Windows 8: for and against – the Which? Tech Daily debate
Impartial testing is really important to us at Which? From PVRs to phones we test more than 2,500 products a year. And that’s how we decide which products to recommend. A product has to truly impress in our labs to become a Best Buy, and we give verdicts solely on a product’s merit – not the badge on the box.
But with so many experts in the office and the lab, there’s still plenty of debate about which products and brands we prefer. After our Apple vs Android showdown, we turned our gaze onto Microsoft’s controversial Windows 8 operating system.
This week, two of our expert researchers chew the cud over its ease-of-use, tablet compatibility and missing Start menu consternation.
“Worst operating system in the universe? I give you Windows 8″ – Ryan
OK, Rob. I’m not sure why you would want to defend Windows 8, but here comes a hiding to nothing. If you’re looking to buy a new laptop these days, you’d be hard pressed to find anything that isn’t Windows 8. Windows 7 was solid and I think Microsoft should have just improved upon that platform rather than starting from scratch.
Hands down, it features one of the worst interfaces I’ve used; it’s not intuitive and it feels clunky overall. When it comes to software, people don’t want change, they want familiarity. Worst operating system in the universe? I give you Windows 8.
“Windows 8 is far from the horror show it’s cracked up to be” – Rob
Admittedly, I haven’t tried operating systems in the outer regions of the Milky Way but I’m certain Windows 8 is far from the horror show it’s cracked up to be. Like you said, it’s a drastic change from the familiar platform of old, but in a touchscreen age, that change needed to happen.
Can you imagine using your old Windows 7 desktop on a tablet? It would be disastrous. Windows 8 allows you to start working on a Word document at your office and finish it on the on the bus home.
That level of convenience alone justifies the upgrade.
Plus, the Windows 7-style desktop is still there waiting for you, Ryan. If you desperately need to regress to the dark ages of icons instead of apps and web browser Googling instead of integrated search results from the Home screen, then you can.
I just don’t see why you’d want to.
“It’s not fit for purpose” – Ryan
Sure, Windows 8 may perform as intended when paired with a touchscreen, but not everyone owns a tablet or a laptop with a touchscreen. You’re correct, the old style desktop is still available, albeit hidden away, but using two different interfaces and switching between them can be jarring.
Another one of my pet peeves – the removal of the Start button. For the first time, Microsoft chose not to include this menu and the people have spoken. The backlash was huge and as a result, Microsoft have reintroduced the Start button with the upcoming 8.1 update. I’m beginning to wonder – does Microsoft actually conduct user testing before going to launch?
Speaking of dark ages, Windows 8 has no support for DVD playback out-of-the-box. It’s like selling a TV without a remote control – it’s not fit for purpose.
“Windows 8 is faster to boot than Windows 7, and is more secure” – Rob
The Start menu’s exclusion is a much bigger concern, or it will have been once the free Windows 8.1 update arrives next month. Combined with several other significant tweaks, switching between desktop and home screens should soon make a lot more sense for users.
As it is, I really like the Home screen and how its updating tiles showcase the latest news and weather. It’s a much more convenient way to collect my favourite websites and programs in one place than the desktop of old. Crucially, Windows 8 is faster to boot than Windows 7 and is more secure to use thanks to features like Secure Boot.
If you’re so upset with Windows 8, Ryan. Why haven’t you abandoned Microsoft for Apple?
“Don’t expect me to use Windows 8 and to be happy about it” – Ryan
Microsoft is free to futureproof all it wants with Windows 8, just without alienating their core business – the humble user. I’ve heard stories of consumers returning their laptops or flat out asking retailers to load Windows 7 instead. If people were given the option, they’d probably stick with the platform that they’re familiar with and not with what they’re being forced to use.
I’m not saying I would abandon Windows all together, not at all. Just don’t expect me to use Windows 8 and to be happy about it.
“Windows 8 is here to stay” – Rob
That’s fine Ryan, but Windows 8 is here to stay. Playing to user familiarity might have worked in the short-term. Two or three years down the line, you’d have been looking at a badly antiquated operating system; Windows 7 with a fresh lick of paint.
Of course, users aren’t familiar with Windows 8. It’s a brand new beast packed full of new innovations to get to grips with. When its new update arrives next month, I really think you should you should give it another go. If you do change your mind, I promise not to tell anyone.
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