I’ve just spent a week at a Windows 8 “Beta Teach” at Microsoft in Redmond. It was gruelling, to say the least as the SME’s that attend a Beta teach are expected to provide a lot of feedback on the course material. That feedback is used to sharpen and/or refocus the material so that it better serves the target audience.
Anyway, after really getting under the covers of Windows 8 I’m prepared to “eat my hat” regarding my first (blogged) impressions. I’m still not a fan of Metro but I have learned to live with it (mostly). I’ve discovered that once you get past Metro (and learn to love the Windows key combos as well as Search) there is some major goodness baked into Windows 8. It is fast, the built-in diagnostics are a vast improvement over older Windows versions, backup (volume and file-level) are vastly improved, BitLocker/AppLocker rock, Direct Access is super-cool and PowerShell 3 is awesome. And some of the Metro stuff is actually kind of cool, but I still hate the “jarring” switch back and forth between Metro and the desktop.
The jury is still out on how well existing apps are going to work on 8 and there will be a major learning curve involved for all users. I was in a room full of computer nerds for a week and all of us moaned and whined about how we couldn’t find what we were looking for, at least not immediately. As you get the hang of 8/Metro you do get a lot faster on navigation but it is markedly different from what we are all used to and you find yourself asking if the change is being made simply for the sake of change itself. There will be lots of organizations that hold off on the switch simply because they won’t have the budget to train their users on how to use the new interface. We did have a Windows 8 tablet in the class (not Surface) to play with and Metro makes a lot of sense when a “phat phinger” is the mouse/selection device and, in that sense, Metro is a pretty decent interface. But it’s a decent interface for a tablet, not quite so much for a regular PC.
So there you have it. I have choked down my hat (with a little hot sauce on the side). Windows 8 is going to be a big gamble for Redmond but they actually did get a lot right with the “bones” of the product. Time will tell if world + dog will latch onto Metro with the enthusiasm that Microsoft is hoping will build, and build quickly. I’ll be jumping on the bandwagon much earlier than I originally thought so I’ll blog about my real world experiences. Hang on to your hats (if you haven’t eaten it like I just did), it’s going to be an interesting ride!