Windows 8 Beta – First impression

Finally, I managed to download a copy of Windows 8 Consumer Preview and try it out. Not an easy feat for one who is constantly roaming and is away from home. I am afraid it did not leave a good impression on me. Here is why.

Windows 8 Basic theme

Windows 7 Basic theme

Questionable design elements

Hideous: One thing that bothered me from the very beginning is the hideous appearance of Windows 8. It is crude, unrefined and despicable. For those who are used to the aesthetic look of Windows 7, Windows 8 is excruciatingly unpleasant. I hate its setup screen, its startup screen with its ugly fish, its default desktop background, its Windows Basic theme, the ugly set of colors from which I had to choose my start screen’s background and its crude scroll bars. Most importantly, I hate its name. Client versions of Windows certainly envy their Windows Server and Windows Mobile brothers which have long enjoyed a relatively consistent naming scheme.

Difficult to use: Windows 8 is xenophobic. The new Windows Shell heavily relies on Charms, reclusive parts of the user interface that are normally hidden and do not reveal themselves unless the user moves the mouse to a certain obscure spot on the screen. The only way to find out about them is reading the Consumer Preview manual available for download. (Accidental discovery is also possible but it is not a “way”.) The Start button is removed in favor of these stealthy charms. In addition, some of what we used to do very easily in Windows 7 is now either more difficult or impossible to do. For instance, in Windows 7, clicking on All Programs button in the Start Menu reveals all your Start Menu shortcuts. You can manipulate them by either right-click or drag and drop. In Windows 8 however, right-click on an empty space on the Start Screen, then click “All Apps” button at the bottom of the screen. You cannot manipulate the layout of the Apps screen.

Risky practice: Although it is possible to run Windows 8 Consumer Preview setup within Windows 7, doing so does not give you the option to perform a clean install. This is not the case with the other versions of Windows. Please note that it is never a good idea to upgrade your production operating system to a beta version.

Low resolution error in Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Definitely not for netbooks: Tests shows that when the horizontal screen resolution is less than 1024 or when the vertical resolution is less than 768, Windows refuses to launch the following apps: Store, Maps, Xbox LIVE Games, Internet Explorer, Mail, People, Photos, Music, Weather, Calendar, Video, Skydrive, Messaging, Camera, Remote Desktop, Pinball FX2, Solitare, Finance, Xbox Companion and Windows Reader. This means Windows 8 apps do not launch on netbooks with a 1024×576 screen or on high-definition televisions with 1280×720 screens. (I own both.)

Please note that Internet Explorer is amongst them. You can imagine a user who has installed a fresh copy of Windows 8 and is now willing to download a video card driver; nothing infuriates this user more than clicking on Internet Explorer icon and discovering that he cannot run it! Microsoft should only hope such users know about the presence of two different versions of Internet Explorer.

Bugs

Windows 8 Consumer Preview, as its name suggests, is still incomplete and not yet ready for release. Therefore, there is no surprise that I ran into the following bugs:

  • Windows Update failed. After having launched Windows Update on a clean installation of Windows 8, it downloaded several drivers but, all of a sudden, Windows reported that it can find no updates. I was sure there were still updates available for Windows because Windows Defender was reporting its definitions to be 108 days old. Fortunately, graphic driver installed without problem. I had to upgrade to Microsoft Update to continue receiving the updates.
  • The operating system selection menu of the upgraded copy of Windows 8 behaved strangely. At first, I had a blue graphical screen with a mouse cursor available. But after one boot into Windows XP Home Edition, the OS selection menu become a black screen similar to that of Windows 7.
  • Upgrading a copy of Windows 7 Starter edition to Windows 8 ended in a disaster; I could not log into new user accounts. I was stopped by the following error message:

    The User Profile Service service failed the sign-in. User Profile cannot be loaded.

    Safe Mode did not solve the problem. Fortunately, I had not installed it on a production system.

Nevertheless, bugs are expected. After all Windows 8 is still at beta stage.

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Posted on 5 May 2012, in Software Review, Windows Administration and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I consider the low-resolution limit completely stupid. I have a netbook on which I installed Windows 8 Consumer Preview —some time ago, I’ve now removed it— and I had to use an old Windows 7 trick to force the system to go beyond the 1024×600 native resolution of the screen and run Metro apps. Of course, that is not a solution, because it causes all objects and text in the screen to look small, squashed and blurry.

    Metro apps fit perfecly in small screens, so why have they imposed the limit?

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