Why Windows 8 is like the Water Bear: Criticisms of Windows 8

Behold, the mighty Water Bear!

If you don’t know what a Water Bear (or Tardigrade) is, you should. These water-dwelling creatures are 0.3-0.5mm long and can survive up to 10 years without water. It was also shown in 2007 that they could survive after being exposed to the vacuum of space for a number of days.

Now, what does the Water Bear have in common with Microsoft’s latest operating system? Let’s see…

  • It’s kind of fun to see them in action in a short YouTube video, but after 90 seconds you’ve already moved on to other things.
  • Water bears can survive in the most extreme environments…so can Windows 8 (?).
  • Water bears have 8 legs…Windows 8…well, you get the gist.

As you might have noticed, I am not ecstatic over the emergence of Windows 8. Granted, I’m going off of a collection of online reviews and the 60-second release preview video, but there were still some red flags that popped up on my radar and are worth mentioning.

You can’t minimize applications

John C. Dvorak from PCMag.com points this out in his post, Metro: That’s Not My Name. Minimizing applications is a very common need, especially in the enterprise arena. This spells trouble for me in Windows 8 because at my job I am constantly switching contexts depending on which hat I am wearing. Each of my roles demands an exclusive set of applications to accomplish what needs to be done, and I need to be ready at a moment’s notice to switch contexts.

It would be devastating if I couldn’t have multiple applications (sometimes 3 or more) running side-by-side as I cross-referenced information silos. How on earth am I supposed to write an e-mail with correct details to a customer if I can’t pull up the documentation or the ticket in our issue tracking system at the same time?

There are two separate modes: Metro and Desktop

While Metro will house dozens of new apps, Windows 8 has a Desktop mode to run thousands of legacy apps. Older apps must be run in Desktop mode, while newer apps must be run in Metro mode.

According to Raluca Budiu, a usability expert for the Nielsen Norman Group,  who gave her informal evaluation of Windows 8  in an interview with Laptop Magazine, says:

“ [Switching between Metro and Desktop] is confusing, because users have to remember what they’re running in the desktop and go back to that app to resume editing a document in Word, for instance, or creating a chart in Excel. In general, switching between apps is costly for the users […]. Compare that with older versions of Windows – just one click was needed to choose the running app from the task bar. “

I don’t even want to think about how much slower it will be for me to remember which applications need to be loaded from which mode.

Windows 8 is not mouse friendly

After reading VentureBeat writer Sean Ludwig’s Why Windows 8 is terrible for desktops, I am somewhat alarmed that basic mouse use and right-clicking are major pain points for using Windows 8. This doesn’t bode well for companies that don’t have touch-screen desktops for every employee. (So we’re not the only ones, then…)

Conclusion

Despite these setbacks, here’s to hoping Windows 8 can, like the Water Bear, survive harsh conditions and criticisms and capture users’ attention longer than 90 seconds. Stay tuned for a follow-up post showing the other side of the coin – covering the benefits of Windows 8 and how they got it right.

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