Lately I’ve started to get quite bothered by the swirls of false press around the net. Many have fun picking on the big guy, which has traditionally been Microsoft – what they don’t realize is that Microsoft is no longer the big guy, but one of three players quite equally balanced in the market.
Windows 8 is a great departure from the old Windows: this may sounds scary, but your fear will go away when you understand that it means a move away from complexity, away from viruses, away from poor accessibility. The new design language allows you to focus on the task at hand, with no distractions, for you to get done what you need to get done. Since the presentation change is quite noticeable, certain videos have started to pop up in the net showing how horrifically difficult using Windows 8 is. The inherent problem with these videos is that the subjects where thrown into Windows 8 with absolutely no indication of how the system has changed. Remember the first showings of initial cinema movies? People ran out of the room in horror thinking that the train they saw on the screen was about to squash them. Then they learned how the new cinematic systems worked, understood the context, and those problems were virtually gone forever, becoming general common knowledge.
Windows 8 is the equivalent to those cinematographers: new, innovative, breaking at the time. Windows 8 is new, it’s innovative, it’s breaking. As such, one cannot expect to throw somebody into the new environment and have them magically understand and master it, which is why all these videos criticizing the difficulty of the new operating system are complete and utter hogwash.
This is how my Start Screen looks like, as of this morning:
There are 3 main pointers anybody should know and understand before transitioning to Windows 8, three facts that will allow you to understand the new environment and knowing which will save you from running in horror from that incoming “train”. Here they are:
1) Think of your PC as a very powerful, versatile, capable Smartphone. In the new PCs, everything is an app. Think of your desktop now as one more app, with the exception that instead of focusing on offering just one service, it can contain many other classic-style programs (the old, traditional ones you’re used to).
2) Since you’re PC works like a Smartphone, forget about closing programs. You don’t need to: the system takes care of that for you and closes apps when necessary. If you want to exit the app you’re in, you no longer need to find a tiny X at the top of the screen and click it: just hit the Windows button on your keyboard and voila, you’re back in the Start Screen (this is the same behavior as a Home button on a Smartphone).
3) Finally, screen edges are now important. If you use a touch device, the Windows 8 30-second tutorial explains this well: swipe inwards from the screen edges to reveal more options. When using a mouse on a traditional tesktop, screen corners allow these extra funtions: the top left corner will show you the apps that are open for you to switch to them rapidly. The bottom left corner will show you the Start screen (you can click there instead of hitting the Windows key on your keyboard):
Similarly, the top and bottom right corners reveal a bar with further options, should you need the more advanced features they offer:
There you have it, that’s your Windows 8 1-2-3, easy as pie. The desktop is just one more app; no need to close apps but just hit the Windows key to exit an app; remember/use the edge/corner menus. That’s it! Once one knows those 3 initial pointers, the problems people have with Windows 8 disappear: you just learned the basics. It’s not hard at all… actually, it’s incredibly easy and simple: arguably the most logical Windows version to date. What sense did it make in Windows 7 and prior versions to go to the Start menu in order to click turn off? Start to turn off? Illogical. In Windows 8, do what your gut tells you: simply push the on/off button. Duh.
As always though, the best thing you can do after knowing the 3 Windows 8 basics is go to a tech store and try it for yourself. I’ve been using Windows 8 for more than a year now (since the early builds Developer Preview, Consumer Preview and Release Preview were made available to testers) and I can guarantee, in my own experience, it took less than 1 week to fully get used to the new environment. Don’t trust the sensationalist tech pundits – learn the basics and see for yourself how easy to use Windows 8 really is.