Tonight is my third attempt at trying out Windows 8 on my laptop. Since the developer preview version is out and I have a spare laptop for this sort of thing, I decided to give Windows 8 a whirl again. After all, the third time is a charm, right?
I think I’m too smart for my own good.
One of the things that I need to remember is that even though this is Windows, it doesn’t behave like Windows, it behaves like a mobile phone I’ve never used before. From my earlier attempts at using Windows 8, I am lucky to remember that you fling your mouse off the right hand side of the screen (either corner, actually) to get something called ‘Charms’ to appear. The charm in the middle is the start menu. When you click that, or press the Windows flag button on your keyboard, you’ll get big lego blocks that have information rotating about in them. These big things replace icons. You click them and magic happens. The magic involves your screen waving around as anything you were working on disappears and then the new application presents itself full screen. It’s a lot like the iPad when it comes to multitasking; you’re not going to do it.
If you want to search for something, there’s no search button or key, you just start typing while the lego blocks are displayed. If you want to go to the desktop, you click “Desktop” and that brings up something that looks like a cheaper version of the Windows 7 Desktop, but it’s so cheap that you don’t get a Start Menu ball down in the corner. You’ll need to keep flinging that mouse to the right to bring up the charms, which will then bring up the lego blocks. So if you want to open, say Skype for example, you fling the mouse to the right and click start, which will cause the desktop to go away, and then just randomly start typing “Skype”, which will then bring a lego block with the Skype logo on it and then you click on the block. The blocks then go away and you’re back to the Desktop and Skype will open and complain about “fonts” being called “font”.
I’m not making this up.
Soon you’ll discover that flinging your mouse to the upper left hand corner will give you a picture of the last application you had opened but flinging your mouse off the left side of the screen will bring up pictures of all the applications you have open so you can move to another one, HOWEVER, if the application is open on the desktop you just go to the “desktop” window which makes the blocks disappear and the start menu taskbar without the start menu appear. Then you can pick the small icon of the program you want to go to.
NOW. If you want to shut down your computer, you go to settings by just randomly typing “Settings” at a lego block. OH! I did figure out that when you have pictures of all the applications you have running along the left side of your screen you can right click on them and it will ask you if you want to snap left, snap right or close. I did three snaps in Z-formation GURL! That wasn’t an option but I threw it in there for kicks.
I think it’ll be easier once everyone has their grubby little hands all over their screen and you can actually touch the blocks and move them around.
Honestly, I can see the direction that Microsoft is going with this “shift in paradigm” (I love big words) with Windows 8. They’re heading towards my always coveted dream of being able to take a presentation on your laptop and swiping it up to the presentational board in a conference room. It’s not quite like a Bewitched-like magic move but it would still be uber awesome. (I don’t know how to put the umlaut over the ‘u’ in uber). I LOVE the vision of the future that Microsoft is working towards, I just hope it’s not as rocky of a road as it seems it’s going to be getting there.
Because this Windows 8 experience, though it has not ended with the completion of this blog entry, is making me reach for my iPad. Very quickly.
For a palette cleanser, here’s what Microsoft sees us doing with technology in 2019.