Windows 8: Misses
After a long delay, during which Windows 8 graduated from development and went to manufacturing, I finally managed to force my way through my intermittent Internet connection problem which prevents me from connecting to my blog provider, effectively preventing me from posting. So, without further ado, I present to you: Windows 8: Misses!
High performance squandered
In my previous post, we saw how Windows 8 runs smoothly on low-end hardware such as an HP Mini 2140. Unfortunately Windows 8 has squandered this opportunity by rising the minimum screen resolution requirement to 1024×768. Metro-style apps do not run on lower resolutions; therefore, an HP Mini 2140, whose screen resolution is locked to 1024×576, cannot run any metro-style apps. This screenshot shows you the Windows 8’s default start screen minus apps that cannot run! So mighty is Windows 8.
Microsoft design team seems to think because their company can afford buying a shiny new touchscreen display for each of them, all users in the world can and are more than willing to do so. Therefore, mouse and keyboard have suddenly become second class citizens of Windows, without any regard for backward compatibility or the migration phase. Start button is gone. Critical Windows functions are moved to “charms” area (a hidden tray). There is no obvious mean of invoking either. (One must move the mouse cursor to certain hidden spots on the edges of the screen.)
A former Windows 7 user in Windows 8, who has not read the manual, feels lost and confused. At least, Mark Russinovich, who was using Windows 8 for his presentation in TechEd 2012, seemed very irritated when Windows 8 Consumers Preview did not act as he expected of a “Windows”.
You clicked by mistake! Please drop dead!
Another quirky design element of Metro design language: No Cancel buttons on some dialog boxes. In this example, I double-clicked on an MP4 file. Windows asked which application should open it. But I remembered that I had not installed my favorite media player. So, I decided to Cancel it; but I discovered that I cannot! I had to use Task Manager to kill Explorer and then restart it.
If you are interested, another way is to select any arbitrary option, close the app that launched, install your favorite app and then go on a wild goose chase until you figure out how to transfer the file association. Seriously, what is Microsoft design team thinking? Are they thinking at all?
Two kings in a kingdom
In this example, I am running two traditional Windows applications and two Metro-style apps. ALT+Tab allows me to switch between them. However, there are two catches: First, Metro-style apps do not appear on Taskbar. Second, traditional apps do not appear on the tasks charm. In Windows 8, it is like two kings ruling the same kingdom with different laws. Now, instead of one, there are two Windows Taskbars, two Windows Trays, two Control Panels, two different spots to end a Windows session and two software platforms that are at war with each other.
I did not have the means to test dragging something from a traditional app and dropping it into a metro-style app … or vice-versa. In the previous versions of Windows, I would have always assumed, “there is definitely a way; Microsoft engineers are wise”. But now, I assume “there is definitely no way.”
Bugs and missing features
No dogs, freeware or open-source software allowed!
There is only one way of installing a metro-style app on Windows 8: App Store! Unfortunately, App Store is sometimes not available in my region! (And by sometimes, I mean whenever the hell it so desires.) I am sure this is a bug that will be resolved; but the question is: how? Will App Store be eventually available in my region, or unavailable?
But why is the store not available everywhere regardless of the region? Commercial apps can still be region-specific, but how about free and open-source software, or international freeware? Shouldn’t people be allowed to have them anytime and anywhere? I have always heard Microsoft is an enemy of the open-source movement. But now, for the first time, I am concerned: What if it is true?
JPEG XR missing
PNG images disfigured
The new Photos Preview App cannot properly display PNG files with transparency. Such images are violently disfigured. Fortunately, the good old Windows Photo Viewer is still there to display them without flaw. Apparently, it uses a different API. It seems Microsoft has decided to reinvent the wheel and go through the whole Fail, Rinse, Repeat cycle.
Apart form this problem, Photo app is a violation of Metro design language principles. Metro apps are supposed to be fast and fluid. But while Windows Photo Viewer immediately appears on the screen, Photo apps adds a three second delay every time it is launched, making it an irritating candidate for the default Windows photo handler.
Hey! I just remembered I’m unavailable!
This image shows yet another bug; it is similar to the issue of App Store being sometimes unavailable, with less critical repercussions: News App, after having worked for one hour, suddenly declares that it is not available in my region and ends itself.
Another goofy mail app!
The new Mail App only pretends to be Gmail-compatible. First, it features a useless Junk folder; the actual junk mail goes into [Gmail]\Spam folder. Second, see how it displays the service name wrong: “Google” instead of “Gmail”. (Note that it still displays “Hotmail”, not “Microsoft”.) Third, your archive is not accessible.
It is a fact that Microsoft has never produced an outstanding email client. Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail and now Mail App are all riddled with bugs. Microsoft Outlook is good but not good enough, let alone outstanding. Fortunately, there are other competent email clients like Thunderbird.
In Hotmail, I periodically archive my email in a folder called “Archive”. But Mail App does not show the contents of this folder. I don’t know why. I cannot find any “settings” button to see if can try different options. Either this app does not have “settings” or they are hidden in some secret spot on the screen and are invoked by reciting voodoo incantations!
App Store: MIA
Be quick or be dead!
Remember Windows XP balloon popups? A crazier version of them is back. When Windows 8 shows them, you must click them if you wish to take action. But surprise: You don’t have time to think what you’d like to do. You must either be quick or be dead. (Well, not dead; but a second latency may force you to go plowing through Control Panel settings. And… did I mention there are two Control Panels?)
Mirror, mirror on the wall, which logo is the ugliest of all? Windows 8’s logo, of course. What was Microsoft thinking? That perhaps the reason that Android OS succeeded so wildly is nothing other than its minimalistic logo?
Posted on 5 August 2012, in Software Review and tagged app, App Store, bug, charm, Control Panel, design flaw, DRM, gesture, JPEG, JPEG XR, logo, mail, mark russinovich, Metro, migration phase, missing feature, multitasking, news, open-source, photos, software, taskbar, technology, tray, Windows 8. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.