Every time Microsoft releases a new version of Windows, it’s met with mixed emotions. Windows XP had some initial growing pains due to its largely re-written core, but changes to its interface were primarily only skin deep, allowing users to adapt quickly. Vista, while not entirely different from its predecessor, did change quite a bit on the UI front; however, its perceived failure was brought on by the marketing nightmare of being caught in Apple’s crosshairs. The quick adoption of Windows 7 – which is essentially Vista minus the stigma – is proof that the minor interface tweaks were still perfectly adaptable.
Windows 8 could very well be taking things too far. Microsoft has replaced the traditional desktop with what it has named its Metro UI. Popularized on Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform, Metro UI is a touch-centric interface which will have a lot of trouble making itself comfortable in the PC marketplace, where the mouse, keyboard, and large non-touch displays still reign supreme.
The new Metro UI does stand some chance of gaining ground with general consumers, but power users will be appalled. Take, for example, shutting down your computer. In Windows 7, this could be achieved in two clicks of the mouse. In Windows 8, you have to hold your mouse to the side of the screen for a moment to pull up the “Charms Bar,” click the Settings option, click the Power icon, and then click Shutdown. It’s a complete mess from the power user’s perspective.
Of course, that’s not to say Windows 8 doesn’t have any features that would appeal to the power user. Features like native USB 3.0 support and lightning fast boot times top the list. An (arguably) improved task manager and enhanced software RAID support sweeten the waters a bit as well.
The big question is whether or not the benefits of Windows 8 can make up for the loss of the traditional desktop workspace. Just about any Windows power user would answer that question with a big, fat “No;” however, it’s possible to tweak Windows 8 to get the best of both worlds, and we’ll show you how.