Microsoft co-founder weighs in on Windows 8

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen publishes his view of the new operating system.

In a recently-published blog entry, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen shares a detailed, fascinating account of his experience with Windows 8. While Allen seems to like the new OS overall, he does list several minor concerns, which could discourage ambivalent users from upgrading.

Allen says Windows 8 is an evolutionary milestone in the OS's development, because it unifies Windows across multiple platforms. The new tablet features, Allen writes, are bold and innovative, and he is impressed with the OS's clever integration of tablet and desktop functions into a single, bimodal interface.

Allen even finds Windows 8 to be snappier and more responsive than Windows 7.

However, Allen acknowledges that the new interface might confuse existing Windows users, especially since applications and files can be opened in both desktop mode and tablet mode and run simultaneously.

Windows 8 does certainly require a brief adjustment period before users become familiar and comfortable with the new bimodal operating system, Allen notes.

Windows 8 is designed to force users to navigate an unfamiliar interface. Instead of seeing the familiar Windows desktop when the operating system boots up, a new tiled start screen appears, similar to the screen found on Windows phones and tablets. You can get to the old desktop screen by clicking a tile on the start screen, but you cant force Windows 8 to take you to the desktop by default a quirk that bothers Allen.

"The goal must have been to encourage people to acclimatize to Windows 8 style immediately," Allen writes. For users who don't want to acclimatize" themselves with the new interface, this design approach might look like an invitation to remain within the comfortable confines of Windows 7.

Allen also points out some less-than-intuitive elements. For example, the Charms bar which includes a number of important tools such as search, start, settings, and devices has no visual cues to inform the user how to display it. A similar absence of visual cues exists in apps that run under Windows 8 style, formerly known as Metro. While Allen finds closing a program on a tablet to be intuitive, doing so on a desktop is less so. To close a program on a desktop, the user must move their cursor to the top of the screen, wait for it to turn into a hand, and then use it to drag the application window to the bottom of the screen.

Windows 8 also suffers from some obvious oversights: there's no clock on the start screen. Also, to reach power functions (sleep, shutdown, restart), users have to go through two steps instead of one.

Allen's conclusion: Desktop PC users, with only minor tweaks and adjustments, should be able to pick things up without much trouble. I am sure most the [sic] minor issues I pointed out will be addressed in the next release of the operating system.

In other words, users may be better off waiting for SP1 to drop before they dip their toes into the waters of Windows 8.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John P. Mello Jr

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?