By Jennifer LeClaire / CIO Today. Updated January 23, 2013.
Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system has been widely available now for several months and has been the source of extensive controversy among long-time Windows users. We took a look back at the many comments our readers have submitted and found a few common themes among the pros and cons of Windows 8.
Some users love it and some users hate it. Unfortunately, the majority of comments fall into the 'hate it' category. If you've made the switch to Windows 8, we hope you'll share your feedback below. Often we hear from the critics first, while those who "love it" or at least "like it" are less likely to chime in.
Issues with the Learning Curve
Nick, a recent commenter who clearly hates Windows 8, asks: "Why would you put out a new operating system that promises updated speed and functionality, but delivers it in a package that is difficult to use?" In his opinion, Windows 8 requires having to "relearn everything."
Nick says he agrees with another commenter who wrote, "It takes 3 times as long to do anything that's not Facebook or email related. I will admit," he wrote, "for strictly leisure tasks (photos, videos, etc.), this is a good upgrade from Windows 7. However, if you need to get anything other than that (like work) done, you will be extremely frustrated. If it wasn't for Flash player and the high price of Apple equipment, I'd never come back to MS."
Familiarity and Fun Factor
On the other hand, Dr. Mike says Windows 8 "takes about 1 week to get used to it, but once you do, you will really like it. You can open the 'desktop' tile and essentially convert to Windows 7, but the new Windows 8 gives Windows a 'fun factor' that has been lacking."
Dr. Mike says he thinks it is "going to take some time to get used to it," but he disagrees with the critics here. "As more and more people use it, especially in tablets and convertible PCs," he predicts "Windows 8 is going to be a huge winner."
Another recent commenter who goes simply by 'E' says: "Out of the box, Windows 8 makes basic stuff like starting and stopping applications, and closing down the system a multi seek and click affair. When doing actual work, I find it essential to be able to see several windows on the screen at once. Windows 8 likes to pop up apps covering the whole screen. This is just plain wrong in a work context."
Working at home can also be complicated with the new operating system, E points out. "The practice within my family of simply sharing a Windows account, apps and documents on the desktop, is also an issue. This is due to the tight integration to an email account. Windows 8 appears to be designed for: one user = one email = one desktop -- as far as I can tell." E found a work-around for the difficulty, but not without compromise. "I have learned to live with Windows 8 by using the ClassicShell.net start menu on top and setting the family up with a shared email account.
On the plus side, E says, "Actually, I think the speed, security and 'apps' approach of Windows 8 could have made this OS into an outright winner." But ultimately, because of the inconveniences, E concludes the current state of Windows 8 is "a bit sad."
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
Some other useful commentary comes from Hoody, who writes, "I don't like the look of the GUI at all, reminds me of W98 with a mess of icons on the desktop. I would also go back to W7 if I had the Pro version, but I had the Home Premium and wanted to move to the Pro version. So, I took the deal for new computer buyers: 15 bucks was a deal to go Pro and the media center thrown in for free."
Since making the change Oct. 26th, Hoody writes, "I have redone things to at least think I have W7 back, all except the Aero. I found a 3rd party start menu (start8), found the old MS games, and even found a gadgets progam (8gadgets), so it's at least in a workable way."
Hoody hopes that Microsoft will come out with a patch of some sort "to allow non touch desktop and laptop users the same interface as W7." The way Microsoft Windows 8 is configured out of the box for ALL users, Hoody concludes, "wasn't exactly the best idea, and it's going to be nothing but a headache for MS."
Another perspective comes from Don, who says, "I work for a store that sells laptops and desktops. Most people do not like Windows 8. I have heard IT folks talk about lack of drivers and incompatibility issues. I personally don't like it. I have it on my system at home because I have to be familiar with it to explain it to customers, but I would go back to Windows 7 in a heartbeat."
Aaron offers a laundry list of helpful feedback on Windows 8, saying: "If Microsoft reads forums like these, they need to listen up. Here are some of the main points people don't like and the issues they need to fix:
- No Start button.
