I typically use. I know I'm not the only person who feels this way, but I'm not given any choice in the matter by Microsoft. Instead, we have to make do with third-party solutions from outside sources. I'll stand by my opinion about Windows 8 being "crapified" by having options and controls either eliminated or concealed in non-apparent locations. I'm all for a streamlined interface, but some of the assumptions made by the Windows 8 design team baffle me. Not only that, but there are enough inconsistencies that it's double frustrating to deal with them and the Metro UI. Ultimately, I guess it's each to his or her own. For me, Metro is junk (on a typical desktop). And about the Solitaire game - did you actually read what I posted? Solitaire is a diversion when a task is running and I want something trivial to do while it runs. It's casual gaming, something that seems to be on the rise. Upgrading to Windows 8, for me, is not going to happen. I've made a pretty successful move from XP to Windows 7, and for now, that's just fine. We'll see what Windows 9 offers when it begins to appear.

quedubruit
quedubruit

I think you've never been out in the real IT world confronted to real users!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Home versions of Windows are generally unsatisfactory in the workplace, although W8 may be different. Historically they've lacked some features business find essential. I believe there's also a licensing issue regarding using Home versions in the workplace.

Skruis
Skruis

I wanna see if he follows through!

Justin James
Justin James

"One of which is an HP touchscreen. Just for fun, we let a couple of our production staff try that machine. The common thread was that the touch feature was useless -- at the average viewing distance, it was a pain (very literally) to touch the screen for any length of time." Those machines have this problem regardless of the OS. They are neat for minor use (like if I had unlimited money, I'd love to have one in the kitchen for multimedia, looking up recipes, maintaining a shopping list, etc.), but no OS is going to be very productive with them, for the exact reason you mentioned. Who wants to sit down and point at a screen? A better judge would be a "convertible" tablet, or a "slate PC" if you have any around. J.Ja

Skruis
Skruis

I'm prepping a report to my boss letting him know my stance on Windows 8 and I'm going to copy and paste your answer... then summarize: "Solitaire on Windows 8 sucks therefor we shall not deploy Windows 8."

jk2001
jk2001

If this OS is better for tablets, then the answer is probably to get tablets and leave the desktops alone. People will "waste" time on entertainment on the tablets, and teach themselves the different UI. Then, they'll be able to transition away from Windows 7 on the desktop. Now, that said, I've tried running Android on a desktop system. It sucked. The apps sucked. The whole experience was like using a Playskool version of a computer. I can see situations where the touch or touch-like interface can be very useful, but a lot of work involves editing text. I don't see this changing in the near or far future.

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

I didn't find that much of a challenge as many DOS apps. of the day already had "The Menu Bar" File Edit Tools etc. so there was some level of continuity the harder change I had was to the taskbar from the program manager and to exploder from file manager and the stupid X in the corner I still hate the taskbar the start menu is still not as efficient as a tiled program manager but it had to happen as the number of application & program groups grew beyond manageability for program manger windows and I still have a huge disdain for windows exploder file manager never gave up in the middle of a copy / move operation when encountering "open / in use" files it gives a dialog stating the file is in use and pauses the operation so you can correct the issue and then resume after clicking retry where exploder just fails all the time on "open / in use" files and putting the X where the maximize up arrow is supposed to be took a long time to get used to I had to resort to using the control menu (Alt + Space + x) to maximize for a while yes "x" means maximize and "c" means close in the control menu they should have used a stop sign icon instead of the X

pgit
pgit

I agree, in fact I'd add that there will be no benefit from win8 absent a touch enabled device. Since nobody I deal with is presently using touch, or has a tablet of any kind I'm out in the cold vis getting any experience with win8. I think it does behoove us all to be able to recommend win8 in those circumstances it would be superior to other options, again, in the context of touch. I can think of a few of my clients that could really benefit from mobile computers like an ipad. And windows would be a must for all of them. (proprietary apps) I might have to bite the bullet and get myself some kind of 'pad' device with win8, so I'm not only dangerous enough to try to fix the dang things when people inevitably have problems, but also to be able to suggest someone consider such devices where appropriate. I've simplified the cost benefit analysis of win8 to the question: "do you need the kind of portability a tablet can provide?" Yes = get a device with win8. No means stick with 7. Notice nobody is "upgrading" the OS on existing hardware. Metro is too radical a change to throw that kind of wrench at the folks in the trenches.

