With Windows 8, Microsoft has made a rather dramatic departure from the user interface of prior versions. The general understanding is that Microsoft is trying to create an integrated operating system that will work well for users on newer touch sensitive tablet devices, as well as more traditional desktop environments.
I have yet to use Windows 8 on a tablet device, and so I might not be Microsoft’s idea of an ideal target user, but I think I’m probably very typical of a technically capable Windows 7 user.
My first use of Windows 8 was to install it on a virtual machine on my Mac laptop, using VMWare Fusion. I wanted to test whether or not FileMaker 6 (obsolete for 8 years now) worked under Windows 8. The new operating system installed on the VM without any trouble, and I was then able to install FileMaker 6, which installed fine and in the limited testing I did seemed to work ok. I created a few records and printed a simple layout.
I can’t say that this initial experience with Windows 8 made me a big fan. As an experienced Windows 7 user, I really don’t like having to re-learn where to access features that I’ve known how to use for years. Windows 8 boots up into a new tile based interface (shown in screen capture above) and you have to click a tile to get to the traditional desktop. Once there, you no longer have a ‘Start’ menu, so you have to re-learn how to open applications, access control panel functions, etc…
My second experience with Windows 8 was significantly worse. I made the seriously incorrect assumption that I could purchase a Windows 8 mini-tower and downgrade it to Windows 7. After several hours of messing with this, I finally decided to give up, get rid of the Windows 8 system, and order a system with Windows 7 pre-installed. Just getting past the ‘secure boot’ feature in Windows 8 in order to boot from the Windows 7 installer DVD took me over an hour.
I sound like a luddite, even to myself, but I’ll be sticking with Windows 7 for quite some time.