Windows 8 Consumer Preview: A Call for Common Sense

Based on the feedback I've seen on Twitter and via email, many so-called power users are focusing mostly on silly little issues with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Folks, Windows is changing. It's time to grow up, accept it, and stop trying to reverse the clock.

Paul Thurrott

March 6, 2012

8 Min Read
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I've been using the Windows 8 Consumer Preview for over a week now, and have been listening to the bitching and moaning on Twitter and via email since, oh, about 6:45 am PT last Wednesday. (You know, roughly speaking.) And as I write up front in my Windows books, maybe it's time I establish my expectations. For you.


Yes, I'm going on a rant here. And, yes, this time it's personal.


I'm sort of amazed I need to communicate this. After all, you're a power user, right? But I am distressed at the absolute lack of sophistication I see here. And it needs to stop.


All I'm looking for is a little common sense: Either test the Windows 8 Consumer Preview or don't. But if you're intent on using it as if it were Windows 7, please, I'm begging you. Stop wasting your time. And stop wasting mine.


A few maxims off the top of my head.


I will not help you get the Start button back. It's interesting to me how many people rushed out to download the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and then, within minutes, suddenly needed a hack to get the old Start button back. Folks, it's time to grow a pair and actually test the new system, provide feedback to Microsoft, and see if you can actually learn to live with it. And you can't do that by installing a third party utility that puts an old-school Start button on the Windows 8 desktop. And no, I will not help you do this. Nor will I do it myself.


The desktop is not the OS. It's an app. Lost amid all the whining about not being able to boot into the desktop and not having the old Start button there either is a simple fact: The desktop is not the OS. In fact, while this isn't technically true, conceptually, the desktop is just an app. The Windows 8 OS is comprised of Windows Runtime (WinRT), the Start screen shell and its Metro-style environment.


And please, dear God, think about this for a moment: All of the system-level stuff--the full screen and toast-based notifications, the Switcher, the system-wide Back functionality, the Start experience and Start tip, and the Charms--are all Metro stuff. Even when you're using the desktop. Because THAT is the operating system. Now use it, deal with it, and figure it out.


Microsoft is not restyling Explorer/desktop. For a reason. Some huge crowd of people failed an intelligence test last week when some tech enthusiast posted a Photoshop-created image of what a Metro-like Explorer/desktop environment could look like to a tech blog, and they all swooned over it. "Microsoft should hire that guy!" one particularly clueless commenter added, pretty much summing up the feelings of the gullible audience. Folks, no. Microsoft is focusing on creating a brand new platform in Windows 8, not making the legacy platform that is the past look better.


And there's a very good reason why they are correct to do so: For those many, many businesses that will rollout Windows 8 alongside Windows 7, the existing desktop environment looks and works almost exactly like its predecessor, and has no compatibility or long-term testing issues. That's the goal for the Windows 8 desktop. All the exciting and new stuff is in Metro. Obviously.


They're called App Previews. For a reason. No more complaints about the Windows 8 App Previews, please. They are called App Previews for a reason and are limited in functionality simply because they are about 6 months behind the rest of the platform. Each of these apps has a Feedback button in the App Bar. If you have an issue, please--please--write Microsoft and let them know. And then install an acceptable alternative and use both side-by-side. You know, so you can get work done too.


Shutting down is not difficult. It's just different. The silliest waste of time argument I've seen about Windows 8 so far, and the one that is absolutely the furthest from a truly useful conversation, is that shutting down the PC is somehow harder, or "more mouse travel," or "more clicks" than it was in Windows 7. Folks, spare me. The people complaining about this are the same ones that were complaining until a week ago that, get this, shutting down Windows over the past 15 years actually required tapping the "Start" button. I mean, how silly is that? /chuckle




Shutting down Windows 8 is easy, and that's true no matter which input type you use:




Mouse. Charms, Settings, Power, Shutdown.


Touch. Charms, Settings, Power, Shutdown.


But just so we're clear, it's a modern PC. Why the frick are you shutting down a PC? It's not 1989, people.


No one uses or cares about Media Center except for you. This one is going to hurt, sorry. According to Microsoft, only a tiny, tiny percentage of Windows users have ever launched Windows Media Center, and of those, the vast majority were miss-clicks or one-time uses. And yet I get a lot of email about Media Center, so these few people obviously care quite a bit about this program the other 99 percent has been willfully ignoring for years.


Yes, Media Center is in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Yes, it's no different than the version in Windows 7. And yes, that's all the thought I care to give it. I know this is crazy, what with the "Future of Windows" stuff here, but I'm focusing on the new stuff, and, sorry, but the world has moved on: Most people now get TV and video entertainment services elsewhere. They will in Windows 8 too. Please. Stop asking.



About the Author(s)

Paul Thurrott

Paul Thurrott is senior technical analyst for Windows IT Pro. He writes the SuperSite for Windows, a weekly editorial for Windows IT Pro UPDATE, and a daily Windows news and information newsletter called WinInfo Daily UPDATE.

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