Justin James
Justin James

The decision to put Metro on Server was a headscratcher to me. No one is clamoring for touch-screen servers... J.Ja

gak
gak

-- Why should I have to replace the entire view of my desktop Theoretically it may be a problem, but in practice it is not. I cannot imagine why do I need to see all that windows to start a program. If fact, I can imagine something, like when it is necessary to start a program just in the right moment, but it is so rare that any work around like a desktop shortcut should be sufficient. So, all the differences are benefits: SS is easier to customize - drag and drop is the fastest and easiest, there is no overhead for group creation compared to the New Folder. It is easier to find things - the eye remembers visual patterns instantly and effortlessly, so you just see where to click, and zooming out helps a lot. SS is safer to cleanup - most items are still present in All Apps, compared to looking all over program Files if a start SM folder is deleted. It is easier to add items to SS and you will never copy or move instead of creating shortcut. Search in All Apps works better than search in Windows 7. -- On a netbook, or a tablet, it makes more sense No. Scrolling is order of magnitude slower than visual recognition. SS benefits from larger screens. Windows phone 8 start screen is similar and that few Windows 8 users I know complain that scrolling is too hard compared to Android folding. -- Windows 8 being "crapified" by having options and controls either eliminated or concealed in non-apparent locations True, if you mean that Metro is crap compared to Windows 7 or Windows 8 desktop. False, if you mean Windows 8 is crap. Windows 8 desktop actually moves in the opposite direction, Task Manager being a good example. -- there are enough inconsistencies Cannot agree more. Metro and Windows 8 could be considerably better, and MS presentations make me believe that happened due to flawed methodology. However, the result is not bad. -- And about the Solitaire game - did you actually read what I posted? I did. You had no problems with Metro Solitaire. Your problem was the removal of the desktop Solitaire. Just imagine it is available - all complaints go away. With Solitaire you tried to use Metro beyond its area of applicability. Metro is a place for that which can be run in a phone with start-stop multitasking. -- Upgrading to Windows 8, for me, is not going to happen I bet it is. A new class of applications will appear and you will not withstand the temptation to run them. Metro also somewhat cures the old Windows problem - the absence of virtual desktops. People near you will figure out how to use that and you will follow.

DNSB
DNSB

We also installed it on a Lenovo X220T. While not a tablet that you want to carry around for any length of time, it was a pretty decent experience other than the hesitation -- trying to play solitaire should not stress the system. However, we only have about 50 of those convertible tablets in our organization so the preference was to test it on desktops which we have about 1500 of at this time.

Skruis
Skruis

Apparently, a lot of people because I've lost track of the number of pen strokes (I literally mean PEN strokes with actual ink) I find on my clients' monitors ;-)

Den2010
Den2010

using Solitaire in what I called a trivial example, is that Windows 8 has been dumbed down, "simplified" to the point where it's not an improvement over Windows 7. The insistence on the part of Microsoft, that the Metro UI be the core of Windows 8 is not acceptable as the only option. I've read some of the blog posts - at length! - on the Building Windows blog, all about how they determined what to do about elements of the user interface for various size displays. I've read about how their research shows that the traditional Start Menu is a dead end, and hence the introduction of the Metro Start Screen is its successor. I've read a lot of other articles about why this or that aspect of Windows 8 is superior to its predecessors. And I say - and it is just me, but there are a lot of people who apparently share these feelings - that it's all irrelevant. Windows 8 doesn't live up to what a successor product to Windows 7 should be, at least insofar is its default user interface is concerned. So, go ahead and summarize that Windows 8 is a flawed product because "Solitaire on Windows 8 sucks," if you like. My point was that the game is typical of the things wrong with Windows 8. The things wrong with it are those things that the user interacts with from the get-go. The underpinnings of the OS, in contrast, are generally pretty impressive. Speed to boot, to shut down, is great; finding the shut-down option, on the other hand, is a royal pain. General system behavior is fast - I refuse to fall prey to saying it's "fluid," because that's too close to echoing market-speak from the Microbots. The compatibility with previous Windows programs seems to be well-handled. The new features - Storage Spaces, for instance - are impressive. But those UI choices that Microsoft has made, and the lack of any possibility to change the defaults - no. Windows 7 was a huge improvement over Windows (The Wow is Now!) Vista. Windows 8, in its current incarnation, is not a similar improvement over Windows 7, and will not be a high priority for me to upgrade to when it's introduced. And yes, the Solitaire game that we're stuck with in Windows 8 sucks rocks.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Odds are that Solitaire is among his/her most important productivity apps :^0

