Why I left Windows 8 back to Windows 7 on my business machine

Posted: December 31, 2012 in Windows

When Microsoft announced Windows 8 with their beta version lineup starting from beta, developers preview and consumers preview, I had a lot of comments and points against the new path Microsoft took toward developing this new OS.

The way Windows 8 experience was almost totally different from what we used to deal with in previous versions was a dramatic change, somehow radical in another word.
If you look practically at Windows 8, it is just a great continue of Windows 7 success, sharing most of the kernel characteristics of MinWin from Windows 7, Microsoft managed to put a new layer over a Windows 7 based interface, they called it Metro UI at the beginning.

Looking deeply into this UI, it is fashionable, fancy and nice looking one, especially when it comes to the feel and general look, it is just what we thought we need to see in future Windows release.
I have no doubt the interface is a revolutionary step for future releases, but for the time being, I just see it doesn’t work as intended to be, at least this is what I think!!

Coming down to the practicality of use, the new UI is not easy to use for the first time and even after few days of discovery journey. The way you may interact with the UI at some points is nice and easy, some other parts is just not practical and with no use, you will feel like you need to have extra efforts to get simple things done. E.g. When you need to search for a file, you need to navigate with your mouse to the top-right corner, click the search icon, so far nothing wrong right? This is an extra one step you need to take in comparison to Windows 7, but this is not it, now lets say you want to type a file name, simply you will never find it!!! Because you are searching in the apps by default. Microsoft categorise the search results into categories like apps, files, setting … Etc. so if you are not looking for an app by default, u will need to have another click on the category you are looking for. This is just NOT right!!

Another downside is the applications, you feel practically you have two different types of apps, the apps we used to find in Windows 7 and the apps comes within the store in Windows 8, you just cannot feel that the applications are desktop applications, actually they will never run in a desktop mode, you will need to live and manage them within the Metro UI, but apps like like Office will run in the desktop mode, this is really confusing. This even applies to the stock apps like IE 10, why do we have two browsers?!! Yes 2 IE 10, the IE you will run in the Metro UI is not the same IE you will run in the desktop mode!! So if you are opening many apps varies between desktop and metro, you will simply get lost, I don’t feel the same consistency we used to have in Windows 7 anymore, you will have the fell you are running two different OS on the same screen!!

Metro UI built with great focus on touch, it meant for tablets and touch screens all-in-one systems, because simply what you can do with the touch gestures cannot be done with a mouse and keyboard. So here Microsoft lost the consistency, they focused on one direction and forgot why Windows OS has been built!! It is a desktop OS!! It meant to be great for both work and home/entertainment use.

I need to jump into the core of this article, which is the business use, they above paragraphs are an introduction on how Windows 8 can be confusing for average consumers and you can find tons of articles and blogs just talking about that, my aim here is to evaluate it from business perspective.

Windows 8 is a none-business oriented OS at all, here are my reasons.

– Practicality: It is just a nightmare, I even have one of my colleagues told me “I felt I am a handicap!!” Which is somehow true. As an IT Pro. or a business oriented user, you will spend your time on the desktop only, but the metro UI will force you to use it when you need to search for a file or an application, and for the reasons I mentioned above, it is just impractical, everything you used to do in Windows 7, you will need extra steps to achieve it in Windows 8. Why do I need to have three click to go to control panel? Why do I need to care about the search terms and where I need to search? I just want to search.

– Support and Engineering: Well, I will not talk about the architecture here because nothing is wrong here I think, I will talk about drivers support and desktop applications compatibility, now as I mentioned, as long as Windows 8 shares the same kernel of Windows 7, why do we have application and drivers incompatibility? And the problem is, some of these applications are Microsoft based solutions, for example, I cannot. Control nor do anything to manage Windows 8 clients using System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), you will push the SCCM agent and it will install, nice, this is the maximum you can reach!! You cannot push Forefront Enterprise Protection security agent, it is just incompatible, you cannot push Windows updates, you cannot read the system resources, you cannot generate any report on any client whatsoever!! Live with it till you upgrade your SCCM 2007 to 2012, even you have 2012 now, your will wait till they release the Service Pack 1 (SP1), till that time you are in a dead zone.
Drivers: for the first time you will feel Windows Update will take care of your drivers installation, and you will be happy!! Over time you will notice you have lag in the overall performance (this will vary based on the hardware model). I faced this issue with a lot of users, after deep investigation, I found that most of the drivers are not Windows 8 specific, they a re just Windows 7 Drivers optimised with backward comparability, so drivers will install, but they are not practically optimised or meant to be for Windows 8, you will face this the most with BIOS drivers, network drivers and graphics drivers, they looks like working, and they do, but not at the best (Damn!! That reminds me of Windows Vista 😦 ).

If you have group policies to control your clients through Active Directory, some basic ones won’t work like default website in IE and most of IE setting, custom login scripts built using VBS, even some basics like screen saver and screen timeout.

I think Microsoft need to look apple model, Mac OS X and IOS, they are two different categories, still they are very well integrated, each built for their own use, IOS is a touch oriented OS with ease of use and balanced, yet the Mac OS X with the variety of gestures using their trackpad is great and it is the right alternative way to achieve a touch-like behaviour, but it never meant to be touch!! Which is really great. They guarantee a user understanding continuity for what they have to do when they have a IOS powered device and a Mac OS X powered machine!! Great job Apple, this is a statement from Microsoft IT Pros.

The button line, Windows 8 is not business ready OS. I wonder how Microsoft released it with this big gap to make other enterprise products Windows 8 ready!!

Memory flashback: Between Windows releases, look at Windows 98, it was great, Windows Me was a failure, Windows XP was great, Windows Vista was a disaster!! Windows 7 was a big hit, now Windows 8!! So as you may noticed, between Windows releases, there is 1 in the middle which is a failure!! I guess Windows 8 isn’t that great release, I am expecting a new release in 2 years time.

PS: I am going back to Windows 7 on my work (Workstation laptop) and keeping it on my home laptop. Why? Testing and intensive reviews are always important for me as an IT Pro. Even it sucks I have to live with it so I won’t miss a thing 🙂

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