- Tile interface is bulky, confusing and hard to use.
- Normal programs like Windows Media Player and Control Panel are difficult to find and require customization to be able to locate easily.
- Why did you change Windows 7, which was perfectly useable, into this debacle? Think about changing it back to resemble and restore all the conveniences of Windows 7, make the tile interface optional instead of mandatory, definitely restore the Start button.
- The average user is not an advanced techie, they can't figure out difficult operating systems. Make things easier to use, not more difficult, and much more user friendly.
Aaron concludes that, "Windows 8 is a lemon, not the wave of the future. It's OK for touch devices, but don't expect half the world to rush out and buy expensive gadgets just so they can use Windows 8, the world doesn't care. If it's not possible to conveniently use the same operating system on both touch and non-touch devices, then create two operating systems, not just one big loser." Ouch.
Harpula also characterizes Windows 8 as a lemon, offering an interesting assessment of its pros and cons.
- It crashes less. Slightly.
- Starts up faster. Slightly.
- Permissions are more customizable when running unknown programs. That's a plus.
- Every time I want to move my mouse to another application, some screen pops up and sends me out of whack.
Took me almost 15 minutes to learn to shut down the thing. While searching on Google.
- Where is my control panel?
- Chrome doesn't work right on this.
- Neither does Firefox.
- Half my software I use for Win7 no longer works here.
- It's not as bad as ME or Vista, but it's definitely a lemon.
Craig S. agrees that Microsoft had taken some steps backwards on Windows 8: "Eye candy is a great strategy for marketing. But when you give up functionality you lose. Microsoft has had a few losers over the years, and I feel this one is headed that way!"
Meanwhile, a commenter named Ken said he "upgraded to Windows 8 and have been sorry ever since." Unfortunately, he's not alone.
Another commenter said he hates the absence of the Windows Start menu, and, "When I try to enter information in a Web site or in an e-mail, symbols will not type out, such as: the @ sign for an e-mail address, the $ sign, etc. When I try to get assistance from Microsoft, I am forwarded to an independent IT company that wants $90.00 to help me with a software issue....NO WAY."
Windows 8 Lovers Point Out the Benefits
Despite all the "hater" comments, some users are applauding the all-new Windows 8. A user named "Paul" said he recently bought Windows 8 Pro. He called it "amazing" and "one of the best things Microsoft has brought out."
"I say it's better than Windows 7 and faster. It's well worth buying and don't miss out cause when you see it for yourself, you will fall in love," Paul wrote. "Yes, it is complicated, but when you get used to it, then you won't want to leave it alone. My rating is a five star and I give it 100% for its speed, etc." Paul advises, "Buy it now and enjoy it. I am and so are many more people."
Another user who called himself "Jlp" said he had been using Windows 8 since its release on a non-touch desktop and called it a "joy."
Dazzy agrees: "I'm in the 'love it' category. It took getting used to. Made me feel like a novice again, but when I learned the interface, it is fun, fast and refreshing. LOVE the music integration."
A commenter named LogicalMachine is no fan of Windows 8 for his own work as a computer programmer, but he does think it's good for novices. He says the pros include being faster, more efficient, and what he calls "moron friendly." Get Windows 8 if you dont know a thing about computers, he advises, but, "DON'T get Windows 8 if you are [a programmer] like me. The thing has a freaking mind of its own."
Regarding all the negative feedback, a reader named David suggests that many of the detractors are either spoiled or lazy: "Windows 8 is very easy to use but you have to be willing to learn the new features and gestures of this new operating system, and it appears that a lot of people are not willing to do this. I love my Windows 8 Pro and have converted it to look and operate just the way my Windows 7 did. You can't be lazy people or you will miss out on this great version of Windows."
What's your take on Windows 8? Thumbs up? Thumbs down? Learning to love it? Sound off in the comment box below.