Justin James
Justin James

You nailed it. I see no reason to upgrade existing hardware in general (just refresh OS and hardware at the same time... been saying that for a LONG time now anyways), but with Windows 8, I am hard-pressed to see it as a good idea for current desktops/laptops, unless those laptops have some sort of touch screen already (like the "convertables" from the XP/Vista days). I've been using W8 now in a virtual machine, and while it is a lot less painful now that I know some shortcuts and mouse gestures that are new, I still do not see it as a good UI for the mouse/KB model. I think that the benefits it offers on the desktop/laptop are so slender that I'd be hard pressed to recommend it over W7, even if it were free. But for touch/tablet? I really can see how the UI will be nice on touch, I like my WP7 phone a lot too, and I do like how Metro apps function in general. J.Ja

Justin James
Justin James

UAC still exists for the legacy desktop. On the Metro/WinRT side of things, it isn't used because there is no way to make the kids of potentially dangerous system calls that UAC flags and requests permission for. Metro/WinRT apps are going to be incredibly secure, because they can't touch the underlying system at all. J.Ja

gak
gak

I do not here much about the advanced security UAC provides W7 and Vista with. I guess that means that everybody, including MS, finally understand that Windows cannot be secure, even theoretically. However, it is good for a server to be secure. WinTR apps can, at least theoretically, be secure.Thus, they may be welcome on the server and Metro is likely to be required to launch them. I do not say that much or any server functionality is WinRT based in this release, but that may be the way to go with future server versions. I also see people running a bunch of extra stuff on the servers, from file managers to web browsers. If that are Metro apps, the security threat will be lighter.

jshelley
jshelley

I'm not getting too excited about the UI just yet. We'll see what happens with the final release. Besides, a quick pop of the ESC key gets rid of it anyway. However, I am very interested in Hyper-V 3 and some of the remote access features. Haven't seen these features in action yet, but I like what I read.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Try cracking a little pepper in there before you close the husk back up, or a bit of ground chipotle. But sometimes circumstances dictate you boil the corn, and then there's no way around shucking it.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

is to peel back the husk and rip out the silk, oil the kernes, then unpeel the husk and throw them on the grill like that. The husk guarantees that they'll cook well, and adds some very fine woodsmoke notes to the flavour.

Slayer_
Slayer_

I am such a city boy :)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

is the act of removing the outer husk and silk from the ear, leaving the cleaned kernels and cob.

Den2010
Den2010

Your usage mode is obviously different than mine. I keep a very clean desktop - the only shortcut as such is the Recycle Bin. Everything else is either in the Start Menu or pinned to the Taskbar. I want to continue to see those launchers as I'm opening and closing programs. Full-screen apps are a non-starter for me - I require the ability to see multiple windows simultaneously, something that is impossible with the Metro style app. A Metro style Solitaire game is pointless on a large monitor. Why did Microsoft even bother? The user interface choices offered to us in Windows 8 are lame. This is not only my opinion. From what I've seen of the comments on various blogs and posts about Windows 8 and Metro, there are a lot of people pretty upset about having Metro crammed down our throats. All that said, there are things about Windows 8 that are improvements over Windows 7 and earlier versions. You mentioned the Task Manager. There's one. Storage Spaces is another. Windows to go, if it's truly what is being talked about, is another. The underlying architecture seems to be sound. Speed to boot and speed to shut down are improved, in some cases dramatically. There are other improvements, so it's not a bad operating system at its core. But the side of Win 8 that faces me as a user, that's something I won't put up with, unless there are more options than are currently available to make it work the way that _I_ want it to, not the way that our Microsoft overlords decree. I repeat what I said earlier. I will not upgrade to Windows 8 from 7 if the Consumer Preview is representative of what we're going to get in the final product, nor will I recommend it to anyone I know who asks what I think. If this indicates to somebody that I think that Windows' functionality has plateaued, then, yes, I think it has, and Windows 8 marks a desperate attempt by Microsoft to get back into the game. We'll ultimately see whether I'm right or not. I'm not making predictions about how Windows 8 does, but I don't have a lot of confidence in it to be the game-changer that Microsoft obviously hopes it will be.