Cutting through the noise about Windows 8

Windows 8 is out now and for the last few months we've heard that it is either great or it is awful.  There’s something else about Windows 8 out there and that is silence.

Windows 8 hasn't really taken off.  If you compare this release with Windows Vista, it is arguably worse, and that is really saying something since Windows Vista was truly awful.  So we don’t really hear a lot of users talking about Windows 8.  In fact, I see article after article from tech-heads or those really interested in technology.  I don’t hear a lot of adoption from those who write about productivity or just general computer use.

For me, this is the most telling indicator of the new operating system from Microsoft and how poorly it is doing.  That and all the people who want new computers and ask where they can get Windows 7!

My job is to help people adopt technology so they can be profitable, productive and most of all, happy.  Choosing the right operating system is a large part of this experience and we have several to choose from.  I widely promote Windows 7 for its stability, compatibility, and ease of use.  I also promote the Apple Mac products for those who value the experience over compatibility (but that relationship is changing quickly to be on near-equal terms).

Windows 8 is stable, for the Windows 8 programs you want to run on it.  If you have read my reviews on Windows 8 you will know that there are basically two computing environments in one operating system.  The applications offered on the “Metro” (or basically non-Desktop environment), are at best lackluster and at worst completely useless.  Navigating this “Metro” interface with a touch screen is somewhat more complicated than an iPad, but not something you couldn't learn in an hour or so.  Navigating with a mouse is another story entirely.

So that’s the operating system but we hear about the Microsoft Surface Pro quite a bit which runs Windows 8, right?  Yes, Microsoft came out with the Microsoft Surface late last Fall.  It is basically a small laptop with a touch screen.  It did run Windows 8…  Kinda.  It ran a version called Windows 8 RT.  I would call that “Really Terrible”.

You got the basic Windows 8 interface, but you didn't get an equally-compatible version of Internet Explorer, and a number of applications from the Window Store labeled to work with Windows 8 wouldn't work on RT at all.

The Surface Pro which is due out soon looks nearly identical to the Surface, but with Windows 8 on it.  It has the full Windows version with all the compatibility missing from Windows 8 RT.  However, many reviewers have noted that the more powerful processor draws the battery down much faster, having half the capacity that the Surface did.  By no means an iPad killer for sure.

Windows 8, with all its faults, does bring a decent touch screen interface to the Windows product line.  Let’s not forget the positives that Windows Vista brought and the fact that after Service Pack 2, Windows Vista was quite comparable to Windows 7 in terms of performance and reliability.

I’m willing to bet that by the time we see a service pack or two for Windows 8, along with a GREAT deal more quality apps in the Windows Store (I mean it, much of what is available now is of lousy quality), Windows 8 can finally come into its own and be the trailblazer that Windows Vista was.

Wade Stewart is the Managing Member of Stewart and Son Computer Services, LLC in University Place, WA and serves as a trusted partner to many local small and medium sized businesses.