Posted by: kurtsh | July 19, 2012

INFO: Hints on using Windows 8 as a Desktop OS

imageContrary to what some evaluators have written, I believe it’s a great desktop OS.  It’s just that many folks haven’t figured out how to use it yet.  And that’s probably our fault.  Then again, that could be part of Microsoft Corporate’s master plan.  Notice that they don’t reveal much about anything with regard to Windows 8 until the very last minute.

Whatever.  Here’s a few points about using Windows 8 as a desktop OS that you might find interesting:

There was an explanation made similar to  this as to “why we got rid of the START button”.  The answer was that in our usability testing, people just don’t really use it.  I personally know that that’s true for me:  I rarely use it. 

I actually have Shortcuts to applications in my Taskbar (or on the desktop) that allow me to run the shortlist of apps/tools that I use frequently… but rarely do I ever click on the START button for anything other than to go to Control Panel or Shutdown my PC.

The START button has ultimately become nothing more than ‘the attic’ for Windows apps.  It’s all the stuff you never use except once in a blue moon.  The programs in there are needed, no question, but they’re the digital equivalent of the “Christmas lights”, “High School memorabilia”, and ‘tools you rarely use’.

This is a weird one so stay with me.  It has to do with the fact that people complaining about the disappearance of the START button are the very experts that are probably the most proficient & productive users of the Explorer interface and should probably be cheering the removal of the START button – not jeering it.

When you’re typing on your computer & have to navigate to another app, most people:

  1. move their hand over to the mouse
  2. discover where the mouse pointer is on the screen
  3. navigate to the icon for that app & click it
  4. move their hand back to the keyboard

What’s the alternative?  Instead of moving your hand over to the mouse:

  1. try hitting the “WinKey”  (a.k.a. the Windows key on your keyboard)
  2. type the 1st couple letters of the app you want & hit ENTER

Done.  Your eyes never lost focus on the screen or had to look for the mouse pointer, you kept your fingers on the keyboard & never had to relocate you hands to the mouse & back, and you got where you wanted to go.

And what about those that prefer the slower, more deliberate, point-and-click, using-the-mouse, UI metaphor of the START button?  These folks will appreciate the tiled, colorized, look & feel of the new START page.  Applications are represented by more than just icons, but ‘Live Tiles’ that provide information about the apps.  These folks will like the new START page – even though you might not.  How do we know this works?  Because it sure as heck didn’t slow down the iPad, did it?

There’s one more thing I’d like to point out about using Windows 8 that I think goes unnoticed in all this hubbub about the START button and the new START page.  I’ll post that in a separate post cuz it’s kinda long.


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